Groupon is getting killed in the Middle East

Groupon is getting killed in the Middle East

by DYLAN on JUNE 16, 2011

The Middle East is probably the most underrated growth market on the planet right now: Over 350M people with 70% under the age of 30. Groupon recently established an operation in the region but according to data for the last month they’re being crushed by, the local competitor. Can Groupon execute outside of their core territories?

The graphs below are based on data scraped from the Groupon and Cobone sites (UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) between May 14th-June 14th.

At first glance, Cobone is really hammering Groupon just in terms of coupons sold by about two to one.


But taking a closer look at the deals themselves and you see where Cobone is really killing them. Over the same period, Cobone turned over almost three times Groupon’s revenue. Clearly Groupon are having trouble getting to the higher quality merchants in the region.


What’s particularly interesting is how the two companies are leveraging social media in the region. Although the overall user numbers for Facebook and Twitter in the Middle East are still low (but growing rapidly), clearly Cobone understands a) how to engage them and b) how to monetize them. Groupon, on the other hand, appear to be either ignoring social completely (which seems odd) or simply don’t have a handle on it in that particular market.

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With problems allegedly being suffered by their Chinese operation, it looks as if Andrew Mason wasn’t joking when he said Groupon shareholders were going to be in for a bumpy ride.




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Sitting is Killing You

Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

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French Telcos, Atos Origin To Launch E-Payment Service

French telecom operators and IT services company Atos Origin (ATO.FR) Thursday announced the launch of a new electronic payment platform called Buyster, which will allow them to compete with eBay Inc.’s (EBAY) PayPal in France.

In a joint statement, France Telecom (FTE), Vivendi SA’s (VIV.FR) SFR, Bouygues SA’s (EN.FR) telecom unit and Atos Origin said the new system, which allows for payments via the internet and mobile phones, will be available in France from mid-2011.

The three telecom operators will offer the payment service to their mobile clients, thus potentially reaching over 50 million consumers. It will also be sold to e-commerce businesses in partnership with Atos Worldline, a unit of Atos Origin.

The jointly formed company is currently awaiting for approval to be recognized as an official payment company by the Bank of France, the companies said.


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Me and My friend Nikos are working on a new group buying website that focuses on restaurant and dine-in deals. You are invited to join the new community at or at our Facebook page

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Best Buy Launches Shopkick Automatic Checkins and Rewards at 257 Stores

Best Buy is readying 257 of its U.S. stores for a digital loyalty program that rewards customers who walk in and automatically check in via the Shopkick iPhone app and future Andriod app.

The Best Buy Shopkick initiative was announced earlier this month and will award offline shoppers with “kickbucks” — the Shopkick virtual currency — that can be redeemed in-store or converted to Best Buy gift certificates online. Shopkick has been integrated into Best Buy’s point of sale system, allowing customers to give their mobile phone number to the cashier to redeem discounts.

The program is set to go live tomorrow in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, New York City and Chicago markets, with 70 additional stores in Dallas, Miami and Minneapolis set to support the digital rewards program by October 1.

Shopkick’s iPhone app (which also goes live tomorrow) is designed to automatically check shoppers in to retail venues; no manual entry or GPS required. The automatic checkin is powered by small, physical speakers that emit inaudible sound near the entrances of participating stores. Mobile phone microphones are designed to pick up the signal, which will contain a store-specific code, if the Shopkick app is installed and running.

Shopkick’s launch partnerships extend beyond Best Buy and include Macy’s and two additional yet-to-be-disclosed retailers. Shopkick also has a partnership with U.S. mall operator Simon Property Group, owner of 370 shopping centers nationwide. Twenty-five malls in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago are said to be launching with the Shopkick program by the end of the month.

[img credit: Ron Dauphin]

From: Best Buy Launches Shopkick Automatic Checkins and Rewards at 257 Stores.

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Apple hires NFC expert as mobile commerce product manager • NFC World

Apple hires NFC expert as mobile commerce product manager

By Sarah Clark | | August 13th, 2010

Benjamin Vigier has been involved in the development of near field communication technology since 2004 and most recently was product manager for mobile wallet, payment and NFC at mobile payments specialists mFoundry.

Apple logo

EDGING CLOSER TO NFC? Apple’s new product manager for mobile commerce has worked with NFC since 2004

Apple has hired an expert in near field communication technology as its new product manager for mobile commerce.

Benjamin Vigier has been working on NFC technology since 2004 and has been responsible for NFC activities at both French mobile network operator Bouygues Telecom and flash memory manufacturer Sandisk.

Most recently Vigier was product manager for mobile wallet, payment and NFC at US mobile payments specialist mFoundry. There he conceived and managed both the PayPal Mobile service and Starbucks’ barcode-based mobile payments service and was also responsible for the development of mobile wallet applications for two top US mobile network operators and an NFC wallet application for a top three US bank.

A barrage of NFC-related Apple patent applications have been published over the last few months. They cover a wide range of potential NFC application areas and include:

Exactly what mobile commerce products Vigier will be working on at Apple are, of course, not yet in the public domain — and Vigier declined to comment about his new role when NFC World contacted him today. Given that he has had so much experience with mobile money applications, however, the choice of Vigier to product manage mobile commerce does, at least, point towards a continued interest at Apple in taking at least some of these patent applications from concept to commercial reality.

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Report: Mobile Geo-Marketing Not Where It’s At, Yet | Epicenter |

By Eliot Van Buskirk Email Author

July 27, 2010 |2:17 pm |

Marketers should avoid advertising on Foursquare and other location-based social networks because not enough people use them, according to a Forrester Research report. Only four out of every 100 online adults have ever used a social service that tracks their locations — and only 1 percent use such a service more than one time per week, according to Forrester.

Location-targeted advertising on mobile devices holds lots of promise for marketers, because they will be able to send ads to people, based on where they are and where they’ve been, along with other methods already in use. However, the market for location-based apps and services is still far too immature to support a robust advertising industry, claims Forrester, except for brands that want to run small tests of how to target male users.

“The market is quite nascent, with only a reads few million consumers using geo-location apps monthly,” an excerpt from the $500 study. “Marketers need to know what audiences can be reached with these services, which companies — if any — are ready for prime time, and whether LBSNs [location-based social networks] align with business objectives. Forrester recommends that bold, male-targeted marketers start testing, but that most marketers should wait until they can get a bigger bang for their buck, when adoption rates increase and established players emerge from the fray.” obtained a copy of the report, which also concludes that the few people who are using Brightkite, Dopplr, Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Scvngr, StickyBits, Whrrl and other location-based social networks tend to influence their friends and family, making them good advertising targets. They tend to be young males with college degrees living in households that pull in an average of $105,000 per year, and are more likely than the typical online American to check their cellphones from a store for product information before making a big purchase — a big factor for marketers looking to sway buying decisions at brick-and-mortar stores.

Another key finding: Facebook and Twitter “are both in prime position to combine their mastery of social networking with mobile location.” Twitter appears to be in better shape in this regard, having launched TwitterPlaces in June, which lets people tag their tweets with their locations (and lets others view tweets associated with a given place by searching for that tag).

Facebook, on the other hand, appears to have blown it, for now anyway. The site’s recent privacy imbroglio, which became front-page news on mainstream publications due to the way it was handling (or mishandling) sensitive personal data, was timed horribly, according to the study, because users will only divulge their locations to services they feel will maintain high privacy standards.

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Firefox 4 beta 2 is out

The latest beta version of Firefox 4  is now available as a preview release. Take it for a test drive and let us know what you think!

μέσω Firefox web browser | Help us test the latest beta.

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iOS vs Android? Over 1,000 Developers (Including Some Top Names) Are Having it Both Ways

Apple vs Google! iPhone vs Android!

Journalists, bloggers and fanboys love to take sides, and there *is* a real fight underway for the future of mobile computing. But are the entrepreneur / app developers who make these platforms so valuable really taking sides?

As Mashable’s Christina Warren reported earlier this week, a recent mobile developer survey by Appcelerator suggests that developers care more about making money on whatever platform is winning than they are on taking sides in a platform war. Perhaps the most surprising result from the report was this one: while 78% of polled developers saw Apple’s iOS as having the “best near-term outlook” (vs 16% for Android), a majority of the same group (54%) picked Android as having the “best long-term outlook” (vs 40% for iOS). As strong as Apple’s current hand is, developers can read the news, and Android has been making headlines lately as a growing threat to Apple’s dominance.

Surveys results are interesting as a snapshot of current attitudes, but when we saw these results here at AppStoreHQ we decided to dig a little deeper…

Our developer directory includes a complete list of every published iPhone, iPad and Android developer currently in the Apple App Store or Android Market, but – until now – we’d treated each platform as a separate list. In light of the Appcelerator data we wanted to know how many developers were “voting with their keyboards” and developing for *both* of the leading smartphone platforms.

The answer (approximated in the graphic below) surprised us: of the nearly 55,000 mobile developers in our database over 1,000 (1,412, to be exact) had already published apps on both iOS and Android. This represents more than 3% of the published iOS developer population, and nearly 15% of the published Android developer group.

Despite the impressive total, we worried that it would be too easy for the fanboys on both sides of the aisle to dismiss these numbers as a crackpot minority. So we dug a little deeper, using our AppRank methodology to stack rank this cross-platform developer group based on the total volume and quality of coverage they’d received among the leading tech blogs worldwide.

We found literally hundreds of cross-platform developers that had received recent coverage of their apps among some of the best and most respected names in online media, including well-known brands like Gameloft, Facebook, AOL, Amazon, Warner Brothers, Yelp, Intuit, PayPal and The New York Times.

Worried that even this impressive sampling wouldn’t be enough to convince the die-hards, we went ahead and published the 100 Most Talked-About Cross-Platform Mobile Developers as a webpage for all to see.

Our conclusion? Smartphone developers want to build for the platform that will deliver the biggest bang for their effort. Right now that’s iOS, but as our cross-platform analysis suggests, many of the strongest iPhone publishers have already added Android to their portfolio. If Android’s current rapid growth continues, you can expect this number to grow


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The mobile developer’s toolkit (Mobile web part 2)

The mobile developer’s toolkit (Mobile web part 2).

May 11th, 2010

Tools of the trade

You’re no mobile developer unless you have the tools to develop on mobile! And while it’s good to own at least one of the smartphones you’re developing on, it’s probably unrealistic to think that you’re going to go out of your way to buy several other unlocked smartphones just to test with. So you should have the next best thing: an SDK!

But an SDK is just one of the tools of the trade. Here’s links to more things to get you started!

SDKs, Emulators and Simulators

Short of having access to a real phone, the next best thing is to have an emulator/simulator. And good news: all the major smartphones have SDKs available for you!

iPhone SDK (Mac OS X only) – the quintessential SDK for the quintessential smartphone. Includes iPhone simulator.
Android SDK (Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux)
Palm webOS SDK (Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux) – emulator for Palm Pre, Pixi, etc. Also check out Ares, the browser-based tool for creating web apps.
Firefox Mobile emulator (aka Fennec) – mobile version of Firefox being developed for new Nokias and soon Androids
Opera Mobile emulator – this is the fastest emulator of the bunch, in terms of downloading and launching the program. Painless installation.
Opera Mini Simulator (Browser-based Java applet) – In-browser simulator. Note that Opera Mini is different than Opera Mobile.
Windows Phone 7 Series emulator

Keynote MITE (Mobile Interactive Testing Environment) (Windows only) – a glorified user agent switcher. Doesn’t have testing of real devices.

DeviceAnywhere (Java-based software that runs on Windows and Mac OSX) – a service that lets you test on actual mobile devices sitting in labs around the world. It has a tendency to be a bit clunky, but there’s no real alternatives on the market. Only subscribe to this if you intend on supporting more than just smartphones.

Mobile JavaScript libraries

jQTouch – jQuery plugin for mobile development
iUI – iPhone user interface library
PastryKit – Apple-exclusive with no available documentation

Web App Wrappers

The concept is simple: use what you know to create an app with HTML/CSS/JS and turn it into a marketable native app with one of these “wrapper” services.

appcelerator’s Titanium Mobile
Rhomobile (HTML-based)

User agent switchers

Many websites sniff a browser’s user agent to detect if it’s a mobile device. As a developer this presents a challenge, because a lot of development is done on a desktop browser. With a user agent switcher, a developer can masquerade their desktop browser as a mobile browser.

Firefox addon: User Agent Switcher

Safari: Enable the Develop toolbar (click on Safari -> Preferences -> Advanced) and click on Develop -> User Agent. Select a predefined user agent or enter a custom agent by selecting “Other…”

Chrome: There is no easy way to do this (note that the one user agent switcher extension for Chrome doesn’t work). Currently the only way is to set command line flags:

To change the user agent of Chrome in Windows:

  1. Make a copy of the shortcut to Chrome.
  2. Right click the copy and select Properties.
  3. In the Target field append ––user-agent=”myagent”

Example Target: “C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” ––user-agent=”Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)”

To change the user agent of Chrome in Mac OSX:

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Enter the following into terminal: /Applications/Google\\ Chrome ––user-agent=”myagent”

Example command: /Applications/Google\\ Chrome ––user-agent=”Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)”

Mobile detection

On the server side, mobile detection is mostly done by user agent sniffing (thus the need for the user agent switchers above), but there are a few other methods.

“Lite” user agent detection: these methods implement a simple server-side function (commonly in PHP) to detect common mobile user agents. There’s a few versions, mostly based on code by Andy Moore. There’s one implemented in the WordPress Mobile Pack and a similar one described on the Nokia developer forums.

WURFL (Wireless Universal Resource File) – a 10+ year old project that is still being used and gaining momentum. It’s beneficial because it’s open source and it offers a lot of valuable information about devices.

DeviceAtlas – essentially a commercial version of WURFL

Reporting bugs

Everybody’s human. All this new cutting-edge stuff isn’t exactly bug-free. Help squash bugs by reporting them on the project’s website. For best results, show a simplified example of the bug in action (try not to post big hunks of code!).

WebKit Bugzilla
Android: Report bugs


Keep up to date! There’s new stuff happening all the time on the mobile web.

QuirksBlog – blog of Peter-Paul Koch (PPK), who is known for documenting and researching cross-browser inconsistencies. As of the last several years he’s been focusing on documenting mobile browser bugs.

Daring Fireball – John Gruber’s blog with a cultlike following. Frequently reports on mobile happenings, especially stuff relating to Apple.

Surfin’ Safari – The WebKit Blog
Android Developers blog
IE for Windows Phone Team Weblog
Opera Mobile Blog
Inside BlackBerry – The Official BlackBerry Blog

Yahoo! Mobile Blog
Google Mobile Blog


Yahoo! Blueprint – framework for normalizing cross-browser issues across thousands of devices

(this post is part of an ongoing series on the mobile web. Read the first part here)

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