Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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3rd Generation Kindles Get A New Name, Discounted Prices

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 09:23 AM PDT


If Amazon’s new slew of keyboard-less Kindles leaves you feeling frightened and confused, you’ve still got time to pick up one of their soon-to-be classic models. The 3rd generation Kindle (which has been retroactively renamed the “Kindle Keyboard”) is enjoying a bit of a price drop on as we speak.

The Kindle Keyboard with Special Offers has dipped from its usual price down to $99, while the spiffy 3G version is currently selling for $139. Given that the newly-announced Kindle with Special Offers is already available for a remarkable $79, only hardcore keyboard fanatics need apply.

The new Kindle’s price point was clearly intended to move units like crazy, so one has to wonder why the discount on the previous model wasn’t more drastic. It seems possible that Amazon could slash prices closer to the holiday season in an attempt to own to the eReader market at all price points, but that would likely jeopardize sales of newer models.

Amazon could also be running low enough on existing Kindle stock that they’re in no rush to sell through them. Why sell a perfectly good Kindle for something like $50 when warehouse space isn’t an issue and people are more than happy to pay $99?

This is all speculation of course, but the point remains: those of you who prefer your Kindles with keyboards may want to head over to Amazon and check things out. After all, who knows how many more they have to sell?

Make Facebook Look More Like MySpace With Timeline Cover Photos From FBCovers

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 09:21 AM PDT


Last week, Facebook introduced one of the boldest makeovers to the Facebook profile page since the company’s launch with the new Facebook Timeline. The updated profile provides a deeper look into your past, with navigation that lets you time travel back through the previous months and years spent on Facebook.

The most noticeable and eye-catching change to your Facebook profile, however, is not the Timeline navigation – it’s the large banner-sized photo that’s displayed at the top of the page where, as of today, a series of smaller profile pictures appear. But what if you don’t have a good photo to feature there? That’s where the newly launched Cover photo resource at MyFBCovers comes in.

To be clear, we’re not exactly recommending this site, which is buggy, ad-filled and whose Facebook app requests permission to send you emails. But MyFBCovers offers a somewhat frightening look into the future of Facebook’s design.

Essentially, MyFBCovers is a wallpaper site for Facebook Timeline Cover photos. It’s not entirely remarkable in and of itself, and will likely be just one of many similar sites to appear. But it’s one of the first out of the gate, targeting those of you experimenting with the developer build of the Facebook Timeline. (And we know you are).

The site provides two styles of banners. The first style offers the traditional, wallpaper-esque photos featuring animals, cartoon images, nature scenes, sports, schools, companies, celebs, and dozens of other categories. The other style lets you build banners containing a collage of photos from your own Facebook albums.

The results are a little icky, in my opinion. Where Facebook profiles once looked clean and minimalistic in their design, the new banner photo – especially when it’s a wallpaper-like picture, make your profile page look more like MySpace than like Facebook.

FBCovers even insists on putting its little tag on the photo’s bottom-right corner, so you can tell others exactly how you junked up your profile. And like every other Cover photo change, the news is posted to your Facebook News Feed so your friends can like and comment on the picture.

I get that a lot of people will find FBCovers and similar services handy. I know that not everyone has a professional-looking, quality photo they want to feature big and bold on the top of their Facebook profile page. But I saw what my friends did to their MySpace profiles back in the day, and frankly, a lot of people out there have very bad taste.

How much longer till we’re presented with bikini-clad women, Lady Gaga tributes, crass cartoons, photos of beer, stupid quotes and other such nonsense?

Oh, starting today? Awesome.

The Kindle Fire Pulls All Of Amazon’s Cloud Media Onto A Tablet

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 09:06 AM PDT

Kindle Fire

Today, at an Amazon event in New York City (read our liveblog), Jeff Bezos unveiled the Kindle Fire, a new media tablet that pulls together all of Amazon’s media services from the cloud. These include 18 million digital books, movies, songs, magazines, apps, and games.

The $199 Kindle Fire is designed to tap into all of the digital media products and services Amazon has been building for the past few years: Amazon Web Services, Instant Video, Kindle Books, Amazon’s MP3 music store, cloud storage, and Android app store. Oh, and it’s got a brand new Amazon Silk mobile browser that takes advantage of EC2 to load pages faster on the device.

When Amazon was designing the Fire, CEO Jeff Bezos says they asked themselves, “Is there some way we can bring all of these together into a remarkable product offering customers will love?”

You can read Kindle books on the Fire, but if that is all you need it for you will probably better off getting a $99 Kindle Touch. The Fire is for reading, plus everything else. All of your media is backed up and synced wirelessly in the cloud. “You can delete it and get it back when you want,” notes Bezos.

Just as the Kindle includes Whispersync for books, which allows you to pick up reading no matter what device you are using, the Fire does the same thing for movies. You can begin watching on your tablet and then continue on your laptop or Internet-connected TV. The Kindle Fire relies on WiFi, a 3G version was not announced. The device ships on November 15.

The Kindle Fire is pretty much as we’ve been describing it. The Fire has a good chance at being the best Android-based tablet out of the gate. Not just because of the fine-tuned software, but because of all the media you can get on it. Of course, it makes it really easy to buy all of that media from Amazon. But just as Apple builds superior product by integrating the software, hardware, its Web-based store, so too is Amazon trying to do the same thing. And all at an affordable price.

“We are building premium products at non-premium prices,” Bezos repeated a few times during his presentation. His message seemed to be that in an Amazon world you can have the best of both.

Company: Amazon
Launch Date: September 28, 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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New Startup Accelerator Increases Seed Funding, Adds 5 More To Its Team

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 09:04 AM PDT


One week after its launch, new startup accelerator and incubator has received over 200 applications for its “Global Startup Initiative,” a program that encourages companies from all parts of the world to apply. Several of those entrants are “pretty compelling,” Solomon Engel, Founder and CEO tells us. That may be one of the reasons why the program is now increasing the funding possibilities for its participants.

Initially, the program was touting seed funding for startups as either $6,000 to $7,000 per founder, or up to $25,000 in total. However, as of now, that cap is being removed. Some startups may see “potentially much larger” seed and series rounds from its investment partners and institutions, says. The amount of funding will be determined by the investors.’s program is offering a slightly different take on startup advising than some of the others in the space. Instead of a classroom approach, each startup receives one-on-one support from a team of 2 to 7 industry experts who have experience that’s relevant to the startup they’re paired with. That not only improves the quality of the advice the team can give, but the advisors can also help startups by connecting founders to the appropriate industry contracts.

In addition, the team will go beyond advisory duties and get actively involved with different areas of the business, including helping their startups get media exposure through the team’s contacts, working on product development, helping form strategic partnerships and more. Explains, in its system, this hands-on approach makes the team much more vested in the company they’re supporting.

Startups also receive $2,000 per month in Media Temple or RackSpace hosting for a year, 3 months of office space (rent and utility free), VIP invites to events and meetups and the chance to demo to investors, partners and media.’s team already included an impressive group of advisors, with folks from Google, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, EA, Sencha, Xero, Sega, Apple, Playdom, Yahoo, Nokia, AOL and several other big-name companies on board.

It’s now adding six more to advisors to the list: Brenden Mulligan, Entrepreneur & Founder of Onesheet, Jeffrey Kalmikoff, VP of Product at SimpleGeo, Kurt Wilms, Founder and CEO at fflick (acquired by Google), Philip Fierlinger, Co-founder & Head of Design at Xero, Nitin Gupta, VP, Business Development at Retailigence Corporation and Bruce Watermann, SVP Print Operations at Blurb.

More details on’s Global Startup Initiative are here.

Samsung Taps Intel To Build A New Linux-Based Open Source Platform: Tizen

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 09:03 AM PDT


It’s no secret (at least, not anymore) that Samsung is scrambling to diversify its mobile platform offerings. Bada, while smart, is kind of a bust, and Android is currently hanging in the balance until everyone figures out just what Googorola‘s plans are.

In the meantime, Samsung’s been a busy little bee, signing a deal with Microsoft to cross-license patents in exchange for Android royalties and collaboration on Windows Phone. But that’s not all. In conjunction with Intel, Samsung is backing the launch of a new open source Linux-based OS called Tizen, which will inevitably replace the recently abandoned MeeGo platform.

Hosted by the Linux Foundation, Tizen is meant for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks, and ICE systems, and should be ready to go (both in OS and SDK form) by the first quarter of 2012. Big name members of the Linux Foundation include Fujitsu, Panasonic, NEC, Motorola, and ARM, though it’s unclear who will play a major role outside of Intel and Samsung.

With the new Tizen OS being open source and based on Linux (just like MeeGo), Intel’s Director of Open Source Technology Imad Sousou brings up a wonderful question: “Why not just evolve MeeGo?” In a blog post on the matter, he goes into detail.

We believe the future belongs to HTML5-based applications, outside of a relatively small percentage of apps, and we are firmly convinced that our investment needs to shift toward HTML5. Shifting to HTML5 doesn’t just mean slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux, even one aimed at mobile, as MeeGo has been. Emphasizing HTML5 means that APIs not visible to HTML5 programmers need not be as rigid, and can evolve with platform technology and can vary by market segment.

A question worth asking is what happens to new owners of the only MeeGo-powered phone out there, the Nokia N9. The answer, however, is a bit unclear. First, Intel promised to continue the development of MeeGo with updates already in the pipeline. But early this month, reports circulated that Intel would indeed kill MeeGo development “temporarily.” But Sousou has a response: “Over the next couple of months, we will be working very hard to make sure that users of MeeGo can easily transition to Tizen, and I will be working even harder to make sure that developers of MeeGo can also transition to Tizen.”

Another question is what happens to Bada? Samsung already has Android, Windows Phone 7 (which should become more prominent to the phone maker after the aforementioned licensing deal) and now Tizen. Diversity is a great thing, but no one ever benefited from spreading themselves too thin.


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Company: Intel
Launch Date: September 28, 1968

Intel is best known for producing the microprocessors found in many personal computers. The company also makes a range of other hardware including network cards, motherboards, and graphics chips. Intel created the first commercial microprocessor chip in 1971, but it was not until the success of the personal computer that microprocessors became their primary business. In the 1980’s they were an early developer of SRAM and DRAM memory chip, and during the 1990s they invested heavily in new microprocessor...

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Amazon Just Won The Android Tablet Wars With The $199 Kindle Fire

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 08:25 AM PDT


The Android tablet electoral races are done. There’s a new mayor in Droidville. But this guy didn’t roll into town with pomp and circumstance. He strolled down Main Street and simply offered more than any other candidate, extolling a plan based on down-to-earth sensibility and affordability. Meet the Kindle Fire.

Amazon just unveiled the Kindle Fire, which will, without question, dominate the sub-iPad tablet market for years. Amazon did it right by copying Apple’s formula: tablets do not sell on specs; Amazon barely touched on the Fire’s hardware during its announcement. Instead, Jeff Bezos, doing his best Steve Jobs impersonation, stood tall on the stage and ran through a long list of features that makes the Fire an iPad alternative the world wanted.

The Fire runs Android but that’s invisible to the user. Amazon instead built a custom UI on top of an unspecified Android build. This is the right move for most consumers. Android 2.x is not meant for tablets. Sure, some die-hards love it on a slate, but most of those same users will profess that it’s not right for the general consumer. Honeycomb isn’t much better and requires more beefy hardware — a dealbreaker for a company like Amazon looking to undercut the iPad’s price. Then you have Amazon’s massive server capability.

Amazon is leveraging its many server farms to pre-render, and therefore, smooth out the overall web browsing experience. Called Amazon Silk, the browser learns users behaviors and starts caching often visited pages for quicker load times. The system intelligently offloads content to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) that shrinks it to a more manageable size: Flash, images, and all the heavy content. All this is done before the data hits the tablet which makes for, well, a silky experience. Visit TechCrunch a lot? Great, thanks, but the page will load even faster thanks to caching smart of Amazon Silk.

Sure, the Fire is a front-end for a bunch of Amazon services, but this back-end processing will allow the $199 tablet to feel like nothing else in its price point. It might even load pages quicker than the A5-powered iPad 2.

The Amazon Fire is, in a sense, an iPod Touch. It is hitting the market right when such a stop-gap product is needed. The iPad is clearly a “better” device with better hardware and more functions, but the Fire is $300 less and still rather capable. Likewise, the Fire might not be the best Android tablet, but Amazon has clearly compensated for the lackluster hardware with a fresh interface. Consumers have shown a resistence to non-iPad tablets, but the $500 price point is out of reach for many consumers. A $200 tablet, loaded with Amazon’s media offerings, is the right product to kick start tablets from niche to mainstream.

Amazon followed Apple’s lead in launching media services prior to its hardware. Over the last year, the company has invested heavily into streaming video, MP3 downloads and cloud computing. It all makes sense now. By showing consumers that, say, the Amazon Prime Instant Video works well on user’s computers, they’re now more comfortable buying a tablet built around the service. This media content instantly pushes the Fire to the front of the Android line. For the average consumer, the Fire is the perfect low-cost iPad alternative.

Company: Amazon
Launch Date: September 28, 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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IAB: Internet Advertising Reaches A Record $15B In First Half Of 2011; Up 23 Percent

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 08:18 AM PDT

Internet Ad Revenues

The Internet Advertising Bureau just released its numbers of the first half of 2011, and it looks like internet ad revenue reached record highs during the time period. Internet ad revenues rose 23.2 percent — to a record $14.9 billion — in the first half of 2011. The rate of growth more than doubled year-over-year, as last year's first-half ad revenues were $12.1 billion (and represented an 11.3 percent increase over 2009)

Internet ad revenues for the second quarter alone also reached new heights, increasing 24.1 percent to $7.7 billion. That’s up from the Q2 2010 numbers of $6.2 billion, which is up 13.9 percent from 2009. Display ads totaled more than $5.5 billion in the first six months of 2011 and increased 27.1 percent over the same period in 2010.

Display actually accounted for 37 percent of all interactive spend in the first half of 2011, with search remaining the leading online category at 49 percent of the total (or nearly $7.3 billion). Search and Display each grew about 27 percent year-over-year, with Search more than doubling its previous year's growth rate of 11.6 percent.

Digital video advertising continued to grow as well, up 42.1 percent over a year ago, and moved close to the $1 billion mark with $891 million in half year 2011 revenue. Lead generation spending increased 25.4 percent over the same period in 2010, but classified ad dollars were down 2 percent and email spend decreased 34.2 percent.

IAB also took a look at spend by specific revenue models supporting online ads. For example, ads using performance-based models increased faster than ads using impression-based models, rising to $9.6 billion. Impression-based ad spend did grow by 10.8 percent, though that pricing model accounted for only 31 percent of total ads, down from 35 percent year-over-year.

IAB says that the increase in revenue from advertising is a result of marketers taking more bets on digital to “tell their brand stories.”

Wheelz: Automotive Veterans Launch P2P Campus Car Sharing Platform Backed By Former Facebook VP

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 08:15 AM PDT

Screen shot 2011-09-28 at 3.21.40 AM

Kicking it into fifth gear and zooming out of stealth and into the public sphere today is Wheelz, a new person-to-person car sharing platform for campuses — designed to connect students who have cars with student who need ‘em. Granted, when I first heard the basics on Wheelz, I immediately thought, “gadzooks, another car sharing platform!?” What about RelayRides, GetAround, Zimride, and Zipcar? These are all by and large great young businesses, adding value to the space; sure they’re not all targeting campuses, but I wasn’t so sure we needed another one.

Whether you feel the same way or not, Wheelz begs to differ. Launching initially at Stanford University, the startup is bringing campuses a technology and service platform that allows students and other campus dwellers to connect safely and easily — through Facebook integration, a good-looking iPhone app, and its proprietary in-car hardware system, called DriveBox.

Facebook integration and mobile apps are fairly standard for savvy online businesses today, but the latter feature isn’t. Once a user signs up for Wheelz, the startup will install the DriveBox in their car for free (installation takes about an hour), which will allow other Wheelz members to unlock the car using the startup’s iPhone app or Wheelz card. This is a great feature for those who don’t have time to meet the person to give them keys, or don’t want to (can’t) make a new key, etc.

After sign up, the company then provides a secure “Key Box” in which owners can leave the key so that renters can start the car. They Key Box also contains a gas card, so that when your car falls below a quarter of a tank, the person driving the car is responsible for filling the car up, using the gas card. The owner of the car is responsible for the price of gas, which will be deducted from the owner’s total earnings each month.

Earnings? What earnings? Well, there are very few free rides in life, my friend. The person driving your car is obliged to pay for use of your wheels, and so each car has hourly and daily prices that are established by the car’s owner. Prices will vary depending on the type of car, age of the car, use, and so on, though Wheelz contends that it is offering the cheapest solution on the market. (Also, users looking to rent for longer can also set up weekly share prices).

As to insurance, as soon as a user borrows a Wheelz car, they are covered by the startup’s million-dollar insurance policy for the entire time they’re using their car. And, according to Wheelz’s website, a user’s “personal auto insurance is in no way affected” by the startup’s coverage.

Some other nifty features? Wheelz is offering a pretty wide variety of cars, including sedans, hybrids, luxury cars, convertibles, vans, SUVs, and even a few trucks — plus, while you’re enjoying your Wheelz reservation, you’ll be able to take advantage of free, 24/7 customer support and roadside assistance.

Another piece that helps inspire confidence in the nascent startup is that it raised $2 million in seed funding, pre-launch, led by Chamath Palihaptiya, a former Facebook VP and early employee (who recently left to found the Social+Capital Partnership venture fund). Joining Palihapitiya are VC firms Felicis Ventures and Red Swan Ventures as well as an impressive list of angel investors, including Jim Freer, the former vice-chair of Ernst & Young, and Sebastien De Halleax, the founder of Playfish.

The Wheelz team also brings significant automotive experience to bear on their new venture, including founder and CEO Jeff Miller, who has spent the better part of the last three years focused on building sustainable transportation solutions, working for electric vehicle network provider Better Place. Furthermore, Akhtar Jameel, Wheelz Co-founder and CTO (and the architect behind Wheelz' technology platform) was formerly the CEO of Mercedes-Benz R&D and has held senior product and technology positions at Daimler, Better Place and Xerox PARC.

And, um, also of note? Jameel was awarded a Smithsonian Computer World Innovations gold medal for developing the world's first Internet connected car back in 1997.

Of course, this name-dropping doesn’t mean that Wheelz categorically predestined for success, they still need to offer a more trustworthy service than their competitors and avoid those Airbnb-type PR kerfuffles. The startup is aiming to get at the trust factor via the platform’s integration with Facebook Connect, so that students know who they’re renting their car to, seeing as they can access the social data of prospective car-sharers to make sure they’re actual people, not criminals recently out of Shawshank.

And though there’s certainly some interesting technology at play, Wheelz still has to kill the customer experience — or they will be headed to the startup deadpool in the sky just like everyone else.

“Social is changing every industry in a profound way, and we believe this is the team that's going to revolutionize the concept of car ownership, turning cars from financial burdens into opportunities”, Palihapitiya said. "I invested in Wheelz on the strength of the executive team and its thoughtful approach to building this business and bringing it to market."

For more on Wheelz, check out the video below:

The Kindle Fire Will Have A Whole New “Cloud Accelerated” Mobile Browser Called Amazon Silk

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 07:58 AM PDT


Jeff Bezos announced a new family of Kindle’s today, including the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch. But he also had one more thing. The Kindle Fire tablet is coming with an entirely new mobile browser called Amazon Silk. The browser is “cloud-accelerated” in that it splits tasks between the cloud and the device.

“It is very challenging for mobile devices to display modern websites rapidly,” says Bezos. “So we wondered is there some way we can use the incredible computational horsepower of Amazon EC2 to accelerate mobile web browsing.”

Amazon is taking advantage of its Web services and EC2 compute cloud. Instead of waiting 100 milliseconds for each part of a web page to load, Amazon Silk can cache most of a webpage in the cloud and deliver all the subparts at since. And since EC2 has more bandwidth than a tablet ever will, it can do the same tasks in 5 milliseconds instead of 100.

In a video explaining the browser (watch below), one Amazon engineer describes it like this: “You can think of Amazon Silk as a small store for files you access. What we have done is create a limitless cache used to render the web pages you view every day. It does not take a single byte of storage on the device itself.”

The so-called split browser essentially has two homes: on the Kindle Fire itself, and in Amazon’s EC2. Basically, when a user pulls up a webpage on their Kindle Fire, EC2 handles all the rendering to optimize it for the Fire’s screen. Images are resized on the fly, and what’s more, it tracks user’s behavior. Users who visit TechCrunch all the time, will notice quicker load times because Silk detects that pattern of activity and pre-caches the site. Or similarly, if a lot of people going to the New York Times’ homepage today then click on a set of particular stories, those subsequent pages can be predictively pre-cached and delivered faster.

Amazon calls it “Dynamic Split Browsing,” and while it’s not a terribly new concept—Opera Mini similarly optimized webpages for mobile devices—it’s one that could make a huge difference in a user’s web experience.

Company: Amazon
Launch Date: September 28, 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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Amazon Tops 1 Million Kindle Books In Just Four Years

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 07:32 AM PDT


Today at Amazon’s press conference in New York city, the company announced the Kindle Fire 7-inch tablet.

But that’s not all CEO Jeff Bezos had to say — the Amazon boss spoke on the success of Kindle as a service, noting that four years ago “Amazon had 90,000 books. Today we’re over a million, and that doesn’t include the copyright-free texts.”

Bezos mentioned that the only way the Kindle could succeed was to create demand not only for the device, but for the content, also known as e-books. Despite the huge growth of physical book sales in the past 15 years, Kindle sales still outpace them.

As you may or may not know, the Kindle has been the best-selling e-reader on the market for the past four years, but Amazon clearly isn’t resting. Bezos also introduced three new Kindle models, all under the $149 price-point.

Company: Amazon
Launch Date: September 28, 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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Amazon Unveils New $79 E-Ink Kindle, $99 Kindle Touch

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 07:25 AM PDT


Looks like the Kindle Fire wasn’t all Amazon had planned for us. Amazon has revealed a new line of E-Ink Kindles that looks to bolster their “traditional” eReader lineup. The three new models have taken the stage: the $79 Kindle, the $99 Kindle Touch, and the $149 Kindle Touch 3G.

The new super small, non-touch Kindle was announced to appeal to Amazon’s legion of eReading purists. It’s small enough to fit in a pack pocket, and will cost users a scant $79 — customers can order today, and Amazon says it will ship today too. While it retains physical buttons, Amazon’s traditional Kindle keyboard is gone. In order to drive the price that low, the new Kindle also comes packed with Amazon’s Special Offers and their Amazon Local deals service.

The Kindle Touch features an IR touch system that’s similar to the one seen in the most recent Nook, and squeezes it into a body that’s both smaller and lighter than the current model. By going touchscreen, the Kindle Touch does away with the classic Kindle design and instead goes for a very unassuming form factor. The Kindle Touch also sports a new feature called X-Ray, which provides “more than just definitions.” It seeks to give users context by providing Wikipedia info without having to switch into a browser.

Amazon is going aggressive with the pricing here: the Kindle Touch will go for $99 — a super-enticing price point by any stretch, but one that’s probably going to ensure these things fly off the shelves come the holidays.

The Kindle Touch will also come in a global-friendly 3G model which will run $149 — not a bad price considering users get a free lifetime of data in 100 countries. Both units are available for pre-order today, but units will ship starting shipping on November 21.

Amazon’s eReader lineup has gotten a tremendous shot in the arm with everything that’s happened today. While the Fire seems primed to take on both Apple’s iPad and BN’s Nook Color line, the new E-Ink Kindles aim to keep the old-school Kindle fans loyal to the brand.

Zenprise Launches New Product To Lock Down iPhones And iPads In Enterprise

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 07:13 AM PDT


Mobile device management company Zenprise is today introducing its new enterprise-grade mobile DLP (Data Leakage Prevention) that aims to help I.T. departments with the growing “bring your own device” to work trend. The Zenprise Enterprise Mobile DLP will be offered as an optional add-on to the company’s larger solution, the Zenprise Mobile Enterprise Security Framework, when it launches later this fall.

At first, the new product will specifically target iOS devices, including the Apple iPad, but an Android version is in the works.

The problem with I.T.’s lack of control over end user devices is that they’re starting to create a blind spot for companies with sensitive data. Executives are emailing themselves documents and viewing them on their iPads. Other times, they’re accessing them via an online storage service, instead of using traditional, albeit less glamorous, solutions like laptops that access the company’s SharePoint servers.

This is where companies like Zenprise, and its competitors, like Good, Sybase, AirWatch and MobileIron, for example, come in. They help put I.T. back in control of these rogue devices.

With Zenprise’s new Mobile DLP, content can be secured at the data layer, and not by isolating individual applications, as some competing products do, explains Zenprise.

The Mobile DLP client application also integrates with back-end services like SharePoint and Office 365, so users can sync the documents and files they want to their iPhone or iPad without compromising security. I.T. admins can apply policies that then restrict the files from being copied, forwarded to email, or the text pasted into other applications. They can monitor files for unauthorized access and place compliance-related restrictions on the files (like timeouts), too.

The new Enterprise Mobile DLP will launch in October for iPhone and iPad and an Android version will be released before year-end. More information will be available on

Company: Zenprise
Launch Date: September 28, 2011
Funding: $34.5M

Zenprise, provider of award winning mobile device management and security solutions, enables enterprises to confidently secure, manage and grow their mobile deployments as they mobilize their workforce. Zenprise protects the enterprise at more points against more threats than any other vendor in the market. Supported smartphone platforms include BlackBerry®, iPhone, iPad, Android, Palm, Symbian, webOS and Windows Mobile devices. Zenprise was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Redwood City, California.

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Amazon Fires $199, 7-Inch Tablet At Apple

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 06:48 AM PDT


Amazon’s not-so-secret project is finally unveiled and is the company’s first real tablet contender. The Kindle Fire is Amazon’s prize fighter in the battle for tablet dominance. But the new LCD-equipped Kindle isn’t in the corner alone. Amazon also took the wraps off of two new, more-traditional Kindles, including a $99 touchscreen model and a stripped-down $79 option.

The Fire itself is rather characterless and dull. It looks a lot like the 7-inch BlackBerry PlayBook (probably for good reason) and features just enough tech to pass as acceptable. There’s a two-point multitouch screen (the iPad has a 10-point screen), and an unspecified CPU although reports place a TI OMAP CPU at the core. There are no physical buttons on the black slate, along with little Amazon branding. The Fire doesn’t have a camera, microphone or 3G connectivity although it does pack WiFi. It’s all about the experience here.

The Kindle Fire marks a significant departure from Amazon’s norm. The most notable change is obviously the multitouch 7-inch LCD rather than an e-ink display, but moreover, the Kindle Fire is a complete storefront for the retailer rather than just an ereader. The tablet features apps for Amazon’s Android Appstore, Kindle store, Amazon MP3, and Prime Instant Video. Nearly all of Amazon’s recent news,  Amazon Cloud Player, Amazon Cloud Drive, Kindle Cloud Reader, the streaming deals with Fox and NBCUniversal, were in preparation for the Fire. With these cloud services in place, the Kindle Fire is a legitimate iPad competitor.

But it’s more than just Amazon apps. Users are free to load apps from Amazon’s Android Appstore including Pandora, Twitter, Facebook, and, most notably, Netflix.

The Fire runs a custom OS build that completely hides its Android 2.x underpinnings. Amazon built, without the help of Google we’re told, an experience centered around all of Amazon’s retail and cloud services. This is an Amazon tablet and not just a Kindle.

Watch out, Apple (and B&N). Amazon is pricing this model aggressively. Bloomberg is reporting prior to Amazon’s official event that the Kindle Fire hits at just $199 and comes with 30-days of Amazon Prime.

It’s been said that Amazon initially planned on launching a 10-inch tablet alongside this 7-inch model but the larger version was pushed back until early 2012. Reportedly, the 10-inch wasn’t going to be ready in time and Amazon choose to launch just the smaller version. It was a smart and timely move, too. Barnes & Noble is said to be gearing up to launch the second generation of the Nook Color within the coming weeks. Had Amazon waited ’till after the new year to launch both, the Nook Color successor might had stolen Christmas and part of the Fire’s marketshare. But as it sits right now, this holiday season is set to play host to a tablet battle royal between the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook Color 2.

Check out the official Amazon Fire commercial and images after the break.

Company: Amazon
Launch Date: September 28, 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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Report: 41% Of North American Mobile Users To Buy The iPhone 5

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 06:43 AM PDT

Touch Panel

We know the iPhone 5 is being debuted soon and reports point to Sprint as the new carrier. But just how popular will the device be off the bat? InMobi, one of the largest independent mobile ad networks, is releasing a study that forecasts the scope and effect of the iPhone 5 announcement in North America.

The recent InMobi consumer smartphone survey uncovers that 41% of current mobile users in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada plan to buy an iPhone 5—potentially making it the most successful launch from the consumer electronics giant to date. The study also finds that over 50% of those users will make the purchase within the first six months of the iPhone 5 launch, which inMobi says could take Apple significantly ahead of its June 2011 market position, and increase its mobile platform market share from 27% in June (comScore) to 41%.

However, if Apple only unveils a product update (similar to the 3GS version of the iPhone that Apple released in 2009), InMobi says that interest in the new smartphone will be significantly lower, with fewer than 15% of consumers likely to buy the new handset.

The features potential buyers are most hopeful for are improved battery life; increased processing speed; higher-quality screen resolution; and stronger phone service. The study also shows that half of BlackBerry users (52%) are planning to switch to the new Apple iPhone 5, followed by 51% of current iPhone users and over one in four (27%) Android owners. Even if the announcement only unveils an iPhone 4S, 28% of current BlackBerry smartphone owners plan to switch to the iPhone, more than double the amount of current iPhone and Android owners.

InMobi’s North America Market Overview, which shows nearly 24 billion mobile ad impressions on the InMobi network over the past quarter, reports that Apple mobile ad impressions are on the rise in iPod Touch devices and that as a manufacturer, Apple has the majority of the market share, at 29%. Data from the report also indicates a 33% growth in mobile ad impressions over the past three months, and a 39% growth in smart phone impressions in the North America mobile market.

It should be interesting to see if the new iPhone can gain marketshare from Android and RIM. This report seems to indicate that this will be the case. Stay tuned.

Well Done Google – But TechCity Needs To Storm The Olympic Park Next

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 06:31 AM PDT


There are two sides to the story of Google’s move to create a massive, seven storey startup / developer hub slap bang in the middle of of Shoreditch, where so many London/UK/European startups seem to be congregating. Drawn by the cluster effect and the plethora of events in the area aimed at developers, Google’s move surely makes sense. But behind the scenes I happen to know that Number 10 has been lobbying for this kind of move for some time.

Live At The Amazon Event In New York City

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 06:30 AM PDT


Watch this space because beginning at 10am Eastern/7am Pacific we will be live from the Amazon event in New York City. What are we expecting? The Fire, of course – Amazon’s newest Kindle that will come with a full-color, touch-sensitive screen and perhaps a few other tricks including Prime ebook subscriptions and a more robust and compelling Amazon app store. We’ll update this post during the event, so refresh early and often.

9:57 – Well, it looks like this might be a bit of a dud today, but we’ll grab some photos of the device ASAP.

9:59 – We’re starting up. People are all reading Bloomberg so it’s pretty quiet.
10:04 – Video of New Yorkers talking about the original Kindle. “I’m not a very technological person, and for me to use it effectively has been wonderful.” Hagiography.
10:06 – Bezos on stage. “Four years ago we set out to reinvent the book.”

10:08 – Physical book sales far outpaced by Kindle books.

10:09 – Started with 900,000 books, now there are a million.
Talking more about E-Ink.
Lots of talk about the cloud. Recapping the Kindle.

10:11 – Still recapping. Talking about WhisperSync. Talking about text sharing.

10:13 – #1 Best-Selling E-reader.
10:14 – Launch of Kindle Touch – Touchscreen Kindle with IR touchscreen.

10:17 – Talking about the touch. It’s literally a Kindle with a touchscreen. New feature includes X-Ray. X-Ray lets you do research inside a book. Paragraph on “Versailles Treaty” goes to, for example, Wikipedia. The interesting information is included with books so you don’t have to use Wi-Fi.

10:22 – Kindle Touch 3G – Works in 100 countries. Free 3G Connect. $149. Pre-order starting today. Ship November 21st.

Kindle without touch is $79. Has special offers from Amazon and Amazon Local.
Ships today.

10:27 – Talking about movies and songs. 17 million songs, 100,000 movies. Amazon Cloud Player.
10:29 – Amazon Prime. “Turns casual shoppers into addicts.”
10:31 – Now talking about Amazon Web services. Infrastructure services. Looks like this is an omnibus release.
10:32 – Quick recap:
The Fire
Kindle Touch – $99

10:35 – Just launched Kindle Fire Tablet. Dual processor. Wireless sync to Amazon Cloud.

WhispeSync for movies – watch a movie on fire, then watch it at the same spot on your Amazon-supported TV at home.

Wildly smooth interface. Magazines, games, books, all show up in “recently touched” order. New book? Shows on top. Just read something? Shows up on top. Below the “spinner” you can pin favorites like games and apps.
This is a full-bore media device.
16 million colors. Gorilla Glass. Massive pixel density.

10:41 – Bezos shows off his Fruit Ninja skillz.
10:42 – Talking about old Amazon page v new page. 10K vs 630K. He’ll be talking about a browser now. Talks about Flash.
Planning to use Amazon EC2 to render web pages on the back end. Amazon Silk. Split browser. Partially lives on EC2, partially lives in Kindle fire.

“We’re on a better network. All the heavy lifting on the back end. You get optimized content to the device.” They’re calling it split browser architecture. It’s more like client server, but don’t tell them that.

Confirms Kindle Fire is $199. “Kindle for movie, web, games, and reading.”

10:53 – Ships November 15, pre-order today.

10:54 – All done. Thanks for watching.

Amazon Tacitly Confirms The “Kindle Fire” On Their Website

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 06:06 AM PDT


It won’t be long now before Amazon kicks off their big press conference, where the much-awaited Kindle tablet is rumored to make its first public appearance. We’ve learned recently that Amazon will be calling it the Kindle Fire, and the company seems to have quietly confirmed the name on their website.

Let’s try something here: punch “” into your address bar, and you’ll be redirected to the company’s food and grocery selection. Likewise, “” takes you to their virtual equivalent of a department store. Take a wild guess as to where “” leads you.

Yep, the “kindlefire” subdomain redirects you to the Kindle store. Coincidence? I very much doubt it — normally, tacking anything onto the end of the URL takes you straight to an error page, and other Amazon-owned Kindle names similarly lead to a dead end. Take for example — Amazon registered the domain name in late August, but leads to an error page.

The issue of the domain name also seems to have been squared away: Domain Name Wire reports that Amazon has recently purchased the domain name from its original owner. At time of writing, the URL leads nowhere, but expect that to change shortly.

We’ll have more details when the press conference kicks off at 10 AM, but keep your eyes peeled on the Kindle Fire page: something interesting is likely to pop up before too long.

UPDATE: Our live blog of the event is getting ready to start, so feel free to mosey on over and see what Amazon is up to.

Video: Simple Personal Assistant Robot Follows You, Carries Stuff For You

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 05:44 AM PDT


We covered quite a few personal assistant robots from Japan in the past, but none of them were labeled as “personal porters”. But now Professor Gen Endo from the Tokyo Institute of Technology has built a unique prototype of a robot that follows the owner around and can carry stuff for them, too.

Owners simply pull the robot with the help of a cord, and the self-propelled, battery-powered robot follows them everywhere. Thanks to a set of 4 wheels (and much like a space exploration rover), the robot can overcome most obstacles in a pedestrian environment. In its current form, the little guy can run for 2,5 hours (5km) on a single charge.

Professor Endo says a more refined version could one day help the elderly or people having to rely on oxygen therapy (see above).

This video, shot by Diginfo TV in Tokyo, provides more insight:

Samsung And Microsoft Ink Deal For Cross-Licensing Patents, Developing Windows Phone

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 05:43 AM PDT

signing contract

You’d have to be living in some cave to not know that IP wars are all the rage this season, especially with our favorite electronics/software companies. Samsung, in particular, has been the target of all-mighty Apple, and had quite the difficult year. But alas, Microsoft has swooped in, and the two have decided to cross-license their patent portfolios. This would better protect both companies from outside attacks moving forward.

Past that, Samsung will pay Microsoft royalties for all phones and tablets running the Android platform. Remember that funny little math equation that leaves Redmond with more cash from Android than its own Windows Phone platform? Yeah, that’s in play here. The agreement also states that both companies will participate in the marketing and development of Windows Phone 7.

This is the seventh Android developer with which Microsoft has signed a licensing deal. HTC is the next biggest licensee behind Samsung, who are joined by Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron. In a blog post on the matter, Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith and Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez explained that these licensing deals are the “responsible manner” in which to resolve patent tiffs.

We recognize that some businesses and commentators – Google chief among them – have complained about the potential impact of patents on Android and software innovation. To them, we say this: look at today's announcement. If industry leaders such as Samsung and HTC can enter into these agreements, doesn't this provide a clear path forward?

The timing of this deal is key, as Samsung is making a bigger statement than the announcement itself. If Samsung had faith that the Googorola deal would be beneficial to Android, there would be no need to sign on the dotted line until the acquisition was closed. But Samsung controls over 28,000 patents in the U.S., and more than 100,000 globally, according to FOSS Patents. Motorola holds about 24,500 patents worldwide, including applications and granted patents. To Samsung, it would be easier and safer to take matters into their own hands.

As far as Apple and Samsung are concerned, this won’t do much to change the state of affairs. Samsung can’t suddenly begin fighting Apple with Microsoft patents. The deal only allows Samsung to build products or practice technology covered in Microsoft’s patents moving forward. However, it does make plain how Samsung perceives Android at the moment — in peril.

All in all this isn’t a huge deal for the big guns. HTC and Samsung can afford to pay a fee for their Android phones, especially if it gives them a bit of added protection. But Google won’t like this one bit. Not only is Microsoft buddying up with some of its big-name Android partners, but with all these licensing deals in place, Android as a whole may begin to have a fee associated with it.

Personally, I can’t wait to hear Google’s response.

Company: Microsoft
Launch Date: April 4, 1974

Microsoft, founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, is a veteran software company, best known for its Microsoft Windows operating system and the Microsoft Office suite of productivity software. Starting in 1980 Microsoft formed a partnership with IBM allowing Microsoft to sell its software package with the computers IBM manufactured. Microsoft is widely used by professionals worldwide and largely dominates the American corporate market. Additionally, the company has ventured into hardware with consumer products such as the Zune and...

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Ocean Group Pumps $100 Million Into New Digital Subsidiary, Black Ocean

Posted: 28 Sep 2011 05:08 AM PDT


Ocean Group, a massive private holding company founded by entrepreneurs Timur Sardarov and Oliver Ripley, has announced the creation of – and a $100 million investment commitment in – a new digital media and technology subsidiary called Black Ocean.

Sardarov and Ripley will spearhead Black Ocean's investments in video, social, mobile, and e-commerce technologies.

The new subsidiary’s core business will comprise both a strategic holding division for the management of its portfolio companies (in which it usually holds a majority stake) and a business incubator that will offer “everything from capital to structural expertise to back office support” to entrepreneurs.

Current Black Ocean companies include video encoding and streaming company Streamworks, video ad matching and rewards platform AdGenesis, MyCube, Shopflick and First Page Network.

Black Ocean has offices in New York City, London, Luxembourg, Singapore, and Moscow.


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