- Here Comes The MacBook Air Clones! Asus Set To Announce 5+ Ultrabooks
- NFC Mobile Advertising Startup Tapit Raises Seed Funding
- Junaio 3.0 Mobile AR Browser Update. Now Scans Barcodes Too.
- Apple Continues To Block The Galaxy Tab 10.1 In Australia
- Zynga Co-founder Andrew Trader Joins VC Firm Maveron As A Venture Partner
- Video: New Atomic Clock Reaches A 100 Quadrillionth Of A Second Accuracy
- Post Citrix Acquisition, Cloud.com’s CloudStack Goes 100% Open Source
- Zeebo Raises $17 Million For Interactive Entertainment, Education Platform
- Samsung To Launch ChatON, A Cross-Platform Mobile Chat Service
- Leaked! Toshiba To Release Powerful, Ultra Thin Android Tablet At IFA
- With ‘Save To Pulse’ Bookmarklet And Chrome Extension, Pulse Enters Instapaper’s Turf
- Vitrue Updates Social Media Management Platform For Brands With Deeper Analytics And More
- TomTom Discovers Apps, Puts Twitter, Yelp And More In The Go Live 1535 M PND
- Cisco Acquires Collaboration Software Maker Versly
- Kleiner Perkins, Salesforce, Put $10.5M In Supply Chain Management Platform Kenandy
- NEC Medias: Report Says World’s Slimmest Smartphone Is On The Way To The US
- Gadgets Week In Review: Vision
- Nokia Shuts Down Developer Forum After Hacker Accesses Member Records
- Quixey Raises $3.8 Million For A Functional Search Engine For Apps
- Unredacted Wikileaks Cables Found Online? Probably, Depressingly
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 08:29 AM PDT
The day of the Ultrabook is nearly upon us and per Asustek chairman, Jonney Shih, the PC maker has five to six models on the bill for an October release. Prices are said to start out at $899 but also reach $1,999. That’s notably higher than Intel’s target price of $999 and under. Still, if Intel has its way, ultrabooks will be the next big thing in PC notebooks. The ultra-thin, ultra-sexy notebooks are designed around Intel’s next-gen Ivy Bridge CPU platform that offers high but efficient performance at affordable price points and Asus is set to flood the market with a bunch of models.
Asus isn’t alone in this fight. Acer also has models on tap and the Aspire 3951 leaked last weekend before its IFA debut. This first-gen model sports a current generation Intel Sandy Bridge CPU and a rather cheap looking case, but it’s only 13mm thick and said to have a $800 price tag. HD Blog even states that it wakes from sleep in two seconds.
Intel previously stated that ultrabooks will make up to 40% of the notebook market by the end of 2012. Asus’s CEO, Jerry Shen, stated that this goal is “a very aggressive target that would be difficult to meet before 2013" citing numerous obstacles including a heat issue with Intel’s CPUs. He also stated that Asus’ suppliers have the ability to pump out a maximum of 200K ultrabooks without any additional supply chain investment. As the Financial Times notes, that’s a fraction of Asus’ current 1 million per month capacity.
Intel’s aggressive target will not be reachable if only Asus and Acer are on board. With HP slowly backing out of the consumer marketplace, Dell, Toshiba, and Lenovo will need to fully accept the ultrabook platform and target all segments of the notebook market. There will need to be ultrabooks at low and median price points. Right now that doesn’t seem to be happening as just the two aforementioned computer companies have talked about their ultrabook offerings.
Still, ultrabooks are likely going to be all the rage at IFA this week and next. Ultrabooks might be nothing more than MacBook Air rip-offs, but if they’re done right &mash; with quality specs and efficient batteries — they could signal a sales boom for the Windows PC notebook market.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 08:27 AM PDT
Tapit is a new mobile advertising startup, founded in March 2011, that enables content sharing and offer delivery simply by tapping an NFC-enabled phone anywhere the Tapit logo can be found.
The company has now raised a seed funding round from Sydney Angels in record time – just 22 days from the pitch until the round was subscribed for. This is the fastest investment to date for Sydney Angels, the not-for-profit membership organization for angels which typically invests in Sydney-based startups.
NFC (near field communication), a short-range wireless technology, is often associated with mobile payments and mobile wallets these days, as a new way to enable purchases at point-of-sale. But that’s only one of the many possible use cases for the technology, which can also support things like sharing files and media between devices, advertising, ticketless transactions and more. It can even be used to perform actions like those found in NTT DOCOMO’s nifty “tap to follow” offering that lets two Twitter users follow each other simply by tapping phones.
With Tapit, however, the idea is to leverage NFC for use in marketing campaigns by working with agencies, brands, handset manufacturers and carriers. Its marketing services include mobile commerce, coupon distribution, ticketing, surveys and reviews, content delivery, competitions and social community building (e.g. tap here to “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter).
The company has already been involved with several campaigns this year – one for Australian radio group Nova Radio through the JCDecaux billboard network, another for Australia’s Channel 10 TV show “Renovators,” and a third involving an NFC-based marketing within shopping centers.
Says Tapit CEO Jamie Conyngham, “the speed in which this round was closed is an endorsement of the Tapit team and the business models we have created around our unique NFC enabled technology. Everyone we meet loves the idea of Tapit, it's addictive.”
NFC, indeed, would be a step up from the now-ubiquitous barcode scanning technology, which involves using smartphone apps to scan QR codes via the phone’s camera. Unfortunately, NFC generally requires an accompanying chip built into the phone itself. Due to this requirement, it’s currently being held back by the limited availability of supported handsets.
Still, analysts are bullish on NFC’s future, with ABI predicting over 35 million supported handsets by 2012 and Frost & Sullivan estimating around 868 million by 2015.
Terms of Tapit’s seed investment were not disclosed, but the Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund typically invests between $100K – $500K in its portfolio companies.
PROTO INVESTMENT PARTNERS
Proto Investment Partners is a highly specialized alternative investment manager, with offices in Sydney and Melbourne, focused on Australian angel investments and early stage venture capital. Its first fund, the...
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 08:20 AM PDT
Junaio, the mobile Augmented Reality browser created by German AR firm Metaio, has been updated this morning: Version 3.0 now supports scanning barcodes. Some of you are probably thinking “Whoop-dee-doo, every app can scan barcodes nowadays.” And you’re right; it’s not really a big deal in that sense. When you consider Junaio’s capability at advanced image recognition, using it to scan 1D and 2D QR codes is kind of like using a bazooka to shoot an arrow.
But from a usability standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. I’ll be the first to admit that Junaio’s “channel” concept for AR content has always been a little confusing to me. I mean, I get it and think it is a flexible way to break up content. I’m sure it also makes it easy for 3rd parties to make content available to the browser.
But I always have to remind myself how it works…I choose X channel for X kind of content, etc. I think adding an “instantly on” scanner that can just scan posters, recognize images, experience natural feature tracking — do all the things Junaio could always do — plus 2D barcode scanning is a great step in the right direction for Junaio and its usability. It is definitely a faster way to get to the content.
From a strategy standpoint, it also makes sense. Why not try to make Junaio a “one stop shop” for all AR and image searching needs? Especially when AR content is still not quite as mainstream as barcode scanning (not that I would say barcode scanning completely mainstream either). But why not try to make that less complex barcode functionality possible for users too. It’s a good idea.
I installed it this morning and noticed that not all 2D barcode symbologies are able to be scanned. I confirmed this with a spokesperson from Metaio, who said that at today’s launch, Junaio will only be able to scan standard 1D barcodes and QR codes. They will be adding more symbol libraries over time to accommodate different code types.
Multiple symbology recognition will be important for Junaio to become that “one stop shop” scanning app. I realize that QR codes are a more popular symbology, and their ability to encode Kanji characters make them a more practical, international solution. That is probably a good place to start. However, Data Matrix codes are still popular in North America and can be significantly smaller in print size.
The version for iPhone is available now, with the iPad 2 version coming later this week. The Android version will be available next week.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 07:55 AM PDT
The Apple-Samsung drama has been rather quiet in Australia compared to the clamor it’s created in Europe until today when Apple alleged that the Australian version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is also infringing Apple patents. Samsung had originally tried to circumvent the Australian GalTab injunction on the basis that it was the version intended for the U.S., and that the Australian variant was different.
Samsung, Apple, the court, and the rest of us all knew that this was simply a hail-Mary style prayer that the Australian version would somehow be varied enough from the U.S. version to slide past infringement territory. But… c’mon. A Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and that’s exactly how Apple felt. The amount and type of infringement claims Apple will make are as yet unknown since the company just got their hands on the Australian variants on Thursday of last week. But according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Apple’s lawyers contended that the Australian GalTab does have “some reduced functionality,” but it “will still infringe.”
And if that weren’t enough, Samsung says it will file its own Australian patent infringement suit against Apple’s iPad. Which is pretty awful news considering that these two have basically taken their fight across the U.S., Europe and Australia, leaving a wake of dissatisfied customers and rich lawyers in their trail. But that’s an entirely different lawsuit on an entirely different day, and there’s really no telling which patents Samsung will throw out to make a dent in its foe’s armor.
What matters now is Apple’s complaint, which is keeping Australians from the GalTab 10.1 party. The slate was originally scheduled to launch August 11, or at least that was the date for Samsung’s media event. Apple ruined that fun claiming that the U.S. version was infringing its patents concerned with “look and feel” and touchscreen technology, and asked the court to block the GalTab until a formal decision had been reached.
When Samsung responded by saying it had an Australian GalTab in the works, Apple agreed to inspect three models of said GalTab to determine whether infringement was still an issue. Clearly, it’s still an issue, and so Apple asked the court to not only re-affirm its injunction on the U.S. version, but to prevent Samsung from selling the Australian version as well.
Samsung initially argued this, as the company had planned to begin selling the device on September 12. Eventually they came to their senses once Justice Annabelle Bennett reiterated that there may not be very much logic in launching only to have the slate pulled off shelves in a couple weeks. Samsung’s counsel then decided to hold off on the launch until after September 30.
On Friday, Apple will go into detail on each of the patents Samsung is allegedly infringing, and on September 5 the company will release a more in-depth statement of the facts. Once Samsung has had the chance to rebut, the formal hearing will take place September 26 and 29.
Justice Annabelle Bennet, though she owns an iPad, said she may need help in determining the actual claims of the patents and how they relate to each tablet. And we don’t blame her. Have you ever read through a patent? Not easy. In the meantime, Samsung will be preparing its counter-argument, which will likely include clips and images from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Samsung has cited the tablets within the film as “prior art” for the tablet design in its U.S. lawsuit, which could effectively get Samsung off the hook.
And we honestly hope it does. Not because we’re on Samsung’s side, or Apple’s for that matter, but because we’re really just ready for this mess to be over. The brawl has lasted about four months, spread across three continents, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down at all. In the end, Apple and Samsung will survive. It’s the innocent consumers who are losing big.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 07:34 AM PDT
Maveron, a VC firm with offices in Seattle and San Francisco, this morning announced that it has named Andrew Trader (who is often referred to simply as A.T.) as a partner. Trader actually joined Maveron back in 2010 as Entrepreneur-in-Residence, but is now taking on a more expanded role at the firm.
According to its website, Maveron’s portfolio includes companies like Groupon, eBay, Shutterfly, Drugstore.com and SAY Media.
In 2007, Andrew Trader was a founding member of Zynga, where he managed business operations including revenue management, marketing, user acquisition, business development, and strategic partners.
He was unceremoniously ousted from the company around March 2010.
Before Zynga, Trader was the CEO of Utah Street Networks, the operator of Tribe.net, one of the first social networking sites (acquired by Cisco in 2007). He was also the co-founder of Coremetrics, (acquired by IBM last year).
Last but not least, he was also involved in a lawsuit. Last year, Abu Dhabi-based investment company Alpha Investments sued Zynga for restricting a share sale on SecondMarket.
Trader had attempted to sell close to $13 million in Zynga's stock (1 million shares) to Alpha Investments, but the social games developer later said it would only allow the transaction if the firm agreed not to sell the shares until 180 days after an initial public offering.
According to some media reports, the attorney for Alpha filed to dismiss the case in June 2011.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 07:28 AM PDT
A team of researchers at the University of Tokyo has developed a new type of optical atomic clock that boasts a 100 quadrillionth of a second accuracy (one quadrillion has 15 zeros). The optical lattice clock is the brain child of Professor Katori who says his device observes a million atoms simultaneously whereas conventional atomic clocks measure time by using single atoms.
The Professor explains:
The idea is to eventually use the new clock to improve GPS (which is based on atomic clocks delivering 14-or 15-digit accuracy) or to predict earthquakes, for example.
This video (shot by Diginfonews in Tokyo, in English) provides more insight:
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 07:17 AM PDT
After being acquired by Citrix Systems in July for more than $200 million, Cloud.com’s CloudStack cloud management framework is being open-sourced. The software currently supports over 60-large scale production clouds, including those run by GoDaddy, GreenQloud, KT, Nokia, Tata Communications and Zynga. With the release, CloudStack has also added support for additional hypervisors and support for bare metal provisioning.
Cloud.com, which was launched in May 2010, gives companies their own private, EC-2 like infrastructure. However, the company admits that it often used its name (“Cloud.com”) interchangeably with the open source CloudStack project to much confusion. In actuality, Cloud.com had previously maintained two separate code bases - one for paying customers and one for open source users. As of last week, both code bases have been merged into one under the GPU GPL v3 license. The code can be downloaded from cloudstack.org.
In addition, with the launch of CloudStack 2.2.10 this week at the VMworld 2011 conference in Las Vegas, the framework now supports VMware’s newly launched ESXi 5.0 hypervisor and Oracle’s VM 2.X variants of the Xen hypervisor, to complement the range of VMware, KVM and Xen hypervisors it already supports. Support for Microsoft’s Hyper-V will arrive later this year. And as before with CloudStack, customers can mix and match multiple hypervisors, both proprietary and open source, and use them in a highly available cloud computing instance.
The other newly available feature is bare metal provisioning, which lets customers set up bare metal hosts that do not run hypervisor software. These can be managed using the CloudStack Management Server in the same cloud as virtual instances.
Cloud.com also says that it’s working to converge features from the IaaS cloud computing project OpenStack, which counts Citrix among its most significant contributors, to CloudStack. In the future, Citrix and CloudStack engineers will integrate OpenStack Storage (Swift) with CloudStack, and will work to allow the CloudStack Management server and Web interface the ability to manage OpenStack instances.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 07:09 AM PDT
When the company was founded, the company’s stated intention was to create an cheap game console with affordable games and educational content delivered via wireless digital distribution (to circumvent piracy). The Zeebo was targeted at developing markets such as BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and Mexico.
However, Zeebo appears to have recently laid those plans to rest, shut down its websites / operations in Brazil and Mexico, and is now working on an “interactive entertainment and education platform” set to make its debut in 2012.
Zeebo was co-founded by president and CEO Mike Yuen and Reinaldo Normand. Yuen came to Zeebo from Qualcomm where he was senior director of games and services.
Philip White (CFO and SVP of Business Operations) also hails from Qualcomm, where he served a variety of senior executive roles.
Notably, Qualcomm’s venture arm is a major investor in Zeebo.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 06:26 AM PDT
Samsung is launching ChatON, a cross-platform mobile chat service similar to RIM’s BlackBerry BBM. The service, which is expected to launch in September, will be showcased at this week’s consumer electronics-focused IFA Conference.
is an interesting launch for Samsung because it will support a variety of mobile operating systems, including Samsung’s own bada mobile operating system, Android, feature phones and even competitors’ platforms, including iOS and BlackBerry.
In addition to supporting mobile chat, ChatON will offer a Web-based client that allows users to chat from their PCs, too. The service’s users can have private 1-to 1-conversations or participate in group chats. ChatOn also supports sharing media, like photos, videos, voice messages and contacts.
On feature phones, the service allows for text, images, calendar appointment and contact sharing. But on smartphones, users will have a few extra options, such as the ability to comment on each other’s profiles, send multimedia messages that combine text and audio, and view their own “Interaction Rank,” which displays how active they are on the ChatOn network.
ChatON will go live next month in over 120 countries and 62 languages.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 06:09 AM PDT
The Toshiba Thrive isn’t exactly a good-looking Android tablet. Sure, it has plenty of ports, a removable battery, and a low price, but it’s also bulky and feels of cheap plastic. Sans the Toshiba logo, it feels and looks just like a random Chinese rip-off. But have no fear, Toshiba fans! Per a pre-IFA leak, there’s a new tablet coming and it’s every bit as sexy as the Asus Transformer or Samsung Galaxy Tab while packing at least some of the I/O ports found on the Thrive.
Toshiba will likely make the tablet official before IFA kicks off later this week. That is, of course, if another leak doesn’t ruin their fun.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 05:48 AM PDT
Alphonso Labs, the fledgling company behind Pulse, a nifty social news reader for iPhone, iPad and Android devices used by roughly 5 million people, aims to pose a challenge to simple bookmarking tool Instapaper (and a range of other bookmarking and ‘read it later’ apps).
Saving to Pulse of course means you can bookmark interesting stories you find on the Web in order to read them later on your Android or iPhone handset, or your iPad.
No other bells and whistles at this point, but it’s a clean and functional bookmarking app.
It’s also clearly pretty much what Instapaper does (quite elegantly, I might add), but more than anything it is a welcome addition to the Pulse service that will likely not affect Instapaper usage all that much – I see myself using both alongside each other, actually.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 05:40 AM PDT
Vitrue, a social media marketing company, is rolling out version 3.0 of its social media management platform for brands. New features include localization and enhanced analytics and metrics within one dashboard interface.
As we’ve written in the past, Vitrue's SaaS platform allows brands and marketing agencies to
The newest version of Vitrue’s software comes with a new dashboard and user interface, allowing marketers to see, access and manage all of the available functionalities, tools and modules within one interface. The company has also added enhanced analytics and metrics to give marketers specific metrics on demographics and engagement of their social pages and users including insight into traffic sources, overall user demographics, top fan profiles, fan growth breakdowns, top location snapshots, per-post publishing metrics, and user engagement statistics by action (i.e., like, comment, share, play, etc.) and by day of week and time of day.
Other features include the ability to publish targeted content to specific users, the ability to add coupons, quizzes, and more to campaigns, and 24-7 customer support.
Vitrue, which has raised $32 million,
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 05:31 AM PDT
Ladies and germs, this is the Go Live 1535 M, which according to TomTom, is the first PND with connected apps. That claim may not exactly be true, but the Go Live 1535 M does have an impressive — that is, impressive for a GPS — set of non-standard functions through a variety of apps such as Twitter, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Expedia. These are in addition to TomTom’s VIA connected services that includes fuel prices, weather and Google Local Search.
The personal navigation device market has lost much of its thunder the last few years. These apps are the sort of functions that could have at least temporarily slowed the transfer of power to the smartphones regime. But alas, the Go Live 1535 M is hitting a few years too late with a crazy-high price.
The new Go Live 1535 is expected later this year for $299. The already-released 2535 M will get the apps through a firmware update at a later time. The device, thanks to its price, is likely to only satisfy a very niche market as consumers who are actually interested in apps likely have a smartphone that can pull double duty.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 05:21 AM PDT
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but all Versly employees will be integrated into Cisco’s Collaboration Software Group (CSG) upon the close of the acquisition.
Versly builds plug-ins that enable groups of people to collaborate around content in Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and emails.
From the looks of it, the service was still in private beta, so this is a quick exit for Versly.
Here’s how Murali Sitaram, VP and general manager, CSG, Cisco, pitches the acquisition:
Versly’s software will be integrated into offerings such as Cisco Quad, Jabber and WebEx.
According to its CrunchBase profile, Versly was backed by seed funding raised from Accel Partners, Baseline Ventures, 500 Startups and a couple of angel investors, including Scott Dietzen, Kenny Van Zant, Jonathan Katzman and Rasool Rayani.
Cisco designs and sells hardware, software, networking, and communications technology services. Products are distributed under five brands, namely Cisco, Linksys, WebEx, IronPort, and Scientific Atlanta. Cisco was founded in...
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 05:16 AM PDT
Stealthy cloud startup Kenandy has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers with Salesforce.com, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati participating. As part of the transaction, Kleiner Perkins partner Ray Lane will join Kenandy's board of directors.
Kenandy basically puts manufacturing management in the cloud. The startup which is led by Sandra Kurtzig (previous founder, CEO and chairman of the Ask Group), horizontally integrates all aspects of supply chain management for manufacturers including, inventory management, engineering, purchasing, and production. The company is also leveraging Salesforce’s cloud app management platform Force.com, allowing companies to manage mobile and social apps.
The staryip’s SaaS works on iPad and iPhone, Blackberry and Android, so employees can use Kenandy to update work orders, update quantities, communicate shortages, and record lot information on the spot in real time.
Kenandy has been in stealth mode for over a year, and says that the SaaS has received ‘positive reception’ in a limited beta. Customer deployments are expected to take place later this year. The company plans to debut its application at Salesforce’s annual conference, Dreamforce, this week.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 04:28 AM PDT
Back in spring, we’ve spent a few posts covering the Medias N-04C from NEC Casio Mobile , an Android handset the company calls the “world’s slimmest smartphone”. Being just 7.7mm thin, it beats the Galaxy S II, for example, and at 105g, it’s very light, too.
Announced by NEC Casio in February this year, the handset was selling well when it hit the Japanese market a few weeks later (to date, 500,000 units have been sold).
And according to Japan’s biggest business daily The Nikkei, the company is now ready to bring the Medias to the US, a move somehow announced last year already (NEC Casio Mobile was formed in 2009 after NEC, Casio and Hitachi merged their cell phone operations).
Details are scarce at this point, but it looks like Americans will get a modified version of the phone. In Japan itself, NEC Casio followed up with the N-06C [JP] this summer, a model that’s slightly thicker (7.9mm) but water-proof.
The Nikkei says in the US, the Medias will likely be available through Verizon (Casio’s partner in the past) and “other carriers”. NEC Casio aims at doubling shipments of cell phones outside Japan to 1.8 million in fiscal 2012.
To recap, the Media N-04C offers a 4-inch LCD touchscreen with 480 x 854 resolution, Android 2.3, a 5.1MP CMOS camera, a microSDHC card slot, Wi-Fi, etc. Expect the digital TV tuner, the e-wallet function, and the infrared port to get axed in the US version, however.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 01:00 AM PDT
Here are some stories from the past week on TechCrunch Gadgets:
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 12:11 AM PDT
Nokia has temporarily shut down its developer community website as a precaution, after a hacker gained access to a database table containing forum members’ email addresses and other information. The hacker last week exploited a vulnerability in the bulletin board software that allowed an SQL Injection attack that in turn enabled him (or her) to deface the forum website.
Nokia has now emailed all its developer forum members alerting them to the fact that not only has the website been defaced, but the hacker also gained access to records, which – fortunately for Nokia – did not contain passwords, credit card details or other sensitive information.
Nevertheless, Nokia says, roughly 7 percent of accessed records did include birth dates, website URLs and/or usernames for services like AIM, ICQ, MSN, Skype or Yahoo.
SQL injection attacks usually occur when user input in the database layer of an application is not filtered for escape characters and is then passed into an SQL statement, or when a user supplied field is not strongly typed or is not checked for type constraints and thereby unexpectedly executed.
Nokia says it initially believed only a small number of forum member records had been accessed, but that further investigation has identified that the number is ‘significantly larger’ – Nokia did not disclose exactly how many records were accessed or any other details about the security breach.
The company also says it has taken down its developer community website offline as a precautionary measure while a Nokia team conducts further investigations and security assessments.
(Thanks for the heads up, Robert)
Posted: 28 Aug 2011 09:49 PM PDT
Quixey, the Palo Alto-based startup that’s building a functional search engine for apps, today announced that it has closed a $3.8 million series A funding round. The investment was led by U.S. Venture Partners and WI Harper Group, with participation from Webb Investment Network alongside follow-on investment by Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors. The series A round adds to the $400K Quixey raised in April from Innovation Endeavors, bringing total investment to $4.2 million.
We’ve all heard (and perhaps even mocked) the quip “there’s an app for that”. It’s actually a wonderful quality of the mobile revolution: There really is an app for just about everything you can think of, from calling a taxi to managing your schedule to scanning for skin cancer or heart murmors. But, it’s also overwhelming, and searching for the app that you want isn’t easy. There’s a lot of noise, and a lot of imperfect approaches to app search.
Quixey entered the game with the intention to build a new type of search, molded specifically to the unique characteristics of searching for those ubiquitous but sometimes elusive apps. Their solution, coined “functional search”, which not only scans the major app stores, but crawls blogs, review sites, forums, and social media sites to build a truly comprehensive picture of what an app can do — through reviews, word of mouth, and demos.
Quixey's search engine lets the user type in queries like "baseball scores", and get a list of applications that provide just that (which they can then can filter by platform). And the best part is that the search engine suppors Windows and Mac apps, iGoogle, extensions, and more. It’s not just iOS and Android.
Though Quixey would seem to be competing with the likes of Chomp and others, the startup also has the added value proposition of being able to power search for other app stores, search engines, and websites — just like Google — to help disseminate its search engine on third party sites across the Web.
Not so surprising, then, that Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors is investing in a great app search tool. Bringing in outside info and data from blogs, review sites, and beyond, really adds an extra layer of depth to app search (especially in being platform agnostic), just as powering search across websites gives Quixey the opportunity to scale and become mixed in with the very sites it crawls. The startup will be using its new investment to continue securing partnerships with app stores and other big third party app resources, and according to the Quixey team, there are more than 25 potential partnerships in the pipeline. The more partners, the more effective the search engine becomes.
It’s an interesting new approach, this “functional search”, and from my experience thus far, works as advertised. Chime in to let us know what you think. More on Quixey here.
Posted: 28 Aug 2011 07:05 PM PDT
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” – George Orwell, Animal Farm
In the story, published on Friday, editor Steffen Kraft claims to have found online a “password protected csv file” containing a 1.73GB cache of entirely unredacted diplomatic cables, originating from Wikileaks. According to Kraft, the password for the file is also easy to locate.
The same day, Wikileaks dumped a large number of cables online and asked its followers to help sift through them. Copies of the files have been in the possession of news organizations like the Guardian, the New York Times and Reuters for months, but this is the first time the documents had been made available to the public. The release came, says chief leaker Julian Assange, because the media has lost interest in the diplomatic revelations as yet unreported. (A cynic might infer that Assange — who remains under house arrest in the UK pending extradition on sexual assault charges — is worried that the media has lost interest in him too.)
But the document found by Der Freitag are not the official Wikileaks files, which have been partly redacted to remove the names of vulnerable sources. Rather it contained thousands of unredacted pages, with ‘named or otherwise identifiable “informers” and “suspected intelligence agents,” from Israel, Jordan, Iran and Afghanistan.’
It’s important to emphasize that Der Freitag hasn’t published hard proof that the unredacted file even exists. But according to Kraft, the found documents include many that have previously been published in censored form. And, to be clear, Der Freitag is not just some rogue German paper: they have a syndication deal with the Guardian (an erst-while Wikileaks partner) making it highly unlikely they’d invent the story out of whole cloth. (Update: Der Spiegel has confirmed the existence of the file — see below for more.)
So, if the unreadacted files have found their way available online, what are we to make of it? Kraft makes a clear implication that the files might have been leaked by Assanage’s arch-nemesis (and former colleague), Daniel Domscheit-Berg of OpenLeaks. Earlier this week he claimed to have destroyed thousands of unpublished documents before leaving Wikileaks and he’s made no secret of his hatred of his old pal (I’ve written previously about his scummy anti-Assange memoir). Certainly, along with staffers at the Guardian, the New York Times and any of Wikileaks’ growing number of current and former mainstream media partners, Domscheit-Berg is a possible suspect.
In truth, it almost doesn’t matter who is responsible: the eventual release of the unredacted cables was inevitable. The message of Wikileaks — and the amoral cult of leaking for lulz that came in its wake — has always been one of callous contempt for the human cost of “free information”. From Assange’s well-publicised remarks to Guardian reporters that "if [informants] get killed, they've got it coming to them. They deserve it.", to LulSec and Anonymous’ willingness to publish the personal details of anyone even tangentially associated with their ‘enemies’, what we see time and time again from mass-leakers is a sociopath’s disregard for individuals, combined with a Hollywood serial killer’s hunger for attention. Sooner of later — for attention, to make some misguided political point, for the lulz — someone was bound to obtain and leak the raw documents.
As public attention shifted from Wikileaks to Libya or Hurricane Irene or Lady Gaga appearing in the Simpsons, so the leakers must resort to riskier and riskier behavior to get back in the headlines. And so it will be depressingly unsurprising if either side of the Wikileaks-Openleaks skirmish turns out to have gladly sacrificed the odd Afghan tribesman or Iranian civil servant in order to score a cheap point over their rival.
[Update: Der Spiegel, another former Wikileaks partner, has confirmed that the leak is legitimate, pinning the blame squarely on the rift between Assange and Domscheit-Berg.]
Der Freitag’s headline notwithstanding, there is an even more chilling irony in all of this; and to see it, you have to turn back to the beginning of the Wikileaks story. In 2010 Julian Assange invited the Guardian’s David Leigh to his hotel room to watch a video of an American helicopter allegedly mowing down a Reuter’s journalist. The name of the file was ‘Collateral Murder’, and the public’s outrage at seeing American troops’ apparent disregard for innocent life made Wikileaks — and Assange — a household name. If Der Freitag’s report is accurate, the words “Wikileaks” and “Collateral Murder” might be about to make a reappearance in the headlines. Only this time it won’t be the American military with blood on their hands, but the leakers themselves.
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