The Week in Mobile: July 12-18, 2015


Industry experts debate Apple Watch success, Google launches open source BLE beacon format, Microsoft releases new SDK and more


Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content that centers on the fast-paced, quickly changing world of mobile technology. We tell you which companies are employing clever mobile strategies, illuminate new ways of thinking about mobile and offer a peek at meaningful trends in the industry. This content is designed to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.


Industry Experts Debate Apple Watch Success

While the Apple Watch has crushed competitors like Samsung, some industry watchers claim third-party data suggest that Apple’s latest device has failed to disrupt the larger wearables market as much as anticipated. Fitbit is still outselling the Apple Watch, and according to Slice Intelligence, Apple Watch sales are down by 90 percent since launch. Some are even questioning whether the Apple Watch debut qualifies as a bigger disaster than Google’s release of Google Glass, which is now off the market and only available for developers.

However, it’s possible Apple will surprise naysayers when the company reports earnings on July 21. Third-party estimates have one important blind spot: international sales. On June 26, the Apple Watch hit the market in seven additional countries. Success in these markets could position Apple to announce nearly $10 million in sales. And as Andreessen Horowitz Partner Benedict Evans pointed out in a tweet last week, history suggests that gauging the success of Apple products in the first 90 days after launch can be misleading.

Google Launches Open Source Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon Format

Last week, Google launched Eddystone, an open source Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon format, which will directly compete with Apple’s iBeacon technology. The new format will allow developers to work with beacons to provide better contextual experiences to smartphone users via location-based content. In addition, Google will offer the Nearby API and Proximity Beacon API to help developers transmit data to devices in range of specific beacons and monitor beacons to make sure they are functioning.

Microsoft Encourages Universal App Development with New Windows SDK for Facebook

Microsoft rolled out a new open-source SDK that allows developers to integrate parts of Facebook into apps for Windows 10, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1. The release is part of a company-wide push toward the development of universal Windows apps. Microsoft also hopes to see an increase in the number of apps developed for Windows phones. It’s possible the new SDK will help with that initiative as well.

Facebook Developing Virtual Assistant Powered By Real People

Facebook is reportedly developing a virtual assistant, which will be integrated into Facebook’s Messenger app. The project, called Moneypenny, will allow Messenger app users to ask real people for help with research and shopping. It’s likely that Facebook’s new virtual assistant will compete with tools like Magic, which allows users to request services by sending a text message. A release date for Moneypenny hasn’t been set and there is little information on what the new feature will actually look like, but its integration into Messenger could help to attract additional users and keep them engaged for longer periods of time.

Google Introduces “Purchase On Google” to Mobile Ads

Last week, Google announced “Purchases on Google,” a new feature that allows consumers to buy products directly from mobile search ads. A “buy” button will appear in supported mobile search results, directing users to a page (hosted by Google) where the product can be purchased. Google’s goal is to reduce the friction in mobile purchases while maintaining the relationship between merchants and consumers, which is why purchase pages offer custom branding for each retailer. “Purchases on Google” is being tested with a handful of retail partners, but is expected to be more broadly available by late 2015 or early 2016.