- Zynga Planning To File For IPO As Early As Tomorrow, Will Raise $1.5 To $2B At $15 To $20B Valuation
- One To Watch: Augme Sees Continued Growth, Launches SaaS Mobile Marketing Platform
- As Seesmic Bids Adieu To RIM, UberMedia Introduces UberSocial 1.2 For BlackBerry
- Microsoft Office 365 Rolls Out Its Online Productivity Suite
- Online Travel Network Operator TravelShark Raises $5 Million
- Digital Agency MartinJAY Acquires Assets Of Social Media Analyst SocialBlaze
- Andy Rubin: Daily Android Activations Reach 500,000
- Pixable’s ‘Life Of A Facebook Photo’ (Infographic)
- The U.S House Of Representatives Can Now Use Skype’s Video Calling Service
- Ifeelgoods Raises $6.5 Million To Ride The Facebook Credits Wave
- AOL Consolidates 53 Brands Down To 20 “Power Brands;” The Huffington Post Gets Bigger
- IDC Predicts 183 Billion Mobile App Downloads By 2015, Rise Of In-App Purchasing
- Harmon.ie Brings Social Collaboration To Outlook With New Version
- Viralheat Grabs $4.25 Million For Affordable Social Media Tracking And Intelligence
- OpenCandy’s Pokki Brings Web Apps To The Desktop, With Style
- Groupon For Nightlife ‘Poggled’ Expands, Hits Up New York And Denver First
- Opera Hits 200 Million Users; Debuts A New Featherweight Look And More In Version 11.5
- Frenzapp Takes On SoundTracking With A Social Music Discovery App For iOS
- Google Quietly Rolls Out WDYL.com: A Range Of Google Product Results On One Page
- Anonymous Declares War On The City Of Orlando
- The HP TouchPad Will Come With Its Own Facebook Tablet App (Leaked Pics)
- Myspace Expected To Lay Off At Least 150 Employees On Wednesday
- A Massive Solar Flare Of Activity Pushes Tumblr To 400 Million Pageviews A Day
- IBM “Buildings Whisperer” Dave Bartlett On The Dumb Ways We Waste Energy
- Cloudflare CEO: “Our Marketing Strategy Is Sign Up All Of The World’s International Criminals” [TCTV]
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 09:05 AM PDT
Zynga according to CNBC reporter Kate Kelly, Zynga will file its S-1 for an IPO with the SEC as early as tomorrow with a valuation between $15 billion and $20 billion.
Kelly says that Zynga will raise between $1.5 and $2 billion in its offering. The company, says CNBC, has selected Morgan Stanley as the main underwriter of the IPO, with Goldman Sachs and Bank of America also listed as additional underwriters.
Kelly also reports that Zynga will be looking to raise both debt and equity funding in the offering, and is currently profitable.
Zynga has been speculated to be near filing its initial S-1 for an IPO. The company reportedly recently raised $250 million in new funding at a $7 to $10 billion valuation earlier this year. Zynga’s investors include Reid Hoffman, DST, Google, Tiger Global, Kevin Rose, Kleiner Perkins, Union Square Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Peter Thiel, Foundry Group and IVP.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 08:30 AM PDT
As many know, mobile advertising has already taken the first steps into an era of explosive growth, and forecasts today continue to be doggedly optimistic. And why shouldn’t they be? Over 100 million smartphones were sold in the fourth quarter of 2010 alone, which easily outpaced the number of PCs sold over the same quarter. People are flocking to smartphones literally by the millions, and as a result, mobile technology is evolving at a relatively blistering pace. Not unsurprisingly, mobile advertising is being brought along for the ride. For example: Gartner expects mobile ad revenue to hit $3.3 billion by the end of 2011, more than double revenue in 2010 — and to hockey-stick to $20.6 billion by 2015.
What’s more, you may remember Eric Schmidt saying in a keynote back in February, that mobile growth is happening quicker than anyone imagined, outpacing even the expectations of those optimistic parties at Google and beyond.
Founded in 1999, Augme Technologies is an under-the-radar company that, over the last few years, has quietly built a mobile marketing technology platform that may see it become a big player in the mobile technology and marketing boom. The platform, called Ad Life, allows marketers, brands, and agencies to plan, create, test, deploy, and track mobile marketing programs — with the most noteworthy feature of Augme’s patented technology being the fact that it is able to reach targeted groups while remaining device-agnostic.
Ad Life has seen several iterations over the years, and today Augme is announcing version 4.0 of its platform: A software-as-a-service model, built on an API architecture that’s designed to be compatible with any-size enterprise and customizable for contextual mobile user experiences. The software platform is also happens to be built on Augme’s proprietary mark-up language that has “site builder” capabilities, which allows this automated delivery of ad content to nearly every 3G and 4G smartphone in the market today, according to Augme Founder Anthony Iacovone.
It does through the use of consumer response tags (CRTs), including 2D codes, UPC codes, SMS, and Image Recognition, enabling brands to track and analyze marketing campaign results. Using its patented device-detection and proprietary mobile content adaptation software, Ad Life takes some of the hassle out of the challenges inherent to the industry, especially in relation to the many disparate OSes, device types, and on-screen mobile content rendering.
As mobile technology evolves, brands and advertisers are often subject to fragmentation and, not only that, but they struggle to keep pace with the evolving technology while keeping costs at bay, especially while trying to avoid rebuilding their mobile infrastructure every few years. As a SaaS platform, AD Life helps mobile advertisers avoid infrastructure obstacles, as enterprises have the ability to go mobile by customized rendering for mobile web content, while delivering and managing coupons, rebates, social connections and all that good (read: annoying) stuff, through the platform’s API.
Unsurprisingly, Iacovone said that the Augme team is likening Ad Life 4.0 to MaaS, or mobilization as a service — for ads. “The mobile marketing industry as a whole has been stuck in a 1.0 version of fragmented technology”, the Augme Founder said. “With Ad Life 4.0, we’re trying to redefine mobile marketing by connecting mobile technology to every facet of an organization's core marketing functions through robust APIs, while providing deep measurement and consumer interactivity that talks with data warehouses and CRM systems”.
Poised as it is within a hot growth sector, Augme will definitely continue to be a company to watch, especially for investors, as the company has traded publicly on NASDAQ since early this year. While revenue in 2011 was $2.8 million, Augme management expects revenue to push $16 million in fiscal 2012 — and that the company will in turn achieve positive cash flow next year.
What’s more, the company’s customers currently include four Fortune 100 companies, six Fortune 200 companies, and four Global Fortune 500 companies, and earlier this year, Augme announced a contract with Smartsource.com, NewsCorp's division focused on coupons, to help lead the company’s push into mobile coupons. Kellogg has also been using Ad Life to directly engage with consumers by providing enhanced content for mobile devices, using a number of campaigns involving QR codes and SMS keywords — all of which have been successful.
If Augme continues to expand its list of blue-chip clients and take advantage of its bullpen of patents, the company could very well be at the forefront of the mobile advertising boom, and a potential industry leader down the road. Definitely long on Augme.
For more on the Ad Life platform, check out the landing page here.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 08:24 AM PDT
One of the new features in UberSocial for Blackberry 1.2 is called “Inner Circle”, which basically lets you group together the most important people you follow in an exclusive timeline, alongside the traditional timeline.
Users can also set up special notifications for tweets, replies or direct messages from anyone in their ‘Inner Circle’.
Additional new features include ‘Theme Engine’, which enables the creation of personalized themes and ‘Deal Box’, which allows users to get notifications for location-based deals.
With the upgraded app, UberMedia is also meeting Twitter’s requirements with regards to OAuth authentication. Users who do not upgrade to the new version by June 30 will no longer be able to access their direct messages.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 07:56 AM PDT
At a press event in New York City, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer rolled out the general availability of Microsoft 365, an online suite of productivity apps which includes Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Lync. It is “where Microsoft Office meets the cloud,” he says. Microsoft first announced Office 365 last October, and has signed up 200,000 business customers since then.
Office 365 is all of Microsoft’s cloud productivity apps rolled into one service. It includes Web-based email, shared documents, shared calendars, instant messaging, video conferencing and Web meetings, and websites. Customers can pick and choose which apps they want and pay a monthly subscription from $2 to $27 per month.
Microsoft is targeting small businesses with Office 365 and is going up against Google Enterprise (which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Talk and Google Sites). When it comes to the cloud, Microsoft is playing catch-up. Google Apps are used by more than 3 million organizations.
Microsoft plays to its strengths by taking advantage of the billion people who already use the desktop version of Microsoft Office, with seamless transitions between the online and desktop versions. You can save a document to your desktop, keep working on it offline, and then sync the changes back to the shared document. The site editor uses familiar word processing UI metaphors to make it easy for anyone to create a site. The video conferencing and online meeting apps integrate PowerPoint and other Office apps.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 07:33 AM PDT
TravelShark (the startup formerly known as Swiftrank), which operates an online travel network, this morning announced that it has closed a $5 million round of financing from DLA Holdings, a Singapore-based private equity firm. TravelShark has raised a total of $8 million to date.
TravelShark says it boasts more than 12,000 location-based travel websites, covering destinations around the globe, aimed to generate revenue for travel companies by driving direct bookings to hotels, resorts, spas, and more through its Featured Hotel Program.
The company says more than 600 hotels and interactive marketing agencies in more than 20 countries currently participate in said Featured Hotel Program to promote global visibility. Partners include Intercontinental Hotels Group, MGM Resorts, TIG Global, and others.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 07:16 AM PDT
MartinJAY Digital this morning announced that it has acquired the assets of Social Blaze, a Los Angeles, California-based developer of social media management and analytics service. The digital agency purchased all of the company’s intellectual assets, including patent rights, source code and domain names, for an undisclosed sum.
MartinJAY says it acquired the social media management application developer, which was founded in 2009, to expand its ability to provide social web strategies and ROI to its clients.
The agency, which is based in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, does creative and strategic consultancy work for companies like Ford, eBay, Tropicana and others.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 07:02 AM PDT
Right around the beginning of May at the I/O event, Google revealed its daily Android activation data, which turned out to be 400,000 Android activations daily. It's been two months, and now Google's Android boss Andy Rubin has an adjustment he'd like to make to the numbers. "There are now 500,000 Android devices activated every day, and it's growing at 4.4% w/w," tweeted Rubin this morning.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 06:00 AM PDT
It’s tough to beat my colleague Alexia Tsotsis’ witty ‘What Mobile Photo Sharing App Should I Use’ infographic. Today Pixable, a startup that develops sleek social photo creation and categorization tools for Facebook and other photo sharing sites, is releasing its own photo sharing infographic focused on photo-sharing and the ‘hard knock’ life of a photo on Facebook.
Pixable's service, which has 800,000 users, allows people to use of all their Facebook and image sharing site photo content like captions, tagging information, comments, and birthdays to make albums, slideshows, calendars and nor artwork. Pixable's browser-based simplifies the creation of albums, making it easy to use for anyone. One of Pixable’s early applications was a nifty tool that allows you to make mosaics of your Facebook photos.
The infographic takes a look at the life of a Facebook photo based on whether you took the photo with a film camera, digital camera, mobile phone or a new version of the iPad.
Pixable also recently took a data dive on Facebook profile photos, revealing that 10 percent of all Facebook photos are profile pics. And the number of profile photos uploaded per user has tripled since 2006. On average, the typical profile photo has 2 likes and 2 comments.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 05:59 AM PDT
The types of technology that a Congressional office can use is severely restricted by the government (as a former Congressional staffer, I am acutely familiar with the strict procurement policy). Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is announcing that members of Congress will be able to use Skype’s videoconferencing technology on government computer systems.
Skype says that its engineers worked closely with the Congressional network security team to ensure that Skype is used safely for official business (and not for Weiner-like conduct). As part of the security precautions, each Congressional office will have access to their own Skype Manager account, so one central person in each office can administer the Skype accounts.
In addition, Members of Congress and their staff can personally configure important privacy settings.
The addition of Skype will be a boon for many members of Congress. Skype will allow lawmakers to hold meetings with their constituents who are unable to travel to the Congressional office, participate in virtual town hall meetings when the Member is not in her or his District, conduct video conferences with District staff and more.
While Skype hasn’t signed on the Senate yet; we’re assuming that if it’s good for the House, it’s probably secure enough for the Senate.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 05:59 AM PDT
In a couple of days, Facebook will require game developers to implement its Facebook Credits currency, as announced in January 2011 (much to the dismay of some developers, although we should also note that several juggernauts, including Zynga, EA and RockYou, were already on board).
This morning, Ifeelgoods is announcing that it raised $6.5m to strengthen its offering ahead of the July 1 Facebook Credits implementation deadline. Ifeelgoods offers a platform that allows retailers to provide Facebook Credits as marketing incentives in their online stores.
Basically, Ifeelsgoods wants to make online retail promotions more effective (and less expensive) for sellers by having them hand out credits for virtual goods from popular social games in lieu of traditional promotions such as discounts, coupon codes or gifts.
Ifeelgoods says it will use the additional capital to expand its digital goods incentives solutions to better serve existing customers as well as reach customers in new vertical and international markets. Since its launch in September 2010, Ifeelgoods has signed more than 20 customers, including 1-800-Flowers.com, Ice.com, Shopping.com and La Redoute.
These brands have implemented Ifeelgoods solutions to leverage digital goods, beginning with Facebook Credits, as an incentive for purchases, online advertising, Facebook fan acquisition, email signups and Twitter marketing.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 05:32 AM PDT
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong likes to streamline things. And he is about to streamline AOL even more. Somewhat reversing the anti-portal strategy he inherited, he will start to consolidate 53 different content brands into 20 “power brands.” (Don’t worry, TechCrunch is still one of them).
“More and more stuff is moving towards well-known brands,” says Armstrong. “Unless human nature is going to totally change, the Internet is going to end up in a branded environment.”
The Huffington Post will be absorbing many of the former stand-alone AOL editorial sites, and in the process expanding from 28 sections to 36. Armstrong believes that simplifying AOL’s content portfolio will make it easier to sell ads and attract readers. Instead of “300 different things that sales people could sell, now they can focus their sales efforts against key categories.”
AOL’s celebrity site PopEater, for instance, will become HuffPost Celebrity. AOL News is already consolidated into the Huffington Post and Politics Daily has been rolled into HuffPost Politics. Kitchen Daily will become HuffPost Kitchen, Parent Dish will become HuffPost Parents, AOL Black Voices will become HuffPost Black Voices, and so on. HuffPost Music, HuffPost Small Business, and HuffPost Kids will all be new.
Outside of the Huffington Post, the power brands that will remain are:
Meanwhile, AOL will be merging its two main homegrown content management systems: Blogsmith and the Huffington Post’s own custom CMS based on Movable Type. The new CMS will all be merged into the Huffington Post’s system, although a few big sites like Engadget will remain on Blogsmith for the time being. (TechCrunch will stay on WordPress).
All of these changes will take place over the summer.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 05:30 AM PDT
Research firm IDC forecasts the number of annual mobile app downloads to increase from 10.7 billion in 2010 to nearly 183 billion by 2015, notably more than the 44 billion mobile app downloads by 2016 forecasted by its competitor ABI Research.
IDC says the bigger story behind the numbers is an impending shift away from the current reliance upon mobile app download purchases as the primary focus of app monetization.
Rather, IDC says, developers will focus increasingly on in-app purchasing and advertising to fund business models, a shift that the firm says is most evident in the free app category.
Last January, in its January 20111 Appcelerator/IDC 1Q11 Mobile App Developer Survey Report, IDC posited that developers were increasingly planning to incorporate in-app purchasing, mobile advertising, and mobile commerce in their mobile applications.
IDC says its outlook on the mobile application market is informed by conversations with a “wide variety of players in the mobile app marketplace”, as well as financial and product announcements and its quarterly survey of Appcelerator’s 70,000+ mobile app developer base.
Two months ago, IDC reported that the global mobile phone market had ballooned in the first quarter of this year, growing 19.8 percent year-over-year, mostly due to the meteoric rise of smartphone shipments.
For your further reading pleasure:
Users Will Download 44 Billion Mobile Apps By 2016 (April 2011)
Mobile App Users Are Both Fickle And Loyal: Study (March 2011)
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 05:00 AM PDT
Israeli enterprise software company Harmon.ie has released a new version of its email plugin that adds social and collaborative features to Outlook, Google Docs and Lotus Notes. Harmon.ie for SharePoint 3.0 allows users to collaborate with colleagues and external contacts on Outlook without leaving the email interface.
Within Outlook, business users can share documents and track document updates; post and check colleagues’ real-time status; initiate phone/chat/video/email communications; and more.
Through a new people view open in a sidebar pane within Outlook, users will see an activity stream providing both document and people status updates from their network, and they can open documents that are posted without leaving the email interface.
Harmonie will also suggest colleagues to you and recommend additional connections based on their contact history including email, chat, and document co-editing. And you can call, chat and initiate a videoconference within the activity stream.
Currently Harmon.ie for SharePoint has attracted 400,000 paid users. Harmonie also offers a free plug-in that bring Google Docs documents and Microsoft SharePoint document libraries directly to Microsoft Outlook. And Harmon.ie generates around $4 million in revenue per year (not including the plug-ins). Mainsoft (which was rebranded as Harmon.ie) originally did raise funding, but the harmon.ie restart has been self-sufficient based on sales of the legacy Mainsoft products.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 12:52 AM PDT
Viralheat, the social media measurement tool that allows content producers to monitor consumer-generated content on the Web in realtime, announced today that it has closed a $4.25 million series A round of funding. The round was led by the venture firm Mayfield Fund and adds to the $75K of seed capital Viralheat raised back in December 2009.
The startup plans to use this new infusion of capital to expand its engineering team, create new products and services for consumer analytics and engagement, and accelerate customer acquisition and revenue growth. As it is, Viralheat faces plenty of competition in the social media analytics and tracking space from Radian6, Visible Measures, Omgili, ScoutLabs, and Omniture to name a few, but the top factor that distinguishes Viralheat from other startups is its affordability. For $10 per month, users can track 10 profiles on the site, and for $40, you can track 50 profiles.
Viralheat has been quietly adding integrations and tools to deepen its feature set and provide customers with a more robust suite of trackable trends, sentiment, influencer data, analytics and intelligence. But, as Viralheat CEO Raj Kadam said recently, the future of this space relies not just on a company being able to track present influencers (though offering 360-degree views of the top evangelists, content producers, etc. is certainly important), but being able to predict what is going to happen next, like what products are about to explode and what consumers are about to buy, for example.
To push into this emergent space, Viralheat recently launched its “Human Intent” product into private beta, which giving businesses the ability to identify customers online that are on the verge of a purchasing decision — in realtime. As part of this Viralheat integrates with Salesforce, using OAuth 2.0 to exports your leads into your sale organization’s pipeline, as well as ease of export and simple employee training.
Viralheat also boasts coverage of Twitter, Google Buzz, Facebook Fan pages, YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, blogs, and more, in addition to enterprise grade features like dynamic alerting, geo-location to restrict your profiles by location, and an API to embed social media intelligence into applications.
Since its launch in 2009, Viralheat has grown to over 1,300 customers from 61 countries worldwide. You can read our initial coverage of the startup here.
Posted: 28 Jun 2011 12:01 AM PDT
“The future is the web.” So goes the mantra that seems to be echoing throughout Google, Facebook, and plenty of smaller tech companies that view the web as the solution to sidestep the fragmentation created by native app platforms. And they’re almost certainly right.
But the web still has a long way to go — it’s quite rare to come across web applications that feel anything like their desktop counterparts. Now San Diego-based startup OpenCandy thinks it has a solution: a new product called Pokki that bridges the gap between the browser and native applications. In other words, they’re offering web apps that are a lot more convenient than web apps.
First, some logistical news: up until now OpenCandy’s only product has been a native application installer for Windows that upsells users on high quality apps (it’s a little controversial — you can find our past coverage right here). In light of today’s new product launch, OpenCandy is changing the name of the company to SweetLabs (the installer is still called OpenCandy).
So what exactly is Pokki? It’s a framework built on Chromium that allows developers to build basic applications using standard web technologies, but with a few key additions. First, these applications support nice notification tags in the menu bar (similar to iOS’s badge system). They’re also handy by design — click one, and it will pop up in a small window that you can use to access your Facebook wall, Gmail inbox, or whatever other application you’ve installed. Click outside of the Pokki, and it disappears. It’s very lightweight.
Pokki is initially offering a set of eight applications to users, including apps for Gmail, Facebook, Groupon, eBay, the WSJ, Living Social, and Twitter. That’s a solid start, but today’s launch is primarily about introducing developers to the Pokki SDK, which isavailable beginning today, and will let developers turn whatever website they like (provided it has an API) into a Pokki. Note that most of the Pokkis launching today were built in-house by SweetLabs.
To use Pokki, users have to install the basic framework first, but this will come bundled with all Pokki apps — the company expects users will download a Pokki from one of their favorite sites, and then continue to add more using the integrated Pokki app browser. The apps are launching with support for Windows today, with Mac and Linux support coming down the line.
Pokki is far from the first project that’s looking to bridge the gap between web and native applications. You may have heard of Fluid, which does something similar for the Mac. And, to some extent, this is also competing with Google’s Chrome Web Store, which is also in the business of distributing web apps.
But Pokki’s focus on these quick, nimble applications (at least to start with) may give it a leg up. I could definitely see myself using a Pokki app to check in on the daily Groupon deal or Facebook News Feed update without having to fire up a new browser tab. And I’m not the only one: Pokki has tested the apps with “a large social games company” with very encouraging results. This sort of thing seems tailor-made for giving CityVille addicts a way to quickly check in on their towns without having to actually visit Facebook.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 11:59 PM PDT
Poggled is an interesting take on the daily deals model, with 50-70% off “evergreen” services at nightclubs, bars and music venues available every day without daily expiration. Users can search for deals on its iPhone and Android apps by filtering by Nearby, Happening Now or by Day of The Week, Event Type or Neighborhood. Users can also share their deal (and likely alcohol) consumption habits on Facebook and Twitter.
In addition to the standard “$125 for bottle service package”, there will be a limited amount of inaugural $1 deals available at New York venues like Sip and Nurse Bettie and Denver venues like The Walnut Room and Quixotes’ True Blue Cafe, in celebration of today’s launch.
The startup’s strategy is to launch in one large and mid-sized market at a time, and aims for launching in LA and SF at around the end of summer. Says CEO Joe Matthews on the expansion; “We are psyched to bring our party to New York and Denver."
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 11:53 PM PDT
When you’re in fifth place in the browser races, there’s room to be a little goofy. That’s why it can be a pleasure to read the releases coming from Opera Software, the quirky Oslo-based company responsible for the eponymous Opera browser — the underdog currently enjoying a 2.4 percent share of the browser market behind IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
Which is clearly why Opera is proud to announce that eye-catching (even if slightly irrelevant) statistics like the 1.2 million “stormtroopers, droids, and janitors” that can fit into an operational Death Star or the 11 million followers Lady Gaga has on Twitter, now have to take a backseat to Opera’s own numbers, as the browser officially acknowledged that it has accumulated over 200 million users across its platforms — a number that will now be tracked on Opera’s homepage. (Along with other humorous stats.)
Not only that, but Opera is announcing today that it is releasing a new version of its browser, 11.50 to be exact. It’s been six months since Opera 11 hit the streets, and, as the Norwegian company says in its latest press release, “Our mothers are so proud of us. We worked long and hard to bring you the best Opera browser yet. We even took pictures to prove it“. But what is it, exactly, that makes Opera mothers so proud?
In part, this pride is due to Opera offering a new, streamlined “featherweight” UI, which updates the browser’s visual appearance to look much like the new versions its competitors have been pumping out of late. This new featherweight design sees Opera shedding buttons and expanding its display space, among other things. According to Jan Standal, VP of Desktop Products, this was because users were reporting that Opera was slower than other browsers, but now with this lightweight iteration, Standal hopes that becomes a thing of the past. Thanks to an overhaul of its core code and software graphics engine, Opera is now touting a 10 to 15 percent upgrade in speed on SVG rendering.
What’s more, Opera 11.50 touts updates to the browser’s unique shortcut, called “Speed Dial”. Speed Dial, for those unfamiliar, is designed to make it easier to access your favorite and most-visited sites. Instead of thumbnails and links to these top sites, users can now embed and incorporate extensions into Speed Dial shortcuts to get weather at a glance, for example, just by opening a tab. (A seemingly suped-up version of what it’s like opening a new tab in Chrome.)
Users now have unlimited dials and the extension automatically adjusts its layout to fit the browser display screen, but users have the benefit of layout adjusting and a configuration menu with an updated zoom slider. And, interestingly, Read It Later, Webdoc, The Hype Machine, and StockTwits are among the companies and apps whose built-in extensions Opera is touting as part of its newest release.
Extension Product Manager Arnstein Teigene explains Speed Dial’s added functionality by way of example: “Take for example StockTwits.com, which now serve their users updates on trending stocks, live as they happen, directly into speed dial. Or the Reddit extension a fan made. It gives you instant notifications from your Reddit account on speed dial. As if Reddit wasn’t addictive enough.” Amen. Most of us are already in Reddit Rehab.
Other updates featured in the 10.50 release are new password synchronization, in which users can use Opera Link to synchronize your website passwords with other Opera browsers. As Opera says, “it’s perfect for checking Facebook quickly when you’re supposed to be working”.
Opera’s release also claims that its team has “fixed thousands of bugs and upgraded to our newest core rendering engine”, including tweaks to software graphics engine, like faster CSS and SVG rendering. And for developers intrigued by all this new HTML5 watchamacallit, Opera’s new version “adds Session History and Navigation, the W3C File API, classlist and the element” to its HTML5 support.
So, I guess that’s why Opera’s mothers are proud. Clearly, there are some much-needed updates to the underdog browser herein, but the question remains: Will you be proud of the new Opera? Let us know.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 10:11 PM PDT
Last winter, Singapore-based Bitsmedia launched a new app into the marketplace called Frenzapp that enables users to share their favorite iPhone apps with friends, joining a cluster of services taking on Apple’s Genius in the attempt to make app recommendations even better.
Frenzapp approached this by cutting out manual search for apps, automatic discovery of apps you already are using, and by becoming friend-powered — integrating with Facebook, Twitter, Apple Game Center and offering native address book integration. It also offered a bunch of different ways to discover new apps, lists that aggregate what’s trending, most popular, recently added, on sale, and so on.
Yet, with a competition from other app-recommendation startups, like Chomp, Appsfire, Discovr, Zwapp, Explor, and more, Bitsmedia made a smart strategic decision and decided to diversify by bringing Frenzapp to music with a new app called, you guessed it, Frenzapp Music. After all, as a Genius extension, expanding its discovery model into the music space is part of a seemingly natural progression. For starters, Frenzapp Music, which recently went live on iTunes, attacks the social aspect of music discovery by enabling its users to share their favorite music on Facebook and Twitter. Users can post status updates to social networks or scroll through a realtime feed of the music their friends are liking, listening to, and listing as “favorites”.
Frenzapp Music also offers easy iTunes integration in which you can search the store’s full catalog of some 14 million songs, view top charts, and play 30-second clips of songs you’re interested in checking out.
The app complements its social functionality with location-based features as well, in which the app takes advantage of the iPhone's location to enable users to scan your immediate vicinity to see what songs people in your hood are liking and listening to. Whether a user is viewing a song based on location, or directly in iTunes, or from a friend’s music stream, they have the option to take advantage of the 30-second preview feature. Then you can blast out your song choice on Facebook and Twitter, or go buy the song in iTunes.
What’s more, Frenzapp Music gives users access to their library of songs stored on any iOS device, with the ability to use playback controls, and use Frenzapp Music as the default music player. The app also supports AirPlay so that users can stream music to Apple TV or any other AirPlay compatible device.
Bitsmedia and Frenzapp are the brainchild of founder and app developer Erwan Macé, who was formerly the CTO of Soundbuzz, one of the pioneers in legal digital music platforms back in 2000 that was acquired by Motorola back in 2008. Mace was also a technical consultant for Akamai, which specializes in the delivery of digital media (including operating some of the infrastructure behind iTunes), as well as the CTO of Vivendi Mobile
Through these connections, Mace has led Bitsmedia to become one of the developers of iPhone applications for Universal Music in Europe and Australia. Yet, as Mace recently told TechCrunch, some savvy readers may recognize that Frenzapp Music sounds an awful lot like the popular iOS app, SoundTracking. While the similarities are apparent, Mace said that he hopes the ability to preview music from friend and location streams, directly from the app, access to the entire iTunes catalog, AirPlay functionality, and the ability to use it as your default music player, will give Frenzapp Music a compelling example over its competitor. (Though it would be nice to see some Foursquare integration, which is available on SoundTracking.)
As a crowdsourcing app, Frenzapp’s usability and success rely on user adoption to make the experience more robust. And though the app has its work cut out for it with the traction of SoundTracking, if it can stay a nose ahead, I think it has potential to become a part of your stable of apps — and maybe even a viable third-party competitor to Ping. Though I may be getting a bit ahead of myself on that one.
Frenzapp Music is definitely worth checking out, which you can do here, and please jump into the comment section to let us know what you think.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 10:09 PM PDT
This morning, we got tipped to check out wdyl.com. The tipster noted that it was apparently a new Google site attempting to “create a unified UI to search in multiple channels”. Sure enough, visiting the URL brought up a Google page — but it was a 404 page. Turns out it needs the “www” in order to work. Yes, wdyl.com is not quite ready for prime-time. But it is out there, live!
The new service, which Google apparently did launch this morning, is called What do you love? (hence, wdyl.com). While it seems to be more of a cute gimmick at this time, the idea is to return users a single page of relevant results across many of Google’s products for whatever query is typed into the wdyl search box. The “search” button is even a heart. Cute.
The best queries are for vague, broad terms like “love“, for example. On the results page you’ll find pictures of love, patents about love, love on Google Trends, videos about love, how to say love in different languages, books about love, etc. It can be interesting. But the results showcasing Gmail, Calendar, Chrome, and a few others again show that this is meant to be more of a promotional tool for Google products rather than anything hugely useful. A button at the bottom of each widget takes you directly to the Google product showcased.
The most striking thing about the new site is that it seems pretty well designed — not always a given with Google.
Update: According to a source, wdyl.com quietly rolled out several days ago and the formal launch was set for yesterday, but engineering issues have been holding it back. At least they’ve finally fixed the “www” issue.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 09:57 PM PDT
The hacktivist group Anonymous may be setting its sights on the city of Orlando, Florida next, if an anonymous press release which has landed in our inbox is to be believed (see bellow). The group is threatening to take down a different city-related website every day, starting with Orlando Florida Guide, which doesn’t even appear to be owned by the city of Orlando (it is registered to an organization called Utopia, administered by a man named Steven Ridenour). So any random website extolling the virtues of Orlando could be targeted.
The DDOS attacks are justified in the press release as retaliation for the repeated arrests of members of a non-profit group called Food Not Bombs, which feeds homeless people in a park without a permit. The leader of the group, Keith McHenry, was also recently arrested.
“This is a declaration of war,” writes Anonymous in its press release describing “Operation Orlando.” It warns the entire city that “Anonymous will now begin a massive campaign against you and your city web assets. Everyday we will launch a new DDoS attack on a different Target.” Its first target will be Orlando Florida Guide, which it threatens to take down between 10 AM and 6 PM tomorrow. No reason is given as to what the site or its owner did to incur the wrath of Anonymous, other than its local boosterism. It’s not even the City of Orlando‘s official website.
Update 6/28 11:15 AM ET: As of this time, the Orlando Florida Guide site is still up. Maybe Anonymous is sleeping late.
Update 11:20: And now it’s sporadically up and down.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 05:32 PM PDT
The world has been waiting for an official Facebook tablet app, and waiting, and waiting. But that app may not appear on the iPad first (although Facebook is working on an iPad app for sure). Instead, Facebook’s first tablet app will appear on the HP TouchPad, which comes out this Friday and runs the WebOS it bought with Palm. Unless the iPad app also launches this week, the TouchPad will become the first tablet with an official Facebook app. Given the tension between Apple and Facebook, a concurrent launch on the iPad seems unlikely. Update: Facebook has reached out to clarify that “this app was not built by Facebook but by HP.” Much like RIM built the Facebook app for the Blackberry Playbook using Facebook platform. I’ve changed the headline to make it more accurate.
How do I know? I got my hands on some screenshots of the Facebook app for the TouchPad. You can see them here. But what I wonder is if this is also what the app will look like on the iPad. All I can say for sure is that these pics are from Facebook’s tablet app running on WebOS.
A few features stick out. Along the left rail, which pops in and out, you’ve got your main navigation: Newsfeed, Messages, Events, Places, Friends, and Photos. The Newsfeed can be viewed in both a stream view or a more tablet-friendly tile view. The tiles make better use of typography and images.
Also notice the addition of Places and Photos to the left rail navigation. Places opens up a map with nearby activity and the ability to check in. Photos displays your Facebook photos in a tiled album view. Profiles also highlight people’s photos. You can toggle between their wall, info, and photos.
Judging from these images and others I’ve seen, the app really takes advantage of the extra screen real estate to good effect. Photos and Places especially shine. I really hope the iPad app looks similar.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 05:12 PM PDT
We’ve confirmed the rumors of Myspace layoffs with our own inside source; From what I’m hearing the company expects to lay off at least 150 of its around 400 employees tomorrow (37.5% of its staff). According to the source, another group of around 150 employees will be put on a transition plan, where they will still be laid off but can work with pay for a few weeks while they search for another job.
Myspace cut around 47% of its staff back in January and these new layoffs come as Myspace is preparing itself for a sale, which we’re hearing will be signed tomorrow and announced on Friday. While there are multiple rumors circling regarding who exactly will be buying the beleaguered social network, the names being tossed around include a bidding group fronted by Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, Buzzmedia, and even LivingSocial.
In any case this is turning out to be a banner week for Myspace, which closes its fiscal year on Wednesday. I’ve emailed Myspace PR for comment, and will update this post when they get back to me.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 05:05 PM PDT
Last month, founder David Karp noted that Tumblr was now seeing over 250 million pageviews a day. As we noted, that was incredible since as recently as July of 2009, they were seeing 250 million pageviews for the entire month. But it turns out that the numbers are much more incredible than they first appeared.
I noticed this when Tumblr President John Maloney posted earlier today that Tumblr was now doing north of 8.4 billion monthly pageviews. That number was around 7 billion just a month ago, and when I drilled down into Tumblr’s publicly available numbers on Quantcast, I noticed a massive surge in pageviews in the last few weeks. So massive, in fact, that the data looks more like a solar flare.
So what happened? It turns out, there was a bit of a bug in Tumblr’s data previously — one that led Quantcast to undercount pageview data. ”Last week we noticed a growing discrepancy between our Google Analytics and Quantcast numbers. It turns out that we broke our Quantcast tracking code a few weeks ago and were no longer reporting any impressions past page one of the Dashboard. We fixed it and quickly saw the Quantcast data jump up to near symmetry with GA,” Karp tells us.
So what does that mean for Tumblr’s numbers? Well, throw that 250 million pageviews a day out the windows. Last Thursday, Tumblr hit 400 million pageviews for the day, Karp tells us. It’s close to 5,000 pageviews a second, he notes.
Karp credits international growth and faster response times to Tumblr’s amazing trajectory. Maloney is more specific. “Tumblr’s growth the last few months has been remarkable, overshadowing everything in the past. It’s coming from all over the globe and across all demos, in particular teenagers,” he says.
Both men are also quick to credit the Tumblr engineering team which has been handling the load after downtime problems earlier in the year.
With the new data, Tumblr is now one of the top 25 sites in the U.S. according to the data Quancast tracks.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 04:02 PM PDT
IBM’s Smarter Planet division released a new solution recently that can make buildings energy efficient— even if they are huge and 100 years old like the company itself. Vice president of the Smarter Buildings division at IBM, Dave Bartlett, visited TechCrunch TV to talk about the stupid ways that people waste energy in medium to large buildings, and how the company’s new Intelligent Building Management solution can change that.
According to an IBM press statement:
To address this rampant power consumption, IBM’s new “Intelligent Building Management” solution does something with all the data from smart devices that have proliferated through the years. Sensor makers like Honeywell, Siemens, Eaton and Johnson Controls have made everything from refrigerators and water heaters, to computer labs and gymnasiums “smart,” Bartlett pointed out, so now it’s time to give people using them an easy way to read and act on the data they transmit.
Known as "the buildings whisperer" in retrofit and construction circles, Bartlett further explained:
One problem that IBM’s new solution diagnoses and eliminates in buildings is called “concurrent heating and cooling.” That’s where occupants have the heat on in one part of the building, but the air conditioning on somewhere else. It’s more common than you’d think, Bartlett reported, and it’s generally a big un-necessary waste of power.
IBM’s solution is being used to control energy consumption and costs at the Cloisters museum in New York City, at Boston University, and Tulane’s campus in New Orleans (image, right). The company is reaching out to everyone from neighborhood residents, to building owners and local power providers to figure out where the most energy goes in such buildings, where it can be safely reduced, and which systems maintenance tasks can be automated, leaving building owners and operators to focus their time and money on more critical repairs and upgrades.
Previously, IBM used its own industrial and commercial buildings as a test lab of sorts. According to the company’s new, sustainability reports, the Intelligent Building Management solution saved IBM’s Rochester campus— which consists of three million square feet inside of 35 interconnected buildings— 8 percent on energy used, year over year.
IBM’s move into smarter buildings technology could prove a challenge for growing startups like EcoFactor, Retroficiency and Hara. Then again, IBM could become one of the top buyers of their services, or possibly an acquirer of these type of tech ventures.
Watch the video for more insights about energy waste and IBM’s approach to stopping it, above.
Photo: Richardson Building at Tulane, via Tulane Public Relations
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 03:13 PM PDT
Disrupt runners-up, Cloudflare have been getting a lot of attention recently, thanks to the company’s role in helping LulzSec’s website stay online. In fact the hackers even gave Cloudflare a shoutout on their Twitter feed — offering to trade rum for a premium account — leading to a surge in customer sign-ups.
Of course, co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince is quick to point out that the company takes — at best — a neutral approach to hosting LulzSec, and that protecting the hackers has only served to make Cloudflare’s systems more resilient for all of its other customers. Still, it’s a pretty ironic twist for a company which promises to protect websites against DDOS attacks and other nefarious activity.
Keen to understand the company’s position on helping hackers and on sharing user data with the authorities, I invited Prince into the TCTV studio for a quick interview (I’m in LA on Skype so forgive my lousy connection). In the video below we discuss how Cloudflare has grown to handling over 5bn page views a month, the ethics of helping hackers, the importance of neutrality, a conspiracy theory or two and (further ironically) how Prince and his team were inspired to start the company after a call from the Department of Homeland Security.
Oh, and Prince also explains how a huge amount of the Cloudflare’s early success was due to launching at Disrupt — and coming second (“there’s nothing like coming in second as a way to motivate engineers”). Finally, he extends a generous offer to eventual winners Qwiki: “we can help them read out Wikipedia articles even faster.”
I start, though, by asking Prince whether the FBI knocks or just kicks down the door…
|You are subscribed to email updates from TechCrunch |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|