News Scan: Retailers buying up mobile startups; Rise and fall of Flappy Bird; more

>> Retailers look to acquire mobile startups

Retailers are looking to acquire startups with mobile expertise, observes Mobile Marketer. For example, Kroger recently acquired San Francisco-based mobile marketing startup You Technology. "I'd argue that in today's world, digital, data and mobile are all things that you're going to want to own--you're not going to want to rely on third-party vendors to provide what is likely to be the biggest shift in your customers over the next 10–20 years that is occurring today," Rajeev Chand, managing director and head of research at Rutberg & Co., tells Mobile Marketer. Read more on the mobile acquisition trend.

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>> Sports, healthcare functions dominate wearables

Sports and healthcare functions dominate shipments of smart wearable devices, according to ABI Research. Heart-rate monitors were the most popular wearable devices in 2013, with 12 million device shipped, followed by pedometers and activity trackers. "The market for wearable computing devices is driven by a growing range of wireless connected wearable sports, fitness and wellbeing devices. Heart-rate and activity monitors will outpace shipments of smartwatches and glasses for some years to come, and they will also provide the essential foundation for the development of the broader wearable market," predicts Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI. Read more on ABI's wearables analysis.

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>> The rise and fall of Flappy Bird

The mobile game Flappy Bird hatched from the mind of Dong Nguyen and took flight in May of last year, relates a report by eWeek. The game became hugely popular, garnering millions of users in a short period of time. Despite making $50,000 a day at the height of Flappy Bird's popularity, Nguyen pulled the game from the Apple App Store and Google Play earlier this week, citing "distractions from the game's rabid fans and his desire to live a quiet life," eWeek relates. Read more on Flappy Bird's demise.

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>> Verizon goes after utilities, healthcare and auto M2M market

Verizon is targeting the utilities, healthcare and automotive markets with its machine-to-machine (M2M) initiatives, explains Kathryn Weldon, principal analyst for enterprise mobility at Current Analysis, who attended an analyst briefing by Verizon earlier this week. Verizon offers M2M platforms for "converged healthcare management (including a cloud-based solution to capture device data), virtual healthcare (for home health monitoring, i.e., collecting remote data on health status for diseases such as diabetes and heart conditions), as well as tele-health solutions for virtual doctor visit," writes Weldon. In addition, its automotive telematics unit has 900 employees and its sales are up 195 percent year-over-year.  Read more on Weldon's blog.

[More on M2M: M2M growth sector specific | Competitive advantage is top driver for enterprises to adopt M2M, survey finds]

>> Annual wagers on mobile gambling to reach $60B in 2018, says Juniper

Annual wagers on mobile casinos and poker are forecast by Juniper Research to exceed $60 billion in 2018, a six-fold jump from 2013. A main driver of this growth will be the expected legalization of mobile gambling in certain U.S. states. "Service providers that enter the US market will be required to optimize gambling solutions for mobile users from the outset, given the large appetite for content on handsets/tablets which already exists in this market," judges Juniper. At the same time, lotteries have been slow to adopt mobile channels, notes Juniper analyst and report author Siân Rowlands. Read more on Juniper's mobile gambling analysis.

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