A suggestion for a new metric to track for early stage startups

I’m getting more and more frustrated with the analytics tools popular among startups: Mixpanel, Localytis et al. As I tweeted earlier these are tools built for late stage startups where you are optimising metrics, not trying to figure out which metrics matter.

Few metrics matter for startups that haven’t found product-market fit and trying to be “data driven” leads early stage startups in the wrong direction. I plan to do a post on which metrics early stage startups should track but for now I’d like to introduce a new metric that can be helpful to many early stage startups.

The metric I suggest is “first start experience rating” (or FSE rating for short) - an automatically determined rating between 1-10 that defines how good an experience the user had the first time he or she started the app. We’ll get to in a minute why measuring FSE is important but let’s define exactly what I mean by it first.

An FSE of 10 is the best possible scenario for a new user and a rating of 1 is the worst possible scenario. This implies that you have an idea of what an ideal first time experience is. If you don’t you’ll just have to come up with a conjecture and try it out. For some apps the FSE will always be 10, because the experience of the app doesn’t depend on where the user is or if any of his/her friends are already using it.

If your app is context-less and work the same regardless of who starts it, you can ignore this post and congratulate yourself on having one less thing to worry about.

For the rest of us, apps are often dependent on the context (when, where) and environment that the user launches the app in (if he or she already has friends using it etc). For example, let’s say you are building a messaging app. A user that starts the app for the first time with more than three (or whatever arbitrary number you choose) messages from friends waiting for her and twenty (again, an arbitrary number) other friends already using the app would get an FSE of 10.

A user with no other friends using the app would get a rating of 1. Or, if you’re building an app that recommends nearby cafés, an FSE of 10 would be assigned to users who have more than 15 cafés nearby when starting the app the first time.

Why is the FSE important?

The most obvious reason is that first impressions matter. But more importantly, the analytics most apps collect via Mixpanel et al is noisy and FSE is a way to filter through that noise.

For example, suddenly you climb in top lists and get a thousand users that are spread all over the world who churn much quicker than those who are joining because they have been told about the app from a friend. Using FSE allows you to divide users into much more manageable groups, e.g. watch retention only for those with an high FSE and see how many high FSE users you are acquiring. 

Did you try it at your startup? Let me know how it worked out!

Did you like this post? I’ve also written some other posts along the same vein:
"How do I get downloads for my app?"
"20 lessons about building viral apps I learned the hard way"

"How do I get downloads for my app?"

It’s a pretty innocent question: “How do I get downloads for my app?”.

The easy answer is that you make an awesome app and then it goes viral, “Yo!”-style. While easy answers are often right most entrepreneurs are helped more by looking at the data of how other apps became big.


Here are five ways that the apps we know and love have acquired downloads in the millions. There are other ways to get downloads (press etc), but all of them add so incredibly few downloads that they dwarf the channels listed below.


Method 1: LTV > CPA (or “the Candy Crush way”)

In simple terms: the average revenue from each user is higher than the cost to acquire them. Candy Crush, a popular game, is not only enjoyable but makes users spend a lot of money while playing it. This allowed King.com to market the game which in turn created a feedback loop: new users generate more revenue which can be used to generate new users. Rinse and repeat.

This all may sound easy but very few apps are ever close to the LTV and CPA figures that Candy Crush sees!

Key question: Can you achieve a high enough average LTV and low enough CPA?


Method 2: Content sharing (or “the Instagram way”)

This is a classic form of virality that we’ve seen on the web for years. Users create content and share it. If they share enough content over time eventually other users discover the app and start creating their own content and the cycle continues.

I won’t go into more detail with this model since there’s been so much written about it. But an obvious rule is that the app has to focus on content that users want to create often (think several times per day) during a long period of time (think years) and that they want to share with many people.

Instagram is a great example of this. Users already took a lot of photos and Instagram helped people create beautiful photos and made it easy to publish them on social networks.

Key question: Will your users create content several times per day that they want to share with their friends over time?


Method 3: K-value virality (or “the Zynga way”)

When people talk about virality, this is often what they mean. A user sends invites over Facebook or email, friends respond to the invites by installing the app and then invite more friends.

A Facebook invite has a conversion of 0.2% which means your users have to send on average 250 invites during the app lifetime for the app to spread.  


Key question: Will your average user send at least 250 invites?

Method 4: A great product that solves a big pain point (or “the WhatsApp way”)

WhatsApp allowed people to avoid paying for SMS. There were plenty of apps that did the same thing but WhatsApp was by far the best product. People forced their friends to use WhatsApp as it was both cheaper and faster than SMS.

Note the second part of this method - you can’t just have a great product, you have to solve a big pain point too. Nailing both = win.

This one is so obvious that I wasn’t sure if I should include it all, it’s the “build it and they will come” strategy of apps. But you have to solve a huge pain point for this to work - messaging is at the core of what people use  smartphones for. Few apps will ever find something that is so important to so many users and the competition in those areas is fierce.

Key question: Are you solving a big enough pain point and do you have the team and funding to create a better product than your competition?


Method 5: User super power (or “the Vivino way”)

Vivino, an app that let’s the user scan the label of a bottle of wine to get information about the wine beat 600 similar apps to become the biggest wine app on iOS and Android. They started out by doing what every other wine app did: allow users to scan the barcode of the wine to identify the wine. Unfortunately they discovered that while people enjoyed it, scanning bar codes during dinner makes you look cheap.

They updated their app to allow the user to scan and recognise the label instead - a worse service in many ways since they couldn’t identify all labels. But users loved it. Taking a photo of a wine label at dinner to remember the wine you just were served makes you look cool and knowledgeable. And that the app then brings up all kinds of info about the wine just by a photograph of the label makes people go “Wow!” and download the app themselves.


Another example is Tinder. Starting Tinder gives you a super power - suddenly you’re looking at pictures of people that you could potentially date. Sitting with a friend and rejecting people based on their profile picture is fun and makes you look cool [2]. Sitting in front of Match.com on your laptop is a chore.

Key question: Will users feel that they have a super power with your app that they want to show to their friends? Will they remember to use it? How often will they use it?

[1] http://www.quora.com/WhatsApp-Messenger/How-did-WhatsApp-grow-so-big

[2] Yes, that’s the kind of society we live in.

If you liked this be sure to check out my post “20 lessons about making viral apps I learned the hard way”.

Niklas’ Four Rules of Apps

1. Every app evolves until it does messaging.

2. Every app will eventually add “updated and synced across all your devices” to its list of features.

3. Regardless of how big the market share of Android becomes, app developers in Europe and SF will prefer to do iOS first.

4. The developers will at one time think it’s a good idea to make the app’s tagline “<insert app type: Email/Blogging/Hotel bookings/Sharing>. Reimagined.”

20 lessons about making viral apps I learned the hard way

I have a lot of people to thank for this post - too many to mention that have shared their knowledge with me. But above all, this post would not have been possible without the team we have at Instabridge.

So, 20 lessons about making viral apps I learned the hard way:

1) Buying downloads is cheap. Facebook is cheapest, AdMob is second cheapest. It should not cost more than $1 to buy a download. If you spend more than $1000 to get your first 1,000 users you are doing something wrong. There is no shame in buying downloads.

2) Having an app that requires a user’s friends to use the app is a problem to be solved, not a viral hook.

3) Users uninstall apps aggressively. Expect users to churn. Mobilewalla claims a typical users uninstalls 90% of the apps they download.

3) Retention is your most important measure. Acquiring users is one thing, keeping them hooked is another. Separate the two. Doing well on one front doesn’t translate into doing well on the other.

4) The younger users are, the more they hate having to login with Facebook. Never force a user to use Facebook login to use your app.

5) Learn App store SEO (AEO). Users routinely search for apps in Google Play and the iOS App Store. This is so important it should affect all details of your app including the name you choose and the icon. Experiment.

6) In Western Europe and the US, Android fragmentation is a negligible problem when you start out. Require Android >4.0. Test with the Samsung Galaxy S2, S3, S4, HTC One, Nexus 4 and Nexus 5. Once you are on your way to become the next WhatsApp test with more phones.

7) You need to have a QA process from the start. There’s a reason Jan Koum, the CEO and founder of WhatsApp, has the title “Head of QA testing” on LinkedIn. Phones “in the wild” have all kinds of weird configurations that will kill your app (out of memory, out of storage space, running an old version of the OS). You can buy QA testing cheap on Elance. This applies to both iOS and Android. 

8) Mixpanel is the gold standard for measurements in mobile apps. Live by Mixpanel, die by Mixpanel. 

9) One hour of user testing will tell you more about user behaviours than reading articles like this. Grab someone that has no idea of what your app does, ask them to install it and watch what they do. Give out free movie tickets or whatever it takes to get new test users. 

10) Repeat after me: Notifications are not for retention. Annoying notifications is the top reason why users uninstall apps. Use notifications only when they add value for end users.

11) Users have no idea what they want in apps. Expect them to be wrong if you ask them what they want. 

12) The average user only uses 15 apps per week. Become one of them or become forgotten.

13) The app market is local. Focus on markets where you want to grow. Translate into native languages if necessary. Sites like Onehourtranslation.com are cheap and good. 

14) Articles in mainstream media like newspapers, and tech blogs don’t convert into downloads. Become featured on sites users browse looking for apps to download like TouchArcade.com (iOS) or Androidpolice.com (Android) to get downloads. But see point 15 first.

15) The downloads your app get from being mentioned in blogs will be  negligible in both the short run and the long run if you are successful. 

16) All the user needs to make a decision on whether to download your app or not should be available on your app page in the App Store or Google Play. Users should not have to visit a web site to get the information they need.

17) The single most important metric for your website is how many milliseconds it takes for the user to leave it and get to the App Store.

18) The conversion rate for Facebook invites is 0.4%. The conversion rate for SMS invites is < 0.6%. For your app to spread via Facebook invites or SMS invites a user needs to send on average ~250 invites during their lifetime. Also see 19.

19) The stats in point 18 are for “blind” invites - i.e. the user sends the invite without doing any other action to get their friend to install the app. If they verbally tell their friends to install the app the conversion is obviously higher. But if your users are already telling their friends to install the app, what was the point of sending an invite in the first place?

20) When in doubt on an UI or UX decision do what successful mobile first startups do: WhatsApp, Viber, Waze or Instagram. Ignore what Facebook or Twitter does.

Android KitKat and the Nexus 5

With the Android KitKat and Nexus 5 launch today Google showed that they’re iterating Android at an insane pace. Let’s look at the new announcements they made that has affected Android just this year:

  • Staged roll outs on Google Play
  • Android Studio, a dedicated Android development environment
  • Cross-platform Google Play games
  • Google Play Music all access, dubbed Google’s ”Spotify killer”
  • Google Hangouts, a unified messaging platform across all Google products launched and got updated with SMS support just a few months later
  • Completely new version of Google Maps and Gmail
  • Google+ got 15 GB of photo storage
  • Google Play Services, basically pulling a lot of Android APIs from the device and onto Google Play to unify the Android platform
  • Android 4.3 with a huge change log of features, including major features such as restricted profiles and improved support for wireless displays (WiDi)
  • Chromecast
  • Android 4.4 KitKat, a new version of the Android OS that apart from adding a bunch of new features improves system performance by lowering memory usage significantly.
  • Two new Nexus devices made by LG and Asus: Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 
  • A huge amount of other Android hardware including big product launches such as the Galaxy S4, the HTC One and the Moto X (you could argue that it would have been better with the one device strategy that Apple has, but still)

Read through that list again. It’s pretty darned impressive. 

Comments on Paul Graham’s Essay On Fundraising

Paul Graham’s essay on fundraising should be required reading for anyone considering to raise money from angels, family offices or VCs. If you haven’t read the essay yet, go do so now.

Apart from being extremely useful it’s also remarkable in that it’s one of the first things that PG has written that is equally true for Europe as for SF. 

But, and there’s always a but, fundraising is a skill. A skill just like programming, designing or doing sales. Just like you wouldn’t expect to be a great Ruby developer after reading "Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby"  you shouldn’t expect to be great at fundraising after reading PG’s essay.

It’s one thing to know that you should just ignore cold calls by VC associates. It’s another to actually receive an email from a top tier VC firm saying they love your startup and not be emotionally affected. 

The sad and complex state of video out on smartphones

Have you ever you wanted to connect your smartphone or tablet to an HDTV? I tried to do exactly that and discovered that this is a much more complex problem than I could imagine.

My goal was to be able to use my smartphone and tablet as a source for playing video to the TV in our country house. I also had this crazy idea that I would be able to use my phone as a fully fledged computer with an external display and a Bluetooth keyboard.

As I started reading up on the options I got more and more frustrated at how badly documented it all was. So I turned that frustration into this blog post. If you read the comment sections of sites like Engadget you’ll see there is a lot of confusion around this issue. Hopefully this post will clear that up.

Let’s start by reviewing the different solutions available to output video from a smartphone.

SlimPort (http://www.slimportconnect.com/)

SlimPort is a proprietary solution based on DisplayPort made by Analogix, a semiconductor company. SlimPort allows you to output uncompressed 1080p @ 60 hz through “any 5-wire port”, i.e micro USB, typically the only port on all Android devices for the past few years.


There are SlimPort adapters for all kinds of displays: HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA and so on.

SlimPort claims to be very power efficient meaning it can show content without external power going to the adapter. I could see this being pretty useful if you’re using the phone to show presentations to customers for example, but in most situations you’re likely to want to charge the adapter anyway to not drain the battery. 

Supposedly SlimPort should be able to draw power and even charge your device while showing content but there’s no information available on which displays support this.

As of now the only notable devices that do support it include some devices made by LG such as the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 2013 edition.

SlimPort is an implementation of the DisplayPort MyDP standard but there doesn’t seem to be any MyDP branded products available.

The SlimPort branding is somewhat unfortunate. Something like “DisplayPort Mobile” would maybe have been better to emphasize its relation to DisplayPort.

MHL (http://www.meetmhl.com/)

The MHL (“Mobile High-Definition Link”) specification is made by a consortium of companies with Samsung and Sony being the most notable. It’s well supported on the device side and almost every single new modern smartphone from HTC, Sony, Samsung and LG supports it.

Just as with SlimPort, MHL connects through a device’s micro USB port and outputs a nice clean uncompressed signal over HDMI. MHL only supports HDMI so don’t expect to see MHL to VGA or DisplayPort adapters (but you can of course get a separate HDMI to VGA adapter) . 

MHL can draw power and even charge your device from your display, but only on displays that supports MHL. TV:s that do support MHL even allow you to control playback on your smartphone through your TV’s remote just as if it was a Blu-Ray or DVD player although I have yet to see this in practice.

Since most people will be using their MHL-enabled smartphone without an MHL enabled TV, most MHL adapters come with a micro USB port so that the phone can be charged while plugged in. Unlike SlimPort, MHL adapters require power and will not display anything unless it can draw power from the TV or is powered via a charger.

There’s two versions of MHL: 1.0 and 2.0. MHL 2.0 supports 1080p @ 60 hz (full HD) while MHL 1.0 maxes out at 1080i @ 30hz.  2.0 is backwards compatible with 1.0, but if you have a MHL 2.0 compatible device (e.g. the Galaxy S4) you should of course make sure you buy a MHL adapter that supports MHL 2.0.


So far so good, right? 

There’s only one problem. MHL does not define how the pins on the device side should be configured. So in theory every manufacturer can come up with their own version of MHL and still be MHL compatible. 

That being said, all devices initially supported a standard 5-pin setup. Samsung adopted this standard when they launched their first MHL compatible device, the Galaxy S2, but then changed to their own 11-pin setup on the Galaxy S3, S4 and Note II (and will most likely keep that configuration for all upcoming devices). While Samsung have legitimate reasons for the 11-pin setup [1], the sort of confusion and bad will this has created in the eyes of consumers outweighs the benefits. This whole debacle has been well documented at http://www.galaxymhl.com/.

This means that today there are “MHL adapters” and “Samsung MHL adapters” that only work with some Samsung phones. What is the point of a standard such as MHL if you can’t rely on MHL adapters and devices being compatible with each other? It would have been much better for Samsung to completely drop the MHL branding and just called it “Samsung video out” or something similar.

imageOn the display side, MHL is fairly well supported. A completely unscientific check in a few Swedish electronic’s stores show that roughly 1/4 of all TVs support MHL, including plenty of sub €500 TVs. Finding out exactly which TV:s support MHL require a bit of detective work. If you are in the market for a new TV, I’d recommend you take a few extra minutes to confirm that it supports MHL.

MHL is also supposed to support full surround sound, but since it’s impossible to find out which phones support this specific feature it becomes more of an academic discussion.


Some phones also have a separate mini HDMI port (notably some Sony phones). There’s not much more to comment on that other than that it’s a dying breed of phones. Since both SlimPort and MHL allow HDMI over micro USB there should be no need for a separate mini HDMI port.


Apple are happy to sell you their own proprietary $49 "Lightning AV Adapter" that connects to your lightning port on a newer iOS device and converts it into 1080p through HDMI.  There is no mention by Apple if it’s 30hz or 60hz.


Presumably to simplify the device SoC, the adapter does a lot of processing. This means that the adapter consumes a lot of power (the adapter has its own CPU and 2 GB of RAM). 

Unfortunately, the adapter compresses the data yielding artifacts when shown on an HDTV. There’s also a lot of criticism online about how it’s actually 720p and just scales the picture to 1080p. It’s clear that this adapter is a “hack” from Apple. While it does the job, Apple was forced to make a few compromises on video quality to make it happen.  

These are all fair compromises but it’s unfortunate that Apple are not open about them. When checking the Apple store it’s easy to believe their adapter will allow you to stream a true 1080p video to your HDTV.  Generally, the consumer perception of HDMI is that it outputs a true pixel-by-pixel representation of the source material and Apple has not made it clear that this is not the case.

Another problem with the AV adapter is that if you are using iTunes then iTunes will block you from showing any purchased content through HDMI due to HDCP protection.

Just like SlimPort, the adapter cannot draw power from the display. Fortunately, the adapter comes with a secondary lightning port so that it can be charged simultaneously. But even without being charged it can still show video.

A note on Android and video out

The Android OS allows apps to be scaled to any resolution. This means that Android apps unlike iOS apps take full advantage of any screen size.

This also applies to TV:s and apps are automatically scaled to fit on 16:9 on a 50” TV. In a word processing app where you want as much screen space as possible this is very useful.

But sometimes it becomes a problem. There are lots of use cases when you want to show an app on a TV or projector the way it actually looks on your phone, just like on iOS. For example when you’re at a trade show and want to show off an app on a large display.

This would be very simple to fix by just having a setting that allows you to output video at the same aspect ratio as the phone. Google if you’re reading this, please make this as a setting in Android.

[Edit: There’s an app for that! Requires root and Android 4.2 though]


It’s insanely confusing that there are no less than three different solutions that all allow a micro USB port to act as a video out port. If you compare the pictures above of the different adapters you will see they all look identical except for the branding.

I’ve seen some tech journalists write that a device supports “video out over micro USB”. What does that even mean? SlimPort? MHL 1.0? MHL 2.0? A new proprietary standard? Sigh. Tech journalists take note and always ask manufacturers exactly how video out is handled.

To add even more to the confusion there’s even a risk that consumers will start equating micro USB with video out. For example, no Motorola devices support either SlimPort or MHL including the Moto X.

It’s also hard to get an overview of what displays and smartphones support MHL. Even the MHL Consortium’s own site is not updated. For example, the LG G2 is supposed to support MHL but is not listed as a supported device on MHL’s website.

That being said, MHL is definitely the market leader and has a lot of traction both on the device and display side. Consumers that are in the market for a new TV or display should definitely make sure its MHL-compatible.

So what does this all mean? Well, despite all the standards it looks like we are back on square one. Consumers will still have to look at what video out option their phone supports and buy an appropriate adapter.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

  • If you have a newer “lightning” iOS device (iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad Mini or iPod Touch 5th gen), get the "Lightning AV Adapter" from Apple
  • If you have an older iOS device, get the old version
  • If you have a Nexus 4 or Nexus 7 get a SlimPort adapter
  • If you have an MHL-supported phone such as the Galaxy S2, HTC One or Xperia Z get a standard MHL adapter
  • If you have a Samsung Galaxy S3 or Note II get a Samsung MHL 1.0 adapter
  • If you have a Samsung Galaxy S4 get the Samsung MHL 2.0 adapter 

Other random questions that are already answered above but that I asked myself before writing this article

If video out is important to me, what device should I get?

Any device that support MHL 2.0 (e.g. the Galaxy S4) or any SlimPort supported device (e.g. Nexus 4). If you don’t care about video quality you could also go for any newer iOS device.

Which one is best of SlimPort and MHL?

Honestly - they are pretty equal. SlimPort is fighting hard to show the value over MHL and it certainly has a few advantages, check the video below for example. Unfortunately for them, MHL now also supports 1080p @ 60 hz.

Why are you writing about video out? Shouldn’t you be writing about wifi or anything else that you usually write about?

Let’s just say there was a rainy day where my wife was sick and I really wanted to connect my shiny new Nexus 7 to my TV and for some obscure reason I ended up spending way, way too much time figuring out how to do that instead of just doing what a normal human being would have done and went to a store and just bought a cable.

Is this another one of those cases where Apple wins because it ignores the standard and creates a proprietary solution “that just works”?

The easiest way to view it is as if each smartphone manufacturer have their own proprietary standard.

MHL and SlimPort both have a lot of advantages over Apple’s solution such as being able to draw power from the TV and output full 1080p @ 60 hz uncompressed. That being said, you can’t beat the simplicity of Apple where there’s exactly one adapter, albeit subpar, that works with all their iOS devices.

Is this a case of Apple screwing customers by coming up with their own standard?

No. Remember that when Apple made the decision to support video mirroring neither SlimPort or MHL had any traction in the market. Choosing MHL would have meant that they couldn’t output full HD and SlimPort was still an untested solution that no one else supported.

If Apple would adopt a standard for video out, which one would they choose? 

Most likely SlimPort. It’s more power efficient than MHL and can output a video stream without external power, just like their current adapter. Apple is also betting hard on DisplayPort already. Reading online it also seems like SlimPort comes without licensing fees which of course make it a cheaper solution.

[1] The 11-pin setup used by Samsung allows the adapter to draw power from the device, removing the need to power the adapter. It also allows the micro USB port to act as USB host. Acting as a USB host lets users plug in a USB mouse or a USB keyboard.

Playing In the World of Custom ROMs and Rooted Phones

Should you root your Android phone? Short answer: probably not. For science (and Instabridge), I rooted my Samsung Galaxy S3. Of the apps that lists root access as a requirement few (read: none) of them are worth the effort. 

It’s telling that the most popular apps for rooted phones are Titanium Backup and ROM Manager. ROM Manager allows you to easily install a custom ROM while Titanium Backup allows you preserve your app data while doing so. That should give you an indication of why people root their phones. 

(A ROM is a file that contains the operating system running on the device. Custom ROMs are pre-packaged forks of the Android open source project, usually with some extra bells and whistles included.)

The by far most popular ROM is “Cynaogen Mod”, a fork of Android 4.2.1 without any of the extra software added by OEMs like HTC, Sony or Samsung and with a slew of customization options.

I can see a few more reasons to root your device though. Maybe this is just because I work with wifi but one thing you could do is install one of the apps that will change the MAC address of your phone. Would be pretty useful when you’re at a wifi network that only gives you free wifi for a limited amount of time or only allows you to download a set amount of data (e.g. airports with “free” wifi). In that case you could just reset your MAC address and reset their counters.

That being said, if you wanted to install a custom ROM or root your phone how would you go about it? The process is pretty simple. Below is the process for us that are lazy.

  1. If you have a Samsung phone, download Odin. Odin is a leaked internal software from Samsung that makes it super easy to flash any Samsung phone with custom software. Do this on a Windows computer.

    While it’s technically possible to make Odin run on OS X it just isn’t worth the extra hassle. Odin requires you to have the "Samsung Kies" software installed since it uses the same USB device drivers.

  2. Start your phone in recovery mode by holding volume down, home and power. Plug in your phone with a USB cable once it’s in recovery mode. 

  3. Now download “CF-Auto-Root”, start Odin, choose PDA then click on the CF-Auto-Root file you just downloaded and hit start.

  4. Congratulations! Your phone should reboot and your phone is now “rooted”.
  5. Since we’ll assume your whole “reason d’être” for rooting your phone was to install custom ROMs, now is the time to install "ROM Manager" from the Play Store. (Just as an aside - big kudos to the insanity of the people at Google for allowing apps that require root access in the Play Store. Can you imagine Apple allowing apps that require your phone to be jailbroken on the App Store?)

  6. Bonus step - install "Titanium Backup" from the Play Store to make sure you don’t lose any app data. (I skipped this step, most apps these days are pretty good at backing up their data anyway).

  7. Start the “ROM Manager” app. If you don’t want to waste unnecessary time just buy the premium key and let the app do the manual steps for you. ROM Manager will start by updating your phone’s “bootloader” with its own bootloader called “Clockwork”.

    (The bootloader is the piece of software that runs before your operating system starts. If you’re old school like yours truly you can view this as the phone’s BIOS.)

  8. Now you’re pretty much done - if you want to try a custom ROM just start “ROM Manager” and select which ROM you want. “ROM Manager” does all the heavy lifting for you. It will also ask you to install “Google Apps” which you probably want since it includes the Gmail app and the Play Store app.

On the value of mobile data

Ever since I was at Ericsson, now over three years ago, the big debate in the telecom industry has been on the future of operators and what it means for them to become “wireless ISPs” (or the more derogatory term “bit pipe”) i.e. only selling mobile data priced by speed and the size of the monthly data bucket. This is in contrast to the “old” telecom world where you were supposed to sell services: voice, sms, mms, video calls and mobile TV.

In many parts of the world the shift to data has already happened. Take Sweden for example. Buying almost any bundle from one of the mobile operators means getting access to unlimited voice and SMS. Only prepaid customers get charged per minute. But even there the Swedish operators are doing their best to convert low ARPU prepaid customers into subscription customers with included data buckets.

While Ericsson, Nokia and the Vodafone:s and DT:s of the world has spent the past five years arguing about how much value there really will be in mobile data its value has exploded in the eyes of consumers.

Slowly, but surely consumers are now aware that 4G means the ability to let their kids play real-time action games and stream Netflix videos. A small data bucket means they’ll be forced to a slow connection in the middle of the month that barely allows them to check their email. That value is clear to everyone. In fact, I’d even argue that while fixed line ISPs have had a hard time justifying why consumers should buy 100 mbit instead of 20 mbit or even 5 mbit - mobile operators are in the enviable position of having consumers that just want more and more data and speed.

To me, that sounds like a bright future for mobile operators.