Friday, September 30, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Best Buy To Cut The HTC Flyer Tablet To $299 On October 1st

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 08:49 AM PDT


Watch out for falling tablet prices! No, seriously, don’t get burned by price cuts. The HTC Flyer is the latest tablet to see a major price reduction. Starting tomorrow, October 1st, Best Buy will lower the price of the 7-inch Android 2.3 tablet from $499 to $299. This follows the PlayBook, Xoom, and most notable, the TouchPad.

The Flyer is nearing its 6 month birthday and hasn’t fared very well in the marketplace. This is mainly because it attempted to compete directly with the iPad while offering a smaller screen and dated OS. However, had it launched at $299, the Flyer might have own over more fans because it is a capable tablet with several fun tricks including an active digitizer stylus.

Best Buy announced today that the price cut will go into effect on October 1st and apply to purchases made from Best Buy stores and the website.

Hopefully these price cuts show that manufacturers are finally waking up. Consumers are seemingly only interested in the iPad at the $500 price point. If other tabs are to be sold, they have to be priced low enough to compensate for their shortcomings and smaller feature set. The TouchPad was a massive hit at $99, but that price is not sustainable. Amazon got the Fire’s price right and the HTC Flyer might even make more friends at $299.

Company: HTC
Launch Date: September 30, 1997

HTC Corp, (TAIEX: 2498) produces smartphones running the Android and Windows Phone 7 operating systems for themselves and as an OEM to other manufacturers. Since launching its own brand in late 2006, the company has introduced dozens of HTC-branded products around the world. The company recently introduced the HTC diamond to compete with Apple’s iPhone. Founded in 1997 by Cher Wang, Chairwoman, and Peter Chou, President and CEO, HTC made its name as the company behind many of the...

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T-Mobile Poster Reveals Nokia Drive For WP7, Confirms Sabre?

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 08:40 AM PDT


Oops. A new promotional poster made an appearance in a store at T-Mobile’s German headquarters, where it confirmed the existence of a Nokia Windows Phone with a 3.7-inch display and Nokia’s Drive navigation service.

The poster was up only briefly, but a quick-thinking tipster snapped a few shots and fired them off to WinRumors. After running it through a quick and dirty Google translation, the poster’s copy mentions that Nokia Drive for WP7 includes a 3D navigation display like its MeeGo cousin, and support for voice control.

Thrilling, no? Of course, that’s not all the poster had in store for us. Further down in the description, it makes mention of a device packing a 3.7-inch curved AMOLED display.

Nokia’s fabled Searay handset reportedly bears quite a resemblance to the company’s N9, but whether or not it shares the device’s 3.9-inch display is still in the air. If it does though, then these marketing materials may refer to another Nokia device that was accidentally outed earlier this week.

If the terms and conditions of a Microsoft Canada contest are to be believed, then Nokia has at least one more Windows Phone in the pipeline. Rumors of a handset called the Sabre can be laid to rest, as the contest’s fine print seems to back up the device’s existence. Details are pretty much non-existent at this stage, but WPCentral ruminated that the Sabre would have a 3.7-inch display when they first caught wind of it last month.

The matching screen sizes could be a complete coincidence, but it’s also possible that Nokia’s Sabre is farther along then we thought. The fact that Microsoft has since pulled the offending wording from the contest rules only makes the Sabre look more official. With Nokia’s Windows Phones poised to launch before the year is out, they’ll hopefully come forward with details sooner rather than later.

Famigo Wants To Help Families Discover Kid-Friendly Mobile Apps

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 08:30 AM PDT


For many families, finding the best kid-friendly apps among the million plus apps in the Apple App Store and Android Market can be daunting. Enter Famigo, an app directory and curation platform that helps families find games, e-books and other apps that are appropriate for kids. Families can now use Family App Review to discover, select and share favorite apps for both the Apple iOS and Android mobile platforms.

Basically, Famigo not only provides an app directory but also surfaces the best apps for Apple or Android across a variety of family-focused categories, such as the best games by age group and more. Parents can also sign up to receive a weekly email that recommends the best apps for their platform of choice, iOS or Android, tailored to their family's needs. Users can also refine searches by excluding features such as advertising, profanity, violence and in-app purchases.

Famigo also claims that each app that is recommended have been tested by an internal review team. App ratings are determined by a team of internal reviewers who score apps according to topics such as "Ease of Use," "Educational Value," "Entertainment" and "Family Usefulness."

Of course, there are a number of other app discovery platforms that curate content for families, such as Appolicious.

Nike VC Arm To Invest In Green Startups

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 08:27 AM PDT


Sports brand and sneaker maker Nike is going to start investing in green startups, through its new VC arm called the Sustainable Business & Innovation Lab. This group will seek out companies focused on sustainable products, sustainable manufacturing and sustainable marketplaces.

The fund is designed to support Nike’s goals involving the integration of corporate responsibility into its business and its evolution to a “closed-loop” business model.

Nike’s focus on integrating corporate responsibility into the company began in 2004, the company explains on its website, and Nike notes in particular the efforts of its “Considered Design” solution, which is focused on making fully closed loop products that are produced using the fewest possible materials, are easily disassembled and ar capable of being recycled into new products or returned to nature at the end of their life.

Throughout FY10, Nike has been sharing its findings in this area publicly in an effort to create industry-wide scale. For example, last winter Nike released its Environmental Apparel Design Tool, which helps designers make real-time choices that decrease the environmental impact of their work.

The new SB&I team aims to further Nike’s goals in this area of sustainability and corporate responsibility, the company says. It includes around 130 people who work with sustainability specialists who are integrated into other parts of the organization including retail, logistics and I.T.

The company has not yet stated how much money the fund will involve, nor has it yet to start its investing.

From a Facebook job posting last year (discovered via PSFK), the Lab was said to have planned investments in two portfolios that would help “accelerate Nike’s sustainability vision and long-term business growth.” The description read as follows:

“The SB&I Lab will use multiple tools, primarily equity investments in early, mid and growth stage businesses. But also, as required, will invest in partnerships and alliances with institutions, governments and NGOs. Depending upon the need and opportunity, the SB&I Lab will serve as creator and manager, sole funder, lead investor, co-investor, general partner or limited partner in operating companies and organizations.”

A more current job posting describes the Lab as involving six teams, all aimed at helping Nike’s to “thrive in a resource constrained world.” While greener products will certainly have consumer appeal, despite all the corporate-speak about “the environment” and “eco-friendliness,” the bottom line for the business is making its products more cheaply.

Nike isn’t the only sports brand getting into VC investing. Adidas also backed its own VC fund earlier this year.

Company: Nike
Launch Date: September 30, 1964

Nike, Inc. designs, develops, and markets footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessory products worldwide. The company offers various categories of shoes, including running, training, basketball, soccer, sport-inspired urban shoes, and kids' shoes. It also provides shoes for aquatic activities, baseball, football, cheerleading, golf, lacrosse, outdoor activities, skateboarding, tennis, volleyball, walking, wrestling, and various athletic and recreational uses. In addition, the company offers sports-inspired lifestyle apparel, athletic bags, and accessory items. Further, it provides a line of performance equipment, including bags,...

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Backed With $1.3 Million, Pantheon Launches Drupal-Based Web Development Platform

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 07:50 AM PDT


San Francisco-based Pantheon opened its doors to the public today after a year building its Web development platform for Drupal sites.  (Drupal is an open-source content management system).  Pantheon is a combination of a Web development tool in the cloud and a Web hosting and management service.  Companies can develop, test, host, and manage their websites on Pantheon  It is all based in the cloud, and the service is free for developers.  Once you make a site go live, it costs $100  a month.

The company raised a $1.3 million seed round a year ago from First Round Capital, Baseline, Floodgate, Founder Collective, and Heroku founders James LindenbaumAdam Wiggins, and Orion Henry.  You can think of Pantheon as a Heroku for Drupal sites in that it puts the web development environment in the cloud.  Founder and CEo Zack Rosen has  simpler description of what Pantheon offers.  ” You can get an enterprise-complete website for your organization with the level of polish of a consumer-grade site.”

The reason so many corporate and organization websites look out of date is because they are built with expensive, proprietary Web development software that fails to keep up with what is going on in the consumer Web.  Pantheon offers a platform for developing custom sites.  It is built on top of Drupal, which is fast and versatile, but Pantheon makes Drupal development more accessible.  Pantheon makes it easy to deploy different versions of a site on test servers and the live site, as well as backup servers. Some Websites are already running on Pantheon. Customers include the United Nations Global Pulse site, USC Marshall School of Business, and online publisher TheFix.

The unique twist that Pantheon brings to the table is that it is not just a development environment.  Once a site is ready to go live, it runs the site as well.  ”We carry the pager for your website if anything goes down,” says Rosen. It also has done the hard work to optimize Drupal so that every site runs really fast.

Pantheon itself runs on Rackspace Cloud.   Why not Amazon Web Services?  ”Rackspace is much faster at running Drupal than Amazon,” says Rosen.  But the backend is built to make it portable if Pantheon ever decides to move.

Despite Solyndra, U.S. Solar Up 69%

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 07:32 AM PDT


In 2010, the U.S. installed 887 megawatts (MW) of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV), up 104% from the 435 MW installed in 2009, according to a new recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. However, the U.S. market’s share of global installations fell to 5.1%, down from 6.0% in 2009.

In the end of 2011, that’s expected to change, thanks to slowdowns in major European markets like Italy and Germany. And in a few years time, the report says, the U.S. market may be the largest in the world.

The report looks specifically at PV, or photovoltaics, which are the main kind of solar panel produced. These panels use polysilicon, now in oversupply.

One of the report’s key findings was the increase in grid-connected PV installations in Q2 2011 – up 69% since the same quarter last year and up 17% over Q1 2011. These have now reached 314 MW, or enough to power 63,000 homes. In addition, cumulative grid-connected PV in the U.S. is now at 2.7 gigawatts (GW).

Commercial projects increased by 22% from the previous quarter to account for nearly half of the new installations, while residential projects were about 30% and utility-scale plants were 16%. The commercial trends are expected to continue until 2012, when major non-residential markets (NJ, CA, PA) are expected to see a downturn while residential and utility markets grow. Overall, the report says, 2012 will be a more difficult year for the U.S., in large part due to the end of the Treasury grant program (Section 1603).

Six states in the U.S. installed over 10 MW each in Q2, compared with just 3 states in all of 2007. And, for the first time ever, New Jersey’s non-residential market (excluding utility projects) exceeded that of California’s, making it the largest in the country.

Despite the high-profile failures of companies like Solyndra, Evergreen and SpectraWatt, over 100,000 Americans work in the solar industry, double that from 2009, the trade group’s president Rhone Resch told Bloomberg this week. And on the whole, states the report, the U.S. is the strongest and most stable growth market for PV worldwide.

In Australia, Samsung Offers Apple A Deal Over Galaxy Tab 10.1 Ban

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 07:32 AM PDT


Last we heard of settlement talks between Apple and Samsung was in June, and you can tell from recent events that those talks probably didn’t end well.

Today in Australia, however, Samsung’s lawyers have reportedly extended an olive branch, hoping to end delays of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 launch in the Aussie market. If Apple accepts the terms of the agreement, we could see the GalTab 10.1 on Australian shelves by next week, said Samsung attorney David Catterns.

If on the other hand the two tech beasts can’t reach an agreement, the final hearing for the tablet’s permanent injunction could take quite a while, delaying the Galaxy Tab 10.1 even longer. Terms of the agreement haven’t been detailed publicly, but you can bet that Apple will benefit, reports the Wall Street Journal. Steven Burley, Apple’s lead counsel, explained that “[Samsung's] inconvenience would be diminished and [Apple] would be comforted” should the deal go forward.

“Comforted” is an interesting word. It not only connotes monetary settlement, but also the idea that Samsung and Apple have reached some sort of understanding over the way their patents and products intersect. Maybe that’s just my hope, but it’s not entirely impossible.

Judge Annabelle Bennett, who has ruled over the entire case in Australia, mentioned that this deal wouldn’t offer Samsung an absolute close to the case. It will, however, allow Samsung to offer up the GalTab to the Holiday masses (should Apple accept the proposition).


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Company: Apple
Launch Date: January 4, 1976
IPO: September 30, 1980, NASDAQ:AAPL

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, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007. Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod (offered with...

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Ex-Googlers Debut Zillabyte To Let Business Users Easily Analyze Big Data

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 07:30 AM PDT


Ex-Googler Jake Quist is debuting a new stealthy startup, called Zillabyte, that aims to disrupt the data analysis space. Quist explains that while he and his co-founder were engineers at Google, they were able to access a number of internal, extremely in-depth data analysis tools. But aside from being powerful, these tools were convenient for Quist and other Googlers to use and made it easy to analyze data and make better decisions.

As Quist tells me, When we left Google, we realized that data analysis outside the Googleplex kind of sucks. Big time. The tools available are so niche that only big enterprise can purchase them. The alternatives suck too.

Quist and his co-founder saw an opportunity to create an application that analyzes big-data but that doesn’t require a PhD to use. Basically, Zillabyte allows users to focus on their analysis and takes are of all the ugly technical details. The value proposition, says Quist, is convenience and ease of use without having to sacrifice functionality.

We’re told the application allows business users to create and run high-end analyses in the cloud. Zillabyte will remove the pain of acquiring and cleaning data, managing resources, and implementing difficult algorithms. Zillabyte builds upon known paradigms, such as spreadsheets, and automatically scales resources to run the analysis. For example, a business user can run a sentiment algorithm on Twitter, correlate it with the stock market, and visualize the resulting pattern. Users only pay for resources consumed. Power users can extend this functionality further with custom code and build entire "big-data" apps against the Zillabyte infrastructure.

Zillabyte will also come with ready-to-use datasets. One of those datasets is a crawled copy of the web. (Yes, the entire web). Users can gain insights such as: “how many sites use Facebook Connect?” or “how many sites are translated into Japanese?”. The user doesn’t need to know anything about Hadoop, and only pays for the resources used.

Additionally, Zillabyte will come with high-end algorithms, such as natural language processing (NLP) tools. For example, a user may use the crawled-web and NLP algorithms to extract all the locations associated with Barack Obama. She can then use this data to create an interactive visualization.

Of course, the underlying theme around all of these processes is that Zillabyte is easy to use for business users. Unfortunately, the startup, which is self-funded, is in private beta and will launch to the public in March of next year.

There’s no doubt that the big data, business intelligence space has huge potential. We’ll see soon if Zillabyte can be one of the disruptive startups in this market. Stay tuned.

Samsung Announces The Dual-Core Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 06:36 AM PDT


Despite the fact that Apple has found a way to block sales of the latest two Galaxy Tabs, Samsung is going to try try again. The company officially announced the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus this morning, a 7-inch, HSPA+, dual-core slate. With the 7.0 Plus, Samsung has basically covered every size tablet there is: two 10.1-inch models, an 8.9-incher, a 7.7-inch tab, now a straight up 7-incher, along with the 5.3-inch smartphone/tablet hybrid Galaxy Note.

While the GalTab 7.0 Plus seems like a mighty fine Android tab, it does have a lower-quality screen than its 7.7-inch brother. Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing the Galaxy Tab 7.7 or the Galaxy Note anytime soon here in the States, which means that the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus will have to do. The GalTab 7.0 Plus weighs in at .76 lbs and has a waist line of just .39 inches.

Other specs include a dual-core 1.2GHz processor underneath Android 3.2 Honeycomb and Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. The 7-inch WVGA screen sports a 1024×600 resolution, making it just a tad less awesome than the Galaxy Tab 7.7‘s 1280×800 Super AMOLED Plus display. The 7.0 Plus will ship with a AutoFocus/LED Flash-enabled 3-megapixel rear camera (which shoots in 720p and supports video playback in 1080p) along with a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat.

In terms of connectivity, everything you’d expect is along for the ride: Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, USB 2.0, along with support for HSPA+. The slate comes with 1GB of RAM, will ship in 16GB and 32GB flavors, and offer support for a microSD card up to 32GB.

Now the only question is: how long before Apple comes after this one?


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Canonical Releases Windows Version of Ubuntu One

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 06:30 AM PDT


Canonical, the commercial backer behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, have been hosting a file synchronization service called Ubuntu One for a couple years now. A free account gets you 5GB of storage, and the client side controls have been baked into the last couple of releases of the Ubuntu distribution. It works pretty much like Dropbox or similar services, but has been — until today — Linux-only.

In an announcement late last night, Canonical has revealed that there is now a Windows client for Ubuntu One, allowing you to access all your files from either Linux or Windows computers.

We have long received feedback from Ubuntu users regarding their evolving needs to manage all their content from a single, secure place across multiple platforms and devices. We've looked at many use cases, the most common being the Ubuntu user who is using more than one device or OS. Many people have to work in Windows or Mac environments, even if they prefer to use Ubuntu as their home desktop or OS of choice. Another case is enabling more opportunities for sharing across platforms. For example families using different operating systems in one household can use Ubuntu One as their central place to store all their music, documents, photos and share them easily with each other and friends.

Ubuntu One also offers a nifty music streaming service. For $4 per month, you get 20 GB of storage and the ability to stream music files from your account to your mobile device. The Ubuntu One app is available for iOS and Android, and Android devices get the added benefit of a controllable offline cache, allowing you to listen to your cloud-stored music without requiring a network connection. Neat stuff.

Report: HP Still Looking To Offload Palm, Amazon Named As Top Contender

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 05:50 AM PDT


The Kindle Fire announcement set the interwebs ablaze as Amazon burst into the tablet scene. But the retailer-turned-CE player might be looking to go a different way in the future. Amazon has been named as Palm’s current top suitor among “a handful of contenders” as HP looks to rid itself from the TouchPad/webOS disaster.

It’s unclear from VentureBeat’s leaks why Amazon is interested in Palm. Ditching Android for webOS after building an ecosystem around Android seems foolish and shortsighted. This move, if it’s really happening, could be more about hardware development and patents than reviving a dead operating system. Sorry, fanboys.

Amazon launched the Kindle Fire earlier this week, which brings nearly all of Amazon’s cloud services into one device. Even Amazon’s massive cloud servers, Amazon EC2, are used in the clever Silk browser and the Amazon Appstore finally has flagship device in the Fire. Amazon rebuilt its Kindle syncing platform, Whispersync, to enable resuming of TV shows and movies purchased or streamed using its Prime Instant Vidoes Android app. The Fire is the compilation of a lot of Amazon’s work — and it’s all built around Android.

Adding a second tablet to Amazon’s offering seems to go against the Kindle brand’s mantra of keeping it simple. The Fire isn’t about Android or specs. It’s a tablet built around the same principles as the iPad. By bringing webOS into the fold, Amazon turns the attention to the platform, capabilities and differences rather than the form and function. A webOS Kindle doesn’t make sense.

Instead, if Amazon is indeed looking to acquire Palm from HP, the company could be looking to acquire a proper hardware design team. Amazon reportedly outsourced the Fire’s development to Quanta, who, as Ryan Block puts it, “helped them shortcut the development process by using the PlayBook as their hardware template.” Amazon is clearly going all-in on tablets and will need the right principles in place for future products. However, Palm, and even HP, have never been known to make killer hardware so even this motive is a bit questionable.

The notion of Amazon buying Palm seems a bit untimely at this point. Amazon is fully vested in the Android ecosystem with a host of apps and services. Plus, the Android-powered Fire is seemingly a hit. The install base of webOS, even after the $99 TouchPad fire sale, isn’t large enough to compensate the upfront cost and effort resurrecting a dead platform. Palm off-loaded most pre-webOS patents before HP acquired the company in 2010 so Amazon would only be purchasing whatever patents were left over or granted within the last few years.

Steve Ballmer proudly proclaimed that Android isn’t free and his company is constantly signing new Android licensing agreements. In fact Microsoft reportedly makes more money from Android than its own Windows Phone 7. Amazon’s only play, and this is a stretch given the company’s Android investment, would be to buy webOS upfront to avoid any potential deals with Microsoft down the road. Some companies are fighting Microsoft’s patents but others, including Samsung, HTC and Acer, have already signed on the dotted line.

From this vantage point outside of Amazon’s boardrooms, it doesn’t seem like Amazon needs Palm or webOS. The company did a fine job retooling Android into a consumer-friendly offering and is the only company outside of Apple to supplement hardware with a rich set of services and media, properly setting up the Fire for success. But if the price is right and Amazon foresees a legal battle with Microsoft, it’s completely plausible Amazon will be the next owner of the company that first innovated and advanced touchscreen tablets.

Company: Palm
Launch Date: September 30, 1992
Funding: $100M

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 consumers, mobile professionals and businesses included Palm® Treo™ and Centro™ smartphones and Palm handheld computers, as well as software, services and accessories. In July 2010, Palm was acquired by HP. The Palm brand was subsequently discontinued upon the introduction of webOS products under the HP brand.

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Product: Kindle Fire
Company Amazon

Kindle Fire brings you Movies, apps, games, music, reading and more, plus Amazon’s cloud-accelerated web browser Product features: 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books Amazon Appstore - thousands of popular apps and games Ultra-fast web browsing - Amazon Silk Free cloud storage for all your Amazon content Vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle Fast, powerful dual-core processor Amazon Prime members enjoy unlimited, instant streaming of over 10,000 popular movies and TV shows

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Learn more Sues Facebook, Says Its New Timeline Feature Could “Eliminate” Them

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 05:49 AM PDT


Timelines Inc., a small venture capital-backed Chicago company that operates the website, has launched a trademark-infringement suit against Facebook on Thursday, claiming that the latter’s recently announced Timeline feature could “quite possibly eliminate” its entire business. is a website that basically allows people to record and share personal or historic events, and contribute descriptions, links, photos and videos related to those events, people, companies, bands and whatnot (i.e. Cuban Missile Crisis, Al Capone and Pink Floyd).

The suit essentially claims that Facebook’s Timeline service (see their blog post announcing the feature) has the potential to put Timelines Inc. straight out of Compton business.

From the complaint (also embedded below):

This matter seeks to protect Timelines, a small company headquartered in Chicago, that has been in business for almost five years, from being rolled over and quite possibly eliminated by the unlawful action by the world's largest and most powerful social media company, Facebook.

Facebook has announced its intention to use and, indeed has already begun to re-direct Internet traffic, using Timelines' federally registered "TIMELINES" trademark as the centerpiece of Facebook's new product offering going forward, a move that, given the size and reach of Facebook, will essentially eliminate Timelines and leave the public with the confusing impression that plaintiff Timelines is somehow affiliated with Facebook.

In the event that Facebook is permitted to move forward with release of its "Timeline" product offering, consumer confusion with Timelines' existing "Timelines" website will invariably result.

The suit also claims that Facebook hijacked the URL, which used to lead to Timelines’ Facebook page (and is, ironically, still linked to at the top of the website):

Facebook's "Timeline" offering and its misdirection of users attempting to access Timelines' offering is intended to prevent Internet users from accessing information about and to allow users to instead use Facebook's "Timeline" offering.

Timelines is the owner of the registered trademarks "Timelines" (U.S. Reg. No. 3,684,074), "" (U.S. Reg. No. 3,764,134), and "Timelines & design" (U.S. Reg. No. 3,784,720).

We’ve reached out to Facebook for a response to Timelines’ allegations.

Company: Timelines
Funding: $3M

Timelines, Inc. provides services that enable people and entities to discover, record and share history using the web. The company's platform is uniquely built to chronicle events (using descriptions, photos, videos, and locations contributed by multiple users), and then enables people to relate these events to each other based on time, place or topic. Timelines offers three services:, for individuals and entities that want to reach and interact with a broad audience about publicly shared events; Timelines...

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Company: Facebook
Launch Date: January 2, 2004
Funding: $2.34B

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 500 million users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks. The original idea for the term...

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Video Calling Service Tango Launches On PC

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 04:57 AM PDT

Tango logo

As promised earlier this summer, mobile video calling app Tango has finally made it to the PC. Today, a year after its launch on iOS and Android, Tango is now available for Windows desktop computers (XP, Vista and Windows 7). The company says a Mac version will be available later this year.

As with the mobile product, the new PC version is designed to be easy to use. There is no login or password required. Instead, you just enter in your phone number and email address to get started. For existing Tango users, the PC app automatically populates your address book with your Tango contacts – that is, the folks the app originally discovered in your phone’s contact list upon first install. You can also invite people to join Tango from the new PC app via SMS or email.

Although we didn’t have much opportunity to experiment with the app in its pre-launch state, there is one major, noticeable difference between it and Skype: it looks like a giant iPhone.

Tango has consistently focused on having a minimalist feature set, and the PC app is no different. At launch, there aren’t advanced options like group calling, text chat, file sharing options or credits to purchase. Says Tango Co-founder Eric Setton, of those, text chat would be “great to have” in the future, but it’s not something that’s immediately planned. As for group calling, Tango thinks of that as more of a business-grade feature, and, given its focus on the consumer, is not interested in including it at this time, either.

What is planned for the near future, though, is a premium level of service. Setton says Tango’s voice and video calling will always be free but some yet-to-be announced paid services will be made available later this year as optional add-ons. Tango will not charge for usage or include advertising, Setton confirms, but the company is confident that it can turn a percentage of its 23 million users into paying customers.

In July, the company took in $42 million in series B financing led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the same VC firm that first invested in Skype. Angel investors Len Blavatnik and Alex Zubillaga also participated. This funding was on top of the $14 million Tango already had in venture capital.

Windows was chosen as the third platform for Tango based on its size (1.5 billion PC’s worldwide) in addition to being the number one feature request from Tango users. To date, Setton says Tango’s adoption has followed smartphone trends with 50% of its user base in the U.S. and the developed markets in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The rapidly growing service is now adding 70,000 to 80,000 new members daily, with 75% of its sign-ups coming through word-of-mouth recommendations. With Tango’s Windows launch, those numbers should increase yet again.

You can grab the new Tango PC app from the company’s website here.

Company: Tango
Launch Date: September 9, 2009
Funding: $55.7M

Tango is a free, high-quality mobile video calling service for iPhone and Android that works on 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi. Tango empowers people to share what they see and to have fun with video calling whether at home or on-the-go. Tango offers high-quality video calling for iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, and Android devices including Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO, HTC Incredible, and Google Nexus One, and works with carrier phone and data plans, and on Wi-Fi networks....

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Appsfire To Amazon: Your Kindle Fire Logo Looks Mighty Familiar

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 04:25 AM PDT


Hey Amazon, Appsfire wants to have a chat about your logo for the Kindle Fire, that interesting, affordable tablet you announced a few days ago. They’re upset because it looks a lot like theirs.

Writes Appsfire co-founder Ouriel Ohayon:

So, ok. We're a small startup with "only" 3 million users and some PR coverage all around the world. But we still feel that something is wrong there. From the font type to the colour code and even clear/dark backrground combination..

Believe us… we really don't have the time to mess around with minor issues -we're too busy right now- but we love our logo and we want it to be unique enough.

He also suggests Amazon may have learned about Appsfire when they wrote a post criticizing their Android Appstore.

Sure, the logos do look familiar, but in my mind it doesn’t feel like the kind of trap a company like Amazon would walk into, eyes wide open. I’m calling coincidence.

What’s your take?

Company: AppsFire
Launch Date: September 30, 2011
Funding: $4.6M

AppsFire produces a discovery platform for both iOS and Android mobile applications that allows users to share and distribute their favorite apps.

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Company: Amazon
Launch Date: September 30, 1994
IPO: 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 into the long tail by housing them all in numerous warehouses and distributing products from many partner companies. Amazon directly sells, or acts as a platform for the sale of a broad range of products. These include books, music, videos, consumer electronics, clothing and household products. The majority of Amazon's...

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Product: Kindle Fire
Company Amazon

Kindle Fire brings you Movies, apps, games, music, reading and more, plus Amazon’s cloud-accelerated web browser Product features: 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books Amazon Appstore - thousands of popular apps and games Ultra-fast web browsing - Amazon Silk Free cloud storage for all your Amazon content Vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle Fast, powerful dual-core processor Amazon Prime members enjoy unlimited, instant streaming of over 10,000 popular movies and TV shows

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Sharp Showcases 4K LCD TV (3,840×2,160 Resolution), To Sell It 2012

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 03:13 AM PDT

sharp tv

Full HD resolution (1,920×1,080 pixels) isn’t enough for Sharp. The company has developed [JP] a TV that’s capable of producing images with 3,840×2,160 resolution and is ready to show the device to the public during the CEATEC 2011 exhibition that takes place next week near Tokyo.

The 60-inch 4K TV has been developed in cooperation with the I3 (I-cubed) Research Center in Kawasaki. I am assuming Sharp will share more detailed specs when they bring the prototype to CEATEC (so far, only the size and resolution have been revealed).

It’s not as impressive as that 85-inch TV with Super Hi-Vision resolution (7,680×4,320 pixels) Sharp showed in May this year, but in contrast to that model, the 4K TV has a (vague) sales date: sometime in 2012 and in Japan first, according to the company.

Via AV Watch [JP]

Disney Mobile Japan Announces Two (Cute) Android Phones

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 01:45 AM PDT

Picture 6

Disney, which has been doing business as an MVNO in Japan (Disney Mobile) since 2008, took the wraps off two new Android phones [JP] yesterday. The DM010SH will be rolled out in Japan in October, followed by the DM011SH in December (prices tbd).

Technically, the DM010SH is based on the Sharp’s AQUOS 009SH [JP] and features Android 2.3, a 4-inch LCD with QHD resolution, an 8MP CMOS camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a microSDHC slot, a digital TV tuner, an e-wallet function, infrared communication, etc.

The DM011SH is based on Sharp’s AQUOS 007SH, that pretty weird mix between feature phone and smartphone. Specs: Android 2.3, waterproof body, 3.4-inch LCD touchscreen with 854×480 resolution, 16MP CCD camera with 1,280×720 HD video recording, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, digital TV tuner, e-wallet function, etc. (there’s also a Hello Kitty phone based on this model).

Disney Mobile will offer special content with the phones, for example home screens showing Disney characters and icons, a Disney-themed calculator, calendar, alarm clock, and other apps (see below).

The company is already selling a Disney Android phone in Japan.

You Know What’s Cool? Not Myspace

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 01:02 AM PDT

Screen Shot 2011-09-30 at 1.09.54 AM

Myspace savior Specific Media laid off 8% of its staff yesterday, about 50 people. Those laid off were mostly Myspace employees, presumably eagerly awaiting their severance package according to one source; “The people that [sic] got let go were celebrating because Specific Media doesn’t have a clue what to do.”

In the past three months, Specific Media had gone from the excitement of new acquisition smell to post partum depression it seems like, recently scaling back this summer’s grand Myspace relaunch plans because of unfavorable progress.

We armchair tech enthusiasts can say that this was inevitable, but hindsight is 20/20 especially when you consider the ambitions Specific Media held for the company exactly a quarter ago, hoping that Myspace could find solace as a platform for premium celebrity online content.

At their grand entrance on Myspace’s sale day, Specific Media co-founders Tim and Chris Vanderhook sauntered into HQ to rally the troops — mainly with the news that former Mouseketeer and current superstar Justin Timberlake would also have skin in the Myspace game. One of those troops decided to record the speech for perpetuity, which you can listen to above in full.

It’s a pretty fascinating recording — in case someone at HBS is in need of a spare case study …

With their Pollyanna-esque enthusiasm, the Vanderhooks are basically making the classic mistake certain ad networks make, thinking that because they have the ads they can become a content or media company. Great media companies start with the media. Anyone can sell ads, but creating great content is an art.

Parts of the talk I found endearing …

“We wanted to move from just the advertising piece and truly become a digital media company.”

“What we were looking for was ‘Can we find a property that has scale and reach and really fits the bill that we could match up with our advertising infrastructure and then go head to head with Yahoo, go head to head with Facebook, go head to head with AOL, go head to head with AOL. Go head to head with Microsoft?’”


“We grew up in Southern California. We love Myspace. This is an iconic brand, we plan to bring back what Myspace was supposed to be. We want to invest in the business.”

“We are fired up, Justin [Timberlake] is fired up. He can’t wait to interact”

“I think it’s pretty simple, I mean you look at Myspace, it has a great platform, great technology, 70 million people still using the site. People can talk about the decline but there’s just one thing missing, it’s just got to be cool. At one point Myspace was cool and all of a sudden Facebook somehow became cool, We’re going to make Face uh – Myspace cool again.”

Denial is sometimes a lot more dangerous than that river in Egypt.

Company: MySpace
Launch Date: January 8, 2003

MySpace is one of the world's largest social networks, with about 125 million users. Originally inspired by Friendster, MySpace quickly grew to become the world's largest social network, before being overtaken by Facebook. User pages are highly customizable and support integration with widgets such as Slide or YouTube. MySpace provides users with a way to connect around content and culture. MySpace was started as a side project of the internet marketing company eUniverse (now called Intermix Media) in August...

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Orange To Bring Sharp 3D Android Phone To Asia And Europe

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 01:01 AM PDT


Is this finally the beginning of Japanese Android phones being made available outside their home market? Japan’s biggest mobile carrier NTT Docomo yesterday announced it has inked a deal with French telco Orange to bring a Sharp Android handset to Asia and Europe.

The handset in question is a pretty nice one, the AQUOS PHONE SH80F (pictured), that Sharp introduced (together with Docomo) in Japan back in May.

In Japan, the device is called “AQUOS PHONE SH-12C” and comes with Android 2.3, two 8MP CMOS cameras, 3D video recording in 720×1280 resolution, a 4.2-inch naked-eye 3D display with 960×540 resolution, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and an HDMI connection.

I’m assuming that for the European version, Sharp will axe the infrared connection, e-wallet function, and digital TV tuner (no details yet).

Orange says they will introduce the AQUOS PHONE SH80F in France as early as October 6, before rolling it out in “Asia and Europe”. The company has over 200 million customers worldwide.

Sharp, the market leader in Japan’s mobile market (over 25% share), has been talking about exporting its handsets for years.

Daily Crunch: Time Spent

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 01:00 AM PDT

GetComparisons: A Tale Of The Tape For Anything

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 10:57 PM PDT

Screen Shot 2011-09-29 at 10.36.41 PM

Nexus S or iPhone? Kindle Fire or iPad? Samsung TV or LG TV? When people try to make such decisions, they usually look for as much data as possible so they can compare choices. For many gadgets, that’s relatively easy because you can compare similar specs such as CPU speed, RAM, screen size, etc. But what about for everything else? That’s what the startup GetComparisons is going after.

They aim to be the “Epinions for comparisons,” founder Akshay Arabolu says. The service is all about gathering user-written product reviews and formatting them in such a way that it’s easy to compare things. While a service like gdgt does a great job of this for gadgets, Arabolu found a pain point in trying to figure out if he should use WordPress or Tumblr for blogging. So that’s the service he set out to build.

“We want to own the mindshare for comparisons on the web,” Arabolu says. “But we don’t want it to be Britney Spears versus Lady Gaga — we want to focus on products and services that people spend time and money on,” he continues, noting that they started with web products but are now broadening their scope. It’s all about what comparisons the users are interested in seeing, he notes. Anyone can request a review on the site.

And again, it’s the users who then populate the reviews. “We provide a template for the reviews,” Arabolu explains. “It’s somewhere in the middle of Quora and Yahoo Answers,” he continues, noting that they wanted to make it as simple as possible, but also make it robust enough to provide good information. Reviews feature individual attributes that go from one to five stars (I don’t love the one to five star system, as I explain here). But there’s also plenty of room for users to explain their ratings.

In terms of the fear that people may game such a system, Arabolu says their commitment to transparency in the reviews will mitigate that. In fact, the plan is to let official representatives for companies fill out specs and explain features of products as long as they’re properly identified as employees of the brand.

Arabolu says that he started building GetComparisons a year ago with two contractors. In March of this year, he hired his first full-time employee, and now they are a team of five. The Atlanta-based startup came my way after I did a talk a couple months ago and agreed to sit down with one company in the audience as voted on by the CommonRed community. They beat out 52 other entries, so clearly have some people pulling for them.

GetComparisons just got done with a new redesign this week. One thing you won’t find anywhere on the site: ads. “We spent too much time on our UI,” Arabolu says.


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