Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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Subjot: A Topic-Based Twitter, Without The Noise

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 09:12 AM PDT


Ah, your first days on Twitter. A time of innocence and serendipity.

Look, your friend just made a witty joke about their burnt toast! And there — Oprah’s tweeting about her new favorite book! It’s like your favorite people are in your pocket talking to you, all the time. The future is wonderful.

And then you notice that while there are a few choice nuggets of cleverness and utility, your Twitter stream is often bogged down by self-promotion (#humblebrag lol!) — or worse — someone’s tweet-by-tweet platitude marathon recounting a social media expert’s conference keynote.

Subjot, a NYC-based startup that’s launching today to the public, might have the answer. It wants to help you connect with people you’re interested in, but only around the topics that you want to hear about.

Say, for example, you wanted to follow all my Jots on technology, but you might not be so interested in my misadventures in learning how to cook. On Subjot, you could do that — you’d just check off the ‘Tech’ box next to my name, and you’d only see Jots that I’d labeled Tech. There isn’t much more to explain: it’s like Twitter, but broken down by subject.

The site’s initial signup flow prompts you to connect with your Facebook and Twitter accounts, at which point you’re presented with a list of your friends already on Subjot, as well as the topics they’re Jotting about most frequently. If you’re good friends with someone or you find them especially interesting, you can opt to follow all of their Jots.

Subjot was created by husband-and-wife team Chris Carella and Becky Carella, who first came up with the idea last December and began working on it full-time in February. Mr. Carella says their inspiration initially came from Quora — they noticed how interesting topic-specific Quora threads often became, but that they were restricted because they’re in a Q&A format. Subjot is looking to open that idea up a bit more. You can get a sense for what a Subjot stream looks like by checking out Chris’s stream here. (My significantly more irreverent stream is here).

Some readers may be mentally pointing out that they could use hashtags on Twitter for a similar purpose: append a tag like #tech to your tweet, and it’ll show up in a timeline filled with other tech-related tweets. Of course, if you’ve ever actually tried to use hashtags for anything other than a punchline, you know that they fall apart quickly. For one, there are often many hashtags created around the same theme or event. And because running a query for a hashtag shows results for everyone on Twitter (rather than just your followers), the stream gets noisy fast and is rife with spammers.

I’ve been using Subjot off and on for the last two weeks and think it’s promising. There are a few quirks — I find that navigating between users and topics isn’t always intuitive, but this may simply be because I’m used to Twitter (for example, clicking the ‘tech’ topic next to someone’s Jot takes me to all of their Jots about tech — you have to hit a different button to see everyone else’s Jots about that topic). There’s room for improvement in the UI, but it’s a good start.

Of course, Subjot is going to have to deal with some of the same issues that Twitter has. The biggest one: getting people to tag each of their updates, and ensuring that those tags will actually be useful (as I used the site, I found myself asking if I should tag one of my Jots ‘tech’ or ‘technology’).

Mr. Carella says this is something that he’s been thinking about since they first got started on the project. During the site’s private beta it hasn’t been a major issue — you see the tags your friends are using and use the same ones. But as the site scales they’re going to have to come up with some ways to address it, perhaps using autocompleted or suggested tags.

Then again, those would be good issues to have. The site’s biggest challenge now will be to attract a sizable user base — building a social network is hard. But because Subjot is topic-based, in some ways it may actually have an easier time than your average Twitter competitor: your friends may not be on it yet, but it isn’t hard to find people who are talking about the things you’re interested in.

AT&T Responds To DoJ: The Facts Will Prevail In Court

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 09:05 AM PDT


Following today’s reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a complaint opposing the $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T, the big blue carrier has issued a response stating plans to ask for an expedited hearing “so that the enormous benefits of this merger can be fully reviewed.”

The DOJ cites antitrust issues in its complaint, saying “AT&T's elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low- priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market.”

Though FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says that the review process is not yet complete, this is still another large obstacle for AT&T and T-Mobile in their road to matrimony. Should this prove too large an obstacle to overcome, AT&T will have to pay T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom upwards of $6 billion. In other words, AT&T isn’t having the best day.

The following is a statement provided by Wayne Watts, AT&T senior executive VP and general counsel:

We are surprised and disappointed by today's action, particularly since we have met repeatedly with the Department of Justice and there was no indication from the DOJ that this action was being contemplated. We plan to ask for an expedited hearing so the enormous benefits of this merger can be fully reviewed. The DOJ has the burden of proving alleged anti-competitive affects and we intend to vigorously contest this matter in court.

At the end of the day, we believe facts will guide any final decision and the facts are clear. This merger will:

  • Help solve our nation's spectrum exhaust situation and improve wireless service for millions.
  • Allow AT&T to expand 4G mobile broadband to another 55 million Americans, or 97% of the population.
  • Result in billions of additional investment and tens of thousands of jobs, at a time when our nation needs them most.

We remain confident that this merger is in the best interest of consumers and our country, and the facts will prevail in court.


T-Mobile is a mobile telephone operator headquartered in Bonn, Germany. It is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. T-Mobile has 101 million subscribers making it the worlds sixth largest mobile...

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Google’s New HTML5 Chrome Apps For Gmail, Calendar And Docs Give Users Offline Access

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 09:01 AM PDT


As we reported at Google I/O in May, Google has been working on offline versions of their three most popular apps: Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. Google previously offered offline access for Gmail, Calendar, and Docs but leveraged Gears. But Gears is no longer being supported by Google as Chrome gains many of the same features via HTML5. And offline-acces functionality was limited. Today, Google is announcing that it has rebuilt offline access for these applications, in the form of a HTML5 Chrome web app. Gmail offline will be available today, and offline for Google Calendar and Google Docs will be rolling out over the next week, starting today.

The HTML5-powered Gmail Offline is a Chrome Web Store app that is based on the Gmail web app for tablets, which was built to function with or without web access. After you install the Gmail Offline app from the Chrome Web Store, you can continue using Gmail when you lose your connection by clicking the Gmail Offline icon on Chrome's "new tab" page. You can read reply, send, and organize email regardless of an email connection.

Rajen Sheth, Google group product manager, tells us that the Gmail app will synchronize mail whenever you have internet connection even if app isn’t open in a tab. Previously Gmail Offline was a plugin to browser, and Sheth says that the ability to sync without opening the actual app was a big goal for the Gmail team when building the app. Soon you’ll also be able to customize the amount of mail you want to be synced.

The Chrome Web Apps for Google Calendar and Google Docs let transition between on- and offline modes. When you're offline in Google Calendar, you can view events from your calendars and RSVP to appointments. With Google Docs you can view documents and spreadsheets. Unfortunately, Google hasn’t added offline editing to Docs, but it working on this.

Offline access for Gmail and other popular applications is key to the company’s efforts in competing with Microsoft stronghold. The fact that Chrome now offers offline access is a big step in helping Chromebooks and the browser-based OS compete with Windows.

Launch Date:
25/8/2004, NASDAQ:GOOG

Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of...

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WITN: The New Wrinkle on the Valuation Trap (TCTV)

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:58 AM PDT

It seems Sarah wasn’t kidding about working right up until she gives birth. In this week’s positively-last-before-the-birth episode of Why Is This News?, Sarah and Paul are prompted by the ongoing reports of Dropbox’s mega funding to talk about valuations.

The typical outrage is over whether a company like Dropbox is “worth” $4 billion, but as we argue, that’s misses the point. Venture backed valuations are always a function of a company’s promise and how much demand there is to invest, not what a company is worth right now.

But there are reasons to worry about companies getting into valuation traps as the price tags get significantly over the $1 billion level. We’ve cited Twitter as an example before. It’s the only one of the big five social media companies that hasn’t yet figured out how to make money, but has priced itself well out of the range of an acquisition. It’s go public or bust for Costello & Co. now and that doesn’t leave much room for execution error or broader economic woes.

Phil Libin of Evernote recently opted to do an inside round, forsaking a bigger valuation to avoid having more meddling hands in his company. As he says in this interview: Why do I care about a valuation right this second when I’m building a company for the next 100 years?

Well there’s one big reason many entrepreneurs care about interim valuations so much: They are cashing out significant portions of their shares at these mega rounds. Unlike the last time we saw inflated valuations, this isn’t about paper wealth and bragging rights.

VCs have liquidation preferences that insure they make their money back, the founding team is getting its payout, but should rank-and-file employees be worried as valuations reach new nosebleed levels?

Mobile App Inventory On Track To Match Online Display Ad Spend By Year-End

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:57 AM PDT


Mobile app analytics firm Flurry has released a new report comparing the U.S. mobile app inventory to traditional Internet display advertising spend, and the results are impressive. According to data pulled from over 100,000 mobile apps on Flurry’s network, app inventory is poised to absorb the equivalent of the U.S. online display ad spend by the end of 2011, if current trends continue.

The best way to visualize this trend, is with the chart Flurry provides.

You can see that, over the past 2 years, “mobile app inventory has grown so aggressively that it can now meet the demand of a mature, 15-year-old form of online advertising,” the analytics firm says.

To arrive at these numbers, Flurry tracks the average number of ads shown per session, which was 4.3. The average application session time is 4.2 minutes. For comparison purposes, the average website session length is under 1 minute. Flurry then looked at the number of sessions across its network. The company tracks around 20% of all sessions in the market, so it grew the numbers to come up with a market size and positioned that data against the net spend on display advertising in the U.S.

It also assumed a CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) of $2.50 for mobile app inventory, which the firm says is “conservative.”

Flurry says the market is growing so quickly because of smartphone, publisher and session use growth as well as an increasing number of publishers integrating ads within their apps. This latter item could also be related to the increasing market share of Android and its predominately ad-supported app ecosystem, although Flurry doesn’t mention that particular factor in the report.

Mobile Ads Target Attractive Demographic

Using U.S. Census Bureau data, Flurry also found that the smartphone user demographic was attractive to advertisers, thanks to higher household income levels and educational achievement levels. App users are more likely to be younger and trend slightly more female, too.

YC-backed Crowdbooster Launches Social Media Monitoring Dashboard That Does The Thinking For You

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:45 AM PDT


Crowdbooster, a Y Combinator-backed startup, is debuting its intelligent social media optimization, monitoring and analytics platform for companies and brands. What differentiates Crowdbooster from other monitoring platforms is that the startup’s technology works behind the scenes to understand a user's social activity, and then makes recommendations about what to share, when, and with whom.

The company’s platform will automatically surface the most popular links to share; features cross-posting to Twitter and Facebook, based on popularity and content fit; allows you to teceive alerts when influential people follow (measured by Klout); schedule Tweets and posts based on best time; respond to missed Tweets; and thank the most engaged followers. And the company’s customized recommendations surface the best content to share and suggests when
to publish for maximum exposure.

The startup’s application also offers detailed analytics across Facebook and Twitter, including data around the popularity of content shared based on Retweets, Mentions, Replies,
Likes, Impressions, and Comments; follower or fan growth over time; the most influential and engaged follower and more.

Crowdbooster is already being used by a number of agencies and brands including rapper Lil
Wayne, The Los Angeles Times, Wieden+Kennedy, JetBlue, Education Week, Ben & Jerry's, The Roxy Theatre, Crowd Surf, and Stussy. Crowdbooster is a freemium offering; the application is free for up to 3 profiles and access to enhanced recommendations and more profiles cost $20 per month.

The company has also raised a round of seed funding from Steven Chen, Esther Dyson, Nils Johnson, Charles River Ventures, Quest Venture Partners, StartupAngel, Royce Disini, Tony Pham, Brian Shire, Adora Cheung, Jonathan Pines, and Y Combinator.


Crowdbooster was founded in the Spring of 2010 by three Stanford graduates who are passionate about connecting people through social media. We measure and optimize your social media marketing....

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Pushpins Launches SimpleUPC: Product Information-As-A-Service

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:21 AM PDT


Pushpins, Inc., the makers of a mobile app for saving on groceries, have launched a new service called SimpleUPC targeted towards mobile app developers. SimpleUPC, which is available as an API (application programming interface), provides product information as a service for the use in mobile apps like barcode scanners, shopping lists and nutrition trackers.

The API contains data on over 120,000 food, beverage, personal care and household goods from over 15,000 brands and nearly 5,000 manufacturers.

Explains Jason Gurwin, Pushpins CEO, when the company was building its mobile couponing app Pushpins, it received hundreds of requests per month asking for a simple web service like this. So the Pushpins team decided to fill that need.

“There are other things out there – like Google Product Search, but they return crappy information,” scoffed Gurwin. “I didn’t know that they put guns in Gerber Baby Food,” he said referring to this glaring mistake found in the data his competitors’ provided, where instead of a baby food photo, a case for handguns was pictured.

Gurwin speaks from personal experience when it comes to the difficulties in building accurate product information databases, thanks to his work with Pushpins. Now, other developers don’t have to go through the same thing he did – they can just plug into the RESTful SimpleUPC API instead.

The new API includes traditional product information (UPC, manufacturer, brand, size, container), as well as nutrition facts (the entire product label) and manufacturer-approved images. To license this data from other sources, the cost is often very high (Gurwin says one company wanted $100,000 for its UPC database, for example). Generally, the data would not include nutritional info or images, either.

SimpleUPC, however, now offers more affordable options for small businesses, starting at $99/month for 50,000 searches and product info. For $249/month, you get 300K searches plus nutritional info and for $499/month, you get 500K searches, plus nutritional info and images.

To showcase the API’s capabilities, the company built an iOS app called Food Fight! which is waiting App Store approval. You can also check out the SimpleUPC demo here.

To sign up for SimpleUPC, visit this page on the company’s website.

Sony’s Latest Kindle Killer Is World’s Lightest eReader

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:17 AM PDT


These days, it’s getting tough for companies that make eBook readers to differentiate. Brief forays into jumbo models aside, Amazon’s Kindle has kept things simple and elegant since day one, while Barnes and Noble went the full-featured Android route with the Nook Color.

Sony, to their credit, was among the first to make readers with appeal that extended beyond hardcore techno-literature buffs, and today’s announcement of the ultra-light PRS-T1 shows that they haven’t quite given up the ghost yet.

Sony’s new generation of eReaders seem to have more than a few design cues from the Xperia line of handsets: the T1 features a row of super-slim control buttons and a gently curving bottom edge. It’s a handsome device, something that’s equal parts book reader and fashion accessory. Weighing in at 168g, and 8.9mm thick, it’s ideal for a spot of on-the-go light reading.

Looks aside, the T1 also packs a 6″ diagonal touchscreen display for easy navigation between pages and within menus. Users can also use their fingers or the included stylus to make notes on pages, a feature that would have helped the Kindle quite a bit in its academic trials. The T1 comes with 2 GB of flash memory preinstalled, which stores up to 1,200 eBooks if Sony is to be believed. Digital hoarders will find comfort in the microSD card slot that supports up to 32 GB of their favorite musty tomes.

The device also manages to squeeze in a WiFi radio into its slim frame, allowing for wireless book downloads from Sony’s Reader Store, and interestingly, the ability to wirelessly borrow books from libraries that choose to play along.

Will the T1 do the impossible and overthrow Amazon and BN’s hegemonic hold on the eReader market? In all honestly, probably not, but a functional and stylish alternative can help keep innovation alive and the big guys on their toes.

Reports: US Justice Department Looks To Block AT&T’s Acquisition Of T-Mobile

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:04 AM PDT


Reports from Bloomberg and the WSJ this morning say that the United States Justice Department is looking to block AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile on antitrust grounds.

According to the Bloomberg report, the Justice Department filed its complaint in federal court, which included the following excerpt:

“AT&T's elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low- priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market.”

Additional details on the government filing are still scant — we’ll update as there’s more.

Previous reports indicate that should the deal not go through, AT&T will owe T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom more than $6 billion, including $3 billion in cash and wireless spectrum in some areas.

Update: Here’s a statement from FCC chairman Julius Genachowski:

"By filing suit today, the Department of Justice has concluded that AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile would substantially lessen competition in violation of the antitrust laws. Competition is an essential component of the FCC's statutory public interest analysis, and although our process is not complete, the record before this agency also raises serious concerns about the impact of the proposed transaction on competition. Vibrant competition in wireless services is vital to innovation, investment, economic growth and job creation, and to drive our global leadership in mobile. Competition fosters consumer benefits, including more choices, better service and lower prices."

Spotify’s New API Allows Developers To Add Music Streaming Service To iOS Apps

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:02 AM PDT


Music streaming service Spotify is releasing a new API today, called ‘libspotify,’ which allows third party iOS developers to write applications for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad with Spotify inside the app.

And these apps can include Spotify’s catalogue of more than 15 million tracks. Libspotify for iOS is available to Spotify Premium users as of today. It’s unclear if the startup will be building a framework for Android. Unfortunately, the use of the API is for non-commercial use, so developers cannot make money off the apps that include the API (Spotify partners with certain developers for commercial use).

Spotify just launched in the U.S. a month and a half ago, and reportedly already has more than 1.4 million users. We’ve also been told that Spotify has over 15 million ("closer to 20 million") users in total, across Europe and the U.S.

The company also hired Zynga executive Teymour Farman-Farmaian as “Chief Acquisition & [Ad Business] Retention Officer” and Andrew Mager (from SimpleGeo) as a developer evangelist.

Clearly, Mager will be working with developers to integrate this API into third-party apps. It should be interesting to see if developers begin to integrate the service into apps, especially considering the rapid adoption of Spotify in the U.S. and Europe.

Launch Date:

Spotify has created a lightweight software application that allows instant listening to specific tracks or albums with virtually no buffering delay. It was launched in the fall of 2008...

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Noca Takes On PayPal With New Credit Card Payments Offering

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 08:00 AM PDT


You may remember Noca, a startup that wanted to disrupt the payments industry with a debit transaction product that promised low transaction fees for merchants. Today, the company is debuting its credit card offering, which aims to provide a secure, payments experience for both merchants and consumers.

Here’s how it works. Consumers get to choose a PIN (called Noca PIN) at checkout, allowing all subsequent transactions to be completed by entering the PIN as opposed to typing in 80-90 characters in a typical Credit Card or Check transaction. You enter your credit card information at the first transaction, and then simply enter the pin in other transactions.

For merchants, Noca’s offering promises to make consumer purchasing easier and thus create more transactions, and less abandoned shopping carts. And Noca’s payments system doesn’t require the consumer to sign up fr an account. And the startup says that Noca’s system can be integrated in a site with just a few lines of code. Noca’s fees are 3.5 percent (which is higher than PayPal), but there is no fixed per transaction fee.

It’s ambitious to take on PayPal in the online payments space, considering the reach that the eBay-owned company has already. But Noca was founded by PJ Gupta, who was formerly Visa’s Chief Architect, so the company has payment experience on its side.


Noca is building a new online payment system to provide significantly reduced transaction processing rates for online shopping enabling efficient processing of micro-transactions for digital goods. Current payment systems...

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Sony Ericsson Announces The Xperia Arc S Smartphone

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 07:44 AM PDT


Today at the IFA conference in Berlin, Sony Ericsson announced its new Xperia smartphone, the Xperia Arc S. Unfortunately, details were pretty sparse in the initial announcement, but here's what we do know:

The phone will first be available in October of this year. It'll run on a 1.4GHz processor and will sport Sony's Reality display powered by Sony's mobile Bravia engine. The Reality Display on the original Xperia Arc has a pixel density of 854 x 480, which is a slight upgrade from the more standard 800 x 480 resolution we're used to seeing on high-end handsets. What really makes the Reality Display special is the support of Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine, which is meant to improve color and detail in a fashion similar to that of Bravia TVs.

The phone will also have the ability to shoot 2D panoramic photos with its Exmor R image sensor. The images can be converted to 3D, at which point you can view those images on one of the company's 3D Bravia TV sets.

From the looks of things, this is pretty similar to its predecessor the Xperia Arc, but with a couple extra boosts like that processor upgrade. We're also seeing images of both black and white versions, but it's not clear if there will be more color flavors.

More on this as it develops.

Apple May Have A Web-Based Diagnostics Tool In The Works For iStuff

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 07:40 AM PDT


If ever your iPhone or iPad starts acting wonky, chances are you pack it up and head on over to your nearest Genius Bar. It's a hassle, but it's a small price to pay for your beloved iStuff. Ease of use is one of Apple's key standards for a device, and that extends way past a navigable interface.

That said, Hardmac is reporting that Apple has internally announced a new web-based diagnostics tool for iOS devices that can be used remotely. In other words, future problems with your iPhone or iPod just got a lot easier to fix.

It basically works by sending an email with a URL to the device that's acting weird. When Safari loads up the URL (which can also be typed in to the browser), the phone will begin running tests to check internally for any issues. The results are then transferred back to Apple technicians who can try to fix the problem over the phone. Obviously, if you're device is too damaged to boot up and get Safari off the ground, this won't be an option.

The new tool can check the device's health, battery level, time passed since the last charge, minimum level at which the battery was discharged, which version of iOS you're running, and whether or not the phone was shut off properly the most recent time.

It's unclear whether or not the tool tests to see if the device is jailbroken, although it seems a bit silly if it can't. Jailbreaking your iOS device effectively ends your warranty, which would mean that whatever support Apple is providing to fix your issue isn't exactly… well, warranted.

Hardmac claims that the new tool will be rolled out in the next coming months.

Launch Date:

Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer,...

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Sony Finally Fully Unveils Its Android Tabs, The Sony S and P

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 07:26 AM PDT

sony tabs

“It’s not about who makes them first, but who makes them better.” That’s how Sony’s Sir Howard Stringer announced his upcoming tablets. Zing.

Meet the S and P, everyone. Sony just took the wraps off its first generation Android tablets a few moments ago at its 2011 IFA press event. But, as with most non-Apple product launches these days, there isn’t much to report since Sony used teasers and planted leaks over the last few months to generate buzz, which in turn, makes today’s announcement a tad anticlimactic.

Sony is hitting the tablet market with two models: the curvy S and the clamshell P. Tablets don’t sell on specs alone. The TouchPad and all the Honeycomb tabletss have proven that. Sony built their tablets around their robust but somewhat obscure Qriocity media distribution service, which seems to suggest Sony diehards are the target demographic.

The S offers a 9.4-inch IPS display with Sony TruBlack and Bravia technologies, and is available in the standard assortment of WiFi flavors in 16GB and 32GB sizes with AT&T getting a 4G model as well. Sony didn’t mention what hardware platform is at the S’s core, and it’s hard to say with dual-core chips coming from several different manufacturers. (update: Terga 2) It does have a full-size SD memory card reader, Bluetooth, and a long-life battery.

Sony is all about eating its own dog food. This emphasis on cross-device connectivity has led to the inclusion of an IR port on the backside, which can be used to control Sony Bravia TVs. Then, through Bluetooth, the tablet can control and and interact with the PS3 to the extent that both tablets are Playstation Certified.

The P is slightly different, but not exactly unique. Clamshell portables have been around for years, with the Kyocera Echo being the first to take a chance on the dual-screen Android design. Maybe not the most original design, sure, but the P’s two five-inch 1024 x 480 displays work in concert to provide a compelling Android experience. The two screens can work independently or together: one can act as a keyboard, while the other does email. Both screens can be used simultaneously for certain applications though, such as the eBook reader.

The Sony Tablet S and P are going to hit Europe “at the end of September” for €479 and in November for €599, respectively. No word on pricing or availability in other regions yet, but we hear (not through official means) that the 16GB and 32GB S models will ship in the States “within weeks” for $499 and $599. Update: Yep, that shipping window and price point is correct.

Like Stringer stated at the beginning of his IFA press conference, being first isn’t necessarily a path to success. Sony’s tablets are at least different from the competition. The radical designs might not catch on, but they feel like the Sony of old. The Sony that made the Walkman. The Sony that made the Trinitron. And yes, the Sony that made the Betamax, which is a Sony that is not afraid to hit the market like a arrogant male teenager, full of testosterone and bravado. Awesome.

Launch Date:

Sony is one of the leading manufacturers of electronics, video, communications, video game consoles, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets.

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HTC Jetstream: AT&T’s 10.1 Inch LTE Tablet, Launches September 4

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 07:20 AM PDT


HTC’s Jetstream (nee Puccini) has been the stuff of rumors for weeks now, but AT&T has officially announced the 10.1 inch tablet this morning.

The Jetstream is HTC’s first to run Android 3.1 Honeycomb, complete with a bit of Sense UI design specifically tweaked for the tablet’s larger form factor. A 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor powers the Jetstream, and it packs two cameras: an 8 MP shooter with dual LED flash on the rear, and a 1.3 MP front-facer mounted right over the 10.1 inch WXGA display.

Rumors of the Jetstream’s LTE capability have fortunately been confirmed, making it AT&T’s only non-modem LTE device, a distinction that hopefully doesn’t stick for too much longer. At .51 inches thick and weighing in at just over 1.5 pounds, the Jetstream isn’t the thinnest tablet in the world, but all its horsepower should make up for it.

First seen on their Flyer/View 4G tablet, HTC has also carried over Scribe support, meaning users can doodle to their hearts’ content on a much nicer screen. The Jetstream also gets a bit of the AT&T treatment when it comes to apps: it comes preloaded with AT&T Family Map and AT&T Navigator, along with HTC’s own Watch and Friendstream apps.

As compelling as the Jetstream looks, expect wallets to groan: when it launches on September 4, it’ll run customers $699 with a 2-year contract. In addition to AT&T’s existing lineup of data plans ($15/200 MB and $25/2 GB), they have also announced a new $35/3 GB plan for heavier users. It’s a pricey proposition no matter how you look at it, but here’s hoping the experience is worth the cost.

Ford And Zipcar Partner On Car-Sharing Program For Universities

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 07:02 AM PDT


Ford Motor Company and the leading car-sharing network Zipcar have just announced a partnership that establishes Ford as Zipcar’s largest auto source for Zipcar’s University program. The new, two-year alliance will reach students at over 250 university campuses here in the U.S.

Ford will start shipping its vehicles, primarily the 2012 Ford Focus and Ford Escape, to colleges starting this week.

Zipcar says that it will add 650 Ford vehicles this academic year and up to 1,000 during the life of the agreement. In addition, thanks to Ford, Zipcar will begin offering $10 off its $35 annual membership fee for the first 100,000 new University program members who sign up for Zipcar. It will also offer $1 off the hourly rate for the first 1 million hours of use on any of the Ford cars on select campuses, bringing it down to $7.50 per hour.

While the Ford Escape (an SUV), isn’t the most fuel-efficient car in Zipcar’s lineup, the Ford Focus, which gets 40 mpg (highway), is a better fit for students looking for a more environmentally friendly ride.

Scott Griffith, chairman and CEO, Zipcar, says the alliance will help Ford and Zipcar prepare the next generation of drivers for “the future of urban transportation.” And by that, he seems to mean the idea of renting a car instead of buying one.

“We're targeting a generation that only knows how to buy music by the song so paying for a car by the hour is a natural for them…” Griffith says.

Ford, however, sees the move somewhat differently. For many of these young drivers, Zipcar is their first experience behind the wheel. And when they finally choose to leave the program to buy a car of their own, they will (hopefully) be considering a Ford, the auto maker believes. It’s also why one of the cars provided, the Focus, includes high-tech features like the MyFord Touch and SYNC systems – things that have appeal to the smartphone-toting, always-connected young adult market.

Zipcar’s University program has been in operation for 8 years. It has partnerships with universities such as Harvard University, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of California – Berkeley, Loyola Marymount University, Florida State University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, George Washington University, and others.

The network has over 605,000 members in total and over 9,000 vehicles in the U.S, Canada and the U.K. College rentals account for around 10% of Zipcar’s business.


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Zipcar is a membership-based car-sharing company that provides automobile rentals to its members, billable on an hourly or daily basis. Members are able to view vehicle availability and reserve...

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(Founder Stories) Mike Lazerow On Google+ “I Know No One Who Is Using It”

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 06:45 AM PDT

In Chris Dixon’s previous Founder Stories episode with Buddy Media’s Mike Lazerow, Lazerow told Dixon that Buddy Media was “Facebook plus,” meaning Buddy Media helps brands manage consumer interaction and engagement across social media platforms, not just Facebook.

In this episode, Dixon asks Lazerow what brands think of using Twitter as a platform and advertising venue in comparison to Facebook.

Lazerow acknowledges that “Twitter is more of a work in progress.” He recognizes the 140-word character count limits creative content but notes that Twitter has potential. “When you look at what you can do with photos and what you can do with… the ecosystem … whether it is Twitter-Tumblr integration, Twitter-Facebook integration, you can all of a sudden … put together a scalable presence globally.”

Both agree that Tumblr is also a promising platform for brands, but the jury is still out on its effectiveness.  The conversation concludes with Google+. Lazerow is not impressed.  He says that outside of a handful of people, “I know no one who is using it.”

Below, Lazerow tells Dixon “I love Google for what Google does really well,” which includes search and Gmail. This being said, Lazerow doesn’t think Google+ or any similar networking site will displace Facebook which he says “connects you to people in a way that is important to you as a human being, that’s hard to engineer.” So hard to engineer in fact that Lazerow considers Facebook to be “safe forever.”

Make sure to watch episodes I and II of Lazerow’s interview with Chris Dixon, and previous episodes of Founder Stories here.


Chris Dixon currently works as the CEO and Co-founder of Hunch. He is also a contributing writer for TechCrunch. He previously was the CEO and Co-founder of SiteAdvisor, which...

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VMware Unveils Enterprise Solutions For Samsung’s Galaxy Devices

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 06:38 AM PDT


Samsung made it known at last night's big announcement that they intended the Galaxy S II series to be more IT-friendly than its predecessor: improved Exchange support and on-device data encryption were just some of the highlights. This was apparently just the tip of the IT iceberg, as VMware has just announced a partnership with Samsung to integrate support for their View 5 and Horizon Mobile products to the GSII series and the Honeycomb-powered Galaxy Tabs.

VMware View 5 is a much-awaited update to their long-running series of desktop virtualization solutions. Users are able to access a full work desktop environment on their tablet, but improvements in bandwidth mean the experience is more fluid and engaging. View 5 also brings better support for 3D graphics and integration of While View has already made a move into the tablet space with support for the iPad, support for Samsung’s Android tablets is a logical next step for a company looking to maintain their “global leader” status in virtualization and cloud infrastructure.

Announced at their VMworld conference, VMware Horizon Mobile is a way for enterprises to give users’ Samsung devices a bit of split personality disorder. When the device is set up with Horizon, it creates an encrypted virtual machine of sorts through which users can access work-related applications and data.

By setting up a distinct work identity on the device, IT admins can better manage these devices without ever stumbling across personal information. The fact that an instance of Android would essentially be running within another seems like it would wreak havoc on the device’s performance, but VMware claims a reduction in performance of only about 10%. I’ll believe it when I see it, but considering the caliber of the hardware it’s running on, the claim is within the realm of possibility.

Samsung has a good thing going here, as it makes their new tablets and smartphones that much more attractive for the enterprise product buyers. While this partnership will help Samsung get a foot in the door, they’ll have to work quickly to make the most of it: View 5 and Horizon Mobile is also due to appear on rival LG’s devices soon.

IBM Buys Crime Prevention And Data Intelligence Software Developer i2

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 06:28 AM PDT


IBM is announcing the acquisition of i2, a company that provides intelligence and investigation management software for law enforcement, defense, national security and private sector organizations. Financial terms were not disclosed.

With more than 4,500 customers in 150 countries, i2 is provides intelligence analytics for crime and fraud prevention in sectors such as banking, defense, health care, insurance, law enforcement, national security and retail. i2 solutions are currently used by 12 of the top 20 retail banks globally and eight of the top 10 largest companies in the world.

i2 does doesn’t replace human intelligence but helps improve the technology that can drive crime-fighting, fraud prevention and counter terrorism. i2 will be integrated into IBM’s Software Group.

IBM says the acquisition will help IBM’s clients harness data to combat fraud and security threats. From the release: Using IBM real-time analytical solutions in combination with the technologies of i2, public agencies and private enterprises battling fraud will now have the capability to better collect, analyze and process all the relevant data at their disposal.

While its already August, and this is only one of a handful of acquisitions IBM has made this year. Unlike 2010 (IBM spent $6 billion to acquire 17 companies in 2010), 2011 has been a relatively low-key year for IBM in terms of buying companies. This year’s purchases include real estate software company Tririga.

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IBM, acronym for International Business Machines, is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating...

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iPhone App Downloads Drop In July, Incentivized Install Crackdown To Blame (Thank?)

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 06:18 AM PDT


Marketing technology company Fiksu has released new data that shows a downward trend in mobile application installations on iPhone. The increase, in broad terms, is marginal, given the size of the iPhone’s user base, but any non-upward movement is curious.

Says Fiksu, there was a drop from 4.505 million iPhone app installs per day in June to 4.25 million app installations per day in July.

The Fiksu App Store Competitive Index measures the average aggregate daily download volume of the Top 200 free iPhone apps in the U.S., and sourced its data from 2.7 billion mobile app actions recorded by the apps on the Fiksu for Mobile Apps user acquisition platform. These actions include app launches, registrations and in-app purchases, among other things.

Says Fiksu CEO Micah Adler, “one reason [for the downward trend] could be the absence of incentivized promotions which many had been using to bulk buy downloads and boost rank. App marketers are now starting to reallocate budgets into non-incentivized promotions that can deliver a higher loyal user conversion rate at a lower net cost.”

As you may recall, Apple clamped down on incentivized installs in April, and began rejecting apps that use pay-per-install or offer walls from the iTunes App Store.

Fiksu also notes that the cost for acquiring a loyal user (according to its Cost per Loyal User Index) decreased, too. In July, following four months of increases, the cost dipped 5.5% to $1.20.

So is Apple’s crackdown on incentivized installs really to blame here? For this, we turned to market leader in application distribution and monetization, Tapjoy. Interestingly, it had no comment.

But Peter Farago of Flurry Analytics confirmed that the general trend is correct from April to mid-summer. However, he couldn’t vouch for Fiksu’s specific numbers. “With lower cost price per acquisition removed (incentivized installs), we are seeing prices go up,” he notes.

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Fiksu, Inc. is a new marketing technology company. Fiksu™ for Mobile Apps is the company's first solution designed to help mobile app brands achieve their business goals faster and...

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