Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Samsung Feigned Surprise Over Apple’s EU Injunction

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 09:13 AM PDT


Samsung's pants are officially ablaze as reports have surfaced that Samsung did know about Apple's injunction complaint and had even filed a "Schutzschrift." In English, that's a protective pleading, and it was filed almost a week before Apple filed its injunction on August 4.

Yet, I seem to recall Samsung saying "The request for injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung." Hmmm. So either Samsung's legal team is prescient or Samsung's PR team fibbed it up. My money's on the latter.

It's true that Samsung wasn't put on official notice and that there was no hearing in which Samsung could defend itself, but the company implied that it was completely blind-sided by the injunction, when in reality it had been working to pre-emptively stop the injunction almost a week in advance.

FOSS Patents blogger and German IP expert Florian Mueller, who also reported on the story, sums up the deception perfectly: "This kind of communication strategy on Samsung's part is old-school spin doctoring and only serves to strengthen my impression that Samsung is in a legally weak position against Apple. If Samsung wants to inspire confidence, it has to understand that half the truth is sometimes tantamount to a whole lie."

Within its "Schutzschrift" filed on July 29, Samsung argued that there wasn't a sense of urgency that warranted a preliminary injunction. The problem with that argument is that there is no greater period of urgency than when a possibly patent infringing product is about to launch. The second argument made within Samsung's plea was that the company was in the process of "preparing" a petition to have Apple's Community design invalidated.

The court in Dusseldorf made its decision to ban the GalTab with Samsung's protective pleading in mind, which means that Samsung will need to think up some new arguments for its appeal on August 25. Obviously the points made in its pre-emptive plea did nothing to sway the court's decision.

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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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YouTube’s Director of Engineering Explains How 60% Of Videos Are Processed In Under A Minute

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 09:03 AM PDT


You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think of YouTube as an Internet giant. After all, each viral hit is emblazoned with a big, bold counter racking up the millions — or tens of millions — of hits it’s received, and you could waste lifetimes clicking on an endless stream of cat videos if you wanted to.

But even then, it’s hard not to be taken aback by some of the statistics the site drops from time to time. Like the fact that it’s technically the Internet’s second biggest search engine, after Google proper. Or a new figure that it’s announcing for the first time: YouTube users are now uploading two hours of video every minute from mobile devices alone. And it gets over 200 million views a day from mobile devices.

A reasonable response to stats like these would be, “How?”

I had a chance to speak with YouTube Director of Engineering Christian Kaiser, who recently left his job as VP of Engineering at Netflix to take the helm at Google’s video giant. Kaiser, who joined YouTube in April, couldn’t get into too many specifics about what goes on behind the scenes. But he did have some broader things to share about YouTube’s approach to dealing with the huge volume of incoming data, and the challenges that lie ahead.

Given YouTube’s massive scale it isn’t a surprise that the company has plenty of custom tools running in the backend to transcode video as quickly as possible (this transcoding system is called Viper). Kaiser says that one key speed improvement that was recently introduced has to do with the order in which videos are processed — the steps used to happen in sequence and are now being run in parallel, which has led to a “huge improvement’ in the time in takes to get a video live.

How big? Today, 60% of all videos go live in under one minute — a year ago, no videos were being processed that quickly.

As for the challenges the team is currently focused on, Kaiser says that the need for quick and seamless playback — which is obviously always a key issue — is greater than ever, especially when it comes to delivering content to televisions. The team is currently implementing adaptive streaming, which changes the bitrate of a video on the fly depending on your connection speed (videos on Hulu, Ooyala, and some other sites already do this). When I asked if this would be coming to HTML5 any time soon (which is the direction YouTube is slowly heading toward), Kaiser said that it’s not implemented anywhere right now, but that it’s working to make it a reality.

Kaiser also discussed one ‘trick’ YouTube uses to quickly serve all those videos around the world. The company has built and deployed hundreds hardware devices worldwide that cache and serve up the most popular YouTube videos, in much the same way that a CDN does.

To close out our brief interview, I asked Kaiser if he thought we still had yet to reach the ‘turning point’, when people are going to start using online services rather than cable as their primary way to consume video content. Kaiser says that we’re already seeing a little bit of this — especially with services like Hulu and Netflix taking off. But he’s not sure there’s going to be a steep inflection point in the switch from cable to IP. Instead, he thinks it may be more gradual (and is already happening).

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YouTube was founded in 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal. YouTube is the leader in online video, sharing original...

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What iOS & Android Gamers Actually Spend Money On

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 08:47 AM PDT


After analyzing a data set of over 57 million purchases across both the Android and iOS platforms, analytics firm Flurry discovered that mobile gamers appear to be spending the majority of their money on “consumable” virtual goods. That is, virtual goods that are depleted when used, like a a set of grenades in a war game, or a fertilizer that helps crops grow faster in a farming game.

Less popular are durable goods (those that offer a permanent benefit) or “personalization items,” which are purely decorative upgrades.

In-app purchases have recently shifted to to become a major revenue generator in mobile gaming, says Flurry, now accounting for 65% of all revenue in the top 100 freemium games. Right now, for example, the top 5 titles in the iTunes App Store’s “Top Grossing” category are freemium games, and 22 of the 25 “Top Grossing” apps are games.

For developers, in-app purchases are a leading method for generating income. But it’s a broad category. An app’s users can purchases upgrades, add-ons, virtual goods, in-game currency, and other items to enhance their game play.

What’s interesting here, is that one type of in-app purchase is by far the most popular: “premium” in-game currency. This currency can be used to accelerate through a game, or purchase in-game items not available to non-paying users.

68% of gamers spent that money on “consumable” items (items that deplete when used), while just 30% buy “durable” goods. These durable items may include things like better armor in role-playing games, or a building in a city simulation.

Flurry notes that it’s important for a game to offer both kinds of items, however, because durable goods can give gamers a sense of progress, and allow them to set goals by saving up for big purchases.

Meanwhile, only a small percentage (2%) of gamers buy personalization items, likely because such items don’t affect gameplay. Unless a game is largely about personalization, there’s no need to keep a large selection of these types of items on hand, Flurry suggests.

The sample size used in this study comes from over a year's worth of data, including over 57 million purchase transactions across a set of freemium iOS and Android games that averaged over 2 million daily active users. That said, the selection of games examined are only those using Flurry’s analytics service.

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Flurry increases the size and value of mobile application audiences, already helping more than 50,000 companies in over 100,000 applications across iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and J2ME platforms....

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AT&T’s First LTE Devices To Launch On August 21st (Before Their LTE Network Is Up)

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 08:15 AM PDT


Tired of waiting for AT&T to launch their first LTE devices? Yeah — so is AT&T, it would seem. So much so, in fact, that they’re prepping to launch their first LTE devices early next week… before their LTE network is even officially fired up.

So, why launch these devices before the LTE network is up and ready? Because it lets them say they’ve got LTE devices, of course. Plus, they’ll still work, to some degree — they’ll just be limited to AT&T’s not-quite-4G-but-they-call-it-4G-anyway HSPA+ network until the LTE starts to light up later this summer.

Now, before my fellow phone-geeks get too worked up: in what seems to be a trend for the carriers as of late, AT&T’s first devices to run on the new network won’t be phones — they’re laptop tethering devices.

For the lone road warriors, AT&T’s launching the USBConnect Momentum (pictured right), which’ll juice your laptop into the LTE network over USB. For the folks that roam in packs, they’re launching the Elevate (pictured up top), a MiFi-esque, 4G-powered WiFi hotspot (turn it on, let it connect to the 4G network, and connect up to 5 devices over WiFi). Both are launching on August 21st, though the price tags for these things still seem to be under wraps.

AT&T also took the opportunity to confirm the monthly pricing for LTE “data-only mobile broadband” devices (read: not phones): $50 a month gets you 5 gigabytes, with each gigabyte you use over costing you another $10. The future of data continues to look pretty damned expensive.

HP Looking To Appliances, Autos To Grow And Save webOS

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 08:14 AM PDT


HP stated from the start that it planned on putting webOS in more than just smartphones and tablets. It foresaw a time when webOS would run printers, netbooks, and the world! Well, the time has come. HP is looking to grow the webOS base and expand into the world of major appliances and automotive.

HP invested $1.2 billion into Palm last year and from an outsider’s standpoint, it’s hard to view that as a wise investment even when considering the 1,500 patents that were part of the deal. The chief product, the webOS TouchPad, is floundering in the marketplace. Spotting a webOS smartphones in the wild is akin to seeing MG using a Xoom. WebOS is a fine operating system, but consumers just haven’t latched on for various reasons. HP is now looking outside the traditional CE realm for help.

Part of the OS’s downfall is that the products do not have any dev or 3rd party support. Smartphones must have a solid set of native apps, which webOS has, but it then must have an even more robust ecosystem of 3rd party apps. That’s what makes iOS so popular: Apple handles the mundane tasks normally associated with a phone while it outsources all the fun and innovative stuff to App Store devs. Without this sort of support, backed with word-of-mouth marketing, an awesome OS such as webOS doesn’t have a chance.

And so HP is looking to put webOS in unconventional products. WSJ states it’s looking to the automotive and appliance sectors for a bit help. The thought, which is smart, is to licence their webOS system to companies without their own touch interface. The hope, which is wrong, that one day your washing machine, stove, or even car infotainment system will run on webOS. Of course Android is there, lurking in the corner, but recent patent litigation and licensing battles makes it look like the dirty alternative.

Unfortunately for HP, as the WSJ lays out, the appliance world won’t likely adopt a touchscreen interface. Washing machines and such have a lot longer life cycle than a smartphone. What’s hot today, won’t be hot in ten years, let alone five. Appliances are built for reliability, not apps.

HP might have a little more luck in the automotive sector. Microsoft is currently a big player with Microsoft Auto the backbone for many automotive systems like Ford Sync. In-car infotainment systems are ripe for disruption. Only a few are actually worth their cost.

This is the right path for HP and webOS, though. The company needs to grow the webOS brand and exploring other spaces might be a rough, but a smart course. You can bet that HP is not going to let the $1 billion investment die without a fight. The TouchPad is just the beginning. WebOS is here to stay — even if no one is buying the products.

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Palm, Inc. was a leading mobile products company, creating instinctive yet powerful mobile products that enabled people to better manage their lives on the go. The company's products for...

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Microsoft Unveils Mango’s New Games Hub Features And Xbox Live Titles

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 08:07 AM PDT


Windows Phone Mango is already primed and ready to compete with iOS and Android, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft is resting on its laurels. Quite the opposite actually. As anticipation builds, Microsoft continues to add features to make this platform even better than what was expected. Today, the company added a handful of new features to the Games Hub, along with the announcement of 14 new Xbox Live titles.

You're likely already aware of the avatar integration coming with Windows Phone Mango, but today Microsoft announced Avatar Awardables, which are virtual badges that represent gaming achievements. The more you win, the more your avatar begins to look like an Eagle Scout’s merit badge sash. Microsoft also introduced what the company is calling Game Add-ons, which are basically just in-app purchases for games, like buying new weapons or levels.

The next new feature will please parents more than anyone else, as Microsoft has included parental controls within the Games Hub. As soon as Mango arrives, parents will be able to decide what types of content their children are allowed to access within the Marketplace. Microsoft also integrated a feature called "Fast Async," which, in the words of Microsoft, "improves gameplay for multiplayer, turn-by-turn (or asynchronous) Windows Phone games."

The new Xbox Live titles are listed with full descriptions on the Windows Phone Blog, and will arrive in the coming months, likely alongside Mango.

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13/3/1986, NASDAQ:MSFT

Microsoft, founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, is a veteran software company, best known for its Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office suite of...

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Groupchat.tv Brings a Google Hangouts-Like Experience to Facebook

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 08:05 AM PDT


Groupchat.tv is a new Facebook application that brings a Google Hangouts-like group video chatting experience to Facebook. The app was created over the course of the weekend, during the HAPI hackathon in San Francisco, by the same folks who run e-commerce site TinyPay.me.

And here’s the crazy part – Groupchat.tv supports up to 50 video streams at the same time!

The app’s creators don’t recommend you push Groupchat.tv quite that far, however. But it is notable that there’s not the same hard-coded limit of 10 people per chat as there is over on Google+, where “Hangouts” are one of the site’s key selling points.

To video chat on Google+, you launch a Hangout (a video chat session) by clicking a button and then share it with a Circle or Circles, individual friends or the general public, as you choose.

To use Groupchat.tv, you must first authorize the Facebook application, then share the special link it generates with your friends. The link can be shared via instant messaging, such as in Facebook’s own chat, for example, via email, Wall post, or however else you choose. Groupchat.tv’s main interface provides you with a Facebook status update box, though, which makes the sharing process relatively easy.

Your friend will also have to authorize the Facebook app before being able to chat with you. In testing Groupchat this morning, we ran into the typical Mac/Flash trouble (it’s doesn’t “just work” – you have to configure your Flash settings here.) However, the app at least provides with a simple “how to” pop-up that explains how to make the necessary changes.

Groupchat.tv, which uses Tokbox’s opentok API, isn’t as smooth as either Google Hangouts or Facebook’s own Skype integration, of course. You can hear your voice echoing on your friends’ PC speakers, for example. But if you’re dying to group chat with Facebook friends, it’s certainly worth a look.

According to the app’s lead developer, Richard Straver (also Tinypay.me’s CMO), the team is already tossing around ideas for new features, like a public list of group chat that everyone could join. But for now, they’re just hoping the app takes off and goes viral.

Think that might happen now?

Melvin Tercan
Group video chat with your REAL friends, instead of @ groupchat.tv

Update: I should have noted that this app posts a message to your Facebook Wall when you launch a chat session. Automatic Wall posts seem par for the course on Facebook, so I wasn’t surprised or taken aback by this. You, however, may feel differently. Be warned! 

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Tinypay.me is essentially an e-commerce platform that enables people to sell physical and digital items in the easiest way that is possible. The best example is that you’re able...

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WebMedic, Tinypay.me

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Empire Avenue Raises $1.2 Million To Turn Social Influence Into A Virtual Stock Market

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 07:50 AM PDT

Screen shot 2011-08-16 at 5.11.30 AM

Edmonton-based Empire Avenue, the stock market for social influence, announced today that it has raised $1.2 million in series A seed financing. The round was led by San Francisco VC firm Crosslink Capital, with contributions from iNovia Capital, TriplePoint Capital (which incubated Empire Avenue in Silicon Valley), as well as BioWare co-founders Drs. Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, among others.

According to the startup’s press release, “rather than buying a fancy zeppelin or, say, a tank full of diamond-clad singing sharks”, the team plans to use its new infusion of capital to ramp up hiring and expand its platform, including a focus on growing sales of virtual goods and currency. This is all well and good, but we in the tech community were all really pulling for singing sharks. Or at least monkey butlers. (There’s always the series B.)

Empire Avenue, which launched in early 2010, is a so-called “social stock market”, where users take the role of a company and their product value is determined by the level of your online activity and the networks one creates during daily webernets surfings. Essentially, the startup wants to encourage web users to jump start their own personal brands and make the most out of social network interaction (and have a little fun while doing it).

Like Klout, with the added benefit of buying and selling virtual shares in the personal brands of real, live human beings, Empire Avenue plugs into a range of sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Flickr, to show users the value of their influence and reach on popular social networks.

Users can also turn the value of their web-based contributions into actual revenue by tapping into an advertising platform used by the startup to deliver relevant and targeted ads, while buying and selling virtual shares in any other user is free. Pretty nifty.

As to a user’s personal score: Influence scores are equivalent to an individual’s share price on Empire Avenue, which is calculated by the degree to which a person’s brand is traded on the site over the course of the day, as well as the user’s contributions to their own blogs, websites, social media networks, etc.

Shareholders can rate those interactions, voting up quality contributions which affect the stock’s value, while shareholders are at the same time rewarded with virtual currency for successful investments.

In addition to scoring some new investment loot, the Canadian startup is also announcing today the addition of Foursquare and Instagram as sources of further metrics used to calculate a user’s influence and stock value. Not to mention the fact that it now has users in over 190 countries.

It’s an awesome service, so take it for a test drive and let us know what you think.

New Swype Keyboard Hits Sprint First With Gestures, Custom Dictionaries

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 07:35 AM PDT


It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly three years since Swype first made a splash at TechCrunch 50, and since then it’s quickly popped up on handset after handset. Easily one of the most popular alternative input methods out there, Swype has announced today a special agreement for users of the Sprint Nexus S 4G: you bring the hardware, they’ll bring the latest version of Swype.

While the concept behind the keyboard remains the same, the new update packs some few nifty new tricks. The biggest by far is the keyboard’s newly added support for gestures: basic moves like Cut (Swype key -> X), Copy (Swype key -> C) and Select All (Swype key -> A) are all here, but the new Swype integrates with certain apps with aplomb.

Consider Twitter: if you highlight a bit of text and swipe from the Swype key through ‘T’ and ‘W,’ your Twitter app will open up and your witticisms will be good to go. Ditto for addresses: highlight and swipe from Swype key through ‘G’ and ‘M,’ and Google Maps will open and point out your path. Custom dictionary management has also been pumped up, which will hopefully make working with specialized vocabularies less of a headache.

Sprint Nexus S 4G users are getting the update exclusively at first (available at this page) — which, of course, is really just a fancy way of saying “Sprint Nexus S 4G users will have it exclusively for a few hours before the hacking communities find a way to tear it out”. For all of you itching to get your fingers swyping on the latest and greatest, fear not: someone out there is bound to release a working .apk soon.

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Swype creates text input technology for screens. The patented interface enables users to create words with one continuous finger motion across an on-screen keyboard. This approach provides a...

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Audio Magazine Shuffler.fm Gets Big Update, Gives Us Sneak Peek at iPad App

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 07:06 AM PDT


Shuffler.fm, an online Web application for music discovery, received a major update today. Now users can play mixes of their favorite blogs, browse the Web’s most popular songs and artists, create personalized channels and more.

But what has us even more excited is the upcoming Shuffler.fm iPad application, which provides a visual way to explore new music, optimized for the touchscreen interface.

For those unaware, Shuffler.fm is an Amsterdam-based startup co-founded by Tim Heineke of Twones and Tone.fm, along with Marcel Corso and Diederik Martens. The service’s goal is to aggregate music from around the Web based on genre. Previously, users visiting Shuffler’s homepage would simply pick a genre of their choice, like Indie, Electronic, Hip-hop, Folk, etc., in order to play tracks from music blogs around the Web. The tracks are pulled from a curated list of music blogs, categorized using Last.fm’s API, then filed accordingly.

But unlike other popular music aggregators, such as The Hype Machine for example, Shuffler.fm is not just about aggregating the music itself, it’s about providing added context and value. By taking you direclty to the music blog where the song is hosted, Shuffler.fm users have the opportunity to learn more about the track, the band or the artist, as well as the music blogs themselves. The site has often been described as a “StumbleUpon” for music because of this feature.

What’s New

Today, Shuffler’s Web users will have access to a few more options, including the ability to play a favorite blog as a continuous mix, a search function for finding favorite artists and blogs and a personalized music channel built by favoriting individual tracks and blogs.

In addition, music blogs can now set up their own accounts at shuffler.fm/blogs. These blogs will offer special features designed for the service, like a “Play this Blog” button which launches that blog’s own channel.

All the new features will launch today, at approximately 12 PM EST.

iPad App Coming Soon

We also got a sneak peak at the upcoming Shuffler.fm iPad application, which brings the Shuffler.fm experience to the touchscreen. The ability to navigate through touches and swipes brings back a feeling reminiscent of flipping through album covers and tearing into liner notes, we found.

As you can see from the images, the Shuffler iPad app is very similar to the Web version, in that you also pick a genre and surf through blogs. But on the iPad, the app offers a more simplified feature set. Besides the standard play/pause controls and volume button, there’s just a favoriting button and sharing feature, which keeps the interface uncluttered and easy-t0-use.

The experience of using Shuffler.fm on the tablet is less akin to StumbleUpon, and more like a Flipboard for music, as it provides that casual, “lean-back” consumption experience the iPad is known for.

The iPad app will be out in just a couple of weeks, Heineke says, depending on how quickly Apple reviews it. We’re certainly looking forward to its launch.

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Shuffler aggregates music from around the web by genre. On our home page we have a list of channels. Click in one of them and we’ll send you to a...

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Analytics Platform Kontagent Now Tracking 150M Users; $1 Of Every $4 Spent In Social Gaming

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 07:00 AM PDT


It seems that every day another company in the tech industry hits an important milestone, but the one achieved today by Kontagent, the social analytics platform for app developers, is pretty impressive. The fbFund winner is now tracking over 150 million monthly active users (MAUs) and is handling over 1 billion messages per day. Broken down, that’s 15,000+ messages per second, or more than twice the number of tweets than Twitter processed at its peak during the women’s World Cup finals.

Since February, Kontagent has added tracking for another 50 million users and has more than doubled the number of messages its processing. The words “aggressive scaling” come to mind.

This scaling is likely due to the fact that, last month, the startup moved beyond simply tracking analytics for developers on Facebook and added tracking for web and mobile apps (not on FB) as well. The new platform, called kSuite, builds on the startup’s prior functionality by giving developers new and improved ways of tracking and optimizing advertising efforts, user virality, in-app mechanics, virtual goods, and currency monetization.

All told, Kontagent now has more than 1,100 active social and mobile applications using its on-demand enterprise software, including Ubisoft, Time Warner, A&E Networks, EA, and Tencent, to name a few. As many of the startup’s larger clients have been making investments in social gaming (EA today acquired Bight Games and acquired PopCap last month), the company is now tracking one in every four dollars spent by social gamers.

Some recent big moves by the four-year-old startup certainly seem to be paying off, but we’ll see how fluidly Kontagent scales as it continues hoovering up new users and customers. And although the company has raised over $5 million to date, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re on track for a new round in the not-so-distant future. But that’s just speculation, don’t quote me on that.

About.com’s Calorie Count iOS App Adds Voice Recognition; Food-Logging And More

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 07:00 AM PDT


About.com’s Calorie Count iPhone app is getting a nifty upgrade today, with the addition of voice recognition technology to the dieting app (courtesy of iSpeech). The newest version of the app allows users vocally record food choices, and then search the app’s database to pull nutritional information from more than 250,000 choices.

The apps, which has more than 2.9 million users, allows user to record multiple food items and serving sizes at once within an allotted 15-second timeframe. Once recorded, the app will automatically search the Calorie Count database and provide a list of detailed nutritional information for each of the individual items spoken. All these items can then be added to the user's food journal.

The new version of the app also includes an improved food-logging experience, giving users the ability to switch between their multiple food, activity and personalized lists without ever leaving the logging screen. You can also search and add several items to your food journal at one time.

The app’s other functionality features a barcode scanner, visual weight logs with interactive graphs,
the ability to compare intake and daily burn expenditure, low-calorie and healthy recipes and more.

Morgan Stanley Leads $7M Round In Social Media Compliance Startup Socialware

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 06:57 AM PDT


Socialware, which helps companies manage compiance with social media and sales, has raised $7 million in Series C funding led by Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital. Earlier this year, the startup raised $3 million from FLOODGATE, G-51 Capital and Silverton Partners. To date, Socialware has raised $12 million.

Socialware provides the technology and social networking compliance tools to enable the highly regulated financial services industry, specifically, to engage with clients and partners via social networks within a solid framework. The company also provides tools for lead generation in social sales channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The company says it currently services nearly 100 customers, which include five of the top insurance companies in the United States, as well as other major financial brands.Current customers include American Portfolios, Cambridge Investment Research, Guardian Life, and New York Life.

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At Socialware, we've made it our mission to transform the way that companies and their employees engage, communicate and collaborate with clients, partners and one another. Public social technologies...

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Acquia Expands Drupal Product Suite With Purchases Of Cyrve, Growing Venture Solutions

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 06:39 AM PDT


Acquia, a commercial open source software company that provides products, services, and technical support for the Drupal social publishing system, is expanding its product portfolio with the acquisitions of Cyrve, a provider of Drupal migration services, and Growing Venture Solutions, a provider of Drupal security services.

Terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.

As a result of the deals, Acquia is today introducing Acquia Migration Services and Acquia Security Services for Drupal enterprise website owners.

The first includes a suite of software tools, modules and best practices to help organizations migrate content from legacy web content management and social software systems such as WordPress or SharePoint to Drupal.

For more perspective on the Cyrve acquisition, check out co-founder Moshe Weitzman’s blog post.

The Acquia Security Services practice includes tools and services to assess Drupal site security and implement security strategies based on best practices.

Acquia, which was co-founded by Dries Buytaert, the original creator and project lead of the open source Drupal project, recently raised $15 million of a planned $20 million equity round, bringing the company's total funding to more than $38 million.

Acquia backers include North Bridge Venture Partners, Sigma Partners, Tenaya Capital and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures.

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Acquia is a private, fast-growth company that supports enterprises that use the free and open-source content-management system Drupal. Co-founded by Drupal's creator in 2007, Acquia provides clients with software,...

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BuyWithMe Buys New York City’s Scoop St.

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 06:35 AM PDT


Groupon rival BuyWithMe has acquired Scoop St., a social commerce company focused on the New York City market. Scoop St. was founded in 2009 and grew organically in the group buying space, using a model similar to Groupon.

On Scoop St., one-time deals, called “Scoops,” were only made available when a large enough group of people were interested. The company also introduced unique features, like branded events called “Experiences” and a membership loyalty program called “Perks.”

Scoop St. says it will continue to offer the best Scoops and Experiences in New York with BuyWithMe. Scoop St. members will begin receiving BuyWithMe offers for New York via email, but can also chose more local deals in 13 other U.S. markets.

BuyWithMe’s New York website will feature all the deals available for the New York area. And for Scoop St. members who have previously purchased Scoops, the vouchers will be made available for download here. More information about how this deal affects current Scoop St. customers has been posted to Scoop St.’s blog.

BuyWithMe launched in 2009 and now operates in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.

This is its 5th acquisition so far this year. It previously acquired Chicago deals site DealADayOnline, San Francisco deals site Swoop, loyalty company Edhance, and deals site LocalTwist.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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BuyWithMe is the premier group buying website where leading local merchants offer exclusive limited time offers to members of the BuyWithMe community. Through the power of its numbers,...

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Netflix, Now For Kids

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 06:33 AM PDT


Netflix has just announced a “kids-only” section of their online service dedicated to titles – you guessed it – just 4 kidz! This allows children to pick movies with a parent or caregiver without fear that they’ll see Asia Argento’s backside in Boarding Gate next to Babe: Pig In The City in the recommended movies listing. It also simplifies the browsing process by removing the cruft usually associated with searching through the Netflix catalog.

The “Just for Kids” section will appear as a separate tab on the Netflix home page. It features a number of kids’ titles as well as big icons of favorite cartoon characters like SpongeBob, Dora, and Steve Buscemi.

Kids, parents and caregivers will also be able to scan through row after row of movies and shows organized by easy-to-understand genres like superheroes, princesses, dinosaurs and girl power, featuring clear and simple descriptions of the plot of each title. To develop these selections, Netflix used ratings and reviews from Common Sense Media, a leading non-profit that provides independent, trustworthy ratings, reviews, and information to help parents make great media choices.

The feature is available now on the website and similar functionality will roll out for the Xbox, Wii, and other devices over the next year.

Launch Date:
23/5/2003, NASDAQ:NFLX

With more than 23.3 million members in the United States and Canada, Netflix, Inc. is the world's leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV shows. For $7.99...

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T-Mobile Offers Pre-Paid Services, Handsets At Family Dollar

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 06:15 AM PDT


T-Mobile is working hard to grow its pre-paid service. Two weeks ago, the pink carrier signed a deal with 7-Eleven to sell the GS170 flip phone in its convenient stores. As the transition away from Radio Shack continues, the carrier has added another retailer to its list of handset outlets: Family Dollar.

Family Dollar and T-Mobile have been partners for a while already, with T-Mobile providing air time for Family Dollar’s prepaid handsets. But this marks the first time that T-Mobile will be offering one of its own handsets through the dollar-store retailer.

The GS170 is your standard flip phone and comes with Bluetooth 2.1 and a VGA camera. It’ll cost $30, and can be paired with T-Mobile’s $50 per month plan, which includes unlimited talk, text, and web. The plan will not result in any overage charges, but you’ll only get to enjoy T-Mobile’s 4G speeds for the first 100MB of data. After that, data will be throttled down to 2G speeds.


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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LinkedIn Redesigns Android, iPhone Apps With Groups And More; Debuts HTML5 Mobile Site

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 06:00 AM PDT


LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner explained on the company’s first earnings call a few weeks ago that the company is planning to make a big investment in its mobile strategy. Today, the professional social network is bringing a significant update to its mobile apps, including a new iPhone, Android and mobile web apps.

LinkedIn Mobile is growing 400% year-over-year in terms of users, and LinkedIn says that because of this engagement, the company’s mobile apps needed to be tweaked to reflect a better user experience. The network has re-organized its iPhone and Android applications around 4 areas—Updates, Inbox, your profile, and groups. You could search for and access updates, your inbox, profile and connections from the previous versions of the iPhone and Android app, but the ability to browser and interact with your groups and add connections through LinkedIn’s ‘people you may know’ feature is new.

So in the apps, which have a much cleaner and simpler interface, you’ll see four main options. You can view updates from your network and top news from social aggregator LinkedIn Today; view your invitations and messages, access your profile, connections, and share updates; and browse and interact with your groups, as well as build your network through the People You May Know feature.

LinkedIn said that the Update stream is the most used area of its mobile apps, so this feature has become more prominent within the apps. And Groups was one of the most requested feature in the mobile app experience, and users can now access the list of groups they are members of, browse discussions, and start new discussions or commenting on existing ones.

Across the board, LinkedIn says the new mobile apps are between two and ten times faster across all features, including search and the update stream. And LinkedIn, like many other companies, is betting on HTML5 with its new mobile website, which includes much of the same functionality as the native apps.

With north of a 120 million members, LinkedIn is no doubt growing pretty fast post-IPO. And with this engagement and the launch of news aggregator LinkedIn Today, the network’s mobile apps need to meet with this demand.

Xbox Head Robbie Bach Snapped Up By Sonos

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 05:52 AM PDT


Robbie Bach, 22 year veteran of Microsoft and most recently the company’s Xbox division, has moved to Sonos. Sonos head John MacFarlane pulled Bach out of semi-retirement in order to help with their retail presence.

Sonos makes audio sharing devices for the home, creating seamless soundscapes in multiple rooms using hardware that, for the most part, surpasses a standard set of bookshelf speakers. Bach was a big fan of the devices early on and plans to help the company expand their overall presence on the market.

The company has gone for years without retail stores, an amazing feat for a homegrown, fairly small organization that has never gone public. The ease of use and styling, however, make the product ripe for sales in big box stores and, potentially, dedicated storefronts a la Bose.

Bach will be part of the company’s board.

Image via Wikipedia

The HTC Puccini Tab Nears Release, But Is There Room For Yet Another Honeycomb Tab?

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 05:31 AM PDT


HTC is prepping its first Honeycomb tab for release. Previous rumors placed the Puccini hitting the shelves sometime at the end of August or early September. That seems slightly more likely according a new report that states “late Q3 or early Q4.” But the question remains, does the market need another Honeycomb tablet, even one as powerful as the Puccini, when Ice Cream Sandwich is right around the corner?

Tablets do not seem to be a priority at HTC and for good reason: no one is buying Android tablets. Earlier this year, the company launched its first tablet, the Android 2.2 HTC Flyer, when other companies where launching Honeycomb tabs. The Flyer is a fun piece, a $499 7-inch Android 2.x tablet with optional $80 stylus. The high price and cheap component list seemed to state that the Flyer is a high-margin, low-volume product for HTC, one likely designed to test the water without forcing HTC to dive headfirst. The Puccini might be more of the same.

The Puccini isn’t official yet, nor has HTC teased any info about the tablet. However, several leaks state that the 10-incher is packing a 1.5GHz CPU and of a Snapdragon dual-core pedigree. It’s to have 2GB of RAM, active digitizer stylus, dual cams including a rear-facing 8MP camera, and, if other rumors are to be believed, an AT&T LTE radio. Chances are it will follow the “me too” pricing scheme and hit the market at $499 to compete with the iPad. It’s just too bad that the iPad isn’t the Puccini’s competition but rather other Honeycomb tabs and soon, Ice Cream Sandwich tablets.

Honeycomb is a world of ruined fairy tales right now. The stock OS and apps are fine, but there are just a handful of usable apps even now, six months after the OS launched. Ice Cream Sandwich promises to right this wrong by being a unified Android experience for the end-user and developer. And so, it’s rather curious why HTC is pushing its first Android 3.x tab to retail at the end of Honeycomb’s life cycle. The OS is reportedly scheduled to launch in Q4 of 2011, or rather, just after the Puccini hits the market.

The only likely conclusion to this aforementioned quandary is that, yes, tablets are not a priority for HTC. Market timing and placement is a paramount to a product’s success and the Puccini is going to be set up to fail.

Launch Date:

HTC Corp, (TAIEX: 2498) produces smartphones running the Android and Windows Mobile operating systems for themselves and as an OEM to other manufacturers. Since launching its own brand in...

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In July 2005, Google acquired Android, a small startup company based in Palo Alto, CA. Android’s co-founders who went to work at Google included Andy Rubin (co-founder of...

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