PlayHaven raises $8M to make mobile developers money

PlayHaven, a monetization and customer management platform for mobile game developers, has raised $8 million led by GGV Capital. The company is working to build out its service by adding more customer insights. And it’s looking to expand to Europe and Asia.

Mark Cuban leads $1M investment in app seller Apptopia

Three months after launching, Apptopia, which allows developers to sell their entire app, is doing solid business facilitating a growing number of sales. And that attracted the attention of investors including Mark Cuban, who is putting in half of Apptopia’s $1 million seed round.

Today in Mobile

Today’s must-read is this thought-provoking post from The Wall Street Journal that compares the app industry to the early days of the U.S. music market. The massive inventories in Apple’s App Store and Google Play have created a market where supply far outpaces demand, the piece argues, and “the power of scale, expertise and efficiency will eventually exert itself” as it evolves. That’s probably true, but the analogy to the music industry fails to recognize that the surfeit of apps includes countless pieces of trash and copycats made by shady developers out to make a few easy bucks — not to strike it rich. A shakeout may be on the horizon, but I’m not expecting any seismic changes in the app market anytime soon.

Viewdini: Could this app be Verizon’s first pass at toll-free mobile data?

Verizon Wireless revealed a new incarnation of its old V Cast streaming mobile video service on Tuesday. Called Viewdini, the Android app aggregates content from premium video services like Hulu and Netflix and could represent Verizon’s first attempts to charge content providers to carry their traffic.

Today in Connected Consumer

The debate touched off last week by a story in The Guardian (a GigaOM investor) about the apparently paltry earnings Google has reaped so far from the Android OS continues into week 2. GigaOM’s Tom Krazit makes the important point on Mobilize that Android is essentially a defensive play by Google, meant to keep the entire mobile world from being taken over by Apple, rather than core profit center, so direct earnings from the OS, whatever the real number, are not a useful measure of its success. Blogger Charlie Kindel, on the other hand, thinks that Android as a brand (as opposed to a technology platform) has become a liability for Google and will be cut loose from the mother ship. Instead, he argues, Google will adopt the Google Play brand for its own end-t0-end ecosystem, which will leverage the Android platform but will be more controlled and consistent than the current Android anarchy. That could increase tensions between Google and Android hardware makers and app developers, however, who, as my GigaOM Pro colleague David Card notes in his latest Weekly Update already chafe lack of support and propensity for competing with former partners. If nothing else, though, Google can take credit for spawning a cottage industry in speculating about the future of Android.

Today in Connected Consumer

Apple has always aimed its product pitches at multiple audiences. First and foremost, of course, is the consumer audience. But Apple has also sought to seduce content owners, developers and other third-party businesses into adding value to its devices to make them even more attractive to consumers. When the first iPad was released, many commentators wondered what people would do with it. But publishers and other content owners seized on the allure of the iPad’s added screen real estate compared to phones and the controlled environment of self-contained apps, and there was quickly plenty to do with the new tablets. I’m getting the sense that Apple has done it again with the new iPad’s retina display. While many analysts saw it as an incremental improvement with only marginal added value, I don’t think content owners will see it that way. Media professionals are likely to find the new iPad’s “studio reference quality” display irresistible and will move quickly to upgrade their apps for the new iPad, giving Apple in effect an exclusive quality advantage. In fact, it’s already happening, which can only enhance Apple’s growing dominance among app developers. In short, Apple’s “incremental” improvement is likely to yield more-than-incremental results.

The problems with app-based billing for data

This week AT&T floated a plan to enable app developers to pay for the data that subscribers use in their apps. The model might resonate with some developers and subscribers, but it is likely to create more problems than it solves.

Google gets serious about improving Android apps

Google is getting serious about improving apps on Android, which are sometimes less polished and usable as their counterparts on other platforms. It’s introducing the first Android Design style guide, which is aimed at helping developers learn the principles and best practices for building awesome apps.