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TowerMadness: a great way to have some fun with your iPad

TowerMadness: a great way to have some fun with your iPad
A couple of weeks ago I ran into a friend who showed me a game he was playing on his iPhone.  He was very enthusiastic about the game and went on to show me how it was played.  It was called TowerMadness and despite having a theme that seemed a bit weird – you need to save your sheep from being carried away by aliens – it also seemed quite interesting. Later that same day I downloaded the game into my iPad and ended up having a lot of fun with it, even though it was an iPhone application and I had to run it in the x2 mode. The more I played with the game the more I thought about writing a review for iPadWatcher as TowerMadness combines several gaming aspects very well: strategy, puzzles, and competition. The next logical step was to get TowerMadness HD, the iPad specific version of the game.  As you can probably imagine the iPad version is like a more advanced version of the iPhone one, which offers more detailed graphics and more elaborate navigation while working in exactly the same way in game playing mode. In TowerMadness you must defend your sheep from being kidnapped by aliens.  The aliens come in various shapes and capabilities and while you cannot block their way, you can layout defenses which force the aliens to move through winding paths all the while taking fire from your towers. While simple in nature the games offers hours of fun and challenging game play and can be extended through the acquisition of new weapons and maps/boards on which to play.   These purchases are handled within the application itself and each item is very reasonably priced.   To try out the mechanism and see how a new item could change the game play I purchased a flamethrower tower.  This single new kind of tower, added to the nine other types which are part of the main game changes your entire strategy for positioning your defenses. I have not tried other weapons, as I am far from exploring everything that comes with the base game, but it seems evident that by adding these small items you pretty much create new variations of the game. One thing that bothered me a bit was that the game keeps high scores for the current day and while it is possible to get on the list of top scores for the day using just the equipment that is part of the basic game, you will never be among the top five scores without employing one or more of the towers that are purchased from within the game.  Considering the fact that the weapons cost only 99 cents, it isn’t much of an issue, but it took me a while to realize that it wasn’t just that my strategy wasn’t good enough, but that my weapons weren’t really up to the task. The simple addition of the flamethrower tower allowed me to more than quadruple my previous score in of the game variants that I was playing.   That is a lot of fire power for 99 cents. A curious aspect of the game is that while you normally view it from a birds eye point of view you can pinch to zoom and go down to ground level.   In this case you will see the action as if you were right in the middle of your towers and of the aliens marching inexorably towards your sheep. The iPad version of TowerMadness allows two players to play at the same time, on a shared screen.  Each half of the the screen displays a full game field (slightly reduced...
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In competition with iPhone OS, Android is the choice for those that have no choice

In competition with iPhone OS, Android is the choice for those that have no choice
Since yesterday I have seen several articles commenting on the fact that in Q1 2010 more smartphones were sold in the US with Android than with Apple’s iPhone OS.  I won’t go into the minutiae of all numbers, as I don’t think it is really relevant, but the numbers being compared are roughly 28% for Android and 21% for Apple. This has prompted some very positive comments from those that like Android and those that don’t like Apple.  While I’m sure the fact that a large number of phones running Android were sold is a good thing for those involved with that platform, it can scarcely be considered as being in direct relationship to the sales of iPh0nes. Why?  Well, let’s look at what happened with iPhone sales and market share from Q1’09 to Q1’10.  Apple more than doubled its sales of iPhones, selling 8.5 million phones in the quarter and saw its global market share grow to about 16%. I think it is important to consider these numbers in relation to its competitors.  All other relevant players in the smartphone business were already in the market when Apple launched the iPhone and it where these players that either lost or were unable to gain the 16% market share that Apple now holds. Back to the comparison in the US market.  Apple is the single manufacturer of iPhones and it’s phones are only available through AT&T.  This means that Apple managed to garner 21% market share despite not selling to customers of other carriers, thus helping AT&T to gain customers from its competitors. In face of the quick growth of iPhone sales, Apple’s competitors seeing that nothing they had was a match for the iPhone turned to Android, gracefully provided by Google for free, as their chance to waste as little time as possible trying to catch up. Given that Apple’s sales have continued to grow, I would say that Android hasn’t been successful in checking the advance of iPhone OS in the smartphone space, however.   Android’s 28% market share for smartphones in the US means that many manufacturers that had no other choice  have turned to that OS for their phones.  It’s not like they could turn to iPhone OS. Moving away from the phone business, we have the music player/PDA space.  With more than 30 million iPods sold in this space there is little doubt that for now, Apple and iPhone OS are in the lead.  I don’t think that we are going to be seeing a lot of competition in this space as most companies capable and willing to create a device that could face up to the iPod Touch will probably prefer to produce smartphones, as an iPod Touch is essentially the same as an iPhone without the mobile phone components. The next space where Android and iPhone OS are going to come into contact is going to be in tablet computers, such as the iPad.   In this space we are likely to see the same kind of scenario as in the mobile phone space.  Companies that haven’t got their own investment in creating a specific OS are going to be moving to Android as the only choice available for trying to compete with Apple. HP’s recent move to acquire Palm and its webOS mobile platform seem to indicate that having been dependent on Microsoft for their tablet and mobile OS options didn’t work out well, as Windows 7 on Intel based hardware seemed clearly not to be up to the challenge presented by the iPad.   Having had a bad experience with Microsoft’s ability to  deliver a viable tablet OS, HP is probably little inclined...
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International developers complain about iPad delays…

…at least some of them do.  On a post on The  Next Web, Kim Heras, makes a statement that Apple is mistreating its international developers  because the iPad will only be available on some markets about a month after it is available in the US. He makes his point with the example of an Australian game developer that he is quick to add hasn’t really complained about it, but he feels that since they’ve sold 2 million copies of a game at $0.99, they’ve made Apple $600,000, so Apple could afford to give them special treatment and ship them some iPads. While I won’t say that Apple could have arranged some way to offer direct shipping to developers, at least developers that have sold more than a given amount of dollars, I don’t see that there is much to complain about.  If Apple did make $600,000 with the sales of that game it means that the company made about $1,400,000 with it.  With well over a million in revenue from that one game they should be able to afford a round trip to the US to buy a couple of iPads directly in stores on April 3rd. I don’t see that a company should be expected to have its physical products being released everywhere around the globe on the same day.  That applies to any company, not just Apple.  Does anybody believe that there are no iPhone/iPad developers in countries which aren’t scheduled to get an iPad a month after the initial release date and don’t even have a remote idea of when the iPad will reach them through official channels?  Don’t those developers make money for Apple as well?  Those people, as did the Australian company (which wasn’t really complaining), went about finding ways to get their hands on iPads as soon as possible, as their financial situation allows. There are other issues to consider too.  For example, in Brazil in order to be able to sell equipment that has built-in radios (wi-fi, bluetooth and 3G) they must seek approval by Anatel, the national agency that regulates all telecommunication activities.  This process was only started after the FCC approval process was started, so it will take longer for Apple to authorized to sell the iPad in Brazil.  One would imagine that similar processes need to be undertaken in different countries, all of which add up to delay global availability. Apple can’t be expected to provide simultaneous access to the thousands of developers that part of their iPhone development program (of which the iPad is part), as I wouldn’t expect HP, Dell or any other company to.  There are just too many people and companies in the program.  What I do believe they could do was to work on setting up a special sales channel for developers to which they would ship internationally.  (Were that would be...
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Apple growing fast in mobile games, without the iPad

Apple growing fast in mobile games, without the iPad
Apple has already been making inroads into the mobile gaming world, before the iPad is release, according to Flurry Analytics.  While not exactly unexpected given the number of games available on the AppStore, this just begs that you wonder what will happen in that area once the iPad starts to sell in large numbers. With a larger screen the iPad might appeal to gamers which haven’t taken to mobile platforms but which might enjoy the opportunity to play a game or two on the couch, instead of sitting in front of a desk.  With a variety of casual puzzle games available for a couple of dollars from the AppStore the iPad might actually attract  new consumers to the gaming market. As some people who would never think of buying a Nintendo DSi might not object to playing their daily Sudoku game on the iPad they use for email and browsing.   This while a simple consideration might just make the iPad THE platform for casual gaming.  It will be used by lots of people that would never think of buy a gaming device, but which want to use the iPad for reading, surfing and emailing.  These will be easy targets for clever makers of casual games. Image: Flury Analytics (via Ars...
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