Our look at some of the big stories in mobile: Square fends off accusations from VeriFone; OpenFeint launches a fund with The9 to bring more games to Android; and OpenText moves into mobile apps with the acquisition of weComm.
— Square/VeriFone: They’re something of comptetitors, so it was perhaps inevitable that they would come to blows. Two open letters — the first from VeriFone’s CEO Doug Bergeron, and the second a follow up from Square’s CEO Jack Dorsey — highlight both some of the potential security issues behind mobile payments, and some of the misconceptions.
Bergeron is accusing Square’s dongle system of being easy to game, with some simple programming that can skim a users’ credit card details to abuse at a later point. Dorsey says “wrong” — the claims are not accurate, because not only is Square’s system verified by payment providers, but even pen and paper can be used to “skim” numbers already. Given how nascent the mobile payments industry is today (and assuming Square is right in its defense), it comes as something of a surprise to see such in-fighting at this point: shouldn’t it be about trying to establish the market for it, in whatever form it takes?
— OpenFeint: The mobile games portal is launching a new developers fund of $100 million to port more mobile games on to the Android platform. Its partner in the operation, called Fund9, is The9, a China-based online gaming company that is also an investor in Aurora Feint, the parent company of OpenFeint.
The very existence of the fund speaks to the still-great disparity between iOS and Android when it comes to certain areas. OpenFeint started to offer games on the Android platform last September. Since then, it has “…helped launch 250 great games [on Android], but there’s still work to do,” Eros Resmini, VP of Marketing at OpenFeint, notes in the release. Overall, the company says it has some 4,800 games on its platform, played by 68 million people.
The deal will also see developers having their games get distribution in the Chinese market, via the relationship with The9.
— OpenText: Not so much of a consolidation play as one of convergence. The Waterloo, Ontario-based OpenText — which specialises in content management software, particularly for web-based content — is buying weComm, a UK firm that focusses on developing apps for various mobile platforms, to extend its portfolio of services into mobile apps. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. OpenText says it has thousands of customers across a range of industry verticals; while weComm works with a number of high-profile brands to mobilize their content, including the NBA, Sky, Motorola (NYSE: MMI) (creating for example its Facebook app); and CBS’s Last.fm.