Friday, October 14, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Motorola Reveals NFC-Packing ELITE Bluetooth Headsets

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 09:23 AM PDT


Motorola has pulled back the curtains on the ELITE Silver and the ELITE Flip, a new pair of Bluetooth headsets that pack a few novel goodies into some odd-looking packages.

Both headsets, for example, are fully compatible with your NFC-capable phone (you do have one, right?). Say goodbye to fiddling with your Bluetooth menu, as all it takes to pair is a quick tap.

They also pack support for Motorola’s Android-only My MOTOSpeak app, so the road-warriors among you will have quick access to your messages and apps while on the run.

The ELITE Silver looks unlike any other Motorola headset I’ve seen in years. If anything, it almost looks like Motorola has cribbed a few design notes from the Plantronics Voyager Pro, except they’ve excluded the fantastic boom mic. Motorola also claims that the ELITE Silver is capable of roaming much farther than your standard headset: up to 300 feet, instead of the usual 30 or so.

The Silver’s battery life is rated at a scant 5 hours, but it ships with a special case that charges the headset when you stow it. Other than that, it packs the usual A2DP streaming and Motorola’s dual-mic noise cancellation.

The ELITE Flip is far and away the less exciting of the two. Motorola has been using and tweaking their flip-open headsets for a long time now, and the Flip doesn’t bring much new to the table. It features the same audio streaming and noise cancellation functionality as its brother, but squeezes it all into a slightly more conventional package. At the very least it wins on battery life: users can expect 6 hours of talk time out of the gate.

If either the ELITE Silver or ELITE Flip have somehow struck your fancy, you can pick them up for $129 and $99 respectively come October 24.

Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook Review: A MacBook Air For The Rest Of Us

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 09:10 AM PDT

Thinner than a pencil

The Aspire S3 is Acer’s first ultrabook. The notebook is almost unabashedly a MacBook Air clone with straight lines and a clean design but it’s also $400 less. There are some trade-offs when comparing this to the Air, sure, but for the most part the Aspire S3 is a fine ultraportible for the Windows crowd.

What Acer and all the rest of the ultrabook makers are building are by all accounts fine computers but will no doubt catch flack because of their similarities to the MacBook Air. The Aspire S3 isn’t a MacBook Air killer. Not alone at least. This notebook gives me hope that the PC isn’t dead and ultrabooks will be the genesis of this revival.

Lookin’ Good

It’s hard to dismiss the MacBook Air as the S3′s inspiration. It’s a virtual clone if you replace the MBA’s aluminum skin with plastic, ditch the backlit keyboard and replace the glowing Apple logo with a shiny Acer one. That’s fine with me. Acer got the major points right. The S3 is lightweight, surprisingly rigid and sports a quality multitouch trackpad.

The S3 is .51-inches thick. That’s .17mm thinner than the MacBook Air at its thickest point. But unlike the MBA or the recently announced Asus Zenbook, the S3 is nearly the same thickness throughout; it’s not tapered to a sharp point. But with a notebook this thin, these tiny details do not really matter. The S3 is just a touch thicker than two iPads 2. It also weighs a mere 2.98 lbs.

Acer pulled off a sort of coup with the S3. This ultrabook has perhaps the best trackpad I’ve ever used on a Windows notebook. The multitouch gestures simply work without a learning curve. The whole trackpad wiggles a bit in a way that’s not necessarily bad, but initially unsettling. The trackpad is so good that it tricks my brain and when I need to right click, my left hand constantly wonders up to the Ctrl and Alt button as if I was on a Mac – I forget this trackpad has a real right click button! I am thoroughly impressed with the trackpad.

Then there’s the screen. The S3 uses a rather low resolution 13-inch LED backlit display. The colors and clarity are just fine, but the 1366 x 768 resolution leaves me wanting more. That’s the same resolution used in the 11-inch MBA — the 13-inch uses a 1440 x 900 which lends greatly to its high-end feel. The S3′s low resolution screen is adequate just not exceptional. Plus, the viewing angle is poor and to make matters worse, the lid’s hinge is loose so it tends to fall forwards or backwards when jarred.

Think that’s bad? The S3 has a set of Dolby certified speakers, but you’ll get better sound out of a thrift store harmonica. They’re that bad, which frustrates me considering the Dolby logo printed right by the S3′s power button. Dolby seemingly sells licences more freely than George Lucas pimps Star Wars. If this is Dolby-approved sound, then Dolby clearly endorses horrible sound.

Battery Is King

Acer proudly touts that the S3 can last six hours on a charge. That claim puts the S3 on par with the MacBook Air’s 5-7 hour life. Unfortunately I never saw six hours of life during my testing. A day of normal activities consisting of mainly Internet browsing resulted in a 5 hour battery life. I only saw 3:30 hours when stress testing the notebook by playing 1080p movies over WiFi. (all of Mallrats and part of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood)

The shorter than advertised battery life is to be expected, though. Where Apple takes great pride in advertising real-life battery stats, Windows PC makers seem to state lives that are only achievable when the notebook is at its lowest brightness and sitting near ideal. Still, the five-hour battery life is below average in the ultraportable scene even though it’s still a good amount of time.

Thin notebooks generally get toasty. The S3 does not. It stays at a comfortable temperature thanks to a fan that kicks on a few minutes after opening the lid. But even the MacBook Air has a fan. After all, there’s a good deal of powerful computing hardware crammed into an area measured by cubic millimeters. At this point ultraportables either have a fan or they double as an Easy Bake Skillet.

Intel Inside

The Aspire S3 rocks a mobile 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M CPU with 4GB of RAM. This little guy handled all my daily tasks that admittedly consists just of Google Reader and Reddit combined with a fair amount of YouTube videos sourced from both. Photoshop runs well enough for simple edits, but I wouldn’t want to compose a huge image — partly because of the low-res screen. Future versions in Acer’s ultrabook line will include Core i3 and i7 CPUs, which depending on your poison, will either provide better battery life at the cost of raw power, or likewise, a shorter battery life in return for faster CPU cycles.

Not surprisingly, the S3 isn’t a gaming machine but it runs less-demanding games like Portal and Starcraft just fine. Don’t expect to play BF3 on here.

Intel designed the ultrabook platform to be quick where it’s most obvious: system start-up and resuming. Acer took it one step farther and included several proprietary software packs to make it even quicker. The included SSD helps, too. It takes about 1 second to resume the system when opening the lid. A system boot took an average of 34 seconds from hitting the power button to seeing the WiFi reconnect. It’s clearly far from instant-on but it’s nearly an instant resume, which is more important to daily usage anyway.

Part of the quickness comes from a 20GB SSD that holds just the important system files. A traditional 320GB spinning disk hard drive handles file storage and additional software installations. This unconventional affair is hidden to the user and only one disk shows up in My Computer. Strangely, despite 3rd party confirmation of these hard drives from HD Tune Pro, only 283 GBs show as the total system storage — and that seemingly includes the Windows 7 install.

But This Is An Acer

Buy a Mac and you get OS X and several first party software titles. Buy an Acer (or HP, Dell or most others) and you get a computer loaded with unsolicited software. This notebook comes with at least a dozen bloatware titles including McAfee Internet Protection and Norton Online Backup. (side question: why does McAfee insist on running inside of Chrome as a plug-in? fear mongering) I’ve only had the computer a few days and I’m constantly bombed with software updates, required restarts and random program notification pop-ups. These sponsored offers allow computer manufacturers to sneak in extra revenue and keep prices low, but there has to be a better way that doesn’t require an owner to spend an hour uninstalling software on his new computer.

The S3 is a winner. It’s relatively low $899 price puts the ultrabook $400 less than a comparable MacBook Air. Plus it runs Windows, which, and I know this may be a shocker to some, is a big advantage for a large cohort of consumers. But the S3 isn’t the only ultrabook out there and if you need some extra power, it might do to wait. Nearly every computer manufacturer is launching a full line of ultrabooks. Acer has an early advantage of hitting retailers before Dell or HP who are expected to enter the game late this year or early next. But Lenovo, Toshiba, Asus, and Samsung are all launching ultrabooks in the coming weeks, so the competition is looming.

This notebook lives up to my rather high expectations. I’m a bit disappointed by the screen, but it’s far from a deal breaker in my opinion. The S3′s trackpad rocks, the notebook stays at a comfortable temperature and the long battery life makes it an all-day companion. I was quiet pleased and, in the end, it’s not just another MacBook Air lookalike.

Click to view slideshow.

Product Page

The Motorola Xoom Family Edition Hits Best Buy For $379, Comes Loaded With Extra Apps

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 09:07 AM PDT


Don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t just a special edition of the original Xoom. This is a new tablet that comes loaded with a bunch of family apps.

The specs are similar to the original: Android 3.1, a 10.1-inch IPS screen, dual-core 1GHz CPU, 5MP camera and 16GB of storage. The casing is different this time around though. The tablet is decidedly downmarket wherein the original clearly aimed at the high-end of space. Motorola clearly learned a thing or two from its first tablet. This time around it’s all about the software and user experience.

The Xoom Family Edition is packed with $40 worth of apps. Kid Zone Zoodles locks down the tablet and allows your youngsters access to only the apps you deem acceptable — like the preloaded SimCity Deluxe and Asphalt 6. Then there’s Netflix, Quickoffice Pro HD, all the Google apps, several Amazon apps, Motorola’s app showcase portal called MotoPack.

I’m still not convinced that the Android tablet scene is large enough to support special editions. For the most part they’re still niche products and the flagship products are barely selling. Still, despite the name, this is more of a new tablet than a special edition of the original.

Best Buy is the exclusive retailer for the Xoom Family Edition where it’s hitting at $379. Look for it in stores on October 16th.

Launch Date: October 14, 2011

Motorola Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MSI) is a data communications and telecommunications equipment provider that succeeded Motorola Inc. following the spin-off of the mobile phones division into Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc. in 2011. The company is headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. Motorola Solutions is composed of the Enterprise Mobility Solutions division of the former Motorola, Inc. Motorola Solutions also previously had a Networks division, which it sold to Nokia Siemens Networks in a transaction that was completed on April...

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Video: Meet Kong And Wu, The Ping Pong Playing Robots From China

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 09:02 AM PDT

China Ping Pong Robot

The Japanese have them, the Germans have them, the Vietnamese have them, and now China has them, too: ping pong robots. A team of researchers at Zhejiang University in Eastern China has worked a total of four years to come up with two humanoids that can play ping pong with each other or against human players.

The robots, named Kong and Wu, are 160cm tall, weigh 55kg and feature 30 joints. A high-speed camera that can shoot pictures at 120fps makes sure the robots react in 0.05 to 0.1 seconds and with a precision of 2.5cm to balls coming their way.

Here’s a video showing Kong and Wu in action [CN]:

Via Plastic Pals

TCTV: Up Close With The Gibson Firebird X Robot Guitar

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 09:02 AM PDT

Guitar-maker Gibson has a problem on their hands. After nearly a century of producing some of the most storied guitars in existence for, from the Les Paul electrics to genre-defining acoustics, Gibson has taken a turn into the space age. With the launch of their latest creation, the Firebird X, however, fans have been up in arms about styling, gimmicks and, most important, Gibson’s embrace of the digital.

I sat down with Mark McCabe, a Gibson rep, to run through this new guitar and to discuss the company’s new product line. As an amateur player, I can assure you that this guitar is amazingly cool, especially the on-board controls and the Bluetooth-connected pedals. I understand why the naysayers would call this more a toy – in an era where electronica and Guitar Hero gets more notice than real guitar heroes, it’s hard to be a git-fiddle lover – but this is a new way to think about the guitar as more than just strings and a resonator. It’s a way for a new generation of musicians to play multiple licks in multiple styles on stage and in the studio and it offers a great way to model loads of effects that have usually been offloaded to expensive analog or digital pedals.

The Firebird X makes a lot of folks angry because it represents progress (it’s also kind of ugly). Mark showed us that this thing is more than a robotic string tuner and a Line 6 amp.

PlugShare Partners With Getaround, Offers Members $50 For Sharing Their Car

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 08:37 AM PDT


Software company PlugShare, makers of apps for owners of electric cars, is today announcing a partnership with car-sharing service (and TechCrunch Disrupt NYC winnerGetaround to provide $50 to those PlugShare members who sign up to share their car via Getaround’s service.

The idea, whose launch has been timed in conjunction with the first-ever “National Plug In Day,” is meant to promote peer-to-peer sharing, thought to play a crucial role in expanding EV adoption and infrastructure.

National Plug In Day (Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011) is an awareness-raising effort taking place across over two dozen cities across the U.S., with the hopes of drawing attention to the environmental and economic benefits of plug-in electric vehicles. Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association will be teaming up to offer plug-in parades, tailgate parties, test drives and more.

PlugShare’s founders will be at the local San Francisco celebration of National Plug In Day this Sunday from 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM at Chrissy Field, advocating for EV adoption alongside leaders from Getaround and Plug In Day sponsors.

Due to Getaround’s current availability, the $50 financial incentive will only be available to residents in the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Diego metropolitan area.

PlugShare is also announcing the launch of its new Web application, which now joins the iPhone and Android apps as another tool for accessing the large list of public and private charging stations the company maintains. You can preview the Web app here at

Company: Getaround
Launch Date: October 9, 2009
Funding: $3.4M

Getaround provides a peer-to-peer carsharing marketplace that enables car owners to rent their cars - from Priuses to Teslas - to a community of trusted drivers by hour, day, or week using just their smartphones. Car owners invest huge amounts of time and money into an asset they barely use. The average car is idle 92% of the time, while potential drivers walk past block after block of underutilized cars. We are here to connect the dots… to help people...

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monolith: iPhone 4 Case + Pocket Projector +Battery Rolled Into One

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 08:20 AM PDT

century feature

A Japanese accessory maker called Century started selling the “monolith” [JP] today, a case for the iPhone 4, a 1,900mAh battery, and a mini projector rolled into one (it’s still unclear if the device works with the iPhone 4S as well). The monolith is sized at 63.5×126.6×22mm and weighs 97g.

Century says that users can expect images sized at up to 60cm (in 16:9 format), in 640×360 resolution, with a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, and with 12 lumens brightness.

According to the company, the battery provides enough juice for 3 hours of projector usage and takes about 4 hours to fully charge. Without the projector, the in-case battery can add 50% to the life of the iPhone battery.

The monolith is available in black and white (price in Japan: US$260).

Some Retailers Say iPhone 4 Cases Will Fit The 4S, Others Don’t

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 08:17 AM PDT

iPhone 4S cases

Well, this is a bit curious.

We’re all well aware that a phone such as the iPhone 4S requires a case. It’s just too damn precious and costs way too much to go unprotected, but the best cases are often expensive. That said, I’m sure many iPhone 4 owners were hoping to keep their old case when upgrading to the iPhone 4S, but if OtterBox is your go-to case brand, think again.

OtterBox iPhone 4 cases won’t protect the iPhone 4S, with the exception of the Reflex Series. But the iPhone 4S cases from OtterBox will protect the iPhone 4.

According to Brighthand, there are tiny differences in the design of the 4 and 4S, including a slightly different placement of the volume buttons. Apparently OtterBox’s tight-fitting cases won’t translate over to the iPhone 4S, though some other case retailers like CaseMate don’t seem to be having the same issue.

What’s odd is that Apple has said repeatedly that they left the iPhone’s design alone, and merely upgraded the innards in the 4S. According to the iPhone 4S press release, “iPhone 4S has the same beautifully thin glass and stainless steel design that millions of customers around the world love,” referring to the iPhone 4.

Still, Hard Candy Cases seems to be selling different cases for the iPhone 4 and the 4S like OtterBox, suggesting that it’s really a retailer decision.

Here’s what an OtterBox spokesperson had to say:

Existing OtterBox case options designed for the original Apple iPhone 4, with the exception of the Reflex Series, will not accommodate the new iPhone 4S. OtterBox will offer iPhone 4S cases in Impact Series, Commuter Series, Reflex Series and Defender Series beginning Oct. 14, which will also accommodate all versions of the iPhone 4.

Well, there you have it OtterBox fans. Unless you are using the Reflex Series cases, you’ll need to upgrade.


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What If You Could Legally Resell Your Digital Music? ReDigi May Have Found The Solution.

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 08:00 AM PDT

Screen shot 2011-10-14 at 3.37.16 AM

Here’s an interesting piece of news that’s sure to reignite debate over consumers’ rights in the digital age: A Boston-based startup called ReDigi has this week launched an eMarketplace that allows users to resell their digital music — as well as buy new and used songs for cheap.

While the idea of a secondary resale marketplace for digital content no doubt sounds appealing, given the tumultuous (and lawsuit-heavy) history of the sale and distribution of music on the Web, there are a number of tricky legal issues in play. Namely, with the rise in the digital distribution of music, movies, software, and more, there has come surfeit legal confusion over whether or not the so-called “first sale doctrine” applies to digital transactions.

Basically, under the first-sale doctrine, once the person who owns the rights to, say, a CD sells a copy of that work, the owner relinquishes control of that individual copy. Once that copy is in a new user’s hands, they own it and can do with it as they please, including reselling, lending, or giving it away.

However, Some have claimed that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to digital downloads, for instance, when that digital property has been licensed to the buyer, rather than explicitly sold. In the case of Vernor Vs. Autodesk, the software corporation sued Timothy Vernor (an online software reseller) for reselling its software on eBay, saying that, under the terms of use, the software had been licensed to him, not sold; thus, they claimed that he did not own the right to the software and could not lawfully resell their product.

In 2008, the Washington District Court sided with Vernor, ruling that the software was in fact sold, upholding Vernor’s right to resale. However, that decision was subsequently overturned in September 2010 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Which was followed on October 4th of this year by the Supreme Court’s decision to decline hearing the case, allowing the Court of Appeals’ verdict to stand — a decision which can obviously have significant (negative) implications for sites like ReDigi, consumers, and beyond.

Obviously, there are conflicting precedents for the first-sale doctrine in our evolving digital landscape, and these questions of ownership and right to resale tend to descend into gray areas and legal quagmires that often result in the sputtering and collapsing of those companies attempting to create legal secondary markets for resale.

Of course, ReDigi is not naive to the context here and claims that it has done its due diligence with a number of law firms in Boston, New York, and LA, and has in fact created a marketplace that both protects the rights of the consumer as well as conforms with current laws and supports the wishes of the music industry. Though achieving the latter certainly has to be akin to pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

ReDigi hopes to succeed where others have failed by designing a marketplace that is not about file sharing, but is instead a method of “facilitating the legal transfer of music between two parties”. Really, the key here is that the startup’s technology is able to actually verify that a track was properly purchased (or acquired) by the person looking to resell, and manages items posted for sale within the sellers’ music libraries to prevent multiple copies from being auctioned. (Which should, in practice, protect the seller from copyright infringement.)

The other feature that works in ReDigi’s favor is that, once the digital transaction has been completed, the track is thereby deleted from the seller’s music library as well as any mobile devices that are synced with their music player. The copies of songs that are on sale are held by ReDigi up until the transfer takes place; once the song is purchased, the actual track as well as the license are then transferred to the new owner, whereupon all copies of the track on the seller’s account are deleted.

As ReDigi is a completely free service with no subscription, installation, initiation, or upgrade fees — and users get free private cloud storage so that they can buy, sell, or listen to their music anytime anywhere — this will no doubt have great appeal to consumers. Plus, ReDigi already has a catalog of over 11 million songs.

After all, how many of us have accumulated years worth of MP3s and digital songs that we no longer listen to? I know that I, for one, have several GBs of music that I would gladly resell and not bat an eyelash when ReDigi deletes those songs from my players and devices.

This is probably why ReDigi was able to attract 120,000 social network followers pre-launch and is in the process of closing a $1.5 million round of funding from a host of angel investors.

On the other hand, the startup claims that users will be able to buy pre-owned digital music from resellers “at a fraction of the price currently available on iTunes”, which is sure to raise the eyebrows of both Apple, music labels, and copyright owners.

ReDigi certainly has a lot going for it, as the process of reselling music is fairly simple. All one has to do is download the free “ReDigi Music Manager”, drag songs for resale from their music library (iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc.), and drop them onto the ReDigi icon located on their desktop. With a verification engine in place to determine that the seller is actually an authentic license holder, and the ability to delete sold copies from the seller’s devices, this may work towards mollifying the concerns of the music industry.

But, again, one notices the use of “license holder”, which thanks to the muddied perspective of the law, may still put ReDigi in danger if the powers that be decide to call their lawyers.

While ReDigi’s investors — and the team that has been working on this solution for the last few years — have clearly thought long and hard about this problem, having designed the marketplace to address the legal concerns of the music industry (as well as to pay out a sizable chunk of the proceeds from sales and resales to artists and labels), it would be surprising if we don’t hear ReDigi’s name along with the word “lawsuit” sometime in the future.

For more, check out ReDigi at home here, and please weigh in to let us know what you think. Does ReDigi have a shot at transforming the resale of digital content — or are they destined for a legal morass?

Company: ReDigi
Funding: $535k

ReDigi is a trademark owned by Intellisys Group LLC, also of Cambridge. On its website, ReDigi says that it uses its technology to facilitate the sale of "legally purchased music" between site users, also stating, "It's your music and you have the right to sell it." A portion of the revenue ReDigi makes from each transaction it facilitates is sent back to the artist and the label as a "donation," the website said. The company also manages the copyright...

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GM Announces All-Electric Chevy Spark EV, Plus New Concept Car Chevy EN-V

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 07:58 AM PDT

Image converted using ifftoany

This week, GM announced it will launch an all-electric vehicle under the Chevrolet brand, the Spark EV. The car is basically an electric version of the Spark mini-car and will be sold in limited quantities in the U.S., including California, starting in 2013.

The company also announced it has started working on its new concept vehicle, the Chevrolet EN-V.

The Spark EV will be built using feedback from Chevy’s electric vehicle demonstration fleets in Shanghai (Sail EV), Korea (Cruze EV) and India (Beat EV), the automaker states. The car’s nanophosphate lithium-ion battery packs will be provided by A123 Systems. Other than that, details are scarce.

Information on specific markets, range, quantities and pricing are not yet available.

In addition, GM announced that it has begun work on its next-generation EN-V concept car, which will also carry the Chevrolet badge. This car will feature one of those crazy, futuristic designs in the form of a 2-seater, zero-emissions vehicle developed specifically for increasingly crowded urban areas.

The Chevrolet EN-V (short for Electric Networked-Vehicle), will add new features like climate control, personal storage space and all-weather and road condition operation. It will also include elements from the original EN-V, like its small footprint and maneuverability, battery electric propulsion, connectivity and autonomous driving capabilities.


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Watch Burning Man Appear And Disappear

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 07:47 AM PDT

I’ve sadly (??) never been to burning man, but this time-lapse footage of the playa over five weeks is pretty inspiring. First you see a small group of folks begininning to set things up and then, when the gates open, all heck breaks loose, creating a mini-city in the desert.

Then it all just goes away.

If Burning Man teaches us anything it’s that a) Burning Man is really expensive b) running around naked all day is probably not the best idea for the prevention of sand abrasion to the nether quarters and c) humans really can work together to make amazing things, even if it’s just for a week or two.

via Gawker

App Trailers Gives You Gift Cards For Watching App Videos

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 07:29 AM PDT


Mobile advertising startup AppRedeem has just launched App Trailers, a new product that rewards you for viewing videos about mobile apps. The service, available here from the iTunes App Store, doesn’t use the same model as typical incentivized install programs do today. Instead, users are given points for watching a trailer, then are provided with the option to download the app at the end of the video. Only if a users taps “yes” is the advertiser charged.

Says AppReedem, these types of installs will be more valuable to the advertiser because the user is indicating that they actually want to install and try that app. Users get the same number of points whether or not they choose to installs, so they’re really only downloading apps they’re interested in – there’s no bonus for tapping “yes.”

Each video listed in the app is worth 10 points, but users can get 25 points for registering their email or inviting friends to try the service.

Rewards include a $1 Amazon gift card (100 points), a $5 REI gift card (500 points), $10 gift cards from Crate&Barrel, Fandango or Macy’s (1,000 points) and $25 gift cards from Nike, Nordstrom or Pottery Barn (2,500 points).

Given how long it would take you to accumulate enough points to earn the top-level rewards, it’s clear this app is best suited to those who have a lot of free time on your hands. (Perhaps those without an Angry Bird addiction?)

That said, App Trailers is certainly a unique take on driving app installs in an increasingly overcrowded app marketplace. And who know? You might even discover a new app to try when the service ramps up a bit. Currently, there are videos for a number of popular apps, including Priceline, Groupon, LivingSocial, SkyGrid, PingMe, Blendr and others. The only problem? Apparently you don’t get any points for having all those apps already installed on your phone. Bummer.

You can try App Trailers for yourself from here.

AppReedem raised $700,000 from SV Angel and Blue Run Ventures in June. It also has an AppReedem-branded app on Android here.

Company: AppRedeem
Launch Date: January 9, 2010
Funding: $700k

AppRedeem is an early-stage, high-growth promotion and advertising platform that drives mobile application engagement. World-class firms – Gilt Groupe, Groupon, and others – use AppRedeem today to fuel their mobile growth.

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Steve Wozniak Is “A Little Afraid” About The Future Of Apple (TCTV)

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 07:29 AM PDT


Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says he is “a little afraid about the future of Apple” even though “it could go positive.” Some of his concerns are based on Apple’s iPhone 4S product demo. He says the company talked about its dual-core processor, but “Steve (Jobs) doesn’t want us to think about dual-core processors, all we need to know is how do we get our answer, how do we connect to the internet… Human things, not technical things.” He also says he doesn’t want Apple to go the way Sony went in its products.

Woz is living up to his twitter bio, “Engineers First!“. He is first in line to buy the iPhone 4S outside the Los Gatos, California Apple store. He was holding court, taking questions and signing autographs.

In this video, shot with an iPhone, Woz shared his reaction to the recent death of Steve Jobs and the last phone call they had together. Woz also talked about the Apple’s planned spaceship campus and its connection to Apple history.

In another video in an earlier post, Woz talks about why he is excited about getting the iPhone 4S.

Person: Steve Wozniak

A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for the past three decades, Steve Wozniak helped shape the computing industry with his design of Apple's first line of products the Apple I and II and influenced the popular Macintosh. In 1976, Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer Inc. with Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. The following year, he introduced his Apple II personal computer, featuring a central processing unit, a keyboard, color graphics, and a floppy disk drive. The Apple...

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Person: Steve Jobs
Companies: Pixar, NeXT, Apple

Steve Jobs was the co-founder and CEO of Apple and formerly Pixar. Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco, California to Joanne Simpson and a Syrian father. Paul and Clara Jobs of Mountain View, California then adopted him. In 1972, Jobs graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, California and enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. One semester later, he had dropped out, later taking up the study of philosophy and foreign cultures. Steve Jobs had a deep-seated interest in...

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Zoopla To Merge With FindaProperty Creating A UK Giant Killer

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 06:46 AM PDT


The Daily Mail and General Trust which owns The Daily Mail and other media interests is to planning to merge the online property business of its Digital Property Group consisting of and, with venture-backed property startup Zoopla. Under the proposed merger, A&N Media (the consumer arm of DMGT) will retain a 55% interest in the newly merged entity. Shares in DMGT were up following the proposal. The dominant player in the UK online property market is Rightmove, but this merger creates a powerful competitor. The Rightmove market cap is £1.3Bn.

Sheer Magnetism, Darling: You Can Own James Bond’s Buzzsaw Rolex

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 06:33 AM PDT


Live And Let Die was one of the most gadget-filled Bond movies, featuring a Rolex watch with built-in high intensity magnetic bullet shield and buzzsaw as well as robotic voodoo figures and a taxi that enclosed the rider in a cage of bulletproof glass. Although the figures and taxi aren’t for sale, you can own that rocking Rolex.

The watch, found by our buddies at Hodinkee has been completely gutted and still contains the original motor and “buzzsaw.” It’s signed “Roger Moore 007″ on the back and there’s a tiny hole where the special effects folks connected Miss Caruso’s dress to the watch using invisible string so that old dog James could unzip it with magnets.

Christies will sell the watch at auction in November and it’s expected to reach $200,000 to $450,000. Want to see what else 007 wore? Check out this obsessive site. And you thought you were serious about your hobby.

ChatON, Samsung’s Version Of iMessage, Arrives In Android Market

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 06:26 AM PDT


Samsung’s cross-platform messaging application called ChatON has arrived in the Google Android Market this morning. The service, announced in August, is similar to RIM's BlackBerry BBM or Apple’s iMessage in that it allows for an alternative to SMS or MMS messaging.

At present, ChatON supports Android, bada and Samsung feature phones, but the company promises support for iOS and BlackBerry soon.

In addition to mobile chat, ChatON plans to offer a Web-based client that will allow users to chat from their PCs, too. Users can have private 1-to 1-conversations, participate in group chats and share media, like photos, videos, voice messages and contacts.

On Samsung’s feature phones, the service allows for text, images, calendar appointment and contact sharing. On smartphones, users will have a few extra options, such as the ability to comment on each other's profiles, send multimedia messages that combine text and audio, and view their own "Interaction Rank," which displays how active they are on the ChatOn network.

The Android Market description also adds something about sending “animation” messages, which are created by drawing.

The Android version is available here in the Android Market. It works on Android 2.2 and 2.3. The Samsung (bada, feature phone) version is available in the Samsung App Store. (Note that this is not available in all markets).

Hat tip: Samsung Hub

At Long Last: Spotify App Now Available On Boxee

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 06:17 AM PDT


Boxee Box owners who are also paying Spotify users, rejoice, for the two have been combined into one sweet music streaming app.

Boxee users with a Spotify Premium subscribers ($9.99 per month) can now enjoy on-demand access to Spotify's millions of available tracks directly on their TV.

Just last week, Spotify announced a deal with Western Digital to make its way onto television screens in the United States, and the partnership with Boxee is a sign that the company is further intensifying its efforts to make TV its third screen.

And boy has this Boxee deal been a long time coming.

I suspect that has something to do with the fact that Spotify wasn’t available in the United States before (they finally landed there on July 14, 2011). And according to Reuters, 250,000 users in the U.S. are already paying for the service.

Other music streaming apps available on Boxee include Grooveshark and MOG. Next up, Rdio?

Company: Spotify
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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Company: Boxee
Funding: $26.5M

Boxee is a partially open-source freeware media player software platform that integrates personal locally stored media with Internet streaming media along with social networking features. Boxee’s social networking component allows users to share information about what they are watching or listening to with other boxee users or friends on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Since it is partially open source, users can create their own apps, plug-ins, and skins for it. The framework for Boxee is based on source...

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Wave Accounting Raises $5 Million In Series A

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 05:58 AM PDT


Wave Accounting Inc. has just closed $5 million in financing, in a Series A round led by Charles River Ventures, with the participation of OMERS Ventures. The financing will be used by the company to continue the development of its free online accounting software for small businesses and market it internationally.

Wave is a completely free (not freemium, but free) accounting package that supports itself through offers. When a user is logged into their Wave account, there’s a section called “Business Savings.” This screen features offers for business-related needs like business cards, web hosting, credit card processing services and more. American Express, Dell and Grand & Toy are among several dozen advertising partners to date.

The online app offers double-entry accounting, financial dashboards, invoicing tools, expense tracking and a suite of reports, but it can also be used by those who don't need or want full accounting reporting. The setup process is easy, too – Wave imports data from your bank accounts, credit cards, etc., so there’s no manual entry involved to get started. It then continues to automatically import transactions from a user’s bank account or electronic statement going forward.

Wave is now used by 75,000 small businesses in 198 countries around the world since its launch less than 11 months ago.

Company: Wave Accounting
Funding: C$1.5M

Wave is a great new online accounting application for small businesses. There are several features that, taken together, make Wave different from other accounting tools. 1) Wave is totally free. Not freemium, or free with usage caps. Just plain free. 2) Wave is a full double-entry accounting app, which is preferred by accountants. It also has financial dashboards, and can track expenses, and can be used in a lightweight manner if business owners don’t need or want full accounting...

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Amazon Lists All Its Verizon Phones For One Penny With A New Contract

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 05:56 AM PDT


If you’re a non-Verizon customer who’s been considering hopping on the big red network, now is most definitely the time. A deal at Amazon could score you a $300 phone for just a penny. In fact, Amazon Wireless is selling all its Verizon devices (which unfortunately excludes the new iPhone 4S) for just a penny if you’re a new customer signing a contract. That also includes free 2-day shipping.

The deal doesn’t extend to tablets, but there’s still a good 30 phones to choose from, ranging from the super powerful $300 Droid Bionic to a variety of feature phones. The beastlier of the phones include the HTC Droid Incredible 2, the HTC ThunderBolt, the Samsung Droid Charge, and the Motorola Droid 3. If the Penny-Pincher Sale sounds like the deal for you, head on over to Amazon Wireless and start shopping. The sale is only running through October 17.

Company: Amazon
Launch Date: October 14, 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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YouTube Disco Stops Dancing, Nobody Notices

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 04:47 AM PDT


Google’s YouTube debuted an experimental music discovery project dubbed YouTube Disco last year in January, enabling users to create quick-and-dirty playlists and discover new artists and music videos on the fly.

Not that this is a really big deal or anything, but a reader informs us that the feature, which was launched rather quietly via YouTube test lab TestTube, recently stopped returning results even for queries like ‘Lady Gaga’, ‘Justin Bieber’ and ‘Madonna’. No more Finding, Mixing or Watching, folks.

Perhaps the team felt the need to shut it down now that Google axed the Disco app.

Fortunately for YouTube – or not – nobody seems to have noticed so far. Which is probably because no one was using it, save for our eagle-eyed reader of course.

(Picture above via Flickr user mikemccaffrey)

Company: YouTube
Launch Date: November 9, 2005
Funding: $11.5M

YouTube was founded in 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal. YouTube is the leader in online video, sharing original videos worldwide through a Web experience. YouTube allows people to easily upload and share video clips across the Internet through websites, mobile devices, blogs, and email. Everyone can watch videos on YouTube. People can see first-hand accounts of current events, find videos about their hobbies and interests, and discover the quirky...

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