A Virtual Reality experience that accelerates learning of Molecular Biology


We led the Norwegian University of Life Sciences through a service design process, with rapid prototyping and weekly user testing that ensured that we could deliver a delightful and educational VR experience.

The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) is the leading university in Norway for life science and biology. They came to us with a goal: to create a Virtual Reality experience for students of molecular biology. We at Agens accepted the challenge and set forth to create an immersive learning experience – closer to how an apprentice trains to become a blacksmith: learning by doing rather than by reading

Question everything

Our first move was to sit down together, listen and ask all sorts of questions. The world of microbiology was hardly our speciality, so it was important for the project’s success that we ask questions to ensure that we actually understood what we were teaching. Actively listening and asking questions, is the best way of validating that two sides share a common perspective. Just listening ensures that you go home with your own idea of what they were trying to tell – asking questions is key.

Hold an amino acid in your hands

We decided that the player would use their hands as tools to grab and manipulate amino acids and tRNA in order to place them at the ribosome. The ribosome would then, as in real life, check the incoming tRNA and kick it out if it was wrong, but accept it and add it to the amino acid chain, if correct.

We first focused on creating the assets needed for our “simulation” engine. This meant writing some scripts that would translate genetic text code like AAAAAGGUUUCCCUUUU into physical objects. Each amino acid had its chemical data added in, and were represented by a simple sphere model in the virtual world.

The untapped potential of VR in education: learning complex subjects quicker and earlier

However, the real magic happened after our VR model was finished. We were able to take our protein building factory and try it on students outside the target audience. After trying the VR model the students had a way better understanding of how the cells in our body work and what RNA translation actually is.

This is where it gets really exciting; what happens when VR lets you introduce knowledge at an earlier stage in someone’s life and education? RNA translation is a pretty complex biological process to explain with words, normally this subject is introduced at college level. But the VR model allowed students with little to no prior knowledge to understand and interact with it. Who knows what that means for the next generation of life scientists.

Innovation in teaching methods is a catalyst in moving all other sciences forward. If we gain insight in how to communicate scientific ideas in a fast and accurate way, to as broad a set of people as possible, we will end up with an ocean of capable people ready to work on the challenges of the future.

When you partner with Agens, we use the latest VR technology, but more importantly, we know how to craft an immersive experience that is educational and fun – and beyond news value.

We would love to talk to you about how we could use VR and AR in your next project.

Now hiring!


At Agens, we love making awesome stuff – and making Agens an awesome place to work. We are excited to say that we are now looking to expand our family.

Agens is a digital agency, yet we are also a leading Scandinavian user experience collective – counting 40 employees based out of Oslo as well as Grimstad, Norway. We lead strategic design processes, make games and build digital products for companies we love and respect – including for startups that we create ourselves. We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company, and we especially encourage women to apply. If you think you may fit one of the profiles below – don’t hesitate to drop a line to post@agens.no.

 

UX Ninja / Designer

You are madly in love with usability. You are fluent in the poetic language of frictionless user stories. You get a dopamine kick every time you see a beautifully crafted customer journey. You have strong opinions about when to use Sketch, Pixate, Invision, Keynote, React Native or pen and paper. Asking the right questions and solving the UX problems is what gets you up in the morning. You don’t mind leading workshops and enjoy conveying big ideas in front of people.

Android / iOS / Web Developers

Do you want to become a part of one of Scandinavia’s best mobile development teams? We are looking for talented people with a proven track record who dream about smooth UIs, beautifully written code, an environment in which to grow further as a developer – and a place where you’re able to work with excellent colleagues. We want to you to be able to do your best work here at Agens – which is why we strive to identify projects and tasks for you that you can be passionate about. Drop us a line, show us something you built and we’ll send you a task so you can prove your talent.

Chief Data Analyst

Numbers matter. They hold the truth – but they need to be unearthed and turned into insight in order to matter. We are looking for a passionate numbers gal or guy for whom analytics, graphs and tables read like poetry and who is able to formulate the right questions, sift through data to find the answers, turn them into valuable insight – and to convey them in clear terms, both internally and externally. As our Chief Data Analyst, you will be an integral part of our most important projects, take part in defining goals and play an important role in identifying and addressing the hard questions.

Wildcard Wizards

Do you have a special skill that will benefit us as a company? Do you see yourself as a person that can take us further in an exciting direction? Do you see where the world is going before anyone else? Do you have a brilliant idea you want to pitch? Do you like meeting people for a cup of coffee? If so, please hit our mailbox.

Ten reasons you will love working here:

  1. We work on complex, demanding, tactile and fun projects for very attractive clients. And we run our own startups and projects as well.
  2. You want to to have an actual life outside work? Without red-eye nights at work littered by Red Bull cans? Awesome. Cause we’re doing what we can to make sure we all have a healthy work/life balance – with a lot of flexibility and family-friendly benefits.
  3. We have no external owners – we control our own future. All employees are offered to buy stock in the company.
  4. Each year you get a grant for your own personal development. Use it however you want. Take some days off, go to conferences, learn new skills and share them with the team.
  5. You get invited to the yearly workation, a one-week trip to a lush location with plenty of things to do outside normal working hours. Get to know your colleagues as friends.
  6. We love to be the catalyst of turning your ideas into real products. Let’s build a new company on your idea! In fact, we’ve done this several times already. One of them now is now a multi-million business. Every third month or so we set aside all our projects for company-wide Innovation Days. And if you have a good pitch, we might give you the opportunity to turn your idea into a successful startup.
  7. At Agens, you’re part of a real team. Unlike most digital agencies, you will not be placed at a random desk to work at a client HQ for two years without getting to know your real colleagues. Enjoy our HQ facilities, build competence, be built up by your teammates – and be a part of building the company culture.
  8. Do you like tinkering and building real stuff? Good. Cause we have a lab with 3D printer, CNC mills and tools for you to play around with in your spare time. Some of your colleagues have used it to make all kinds of stuff already – including game controllers, a smart mirror and weird furniture. We also have two pretty decent sound studio facilities.
  9. We’re on a relentless journey towards new possibilities. Cause the world is never gonna move this slow again. We enjoy change. Hopefully, so do you. Agens is not the place to be if you prefer stale surroundings moving at glacial speeds. We don’t know where we are going. Why don’t you come join us?
  10. Still not convinced? Well, let’s just say that we have our very own smoke machine. And our Oslo HQ floor is longboard certified. Whatever that means.
Finally we can announce that we’re teaming up with the creators of Alto’s Adventure to bring you our next game: Skate City.

 

Back in 2014, Agens developer Daniel Zeller channelled his longtime passion for skating into a game called Skate Lines. The goal was to capture the artistry and fluid movement of skating in a way that was uniquely suited for mobile play.

Despite it being little more than a tech demo at the time, the game has been downloaded over half a million times in the past two years. To our surprise, it also gained somewhat of a cult following along the way! Fan mail started pouring in, more often than not asking the question: “when will Skate Lines 2 be released?”

We couldn’t answer that question right away. One thing was certain: we knew we had ambitious goals, and to reach them, we would need a partner. As luck would have it, we connected with Alto’s Adventure developer Snowman this past April, and showed them an early demo of our Skate Lines followup, Skate City.

After diving in to play, it quickly became clear that they shared our passion for skateboarding, and for building artful experiences. In the months that followed, we discussed how we could make a truly mobile experience that embodied what we both loved most about skateboarding.

Today, we couldn’t be more stoked to finally share a glimpse of what we’re crafting together with Snowman. Take a look at the first teaser trailer for Skate City.



Hope you love it as much as we do – it was made by the very talented Joe Pease, frequent collaborator with one of our favourite skate magazines, TransWorld.
Excited to know more? Be sure to sign up to our email newsletter to be the first to know when there are new updates about the game, including a release date.

Get notified at launch!

We’ll also be regularly sharing clips from the game on Instagram throughout development! Definitely follow along for an inside look at the world of Skate City.

This weekend the Norwegian Film Institute hosted the annual Norwegian Gameplay Championship. The challenge is each year to build a gameplay demo inspired by a theme that is determined by the organisers. This year’s theme was “fear”. Our take on the theme was this: we fear the the things we do not know – and can not see. A horror movie is scary because you have not seen the monster clearly.

We developed a gameplay concept we called “Fade”. With highly pixelated graphics, abstract graphics and ambient music, we wanted to give the player the feeling of not seeing properly what was going on. Out of 20+ teams we made it all the way to the finals. Congrats to Rock Pocket Games for their awesome winning concept! Yet more importantly: we are super happy with the resulting gameplay concept we pulled together in such short time.

Check out a brief gameplay video below, and let us know what you think on YouTube or Facebook!



I just spent the last month collaborating with NMBU (Norwegian University of Life sciences), prototyping an educational app for biology students and then I finished it off by going to VRDC, a VR developer conference. A month long immersion into the immersive technology of VR. Here’s my report. But first of all:

Why I am stoked about VR (and you should be too)

VR and all its sibling technologies, AR (augmented reality), MR (mixed reality), is by some being fronted as “the last medium”. That is quite a statement to live up to. I have friends who are amazed by what is currently on offer with today’s technology, and friends who compare VR to a slight improvement to the much-hyped 3DTV’s  that TV manufacturers desperately wanted us to buy in the early 2010’s. The arguments against VR is that we have abstractions that work very well on a 2D surface, and that bringing them into a virtual world adds very little in terms of effectiveness to accomplish the goal of the experience. What added benefit is there to ordering a plane ticket inside of VR compared to pressing buttons in a native mobile app? I believe that is the wrong way of approaching a new medium. There is no need to start moving experiences that we are solving effectively in old channels, just for the sake of doing so. We should rather identify what it is that works exceptionally well in VR and shape our ideas around the strengths of the medium.

If you’ve seen someone with a fear of heights don on VR gear and face their fears, you can easily see the effectiveness of the medium. Interestingly, the human brain easily understands that this is a make-believe world. The body, however, is fooled. Big-time fooled, to the point where ethics come into play: the medium is so effective at simulating the world that the reptile brain kicks into action. This means we need to work hard and test often to ensure we create comfortable experiences. It also means the medium has the power to create very powerful emotions. With great power comes great responsibility. Psychologists are doing great research to ensure that we can use the medium in order to better control this effect. PTSD is just one of the actively researched fields that have seen great success with using VR for exposure therapy.

Another strength of the medium is how intuitive it makes exploration of 3D design and the mechanics of motion within 3D-simulated environments. If you ever had the fortune of learning linear algebra in 3D-space with unit vectors and similar, you know how confusing it can be. Even IKEA-instructions can become a spatial puzzle when you have to translate from a two-dimensional instruction to a real world object. It seems like trivial examples, but imagine how costly a spatial design error becomes if it is a part of a civic engineering project. Allowing users that design objects for real world usage to enter virtual spaces allows for an intuitive study of form and function before real-world prototyping and manufacturing take place.

So as stated, I just came back from a ten day “VR tour” in San Francisco. Even though I’ve dubbed it a VR tour, and even though Donald Trump ended up winning the election, this Virtual Reality tour was in fact not virtual. The plan was simple, travel to the Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC) and spend some extra days in San Francisco to get immersed in the VR scene. My first stop was at IBM’s innovation center. They held a meet-up in their cognitive computing group and by chance, this month’s meet-up was “using Watson in Virtual Reality”. The case was using Watson’s speech generation/recognition API’s together with the HTC Vive to create a voice-controlled version of Scribblenauts. In effect, you could just point anywhere and say “Make me a red car “, and that wish was your command.  If you wish to experiment with this yourself, you can find the example here. The case for voice-interaction in VR is that your hands are free to interact with the world and that typing in VR is currently a bit cumbersome.

The conference itself was a curious mix of game developers , traditional entertainment, industry, healthcare, education and more. Most in common between all was being curious. Everyone at the conference shared the impression that what we are seeing, is the early days of a new medium. A lot of high-five encouragements and genuine interest in each other’s experiments was shared.  There was a guy from Tesla interested in doing pre-manufacturing tests of the ergonomics of their new vehicles, people from healthcare wanting to use VR in end-of-life anxiety treatment for cancer patients. A provider of a smart helmet that uses AR to assist civic engineers in construction work. Experts in education that presented what they learned when doing pilot projects of using VR in schools. Game developers sharing their knowledge about how to minimise motion sickness in games that feature flying. Creators of hardware that have started collaborating with startups that are creating VR arcades/centres. Training tool providers that are creating a real version of the comedy medical game Surgeon Simulator to actually train surgeons. And many more things.

Showcased as well, was some interesting hardware. Currently, to get a simulated reality that gives you the feeling of actually being there, one needs to aim for something called “room-scale”. In essence, it gives your the freedom to move around in a virtual world, as if it were real. Turn around, crouch, jump, walk from one point to the other, grab and interact. The equipment needed for this type of VR is currently expensive and requires you to be plugged in with a cable to a beast of a computer. This is about to change. Qualcomm, the company that has provided the internals for almost all Android phones of the last eight years, showcased a reference design for a new headset. This headset had no cables and was not connected to a monster computer, but did offer the “room-scale” experience. From my experience with working on early mobile graphics (showcase software for GLES2.0 in 2008), it could be two years until we see reference hardware turn into actual products.  Then again, since then, mobile innovation has accelerated, so it could be sooner. It is hard to predict the actual time slot.

When true room-scale VR is something that comes for free as a part of your mobile phone, or if the technology can be fitted in a glasses form factor, then it will be accessible to most.

Another trend that I noticed in San Francisco’s VR scene, is that investors are opening up their wallets. People are eager to invest somewhat broadly in order to build portfolios for the future. There is a feeling among the VR scene of optimism and dreams of discovering great strengths of a new medium. There is a belief that those who are starting early to develop skills and insight, will be the best at transitioning them to the improved VR technologies five, ten years further down the road.  Much like the internet bubble, it’s quite obvious to see the strength of the technology and the potential impact it will have on the future, and it is at the same time quite obvious that not every VR company will make it big. The investors are planting a seed in every garden, hoping for at least one of them to turn into an orchard.

After the conference, I was lucky to find another VR-event to attend. This time, Samsung was the host. The event named “Hack Reality”, was a two-day hackathon at Samsung’s innovation lab. The first price was 10 000 dollars in startup capital as well as a bundle of Samsung equipment, 3D-cameras, phones , VR-googles and similar. One of the teams made a virtual school-bus ride that traveled throughout our solar system. Participants could ask questions to the teacher and fly away to the moon and beyond. Another team worked on exposure therapy for spiders. The most impressive , and the winner , was maybe a sign of what’s to come in the next generation of kids. A fourteen-year-old programmer created a virtual conference, multiuser , with room for keynote speakers and an expo hall. The icing on the cake was how you could go to a companies booth and pick up their flyers and info, and these documents would automatically get added to your dropbox for later study.

I myself worked on an open source “reference” implementation of a technique called VR motion blinders. It is a technique that reduces the peripheral vision according to the motion of nearby objects. If you are interested in checking it out, the unity project can be found here.

But what should one do with VR today, as a digital agency, as a company, when does it make sense to invest hours into VR? The answer to that I believe is now. Here’s what I think you should do. Brainstorm on how the technology could be used in your business/company. Spend one or two days to figure out if there are any interesting cases where it would make sense to use VR. Set aside a month to explore one of the ideas. You will gain understanding in a new medium, you will see the limitations of what’s possible today and you will be much better equipped to predict the future.

We at Agens just finished a month of VR experimentation in collaboration with NMBU (Norwegian University of Life Sciences). We worked on a prototype of new ways of doing education. The case we worked on was adapting the curriculum of protein synthesis, from biology textbook to room-scale VR.

If you have something you want to prototype in VR, or if you have use-cases that can greatly improve with VR technologies, we welcome you to get in touch. We would love to help you accomplish your goals in the virtual world as well as the real world!

 

And to finish it off, here are some pictures from my VR tour.

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Using an external handheld monitor, tracked with a Vive controller to record gameplay footage. Quite ingenious.

 

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Google showcasing their new Daydream platform.

 

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A smart helmet for civil engineers, by DAQRI.

 

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The fourteen-year-old winner of Samsung’s hackathon, who blew us all away.

 

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Qualcomm’s reference hardware for a standalone untethered headset with room-scale tracking. A peek at the future.

 

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From Samsung’s Hackathon. This team was working on spatial audio in VR.

 

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Stickers and hackathons. Silicon Valley style.

 

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Yes, it does look a bit goofy.

 

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A prototype for exposure therapy created for the Samsung hackathon.

Need more Android developers!


Don’t just sit there writing boring code on some random project. Join us instead.

Are you interested in working on mobile development with some of the largest brands in Scandinavia, as well as on our own cutting edge products and services?

We see ourselves as the safe haven for developers who don’t do half-assed stuff. Developers on a relentless search for better ways. For great architecture. For writing beautiful code. For turning handcrafted front-end designs into pieces of tactile art. For making digital goods that are a complete joy to experience.

In short, we are looking for more digital craftsmen and -women, at both our Oslo HQ and in Grimstad.

If you’ve got the talent, the attitude and the independent, startup-esque mindset we’re looking for, we can offer you:

  • Great colleagues.
  • A creative, fun working environment.
  • The most complex, challenging and vibrant digital projects in Scandinavia (some of them being purely our own).
  • An innovation-driven culture, fed with crazy ideas and mammoth-sized ambitions.
  • At least 5 different coffee brewing methods on-site (OK, a couple of them aren’t that good, to be honest).
  • A lab containing a CNC-mill, a 3D printer among other cool stuff.
  • New and improved office space.
  • Nice salary.
  • A yearly trip abroad. Half vacation, half work.
  • Flexibility. Lots of it.
  • Hope.

And we can offer it now. Instantly.

Don’t just sit there writing boring code on some random project. Drop us a line instead.
Be part of the Agens family. Don’t hesitate! Contact us at post@agens.no now!

Norwegian natives, feel free to write the application in Norwegian.

The Last Ninja Twins nominated for IMGA award


Excellence in Gameplay nominee

International Mobile Gaming Awards (IMGA) has probably noticed the same thing as you. Controlling two ninjas is double the trouble and double the fun.

We were proud to discover that The Last Ninja Twins are nominated in the category for Excellence in Gameplay.

What makes the game unique: The Last Ninja Twins is a beautifully hand crafted double runner, guaranteed to entertain you, increase your simultaneous capacity and push your frustration level to new heights.

Why the game can win an award: Because two ninjas are better than one! (and because you vote for this game, ‘cos we ninjas stick together)

Be sure to support the twins and cast your highly valued ninja vote. We’ll leave you with the twins’ favourite inspirational quote;

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it” (together with your twin brother). – Moliere



awards-badges_5_transparent_nominee_gameplay

http://nordicgame.com/norways-last-ninja-twins-imga-nominated/

Work out with Al Kavadlo


17 unique workouts with over 40 different progressive bodyweight exercises

If you are into body weight strength training and calisthenics you should have heard of a bearded Yankee named Al Kavadlo. The author of five books, including “Zen Mind, Strong Body” and “Pushing the Limits!“.  As a personal trainer, Al has worked one-on-one with all types of clients from everyday working folks to professional athletes and Olympic medalists. Al is also lead instructor for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification (PCC), and gets to bring his unique coaching style to fitness trainers and enthusiast around the globe. Here’s a list of over 200 bodyweight exercises: Manvsweight.com.

So what better, we thought, than working out alongside with animated Al as he takes you through numerous progressive bodyweight exercises? Agens and Al teamed up to breathe life into this idea. The result can be found in the app stores. You don’t have any excuse. Start using the app today and work out anywhere under Al’s guidance.

Best in Publishing at World Digital Media Awards


Aftenposten+ wins WAN IFRA award

Aftenposten+ (powered by our very own mobile publishing platform IVY Engine) won the prize for Best in Tablet Publishing at the WAN IFRA Digital Media Awards Europe earlier this year and were thereby nominated to participate in the super final facing all the global winners. Yesterday Aftenposten+ made it to the top and won the prize for Best in Tablet Publishing at the WAN IFRA World Digital Media Awards 2015. During the past year, Aftenposten+ also won the Schibsted Innovation Award.

“Aftenposten+ is a delightful example of how to create a beautiful and useful news product in an efficient way. It offers an outstanding lean-back experience for its readers”, says jury member Ismael Nafría from Grupo Godó (ES).

This is actually the 4th time Agens delivers the technology for an award-winning newspaper in the mobile category at the Digital Media Awards. Please visit ivyengine.com to learn more about our solutions for cutting-edge mobile publishing.

Google recognizes Agens as Top Developer


Small badge. Great honour.

Agens is proud to be awarded the Top Developer distinction in Google Play.

“Top Developer is a badge recognizing established, respected developers for their commitment to launching high-quality and innovative apps on Android. The Google Play editorial staff awards a Top Developer badge from time-to-time based on the cumulative work of the developer.
The Top Developer badge appears next to the developer name wherever it is displayed in Google Play. The badge means long-term recognition of all of the developer’s apps. It signifies an additional level of trust and confidence users have in a developer’s products.”

Thank you Google.

Network Norway becomes ice.net


Rebranding and transfer of Network Norway apps completed.

As a result of ice.net’s acquisition of Network Norway, the Mitt NwN app needed to change its visual appearance. Agens took on the job to rebrand several Network Norway apps as well as the transfer of apps to ice.net’s various app store accounts, whilst keeping the update history and making sure the rebranded versions were made available as updates to the existing versions.

We congratulate ice.net on becoming a full blown mobile operator.

Stealthy release of The Last Ninja Twins


Can you handle twin pressure?

Super simple research shows that most people wish they were a twin, and secondly that they were a ninja. We didn’t dare not to act on this piece of valuable insight and decided to deliver on what people want – for once.

The result is a nerve-racking twin turboed game requiring asynchronous ninja thumb precision, laser focused eye sight and extraordinary brain-to-hand signal processing capacity. Double the trouble. Double the fun!

 



Total remake of NRK Radio app


Making a better radio experience.

NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) hired us to do a full visual and technical make-over of their radio app – for Android and iOS. Our goal was to make a sleek and intuitive user interface that put the radio content centre stage and gave users easy access to controls while listening. It turned out to be an exciting and engaging collaboration.

Perpetual prototyping
A key to achieving the next-gen interaction design we were aiming for was prototyping — early and often. Tangible prototypes spark great conversations — and in this project helped us craft several new approaches.

Case study: Making a better radio experience >

Touch the sound
We designed a tactile approach to navigate a radio show: you can scrub around in a sound wave representation whilst instantly seeing NRK’s excellent metadata for the current location.

The clean user interface allows multiple modes of interaction: scrub through the audio, go directly to chapter marks, or skip back and forward.

Accessibility is not optional
By following good platform practices and guidelines, all the accessibility features in the OS work exactly as the user expects. We took special care to ensure a great experience for users with vision loss.

Designing for complexity
Don’t be fooled by the simple interface. You have instant access to any of the 133,921 shows in NRK’s back catalogue. With good interaction design, the user can navigate complexity whilst always having a sense of control.

 

What is new in 4.0:

  • Revamped user interface and interaction
  • A more stable listening experience
  • Buffer mode for bad or varying coverage
  • Listen live or rewind three hours back in time
  • Recap on what you missed with on-demand content
  • Continue listening exactly where you left off — on any of the shows that you have listened to recently.
  • Editorial recommendations
NRK Radio

Read more about the project over at NRK Beta (in Norwegian):

https://nrkbeta.no/2015/06/04/ny-radio-app/

https://nrkbeta.no/2015/03/17/betateste-ny-radioapp/

https://nrkbeta.no/2015/03/06/tunellmodus/

https://nrkbeta.no/2014/10/30/ny-radioapp/

Presenting at Gulltaggen 2015


Jan Ove Kjøndal – presenter and interviewer at Gulltaggen

Our very own Jan Ove Kjøndal is presenting at Gulltaggen 2015 – Setting the Digital Agenda in the Nordics.

Session title: App Strategy 101 – Building Great Stuff With Real Value
Session description: The future’s all about small screens – and how you can tap into the ever-growing potential that lies on mobile. Jan Ove shares some thoughts regarding how you can optimize your mobile strategy to meet user expectations and grab more market share along the way.
Where:
Webtraffic Stage, Oslo Colosseum.
When:
Wednesday 29th of April @ 11:00.

The need for coherent digital strategies


A coherent digital strategy is about being in control of where you want your users to be.

So often we come across companies who have web and mobile as separate verticals. There can be many reasons for this. One being the fact that that web over time might have found its natural place in the organization. Whilst mobile is seen as something new and different – and thereby is organized and treated as a special entity.

To succeed digitally, it is crucial that one manages to organize and make use of web and mobile in a complementary combination.

There needs to be a coherent strategy to make sure that none of the digital channels water out or create barriers for each other.

It is the mobile channel that predominantly suffers from these colliding efforts, and to be more precise it is usually in the context of apps.

The reason this happens is due to how services most likely have been released in time and the fact that no one has taken a step back. A step back to look at the intention of each individual initiative in relation to the total offering and overall goal.

Let me explain further. Say you started off with a desktop (big screen) web solution and sooner than later :) adjusted this experience for mobile through the making of a responsive site. You now have an 1:1 offering across web and mobile – accessible from the browser. This is good, especially because responsive web via the browser, no matter, will be an acceptable fall-back solution for whatever you might do on mobile later. Then, somewhere down the lane, there is the realization that you might be missing out on mobile distribution via the app stores. The quick fix often initiated, is to wrap the web experience in a thin app (basically an app with an internal browser window) and make it available in the app stores. Since this is one of the first mobile app solutions containing core content it is branded with the company’s main logo and name. Note that this implicitly is telling end users that this is where they’ll find the main mobile optimized gateway to the brand experience.

At a later stage, initiatives occur within the company to make better use of the mobile toolbox. The reasoning being e.g:

  • better user experience / performance / tactility / navigation / presentation / functionality / usability
  • to differentiate the mobile experience from (the “free”) web
  • or simply because one realizes that one isn’t just competing against direct players in the local industry, but also against global Internet giants who are utilizing all the possibilities native mobile is giving them.

So you put time and money in a new native app initiative, with strategic reasons for doing so. But how does this new entity fit in overall? How will end users intuitively perceive it? And will existing users migrate or alter their user behaviour by you simply adding a new item to the list? Also remember that in regards to branding and naming some alternatives are at this stage already taken.

This is where one has to take a step back and have a look at the whole portfolio. Is there any functional or content overlap between the mobile solutions offered? If so, should you merge or remove existing app entities? How is your mobile portfolio perceived branding wise? Should you rename / rebrand or remove existing app entities? Your choices decide which channels your users will be consuming from.

Although a relatively trivial task, this is probably where it gets political. Often due to organizational structures and the individual goals of these. The wrapped web app might belong to a different vertical (than the newcomer) and is in that sense defending those grounds (e.g. ad revenues), whilst the new app is the “cannibalizing” newcomer. The fight is on…

Having a coherent digital strategy is being conscious about what you are offering, why you are offering it and how customers perceive and act on your offering. Optimizing or altering user behavior starts with cleaning up your portfolio because that is the only way you can make sure that users will end up where you want them to be. Merging functionality and/or removing app entities is the only way to go.

Happy spring cleaning…

Aftenposten+ wins Digital Media Awards Europe


IVY Engine contributes to yet another winner of the WAN IFRA Digital Media Awards

The WAN IFRA Digital Media Awards Europe 2015 were dealt out this week and we are very happy and proud to see Aftenposten win the prize for Best in Tablet Publishing for Aftenposten+. Congratulations to the team and well done.

“We are glad to get such recognition. The jury was composed by the international media industry’s foremost professionals, and the competition in this area is extremly tough. We see this as a distinct and warming confirmation that the choices we have made regarding this app have been correct. This applies to both the content we publish, using Dr Mobile as a layout tool and for choosing IVY Engine as the platform”, says Even Teimansen, Product Manager at Aftenposten Mobile.

Renowned designer and judge Mario García described Aftenposten+ as, “One of the best newspaper tablet editions: clarity of navigation, excellent combination of short and long content. Good photography and an overall look and feel that reflect the spirit of Aftenposten. Bravo.”

List of WAN IFRA DME15 winners

On a footnote we might add that Aftenposten+ is also nominated for the Innovation of the year (2014) award by the Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association.

Native = multi platform


Deciding to provide a premium native app service should automatically commit you to two platforms.

Compared to web, the native mobile landscape is slightly fragmented. The mix between smartphone platforms in a given market varies a lot, but as a thumb rule Android is by far the largest mobile platform globally – with iOS as a good number two. The rest of the platforms, including Windows Phone, are minute. In the U.S. and Northern Europe the share of iOS devices is approximately equal to Android. When it comes to consumption, spending and usage on mobile devices, stats show that iOS users in general are the most active.

Because of the fragmentet mobile landscape and the complexity related to development, some brands decide to displace the development in time and concentrate their initial efforts on one single platform. Most commonly being either iOS or Android as the first one out. We fully support this careful approach because it enables one to see how the concept hits the market before investing in a second platform. Be aware that this should not be the end game. When having decided to provide a native app it implicitly means providing the same service on (at least) the two largest platforms (iOS + Android). As long as your main customer segmentation parameter isn’t the mobile platform itself, you must reach out to the majority of the market. Providing a tailored premium service for only a portion of your customer base is favouring that part over the other(s). And you don’t want to aggravate half of your customer base, do you?

Of course, providing a responsive web site is an acceptable fallback solution for native – we totally agree. Every serious player in the digital space should have one, but deciding to provide native apps is about going beyond web. Raising the bar. You can’t afford not to cover the majority of the market when you first have decided to go down that path.

NB! The share and usage of mobile platforms varies from market to market. That insight should be the baseline for the minimum number of platforms you need to support. Potential reach vs. cost/maintenance.

Agens wins Award for Design Excellence


Gjensidige driving practice app wins distinction for excellent interaction design

The Award for Design Excellence (Merket for god design) is the Norwegian design industry’s greatest distinction, and is awarded to design agencies and companies which have collaborated on innovative projects. The award was given at the annual Design Day, hosted by The Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture.

Agens was proud to receive the award in the category for Interaction Design together with its client Gjensidige, for the first iteration of the Gjensidige driving practice app.

Gjensidige Øvelseskjøring verdict

DogaAward2015

Foto: Norsk design- og arkitektursenter, fotograf Johnny Syversen.

 

Fantorangen app making it to the top


The Fantorangen app has been well received in the Norwegian market and is now present in the top-10-lists on both Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android).

After well a month in the market the Fantorangen app we developed for NRK is ranked as the number one most downloaded free iPad app in Norway, and has climbed to 9th place in the ranking of free iPhone apps. On the Android platform the app is ranked as the 7th most popular free app in Google Play.

Ratings in the app stores as well as reviews in various blogs show that kids and parents are enjoying Fantorangen’s mobile universe.

App review – Kiddly.no
App review – Barnasapper.no
App review – Nordicgame.com

Both VG+ and Aftenposten+ in the WAN IFRA finals


WAN IFRA Digital Media Awards Europe 2015 have shortlisted four candidates in each category and both VG+ and Aftenposten+ are nominated as finalist candidates.

We are proud to see that two of our customers are shortlisted as finalist candidates at the WAN IFRA Digital Media Awards Europe 2015. Agens have been developing VG+ from scratch for VG ever since 2010 into what is now Norway’s 6th largest newspaper (regardless of format) – and the only digital only newspaper. Aftenposten+ was launched one year ago as Aftenposten‘s premium mobile (tablet & small screen, iOS + Android) offering encompassing both content normally found in their paper edition as well as continuously updated articles following the news pulse of the day. Aftenposten+ is running on our very own wholly digital mobile publishing solution called IVY Engine. We thank Aftenposten and VG for choosing us as a solution partner, and urge other stakeholders to get in touch if they want to explore the possibilities of IVY powering their future mobile production flow and end user experience.

Best of luck in the finals!

Fantorangen goes mobile


NRK hired Agens to breathe life into the mobile universe of their favourite plushie Fantorangen

Fantorangen is a Norwegian television character known from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), where he has his own program on the children’s channel NRK Super. Fantorangen is a plushie, and with his slightly mischievous personality, he has become one of NRK’s most popular characters for children.

NRK gave us the grateful opportunity to breathe life into Fantorangen’s mobile presence. They wanted the app to be a gateway to the Fantorangen universe where the target group (2-4-year-olds) can interact with the character through fun tasks and open-ended activities.

At launch the following tasks can be enjoyed in the app:

  • Go to the toilet with Fantorangen
  • Take a bath with Fantorangen
  • Bake with Fantorangen
  • Tickle Fantorangen
  • Dress Fantorangen
  • Brush Fantorangen’s teeth

Work by Agens: Strategy, Consulting, Concept, Interactive Design, Gameplay, App development

Business functionality added to Network Norway app


The second iteration of the Network Norway app is complete and business functionality has been added.

When we set out on our journey together with mobile operator, Network Norway, the goal was to merge functionality they had in two existing apps into one brand new app experience. In the first release of the app we concentrated the efforts on the basic telecom consumption features, and now the business functionality finally is in place:

  • Administration of queues
  • Absence and call handling
  • Intra company contact list with presence indicators
  • Telephone conference functionality

Work by Agens: Strategy, Consulting, Concept, Design, App development
NB! We take no responsibility for the API response time(s) dependent on the backend

Gjensidige driving practice app released


We wanted to make a playful, yet intuitive design. The result is a refreshing little app with nifty motion graphics.

Gjensidige approached us with the idea of making an app for people in the process of learning to drive that would enable and encourage them to register their driving sessions. The idea behind, is that the more practicing you do, the better a driver you become, and hopefully more unlikely to be involved in an accident. The carrot for registering the practice runs, is rebated car insurance -when having reached the goal of 2000 kilometers.

Since the majority of potential app users are thought to be in their teens, we wanted to make a playful, yet intuitive design lending graphical elements from Gjensidige’s existing graphical profile. The result is a refreshing little app with nifty motion graphics. To encourage practicing we added achievements and geographical references to certain covered distances. And if you are wondering, the driving companion (parent, sibling, driving teacher) has to sign off a driving session to make it count.

Happy driving! Practice makes perfect.

Work by Agens: Strategy, Consulting, Concept, Design, Motion Design, App development, Backend, Architecture

Dine Penger redesigned


Responsive web design to make it stand out in the crowd.

E24/Dine Penger wanted to redesign the look & feel of their web site in relation to going premium. The design needed to reflect the fact that the content is paid and give a quality and magazine like feel when reading  -as well as being responsive. We rolled up our sleeves and came up with a design that is simple, yet elegant and even gives room to feature important stories or collections of articles.

Work by Agens: Consulting, Concept, Design, Implementation.

DinePenger+

Agens = Gazelle for the fourth consecutive year


Gazelle: Fast growing, profitable Norwegian company.

We are proud to learn that Agens is ranked a Gazelle company for the fourth consecutive year, but what is most important for us is how we manage to contribute to our clients’ success. Our vision has always been to deliver cutting edge, high quality work and our humble success is based on continously raising the bar. A big thanks goes out to alle the people and ambitious brands we have had the pleasure of working with over the years.

Dagens Næringsliv (DN) has since 2003 nominated and presented the Norwegian Gazelles in cooperation with what is now named Bisnode Credit AS.

In order to be ranked a Gazelle the firm needs to have:

  • submitted approved accounts.
  • a minimum of doubled revenue over a four year period.
  • revenue of more than one million NOK the first year.
  • positive earnings.
  • avoided negative growth.
  • a limited company.

DN’s Gazelle list 2014

Morning Routine Material Released


Morning Routine is an example of what happens when we take an existing app and ask “just how awesome can we make the user experience?”. A testing ground and a demo for visual, interaction and motion design, backed by an imaginative and useful convenience app.

Most of our projects are made on behalf of other companies, but now and then we take the time to develop projects of our own. Morning Routine is unusual in that it was such a project twice.

It was created when one developer had the idea for an alarm clock app that made you actually get out of bed before you could turn it off. To turn the alarm off, the user has to get out of bed to scan the bar-code on a physical object.

This idea was successful enough that the app received smaller updates and improvements over the years, but a little polish every few months only goes so far, and our Morning Routine was beginning to look its age. This was especially evident in light of Google’s newfound desire to make Android look good.

Then Android Lollipop showed up on the horizon. As a company, we’ve always been convinced that look and feel, not just features, have a significant impact on the value of a product, and so we were excited to see Google’s increasing attention to design. Lollipop in particular solidified Material design further and focused big on Motion Design. As we started testing the new APIs and exploring the design language, one developer decided the time was right to not just give Morning Routine a fresh coat of paint, but to make it the freshest. 

The result is a sweet new look and feel, and in the process, we gave the functionality some love as well:

  • Scan lock
    • Make an alarm that can only be turned off by scanning a specific bar- or QR-code
    • Make an alarm that can be turned off by scanning any bar- or QR-code
  • Wi-fi lock
    • Lock an alarm to a specific wi-fi network so it doesn’t require a specific scan when you’re elsewhere
  • Automated wake-up tasks
    • An alarm can be set up to automatically open an app or url when turned off
    • Supports Tasker integration for more advanced tasks for more advanced users
  • Alarm sequence
    • A set of alarms can be made to trigger in sequence, each waiting a set period after the previous was turned off in sequence, each alarm triggers a set amount of time after the previous alarm is turned off
    • Each alarm in a sequence can have its own requirement to turn off
    • Each alarm in a sequence can have its own automated task

Download Press Kit

Work by Agens: Idea, Concept, Design, Motion Design, App development



Norsk Tipping tailored for iPad


Norsk Tipping couldn’t gamble on not supporting the iPad properly.

The Norsk Tipping app has been mobile (small screen) only since its release in early 2011. Since then there has been a tremendous increase in tablet sales in Norway, actually bypassing computer sales during 1Q13. Usage patterns from e.g. FINN.no also illustrate that tablets, and predominantly the Apple iPad, have gained a prominent foothold as a preferred device in Norwegian households.

Now, finally Norsk Tipping’s iPad experience has been designed from scratch to enhance the user experience and make proper use of the enlarged screen size. The support for iPad is merged into the existing app, so the only thing you have to do is update the iOS app.



Sit down. Lean back. Get out your iPad and challenge your luck.

Work by Agens: Strategy, Consulting, Concept, Design, App development

Aftenposten+ wins Schibsted Innovation Awards 2014


“Aftenposten+ represents an innovative and clever piece of work”

We are happy to see that Aftenposten+, powered by our very own Ivy Engine, won the Schibsted Innovation Awards 2014 for best New Business Innovation.

The category ‘New Business Innovation’ is aimed at innovations that create new growth or add important values to Schibsted’s brands – or the reputation of the corporate brand.

The jury’s statement: “In line with all the bold initiatives Aftenposten has initiated during the past year in order to be at the frontline of digital transformation, Aftenposten+ represents an innovative and clever piece of work.Aftenposten has managed to capture the needs of a leanback user experience, giving its brand a fresh and modern look. The product is clearly based on Aftenposten’s core brand values, at the same time as it differs from the other products in a unique way that leads to strong customer value. Aftenposten+ fulfills the intention to create easy access to digital content, and is well connected with the overall business strategy. So far the results have been impressive; Aftenposten+ has both created growth and further developed Aftenposten’s brand values.”

Congratulations to Aftenposten Mobil with Anette Mellbye and her team.

Are you interested in succeeding in the mobile tranformation of your publication/newspaper/magazine? Please get in contact.

BT, SA & FvN apps released


Sleek apps for Bergens Tidende, Stavanger Aftenblad & Fædrelandsvennen released

We released Aftenposten+ in April, and now we are proud to launch apps (iOS + Android – tablet & mobile) for the paid content of the three coastal Norwegian newspapers; Bergens Tidende, Stavanger Aftenblad and Fædrelandsvennen. The main navigation scheme on the iPad version differs from Aftensposten+ in that it is horisontal instead of vertical. Giving these newspapers a look & feel that distinguishes them even more from paper and web. All apps are yet again powered by our very own mobile publishing solution called Ivy Engine.

Tele2’s main consumer app released


For a Telecom operator an app is an efficient tool to cater for self help, immediate access to current status, up-sales and administration of subscriptions and services.

The first phase of the app project with telecom operator Tele2 was aimed at providing customers with the best possible overview of their current usage (domestic and abroad), invoice information and subscription information. A design was derived where the most important functions are featured on the main screen, whilst the remaining functionality is accesssible from the left drawer/main menu. Navigating can be done in several ways. Either by sliding downwards between the main sections, using the tab bar on the top, or going via the left side menu.

The app will evolve over time, and new features will be added. Enjoy.

Work by Agens: Strategy, Consulting, Concept, Design, Motion Design, App development

First phase of app for Network Norway released


An app for a mobile operator is about empowering their customers. Enabling them to keep an eye on their consumption, as well as administering and accessing their subscriptions and telecom services on the fly.

The Norwegian mobile operator Network Norway (NwN) came to us with a wish to merge functionality they had in two existing apps. Namingly an app for showing usage and administrating subscriptions and another app providing various business functionality. Network Norway also had a goal for the user experience on mobile and web (MineSider) to bear resemblance to each other.

We set out to derive a new scalable design and make some tough prioritizations in the favor of usability and end user value.

We are now happy to see the first phase of the app released, with the following functionality:

  • Consumption overview, both domestic and abroad
  • Detailed consumption overview
  • Roaming price plans
  • Purchase more data (domestic)
  • Subscription details and list of active services
  • Edit contact details
  • Wizards on how to alter PIN/PUK and other settings
  • Receive important messages and notifications from NwN
  • Locate nearest dealer
  • Various means of contacting NwN

More business functionality like administration of queues, setup of phone conferences and profile & absence handling will follow in soon to come updates.

Work by Agens: Strategy, Consulting, Concept, Design, App development

World wide recognition for VG+


When we set out on a journey in 2010 with VG, the largest newspaper in Norway, it was to create a world class news experience on mobile. Now several years later, after numerous iterations and in parallel developing our own multi platform publishing solution called IvyEngine, VG+ 2.0 is starting to gain recognition across the world.

When we set out on a journey with VG, the largest newspaper in Norway, in 2010, it was to create a world class news experience on mobile. And seemingly we managed to do so. The following year VG+ won the prize for Best Paid News App at the WAN IFRA XMA Cross Media Awards 2011. However, we weren’t content. The product had a few shortcomings. It was somewhat generic-looking and had too few subscribers. In order for VG+ to become profitable, we decided to reboot the concept. To convert people into becoming paying subscribers, we needed to convince them that the product was better than the free web version of VG. The only way we could do that was by delivering a top-of-the-line product, both in terms of design, user experience and editorial value. After a lot of hard work the 2.0 version was finally released early 2013. 

Now, one year later and with several 100 percent increase in the subscriber base as well as becoming profitable, VG+ 2.0 i starting to be noticed around the world!

At the WAN IFRA European Digital Media Awards 2014 VG+ 2.0 got the Special Mention in the Best in Tablet Publishing category.

And now VG+ 2.0 is a finalist nominee both for Best Consumer Magazine/Newspaper App at the Appy Awards 2014 and for Best New Mobile App or Web Site at the INMA Awards 2014. We are crossing our fingers…

 

Also check out our VG+ case study and our mobile multi platform publishing solution IvyEngine.

Aftenposten+ released


Aftenposten’s paid content goes mobile with Ivy Engine

We were humbled when Aftenposten chose our Ivy Engine publishing platform as means to materialise their ideas for the mobile transformation of Aftenposten -Norway’s second largest newspaper. In order for their existing readers to draw resemblance to the mobile products they decided that they wanted a two fold solution within the same app. A solution that provides a fresh new static edition of the paper content (Today’s Newspaper) each day as well as a section that is continously evolving and updated throughout the day (News pulse). We also added a recommended section to the top of the home screen for the purpose of highligting articles of special interest or popularity.

The ultra fast performing and lazy loading table of contents has vertical navigation, whilst the top drop-down menu enables fast jumping between sections. At the article level there is the possibility of horisontal swiping between articles so that users can read from start to finish, without going via the table of contents. The issue archive, available from the left menu, gives users access to previously published editions of Today’s Newspaper in order for them to catch up on what they missed.

Of course it also supports video, picture galleries, comments, fact boxes, links to related content, Schibsted’s paywall and ID (SPiD) and various means of sharing…

We hope the readers of Aftenposten will enjoy Aftenposten+ and the features to come.

Need. More. iOS, Android & Windows Phone developers.


At Agens HQ, things are getting more and more exciting these days.

More contracts and more work means a new opportunity to hire gifted people. Yeah, we’re looking at you.

We see ourselves as the safe haven for developers that don’t do half-assed stuff. Developers on a relentless search for better ways. For great architecture. For writing beautiful code. For turning handcrafted frontend designs into pieces of tactile art. For making digital goods that are a complete joy to experience.

In short, we are looking for more digital craftsmen and -women, at both our Oslo HQ and in Grimstad.

If you’ve got the talent, the attitude and the independent, startup-esque mindset we’re looking for, we can offer you:

  • Great colleagues.
  • A creative, fun working environment.
  • The most complex, challenging and vibrant digital projects in Scandinavia (some of them being purely our own).
  • An innovation-driven culture, fed with crazy ideas and mammoth-sized ambitions.
  • At least 5 different coffee brewing methods on-site (OK, a couple of them aren’t that good, to be honest).
  • Nice salary (in fact, the very same salary as everyone else at Agens).
  • A yearly trip abroad. Half vacation, half work.
  • Flexibility. Lots of it.
  • Hope.

And we can offer it now. Instantly.

Don’t just sit there writing boring code on some random project. Drop us a line instead.
Be part of the Agens family. Contact our CEO Håvard Måseide at havard@agens.no.

Share your style with the InstaFashion app


Capture. Add specifics. Share.

Instagram is one of the most widely used photo (& video)-sharing social networking services out there. What we noticed is that tons of people use these kind of services to show off their daily outfits and newly acquired garments and accessories. As of today there are over 10.5 million posts on Instagram utilizing the hashtag “instafashion” (#instafashion).

We wanted to make an easy-to-use tool to help people share additional product information together with their photos. An app to enable fashionistas, brands and shops to add sleek text-overlays to their fashion photos.

Capture your style. Toggle through nice themes and add the specifics to go with the picture. Share with the world via the social services of your choice. Voila! It was only natural that this app should be named: InstaFashion!

Stay tuned for future updates. More themes to follow…

Work by Agens: Idea, Concept, Design, App development

Single vs. multiple app strategy


Your app should be the gate to your combined brand experience

As Apple’s AppStore turns five years, it’s about time a lot of big brands rethought their app strategies.

In the early days of apps, Apple told everyone that they had to be careful not to cram too much functionality into one single app. Sort of; don’t expect to merge the whole totality of Photoshop into one app. You have to carefully design your features to fit with the mobile medium and especially the limited screen size. This is still a valid tip, but should not be confused with watering out functionality into several apps.

First of all you are forced to maintain all of your single-purpose-apps, which over time will result in a lot of overhead.

You should utilize the fact that a user has chosen to engage with your app for a distinct purpose and tease them with additional features beyond the reasons they first entered the app

Secondly– and most importantly– you are not thinking of your app as a full-blown channel. A gate to your combined brand experience. You should utilize the fact that a user has chosen to engage with your app for a distinct purpose and tease them with additional features beyond the reasons they first entered the app. If you place features and functionality accross many apps you completly lose out on this opportunity. The logic is very similar to how a physical store is set up.

An app can be used for informational purposes, two-way dialogue with customers, marketing, campaigns & promotions, customer self service, as an admin tool/dashboard for features, for sales, upsales and more. Keep in mind that a mobile service resides on a phone. A device which normally accompanies its user at all times. This gives you the opportunity of catering for the immediate needs of a customer regardless of location and time. The interactive feature set often provided to customers via an app also give the customers a sense of empowerment, control and transparency towards the service provider which they’ve never experienced before.

Of course these points aren’t valid on a general basis, for every app concept and brand moving into the mobile space. The point is merely to get you to focus your mobile presence so that you to a greater degree manage to cater for your customers’ needs and at the same time manage to maximise your own value in a consistent way. This is in most cases not done by functional (app) fragmentation. Use time to scope your concept so that the design and navigation takes future expansion into account.

Think purpose. Think usability. Think modular. Think beyond (the first version). Think that being present in your customer’s pocket at all times, is something you aren’t going to miss out on.

Tablet sales bypass computers


Inexpensive tablets are displacing the low-end computer market used primarily for consumption.

In April (30.04.13) BlackBerry’s CEO, Thorstein Heins, predicted the death of tablets. The basis for his statement was obviously BlackBerry’s failing attempts in this product category, but also a strong belief in the mobile phone as the prevailing form factor. As analysis firm IDC recently presented their quarterly PC and tablet sales figures (1Q13) for the Norwegian market, nothing is backing BlackBerry’s predictions. What is certain is that the future has room for both small and medium/large sized devices. The question is if the latter category is called PCs or tablets -or if they by time merge into one.

1Q13 Sales, Norway
YOY change (%)
Tablets 230 000 +150
PC 225 000 -30
Total 455 000 +9

 

The numbers show that for the first time (!) there were sold more tablets than computers during a quarterly period in Norway. Taken into account that the iPad, as the frontrunner in the tablet category, only was introduced during spring 2010 the displacement effect is staggering. 230 000 tablet units were sold during 1Q13 vs. 225 000 computers. This represents an 150 % increase in tablet sales versus a 30 % decrease in computer sales. If we see tablets and computers as a conjoint market there was an overall increase of 9 %. Web traffic statistics from Norway’s leading online classifieds site, FINN.no (Traffic rank no. 5 – Alexa.com), equally illustarte the strong year-over-year (YOY) growth in mobile (mobile phones + tablets) visits the last three years. 37 % of all traffic is now coming from mobile.

Gartner’s preliminary second quarter (2Q13) figures show a 11 % decline in global PC shipments. This marks the fifth consecutive quarter of declining shipments, which is the longest duration of decline in the PC market’s history. All regions showed a decline compared to a year ago. The fall in the Asia/Pacific (APAC) PC market continued, showing five consecutive quarters of the shipment decline, while the Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) PC market registered two consecutive quarters of double-digit decline.

It is believed that the inexpensive tablets are displacing the low-end PCs used primarily for consumption in developed and mature markets. First eating into the number 2 and 3 computers in the home and by time might even start displacing the home computer completly. In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC.

As consumer’s preferences towards the equipment they use to consume digital content with, is changing rapidly -it is more important than ever that this content is tailored for smaller (multiple) screen sizes and/or made available in the form of apps. The fact that tablets often are referred to as digital consumption devices, merely stresses the fact that people, to a lesser degree, do cumbersome creational tasks on these devices. This should not be confused with passivity. Tablets are wholly interactive devices and numbers are showing strong growth in the area mobile eCommerce. The phrase “mobile first” has never been more valid than now!

Sources: IDC, Gartner, FINN.no, Alexa.com, Finansavisen, Bloomberg

The Norwegian mobile market 2012


Fresh statistics from NPT confirm increase in data usage as smartphone base reaches 75 percent. Operators manage to keep their level of (total) revenue as before due to the migration to bucket- and fixed pricing, even though voice and messaging usage is declining.

General

The Norwegian Post & Telcommunications Authority (NPT) recently released their annual telecom market report. Key mobile related take-aways show that total revenues are close to stabile with a small increase from the year before. Breaking down the numbers we see that voice (-11 %) and messaging (-4 %) revenues are decreasing year-over-year (YOY), whilst mobile data revenues are increasing (+2 %).

Graph1

Total revenue for mobile services

The biggest change is the increase in subscription revenues (+13 %), meaning that the migration of subscription types to bucket- and fixed prices are compensating for the decreased usage of traditional telecom voice & messaging services.

Graph2

Mobile revenues

In other words the Norwegian mobile subscribers have in the last 3 years gone from volume based pricing to buckets, and now only two weeks ago TeliaSonera subsidiary, NetCom, introduced unlimited usage of voice and messaging (other operators, like Tele2, were quick to follow this). The introduction of unlimited in this case isn’t anything disruptive, since big buckets in reality have the same effect -but it will get the first operators some good PR. The alterations in the subscription models is a natural consequence of the fact that customer’s preferences have changed drastically with the adaptation rate of smartphones -to the point where data is the most important parameter. Despite this shift, the operators are managing to extract the same amount of revenue from their user bases as before! We could also say that there is a slight tendency towards an alteration of the traditional role of an operator. Being the sole communication providers is slightly weakening, whilst the role as mobile access provider is strengthening.

It is now estimated that around 75 % of the total Norwegian handset base are smartphones. This is an 10 % increase from the year before.

56 % of Consumer customers and 65 % of Business customers have generated data traffic, whilst 15 % of Consumer customers and 30 % of Business customers have at least 1 GB of data included in their subscriptions. These stats show the great potential for uptake and usage of mobile (smartphone) services and apps in Norway, but at the same time we also see that quite a big portion of smartphone users have never generated any data traffic -even though they have data included in their subscriptions. An indication that most phones now being sold are smartphones, but that some of the buyers aren’t accustomed to the added potential in their devices.

Roaming

Regarding international roaming there is an increase in usage across all three main telecom services compared to the year before. Again, data usage is by far the one with the greatest increase -over double the volume in 2012 (99 mill. MB) vs 2011 (43 mill. MB).

Graph 3

Revenue & cost for international roaming

Since 2009 the Norwegian operators have managed cut their roaming costs substantially -generating more profit from roaming in 2012 than they have in many years. Since data usage also is the fastest growing parameter in the roaming scenario it is natural to think that (some) end users find it difficult to restrain themselves from using their smartphones as they have got accustomed to -also when being abroad. A good holiday tip is to bring an old phone with WiFi sharing/Personal hotspot functionality or a MiFi-router and purchase (and insert) a local prepaid SIM card that includes some kind of data bucket. Thereby you have a portable WiFi hotspot you can connect your phone to, but only pay local fees for the data usage :-) An example of a speedy MiFi-router is Huawei E5776.

All graphs and figures are courtesy of NPT
Sources:
Det norske markedet for elektronisk kommunikasjon 2012 [NO]
Presentasjon Det norske ekommarkedet 2012 [NO]
Tallgrunnlag ekomstatistikk 2013 [NO]

Top device sales April 2013


The two largest operators in Norway have just released their numbers for top ten best selling mobile devices April 2013. Numbers are extracted from their own sales channels

NetCom

  1. (1) Apple iPhone 5
  2. (2) Samsung Galaxy S3
  3. (4) Apple iPhone 4
  4. (3) Apple iPhone 4S
  5. (8) Sony Xperia Z
  6. (6) Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
  7. (-) Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE
  8. (5) Samsung Galaxy Note II
  9. (-) Samsung Galaxy S4
  10. (7) Sony Xperia V

Telenor

  1. (1) Apple iPhone 5
  2. (2) Samsung Galaxy S3
  3. (6) Samsung Galaxy Y
  4. (-) Samsung Galaxy S4
  5. (3) Sony Xperia Z
  6. (7) Samsung Galaxy S3 4G
  7. (5) Apple iPhone 4
  8. (8) Samsung Galaxy S2
  9. (4) Apple iPhone 4S
  10. (-) Samsung Galaxy S2 Pluss

NetCom also state that the total OS distribution among their top ten listed handsets is 63 % iOS and 37 % Android.

Numbers in brackets = last month’s ranking. Source: NetCom & Telenor

Unboxing some new sensor toys


Sensors and peripheral equipment communicating with mobile devices gives endless possibilities

The TI multi sensor chip

Here at Agens, we also like to experiment with new technology. We just recently got hold of the Texas Instruments CC2541 SensorTag development kit. What’s so cool with this system-on-a-chip, is the fact that it communicates via Bluetooth 4.0/LE, has a SDK and incorporates 6 (!) sensors: Temperature (IR & Ambient), Humidity, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer & Barometer.
The TI multi sensor chip
Just think of the endelss possibilities this chip gives in combination with an app on a mobile device. Health/Medical, Training/Sports, Toys, Education… Any good usage scenarios anyone?

Here are a couple of videos to get the imagination going:

Bluetooth Low Energy iPhone Rocket
Oakley Airwave Goggle

The Leap Motion Controller

Leap Motion is Kinect on steroids. It enables touchless interaction controlled only by what you allready posess: Your hands and fingers. Gesture/motion controllers are sure to be a way of interaction in the near future. Only by playing and experimenting, can we be prepared for tomorrow.

Painter Freestyle with Leap Motion

If you have a great idea, but keep contemplating on how to utilize or make the mobile service itself, we are happy to help. Just drop us a line. We’re nice people.