Mobile App Startup Fund expands to New Platforms

For developers looking to break into the market for sports apps, or any other type of app, and that are looking for funding there is a new financial resource available as ATP Capital has expanded into new markets with its latest effort.

Some might remember ATP as the company that manages a fund that is seeking to help cultivate an ecosystem of developers on behalf of Research in Motion BlackBerry via its Blackberry Partners Fund program. While RIM goes through some painful issues right now both internally and externally Capital is looking to expand its reach in the app space.

With that in mind it has refocused its efforts on a new fund that will be platform agnostic and look to invest in startups in not only the BlackBerry space but also look for new companies that have Android, Apple iOS and Windows 8 developments underway.

As a first step the company, which aside from the BlackBerry fund also manages Clairmont Capitol and JLA Ventures, has rebranded itself and will now be called Relay Ventures and along with the new name is a new $150 million fund, which will go by the name of the BlackBerry Partners Fund II. The new fund will continue to be an independently managed, platform agnostic, early stage venture fund with a singular focus on mobile computing.

The funds lead investor is Northleaf Capital Partners and includes partners Corus Entertainment, Thomas Rueters and of course Research in Motion. ATP has had success with its efforts in funding mobile app startups, with 32 having received some level of funding and six have already been acquired.

Relay Ventures is also uprooting itself from Toronto and is moving to new offices in Menlo Park, Calif. This reflects on the fact that the company has made almost half of its investments in startups from that area.

Government Intervention in On-line Privacy Issue Likely

Users to have select rights about when and how data is collected

With growing reports of data harvesting from people’s accounts with and without permission coming out in a constant stream, and many major on-line players only paying lip service to the idea of individual privacy it now looks like state and Federal Governments will intervene to differing degrees.

Google will be changing privacy rules March 1.

From California to Federal level efforts are now being made to rein in the app developers and afford a level of privacy, or at least provide upfront information about information sharing policies prior to purchase and installation.

On the Federal level the Obama administration has proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, a seven point proposal that will seek to dramatically increase the privacy of users of the Internet that seeks to protect Americans’ privacy as they use the internet.

The core of the Bill of Rights has seven points:
INDIVIDUAL CONTROL: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect from them and how they use it.
TRANSPARENCY: Consumers have a right to easily understandable and accessible information about privacy and security practices.
RESPECT FOR CONTEXT: Consumers have a right to expect that companies will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
SECURITY: Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
ACCESS AND ACCURACY: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data is inaccurate.
FOCUSED COLLECTION: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain
ACCOUNTABILITY: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

While this is only a guideline it is being proposed as a regulation that would be administered by the Federal Trade Commission after details of each of these is worked out. The White House has said that it will be working with industry groups and web app developers and publishers on this issue.

In at least one case a state is simply enforcing privacy standards that are on its books. In California the State Attorney General Kamala Harris has announced a deal with the state’s six largest mobile web app providers.

The companies, Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Research-in-Motion and Amazon, which according to Harris account for 95% of all mobile apps distributed worldwide, must now adhere to the California Online Privacy Protection Act that was passed in 2004.

Under the agreement, the companies will place prominent and easy to understand privacy disclosures before a user downloads an app. The push will cover both app developers as well as the larger players such as Apple that distribute the apps.

A lot of players have a vested interest in this. Google and Facebook are massive data harvesters and in a number of ways they will remain unaffected. However Google’s recent move to change its privacy policies looks like one of the many events that have helped quickly push this to the forefront.

Another issue was the discovery that a number of apps were downloading users’ cell phone contacts and address books without clearly letting the user know that they were losing that information.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Smartphones Outsell PCs, Tablets

There was a battle of opinions last week between Symantec and Lookout Security in regards to a bit of code that is attached to a select number of apps as to if it was malware or not. Symantec said that the code, called Android.Counterclink was malicious software and warned users off a number of apps that contained the offending code.

Meanwhile a rebuke came from Lookout Security which said that it was simply an aggressive pierce of adware and that while it could be annoying, was not really bad enough to be termed malware.

Well apparently Symantec has come over to its rival’s side of thinking and agreed that its original diagnosis was incorrect and that the code in question is just annoying. In case you are wondering what Google is doing about malware go over to iTWire to see.

Smartphones outsell PCs
According to market research firm Canalys, smartphone sales in 2011 outpaced that of all PCs. It showed that there was 487.7 million smartphones sold in the year compared to 414.6 million PCs of all stripes from desktops to tablets.

The pace of sales for smartphones appears to be increasing with 158.8 million sold in the 4th quarter of 2011, a 57% increase over the 101.2 million sold the same quarter a year before. Contrast that with PC sales that grew 15% for the year, in part buoyed by a 274% increase in tablet sales.

Of course comparing sales in a mature market to sales in a emerging one is comparing apples to oranges but it is interesting to see how mobile computing, both smartphones and tablets are soaring.

Apple sees the light on iBook licenses
Apple has reversed its position regarding who owns the rights to text books that are written for ts iBook textbook effort. The company has changed the End User License Agreement so that it no longer reflects a claim that Apple owns the rights to works developed with iBook Author software.

As reported by SlashGear the new EULA states that books developed using the .ibooks format may only be distributed by Apple but that they can be distributed in other formats by the author.

Windows 8 details leaked
A leaked video is showing a great deal of the details that customers and developers can expect with the forthcoming Windows Phone 8 released according to any number of sites. Shown first at the video was reportedly made for Microsoft partner Nokia, a company that has been an aggressive partner in the phone space.

Included in the release, which it said was code-named Apollo, are support for multicore processors, a total of four screen resolution options for developers, and a removable microSD card for additional storage.

With digital payments from mobile devices becoming increasingly important Microsoft looks to be positioning the phones to be a prime platform for what it calls the ‘wallet experience’ and the OS will allow carriers to brand and control the payment features. Drop over to see what else was discovered about the forthcoming phone. Also head out to Wired to see how Android, iOS and Windows 8 compare and contrast.

The Apple/Motorola patent battle continues to range in Germany.
Motorola managed to get some Apple products banned in Germany, but Apple has countered and won a suspension from an appeals court at the last minute. Apple is claiming that Motorola is not playing fair “Motorola repeatedly refuses to license this patent to Apple on reasonable terms, despite having declared it an industry standard patent seven years ago.”

According to Foss Patents, Motorola is asking for 2.25% of Apple’s sales in return for the license, which it is presumed would cover a range of Motorola patents and not just the one in question. However Apple is countering that it has a license due to its cross licensing agreement with Qualcomm, who in turn has one with Motorola.

This sound a lot like the licensing issues that Intel and Advanced Micro Devices fought over more than a decade ago. That battle was estimated to have cost more than $1 billion to the players involved and was settled with a cross licensing agreement.

Mobile football in the offseason
Now that the Super Bowl is done and finished and it is some time prior to the NFL deraft there are still a few options for the sports fans. An example is this promo that started Super Bowl Sunday and not clear when it will end-EA Sports slashes price of Madden 12 for Android to 99 cents, down from $4.99 for a limited time.

However there are a range of additional options for playing games on a smartphone and luckily for you Cnet has gone to the trouble and created a list for Android and iOS users. Sorry no listings for BlackBerry.