Friday, August 19, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

WordPress Now Powers 22 Percent Of New Active Websites In The US

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 09:18 AM PDT


Blogging software WordPress is announcing a number of impressive growth stats today. WordPress is now powering 14.7% of the top million websites in the world, up from 8.5%. And 22 out of every 100 new active domains in the US are running WordPress.

You can also check out Founder Matt Mullenweg’s ‘State of the Word’ adress at WordCamp San Francisco last week. In July, blogs passed the 50 million mark. At the time, WordPress revealed that each month, 287 million people account for 2.5 billion pageviews on blogs.

In his speech, Mullenweg says that WordPress now has 15,000 plugins and has seen 200 million plugin downloads. WordPress 3.2 had 500,000 downloads in the first two days, representing the fastest upgrade speed in the blogging platform’s history.

Today, WordPress is also releasing the findings of a user and developer survey, which got over 18,000 responses from users around the world. Mullenweg says that 6,800 self-employed respondents were responsible for over 170,000 sites personally, and charged a median hourly rate of $50.


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Pineapple Watches: An iPod Nano Watch Without The Music Player

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 09:15 AM PDT

Screen Shot 2011-08-19 at 11.37.55 AM

With a name like Pineapple and a trade dress that looks like an iPod Nano with the clip cut off, you can tell the gents behind Pineapple watches aren’t very well-versed on trademark law. But lets, for a moment, pretend it won’t be a problem.

These watches come in seven colors and guys are inexplicably taking pre-orders on Paypal. Why they don’t use Kickstarter is beyond me. However, the styling is quite stark and nice and they cost about $90. The pair making these is based in Montreux, Switzerland.

A clever quartz watch for less than a Benjamin? Good enough for me.

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Intel To Computer Makers: Ultrabooks Will Save You

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 09:14 AM PDT


As I write this, I’m sitting in my office. Around me, there are nine computers — seven of them run Windows. I have three slates, too — only one is an iPad. Welcome to the Post-PC world outside of San Francisco where Microsoft is still top dog and Apple is a niche, but admittedly, an influential player.

We may be in the post-PC era, but the Windows PC is far from dead. Apple is growing rapidly but seemingly focused on high margin products and massive flying saucer headquarters rather than advancing society into the next age of computing. That’s Intel’s job. And they’re going to do with a MacBook clone.

Intel and major PC makers are toiling away at the next generation of PCs, that if marketed correctly, could usher in the next golden age of computers. Ultrabooks, as they are called, are essentially MacBook Air clones. They’re designed around a compact motherboard, CPU, and flash storage option. The first crop is likely to use Intel’s current CPUs, codenamed Sandy Bridge. The real fun comes when the 22nm Ivy Bridge models hit later this year for under a $1000.

HP essentially exited the consumer PC realm yesterday; they went the way of IBM and Sun. The consumer PC world is a brutal marketplace with companies constantly racing to the bottom with cheap, brand-damaging hardware. Profit margins are razor thin and the churn is nonstop with completely new product lines debuting every quarter. Only Apple, seemingly taking the high road, sticks to a slow, profit-friendly pace, introducing slight hardware bumps every couple of months and totally new computers every other year. But HP might have jumped ship a bit too soon.

Ultrabooks are exactly what the Windows PC world needs. The ultraportible notebooks drip with appeal and even with modest specs, the rock solid Windows 7 should run perfectly fine.

The first batch of these ultrabooks are reportedly hitting next month but, as per earlier reports, might command a slightly higher price than expected. Asus has the UX21, and then just today, Digitimes reports that Acer also has an upcoming Ultrabook scheduled for a September release.

It’s disingenuous to state that everyone wants an Apple computer; Windows’ massive market share tells a different story. But it’s hard to imagine anyone that wanders over to Best Buy’s Apple display not being impressed with the sleek hardware. For various reasons, though, the data states they often head back to the main notebook display and purchase something a bit more familiar and less expensive. This is what Intel is trying counter with ultrabooks by giving computer companies a dramatically smaller platform to build around.

Apple had the foresight to see that mobile computers needed a shot of excitement. The MacBook Air and iPad certainly invigorated its bottom line and a major reason why Apple dominated other players in the second quarter of 2011. Apple saw a 136% year-over-year growth in that segment and ended up shipping 13.5 million mobile devices. (notebooks and tablets) Yet, Windows/Android devices as a whole outsold OS X/iOS products two to one.

The Windows PC market is slightly stale. There hasn’t been a new paradigm in the personal computer space for some time. It’s like those Microsoft Store commercials where the lady says “I don’t need a new computer. My computer does everything I need it to do.” Windows notebooks today look physically just like the Windows notebooks from three years ago. Since most computing these days happen inside a web browser, it’s hard to tell consumers that they need a new, five pound notebook just to run Chrome. But what they really need, is a new, two pound ultraportable that gets three times the battery life.

Ultrabooks aren’t going to “save” Windows PCs; they don’t need saving. Ultrabooks will cause many consumers to shelve their bulky Windows notebook and jump into the wonderful world of the true portable computer and not the also-ran tech that they have been saddled with for the past half-decade.

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Intel is best known for producing the microprocessors found in many personal computers. The company also makes a range of other hardware including network cards, motherboards, and graphics chips....

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The Terrible Cost Of Patents

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 08:47 AM PDT

shutterstock_burning bill igor-stevanovic

The cost of patents is going up, and that is not a good thing. After all, Google is paying $12.5 billion for Motorola largely for its huge mobile patent portfolio. In July, an anti-Google consortium ponied up $4.5 billion Nortel’s patents (and they overpayed). Interdigital, Kodak, and others are looking to sell their patent portfolios. We are in the middle of a patent bubble.

If you think about the cost of these patents, technology companies are spending billions of dollars on assets which they need primarily to defend themselves against the rising tide of patent litigation. Those are billions of dollars that Google, Apple, Microsoft and others won’t invest in new products, new jobs, new facilities or other economically productive activities. And by and large, they will not use these patents to create new products. Google is doing it just to protect Android from rival patent claims.

Looking at the billions of dollars being spent in the span of just the past couple months, it should be clear by now that the cost of patents (at least for software) outweighs their value to society. The recent patent reform passed by Congress is toothless. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson and others have long railed against software patents and the rise of patent trolls. The rising costs of patent litigation amounts to a tax on innovation, especially for smaller startups. But that innovation tax is getting pretty heavy for large tech companies too.

There are two main arguments against technology patents. One has to do with the nature of innovation in the technology industry, which is different than inventions in other industries like pharmaceuticals. The other has to do with the rise of patent trolls, who collect patents only for the purpose of attacking real operating companies. These two arguments are inextricably intertwined.

Technology products, and software especially, are never created from whole cloth. By their very nature, they build upon previous technologies and improve upon them. But what you and I might consider an improvement, a patent lawyer might consider infringement. Figuring out which patents your product might infringe upon is a nearly impossible task. A single smartphone might involve 250,000 patent claims, which may or may not be valid. The fact that the Patent Office approves so many bogus patents does not help matters.

Patents were originally conceived to protect inventors—people and companies who contribute to the advancement of society by creating new products. But in the past decade, something went horribly wrong. Patents are increasingly became nothing more than financial and legal weapons, to be amassed in portfolios by “non-practicing entities” (i.e. patent trolls) and used to extort protection money from economically productive companies.

We are in the middle of an arms race. The U.S. Patent Office keeps granting more and more patents every year, and the number of patent cases keeps going up alongside them. The chart below form a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows how both have been rising since 1991. In 2009, the last year of data in the chart, there was a slight dip in patent cases. Something tells me that number is going to go up again when 2010 and 2011 data comes out.

Most of the money from patent lawsuits is going to the trolls and the lawyers. Between 1995 and 2001, practicing entities were getting higher median awards ($6.3 million) in patent lawsuits than non-practicing entities ($5.2 million). Those numbers flipped between 2002 and 2009, when the median award given to patent trolls climbed to $12.9 million, while awards given to operating patent holders dropped to $3.9 million. The trolls obviously got very efficient and found friendly court districts like the Eastern District of Texas where they could push their claims (patent trolls have a 55.6 percent success rate in cases in the Eastern District of Texas). And it is not just the trolls that are bringing lawsuits as a course of business, companies like Microsoft are getting in on the action too, using their patents as a strategic weapon against their rivals.

It’s this combination of a growing pool of patents that should have never been granted in the first place with the rise of the patent lawsuit industry that is creating huge costs for technology companies of all sizes and the economy at large. All of those bilions of dollars spent in defending questionable patent lawsuits and buying up patents that will never be used to create anything new is a terrible waste of money. The patent system has been broken a long time, but if we don’t fix it soon it will slow down one of the few engines of the economy still humming.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Igor Stevanovic

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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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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The Vibram Trek LS And Bormio: Ugly, Crazy Monkey Shoes Get Even Crazier

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 08:10 AM PDT


I hope you’re not eating anything because you’re about to see some real Jame Gumb stuff in a second. Vibram, famous makers of Sergey’s crazy monkey shoes (that I actually wear while running, much to my wife’s chagrin), have released two new models, the acceptably styled Trek LS, a lace up trail shoe/sneaker, and the absolutely abhorrent (yet strangely alluring) Bormio boots.

BirthdayShoes has reviews of both the Bormio and the LS but we’ll highlight a few points below.

The LS shoes are more like a sneaker with Vibram soles and toe pockets. They’re actually quite classy if you ignore the monkey-feet aspect and, if you’re man enough to wear them on the street you may actually get complements as opposed to smacked. They cost $139 and come in brown and black.

And here are the Bormios:

If you’re anything like me, you’re imagining Hobbitses in their holes right now. These are basically boots with toepockets, which makes them pretty much amazing. BirthdayShoes notes:

As Vibram FiveFingers go, the Bormio is surprisingly not as eye-catching as it appears at first blush — this assumes you’re wearing them with jeans or pants. Obviously, the ankle-height design makes them look very unusual when they’re sitting “empty” on the floor (like leathery or frostbitten feet chopped off at the ankles), but as Mrs. BirthdayShoes put it, when they’re on, the Bormios just look like any other pair of Vibrams.

That is, except for one thing, which is that the understated design of the Bormio FiveFingers also makes it harder for folks to discern that you’re wearing shoes. Clearly no one has flat black feet (save Mr. Deeds), but smooth, matte leather looks a little like skin, particularly as with the brown Bormios. You could have feet that were dark brown, and I say that because I had at least one person double-take on my brown crazy horse Bormios thinking I had tanned bare feet. I’m not very tan in case you hadn’t noticed (Desk job FTL!). I had another fellow — a VFF fan at that — remark, “You’ve got lion feet.” I liked that better.

If you’ve been going through life thinking “I’d like lion feet,” you’re clearly in luck here.

These demonic things cost $160 and are available in brown and black. Both are made of kangaroo hide and, personally, I wonder where they’re getting all the kangaroos for these things.

So there you have it: these are the shoes Tim Ferris, Sergey Brin, and every sycophantic SXSW-bound SEO/Social Media/Google+ Guru will be wearing next season. Geeks, prepare to get your monkey feet chic on.

GraphEffect Launches Intelligent Facebook Advertising And Targeting Platform For Brands

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 08:04 AM PDT


Facebook advertising is exploding, with ad spend on the network expected to hit $4 billion in 2011. Clearly, brands and companies are flocking to Facebook to reach users. And startups like GraphEffect are trying to help advertisers serve in more-highly targeted advertising on network. Today, GraphEffect, which is backed by Founder Collective, Lerer Ventures, and others, is launching its intelligent targeting system to the public.

GraphEffect’s platform allows advertisers to locate Facebook users with behavioral characteristics that are not explicitly expressed in their profiles. So the company mines data and allows companies to hyper-target users in a way that Facebook doesn’t offer through its advertising platform. For example, based on profile data, GraphEffect can identify the type of user who would by virtual currency and target that user.

The key to GraphEffect us that it identifies certain traits of Facebook users, including likes, interests and demographics, and creates what the startup calls ‘lookalike’ models. Brands can then target to ‘lookalikes’ based on this data.

Co-founder James Borow tells me the mechanics of GraphEffect are similar in theory to the way Pandora decides to serve similar songs on its intelligent music platform. He explains that Pandora isn’t one hundred percent sure you may like a certain song that is similar to a chosen one, but serves it because the likelihood that a user would enjoy a song is strong. GraphEffect is applying this model to user data on Facebook and targeting.

The GraphEffect platform is actually built on top of Facebook's marketing APIs and while in private beta for the past year, has helped brands like American Express, Live Nation, GE, Microsoft, Clinique, and others by optimizing their media spend to convert the type of users who buy and interact with their products and services.

GraphEffect has also announced that it has added four digital media and ad executives to its advisory board. Brandon Berger, Bob Dees, Peter Hershberg, and Dave Knox have joined the GraphEffect advisory board, and will be providing strategic counsel and guidance to the GraphEffect executive team.

Sprint, Cable Companies In Talks To Acquire Clearwire

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 07:44 AM PDT


Not long after Clearwire announced their intent to begin lighting up a 4G LTE network, Sprint and a cabal of cable companies have begun to discuss the idea of a possible Clearwire acquisition.

Last we heard, Clearwire was waiting on $600 million in additional funding before any work on their LTE rollout could begin. Comcast, Time Warner, and Bright House are currently in talks with the nation’s third-largest wireless provider to get Clearwire the necessary funds to build out their LTE network.

Traction for Clearwire’s current WiMax offerings have slowed down considerably — no new WiMax markets have bee lit up this year — and Verizon’s 4G network is now said to cover half of the country’s citizenry. It would appear that the tacit agreement among Sprint and Co. is that LTE is crucial to competing in the mobile space.

What’s still up in the air are the exact mechanics of this investment. BusinessWire runs though a few possibilities: the companies in question could take the direct approach and buy out Clearwire completely, while another option has the cable companies investing through Sprint. Regardless of the process, if the deal goes through, it could be a win-win for all concerned parties.

Thanks to funding from the cable companies, Sprint gets access to a more competitve 4G network which should allow it to stand on firmer footing in comparison to rivals Verizon and AT&T. With Verizon moving at full steam with LTE and AT&T poised use T-Mobile to expand its reach, Sprint needs LTE just to stay relevant.

Sprint’s stance on wholesalers would benefit cable companies in the event Sprint ends up acquiring Clearwire: while Comcast and Time Warner already resell WiMax equipment from Clearwire under their own banners, Sprint’s wholesale agreements would allow cable companies to continue doing so albeit with the latest and greatest in network tech. The bottom line: more money in everyone’s coffers.

The deal isn’t yet official, but considering what it could mean for everyone involved, expect to hear about some serious negotiations in coming weeks.

Amazon Registers a Dozen “Cloud Video” Domains

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 07:37 AM PDT


Amazon has obtained a dozen new domain names related to its cloud video service, including things like “,” “,” and “,” to name just a few. The domains were registered one day prior to the company’s big announcement that its on-demand video library had reached the 100K mark, with 9,000 titles available for streaming at no extra charge through Amazon’s Prime membership program.

Amazon has been working aggressively to increase its video lineup, in an effort to compete more directly with video streaming leader, Netflix. For example, this particular milestone was reached, in part, thanks to recent content deals with CBS and NBC Universal, which helped Amazon to greatly increase the size of its on-demand catalog. Amazon also has deals with all major studios and networks, to varying degrees.

With Amazon Instant Video, customers can rent or buy newly released movies and watch popular TV shows they day after they air from any “compatible device.”

And speculation has it that there will be a new “compatible device” sometime later this yearAmazon’s long-rumored Android-based tablet. The increased efforts to boost its video catalog could, in fact, be related to those plans. With a service offering a hundred thousand plus movies and TVs shows, the Amazon tablet computer would have a decided advantage over other iPad competitors, which often have addressed the need for a content ecosystem as an afterthought.

Here is a complete list of the domains Amazon registered:

Thanks to JB of for the tip!

Launch Date:
5/1997, NASDAQ:AMZN Inc. (AMZN) is a leading global Internet company and one of the most trafficked Internet retail destinations worldwide. Amazon is one of the first companies to sell products deep...

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Salesforce’s Radian6 Takes Social Media Monitoring Platform Mobile With New iOS App

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 07:02 AM PDT


Radian6, which was acquired by Salesforce for $326 million earlier this year, has offered some of the world’s largest brands a web-based social media monitoring platform. But the company has not offered a mobile component to clients to monitor brands on the go, until now. Today, Salesforce’s Radian6 is announcing its first mobile presence with a new iOS app.

Radian6 helps clients like Dell, GE, Kodak and UPS monitor, analyze and engage in 'hundreds of millions' of social media conversations. The UI is similar to the Radian6 web platform, and agencies and marketers can now monitor overall volume, share of conversation, geographic distribution and more data from the app on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. You can filter by keyword, media type, date range and more to view conversations.

You can also build customized listening ‘stacks’ based on certain topics, lists, user assignment and sentiment. Managers can actually classify posts, and assign tasks to employees from the app. And users can respond to Tweets, posts, threads, or blog comments right from the app.

The app itself is free for Radian6 users. It’s actually surprising that Radian6 didn’t have a a iPhone app considering that much of social media monitoring for brands happens in realtime and a mobile app helps marketers keep track of conversations on the go. The company says that an Android app is on the ‘product roadmap.’

It should be interesting to see how Salesforce integrates Radian6 with its own products like Chatter. In the past, the CRM giant has said ‘the combination will create a “bridge between public conversations and Chatter" and "enhance the Salesforce Sales and Service Cloud products with social intelligence that customers can act on. Developers building on the platform also will be able to tap into the power of Radian6, putting the social web into everything they build."

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Radian6 helps companies listen to what people are saying about them online and engage in those conversations across the social web. From blogs and comments to multimedia, boards, forums...

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HTC Releases Evo 3D Bootloader Unlock Tool

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 07:01 AM PDT


It’s only been a few days since HTC got its bootloader unlock tool up and running, but unfortunately it was only made available to owners of the European/international version of the HTC Sensation. Obviously that didn’t do a lot to help our American hackers get what they want. But today, HTC threw some love our way making the bootloader unlock tool available to owners of the HTC Evo 3D, according to HTC’s Facebook page.

If you’re interested in a little Evo customization, head on over to HTC Dev for instructions. You’ll have to download the next update, which will come over the air. And just in case you’re a noob, it’s only fair that I warn you: unlocking the bootloader on your phone voids any and all warranties associated with the phone. So once it’s unlocked, proceed with caution in all your tinkering endeavors.

Game on, hackers!

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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TechCrunched: The Week’s Top Tech News In 90 Seconds

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 06:59 AM PDT

It’s time for another episode of TechCrunched, your super-speedy recap of the week’s top tech news.

This week’s stories include Google’s massive acquisition of Motorola, BART’s cell phone service fiasco, and AT&T text messaging rates. Tune in!

You’ll notice that this week’s episode includes a reference to HP’s ill-fated TouchPad without mentioning the fact that HP has essentially killed the product off (and they’re spinning off their consumer PC business). HP conspired against us by announcing the news 20 minutes after the episode taped  — *shakes fist* — but that’ll be discussed in next week’s episode.

Oh, and don’t worry — Erick’s on vacation but he’ll be back soon.

Here are some articles related to this week’s episode:

Social eCommerce Site Zlio Joins the Deadpool

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 06:57 AM PDT


Zlio, a site which lets users create online shops where they sell goods from other e-commerce services, is joining the deadpool. The 6-year old outlet is going out of business, and will officially closing its doors on September 11th. The company blames Google’s algorithms for its demise, surprisingly, not Zlio’s concept or business model.

In an email to users to inform them of the service’s impending shutdown, fingers were pointed all around, not only at Google, but also at an undisclosed SEO company who failed to improve the site’s rankings in Google’s search results.

Oddly, Amazon’s aStore service, which lets Amazon’s Associates build their own webstores, was not mentioned as contributing to the the service’s downturn. Neither was Amazon’s more professional Web Storefront product. Or the dozens of DIY online shops filled with user-created content, like Cafepress, Zazzle or Spreadshirt, for example.

Oh no, it’s all Google’s fault.

The full email is below.

Six years after its launch, we regret to announce that we are going out of business.

The service will officially end on September 11!

Zlio had a fantastic start, receiving capital from one Europe’s largest venture capital funds, Mangrove Capital. In addition, we held advanced M&A talks with Google, which unfortunately fell through at the last minute.

Our strong initial growth was interrupted on September 27, 2007, when the majority of Zlio shops, which were generally very well ranked, saw their Google ranking drop dramatically, eliminating 65% of our traffic.

Despite our best efforts, and the opening of 380,000 stores to date, it has not been possible to regain our previous Google rankings, except in exceptional cases.

When we founded Zlio, we thought that you, members of Zlio, would successfully promote your shops among your circles. We did not believe that Google referencing would be so crucial. Unfortunately, it has proved to be indispensable.

Among the actions taken to improve our Google ranking, we approached an SEO company who claimed they were able to fix our problem.

In view of their poor performance, we assessed that this company had not fulfilled its obligations. Therefore, we entered into dispute with it, which resulted in a court case whose sentence was rendered on July 26, 2011. This ruling is available on the website of the Paris Commercial Court (Tribunal de Commerce de Paris).

This decision sentences us both to pay the whole of a service that we still believe have not been provided and to pay damages for publishing our opinion about Referencement on Twitter. The latter part of the sentence has already drawn much attention in the French media.

This sentence means we cannot go on. The service has been losing money for several years (which forced us to gradually reduce our staff), and the amounts to which we are sentenced to pay today no longer allow us to meet our obligations.

Launch Date:

Zlio gives users the ability to create their own shops and sell goods from other e-commerce services. Users can stock their store with over three million products and earn...

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Facebook’s New Mini News Feed Shows Up for More Users

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 06:31 AM PDT


Last week, we reported on several Facebook design changes including updates to Facebook Chat and a revamped sidebar. Today, it looks like the new “mini” News Feed is in the processing of rolling out to more users. Tips are starting to roll in of a revamped Facebook, which includes a miniature real-time News Feed on the right side of the page. In some cases, this feed is labeled “Ticker.”

The new live ticker shows all the activity from your Facebook friends as it happens, which is different than how the Facebook News Feed operates today. With the main News Feed, advanced algorithms are used to surface the most interesting and relevant updates, based on a number of factors, including likes, comments and how often you’ve interacted with those friends.

The Ticker, however, shows everything: likes, comments, status updates, new photos, updates from pages you’re a fan of…in other words, the works.

Thanks, @gizmosachin and Robert

Leaked Droid Bionic Ad To Run Sunday, Dual-Core LTE Magic To Follow

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 05:58 AM PDT


It’s been an excruciating wait for the Droid Bionic — a truly painful seven months. But over the past month, we’ve gotten our hands on little bits of relief. Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha promised a “September” release in late July, and just a week later, IGN found Verizon’s device road map which pegged the Bionic for a September 8 launch date.

Today we landed another hefty signal that the Bionic launch is nearly upon us. A leaked copy of Best Buy’s Buyer’s Guide was obtained by TechnoBuffalo, and is apparently chock full of Bionic ads. The Buyer’s Guide is slated to run on Sunday, which means that the September 8 launch date is almost certainly spot on. Unfortunately, an exact date wasn’t included in the Buyer’s Guide.

Specs on this bad boy include a dual-core 1 GHz processor underneath Android 2.3 Gingerbread, along with support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network. The Bionic is also confirmed to have a 4.3-inch qHD touchscreen based on details within its FCC filing and this lovely ad within Best Buy’s Buyer’s Guide. You’ll also get an 8-megapixel shooter capable of video capture in 1080p, along with a front-facing camera for video chat. No word yet on how much the Bionic will cost you, but don’t expect it to be cheap.

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Motorola Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MSI) is a data communications and telecommunications equipment provider that succeeded Motorola Inc. following the spin-off of the mobile phones division into Motorola Mobility Holdings,...

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Samsung Teases For IFA, Glowing Handsets And Beautiful People

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 05:50 AM PDT


Samsung has something big in store for IFA 2011 — but don’t they always. The company just unveiled two videos for its latest marketing campaign that, per the rules of Viral 101, do not show anything of interest. Still, IFA is Europe’s CES and they company is bound to have something newsworthy like a Galaxy II successor or a Galaxy Tab of the 7-inch variety.

The second video after the jump has most of the action and shows peeps walking around with glowing handsets, which likely forecasts a new smartphone. Whatever it will be, we’ll be onsite next week, drunk on gadgets and German beer.

Sega Toys Dates And Prices Its R2-D2 Homestar Planetarium (Which Shows The Death Star)

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 04:37 AM PDT


Back in June, Sega Toys in Japan teased the R2-D2 Homestar, a fully functional planetarium that’s shaped in the form of the robot from Star Wars. And today, the company fixed the release date (September 15) and price ($91) for the planetarium. The scaled replica projects about 10,000 stars onto the ceiling in your living room, and as a bonus, it shows the location of the Death Star, too (see below).

The R2-D2 Planetarium uses a 1W white LED as a light source, runs for three hours on four AAA batteries and stands 21cm high. It has a projection range of 1.5-2.3m/4.9-7.5ft and a projection area of 1.8m/5.9ft circumference.

Here’s the planetarium showing the Death Star:

If you’re interested but live outside Japan, the Japan Trend Shop (website in English) has started listing the planetarium today for pre-order for the same price as in Japan (again, $91). They’ll ship it anywhere and say the little guy comes with instructions in English.

Via IT Media [JP]

SoftBank 007SH KT: Hello Kitty-Branded Clamshell Android Phone

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 03:50 AM PDT

hello kitty softbank

The Yahoo Phone isn’t the only unusual handset Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank rolled out yesterday. SoftBank subscribers can soon lay their hands on another one, the 007SH KT [JP], which has two selling points: it’s designed like a clamshell feature phone (even though it runs on Android), and it has Hello Kitty written all over it.

Technically speaking, the 007SH KT is based on a model SoftBank has introduced back in May for the Japanese market. Produced by Sharp, the so-called AQUOS PHONE THE HYBRID 007SH is being marketed as the world’s first flip phone running on Android (2.3).

The Hello Kitty version shares many of the (very impressive specs) of that model: waterproof body, 3.4-inch LCD touchscreen with 854×480 resolution, 0.7-inch OLED sub-display, 16MP CCD camera with 1,280×720 HD video recording, IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0+EDR, digital TV tuner, e-wallet function, etc. etc.

For fans of the cartoon cat, SoftBank throws in menus and screens in Hello Kitty design, special icons for use in mails, a Hello Kitty calculator app, a Hello Kitty alarm clock, etc.

SoftBank plans to start shipping the 007SH KT in Japan next month.

Daily Crunch: deadOS

Posted: 19 Aug 2011 01:00 AM PDT

Editing Community Kibin Helps You Proofread Your Writing Fast And For Free

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 11:54 PM PDT

Screen Shot 2011-08-19 at 1.08.55 AM

I am primarily writing about this startup because I need it desperately, and because it is the problem I would attempt to solve if I ever decided to flip the switch and become a startup founder instead of the personification of “those that cannot do write” or whatever. Unlike WordyHQ or earlier Web 1.0 professional editing services, Kibin is an editing community that allows you to upload a piece of writing and get it edited and proofread for free in a matter of 24 hours. You have no idea how much I want this to succeed.

Okay so you say that there’s no such thing as a free anything … Well the way Kibin works is that users can accumulate points for editing other people’s work, and use those points to get their own work edited. If you don’t have the time to edit other people’s work, or just suck at it (eh, hem) you can pay 50 cents for a Kibin credit (founder Travis Biziorek tells me that credits average out to one cent a word, so that a 1,000 word essay costs around $10 with the option to pay more if you need a faster turnaround) and use those credits to buy editing time. Biziorek says that edits usually get done in under 24 hours.

Even though the company is currently focused on students, if Biziorek can get the turnaround time down to under hour, this will be a godsend for bloggers, who — I don’t have to tell you guys this — usually sacrifice grammar and punctuation for speed.

It is invaluable to have another pair of human eyes on your work — spellcheck can’t tell the difference between “complimentary” and “complementary,” for example. That kind of attention to detail is worth its weight in gold. I’m sure there at least 20-30 mistakes in this post even but I just don’t have the time to figure out which ones they are. Also, I am typo-blind. Anyways my point is there’s a market for this.

The 500 Startups-backed Kibin is currently 40K into its 400K seed round and has just over 35K users according to Biziorek, growing at 44% week over week (he ditched law school plans to work on it last April). Biziorek’s future plans for Kibin include encouraging its best editors to turn pro and start charging for their services as well building a custom API for services that mass-produced content. “We’re thinking, ‘How can we produce as many happy users as possible?’ Travis tells me.

Sweet Lord Jesus please let this succeed.

You can watch Kibin’s demo video and the rest of the 500 Startups’ Demo Day here.

Launch Date:

Most of the time, your friends won’t give you true unbiased feedback on your documents. Kibin allows users to remain anonymous so that you benefit from an honest critique....

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YouTube’s Now The Latest Place To Start Your Hangout

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 10:08 PM PDT


One of the niftiest features of Google+ is its group videoconferencing app called Hangouts. Not only is the service free, with support for ten simultaneous users — it also attempts to negate the awkwardness that’s often associated with coordinating video calls by making the experience more casual and free-flowing (any of your friends can hop into and out of a Hangout at any point, provided you’ve shared it with them).

One of the app’s other neat features is its ability to play a YouTube video for all of your friends at the same time (and, of course, you can immediately talk about the video). This evening, YouTube’s rolled out a new option that makes it easier to jump into one of these video-sharing sessions: you can now initiate a Hangout directly from a YouTube video’s ‘Watch’ page (you’ll find the option under the ‘Share’ menu).

The feature works as you’d expect: click it, and a browser window will pop up, prompting you to choose which Google+ Circles you’d like to share the Hangout (and video) with. Comb your hair, click share, and your Hangout will start.

This is just the first of what will likely be many more integrations to come for Hangouts —  Google has repeatedly said that the app is built as a platform for enjoying shared experiences with friends. In other words, in a while you’ll probably be able to Hangout while playing games, showing off photo galleries, or perhaps even enjoying a live-streamed sporting event with friends.

Of course, this assumes that your friends are all on Google+ and are still logging in on a regular basis. Alas, aside from my ‘tech friends’, most of mine aren’t.

Launch Date:

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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