Mobile app news roundup: GREE, Google and iAd

GREE opens Osaka studio — GREE has announced it will be opening a new domestic development studio in Osaka. The studio is scheduled to open in March according to Andriasang.

Angry Birds crossing the final frontier — Rovio has revealed the newest expansion to its hit Angry Bird Franchise — Angry Birds Space. The game will feature all-new birds and puzzles with a zero gravity twist according to Yahoo! Games’ exclusive report. The game will be released on Mar. 22. NASA and National Geographic are on-board to be launch parters for the title.

Google brings mobile ads into AdSense — Google has migrated all mobile ad unit sizes into its core AdSense product. The new AdSense code will automatically format ads by device.

Neilsen: Children love tablets — According to a new study by Nielsen, 70 percent of tablet owning households with children under 12 allow children in the household to use the tablet. The most common usage is to play games (77 percent), followed by educational purposes (57 percent).

KongZhong acquires Noumena — Chinese mobile internet provider KongZhong has purchased Noumena, the developer of the Handymo game development engine. Under the terms of the deal KongZhong will pay $15 million USD in cash and provide 40 million ordinary shares for Noumena.

Hironobu Sakaguchi working on iOS games — According to a tweet translated by Andriasang, Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi is working on three games for iOS. No further details were given.

Apple boosts developers cut of iAd revenues — As of Apr. 1, developers will earn 70 percent of all advertising revenue generated from iAd, up from the current 60 percent share they currently receive. Apple has also lowered the minimum campaign cost to $100,000 according to VentureBeat.

Madhouse launches Indian subsidiary — Chinese mobile ad network Madhouse has launched an Indian subsidiary called Madhouse India. Madhouse is the largest mobile ad network in China and has worked with Rovio, EA and China Unicom.

Words With Friends can lead to Romance — Zynga has released some interesting Words With Friends statistics. According to the company, 44 percent of players have admitted to flirting with an online opponent and one in 10 players admitted the game has led to a in-person meeting.

Rovio wins two Toy of the Year awards — Rovio has won the Property of the Year award at the 12th annual Toy Industry Association’s Toy of the Year awards. Rovio won the award for its successful brand expansion through licensed toys and games. The Angry Birds themed Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game by Mattel won the Game of the Year award.

Cellufun crowdsourcing new name — New York-based Cellufun is tempting fate by polling the internet for its new name. Anyone will be able to suggest a name until March 1, after which the company will choose 16 submissions and put them up to popular vote.  The user who suggests the winning name will receive $10,000.

Smartphone ownership to reach 1 billion by 2016The New York Times reports Forrester Research is predicting more than one billion people will own smartphones by 2016, which will push consumer spending in the mobile app market to $56 billion annually.

Zeptolab announces merchandising deals — Russian developer Zeptolab is following Rovio, Outplay7 and Halfbrick and getting into the merchandise business, announcing a series of deals that will see Cut The Rope branded game controllers, board games and sleepware hit the market.

Former THQ devs go mobile, social with Twiitch — Australian game industry veterans Shane Stevens and Steven Spagnolo, formerly of THQ and Blue Tongue Entertainment, have launched a new independent studio called Twiitch. The company’s first game is iOS physics puzzler Coco Loco, which will be published by EA’s Chillingo. Twiitch is also working on a Facebook game.

[Launch] Flickr co-founder launches Pinwheel — Caterina Fake has unveiled her latest business venture, location-based note sharing app Pinwheel. The app is currently in Beta and has received an undisclosed amount of funding from True Ventures, Betaworks and others according to VentureBeat.

[Launch] Outplay brings Word Trick to iOS — Scottish developer Outplay Entertainment has launched its scrabble-inspired game Facebook game Word Trick on iOS. The game is cross-platform and players can play up to 21 games at once.