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For the first time ever, annual spending on mobile advertising is expected to exceed $1 billion in the United States.  Market research firm eMarketer predicts that the total will reach somewhere around $1.23 billion by the end of the year, nearly double 2010's mark of $743 million.  EMarketer credits the immense growth to increased confidence in the medium, which has been bolstered by more bang for their investment buck in the fast-growing mobile market.  With 38% of consumers using smartphones to access the internet at least once per month, it's no wonder.

EMarketer used three kinds of advertising for their calculation: display ads, search ads and message-based ads.  While spending on display advertising (rich media, banners) saw a big jump from $202 million to $376 million, it is video ads that skyrocketed 100% from $28 million to $56 million.  Messaging-based ads, which make up the largest chunk of the bunch, actually saw the smallest increase in spending, from $327 million to $443 million.

$1 billion dollars is just the tip of the iceberg.  According to eMarketer's forecast, that number will nearly quadruple in the next four years to $4.4 billion in 2015.  The numbers are staggering.

Source: eMarketer; Via: Moconews

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Memory Cube - App Spotlight

Memory games can be challenging, especially when the playing field is three dimensional. Memory Cube is a Windows Phone game that does just that.

The game follows the traditional memory/match game style. You have a series of symbols, letters or numbers concealed beneath tiles that form a three-dimensional cube. Your job is to identify the matching tiles as quickly as possible. It's hard enough to find matching tiles on a two-dimensional board but with Memory Cube, you not only have to remember what is hidden beneath which tile but also which side of the cube the tile is located.

Memory Cube has thirty levels of play and includes ten different types of images. With each level the cube gets large and more challenging. All in all, if you like memory games Memory Cube is worth checking out.

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LG LS831 passes FCC

We first caught wind of the LG LS831 the last week of August when it made an appearance on WP Bench and I'm A WP7, but we didn't know anything about it.  Well, this mystery phone has just made it past the FCC and it looks like it's a CDMA phone with WP7.5 on it.  The LS831 was tested in the Baltimore area and could be coming to Sprint or Verizon in the near future.  It has also popped up on WP Bench again:

It's good to see some handsets slated for the CDMA carriers, as it looked like Windows Phone was being shown much love.

Source: BlogOfMobile; Via: Nanapho

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Full House Poker updated to Mango

Good news for players and especially those who managed to grab this title when it was the Xbox Live Deal of the Week not so long ago. Full House Poker has been updated to Mango, which brings the usual goodness with fast-app switching and more. But the interesting feature that's now included is unlockable ringtone achievements, which is something we haven't seen yet in a game on Windows Phone.

You can download Full House Poker from the Marketplace for $2.99, be sure to check out our full review!

Thanks Will for the heads up!

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Cocktail Flow updated to Mango v3.4

Cocktail Flow is an app that allows users to find and try new cocktails with combinations of alcoholic beverages. You can input into the app what ingredients you have in your bar and cocktails are then identified that can be created for any event or occasion. We covered the app just before MIX'11 when a pack of cocktails named after Microsoft products was released.

We're now back reporting on version 3.4, which has just been pushed out. This update brings Mango goodness including pinnable tiles for individual recipes, live tile, push notifications and performance improvements. Cocktails can also now be rated and users can upload photos to the database. The app is continuously updated with new recipes being added and is often cited as the pinnacle of Windows Phone app design.

You can download Cotail Flow from the Marketplace for $2.99. Thanks Argenys for the tip!

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DeepShining custom HD7 Mango ROM

Should you have a spare HTC HD7 at hand and feel extraordinarily adventurous, this is an interesting custom ROM for you. DeepShining claims to be the first ROM to feature nine different themes and lockscreen wallpapers with the addition of a black Nokia accent. Highlighted details and features:

  • Based on Shipped Mango ROM: HTC Europe 4.05.401.02 build 7.10.7720.68
  • Radio 5.69.09.29a
  • 1st Worldwide ROM with 9 Themes and 9 Lockscreen Custom Wallpapers plus Black Nokia Accent.
  • Dev/Introp Chevron unlocked
  • XBmod Certificates
  • Unlock Hidden option in ease of access settings
  • Some minor reg Tweaks
  • OEM apps from HTC Omega like HTC Hub, Notes, Attentive phone, HTC Location and HTC Connected Media

Please note that we cannot accept any responsibility for damaged handsets - use this at your own will. For more information, screenshots and flashing requirements/steps head on over to the DeepShining thread at the XDA Developers forum (link below).

Source: XDA Developers forum, thanks Joaquim for the tip!

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onePlayer - App Spotlight

A good number of households have a media server, whether it be a small setup with Windows Media Center on a desktop or a small dedicated server. The average user enjoys streaming movies, music and photos. Windows 7 performs well with the Xbox 360, but what about Windows Phone 7? This is where onePlayer comes in.

onePlayer allows the user to stream content (DLNA) to and from their Windows Phone, whether it be to a compatible TV, home server, media centre, etc. The app sports directory browsing, playlist creation and device discovery on the WiFi network.

Some highlighted features:

  • Stream pictures to the TV or PC.
  • Stream music (MP3) to your home stereo.
  • Stream and control video to the TV.
  • Listen your music on your windows phone, supporting background streaming.
  • Browse DLNA servers.
  • Mango/7.5 compatible

You can download onePlayer from the Marketplace for $1.99 (£1.49) with a free trial.

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Digitec pushing Windows Phone in Switzerland

We've received a tip that Digitec, a major online retailer in Switzerland, appears to be pushing Windows Phone quite hard according to their mobile prospect for October 2011. Giving two pages (at the front of the prospect) to the HTC Radar and Samsung Omnia W, which both look superb. 

The HTC Titan is also available should you dive into the carrier section (page 16 onwards). It's also featured on the front cover of the prospect itself, fantastic to see a retailer providing Windows Phone some room for promotion.

Source: Digitec, thanks William for the tip!

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Speaking of updates, WhatsApp not only updated their app description to reflect a future subscription fee, but also bumped the app to v1.2. So are we finally getting video support? Group chat? How about some avatars in the conversation? Nope.

Instead, under Favorites now, they ditched the letter-picker system, at least if you only have a few contacts. This makes Favorites much more streamlined. It also looks like the Task bar has been thinned out, giving more room on the main screens. Finally you get a  Favorites refresh button under Settings, which is good if you want to make sure you have all of the latest contacts showing.

Update: We've also noticed it now thankfully has landscape support for typing and better auto-correct. HTC Arrive and LG Quantum users, rejoice! (*Also note, you're not crazy--it will still say v1.1 under the About section as the developers forgot to update that part).

Grab it here in the Marketplace (Zune link) or the Web Marketplace.

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WhatsApp made its first big debut a few weeks ago and while the app is still missing a bunch of features, over all it works quite well on Windows Phone (nicer looking than the BlackBerry app at least).

Well, the other shoe has dropped as it looks like WhatsApp will charge for their services. Cost? A paltry $1.99 per year with the first year free. Now, before we all get in a hub-bub, this just makes the Windows Phone app on par with the other platforms (we know the BlackBerry version charges the exact same). And lets face it, if you're using the app regularly $2 a year won't kill you.

Still, consider yourself warned. You have 12 months to get save up for the big day. Thanks, Aljoša, for the tip

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iHeartRadio goes to v3.0 and is ready for Mango

Good news for those of you who use iHeartRadio, that radio-streaming app featuring "over 750 of America's favorite local radio stations", as it's now Mangofied. The app received quite a few new features and fixes including:

  • Background Audio Player
  • Live Station Tile To Start Page
  • Fast Application Switching Support
  • Facebook Fixes
  • Link to Feedback Page

We've seen a similar update with Slacker Radio recently and if Mango has done one thing right, it was making background audio and multiple Live Tiles an option for developers. Radio apps like these certainly show why Mango is such a great update. You can pick up iHeartRadio for free here (Web Marketplace) and check out hands-on video from late 2010 to see it in action. Thanks, ShipWreck, for the tip!

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AT&T Samsung Focus S coming October 11th?

We've seen the Radar 4G on T-Mobile get a date and now we may, we stress may, have a date for the much coveted Samsung Focus S: October 11th.

Yikes, that's just days away if true. The date comes from InfoTech who is saying that the device will be "released at the CTIA wireless association exhibition on October 11 in San Diego" which is certainly not the craziest thing we've heard. In fact, kicking it off at CTIA makes total sense for Samsung as they can get plenty of press coverage (and yes, we'll have someone there from our Smartphone Experts community there to check it out).

Now, just because Samsung shows off the Focus S at CTIA, we're not sure that means it'll be available for us to buy that day too. So we're more apt to say it gets announced with a release soon thereafter. Either way, we'll be on the ground to cover anything if it happens. But seeing as this bad boy has cleared the FCC already, there really is no reason for AT&T to wait.

Update: We've been tipped that the phone will be available the first week of November in retail. (Thanks, Jason)

Thanks, XboxOmac, for the heads up

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Core77, an industrial design and development magazine out of New York City, has teamed up with the Windows Phone 7 people at Microsoft to host a new contest for the WP7 developer community. It's targetted at young and aspiring designers that are looking to get their portfolio moving, show off their design skills and even get their app ideas developed by those experienced with the platform.

The contest, called Fast Track to the Mobile App, beckons app designers from all walks of life and regions to put their skills to the test and compete for some pretty decent prizes. 130 winners of the contest will win prizes that include:

  • Free Windows Phones
  • XBox 360 (with Kinect)
  • 1-year App-Hub subscriptions
  • App Development Deal (with revenue sharing options) to bring your design to life

For developers and designers that are already well established in the field, this might not be the best contest to look into. But if you have ideas for an app and can design one to look better than other entries, you could win some pretty cool stuff, not to mention get an app put in the catalog with your name on it. Want more details? Hit the link below to get the full scoop on how to enter, and win, this contest.

Source: Core77 Contest Details

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Rising from the ashes, the Zune HD still lives?

You've got to wonder if Mark Twain had the Zune HD in mind when he said, "The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated".  Yep, that's right.  It looks as if the Zune HD is still kicking.

Remember yesterday when we shared the Zune HD support page that said the devices were no longer in production? Where Microsoft would continue to honor warranties and support the devices but were focusing on the Windows Phone as their mobile music and video devices? Well that page is now gone.

You also have a tweet from @ZuneSupport stating that support page was added in error. Just as pulling the Zune HD from sales channels was a publishing mishap?

We still believe that Microsoft will end production of the Zune players. Microsoft may just need a bigger boat to pull the Zune HD off the market. Either that or get the Zune Team all on the same page the next time they report the unfortunate death of the Zune HD to avoid a trilogy.

via: @WP_DownUnder/WP Down Under

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Sonic 4 is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week

Last week was a fantastic week for Xbox Live game deals, as four different games went on sale. This week we’re back to a single sale game, but it’s a good one: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I from Sega. Sonic’s first Windows Phone title will be on sale for $4.99, down from $6.99.

2010’s Sonic 4 was the first proper 2D Sonic game to hit consoles since Sonic & Knuckles all the way back in 1994. The Windows Phone port is extremely faithful to its Xbox 360 older brother, with 90% of the same content. The mobile versions of the game replace two console levels with new ones (one of which is rather weak, but oh well). Most importantly, Sonic 4’s touch screen controls work really well, making for a fine platforming experience. Check out our review for more details.

Picking up Sonic 4 on the cheap is a great way to prepare for the mobile version of Sonic CD. One of the finest games in the series, Sonic CD is dashing its way to Windows Phone and consoles later this year.

The Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I sale lasts for one week only. Grab it here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.

UPDATE: The game mistakenly showed up at the super-low price of $2.99 for part of Wednesday. It has since returned to the $4.99 price. Thanks to Dark Jedi I Am and the other readers who tipped us.

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Apple announced the iPhone 4S today, which millions of hipsters and fruit fanatics will be lining up to purchase on October 14. Does the new iPhone threaten to stall Windows Phone’s rise to the smartphone big leagues? In some ways, yes. Whenever the competition rolls out a new product line, that’s always cause for concern. In the following editorial I’ll spell out the different areas that Apple has me worried. Just don’t forget that I absolutely love Windows Phone and I’d sooner give up one of Rich Edmond's kidneys than live without it.

Head past the break to find out in which areas the iPhone 4S may have current Windows Phones beaten.

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Kendrick Lamar and Windows Phone [Video]

Kendrick Lamar is a 24-year old musician from Compton, California, and the above video runs us through how Windows Phone aids him produce lyrics and melody ideas wherever he may be using Pocket Voice Recorder. Not only does he use the platform for creating music, but he opens up his album on Zune to listen to his tracks. 

Neat advertising and a cool story. 10 points and a brownie badge if you can spot the WPCentral app on the Marketplace in the video.

Source: YouTube (Microsoft), thanks David for the heads up!

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Plex Lite - App Spotlight

Plex Lite has recently been unleashed on the Windows Phone Marketplace and is the free version of the popular game Plex. Plex Lite has access to all twenty-four levels of the Adventure Mode but lacks the Survival Mode which is found on the paid version.

Plex Lite has you clearing tiles off a 3D sphere by placing matching tiles on top of existing tiles of the same design. There are bonus tiles that appear along the way to help you with the adventure. Each level must be cleared within a certain time limit and the faster you clear the sphere, the higher your score.

The game screen has your placement tile displayed in the upper right corner, rotation arrows to turn your sphere in the bottom right and your timer (the blue bar) along the left side. You'll have to rotate the sphere until the spot where you want to place the new tile is highlighted in the center of the screen. Once that is accomplished, tap the screen and the new tile drops.

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Microsoft's latest regulatory filing shows that Steve Ballmer received a bonus of $682,500, which is the same amount of money he draws for a salary as CEO.  While many of us would love to see a 100% bonus, the amount is actually only half of what he is capable of earning.  The filing indicates that the reasons behind the low bonus were stagnant Windows Phone sales and "the need for further progress in new form factors."

Ballmer himself admitted that sales of Windows Phone were not where he would have liked them to be, but with the recent rollout of Mango and Nokia's first WP7 handsets on the verge of making their way to the market, that could all change.  As for "new form factors," who saw their sales drop 2%, we've seen a glimpse of the future and the future is looking pretty good.  The upside to Ballmer's review is that Kinect was a huge success, Office 365 is taking off and Bing has increased its share of the search engine market to 27%.  One thing is for sure, Ballmer, who is the world's 33rd richest person in the world, can spare the the $682,500 that he missed out on this bonus period.

Source: SmartHouse

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The competition: iPhone 4S announced

Apple has announced the iPhone 4S today at the Let's Talk iPhone event with Tim Cook at the helm. So, what's new with the iPhone 4S? Is it a game changer or simply a fill in for the iPhone 5? For a start I'm afraid we do have a killer app here. Unfortunately it's not currently available for Windows Phone (or any other platform) - Cards. Yes, you read correctly. Cards. More on this in a minute.

Comparatively, what has Microsoft and the WP team achieved in the past month? Mango (with 500 features), as well as new handsets announced from Samsung, HTC, Nokia to name just a few. How does the iPhone 4S measure up?  Read on past the break and see what's in store for the iPhone crowd and judge for yourself. 

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HTC Radar & Titan shipping at Phones4u

It seems HTC and Phone4u have decided to jump the gun and release the HTC Titan and Radar earlier than what was stated as the release date - possibly to combat the iPhone. The two handsets were originally said to be available October 7th for ordering via the UK retailer website, which we found aberrant as the devices are readily available in stores.

One can find both the Titan and the Radar ready for order and shipping on the Phones4u website, or you can check into your local store for a more hands-on purchase. Contracts are available with the cheapest being Orange with the Radar at £23.50/mo and Vodafone with the Titan at £31/mo.

Thanks Ross for the tip!

Update: Our tipster just confirmed the purchase of an HTC Titan from Phones4u.  He did share this pic of his new phone before relegating it to the charger.

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Elop confirms first Nokia phones this quarter

Nokia's CEO, Stephen Elop confirmed today what was expected all along, the first Nokia Windows Phones will be coming very soon. It has been long suspected that the Finnish manufacturer would unveil the first of their WP7 devices at the Nokia World conference in London on October 26th, and at a Helsinki technology fair this morning, Elop spoke of introducing "products" in the current quarter. What's exciting here is his use of the plural form, denoting that we can expect at least a couple models this year. With Apple's new iPhone about to launch, Elop said, "Our belief is that there is a clear opportunity for an alternative ecosystem."

Elop compared the company's decision to abandon Symbian for Windows Phone to jumping off of a burning oil platform, which is pretty accurate. Nokia saw Symbian steadily losing ground and had to act, though moving to a completely new platform left them in a state of financial limbo with nothing to offer investors or consumers for eight months. With that stagnancy drawing to an end, we're close to seeing if the gamble paid off.

Source: Reuters; Via: PhoneScoop

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For those looking for an unlocked, SIM-free version of the HTC Titan, Clove Technology has you covered as that device is now in stock and ready to be ordered. Fetching for £498.00 (incl. VAT) or about $767, you can order the biggest, baddest Windows Phone to date.

For those looking for network compatibility, you have 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz covered for voice and 850, 900, 2100 Mhz for 3G data on board. Everything else looks the same as expected.

Source: Clove.co.uk; Thanks, Jubbin G., for the Twitter tip!

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HTC Radar available at MobiCity

Good news for those who reside in Australia and are eagerly awaiting the HTC Radar handset, MobiCity is now stocking HTC's Mango-powered white gem and it's available for purchase at $549.99. It's not tied to any network (unlocked), is available in white or silver and is ready to ship on order. Unfortunately when choosing a free accessory, the HTC dock isn't listed (due to delay?) and it's not Telstra NextG compatible showing that this could well be an imported model.

If you're a power house fan, then the HTC Titan will be more up your street, but is still tied to pre-ordering for now.

Source: MobiCity, thanks Gibbo for the tip!

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