Friday, September 23, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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B&N Releasing Two New Nooks This Quarter

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 09:43 AM PDT

Screen Shot 2011-09-23 at 12.42.55 PM

The ninjas at The Digital Reader have uncovered the names of two new Nook Color versions – the Encore, priced at $249, and the Acclaim, priced at $349. The Nook Touch (now called the Nook Smart Touch) will remain $139.

What are these new devices? Nate at The Digital Reader posits that the Smart Touch is a 6-inch Nook Touch while the Encore is a 7-inch Nook Color. Aside from the fact that the Acclaim is also a shuttered games company, we know very little about the new devices. All of these products should hit in Q4 and given Amazon’s race to build an Android reader, they can’t come too soon. The Nook Color and the Nook Touch are both excellent devices but the Color is a bit dated in these days of retina screens and Honeycomb. A strong refresh should keep B&N’s momentum going for the next few months.

I’ve put feelers out but thanks to Nate for his great scoop and read up more on his findings over at the Digital Reader.


Company: Amazon
Website: amazon.com
Launch Date: September 23, 1994
IPO: NASDAQ:AMZN

Amazon.com 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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“Another World” Finds New Life On iOS, Still Crazy Hard

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 09:35 AM PDT

anotherworld

When it was released in 1991 on the Amiga, Another World was one of those games that drew you into its world from the very first second, and kept you at rapt attention even after you died countless times. The game has spent nearly two decades meandering from computer to console and vice versa, but Eric Chahi’s creation has just made the leap onto iOS just in time for its 20th anniversary.

Another World is a platformer that follows a red-headed, Ferrari-driving physicist whose latest experiment launches him into an alien world. Better known as the less auspicious “Out Of This World” here in the States, the new app from DotEmu and BulkyPix plays things very close to the original. The pixelated retro look of the main character and the alien world in which he finds himself have been replaced with crisper visuals, but (thankfully) the game retains its quiet, alien charm. Purists will be glad to know, though, that the game’s original look is a quick two-finger swipe away.

In order to attain the fluid motion that made Another World such an eye-opener, creator Chahi rotoscoped video of himself bounding over and picking up objects. In light of today’s hyper-realistic games, Chahi’s efforts may look quaint, but it’s sure to fill old-school gamers with a bit of nostalgia.

No flash has been added to appeal to new audiences, and the unwavering difficulty remains the same — it’s a essentially a straight port of a classic, for better or worse. The biggest stumbling block that Another World has to contend with is the device that it’s now going to be played on.

It was never an especially easy game, even when you had a trusty keyboard to work with, but playing it with a touchscreen adds another level of challenge to a game that doesn’t need it. Example: the beginning of the game requires you to run and bound over a few poisonous slugs, and then run in the opposite direction from a larger alien beastie. I played it for a bit and the game was as difficult as ever but the up and down swipes to swim, jump, and interact with objects were a bit easier on the iPad than I expected but still not quite there.

Maybe my reflexes have dulled since last I played, but it took me several tries to guide the our protagonist through those first minutes of the game. The touch controls start to make more sense after a while, but (and this is critical) I never really like I had full control over my character.

It’s a shame, really. Another World is one of those games that nerds (like myself) have put on a pedestal over the years, but the controls really mar what is otherwise a fond trip down memory lane. For those willing to deal with iffy controls to relive the good ol’ days, Another World costs $4.99 and is available in the App Store now.



(Founder Stories) Eric Ries: Missing The Bullseye Made The Lean Startup

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 09:22 AM PDT

Ries 1a-tc_upload.mp4

In this episode of Founder Stories with host Chris Dixon, Dixon sits down with The Lean Startup author, Eric Ries.

Ries tells Dixon he jumped into the startup game in the late 90′s and like almost everybody else at the time, "when the bubble crashed we were completely toast." Leaving the carnage behind Ries headed to Silicon Valley with the mission of learning "professional entrepreneurship."

In the Valley Ries joined There, which he describes as a "Second Life competitor." There had tens of millions of dollars in funding and top-tier talent. After five years in stealth development, it also had a high profile, unspectacular rollout which Ries remembers as "embarrassing and humiliating."

Lesson learned, or so he thought. Ries launched IMVU, where "instead of spending years and millions of dollars in stealth mode we put a product in customers hands in full open public beta in six months." Unfortunately IMVU also had a less than stellar initial release, but Ries tells Dixon the experience ultimately helped IMVU get the model right and led to him forming what would become the Lean Startup methodology.

In the video below, Ries and Dixon discuss what being lean means. Key concepts include iterating quickly, rapidly putting product in customers hands and getting feedback from customers. Ries agrees that lean "has nothing to do with the amount of money you raise.”

Watch the full episode for additional insights and be sure to catch past episodes of Founder Stories, which feature leaders including Dustin Moskovitz and Kevin Ryan.

Part II of Dixon’s conversation with Ries is coming up.


Eric Ries is the author of the forthcoming book, [The Lean Startup] (http://theleanstartup.com). Previously, he co-founded and served as Chief Technology Officer of IMVU. He is the co-author of several books including The Black Art of Java Game Programming (Waite Group Press, 1996). While an undergraduate at Yale Unviersity, he co-founded Catalyst Recruiting. Although Catalyst folded with the dot-com crash, Ries continued his entrepreneurial career as a Senior Software Engineer at There.com, leading efforts in agile software development and...

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Chris Dixon currently works as the CEO and Co-founder of Hunch. He is also a contributing writer for TechCrunch. He previously was the CEO and Co-founder of SiteAdvisor, which was acquired by McAfee. Chris is a personal investor in early-stage technology companies, including Skype, TrialPay, DocVerse, Invite Media, Gerson Lehrman Group, ScanScout, OMGPOP, BillShrink, Oddcast, Panjiva, Knewton, and a handful of other startups that are still in stealth mode. In addition to his personal investments, Chris is also a...

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Poll: Which Will Be The Stronger Brand, Netflix Or Blockbuster?

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 08:20 AM PDT

Blockbuster sign

Blockbuster is back. Today it is expected to launch a new streaming video service to take on Netflix. Blockbuster was bought out of bankruptcy by Dish Network for $230 million last April and everybody, including Netflix, has been waiting for it to fully enter the digital age with an all-you-can-eat streaming video service.

We will learn later today exactly how Blockbuster plans to compete. The fight should be interesting. Both Blockbuster and Netflix have well-established brands. However, Blockbuster’s brand is more associated these days with shuttered and empty stores. Can a relaunch restore the shine to its tarnished brand?

Meanwhile, Netflix is having its own brad challenges. Its recent price hike for some customers, followed by its announcement that it will split off its DVD-only business into the poorly-named Qwikster is alienating many of its customers. Still, it has the advantage here with more than 20 million subscribers paying for streaming (half of which are streaming-only subscribers). Relatively speaking, in the U.S. we are still at the very early stages of adoption for streaming full-length TV shows and movies. Which brand is better positioned? Take the poll below.

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Company: Netflix
Website: netflix.com
Launch Date: September 23, 1997
IPO: NASDAQ:NFLX

With more than 23.3 million members in the United States and Canada, Netflix, Inc. is the world's leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV shows. For $7.99 a month, Netflix members in the U.S. can instantly watch unlimited movies and TV episodes streaming right to their TVs and computers and can receive unlimited DVDs delivered quickly to their homes. In Canada, streaming unlimited movies and TV shows from Netflix is available for $7.99 a month. There are...

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International Video Site ViKi Debuts iPhone App, Will Partner With Samsung For Android App

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 08:20 AM PDT

viki-1

ViKi, an international video site for world TV series and movies translated in 100+ languages by its community, is debuting a new iPhone app today, called ViKi On-The-Go.

As we’ve written in the past, ViKi is an open-source-like solution for video, and acquires the rights to TV shows and movies. The site then puts it on one of its channels and within the first 24 hours an organized, volunteer community subtitles the content using ViKi’s software. The site has gained considerable traction in the past year. Currently, ViKi is seeing 8.5 million unique visitors and 36 million tota visits in the past month, which is four times the traffic that ViKi has seen from last year.

One of the most wanted features, says the startup, is a mobile offering. The new app is free (with in-stream ads), and will contain TV series, movies, and entertainment news from around the world, with subtitles created by fans. The app currently includes movies from Japan, India’s Bollywood, Egypt, Indonesian and TV series from Hong Kong, Venezuela, Russia, Korea and the UK (e.g. Hotel Babylon & Mistresses from the BBC).

ViKi is also partnering up with Samsung Southeast Asia to develop an Android app for the company’s tablets. The app will be launching later this year in Southeast Asia. The partnership is expected to expand to other regions early next year.

What’s interesting about ViKi is that the model allows content owners to open up to new international markets. Investors have bet on ViKi’s model too—the company recently raised $4.3 million in funding from Saar Gur of Charles River Ventures, Reid Hoffman of Greylock, Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz, and others.



Conceptboard Debuts Better Whiteboarding For Google+ Hangouts

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 08:02 AM PDT

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It’s only been a few days since the launch of the official Google+ Hangouts API (application programming interface), but we’re already starting to see some interesting implementations make their debut. Case in point: online whiteboarding service Conceptboard has introduced a Hangouts extension that puts Google’s own newly integrated Sketchpad to shame.

On Wednesday, Google rolled out 9 new Google+ features, including several “extras” for Google+ Hangouts, the social network’s multi-person video chat component. Now in beta, these features allow Hangouts users to work together on Google Docs, share screens or collaborate together in Sketchpad, a simple shared sketching application.

The Google Sketchpad in Hangouts lets users draw, add shapes, text, lines, images and more into a basic blank document which can be saved to Google Docs.

Conceptboard’s Hangouts extension, however, offers a much richer implementation of shared whiteboarding. Essentially, the company has just packed its current online whiteboarding service into Hangouts, allowing users to freehand scribble, use drawing tools, import other files (including images, PDFs, Office docs), write notes, create tasks and take screenshots and share their screen area and cursor with others (i.e., presentation mode).

The boards are also available when the Hangout ends on Conceptboard’s website for those who create a free account and via a unique URL.

Most importantly, these boards are accessible to others who don’t have the extension, a Google+ account or the Chrome Web browser installed. The non-Google+ users can use Conceptboard’s online service to collaborate with the others instead.

Google+’s Hangouts API is still in testing, so Conceptboard’s Chrome extension is a “technology preview” for now. There may be bugs, but if you get hung up, you can contact the company’s support team here. The extension itself is available for free here on the Chrome Web Store.




Texas Instruments Closes $6.5B Acquisition Of National Semiconductor

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:53 AM PDT

national-semiconductor-corporation-picture

Texas Instruments has closed its $6.5 billion acquisition of fellow semiconductor manufacturer National Semiconductor. In April, Texas Instruments announced all-cash deal, which was valued at $25 per share. The deal has now cleared all regulatory reviews and has shareholder approval.

Santa Clara-based National Semiconductor is a semiconductor manufacturer, specializing in analog devices and subsystems. The company’s products include power management circuits, display drivers, audio and operational amplifiers, communication interface products and data conversion solutions.

National’s 5,000-plus employees will immediately become part of TI. The two companies will integrate National as a unit of TI’s Analog business, which will have a combined portfolio of nearly 45,000 analog products, customer design tools, and a sales force that is 10 times larger than National’s previous footprint.

TI will continue to operate National’s manufacturing sites, located in Maine, Scotland and Malaysia, as well as business headquarters in Santa Clara and sales/design support around the world.

As Texas Instrument’s Chairman and CEO Rich Templeton said at the time the acquisition was announced, the combination of TI’s sales team and National’s portfolio of analog products will help increase the joint company’s profitability and help expand to additional markets. With the closure of the deal, TI’s says its Analog semiconductor business now represents more than 50 percent of the company’s revenue.



Samsung: Apple’s Been “Freeriding,” We’re Getting Aggressive

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:37 AM PDT

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If you were to take a good hard look at the Apple-Samsung trail of destruction (otherwise known as their world-wide patent war), you’d likely come to the conclusion that Apple is ahead by a few key points. Apple has taken down the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany, won an EU-wide (sort of) injunction on three Galaxy smartphones (though Samsung’s found a way to keep selling them), and kept the GalTab from being sold in Australia as well. Samsung has yet to get any iProduct removed from store shelves.

Obviously, this is an ongoing war and anything could happen, but as it rests now Apple has the advantage. With any win, however contained, the psychological affects of that win carry over into other court systems and countries. So Apple’s win is more than just a win in Europe, and a semi-win in Australia — it’s a sign to all the other courts that Apple may just have a point to their argument. To Samsung, this effect is lethal.

With that said, Samsung’s head of global marketing for mobile communications Lee Younghee has said that Samsung plans to take a much more aggressive stance with regard to Apple, reports the AP. After hearing this, Samsung’s somewhat tentative attitude throughout these proceedings makes much more sense. It’s well known that Samsung and Apple share a fruitful business relationship, with Samsung being a component supplier for Apple and Apple, in turn, being one of Samsung’s biggest customers.

Apple hasn’t done much to protect this relationship over the course of the battle, asserting rights in any country it can and alleging infringement at every turn. Of course, Samsung has filed plenty of its own lawsuits and appeals, but in almost every case it’s had the appearance of a retaliatory move, rather than a switch over to the offensive. In this way, Samsung has played the game slow and steady, refraining from crossing any line until the company is prepared to never return.

But that’s over. Early on in the battle, Samsung almost seemed flattered by the lawsuits. Chairman of Samsung Electronics Lee Kun-hee said that “when a nail sticks out, people try to pound it down. [Such incidents] are like a rite of passage that the company has to go through in order to continue its growth.” That was back in April, when this whole mess began. Now, things are quite different. Apple is very clearly going for the jugular, while Samsung has merely been defending itself. A strong defense (with regards to the suits Samsung initiated), but a defense nonetheless.

According to Lee Younghee, “We’ll be pursuing our rights for this in a more aggressive way from now on.” She also added that Apple has been “freeriding” on Samsung’s wireless communication technology patents. That aligns rather nicely with comments made by an unnamed Samsung executive to the Korea Times, promising to come after the iPhone 5 in Korea as soon as its debuted. That exec mentioned that the only way to avoid such litigation would be if Apple removed “mobile telecommunications functions” from the iPhone.

The way I see it, Samsung is trying to turn the tables on Apple. After playing the victim role (to an extent), Samsung will likely begin dropping bombs, hoping to secure a solid win. If that happens, Apple’s advantage dies and the possibility of a settlement becomes much more attractive to Apple the aggressor. With the way the game’s been played thus far, a settlement is actually a big win for Samsung. It may preserve the business relationship it has with Apple, while proving to the world that Apple is indeed afraid of Samsung and its increasing growth.


Website: samsung.com
Launch Date: September 23, 1969

Samsung is one of the largest super-multinational companies in the world. It’s possibly best known for it’s subsidiary, Samsung Electronics, the largest electronics company in the world.

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Fantastical: My Favorite New Calendar App

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:30 AM PDT

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I’ve been using a pretty cool app of late called Fantastical. It’s OS X-only but I suspect the Windows crowd would get a kick out of it as well.

Basically it’s a natural language calendar app. You can paste (nearly) anything into its little window and it will automagically create an event. “Dinner with Joe at 5pm on Thursday” works just as you would imagine it would and unless today is Thursday, Fantastical will figure things out. It fumbles sometimes with word order and ends up setting all day lunches with “Tuesday” but most of the time that’s reparable with a few keystrokes.

The app does reproduce some of the features of OS X Mail, especially the automatic date entry features, but I’ve found that I use it to record flight times by copying and pasting them from the airline website and I’m able to create ad hoc events (“Drinks with T-Pain 5pm Weds”) and even simple reminders (“call Dalai Lama tomorrow”).

The company, founded by school chums Michael Simmons and Kent Sutherland the app has been around since May. There’s a new update coming shortly that will enable in-line calendar entry editing. The app costs $20 and is available for a free trial.

The pair built their own CalDAV implementation so it works with almost any calendaring service. It also has a custom alarm setting as well as complete search functionality. Again, it’s stuff that has existed before, but now it’s in one place with a quick and easy interface. It, along with apps like QuicKeys, has streamlined my day-to-day PIM and writing activities considerably. We don’t review a lot of apps on TC (we’ll probably start adding app reviews over time) but this is an app that I got a big kick out of and I think it’s quite simple and quite useful.

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Touch Panel Defects To Affect iPhone 5 Availability?

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:10 AM PDT

iphone-4

While it’s near impossible to say what exactly Apple has in store for us come October, a new report from DigiTimes reveals that there may be fewer iPhone 5s to go around if it indeed makes its debut.

Some of the iPhone 5 touch panels that manufacturer Wintek has assembled are turning out to be defective, and could potentially cause a supply shortage come launch day.

The displays are plagued by what are called “delayed bubbles,” where small pockets of gas are trapped between the touch panel and the lamination layer. It’s apparently a tough defect to avoid during the production process, and it’s made even worse as it’s usually only spotted during assembly.

DigiTimes reports that it’s a minor gaffe as far as fixes are concerned: the iPhone 5 uses the same manufacturing process as its predecessor, and sources say Wintek is expected to rectify things pretty quickly. The company, who is said to be producing about 20 to 25% of the iPhone 5′s touch panels, would likely agree with that sentiment. Though Wintek has kept quiet about how many of their panels have been affected, the official statement is that all orders will ship on schedule.

Though Wintek accounts for a smaller fraction of the production workload (TPK Holding and Chimei Innolux are working on the remaining 75-80%), DigiTimes sources say Apple is hoping to ship nearly 26 million iPhone 5s in Q4. In order to hit those numbers, Apple is going to need all their hardware partners on deck, and Wintek needs to brush themselves off and get back to work.



StartApp’s New Monetization Platform For Android Bundles Search With Apps

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:01 AM PDT

StartApp

StartApp is a new monetization and distribution platform for Android applications designed to address the challenges the platform has created in terms of revenue generation for developers. Using the new StartApp SDK (software development kit), developers can receive $10 – $50 per 1,000 downloads, the company claims. This is higher than the $4 average per 1,000 downloads  developers see elsewhere, StartApp says.

Sounds great, right? What’s the catch?

When Android users download StartApp-monetized applications to their phone, a new search icon and bookmark link appear on the device automatically. That’s right – bundled software! It’s not all that different from the ad-ware supported desktop applications of years past. Whenever a user searches the Web via StartApp’s portal, StartApp generates revenue which can then be shared with the developer.

Developers have two options for payments: either up-front pay-per-downloads or ongoing revenue sharing from the new search option. The up-front model provides $50 per 1,000 downloads in the U.S. and $10 per 1,000 international downloads.

To be clear, StartApp requires that developers explain to users that the new search option is a part of the download, that it doesn’t replace any default options they have and if users don’t want to use it, the icon can simply be deleted from their homescreen.

Prior to the company’s official launch (planned for Tuesday), StartApp has been integrated into 50 apps and has seen nearly 1 million downloads.

Given developers failure to effectively monetize applications on Android, it’s not surprising that new revenue models are being created. For example, earlier this month, third-party mobile application store GetJar introduced a premium catalog of free Android apps, sponsored by featured search listings on the GetJar site.

The difference between the GetJar model and StartApp, however, is not just in how they leverage search as a monetization mechanism, but in their willingness to aggravate the end user. In GetJar’s case, there’s barely a problem – some app listings in search results are marked “featured.” In StartApp’s case, though, users have to perform cleanup on their devices to remove the extra icon and bookmark.

Unfortunately, many users will not be savvy enough to do so. And the innocuous “search” icon will be tapped again and again.

This may be an effective revenue model as StartApp claims, but at what cost to the overall Android ecosystem? That’s a question developers, especially Android-only developers, should carefully consider.



Sequoia Leads $9M Round In Data-Driven Customer Acquisition Startup Mintigo

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 06:25 AM PDT

Mintigo

Mintigo, a company that provides big-data analysis for customer acquisition, has $9 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital, Giza Venture Capital and other private investors.

Mintigo helps companies sift through data sets to find leads and potential customers. The startup’s Mintigo, customer targeting and acquisition solution is a custom engine that analyzes a company’s unique customer acquisition goals and then crawls the web, looking for prospects with high potential and receptiveness to the product offered.

Mintigo’s software analyzes a company’s existing customer base to find its distinct ‘Customer Code’ which the company compares to the DNA of a company. The startup can identify this profile and search the web to find other companies and customers that match it. The service crawls company websites, directories, boards, and social media networks including Facebook and LinkedIn to find the most qualified sales leads in a sea of unstructured Web data.

Mintigo is already working with businesses in the technology, mobile and insurance industries to improve their sales conversion rate. In one recent case study Mintigo was able to identify the correct contact (email and phone) in 90% of leads, 87% were new leads that were unavailable from other sources, and the leads produced a four times to eight times higher response and conversion rates in a direct email campaign.


Company: Mintigo
Website: mintigo.com
Funding: $9M

Mintigo offers a powerful Customer Acquisition solution with unparalleled targeting accuracy and prospects conversion levels. The Mintigo solution focuses on deciphering your unique Customer Code™ and scanning the entire potential market for similar receptive prospects. The result is a large-scale set of triggers that are unique and indicative of highly-receptive prospects. Founded in June 2009, Mintigo is backed by Sequoia Capital and has offices in the Silicon Valley, Israel & Spain.

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Watch Out For Lightsabers In Tokyo’s Subway Cars

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 06:10 AM PDT

6169692311_1cb6136e80_z (1)

In case you missed the news, Star Wars launched on Blu-ray this week. Lucas & Co. never miss an opportunity to soil their brand and so, along with turning to annoying in-game advertising, recently wrapped the handrails of several Tokyo subway cars. So, you know, passengers can have imaginary lightsaber battles with stationary props. AWESOME! Japan gets all the fun stuff.

My only wish is that they put these wraps on more items. Escalator handrails, for one, would be awesome. But the ultimate advertising venue is no doubt stripper polls. Think about. Not that I frequent such establishments (Totally serious. Never been) but their patrons are generally Star Wars’ die hards. This is the crowd that is most likely to purchase the new Blu-ray release anyway and would probably be rather amused by watching the ladies slide up and down a beam plasma. I would.

Images via Official Star Wars Blog



Murata’s Flexible Remote Lets You Control Your TV With Bending And Twisting Motions

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 05:34 AM PDT

remote murata

Japanese tech company Murata, in cooperation with Kansai University and Mitsui Chemicals, has developed a remote control that doesn’t require users to push buttons. Instead, TVs or other electric appliances can be controlled by bending and twisting the remote in various ways.

The device, currently a prototype named “Leaf Grip Remote Controller”, is essentially a pitch for a new kind human-machine interface.

Murata explains:

This remote control has a very new conceptual design that enables it to operate by bending and twisting of a plate made of piezoelectric films that can detect such motions. Furthermore, it uses pigments to discharge electrons when it receives light and is assembled with a photovoltaic cell that converts light into electricity to provide it with a battery-less feature.

Examples of how to use the device:

The Leaf Grip Remote Controller uses a newly developed piezoelectric film that’s highly transparent, organic and free from pyroelectricity, meaning users can manipulate it – no batteries required.

The company plans to showcase the remote and other devices based on the new film during the CEATEC Japan 2011 exhibition next month.



FeeFighters Launches Payment Gateway Samurai

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 04:10 AM PDT

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Chicago-based startup FeeFighters, a comparison shopping site for credit card processers, is launching a new product to simplify online payments. FeeFighters' Samurai is debuting as a gateway for online merchants to accept payments.

FeeFighters is a comparison shopping site for credit card processors. The startup aims to help merchants save money on credit card fees and also conducts reverse auctions to solicit competing bids from credit card processing companies.

So why is FeeFighters launching a payments gateway? CEO Sean Harper says that many of the customers who the startup has helped find the the best credit card processor are often locked in by their gateway provider, meaning they can't switch. Samurai allows any business to send any transaction to any processor, with no lock-in.

Samurai's features include the ability for transactions to be sent to multiple merchant accounts and will automatically send international and small ticket transactions to the cheapest processor. Samurai also securely stores customers' credit card numbers, and allows merchants to achieve PCI compliance in minutes.

Samurai also includes universal compatibility so merchants can send and accept transactions to and from any payment processor. Samurai offers all features at a price of $10 a month and $0.10 per transaction.



Millennial: Android Mobile Ad Impressions Up 48 Percent, iOS Remains Flat

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 02:45 AM PDT

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Mobile ad network Millennial Media, is releasing its monthly report which gives a view into how each OS, device and manufacturer is performing on one of the largest remaining independent ad networks in the world. In August, Millennial actually combined connected devices and smartphones when breaking out the OS impression share. That’s significant because iOS and Android share can include tablets into factoring presence on the network. And last month, Android was in the top spot with a 54% share, while iOS was in second with a 28% share. Rim followed with 13% share.

In terms of growth, Android impressions (including both phones and tablets) grew 48% month-over-month globally. iOS impressions were relatively flat month-over-month, and interestingly Windows Phone 7 impressions saw major growth and increased 48% month-over-month.

Smartphones grew 6% month-over-month and took 72% of the impressions in August. Connected Devices and Feature Phones were tied with 14% of the impression share. In terms of impressions by type of connection, 32% of impressions came over Wi-Fi. Of these WI-Fi impressions 59% came from Smartphones (as opposed to connected devices or feature phones), and saw an 11% growth month-over-month.

Connected Devices, including Tablets, gaming devices, and eReaders, accounted for 34% of the Wi-Fi impressions on the network. In August 2010, feature phones accounted for 33% of Millennial’s network impressions, and this number has dropped to 14% in August 2011.

Millennial also breaks down ad spend from applications on the network, and in August Android grew 2% month-over-month and represented 49% of the Application Platform Mix. iOS followed with 41% share, with RIM taking a 8% share.

In August, News applications on the Android platform grew 26% month-over-month. Gaming applications have been the number one Application Category on Millennial’s network for over a year and in August, games represented 25% of the applications impressions, a 19% increase month-over-month.

Music & Entertainment application impressions grew 13% month-over-month and within the Music & Entertainment category, radio applications accounted for more than half of the impressions in August.

Similar to July’s findings, Apple continued to be the leading device manufacturer the network in August, representing 23% of the Top 15 Manufacturers impression share. The iPhone maintained the number one position on the Top 20 Mobile Phones ranking with 13% of the impression share.

HTC actually reclaimed the number two position on the Top 15 Manufacturers ranking in August, thanks to the manufacturer’s five devices on the Top 20 Mobile Phones list. Together, these HTC phones accounted for 11% of the Top 20 Mobile Phone impressions. Together, all Android phones
represented 32% of the Top 20 Mobile Phones impression share in August.

The past year has represented major growth for Millennial Media. The company just announced that 2010 revenue was $47.8 million, which is up over 3,000 percent from 2007 revenue of $1.5 million. And we know CEO and founder Paul Palmieri has had ambitions of taking the company public. In May, Bloomberg reported that Millennial was talking to bankers about an IPO, which could come in the Fall or in early 2012 and would value the company at a whopping $700 million to $1 billion (AdMob was sold to Google for $750 million).


Company: Millennial Media
Funding: $64.8M

Millennial Media is the leading independent mobile advertising and data company. Millennial Media commands an impressive share of the mobile display advertising market. The company's technology, tools and services also power some of the largest companies in the media business today. Millennial Media is committed to growing the mobile advertising marketplace by becoming the preferred partner to advertisers seeking to reach mobile consumers, application and media developers seeking to maximize ad revenue, and mobile operators seeking to further monetize...

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Daily Crunch: Sound Tank

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 01:00 AM PDT

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek On How The New Facebook Music Integration Will Work

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 09:06 PM PDT

Before I lost my voice earlier today (yes, that’s me up there asking all those questions, NOT Marge Simpson), I sat down with Spotify CEO Daniel Ek at F8. Ek and I spoke about today’s “launch” of Facebook Music, which wasn’t a music console built on top of Facebook like some had conceived, but rather a partnership built around a dozen music apps — like Rdio, Mog and Iheartradio — through Facebook’s now extended Open Graph.

In addition to sharing their own and seeing their friends’ music listening activity in the new Facebook News Ticker, users will eventually see and share all music-related activity in a Music Dashboard in the left hand corner of their Facebook profiles, if they or their friends are using a partner app like Spotify. Users can access the “Listen with a friend” feature we reported on yesterday through either feed by hitting the Play button on their friend’s update.

Responding graciously to my pressing about the rumor I heard that Spotify was to power Facebook’s universal music player, an idea which eventually got scrapped, Ek went on to reveal that, because of the new Facebook integration, Spotify will be removing its invite-only barrier — In addition to giving non-paying users six months of unlimited music listening.

Okay great, but what if you don’t want your embarrassing musical taste to be broadcast to all your friends via Facebook? Hit up Applications > Spotify (or Rdio or whatever) > App Privacy >  Only Me.

Because only you need to know that you’ve been listened to that one Kid Cudi song basically on repeat since March.


Company: Spotify
Website: spotify.com
Funding: €183M

Spotify has created a lightweight software application that allows instant listening to specific tracks or albums with virtually no buffering delay. It was launched in the fall of 2008 and had approximately 10 million users by September 2010. Spotify offers streaming music from major and independent record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal. Users download Spotify and then log onto their service enabling the on-demand streaming of music. Music can be browsed by artist, album, record...

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Video: Causes Founder Joe Green On The Impact Of f8

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 08:52 PM PDT


As you may have heard, today Facebook held its fourth f8 developer conference, showcasing an array of new features that represent what Facebook says are the biggest changes to its Platform since it launched in 2007. The changes include a completely redesigned profile and a new Open Graph API that gives third-party applications and sites more flexibility (and eyeballs) than they’ve had before.

Shortly after the keynote ended, I did a brief interview with Causes founder Joe Green, who outlined which of the features are a big deal for developers, and why they’re so important. Green has extensive experience with Platform — Causes was one of the first developers on Facebook Platform when it first launched, and it was a launch partner for today’s features.

Green has also written a pair of guest posts this week that go into more detail about Facebook’s major changes — including one on Smart Lists and one on the new Open Graph.

Note that we did the video via Skype, and while the video feed was a little iffy at times, the audio remains strong throughout.


Company: Facebook
Website: facebook.com
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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Person: Joe Green
Website:
Companies: Causes, Asana

Joe Green is a Co-Founder of Causes, a popular Facebook and MySpace application.

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Basis Reveals An Awesome New Affordable Heart And Health Tracker You Can Wear On Your Wrist

Posted: 22 Sep 2011 07:25 PM PDT

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After raising $9 million in venture funding from Norwest Venture Partners and Doll Capital Management earlier this year, Basis Science has been able to continue their year-long research and design development of a new affordable heart and health monitor that can be worn all the live-long day right on your wrist. In anticipation of its showcase at Health 2.0, the startup is today revealing the design and features of its so-called “B1 Basis Band” that will launch in the market later this year.

While there are a number of health-tracking devices on the market today, the Basis Band seems poised to be a disruptive product in the health space. Priced at $199, the Band is on the expensive side but not unreasonable considering the heart and health tracker boasts multiple sensors that measure heart rate continuously, along with calories burned, sleep patterns, and other physiological metrics. What’s more, the device boasts an LCD touchscreen interface that allows for easy navigation and displays the date and time — potentially making it a pretty great replacement for your measly old wrist watch.

Of course, what makes this new health product so cool is that it is connected to a (free) web-based personal dashboard that allows users to view comprehensive data pulled from the device’s monitoring of your heart rate, sleep, and more. The dashboard then helps you further keep track of your overall health and wellness by offering push notifications, suggestions, and a game-ified experience that encourages you to set goals and monitor your progress, or blast health dates to friend and family over social networks.

The data that Basis aggregates is also easily exportable, so that you’ll be able to send your health information to your personal trainer or your physician. Obviously, with the state of the health as it is today, along with the rising costs of healthcare, many people are looking to maintain a more active and healthy lifestyle to avoid those high medical bills and trips to the doctor’s office.

As most health devices on the market today attempt to calculate heart rate through footsteps or by using a smartphone’s accelerometer or GPS, said Basis CEO Jef Holove, the Basis Band offers an evolved alternative, as it uses a series of monitors to decipher health data directly from your wrist and the bloodflow underneath. This optical engine tracks heart rate by directing light into the skin to “see” the user’s blood flow and is complemented by several other sensors, including a heat sensor that tracks skin and ambient temperature changes, a 3-axis accelerometer that records movement and activity, and galvanic skin response sensors.

The device then uses a series of algorithms to cut through the noise and make a number of calculations that result in a precise picture of how many calories you’ve burned, the total amount of physical exertion, sleep patterns, and so on. That data is then served to Basis’ cloud infrastructure and presented to the user in that easy-to-navigate web interface. Pretty cool.

What’s more, as the Basis Band has multiple-day battery life and is composed of polycarbonate (and is water-resistant), it’s lightweight, doesn’t get in the way, and can be worn day and night without any maintenance. It’s also modular, which means that you can change straps, both in color and style, to meet your award-winning sense of fashion. All in all, this makes for a welcome change from cumbersome chest-strap EKGs, or arm-band monitors that only offer basic functionality and that you can really only wear while running.

Basis is also announcing today that it is appointing an advisory board that includes some medical, social, and gaming big whigs to help oversee the impending launch of the Basis Band. The new advisory team will boast long-time Facebook executive (and early employee) Kevin Colleran, along with Charles and Kai Huang, the co-founders of RedOctane and creators of Guitar Hero, as well as Patrick McGill, Daniel Kraft, a Stanford and Harvard trained physician, and Jeff Rosenthal, who will be bringing his co-founders of the Summit Series along for the ride.

Chris Verplaetse, who is being added as vice president of device development, was most recently at Cisco Systems, where he was a key engineer in the development of Flip Video.

The addition of these experts to its advisory team is a big strategic win both for Basis and the health industry, and is a sign that these smart, integrated devices like the Basis Band are attracting attention from experts across the board. With a sizable team in place and a sharp new product ready for launch, Basis could just be at the front of a game-changing shift in consumer health products.

It’s pretty amazing stuff. Check out Basis at home for more information.


Company: Basis
Website: mybasis.com
Funding: $9M

Basis believes it's easier to get and stay healthy when wellness is fun, social and informative. To put this within everyone's reach, we invented the Basis Band – the world's first connected health and heart rate monitor wearable on the wrist. Convenient and customizable, the multi-sensor Basis Band collects data like heart rate, calories burned, physical activity and sleep patterns. It links wirelessly to your personal dashboard where you can easily view performance, share data, earn rewards, and...

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