Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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How The King Of Kerry Plans To Disrupt The Design Industry With Tweak

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:24 AM PDT

Tweak Founder & CEO Jerry Kennelly

The small coffee shop on the corner, competing with the Starbucks across the street with a lame leaflet. The local chemist that has to place a print ad next to a national chain in the local paper. Globally and every day small businesses destroy their credibility because either they don’t have access to professional designers, or the designs they have are simply bad. At the same time we know that consumers – assaulted daily by great design from companies with huge marketing budgets – now have a have a very high degree of visual literacy.

Thus, the concept behind Tweak, as founder Jerry Kennelly puts it, is to “democratise design”. Put simply, with an armoury of millions of pieces of design and a CMS three years in the making, Tweak plans to disrupt both the print and design industry, as well as a section of the magazine and newspaper advertising business. And Irishman Kennell plans to run the whole operation from County Kerry.

READ MORE



GLMPS Launches A Cool New Photo Sharing App With A Video Twist

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:18 AM PDT

Screen shot 2011-08-04 at 8.08.43 AM

There are a few photo sharing apps out there on the market today, as you may have noticed. In fact, there are enough choices that TechCrunch’s own Alexia Tsostsis and former Myspace marketing guy Sean Percival created a flowchart to help you find you way to the right app. It’s a space that, while popular, is in desperate need of some fresh ideas. So, starting today, there’s yet another photo sharing app on the App Store, but this one has a pretty cool twist.

Founded in 2010, San Francisco-based GLMPS is a bootstrapped startup that is today releasing its eponymous iPhone app, which offers an experience the startup likens to a “visual status update”. What does that mean, exactly? Well, put simply: GLMPS blends video with traditional image capturing, so that the 5 seconds or so before one snaps a photo is captured by the app in quick, abbreviated video form.

Essentially, this is akin to “pressing play on your photos”, so that when you view a still image, a small thumbnail appears in the lower right hand portion of the screen, showing the moments leading up to capture in video — or suped-up .gif — form.

Once a user captures their photo, the photo-video loads in their iPhone photo library and then, like other photo sharing applications, they can easily share those glmpses via Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, email, SMS, and so on. For today’s launch, GLMPS has partnered with Foursquare, among others, to add a further enriching photo-video layer to the check-in experience.

It’s a great idea, and one of those simple ones that, once you see it in action, it becomes hard to believe that it hasn’t been done before. Adding those few spontaneous moments before a photo is taken in video form, briefly taking one back in time, is a nifty feature. It doesn’t quite feel done yet, but there’s plenty of potential. Just ask Scoble.

GLMPS is currently free on the iPhone, and Android apps (and beyond) are headed down the pipeline in the near future. The GLMPS team, which includes Paul Robinett, Nick Long, and Esther Crawford, will also soon be adding the ability to stitch together “glmpses” to create highlight reels of a user’s photo-video library from the perspective of the individual, or groups, based on time, tags, and location.

“We saw GLMPS earlier this year and it was a no-brainer to integrate with the foursquare platform”, said Foursquare VP of Mobile & Strategic Partnerships Holger Luedorf. “GLMPS enriches the check-in experience by providing a quick, rich snapshot of the moment. It’s our goal to give our millions of users and our brand partners the ultimate engagement experience, and GLMPS is a powerful tool for everyone in the foursquare ecosystem”.

For more info and to start glmpsing your life today, please visit http://www.glmps.com.



Slidelight iPad App Is A Flipboard-Instagram Hybrid

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:18 AM PDT

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A new iPad app out of Warsaw, Poland may have what it takes to be the Flipboard of photography. Dubbed Slidelight and published by Macoscope, the app does most of the heavy lifting for you, pulling in Instagram pictures through various filters and formatting them in the most enjoyable way possible. In fact, according to the app description, Slidelight is "packed with such an amount of joy it’s like an endorphins overdose."

While we're not quite sure if you'll actually keel over from all the fun, all in all this looks like a pretty beautiful app. Slidelight filters photos from Instagram into categories like bikes, commuting, puppies, cats, European capitals, shapes and sizes, music, macro photography, sports, fashion, and design, among others. But the overdose-inducing joy doesn't stop there. Slidelight also grabs photos taken in your area and creates a special little location-based filter (a bit like Color).

Another filter — one I predict will be one of the most popular categories within Slidelight — is for celebrities' Instagram pics. Remember that one time Justin Bieber took an incredibly uninteresting picture of traffic and Instagram blew up? Well, that picture of cars on a freeway would fall into this category. Obviously, you can sign into Instagram and have a filter based on your and your friends' photos, too.

The app is currently listed for $2.99 in the Apple App Store and requires iOS 4.2 or later.



Kinvey Closes $2M Seed Round For Its “Backend As A Service” Product

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:10 AM PDT

Kinvey

Most developers would agree: building backends is no fun. It’s like setting out to build the game of your dreams, then having to spend 2 months on the rendering engine — by the time you’re done building things most folks wouldn’t even realize is there, you don’t have the energy to build the fun stuff.

Kinvey, a TechStars Boston 2011 startup, has just closed a $2M round for their “Backend As A Service” product, which aims to let mobile developers skip past all the boring database-building and get right into that fun stuff.

How Kinvey Works:

or, in a less Infrography way:

  • Developers build a visual model of their database
  • Kinvey generates APIs (compatible with iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry, and HTML5), which developers can simply drop into their code to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to storing and retrieving things from the backend.
  • All of the data stored through Kinvey is backed up redundantly across four services: Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, and Kinvey’s own servers. Even if one or two services go down, your database will still be accessible.

Kinvey’s been pretty successful in finding developers — more so than they intended, even. Their goal for their first month post-launch was to have around 30 developers on the service; instead, they had 150. Today, they’ve got around 500 developers building on the product.

Kinvey is totally free to developers during Beta, which should last until the product officially launches sometime in Fall of this year. Alas, their exact pricing model is yet to be determined.

This $2M round was lead by Atlas Venture, with backing by Avalon Ventures. Kinvey says the money will primarily go towards growing their team, along with building out features like additional third-party data services and app analytics.



Rdio’s iPad App Now Available In The App Store

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 09:10 AM PDT

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It took a bit longer than I’d have guessed, but the Rdio iPad app that we previewed a few weeks back is now available in the App Store.

As predicted, it’s the first of the major music streaming services to get an iPad app into the store.

So, what was the hang up? As far as I can tell: subscription details. We’d heard that Rdio and Apple were having some hang-ups as to how Rdio was allowed to market the subscription service within the app; as just about all such services have been dealing with lately, Apple wanted Rdio to handle all subscriptions through In-App Purchase (thus getting Apple their cut), and make no mention of being able to subscribe via the web. In the end, it looks like Rdio gave in (though they didn’t really have a choice), with one catch: through In-App Purchase, one month’s subscription will cost you $14.99. Through their own site, it’ll cost you just $9.99. Pro Tip: go through the site.

Be sure to check out our full preview of the Rdio iPad app here. Ready to dig into it yourself? Find it in the App Store here.



Sources: LivingSocial Close To Acquiring Turkish Daily Deals Site Grupfoni

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:51 AM PDT

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Multiple sources in the know have informed us that LivingSocial is close to continuing its international expansion with the impending acquisition of Grupfoni, a leading local ecommerce company in Turkey, as first reported by local tech blog Webrazzi. The deal hasn’t been closed yet, we hear, but LivingSocial is very close to signing off on the transaction.

The deal values Grupfoni at more than $50 million, although we couldn’t pin down an exact purchase price at this stage – in between $50 million and $70 million would make sense though, as Grupfoni’s annual revenue run rate is estimated at around $25 – $30 million.

A LivingSocial representative declined to confirm or deny the acquisition talks, as the company typically doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation. Grupfoni’s keeping mum, too.

But LivingSocial, like its main rival Groupon, regularly acquires local daily deal sites to serve as a foundation for discount distribution on a global scale.

Most recently, the company acquired DealKeren (operational in Indonesia), its parent company Ensogo (which offers daily deals in Thailand and the Philippines) as well as GoNabit (which operates in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait).

They also purchased South Korea's Ticket Monster, adding some 600 employees in one move.

Earlier this year, the group buying giant also acquired a majority stake in Europe’s Let's Bonus, and purchased SocialMedia and InfoEther.

LivingSocial recently issued stock worth $29.4 million in relation to one or more acquisitions, according to two SEC filings.

We’ll update as soon as we have more information.

Related:

LivingSocial Financials Exposed: $2.9 Billion Valuation, $50 Million In Revenue Per Month

An Open Letter to LivingSocial: Learn from Groupon’s International Mistakes



Founder Office Hours With Chris Dixon And Josh Kopelman: Dispatch.io

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:48 AM PDT

If you have a product that could potentially appeal to everyone, how do you pick which customers to go after first? In this episode of Founder Office Hours with investors Chris Dixon and Josh Kopelman, Dispatch.io founder Jesse Lamb asks whether his file-sharing service should focus first on early adopters, consumers, or small businesses.

Kopelman predicts, “You are going to reach them all the same way. A big believer in the “consumerization of the enterprise,”, he says, “I am not sure you would do anything fundamentally different if you are going after a small business or a consumer.”

But you have to start somewhere. Dixon suggests to “find the people with the greatest pain” like designers who have to send big files to clients, or perhaps partner with an established service that Dispatch.io is building on top of to gain initial distribution.

Whatever approach Dispatch.io chooses, Kopelman says “sell an application rather than a platform.”

Dispatch.io helps people share files across services, whether they are using Dropbox, Google Docs, or something else. The company was a runner-up at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in New Yrok City earlier this year.

Watch the previous Founder Office Hours episodes with Schedit and Profitably, and other Founder Stories here. Dispatch.io’s original 90-second Hackathon demo is below.



N00ter Keeps ISPs In Line Over Net Neutrality

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:05 AM PDT

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It may be a while before Congress & Friends get this whole Net Neutrality debate squared away. But that's no biggie, since Dan Kaminsky has cooked up his own little solution to figure out if your ISP is throttling service. It's called N00ter, short for neutral rooter, and Kaminsky showed it off for the first time at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, reports Forbes.

Here's how it works: N00ter scopes out whether or not an ISP is artificially slowing down or boosting traffic to and from a specific site. It basically acts as a VPN, sending traffic through a proxy and masking its source and desired destination. However unlike a VPN, the traffic isn't encrypted. It's spoofed on its way from the site to the user, appearing to come from any old web site that the user may want to test. Then the user can compare those speeds with the ones seen on a non-spoofed connection to check if the ISP is in fact slowing down access to the site. Kaminsky also accounted for the possibility that an ISP may try to trick N00ter by building a complementary tool he calls Roto-N00ter, which spoofs traffic flowing in the other direction.

What's interesting is that Kaminsky wasn't ready to rat out any already-caught ISPs. "I would never embarrass my friends the ISPs," Kaminsky remarked. "I'm just warning them now not to do anything you wouldn't want to see on the front page of a newspaper." Well, there you have it, ISPs. N00ter is out in the world, and in the words of Kaminsky: "We will find you out. And we will find out in a way that's incontrovertible."



Klout Adds Foursquare, But How Much Will It Boost My Score?

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:04 AM PDT

Kout score

Everyone is curious to see how they rank against others, which is the fundamental appeal of Klout. It gives you a social media ranking based on your influence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Foursquare, which Klout today is adding as the fourth social network that can help boost your score. While looking at how many people follow you or retweet you on Twitter might give a sense of how far your voice travels in the social media sphere, Foursquare adds a level of local intelligence.

Presumably, your Foursquare score will be based on how often you check in, how many mayorships you’ve earned, and so on. But if you want to know by how much it will boost your score, you will have to wait up to 72 hours after you connect your Foursquare account to Klout because it doesn’t calculate it immediately. But I wonder, once a large number of Foursquare mayors and other influentials add their accounts and their Klout scores go up, will other people’s go down if they don’t add theirs? Is this the beginning of a social media arms race?

It looks like Klout is also looking at who is leaving tips. In its blog post, it reports the following Foursquare stats based on its own research:

More than 2/3 of active Foursquare users post tips.

These tips have a ready audience with each tip being done, on average, at least once.

80% of active users have "done" tips.

I always read the tips when I check in somewhere. They are one of the best parts of Foursquare. Now, if only you could get Foursquare points for leaving them instead of more Klout.



Elevate Snaps Up iOS Publishing Software Maker Zipadi

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:00 AM PDT

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Zipadi, which offers a publishing and e-commerce platform that lets designers create digital magazines, product catalogs and other publications for iOS devices and the Web, has been acquired by Elevate, a publicly-listed subsidiary of digital services company Highland Business Services.

The combined entity will offer solutions for the creation and distribution of content and apps across multiple platforms, devices and market channels.

Elevate says it will build on Zipadi’s application development framework to build tools ranging from streaming video to content publishing and distribution.

Zipadi launched in 2009 at the DEMO conference and was self-funded.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Zipadi CEO Bryan Ferre will join Elevate as CMO and report to the company’s chief exec, Wright Thurston.

The acquisition follows Facebook’s purchase of digital publishing software startup Push Pop Press. Other companies in this space include Zmags, Nxtbook Media, Zinio and of course Adobe.



Social Gaming And Developer Career Opportunity Platform Gild Raises $2.4 Million

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 08:00 AM PDT

Gmail - Screenshots for GILD--and thank you so much! - leenakrao@gmail.com

Gild, a TechCrunch Disrupt startup that combines social gaming with career advancement for developers, has raised $2.4 million in new funding led by Globespan Capital Partners.

Founder Sheeroy Desai says that the company pivoted to focusing on developers after seeing how many engineers were joining Gild. Essentially, Gild is a place for developers to share their skills.

Gild allows developers to submit their resume to professional opportunities like any other job posting site but adds a different twist. The companies posting jobs set up competitions, like ‘Brain Buster’ programming puzzles and other coding tests and job-seekers complete these challenges on the site, receive their scores, and are ranked accordingly.

You can engage in multiple competitions to help boost your chances and Gild will let you improve your profile by completing certification tests and other challenges. As you perform on Gild and win competitions, you can also earn badges to show your skills and proficiency. The site also tells you how many other people have applied for the same job, and even takes a step at telling you how you compare, based on your stats.

Gild also allows members to build profiles of their skills and search for and compare their skills with other developers around the world. The startup says that it now has nearly a half a million members, and is being used by Oracle, Sapient, Harrah's, Salesforce.com, eBay, VistaPrint and others.



Monetate Raises $15 Million For Realtime Testing And Targeting Platform

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 07:55 AM PDT

Monetate_Logo

Monetate, the platform that provides marketers with testing and targeting services for their websites, announced today that it has closed a $15 million series B funding round. The round was led by OpenView Venture Partners and adds to the $5.1 million series A round the company raised back in December from First Round Capital and FLOODGATE. The latest infusion of capital brings total investment to just over $20 million.

Monetate Co-founders David Brussin and David Bookspan, like many entrepreneurs, have dabbled in several industries. In 2001, Brussin co-founded ePrivacy Group, which created programs, standards and products to protect the email marketing channel; he then went on to found TurnTide, an anti-spam router, which was acquired by Symantec in 2004. By the time Brussin was ready to move on to his next venture, he said, the thing that stuck out the most was how little the position of marketers had changed since the 1990′s.

Marketers were still living in an eCommerce world where they had little control over their own advertising, in spite of the strides taken in display, and were relying on IT teams to take care of the dirty work. So, in 2008, Brussin and Bookspan founded Monetate to allow marketers to gain control over the consumer website experience without having to be expert coders or hire more engineers.

Through its cloud-based marketing platform, Monetate enables marketers to design and run messaging and promotional campaigns, as well as testing those campaigns in realtime before deployment. Traditionally, retailers and brands have looked to port the same experience that customers have in-store to their online storefronts, but, by and large, the customization options online have paled in comparison to their brick and mortar counterparts.

Monetate gives the marketer the ability to change any part of the customer-facing interface in realtime, for any particular customer. Marketers can go into the platform and select targeting for, say, people in New York. Monetate pulls realtime weather data from the Web, while simultaneously gathering the customer’s location data, so that a retail marketer knows that a customer is in New York, where the temperature is cold, thereby allowing marketers to change what’s being offered on the homepage to, say, sweaters and jackets — a targeted and personalized experience for that customer, in realtime.

The cool part of it is that Monetate gives marketers one line of Javascript code to add to their websites to enable these kind of targeted campaigns — users don’t have to be engineers, or at the office, to achieve this kind of functionality. Marketers, then, can be more spontaneous and focus on reacting to individual customers, testing ideas on the fly, rather than spending months testing campaign ideas, before slowly rolling those ideas out.

Monetate has already attracted brands like Petco, Urban Outfitters, Sports Authority, QVC, Casual Male, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and more, which are now using the startup’s targeting and testing services on their eCommerce platforms. Brussin tells me that many of the brands the team is currently working with have added hundreds of millions in revenue, thanks to Monetate cutting the need for businesses to hire specialized teams, as well as decreasing bounce rates and shopping cart abandonment.

As Monetate is analyzing the data from a customer’s every page view, the startup takes the big data challenges that would normally be the work of an IT staff out of the hands of retailers. Of course, staying on top of those reams of data is no easy task, and while Brussin says that the team prides itself on a near flawless up-time, the startup’s latest infusion of capital will be used to help scale those data systems — as well as scale its own staff and marketing efforts.

For more on how Monetate works, check out the video below:



Rentcycle Raises $1.4 Million From Collaborative Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, And Others

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 07:45 AM PDT

RentcycleHiRes

Rentcycle, a San Francisco-based startup that has been dubbed the “OpenTable for product rentals”, announced today that it has raised $1.4 million in seed funding. The round was led by Collaborative Fund, a young seed fund founded by Craig Shapiro that invests in startups focusing on peer-to-peer sharing of resources and creative innovations in business.

A host of other notable VCs and angels participated in the round as well, including Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, Founder Collective, and Amicus Capital, as well as angel investors including Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal and Chairman at Yelp, and Founder of Shopzilla Farhad Mohit.

As part of this infusion of seed capital, Rentcycle is also adding two well-known advisors to its management roster: Netflix Founder Marc Randolph and Chuck Templeton, the founder of the popular restaurant reservation service, OpenTable. (Templeton will also be joining Rentcycle's board of directors.) According to Rentcycle Co-founder and CEO Tim Hyer, the startup will use the round to ramp up hiring, especially in the area of rockstar engineers.

So what is it about this young startup that has such an impressive list of investors and advisors jazzed to be part of its collective roster? For starters, the product rental industry is an $85 billion space, the CEO tells me, and it happens to be one that is badly in need of an aggregating resource for all-things rental.

It’s for this reason that the startup provides the composite industry (from tools and equipment, party and events to sports and leisure) with a full directory of the many mom-and-pop rental stores currently operating in the U.S.

So, when considering Rentcycle from the consumer’s perspective, the platform is a service that allows one to easily search, compare, and rent anything and everything online — from from skis to jackhammers and bouncy houses to designer dresses. It’s all there under one roof. And for the merchant, Rentcycle offers cloud-based management solutions, which not only allow rental businesses to bring their brick and mortar operations online, but also enables them to track their inventory online and manage reservations and payments over the Web.

Rentcycle graduated from Silicon Valley incubator Founder Institute in 2009, and has since gone through several beta launches, with the most recent iteration going live in March of this year. Since March, the startup has already grown to 30K monthly active users, and that’s been with the focus solely on beefing up rental supply and waiting for the demand to come, Hyer said.

After all, in terms of the consumer, at first blush Rentcycle’s value proposition is obvious: For those who may still be feeling the effects of the recession, or for those who may not go skiing enough to make it worth buying a new pair of skis, for example, rental is the optimal way to go. Of course, traditionally, rental businesses — before sites like Netflix and Airbnb blasted onto the main stage — were few and far between.

But consumers have become far more comfortable with paying for access to products and services as an alternative to outright purchasing, and Rentcycle could very well find itself on the crest of that new wave, as it seeks to become the all-in-one rental resource for all stripes of digital commerce. Definitely one to watch.

Chime in and let us know what you think. Screenshot and video below:




Microsoft Releases .NET Gadget Toolkit

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 07:05 AM PDT

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Microsoft has announced the .NET Gadgeteer, a small, Arduiono-like toolkit that allows hackers to build unique hardware and software solutions using a set of pre-assembled parts.

The kid includes a framework for hardware programming that works with Microsoft’s own Visual Studio. For example, you can add camera widgets, heat sensors, and screens to your software project, program it from a PC, and then use the resulting device in research and experimentation applications.

The platform is ostensibly open and any hardware manufacturer can design hardware for the framework. For example, you can buy a starter kit from GHI Electronics for $249.95 at the end of September. It includes a camera module, a USB host, a little screen, and a few other devices including an SD Card reader.

You can get started by download the software here.

With Arduino controlling the mind-share in rapid electronics prototyping, it makes sense for Microsoft to get into this space. I’d say the main concern for most folks looking for a device framework is compatibility with existing systems and Windows and Visual Studio makes sense for most commercial entities.

via SlashGear



Sibblingz Grabs $1M From YouWeb To Help Developers Create HTML5 Games

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 07:05 AM PDT

Sibblingz Picture

Multi-device social gaming platform Sibblingz has raised $1 million from incubator YouWeb. YouWeb previously invested a $500,000 seed round in Sibblingz in 2008.

Sibblingz allows developers to simultaneously create games on Facebook as well as iOS and Android devices, allowing players to continue the same social game as they switch between devices. The platform also offers the developers the ability to monetize free-to-play games with virtual goods.

The company’s cloud-based game creation platform, Spaceport, allows game developers to build a game once, using Javascript, and have it play across all smartphone operating systems, with a native app-like experience and fast performance. The web-based games run as a hybrid HTML5 – native app, and the code for the game is written once, in a simple scripting language, so that they can then run on any device. And developer can also create native iOS apps as well using Spaceport.

The updating process is also relatively simple for developers using the platform. With Spaceport, developers just need to revise the JavaScript code for their game in the HTML page once. After doing so, they will see immediate updates take place in their game across every device.

Peter Relan, founder of YouWeb, believes that the gaming space is currently at an important crossroad, as mobile gaming ramps up and developers look the HTML5 as a cross-platform technology. As my colleague MG Siegler reported earlier this summer, Facebook has a secret plan, called Project Spartan, to bring applications to the mobile web via HTML5.

Relan says that developers are all working on ways to go mobile. In the middle of this sits Sibblingz. Sibblingz's Spaceport allows developers to create HTML5 games that are compatible with Project Spartan through an HTML5 canvas-rendering engine available for iOS and Android.

Sibblingz founder Ben Savage says that the startup is working with multiple Facebook game developers who are preparing for Project Spartan. And all of them want to be the Zynga of mobile gaming.

Savage and Relan contend that Sibblingz can help accomplish this goal through its native-rendering as well as via its HTML5 game creation technology.

Sibblingz, which is profitable, already makes ‘millions of dollars a year’ in revenue from share fees from games using its technology. The funding will help Sibblingz ramp up Spaceport as more developers utilize the game engine to create HTML5 based cross-platform titles.

Spaceport will soon be revealing its Facebook gaming partners (we know that the engine is being used by CrowdStar, another YouWeb company), and will be made generally available to all Facebook and mobile developers in the coming month.



Hipmunk Further Reduces Agony For Users With Flexible Travel Dates

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 07:03 AM PDT

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Good news for those of you who are averse to agonizing plane trips and high ticket prices: hot travel search startup Hipmunk has just launched a new feature that makes it easier to cut back on both.

The new feature, which is called FlexCal flight search, is designed for users who have flexible travel dates. Give the site a ballpark range of when you want to depart, and it will present visual bar graphs charting which days have the lowest fares.

Of course, other travel sites have had similar features for some time, so this isn’t really unique to Hipmunk. But Hipmunk’s interface is significantly less headache-inducing than many of its competitors — and it includes its trademark ‘sort by agony’ feature, which lets you rule out any flights that would be particularly painful (say, that red-eye with two stops).

Hipmunk also says that their implementation is more flexible than many of its competitors’ — you can say you’re looking to take a five-night trip some time in the next three months, and Hipmunk will show you your cheapest options (many sites only let you view prices for +/- 3 days around your specified travel date).

Other recent Hipmunk developments: the site, which is coming up on its first birthday, now includes a Wifi icon next to any flights to offer in-flight Internet connectivity. And its hotel search, which launched this past spring, now offers a ‘distance sort’ feature — pick a point on a map where you want to be (say, your work conference), and Hipmunk will populate the map with nearby hotels and their prices.

And good news Android users (like me): Hipmunk says there’s an Android app in the works.




Sony PS Vita To Launch Only In Japan This Year, US & Europe To Get The Portable in 2012

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:49 AM PDT

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I hope you didn’t have the PS Vita on your Christmas list this year. Sony’s next-gen portable is going to reach the States or Europe until next year per an AP interview with Sony Corp. Executive Deputy President Kazuo Hirai. The executive acknowledged that missing the holiday season is going to be costly, “That’s when you do half your year’s sales,” he said. “This is going to prove painful for Sony.”

Sony finally took all the wraps of the PS Vita at E3 back in June after months of teasing. It’s truly an amazing portable and packed with tons of features. Mr. Hirai agrees and jabbed at the recent Nintendo 3DS price cut by stated “There is no need to lower the price just because somebody else that happens to be in the video game business decided that they were going to lower their price.” Zing!

The PS Vita will be available in two different models with the WiFi model running $249 and the 3G costing $299. The 3DS was previously priced at $249 but Nintendo just cut the price amid sorry Q2 earnings.

Sony stated at E3 that the PS Vita was to hit the global market starting at the end of 2011. But Sony is seemingly comfortable delaying its gaming products. The PS3 was delayed countless times, which ultimately hurt sales by launching a full year after the revamped Xbox 360. Only retail sales will tell if the PS Vita’s post-holiday launch will hurt the platform as a whole.



T-Mobile Customers Continue To Jump Ship, But With Less Haste Than Before

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:48 AM PDT

TMobile

T-Mobile's customer base has been dwindling for a while now, but the migration from pink seems to be slowing with just 50,000 customers bouncing out of there in the second quarter. That's compared to the 90,000 T-Mo customers that jumped ship last year. With this past quarter's losses, T-Mobile's current subscriber base comprises 33.6 million people — quite a bit less than AT&T's 90+ million subscribers.

That's ok though. AT&T's $39 billion check is going towards wireless spectrum, not new customers. Then again, a boost in pre-paid customers couldn't hurt, which is exactly the demographic that T-Mobile seems to attract. After losing its deal with Radio Shack, T-Mobile has signed a new agreement with 7-Eleven to sell pre-paid phones in its convenient stores.

As far as contract customers go, T-Mobile saw a dip from just over 26 million subscribers at the end of March to 25.8 million by June 30. On the other hand, T-Mo’s prepaid customer base increased from 7.6 million to 7.8 million during the same period. T-Mo's parent company, Duetsche Telekom, doesn't seem to pleased about little pink's performance, mentioning that "the contract-customer situation remains unsatisfactory" in its earnings release.



The HP TouchPad Is Now $100 Cheaper

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 06:11 AM PDT

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If at first you don’t succeed, keep reducing the price until something sticks. HP is reducing the price of the 16GB HP TouchPad to $399 – $100 off the original price.

This comes after HP’s move to reduce the price $50 a few days ago. These swift price changes are pretty odd, to be sure, and if things go any lower I’d suspect HP was telegraphing slow sales.

That said, it could be a nice way to play with a WebOS device for not much dosh. The deal will appear on HP’s website this weekend and run until August 7. Staples is also offering a weekend discount of $100 on both devices if you wanted to grab that instead.



Hungry For More Acquisitions, Local.com Secures $12 Million Credit Facility

Posted: 04 Aug 2011 05:51 AM PDT

local

Local.com this morning announced that it has secured a $12 million revolving credit facility from Square 1 Bank to fund future acquisitions and other “strategic growth initiatives”.

In connection with the new Square 1 Bank credit facility, the local online media company terminated its debt facility with Silicon Valley Bank.

Last year, Local.com acquired domain advertising company OCTANE360 for up to $11 million, and this year the Nasdaq-listed company has completed the purchases of location-based shopping data aggegator Krillion for $3.5 million in cash and daily deals site Screamin' Daily Deals for $12.5 million in cash, stock and debt.

Earlier this year, the company also bought substantially all of the assets of Rovion for a total purchase price of approx. $2.2 million in cash.

Yesterday, Local.com reported its Q2 2011 earnings, posting revenue of $15.6 million, a decrease of 7 percent over Q1 2011 revenue of $16.8 million.

Second quarter 2011 GAAP net loss was $5.4 million or 25 cents per diluted share, compared to the first quarter 2011 GAAP net loss of $1.3 million or 7 cents per diluted share.



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