Big news out of Cupertino this evening. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has acquired indoor mobile location positioning firm WiFiSLAM, in a deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million.
Apple has confirmed the acquisition of the company, which possesses proprietary technology that allows mobile apps to detect a smartphone user’s location inside of buildings using preexisting ambient Wi-Fi signals…
The Wall Street Journal‘s Jessica Lessin reports:
“Apple has acquired indoor-GPS company WifiSLAM, a sign that the war over indoor mobile location services is heating up. Apple paid around $20 million for the Silicon Valley-based company, according to a person familiar with the matter who said the deal closed recently.
The two-year-old startup has developed ways for mobile apps to detect a phone user’s location in a building using Wi-Fi signals. It has been offering the technology to application developers for indoor mapping and new types of retail and social networking apps.”
WiFiSLAM has just a handful of employees, made up of a mix of former Google software engineers and Stanford graduates. It’s raised an unknown amount of money from angel investors, including Google’s Don Dodge.
Here’s co-founder Joseph Huang speaking about WiFiSLAM at GeoMeetup late last year.
Apple’s acquisition of the indoor positioning firm makes sense, considering that it’s trying to compete with Google in the mapping space. Google Maps currently supports indoor maps for a number of popular venues.
A company spokesman confirmed the buyout with The Journal, saying that Apple “buys smaller technology companies from time to time,” but generally doesn’t discuss its plans. And he declined to comment any further.
He’s right though, Apple has acquired a number of smaller companies in the last few years—particularly those with mapping technologies. In 2009 they acquired Placebase, and later added Poly9 and C3 Technologies.
Apple released its in-house Maps app last fall alongside iOS 6. It initially received a copious amount of criticism over the service due to data inaccuracies, but it has made a number of improvements within the last 6 months.
App analytics firm Distimo has published a new report looking at how Google Play and Apple’s App Store have fared in 2012. It finds that while the former is growing rapidly, the latter still beats it more than four-fold in terms of revenues.
Over the past four months, combined daily revenue of Google Play has grown 43%, while for Apple’s App Store this figure has reached only 21%. Over the whole year, the App Store’s revenue has grown 51% in the 20 countries analyzed by Distimo: Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK and the US.
However, in absolute numbers, the App Store with $15 million in average daily revenue in November by far beats Google Play with its $3.5 million.
An important trend in the mobile apps monetization is in-app payments. According to Distimo’s data, this type of fees accounted to 69% of total Apple’s App Store revenues, up 16% compared to January 2012.
With the rise of in-app purchases, app prices in the App Store are down 8% compared to January 2012 for iPad, but up 16% for iPhone as of November. That said, Distimo notes that some publishers are still “very successful” using a paid-only strategy, and in 2012, 35% of the revenue from the top 10 publishers was a result of one-off fees.
It’s also worth mentioning that in 2012 the iPad was the main driver of the revenue growth for the iOS platform: while iPhone daily revenues increased by an estimated 40%, apps for iPad saw a 71% climb. A similar situation can be seen in mobile advertising, where Apple’s tablet showed eCPM more than thrice as high as the global average.
Another parallel with mobile advertising industry can be drawn in terms of geography. Just as the USA is the leader in ad impressions, it accounts for the largest revenue from mobile apps, followed by Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Among its findings, Distimo has presented an “iPad savvyness graph,” showing the share of iPad downloads in the total iOS downloads by country in November 2012. Surprisingly, the most iPad savvy country has proved to be Russia with 46%.
Here are the top apps by downloads in both app stores, according to Distimo:
Top 10 apps 2012 — Apple App Store
2. Temple Run
3. Find My iPhone
6. Draw Something Free
7. iTunes U
Top 10 apps 2012 — Google Play
1. Street View
3. Voice Search
7. Adobe Flash Player
9. WhatsApp Messenger
Google and Apple also predictably have taken lead in the charts of top publishers in their app stores, where Google was only offering free applications, while for Apple the average price of an app reached $7.43. Google even made it to the third spot in the list of Apple’s App Store top publishers, following games developer Gameloft.
The social networking site has partnered with Aviary to launch its new photo-editing facilities via the latest editions of Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android.
“Every day, millions of people come to Twitter to connect with the things they care about and find out what’s happening around the world,” read a post on the official Twitter blog.
“As one of the most compelling forms of self-expression, photos have long been an important part of these experiences.”
Eight filters, including a black-and-white filter, are on offer, and Twitter users will be able to see previews of how each filter changes a photo at-a-glance via a grid view.
Users will also be able to zoom in on photos, as well as employ simple photo-editing tools such as cropping and colour correction.
“We’ve created a unique experience that makes it easier than ever for people to create and share photos on Twitter, in real time. Each filter was designed from the ground up exclusively for Twitter, and we couldn’t be more excited about how they turned out,” read a post on the Aviary company blog.
“We designed these features so that it is very easy to add new and elegant filters to the photos that people share using Twitter’s mobile apps for iPhone and Android.”
Speculation that Twitter would launch its own photo filter software was first reported in early November, and gathered pace when Instagram – which is now owned by Facebook -disabled photo integration with Twitter over the weekend.
Instagram founder Kevin Systrom has denied that his firm is involved in a feud with Twitter and has instead insisted that the company is focusing on its own web presence, followingthe recent launch of instagram.com web profiles.