Being a startup that makes things on the internet, we by definition live in the fastest changing industry ever.

We have no idea if what we’re making now will succeed, or what we will be working on in two years time. So, even though we work hard at delivering on the plans we have set, we sometimes need to lift our head and work on ideas that are not directly related to what we do every day.

Often, the things that become immensely successful were not originally intended as products, or they just started as a small idea. Great products are made up of lots of small details that together make up an whole. It is not easy to tell what these details should be, so the only way is to prototype and test it. We in Comoyo are working hard to to build a culture of constantly prototyping and testing stuff on real customers, and so we decided to devote two days to just prototyping and socializing, and conclude the whole thing with serving our own home-brewed Comoyo Christmas Beer (which didn’t get ready for Christmas):

Comoyo Christmas Beer

Some of the projects worked on during the Hackathon were: - Boxee app for our new video subscription service - Search engine for videos - Video recommendation engine based on the weather in your location (yeah, weather is a BIG deal in Norway!) - Video history for an individual user visualized in d3 - Sign-up for newsletter module built in iFrapp on our Facebook page - Prototype integration between Comoyo and Mozilla’s Persona - SMS plugin for Pidgin - A simple surveillance system using Raspberry Pi and a webcam - A tracing system using zipkin - Tetris monitoring visualization of real-time events on Comoyo film (events like playing film, a payment going through, a user logging in etc.) Monitris

If you have ideas for stuff you would like to see developed for our services, please leave a comment below! And if you want to join our next Hackathon, you can apply for a job in our team.

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Boost your Android app with distribution through Telenor

Ever published your app in an app store and discovered that traffic doesn’t happen by itself? Due to the 700,000 apps available in Google Play™ many great apps are lost within this app jungle and this also affects the customers who miss out on the many great but hidden apps.

We believe people should have a better way to discover apps that are relevant for them, and we want to help by promoting apps we think our customers will like and make it easy to pay for them. If you want your Android app to be promoted to all of Telenor’s customers in Norway with Android devices, read below for how to submit to the Android App Booster competition!

Pay for apps using your phone bill

Entering credit card details on a mobile phone is cumbersome. That is why customers of Telenor from early in 2013 will be able to pay for apps without registering a credit card, and instead can charge apps to their phone bill. There have been studies showing that the percentage of customers who prefer to pay for apps over their phone bill, is higher than the percentage who prefer credit cards. Speed of use and convenience seems to the be the key drivers for this preference. So if you’re developing a paid app this is great news!

A small “app store” inside Google Play

Android customers of Telenor in Norway will soon find a small “app store” with specially recommended apps for Telenor customers. This will display apps that can be helpful to them as a customer (such as apps from Telenor, Comoyo and large well-known developers), but we also want to promote apps by smaller, independent developers and startups.

For developers, this is a great chance to expose the app and drive growth, which again will influence ranking on Google Play in general. Telenor in Norway currently have close to 900.000 customers using an Android device.

Who can participate in Android App Booster Competition?

  • App must already be published in Google Play and ready to handle large customer volumes
  • App should have a clear value proposition and have demonstrated value to users
  • App can not contain violence, pornography, discrimination, or other offending content.
  • App must be developed by students, startup companies or independent developers. Established companies can have no more than 7 employees or 2 mill NOK in revenue the last year.
  • App must be made in Norway

How will my app be boosted?

  • 1 month exposure in the Telenor app store in Google Play
  • Article about app on online.no (Unique users: ~500.000/week)
  • Promotional post on Telenor’s Facebook page (147,000 followers)
  • Post about app on Comoyo’s developer blog
  • Optional technical coaching by a member of Comoyo Engineering (app code quality, architecture, scalability etc.)

How do I participate?

Submit your app for boosting by sending an e-mail to appbooster@comoyo.com with a max. two-page description of your app and why it is relevant to Telenor customers in Norway.

Winners are approved by a committee consisting of people from Comoyo and Telenor Norway. Deadline for submission: January 21, 2012.

Comoyo Engineering is resposible for the technical integration between Google and the operator billing APIs of the various Telenor companies worldwide. Although currently being launched in Sweden, with and Norway and Denmark coming up, the operator billing option in Google Play will be rolled out in other countries where Telenor are present.

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The smartphone and tablet market today is built around a few ecosystems driven by heavyweight companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft. The ecosystems are more or less closed and most apps are tailor-made for iOS, Android or Windows Phone. But as the number of devices and ecosystems grows, it becomes increasingly expensive for developers to build native apps to support all of them. So wouldn’t it be good to in the future use the open web as a platform for mobile devices?

Last week I returned from a business trip to Madrid, where we met with people within the Firefox OS development team at Telefonica’s premises. It was impressive to see all the people working hard to bring the openness of the web to a mobile platform and even more impressive to see the Firefox OS to run on real hardware. Telenor some time ago announced support for Firefox OS, and we are now excited about hiring several additional people to Comoyo’s Engineering team that will be dedicated to working together with the Mozilla community on developing the OS.

How did it start?

In the summer of 2011 Mozilla announced a project, code-named Boot-to-Gecko (B2G), to bring the open standards web technologies to mobile devices. All user-accessible software on the devices is and will be web applications using advanced HTML5 technologies. There are device APIs defined to access the device´s hardware via JavaScript. The technology itself is named Firefox OS.

The Firefox OS consists of three main building blocks: Gaia, Gecko and Gonk. Gaia is the highest layer of the OS platform defining the user interface of Firefox OS. It is implemented entirely using HTML, CSS and JavaScript and use open web APIs to the Gecko layer. Gecko is the application runtime, including e.g. a networking stack, a graphics stack, a layout engine, a JavaScript virtual machine, and porting layers. Gonk, consists of a Linux kernel and user space hardware abstraction layer and is the porting target of Gecko, similar to ports to MacOS or Windows.

All together Gaia, Gecko and Gonk provide a full system to run on mobile devices, based on open web technologies. Firefox OS, compared to Android, consists of fewer SW layers and there is reason to expect a better, relative performance, which also the first measurements indicate.

What does this mean for the industry and why do people believe in Firefox OS?

A big part of the innovation that has happened on the internet for the past 20+ years can probably be attributed to the fact that there have been no gatekeepers when it comes to what you can use it for and what device you can access it from. Anyone can publish a web page, create a new internet service or invent a new business model.

The current mobile ecosystems embrace the internet to some extent, but are still different from a truly open web. Developing native apps today means accepting guidelines and restrictions that potentially limits what services can be developed, and how they should look. In the short run, this has been good for users, who get quality assured apps that are easy to use. But in the long run it may hamper innovation by confining it inside a frame of set rules, leaving the power to decide what the rules should be to a few mighty companies.

The mother of all ecosystems is still, and will continue to be, the Internet. The Internet as a ubiquitous data communication network creates massive network effects, and the mobile ecosystems are simply islands in this perspective. HTML5 + JavaScript is today a key application platform for web services, and we believe it will also continue to be for mobile services.

Although native apps can currently offer a better user experience, we believe that developments in browser technology will make web apps match the performance of native apps within few years. The ideal should be that apps are built using open technology standards making them usable on all devices, including smartphones. This will improve customer choice.

Firefox OS aims to extend the freedom of the internet into the mobile ecosystem, by allowing anyone to easily create a web app at the same time that they create a web page. Several players in the industry have interest in building an open alternative to the closed ecosystems, and this may help get Firefox OS the critical mass of users it needs to attract developers to include adaption of apps to Firefox OS in their plans.

Of course, there is no success guaranteed, and challenging the existing mobile ecosystems is a bold move. But there are no givens in today’s internet industry, as the devices available constantly evolve and converge, and users’ behavior can take unexpected turns.

Want to be a part of developing Firefox OS?

We in Comoyo and Telenor Digital Services are excited to be able to support this initiative. As a matter of fact, we are increasing our commitment to the development and look for excellent people who want to join our team.

Are you interested in getting involved with Firefox OS as a developers, by building apps or contributing to the OS? Sign up here to get news about our future developer community events in the Nordics.

Want to create a web app today? Here’s how to get started. Or, you can try the Firefox OS simulator

Test phone with Firefox OS at Comoyo

A shortened version of this blog post in Norwegian was published on Digi.no 19.12.2012.

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Some weeks ago, the Nordic Collegiate Programmering Challenge was arranged at the University in Oslo. The teams “Its trivial” and “Mehiko” were ranked first and second in Oslo, and thus got the opportunity to represent the University at Oslo at the international contest NWERC - North Western European Regional Programming Contest 2012. NWERC was this year arranged in Delft in the Netherlands, a city located half an hour from Amsterdam. The contest gathers students from colleges and universities throughout Belgium, Luxembourg, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, and the winners advance to the World finals.

As Comoyo supports and cooperates with the student organization “Maths, Algorithms and Programming for Students” (MAPS) at the University of Oslo, who organizes the NCPC and the participation in NWERC, here is a travel letter for the two student teams participating in Delft:

The contest itself took place on Sunday Nov. 25th, but the day before they arranged a practice session so the contestants could test the system. We were faced with four easy problems, and one hour to solve them. The problems were pretty simple, and almost all teams solved them. We had a problem with getting Norwegian keyboard layout on the system, so we were really thankful for having a practice session. In the evening NWERC arranged a dinner for all the constestant with free meal and drinks. Our team went home early to rest for the competion. Practice session

Over to the real contest. We all knew that the problems would be a lot harder than the Nordic Programmering Challenge, and knew we had to perform at our best to get a good result. The competion started at 09:30, and we were ready. We used a lot of time to spot the easiest problem, which was problem J. The problem was about fitting two lego-bricks in a opening, and the solution for this problem was to sort.

NWERC

The next problem, E, was a mathematical problem. We needed to calculate numbers of matchings of a cycle. We started by finding a formula for finding numbers of matching in a path, which is actually the Fibonnachi numbers, and then the formula for finding matching in cycles was easy to find. The biggest problem here was that for cycles on length 10 000, the numbers of matching became very big, much bigger than a 64-bit int. How should we solve this? Since none of us have worked with java recently, we chose to generate all the answers in python and then write it as a c++ code. We then discovered found out that the maximum file size is 256 kb, so we could not do that. So we had to bite in the sour apple and implement it in java. This took some time.

The next problem we solved was D, the digital clock. We had a digial clock with some line segments broken. Could we find out how much the clock was? This was solved by a brute-force-ish solution with some smart observations.

Problem I, Idol, was a 2-satisfiability problem. The problem was straight-forward, we had it and solved and coded within 15 minutes.

We saw that a lot of people had solved problem K, and started trying to solve it. After a hour, we finally made a observation which was needed to solve the problem. Unfortunately, it took a long time to code it, because of a lot of bugs. Catastrophically many bugs. The time was about to run out, and we tried to find all the bugs. Five minutes were left when we found the bug which probably would have give us the right answer, but time was to short for us to fix it.

We also saw that problem B was a problem we easily could have solved with dynamic programming. But the time was up. A little frustrating.

Its Trivial thinking

After the competition the results were in: “Its trivial” finished on a 26th place with four problems solved, and “Mehiko” finished on 43rd place with three problems solved. That is actually not bad. Full scoreboard is here. We were all agree that this was a great experience. For “Its trivial” this was our last time we are allowed to compete. Mehiko have new chance next year, and we look forward to the future!

Its Trivial Its Trivial

Mehiko Mehiko

On befalf of MAPS, we want to thank Comoyo for our cooperation!

Regards, Jing Kjeldsen Team member of “Its trivial” and leader of MAPS

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If you have visited our current movie store, you have probably noticed that we only sell access to one movie at a time. This can become expensive and tiresome if you’re a movie buff, so to make your life easier we will soon be launching a new product where you can watch as many movies and series episodes as you like for a fixed monthly price.

The service will be far from perfect at first, but it will be a starting point for iterations based on the feedback we get. We will actively ask you for feedback once you start testing the service, and hope to make improvements continuously after the launch.

Our long term goal is to become an internet provider of film and TV on all devices, but we still have much work to do before we get there. We want to develop our products along with the market, and launch things when they’re good enough to use, instead of working a couple of more months to try to get them “perfect”. For example, we currently have limited support for devices, but this will change in the near future.

The new subscription service will be developed entirely in-house, by people who love film and are passionate about user experience. Since we launched our first streaming service a year ago, we have learned a great deal about what kind of technology is needed to deliver a great user experience and we are now making investments that will be soon be visible.

If you want to help us on the journey to becoming the best video streaming service in the world - sign up here and we will notify you when the service is ready for testing!

Signup page

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