Friday, July 15, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Fujitsu Finally Fixes Japan Release Date For Their Windows Slider Tablet

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 09:39 AM PDT

Our sister blog Engadget is still doubting it, but it’s been confirmed officially: in May, Fujitsu announced the LIFEBOOK TH40/D, a convertible Windows 7 tablet for the Japanese market that was to be released in June. But that didn’t happen for reasons unknown, and Fujitsu pushed back the sales date of the device indefinitely.

But now big F has finally announced [JP] it has fixed the release in Japan: it will hit stores over here next Friday (July 22).

Everything else remains unchanged: the tablet will still cost $1,012 and have the following main specs: a 10.1-inch LCD screen with 1,024×600 resolution, 1GB RAM, an Atom Z670 (1.50GHz) CPU, a 120GB HDD, IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, 2 USB slots, and an HDMI port.

Fujitsu is yet to say whether their device will hit international markets as well.



UJAM Gets A UI Overhaul As It Looks To Become The GarageBand of the Web

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 09:32 AM PDT

It’s been some time since we heard from UJAM, the music startup that launched (and was runner-up) at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC 2010. The service launched in a private alpha last May, and quietly opened its doors to the public in December. And since then, nada. But now they’re back.

The reason for the quiet, says UJAM cofounder Peter Gorges, is that the company has been heads-down for the last six months, overhauling, tweaking, and polishing the UI to make it more accessible. Gorges explains that when it first launched, UJAM was really a lot of nifty features with a functional, but not especially easy-to-use, UI. Part of that, he says, was because UJAM’s founders have been working with music professionals for so long that they may have expected too much of their users. This revamp should help change that.

The promise of UJAM is that it theoretically lets anyone create a song — complete with sweeping background soundscapes if you want them — simply by humming a tune. So it makes sense that biggest change to UJAM is the introduction of the UJAM Wizard. This is a new series of steps that holds your hand through the song creation process, from the initial melody (which you can hum or sing), to choosing a style, to editing each note and crafting the song structure.

Among the other improvements: the style selector, which lets you choose whether you’d like to make your song sound like soothing jazz or grungy rock, is now easier to use. And the whole UI just looks a lot nicer.

Is it easy to use? I tried whipping up a song and ran into a couple of hurdles — for example, it wasn’t immediately apparent how the song form step actually impacted my recording (it’s obvious that you’re choosing where to put the intro, chorus, and verses, but it isn’t obvious as to what that’ll actually do to your recording). So yes, there’s still a bit of a learning curve. But that’s a problem that’s inherent with any kind of music creation software: if it’s too easy you wind up with highly generic mush, and if it’s too hard nobody will use it. Even if UJAM hasn’t perfectly hit that balance just yet, it’s getting closer. And they’ll be releasing video walkthroughs to help.

UJAM is currently still based on Flash — Gorges says that there isn’t enough support for audio APIs to switch over to HTML5 yet — but down the road the company intends to make the switch. Another thing to note: as the site becomes more powerful and user-friendly, it could fit in well with the push toward moving advanced, traditionally desktop-based applications to the browser (a mission that’s spearheaded in part by Google, which wants powerful web apps for its Chromebook project). Put another way, UJAM could eventually become the GarageBand replacement for the web.



Snapeee: Asia’s (Cuter) Answer To Instagram Hits 500,000 Users

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 09:04 AM PDT

One month ago, we recommended Instagram for people who were unsure about which mobile photo sharing service to use. But what if Instagram is cool but not cute enough for you? In that case, I can recommend Asia’s answer to Instagram, Snapeee for the iPhone.

The made-in-Japan app is free and available in English, Chinese and Japanese (iTunes). Snapeee is essentially a picture-based social network, with the key difference to Instagram being that Snapeee lets users add “decorations” to their pictures, not filters. Just as Instagram, Snapeee lets users follow each other, interact with and browse pictures from others, or post them to other social networks.

The way it works is very simple: just start Snapeee, take a picture (or use an existing one), add decorations, and post your work to Snapeee itself, Twitter, Facebook, or Mixi (Japan’s biggest social network). Decorations include a set of different icons (stars, hearts, etc.), a “magic brush”, a number of cute frames, speech bubbles, and any kind of text (every element can be freely scaled, moved and then placed on the picture).

Mind Palette [JP], the Tokyo-based startup behind Snapeee, is seeing quite spectacular growth for their app (which is handled by just three people): 500,000 iPhone users have downloaded the app in just two months. 85% of them are located outside Japan, mostly in Chinese-speaking markets (in some countries, Snapeee is even beating Instagram in popularity).

That’s still a far cry from the overall success Instagram is seeing, but the number isn’t too shabby for a newer product targeting a smaller niche: not too surprisingly for such a kawaii app, Mind Palette estimates that 70-80% of current users are women.

But no matter if you’re a man or woman, I’d suggest you give Snapeee a spin – again, it’s free on the App Store (an Android version is in the works).



Socialcam Surpasses 1 Million Downloads, Now Lets Users Trim The Fat

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 09:01 AM PDT

Socialcam, the service from Justin.tv that’s essentially an ‘Instagram for Video’, has passed a big milestone: since launching in March, they now have more than one million downloads on iOS devices (actually they have more than that now, because they passed that number in as the end of June). Of those, they say over 335,000 unique active users last month across both their iOS and Android apps, the majority of whom are on iOS — not bad for a service that’s been around for four months.

Today the app is also getting an upgrade. You’ll now find that Socialcam features a new activity feed, which gives you a constantly-updated view of the videos your friends have Liked and commented on.

Another important addition: you can now ‘trim’ videos before you upload them. This is key, say CEO Michael Seibel and President Justin Kan, because oftentimes when users take a video they begin recording in anticipation of something happening — and that the interesting stuff may not come for 10 or 30 seconds after they hit the record button. Now they’ll be able to trim the extra fat before uploading. Another small improvement involves the camera, which now supports tap-to-focus.

If you’re on an Android device there’s a bit of bad news: that version is behind the iOS version in terms of features and won’t be getting this update yet (the startup says it’s because they’re still hunting for more Android developers).

Going forward, Socialcam will be offering more robust privacy features and more granular control over whom you’re sharing with (right now the service doesn’t let you share videos with a subset of friends, since everything uploaded is public).



Twitter: 1 Billion Items Delivered A Day Is Nice, Google+. We Do 350 Billion.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:43 AM PDT

Yesterday, Google CEO Larry Page dropped some big Google+ numbers during his opening remarks for Google’s earnings call. The biggest one sounded like Google+’s 10 million users were already sharing 1 billion items per day. That sounds insane for a network that is only a couple of weeks old and isn’t yet fully public. But it’s also a bit confusing. What exactly does that mean? And how do we put that into context?

Today, exactly 5 years to the day since they launched, Twitter adds the context. Google+ may be serving up 1 billion items a day, but Twitter is doing 350 billion items a day.

When I say these numbers are a bit confusing, it’s because they’re not “share” numbers in that you think one person sharing something is one share. Instead, as I understand it, what these numbers mean is that when one person shares something, Google and Twitter have to deliver it to X number of timelines (X being the number of people that follow that account). This has long been an engineering challenge for Twitter, and Google is clearly seeing the same thing since they use a similar “follow” model (with Circles — though it’s a bit different since there is such an emphasis on private Circles).

So 1 billion and 350 billion is actually the number of G+ shares and Tweets that Google and Twitter have to serve up, respectively, to fully cover their graphs completely each day. Mind. Blown.

Meanwhile, that other social network said a couple weeks ago that users were sharing 4 billion things a day. That just adds more confusion to the mix, as clearly Facebook, with 750 million users, should have the bigger number of all, right? As far as I can tell, that number is actually the number of items individual users are sharing on Facebook (not just the range of their delivery), but it includes hitting the Like button, etc. So it all depends on what your definition of “share” is.

While Twitter technically turned 5 last March (when the first Tweets were sent), it was 5 years ago today that Twitter officially launched to the public. It’s also the day that we first covered them, when they were still known as Twttr. Twitter is celebrating by releasing other big numbers as well.


Twitter Engineering
Delivering 350 billion Tweets a day is a terribly fun engineering challenge. But, it doesn't capture how passionate our users are.


Twitter Saw 600K Signups Yesterday, It Took More Than 16 Months To Reach Its First 600K

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:41 AM PDT

Twitter is tweeting out milestones for its 5th birthday; So far we’ve got that there were 224 Tweets sent on July 15, 2006 (it’s launch day) and that now users send that many Tweets in less than a tenth of a second.

Twitter also saw more than 600,000 sign ups yesterday — for comparison it took the company more than 16 months to reach the first 600,000 Twitter accounts.

While I’m refreshing my screen to see if there’s any more, here’s a blast from the past: Mike’s post on Twitter’s launch: “Odeo released Twitter.”

Update: And Twitter has released its own “items shared” number, 350 billion tweets a day. Google, which just revealed a billion items shared daily on Google+, must be cowed. Facebook by comparison, is at 4 billion public items shared — Of course it all depends on what your definition of share is (Facebook’s for example includes all public status updates, photos, etc).


Twitter
Yesterday, we saw more than 600,000 signups. It took us more than *16 months* to reach the first 600,000 Twitter accounts.

Twitter
Twitter, then called Twttr, opened to the public five years ago today. bizstone.com/2006/07/let-th… (cc: @ @ @ @ @)

Twitter
Twitter, then called Twttr, opened to the public five years ago today. bizstone.com/2006/07/let-th… (cc: @ @ @ @ @)

Twitter Engineering
Delivering 350 billion Tweets a day is a terribly fun engineering challenge. But, it doesn't capture how passionate our users are.


Crashing Your $100k Jetpack On Live TV Isn’t The Best Advertisment

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:36 AM PDT

You already know what’s going to happen here; I stated it in the headline. This guy, clearly excited to be on the local news, has the $100k Jetlev R200 waterjet pack strapped on and ready to go. Except he’s not and neither is the on-scene reporter.

The Jetlev jetpack is probably one of the coolest gadgets on Earth right now. AOL’s Translogic recently did a whole show on the trust fund baby toy. At least Bradley didn’t crash face first, nearly take a news reporter out with him. Both clips are worth watching and are embedded after the jump.

Translogic’s embed isn’t working. Watch the video here. Sorry.



comScore: Video Viewing Sessions in U.S. Surpass 6 Billion For First Time

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:26 AM PDT

comScore is releasing more data that supports the growth in online video in the U.S. The research and analytics firm reports that in June, the U.S. Internet audience engaged in more than 6.2 billion viewing sessions during the course of the month, compared to 5.6 billion viewing sessions in May. In June, 178 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content for an average of 16.8 hours per viewer.

YouTube saw 149.3 million unique viewers during the month, with 2,311,116 viewing sessions. On average, users spent 5.4 hours on YouTube in June. VEVO came in second with 63 million viewers and 399,503 viewing sessions, followed by Yahoo with 52.7 million viewers. Microsoft and Viacom Digital ranked fourth and fifth respectively.

As we reported previously, YouTube had revealed that the video site is now handling 3 billion views per day, but comScore's measurement of viewing sessions is different from actual views. We're assuming a viewing session is measured as sitting in front of YouTube before clicking away, which could include watching 1 video or 10 multiple videos in a single session. YouTube is probably counting individual views.

Video ads continue to populate online video streams, with americans viewing nearly 5.3 billion video ads in June, compared to 4.6 billion video ads in May. Video ads accounted for 13.6 percent of all videos viewed and 1.3 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

Hulu generated more than a billion video ad impressions in June followed by Tremor Media with 753 million ad views (up from 700.8 million ad views in May). Time spent watching videos ads totaled more than 2.2 billion minutes during the month, with Tremor Media Video Network delivering the highest duration of video ads at 429 million minutes. Video ads reached 49 percent of the total U.S. population an average of 35.6 times during the month. Hulu delivered the highest frequency of video ads to its viewers with an average of 38.8 over the course of the month.



Yelp Now Has 20 Million Reviews Under Its Belt

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:24 AM PDT

If you talk to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, he always likes to point out how many reviews there are on Yelp. It’s a point of pride and competitive differentiation. Even Google Places, which borrows liberally from Yelp reviews, seems to think so.

Today, Yelp crossed 20 million reviews, up from 10 million in March, 2010 (and 17 million last April). The reviews bring in the visitors, and visitor growth tracks pretty closely with the growth in reviews. Yelp hit 53 million visitors in June, according to its own stats.

It took about 6 years for Yelp to get to 20 million reviews. Yelp was founded in 2004, and it took two and a half years to get to its first million reviews (in May, 2007). Then it took roughly another three years to get to 10 million (March, 2010), and then added this last 10 million in a year and a quarter.

Yelp focusses so much on reviews, and trying to get quality user reviews, because everything else can be replicated. With so many places databases popping up, creating a directory of local businesses is easier than ever, but Yelp has always been about the user reviews as a sorting mechanism to find the best places nearby.

Stoppelman is so protective of Yelp’s reviews that he still won’t allow mobile users to upload reviews from their phones because he wants them to be well thought-out. (You can add tips, however, from mobile). They also tend to be lengthier than what you’d get from mobile reviews. At 2.2 billion words overall, that comes to an average of 110 words per review. If he loosened up on that restriction, Yelp could have 50 million reviews in no time.



The Death Spiral Continues: RIM At Work On A Home Media Streamer

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 08:11 AM PDT

The latest news from the RIM rumor mill is that a media streamer is in the works. Codename Cyclone will pack the standard equipment of HDMI, WiFi, Netflix and is scheduled for a fall 2011 release. Waterloo has yet to make this official, but most rumors concerning RIM pan out. I would be seriously surprised if it did not exist – it fits perfectly within the company’s BlackBerry-centric ecosystem — but it will still probably be the latest RIM product to publicly crash and burn.

I’m a fan of Research in Motion. They make good smartphones that admittedly tend to lag a bit behind Android and iOS. That’s fine in my book. It shouldn’t matter as much in RIM’s familiar turf of the enterprise market, but the company seems stuck on competing in the consumer market with budget handsets rather producing quality kits for the corporate crowd. That’s where RIM is most loved and respected anyway. But back to this RIM streamer.

RIM wants to be just like Apple and they are besides missing the mojo. RIM controls the BlackBerry user experience from hardware to software. They control everything and thus have every right to operate just like Apple. If they don’t build a BlackBerry tablet, no one will. The same goes for a media streamer. If RIM wants to expand their brand, and who doesn’t, a media streamer is a fine way to bring the BlackBerry user experience to another market.

But this is a media streamer. And RIM doesn’t have a media distribution channel.  And the Blackberry App World isn’t the same as the App Store. The Cyclone would be a disaster but one that probably wouldn’t affect RIM’s bottom line

RIM’s product strategy is like Apple’s. Their goal as of late seems to involve evangelistically taking the BlackBerry brand to different markets. The struggling PlayBook is its primary missionary. But it’s not working. RIM is in effect preaching to its own user base, which according to most reports, is rapidly shrinking unlike Apple’s. The Apple TV is a fun surprise, not a desperate attempt to stay relevant like the Cyclone.

Little is known about the RIM streamer right now. Nerdberry reports it will a have an HDMI output, WiFi and access to YouTube and Netflix. So, you know, just another streamer.

The good news for RIM’s investors is that such a device is relatively inexpensive to make. There are tens of thousands of media devices on Alibaba [link] ready to be branded and sold as the RIM Cyclone. It’s a generic field now. The device would probably have a $100 price tag and be the perfect accessory for the dozen or so remaining addicted BlackBerry users.

By all accounts it will probably be a fine device. The QNX interface on the PlayBook is beautiful and it would be in RIM’s best interest to show it off.

But who would buy it? Not anyone that owns or is thinking about getting an Android, iOS, or webOS device. Even some current BlackBerry users are no doubt looking to the end of their contract to ditch their device and jump to another platform. Plus low cost media streamers hit the big time last year and devices such as the Roku boxes, Boxee Box, WD TV, and Apple TV already have a spot in millions of homes.

It’s never too late to release a quality product. This doesn’t seem like a quality product, though. It lacks anything to set itself apart from the rest and will therefore follow the same path to obscurity by the PlayBook, Storm and Torch — if it exists.



LG Announces Two New Android Gingerbread Phones: Optimus Pro, and Optimus Net

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 07:56 AM PDT

It seems like some time in the last 5 months or so, all of the major Android handset makers had the same idea: they, too, needed a BlackBerry-esque QWERTY candybar handset. It’s as if RIM’s self-fueled fiery demise made them realize that BlackBerry owners might be abandoning ship soon, so they adopted a form factor that would make the transition to Android that much smoother.

While Motorola had the Droid Pro way back in Q3 of last year, Samsung joined the keyboarded-slab party just back in March with the Galaxy Pro. HTC announced their first Android QWERTY candybar, the lawsuit triggering ChaCha, back in February and will launch it in the US (as the AT&T Status) this weekend.

The latest OEM to board the ol’ Android-QWERTY-Candybar Express: LG. This morning, they’re debuting two brand new pieces of hardware, both running Android v2.3 (Gingerbread).

First up — the Optimus Pro (getting dangerously close to “Optimus Prime” there, aren’t we LG?):

As the aforementioned QWERTY Candybar, the Optimus Pro is essentially LG’s stab at cracking out something the BlackBerry expatriates might prefer. Despite what the “Pro” name might imply, we’re not exactly talking top of the line here: the screen comes in at just 2.8 inches (mostly due to the keyboard taking up nearly half of the face), and the processor clocks in at a relatively sluggish 800mhz. The Pro will ship in white, black, and something LG calls “titan” (alas, I have absolutely no idea what the hell color “titan” might be. Dusty yellow?)

Next up — the LG Optimus Net:

Oddly, LG’s main selling point with this one seems to be that it has “social networking portals” built in to a widget right on the homescreen. I say “Oddly”, of course, because this is something that pretty much every Android phone made in the last year or two has done in one way or another. At 3.2 inches, the screen on the Optimus Net comes in quite a bit bigger than that of the Pro — unfortunately, it’s spec’d at just 320×480. Like the Pro, the Net is clocked at 800mhz. Some of the Optimus Net models will be NFC-enabled, though it’ll vary region-by-region. It’ll ship in white and black. (What, no “titan”? Dang. I love titan.)

All in all, we’re looking at two markedly mid-range handsets, with their sole saving grace being that they’re running Android 2.3. Look for them to ship all over the world (starting in Europe first) this summer. No pricing info was disclosed for either.



Forget Clues, You Can Find The Google Games Logo (And More) In The Google+ Code

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 07:27 AM PDT

Shortly after Google+ was unveiled, Engadget got a tip from someone who dug deep into its source code and found verbal references to something called Google Games. A tipster of ours has now dug a little deeper and managed to find more of them.

In the Google+ source code, Yvo Schaap – who also found the embeddable +1 button before it was released – actually discovered a link to the Google Games logo (shown above).

You may remember another tipster found the logo for Google Music ahead of its debut at some point as well, although that only took a simple URL tweak.

Aside from the logo, Schaap also found references to API endpoints such as “/_/games/getGameFriends”, “/_/games/getActivities” and, perhaps more interestingly, “/_/games/postToStream”, pointing to a characteristically social gaming service.

Of course, the actual existence of a Google-branded social gaming service, which is yet to be launched, let alone announced, shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

As we revealed a year ago, Google quietly invested $100 million or more in social gaming giant Zynga. They acquired Slide, which also develops social games, and its investment arm Google Ventures backed gaming companies like ngmoco, Kabam and SCVNGR.

At one point, they even recruited gaming industry vet Mark DeLoura (formerly of Ubisoft, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Nintendo and others) as developer advocate for game-related products, though he quit after only 4 months on the job (he’s now a VP at THQ).

And according to a recently surfaced job opening, Google is looking for a Product Manager to “grow its brand-new business – Games at Google!”.

Google has learned that any consumer-focused platform needs games in order to thrive by looking at the success of Android if not simply by observing the rapid rise of Facebook, and it makes sense for its social networking service Google+ to incorporate games in that regard.

In fact, Google’s edge in the mobile app distribution space and the spectacular growth of the Android platform should make Google Games – in whatever form it takes shape – all the more interesting.

As Inside Social Games pointed out when the first references to Google Games were unearthed, we should consider the fact that Google SVP Vic Gundotra used to oversee the company’s mobile app strategy prior to co-heading Google's social efforts.

What Google’s social gaming platform will eventually look like – and how it will be positioned and if it will be able to adequately compete with Facebook and other online gaming platforms – is anyone’s guess for the moment, though I have the feeling it won’t take that much longer for Google to start talking more about its imminent foray into the gaming industry.



TechCrunched: News Highlights in 1:45

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 07:08 AM PDT

Lots of posts flew through TechCrunch this week. We’ve taken a few, packaged them together and put Erick behind the camera to quickly get you caught up on some of what you may have missed.

Full stories below:

Redesigning TechCrunch: We Picked This Logo Just to Piss You Off

Here's Spotify! The Music Streaming Service Officially Lands In The US

Netflix Adjusts Pricing, Renting Those Plastic Discs Just Got More Expensive

Dancing To The Drumbeat Of HTML5, New Pandora Is Brilliant, Beautiful

PayPal Announces Phone-To-Phone NFC Payment Support For Android

Amazon's Tablet Is No Threat To Apple, It's A Huge Threat To Google

Google+ Estimated To Surge Past 10 Million Users (Chart)

Evernote Takes $50 million To Become The Anti-Zynga

Jawbone Raises $70M From JP Morgan

Dropbox Raising Massive Round at a $5B-Plus Valuation



Microsoft Leaked Its Own Social Networking Secret, Then Swore It Was Accidental

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 06:29 AM PDT

Hot on the heels of all this Google+ madness, Microsoft has "unintentionally" leaked its own social networking platform. Whether this is a grab at all the hype or a genuine mistake on the part of some IT guy, we still have one question: What the heck is a Tulalip? I kid… Fusible, which picked up the story first, discovered that the name Tulalip is also the name of a Native American tribe located near Redmond, Washington, Microsoft's home turf.

The teaser page pictured below was published to the web today on socl.com, which is apparently owned by Microsoft, reports Fusible. There are rumors that Microsoft is the lucky buyer of Social.com, which would mean they paid $2.6 million for the domain name alone.

From the looks of it, this will likely be a venture into "social search" with Bing running the show. "With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever," reads the teaser tagline. Notice the capitalization of Find and Share? Yep, we're pretty sure this will be where search meets share, which is kind of good news since you can't do a Google search within Google+ (What's that all about, anyways?). Oddly enough, there are Facebook and Twitter log in fields on the teaser page, which leads us to believe that this will be a rather light foray into social networking rather than a heavy-duty Microsoft experience. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em right?

The teaser page has since been pulled, while Microsoft swears it was an accident. Here's what they replaced it with: “Thanks for stopping by. Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn’t mean to, honest.” Well, we're still not sure if we buy into that whole "we didn't mean to" part, but either way, we're glad it happened.



The Cisco Cius Enterprise Tablet Hitting Verizon Later This Summer

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 06:08 AM PDT

The Cisco Cius tablet is nearing release a full year after its announcement. The enterprise tablet is set to set the IT world a blaze this July 31 and Verizon will be one of the official retailers along with AT&T. The $750 tablet will hit Big Red sometime this summer; the press release didn’t confirm or even mention the July 31st date. Instead, the presser states that the tablet is coming late summer.

Still, the Cius tablet might become one of first tablets outside of the iPad to successfully infuriate the world of enterprise communication. Cisco knows their market probably better than anyone else and smartly choose to sell in the lucrative enterprise market rather than the cutthroat world of consumer gadgets. Presser after the break. Oh, and yeah, it’s a wild one complete with references to Moses and ill-fated attempts to make Verizon’s 4G LTE hotspots relevant to the Cius.

Verizon Combines the Power of 4G LTE with the Cisco Cius Tablet to Improve Mobile Enterprise Collaboration
Helps Businesses Employ Tablets for Industry-Specific Applications
News Release

NEW YORK – July 13, 2011 –

The ancient Greeks relied on them. So did Moses when it came to accomplishing one of his most significant deliverables. And now businesses are equipping mobile workforces with tablets of their own to boost productivity and speed customer service.

To meet this newest trend in tablet use, Verizon is combining the power of its 4G LTE network with the Cisco Cius™ to help customers decentralize and accelerate decision-making for better business outcomes.

The Cisco Cius will be available to Verizon enterprise and government customers around the world later this summer, and those located domestically will be able to combine the device with a Verizon Wireless 4G LTE mobile hot spot. Designed for the enterprise, the Android-based Cisco Cius combines voice, video, collaboration and virtualization capabilities on one device. When powered by Verizon’s 4G LTE network, mobile workers will be able to easily use bandwidth-intensive video applications – including between devices – for more effective collaboration.

“Mobile applications over intelligent high-speed networks will continue to eliminate barriers in the workplace,” said Mike Smith, vice president for Verizon enterprise communications, network and mobility sales. “We’re forecasting a perfect storm where advanced enterprise tools such as the Cisco Cius mesh with the speeds made possible by 4G LTE to make the virtual office a more robust reality than ever.”

Putting Tablets to Work

In general, industries such as retail, financial services, healthcare and government can employ tablets to change the pace of their business.

Retail: Sales associates can employ tablets while out on the floor to look up product and inventory information for customers, in addition to processing transactions on the spot.

Financial Services: Bankers and financial advisors can take advantage of the video capabilities of tablets for face-to-face meetings with clients, saving the time it takes to meet up at physical locations.

Health care: Medical professionals can use tablets to collaborate on patient care and speed critical decision-making.

Government: Tablets can increase productivity of government users – from military to civilian government field workers to emergency first responders – allowing them to enter information or share it quickly with remote offices to complete the business of government more efficiently.

Through Verizon’s Managed Mobility portfolio, enterprise customers can securely deploy a wide range of devices to employees. Capabilities include device management; expense tracking management; lock and wipe features for protecting sensitive data; and mobile delivery of popular business and consumer apps from the cloud. In addition, the company offers a full suite of professional services to help organizations create policies and design mobility programs to suit varied requirements.

Verizon is a global network communications leader in driving better business outcomes for enterprises and government agencies. Verizon delivers integrated IT and communications solutions via its global IP and mobility networks to enable businesses to securely access information, share content and communicate. Verizon is rapidly transforming to a cloud-based “everything-as-a-service” delivery model that will put the power of enterprise-class solutions within the reach of every business. Find out more at www.verizonbusiness.com.



Apple Announces Volume Purchasing For Businesses

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 05:48 AM PDT

Not a huge deal for the average user, but Apple has just announced volume sales support for organizations who want to pick up a few dozen copies of a certain iOS app. The new system is fairly simple: you select the app you want, select the number of seats, and pay with a credit card. It’s not clear if you can get bulk discounts yet but Apple then gives you a license for each device.

You can now also create and sell custom B2B apps for iOS devices.

Custom B2B apps are built just for you by third-party developers and business partners to address a specific business process, integrate with a unique back-office environment, or deliver a custom interface for your users. Using the Volume Purchase Program, you can securely and privately purchase custom B2B apps for iPhone and iPad that make your business even more effective.

Previously, volume purchasing was only available for educational institutions. According to Apple, “The Volume Purchase Program for Business is coming soon to businesses in the United States.”

This is actually quite interesting, if you think about it: volume pricing suggests volume deployment of iOS in the enterprise. While I’m sure no one is going to pick up 500 copies of Angry Birds, I wouldn’t be surprised if something like Pages becomes the de-rigeur mobile app in some circles for document editing on the go.

via MacRumors



Bringing Down The Satellites: Stargazing App Adds 8,000 Man-made Objects

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 05:23 AM PDT

Star Walk, an Astronomy guide, just released an update that includes over 8,000 manmade objects including navigation, weather, and “special interest” satellites. That means for $2.99 ($4.99 for iPad) I can finally follow the FBI satellites as they track my every move while beaming messages directly into my skull.

The app creates an AR interface that allows you to spin 360 degrees while pointing your phone at the sky. You can then identify stars, planets, and, obviously, one of these man-made objects.


Altogether there are about 24,500 man made objects on the orbit of the Earth. 8000 of them are functioning satellites, all of which are available in Star Walk database. The list of satellites is broken down into categories: Special-Interest, Weather & Earth Resources, Communications, Navigation, Scientific, etc. Not only can you spot the ISS flying over your head, you can also locate any satellite, be it a military or a low-earth-orbit satellite used by most popular satellite phones.


The app maker, Vito Technology, is also holding the Stat Walk Month of Astronomy featuring guides and contest for the wee astronomers in your life.

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Zillow Ups IPO Pricing To $16 To $18 Per Share With Nearly $500 Million Valuation

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 05:08 AM PDT

Real estate listings site Zillow has just upped the pricing of its IPO to $16 to $18 per share, from $12 to $14 per share. This new pricing gives Zillow a valuation of nearly $500 million ($485 million to be exact).

Zillow, which will begin trading under the symbol "Z" on the NASDAQ, aims to raise as much as $71.6 million in the IPO.

Zillow, which initially filed its S-1 in April, currently lists over 100 million U.S. homes, including homes for sale, homes for rent and homes not currently on the market. Zillow launched a mortgage marketplace in 2008, and subsequently expanded into rentals and mobile.

The number of changes in Zillow’s pricing is similar to LinkedIn and Pandora’s pre-IPO pricing increases. And clearly both of those companies saw strong fluctuations in the share value post-IPO (though both companies have rebounded in July). Some tech companies like HomeAway, Fusion-IO and Yandex have seen steady share values.

According to Experian Hitwise, Zillow.com is the third most visited Real Estate site in the U.S and received 5.36% of Real Estate visits in March 2011, which is a 53% increase compared to March 2010. Clearly, Zillow has impressive traffic and is growing revenue but has yet to make a profit, and has been taking a loss for the past three years. These could be factors in how the market reacts to Zillow next week.



Japan Video Game Charts: Bestsellers In First Half Of 2011, This Week Topped By LA Noire

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 04:43 AM PDT

It’s the middle of the year, and the Famitsu [JP], Japan’s (and probably the world’s) biggest video game magazine, decided it’s a good time to release the top 10 of the best-selling video games in Japan in the first half of this year, apart from a list of the top selling titles this week.

Top 10 of the best selling games in Japan in the first half of 2011:

1. Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP, Capcom): 968,269 units
2. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 Professional (NDS, Square Enix): 469,469
3. Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (PSP, Square Enix): 454,522
4. Dynasty Warriors 6 (PS3, Koei): 443,873
5. Ryu ga Gotoku Of the End (PS3, Sega): 376,193
6. Donkey Kong Returns (Wii, Nintendo): 368,527
7. Dai-2-Ji Super Robot Taisen Z (PSP, Bandai Namco): 364,881
8. Phantasy Star Portable 2  (PSP, Sega): 352,511
9. Wii Party (Wii, Nintendo): 349,951
10. SD Gundam G Generation World (PSP, Bandai Namco): 332,278

As you can see, the list includes only games made by Japanese companies.

But in the same issue, the Famitsu shows the top 10 of the best selling video games in Japan this week, too. And this list is topped by Rockstar’s L.A. Noire and includes titles by other foreign game developers (on 2, 3, 4, and 9). Last month, the Famitsu gave L.A. Noire an almost perfect score of 39/40.

1. L.A. Noire (PS3, Take-Two): 58,436 units
2. Infamous 2 Sony (PS3, Take-Two): 33,474
3. Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (PS3, D3): 30,189
4. Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (XBOX360, D3): 17,817
5. Wii Play: Motion Nintendo (Wii, Nintendo): 17,008
6. Little Battler Xperience Level-5 (PSP, Level 5): 15,807
7. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS, Nintendo): 14,985
8. Steins Gate (PSP, Kadokawa Shoten): 13,700
9. GoldenEye 007  (Wii, Nintendo): 13,216
10. Wii Sports Resort (Wii, Nintendo): 12,877
11. L.A. Noire  (XBOX360, Take-Two): 12,621



The Odd, Dual-Screen gScreen Laptop Is Actually Shipping

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 04:21 AM PDT

A few years ago I met a stockbroker who was telling me that someone should make a laptop with two screens so he could trade while on vacation. While I was slightly disturbed by his dedication to capitalism, I’m proud to say that his dream has been fulfilled.

We first talked about the gScreen Spacebook a few years ago and now the Alaskan company is actually going to start shipping their massive, two-inch-thick laptop to the masses. The screens are each 17 inches and the laptop is fairly standard with optical drive, three USB ports, and GeForce GTS 250M GPU. It starts at $2,400 for an Intel Core i5-560M although there’s some kind of 50% off pre-order price right now, bringing it down to $1,200.

If you need a dual screen like the aforementioned stockbroker, this may be your easiest choice. However, I’d recommend hiring a Sherpa to carry this around for you because this thing looks like a monster.

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via ThisIsMyNext



SupportSpace Lands $12M For Remote Technical Support Services

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 04:17 AM PDT

SupportSpace, which helps companies provide remote technical support with a range of customer service solutions and a network of ‘experts’, has raised $12 million in funding from Gemini, BRM and Emergence Capital.

The round brings the startup’s total funding raised to nearly $37 million.

Founded in 2006 by Doron Elgressy (president) and Yair Grindlinger (CEO), SupportSpace enables companies like software/hardware vendors and retailers to offer remote tech support services to consumers through a so-called ‘Virtual Expert Network’ which empowers independent experts to provide tech support services to consumers on a range of connected devices, on their own terms.

SupportSpace supports thousands of customers on a daily basis and claims to deliver over 5 million minutes of service per month. The company currently employs 75 people in the United States and Israel and claims to have revenues of “tens of millions of dollars”.

One of the companies they have partnered with is retail giant Best Buy, in an effort to boost the remote tech services business of GeekSquad (a subsidiary of Best Buy), enabling customers to purchase remote tech service products and service plans online or at BestBuy's 1,100+ stores.

Other customers include Panda Security, Check Point Software and Lavasoft.

(Via The Marker – in Hebrew)



Case Study: How Piracy Destroys App Profits

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 03:50 AM PDT

The folks at GAMEized were proud. They had produced a great iOS soccer (football) game called FingerKicks, built it with full HD support, and waited with bated breath as soccer fans in country after country began to pick up on the title.

But things weren’t looking very good. According to Apple’s own sales data, first day sales hit $97 while day after day they saw lower and lower sales. Things leveled off and rather than depend on Apple’s numbers they decided to check out the Game Center leaderboard. To their astonishment, suddenly 5,000 people picked up the game over the weekend. They were over the moon.

Even at 99 cents, 5,000 players meant a nice chunk of change. They waited for Apple’s official sales numbers and realized the sad truth: only 160 purchases were registered that weekend.

Their app was on the “featured” page of the popular pirate collection, AppTrackr, which is part of Hackulo.us, a major player on the “cracked apps scene.” With AppTrackr and an app called Installous (available on jailbroken iOS devices), users can grab almost any app for free, including FingerKicks.

“Apple apparently has no functional counter-piracy safeguards in place on their Game Center – essentially permitting users to play pirated software on their Game Center without any fear of reprisals or consequence,” they wrote.

We’re obviously dealing with two competing worldviews. On the one hand, we can say be neckbeard about it and say “Information Wants To Be Free, DRM Is Bad, Fight the Power, Free As In Beard” and on the other hand we can say that the folks at GAMEized would eventually like to eat.

We can also say that the folks who won’t pay 99 cents for soccer game are scum, but that’s neither here nor there. Platforms like Steam have consistently proven that easy payment gateways are a boon for any digital industry and to work around those paywalls in order to save a buck is abhorrent.

The guys at GAMEized clearly love the iOS platform. They write:

GAMEized loves Apple. As application developers, we invest enthusiastically in Apple's tools and methodologies. We buy and use Apple's machines, their peripherals and their accessories almost exclusively. When we decided to build FingerKicks, it was a foregone conclusion we would build it exclusively for the iOS and available only through Apple's AppStore.
Apple has yet to reciprocate our devotion to them.

While “reciprocation of devotion” is a little much to ask for a faceless corporation, maybe Apple could try and reduce the level of piracy?

It is my hope that folks like the guys at GAMEized and other devs will look past Apple’s short-sightedness and keep producing quality games and I also hope Apple steps up their game and attempts to ameliorate this problem, even by allowing producers to sense jailbroken devices and to ask users to pony up. I, for one, bought FingerKicks even though I’ll probably never play it. As much as I don’t like soccer, I don’t like small devs being fleeced even more.



Google News Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Google News Badges

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 03:13 AM PDT

Whether you think gamification is the road that leads to a brighter future – or instead straight to the irreparable infantilization – of the Web, even the harshest of critics have to admit that there’s more to the concept than simply slapping some badges on a website, game or application, Foursquare-style. The more I read up on this new Google News Badges stuff, the more I think some people over at Mountain View didn’t quite get that particular message.

Starting today, in the U.S. edition of Google News, users can earn more than 500 types of badges as they read articles about their favorite topics. As Google explains in its blog post:

The more you read, the higher level badge you'll receive, starting with Bronze, then moving up the ladder to Silver, Gold, Platinum and finally, Ultimate.

Seriously, Google? That was the best you could come up with in terms of personalizing the user experience for Google News (and feeding the Google+ beast with more data about those users)?

Or is this a half-baked attempt to get more people to turn on Web history, share their personal browsing behavior and generate more traffic and clicks for online publishing ‘partners’?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but come on, badges?

I know they introduced Google Reader badges back in 2010, where you could earn points for every item you read on GReader, but at least that was an April Fools Joke.

Google News Badges are not, puzzling enough, unless I’m reading the date wrong.

Badges can be shared, as Google posits, so you can tell your friends about your news interests, “display your expertise, start a conversation or just plain brag about how well-read you are”.

Hey that sort of sounds like Google Knol. Remember Google Knol? Yeah, me neither.

Badges aren’t a bad idea per se, and I’m sure they work well for video games and whatnot, but news?

They did something right though, by finally separating the Sci/Tech section into two distinct sections, a separation that should admittedly have been there since day one.

But I would rather see them make some more obvious enhancements to the service to make for a smoother user experience, like improving the navigation when you search for multi-source news coverage on a given topic, the reduction – or dare I say complete removal – of duplicate or “rewritten” news articles, smarter clustering of related news items à la Techmeme, better integration with other products like Google Finance, Translate, Reader and YouTube, a more intelligent way of filtering articles based on the time of publication, less distinction between blogs and other online publications (now that the line has blurred so much and both the reporting process and the associated platforms have professionalized tremendously), a separate section for press releases, diversified news coverage and opinion pieces, and so on.

Instead, we got badges.



iOS, RIM Mobile Ad Impressions Pick Up In Q2 As Android Growth Levels Off

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 02:45 AM PDT

The largest remaining independent mobile ad network Millennial Media has released its monthly report on data from the second quarter of 2011, and unlike last month’s report, it looks like iOS and RIM are seeing a resurgence as Android growth levels off in terms of mobile ad impressions.

According to Millennial, iOS impressions grew 18% quarter-over-quarter, whereas Android impressions grew 11% quarter-over-quarter. RIM impressions grew 29% quarter-over-quarter, Symbian impressions grew 13% quarter-over-quarter, and Windows Phone 7 impressions grew 31% quarter-over-quarter. In fact, according to Millennial’s data, Android saw the slowest growth out of all the smartphone platforms for mobile ad impressions.

Millennial frequently takes a look at app development ranked by revenue on the network and in Q2, Android represented 41% of the Application Platform Mix, a 14% increase from quarter-to-quarter. iOS represented 49% of the app, and grew 12% quarter-over-quarter.

By impression share, Android remained the leading OS on the network for the 7th consecutive month with a 54% impression share (but this was the same share as May), followed by iOS with a 26% impression share in June. RIM had 15% impression share, with Symbian and Windows Phone 7 trailing with 3% and 2% share, respectively.

The iPhone continued to dominate Millennial’s network in June as the top mobile phone on the ad network with a 16% impression share in June. The closest Android phone was the original Motorola Droid at 2.95%. But the Android platform also had 16 of the top 20 mobile phones.

By manufacturer Apple took the lead, representing 30% of the Top 15 Manufacturers impression share
Samsung followed as number two manufacturer for the fifth consecutive month. In June, the Samsung Nexus S impressions more than doubled month-over-month and moved to the number four position on the Top 20 Mobile Phones ranking.

Smartphones made up 65% of all impressions on Millennial, and connected devices grew 13% month-over-month, and accounted for 18% of all impressions.

It’s certainly interesting to see that Android’s growth is slowing. And that iOS is picking up. We’ll see if that trend continues into July and the third quarter. InMobi’s latest data shows that Android is surging past the iPhone in terms of subscribers and mobile ad impressions worldwide.

As for Millennial, it’s unclear whether the company, which is the largest independent mobile ad network remaining, will become a public company or will be acquired. The company raised $27.5 million in new funding a year ago, and is considering an IPO in the near future. Considering the growing number of tech companies going down that road, it’s certainly the right time for an IPO.



Japan Earthquake Pushes Sony Ericsson To A Q2 Loss; Smartphones Account For 70 Percent Of Sales

Posted: 15 Jul 2011 01:11 AM PDT

Sony Ericsson released its quarterly earnings this morning, reporting a surprise loss for Q2 2011 and declining sales. The earthquake that hit Japan earlier this year has a lot to do with the slump, as it had a major effect on the company’s supply chain.

The quarter ended in a net loss of €50 million (roughly $70.5 million), compared to a net income of €12 million ($17 million) in the same quarter in the previous year, and €11 million ($15.5 million) in the last quarter.

Sony Ericsson estimates that the impact of earthquake-related constraints on its product portfolio was close to 1.5 million units, with most of the effect in the early part of the second quarter of the year.

Total units shipped during the quarter were 7.6 million, a 31 percent decrease year- on-year. The average price per handset also fell, from €160 to €156.

Sales for the quarter were nearly €1,2 billion (roughly $1.7 billion), a 32 percent decrease year-on-year. Loss before taxes for the quarter was €42 million ($59 million), compared to an income before taxes of €31 million ($43.7 million) for the same quarter in the previous year, due to lower volume.

On another note: smartphone sales accounted for more than 70 percent of Sony Ericsson’s total sales during the quarter. The company says it has shipped more than 16 million Android-powered Xperia smartphones to date.

The company estimates that its share in the global Android-based smartphone market during the quarter was approximately 11 percent in volume as well as in value.



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