Monday, November 28, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

LocalVox Launches Full-Service Marketing Solution To Help Local Merchants Target Their Customers

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 11:56 AM PST


Hyperlocal is all the rage these days, and content companies, deal sites, and everyone in between are trying to find better ways to access (and advertise to) local markets. Over the last decade, the majority of media companies have attempted to launch internal or on-site outlets that cover local news, but most have met with middling success.

NearSay, a New York City-based startup that launched six months ago, began by asking a simple question: “Where do we get our neighborhood news?” NearSay’s founders, Trevor Sumner and David Pachter, were startled by the lackluster and confusing responses to that question and, in turn, the dearth of valuable neighborhood outlets for local news. So, for their answer, they started a platform that began as a realtime business newswire to allow local businesses in New York City to publish announcements (on events, deals, etc.) to the NearSay platform.

Now an aggressive publisher of neighborhood lifestyle news, the startup has partnered with small, local publications (where they exist) to allow local businesses to target their content to the people who can actually benefit from — and want to hear about — local news. To add to their platform, the startup launched LocalVox, which is (among other things) a white label advertorial publishing tool that allows niche publishers to syndicate their clients’ content across the startup’s network and blast that content out to social media outlets.

The idea was to create a Yellow Pages 3.0, which not only serves as a tool to help readers or searchers find telephone numbers or addresses of local merchants, but to actually help those merchants optimize their placement in search results and get found by the people who need them.

Today, the company is now calling itself LocalVox Media, and NearSay, its contextual newswire service, has become a feature of the platform. As a part of this rebranding, the startup is launching LocalVox 2.0, with which it is hoping to become a full, multichannel marketing tool for local businesses and publishers. The white label tool it launched initially was aimed at larger publishers which already had sales and customer service teams, but Version 2.0 makes the company a full-service solution for all publishers and local businesses.

To date, the platform has attracted 270 clients which are using the service to publish company events, promotions, and community programs through NearSay’s network; so, with LocalVox 2.0, the startup is looking to become a full-service tool for its clients by integrating Google Local optimization and social media management services.

Leveraging Google Places and Google Plus, social media, email marketing and more to create a simple way for their clients to generate news and target new and existing customers, LocalVox wants to enable community businesses to attain optimized Google placements — all through an all-in-one marketing solution characterized by a user-friendly interface. This last bit has become increasingly important, as local marketing solutions are realizing that products that sound technical or rely too heavily on self-service models are failing to see the adoption among small merchants that many hoped they would have.

Thus, LocalVox sees itself as a long-term marketing partner for its clients, not a quick fix. So, in contrast with Groupon’s model, which creates episodic bursts of activity and exposure for small businesses, LocalVox provides a searchable history of news content that lives on each business’ web page that is optimized for search engine placement and social media integration — all of which is intended to create additional exposure over time.

Or looking at LocalVox in juxtaposition with Aol’s hyperlocal news outlet Patch, for example, LocalVox sees its value not as a destination site, but in leveraging programs that engage consumers across multiple channels and take the pain of managing search engine placement, social media, and multichannel marketing strategies out of the hands of the merchants themselves.

What’s more, local businesses often find difficulties in updating and maintaining their websites with relevant content, and making their sites into workable, valuable communication platforms. So LocalVox wants to help them, say, upload customer lists and avoid going to a third-party source to upload a newsletter.

According to LocalVox Co-founder Trevor Sumner, it’s this approach that has led the startup to a 95 percent retention rate among participating businesses — compared to Groupon’s retention rate at 18 percent.

To date, the startup has raised a small angel round, but it is in the process of raising a series A round, Sumner says. Currently, LocalVox is only available in New York City, but the startup plans to expand into new markets beginning in early 2012.

And, for TechCrunch readers interested in testing LocalVox 2.0, the company is offering five local NYC businesses a free month of social media strategy and implementation as well as a free month of Google Places optimization. The startup will select the businesses from those who send emails to with “TechCrunch” in the subject line.

For more, check the startup out at home here.

Time To Tweet The Art: Keeps Tabs On Curatorial Social Media

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 11:23 AM PST

Screen Shot 2011-11-28 at 2.19.15 PM

To paraphrase Cracker, I suspect what the world needs now is another method to assess the social metrics of various museums around the world like I need a hole in the head, but presumably this information is important to someone out there, so here goes. is a site with a simple mission: to calculate the social reach of various museums. The service uses various and sundry sources as well as Twitter and Facebook to find news and information about almost 3000 museums around the world.

For example, you can see trends at the Van Gogh Museum (Motto: “It doesn’t cost an ear and a leg to get in!”) including new Facebook likes, Tweets, comments mentioning the museum, and engaging content created for and about the museum. I could see this as a boon to curators and directors alike and valuable to museum fans who are trying to push these staid organizations into, at the very least, the 20th century.

It is up and running in beta right now. From the about page:

Museum Analytics has been initiated by INTK in the Netherlands. INTK researches and develops online strategies primarily for cultural organizations and creates critical interventions that reflect on art, technology and society.

It could be a great source to learn about upcoming events and interesting exhibits, which makes it great for tourists. I could definitely see a mash-up between this site and a city tourism site (here’s New York, for example), bringing the high and the low together at last.

(Founder Stories) How Michael Bloomberg Got His Start: “I Brought You A Cup Of Coffee”

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 11:14 AM PST

Bloomberg Show

Before he became the three-time Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg made billions running the financial information company bearing his name. But it might never have happened if he hadn’t been fired from Wall Street during the early days of his career. The Mayor and Bloomberg LP founder dropped by our TechCrunch studio to discuss all this and how he is working to turn New York City into a high tech hub with Founder Stories host, Chris Dixon.

After leaving Salomon Brothers, Mayor Bloomberg started his own business because "nobody offered me a job, I was probably too proud to go look for one, and I said well why not start your own company."

A hands-on founder who studied engineering, Mayor Bloomberg remembers spending “every Saturday at an engineer's barn up in Connecticut" physically helping build the hardware (pointing out this was before PC’s and the internet) and flying to Chicago to tackle related infrastructure repairs. If anything broke he says it remained that way until he could catch a flight.

Mr. Bloomberg's efforts paid off three years later when he sold "20 terminals" to Merrill Lynch through relationships he developed by bringing coffee and tea to their employees. He tells Dixon "when I would see somebody sitting in an office trying to read the newspaper at 7:00 in the morning, I would go in and say, ‘Hi, I am Mike Bloomberg. I brought you a cup of coffee. Can I talk to you?’" His persistence paid off.

Reflecting on those first three years, Bloomberg says, the first year, “you don't think about the downside, the second year is the difficult one, the third year you see that light at the end of the tunnel.”

Looking ahead, the Mayor recognizes that "intellectual capital" is crucial for making New York a world-class tech center and says "the business strategy, if you will of New York City Government is not to subsidize companies, not to pay for people to bring jobs here, it is to invest in parks and cultural institutions and better public schools and lower crime to get the best and brightest to want to live here."

Make sure to watch the entire interview to hear additional insights, including Mayor Bloomberg’s advice for founders looking to secure office space.

Episode II of this interview is coming up.

Past Founder Stories interviews, with leaders from Birchbox, Eventbrite, and Kickstarter are here.

Twitter Nabs The Two Guys Behind Mobile Security Startup Whisper Systems

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 11:07 AM PST

Screen Shot 2011-11-28 at 11.09.37 AM

The team behind security startup Whisper Systems has been acq-hired by Twitter, they have announced on their company blog this gorgeous Cyber Monday morning.

“We started Whisper Systems with the goal of improving security and privacy for mobile devices. We were attracted to this not only because we saw it as an opportunity to reinvent the security solutions that never really worked in the PC environment to begin with, but also because the stakes are much higher — due to the nature of mobile devices themselves — and we didn’t like the way that things were looking.”

As Whisper Systems consists of just two employees, Moxie Marlinspike and Stuart Anderson, this has talent acquisition written all over it. In their year of being in business, the startup has built a variety of encryption products for Android phones and the web including WhisperCore, a product that encrypts all data on your phone, and TextSecure, a product that encrypts text messages.

The team make it clear that after a brief period of down time, the Whisper Systems software suite would live on.

Twitter wouldn’t go into detail about what exactly the Whisper Systems team would be doing at Twitter (I’m going to guess “improving security”), but did give us this statement …

“The Whisper Systems team is joining Twitter starting today. As part of our fast-growing engineering team, they will be bringing their technology and security expertise to Twitter’s products and services. We’re happy to have Moxie Marlinspike and Stuart Anderson onboard.”

  À tout à l’heure !

Rovio Said To Have Turned Down $2.25 Billion Acquisition By Zynga

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 11:01 AM PST

angry birds

Ready for this week’s tale of someone turning down an absurd mountain of money in exchange for their company?

According to a report by the New York Times, Rovio — makers of the Angry Birds series (and the accompanying heap of Angry Birds merchandise so plentiful that they’ve started opening up retail stores) — turned down $2.25 billion this past summer. The would-be buyer? Zynga.

While the report is unconfirmed by Rovio (and Zynga can’t comment, as they’re in the pre-IPO quiet period), the Times cites three sources “briefed on the situation”. The report goes on to add that Zynga also failed to acquire PopCap Games (of Plants Vs. Zombies and Bejeweled fame), with the company rejecting an offer of $950 million… which, considering that they got snatched up by EA for up to $1.3 billion shortly thereafter, was probably a good choice.

Rovio has been quite successful in dominating the mobile games space for some time now, and the company has always been quite clear with their plans to evolve into a major media house. But man, $2.25 billion is a lot of plush toys.

While I’ve got no direct insight as to why Rovio (might have) turned down two billion dollars, you have to assume it’s at least partially because of a clash of cultures. Zynga is a company that has made their riches by nickel-and-diming players for the most trivial of virtual goods. Rovio, meanwhile, throws out massive content updates in rapid fire, often free of charge. Those two mindsets don’t exactly mesh well, even when billions of dollars are involved.

The 4Moms Origami: Look At This Robotic Stroller! Look At It!

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 10:48 AM PST

There are things you need to be afraid of when you’re a new parent. There’s gluten, pull cords, Disney products, and BHP, to be sure, but what about wild robotic strollers that look as if they’ll eat your wee ones in one snap of their plastic jaws?

Luckily, the 4moms Origami stroller won’t close on the little ones and is in fact a automatic stroller with a bit of a twist. Instead of pressing down on some hydraulics, this thing opens and closes with the tap of a button. It is, in short, pretty darn amazing.

The buggy has a built-in generator to power the closing motor and an LCD readout tells you when you can open and close the thing. Headlights near the front wheels keep you safe in dark caverns while the drink cosy on the handle keeps your whiskey snug.

The bad news? It costs $849, which is pretty steep even for some of the higher end buggies. That’s not to say there aren’t more expensive models out there and I’m certain there are no buggies that can transform and roll out like a Decepticon zygote, so this may be worth the splurge. Get the grandparents to pay for it.

Product Page

LaunchNow Turns Building Startups Into A Game

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 10:28 AM PST is a new startup that turns building startups into a game. (Yes, we’re there now.) The idea is that players will pit their companies against each other in order to earn badges, achievements and a “Gamerscore” which is then published to their startup’s profile page. Oh, and here’s the crazy part: LaunchNow is meant to be used with real-life startups, not fake ones.

To get started, players enter in some basic information about the startup they’re working on and are then given a set of goals they have to complete in order to enhance their company and earn badges. These achievements include things like product milestones (alpha, beta, etc.), investments, turning a profit, adding new hires and press mentions. (Score one for LaunchNow, I guess). 

At its core, LaunchNow isn’t all that different from Klout, which measures an individual’s influence on social networks by doling out points. It’s just that on LaunchNow, startups are given points for other, arguably more important types of achievements than being a prolific twitterer or an early adopter of Google+.

LaunchNow’s creator is Raymond Angel, the CEO of Guild Press, and the former CEO of amassed lust entertainment, MOSH mobile and the Interim CEO of Startup Weekend. Craig Crook, Co-founder of the New Media Cartel, helped create the idea for the company, which is operating now in a fully bootstrapped mode with just Angel at the helm.

But who’s going to use this thing, I wonder? After all, if you have a great idea for a new startup, you don’t want to post it online where other entrepreneurs can read all the details, right? Angel says that’s true, so LaunchNow players can choose to keep their startup listed as “private” while they play, allowing it to remain in stealth mode.

Given the explosion of new companies, the idea for a startup-ranking service isn’t an entirely bad one. But LaunchNow is no Klout. Klout’s evil genius is that it sucks in public data to perform the rankings automatically – you don’t even have to register for Klout to have a Klout profile. On LaunchNow, however, rankings are based on manual data entry.

Seriously, if you’re a startup creator who’s more focused on your startup’s gamerscore, instead of, oh say, writing code, it may not matter how many badges you earn – you’re probably not going to win the real game: being an awesome company.

LaunchNow is still very much a bare bones site, with tons of other features planned, including a startup feed, user profiles, forums, customizable URLs and more. Until it adds automation to that list, though, it’s hard to believe that any serious entrepreneur would stop what they’re building to play this game.

LaunchNow is very much a sign of the times, where there’s so much opportunity and so much money, that some are approaching building a startup as a casual exercise, even a game, and not the very hard work it is supposed to be. At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to see the barrier to entry lowered – tomorrow’s casual one-off built by a developer scratching an itch could very well be the next big thing. And gamifying the whole ecosystem isn’t as crazy as it sounds, either. But as long as LaunchNow requires entrepreneurs to stop coding to play, it’s not likely to attract the right kind of folks to try the service. But then again, in today’s ecosystem, that may not matter. If LaunchNow now was playing its own game, it just a press mention, points and a badge. So throw some money at it, right?

Best Buy’s Latest TV Ad Reminds Everyone That They Sell Apple Products

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 10:26 AM PST

best buy

Apple Stores are awesome places to shop. All the latest Apple products are on tables, just waiting to be used and abused. The employees are generally very knowledgeable and they tend to let shoppers wander without pestering (they have an app for that). Oh, and the free tech support at the Genius Bar is, well, genius. The techs don’t try to sell unknowing customers surge protectors or gold-plated USB Monster Cables. Apple Stores are without question retail done right. Then there’s Best Buy. As their latest TV spot reminds, they sell Apple products, too.

AT&T’s LG Nitro HD Gets Official: LTE, 720p Display, $249

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 10:19 AM PST


AT&T sure isn’t wasting any time on shoring up their LTE lineup: just a few weeks after the HTC Vivid and Samsung GSII Skyrocket hit the scene, AT&T has announced that the LG Nitro HD will hit the streets on December 4 for $249.99.

Better known as the Optimus LTE outside of the United States, the Nitro HD sports a pretty impressive spec sheet. As the name would imply, the Nitro sports a high-definition 4.5-inch AH-IPS running at 720p, and an 8-megapixel camera sits on the Nitro’s rear-end. Under the hood is a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, along with 4GB of internal storage and a pre-installed 16GB microSD card.

Like most of its kin, the Nitro HD runs Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, and will probably come preloaded with a host of apps that we’ll uninstall immediately.

Though some of the geeky particulars don’t get a mention, the Nitro HD looks like a solid handset on paper. Hopefully using it is just as good, because LG is in dire need of a hit — their handset division spent the past six consecutive quarters wallowing in red ink. LG has committed nearly half of their 2012 capital expenditures budget into revitalizing their mobile phone business, but until their new crop of smartphones hit, I’ll be watching the Nitro very closely.

Rovio Impersonators Try To Scam Angry Birds Fans In Android Market

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 10:16 AM PST

Angry Birds

With Angry Birds, Rovio found a way to transform normal, healthy people into raging bird-flinging addicts. This isn’t really that big of a deal — at least not in most cases — unless some shady app developers begin impersonating Rovio and selling fake apps on the Android Market. Did I mention that some shady app developers have started impersonating Rovio and selling fake apps on the Android Market?

Google has been notified of the issue and has responded saying they are working on a resolution, according to The Gadgets. Instead of “Rovio Mobile Ltd.” (which is what you should see under Developer name for any Angry Birds game), the devs are calling themselves simply “Rovio” or other variations of the word, so be sure to look for “Rovio Mobile Ltd.” exactly.



Fake apps include Alive 4 Ever, Call of Duty Zombies, Angry Birds 3D, Zombieville, Zombie Highway, Tiny Wings, Catch the Candy, Cut the Rope: Holiday Gift, Rat on a Skateboard, Zombie Gunship, Resident Evil 4, and Siege Hero. Already-scammed customers say that the developers aren’t offering any refunds and that the apps don’t work.

If you do a little investigating into one of these rogue apps, you’ll notice that the developer website links lead to dead websites and that the app descriptions are copied and pasted from legitimate apps’ info pages. You should always remember to shop safely in the Android Market, but during the holidays more than ever try to be extra careful reading through reviews, descriptions, and check out the developers’ site before just hitting install.

IBM: Cyber Monday Online Sales Are Already Up 20 Percent From Last Year

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 10:00 AM PST


Early results for Cyber Monday are looking good for retailers. Cyber Monday 2011 online sales are already up 20 percent for this same time period over Cyber Monday 2010, according to IBM’s Coremetrics retailer data.

IBM says that it expects most online shopping to come from laptops and PCs during the day with mobile shopping activity picking up later in the day, when consumers are purchasing from home.

Currently 13.3 percent of consumers are using a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site and 8.5 percent of consumers are using a mobile to make a purchase.

Black Friday online spending was up over 20 percent, so it’s looking good for Cyber Monday. Last year, Cyber Monday was the heaviest day of online spending ever, with sales exceeding $1 billion. And it’s looking like e-commerce spending will be well over $1 billion.

Cyber Monday Gadget Guide

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 09:28 AM PST

Black Friday Sucks

Black Friday is an awful day compared to today. Sure, you might walk away with that one deal you had your eye on, but for the most part it’s a lot of waiting, fighting, and pepper-spraying. To make up for such an excruciating sale experience, retailers have given us Cyber Monday — the light to Black Friday’s darkness.

That said, we’ve decided to round up some of the best sales of the day just in case you chose to forego Black Friday proper (and why wouldn’t you?).


Those of you who participated in Apple’s biggest sales day in history this past Friday might feel a tinge of regret when I tell you that MacMall is beating Apple’s Black Friday prices today on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. iMacs, iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches are all going for higher prices here than at Apple last week, but the 13-inch MacBook Pro is getting a $139 mark down, while the 11-inch MacBook Air is seeing a price cut of $199.

For our Windows-powered geeks, Dell has a somewhat weak Cyber Monday lineup with $50 off select models. They aren’t necessarily fire sale prices, but a discount’s a discount.

You’ll also see a few hot deals at Best Buy, with 15-inch Core i3 and AMD E Series Toshiba Satellite models going for $499 and $279 respectively, along with a $389.99 15-inch Asus X54L-BBK2 laptop.

Then again, if those Toshiba notebooks sound tempting you may want to repetitively and obsessively click through Amazon‘s lightning deals which happen incrementally throughout the week.


Truth be told, there haven’t been many outstanding tablet deals this weekend to begin with, and many of the good ones have sold out. Still, if you have your eye on RIM‘s BlackBerry PlayBook the Canadian company is offering its slate at the low price of $199.

Verizon is also hooking up tablet lovers with the LTE-capable Motorola Xoom for $199. According to the web site, devices will ship on December 5.


Amazon Wireless simply can’t be beat this year when it comes to smartphones. The iPhone, unfortunately, has not seen any Black Friday/Cyber Monday love from Apple or anyone else. Android devices, on the other hand, are going for a penny (with a two-year contract, of course) from Amazon throughout the week.

The HTC Thunderbolt 4G, HTC Droid Incredible 2, Samsung Droid Charge, and Motorola Atrix 4G are just a few of the smartphones Amazon is offering for a penny. Past that, you can also get some of the newer Hotspot-capable smartphones (like Sprint’s Samsung Galaxy S II, the Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon), or the lady-friendly HTC Rhyme) and receive a $100 Amazon gift card.

Home Entertainment

As far as your on-the-couch entertainment is concerned, you really shouldn’t miss out on today’s deals. Best Buy has a number of different TVs ranging from a 15-inch Coby TV for $79 to a Sony 55-inch Smart TV + 3D Blu-ray Home Theater bundle for $1698 (savings of $1650).

You’ll also find plenty of different TV offerings from Target in all shapes and sizes, including a $329 32-inch Samsung HDTV and a $1099 46-inch Smart HDTV (also from Samsung).

Sony also has great deals on Home Theater gear this week, which you can refer to in our Gadgets To Look Out For On Black Friday post.


Walmart has you covered in the gaming department this year, with hot deals on a few different console bundles. A 250GB Xbox 360 with Kinect bundle (including Kinect Adventures and choice of other game) can be had for $348, while a PlayStation 3 starter bundle is going for $279.

That’s $10 less than Target’s similar PS3 bundle offering, though that’s not to say Target’s lacking in the gaming department. The big red retailer has $175 Wii Bundles in both black and white, while Dell is offering the Wii + Super Mario brothers for $135.

Check out our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide if you need a little extra inspiration.

Google’s Whirlwind Six Minute Recap Of The History Of Search

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 09:16 AM PST

Google has kicked off the week by posting a six-minute video clip that gives a fast-paced overview of its history as a search company, from its earliest days of Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s PageRank algorithm to its more recent feature launches, like Google Instant. The video features interviews from key members who have worked on Google Search, including Google Fellows Ben Gomes and Amit Singhal, and Google VP Marissa Mayer, who led Search for a decade before taking the helm of Google’s local products.

The video revolves around Google’s mission to surface the information people are looking for as quickly as possible, but the most interesting bits focus on the problems and stumbles that Google has had along the way.

One anecdote centers on the attacks of September 11: in the wake of the attacks, many people were searching for ‘New York Twin Towers’ and related queries as they attempted to get the latest news — only to find that Google’s index didn’t have any relevant news stories because it was weeks old (Danny Sullivan has written more about this failure). Google’s quick-fix was to post links to relevant news articles on its homepage, and its stumble eventually led to the launch of Google News.

Another interesting anecdote: when Google initially began incorporating image results alongside text results for Universal Search, it realized that it couldn’t really compare the relevance of an image to that of a text article. So, rather than try to rank the images directly against web sites, Google just stuck the images in widgets at the top, middle, or bottom of the page.

The video is a followup to a clip Google released in August that explores how it tweaks its algorithms.

OneReceipt Tracks Your Online Purchases, Takes Aim At Lemon And Slice

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 09:08 AM PST


Online retail always surges around the holidays, and with the frantic purchasing of gifts come the inevitable deluge of email receipts. It’s all too easy for them to slip unnoticed into the recesses of your inbox, but a new service called OneReceipt aims to aggregate and track those receipts so users will be able to see exactly what their money is being spent on.

At first, OneReceipt sounds a bit like Mint since they both track purchases. OneReceipt co-founder Sam Fine isn’t thrilled with the comparison — he says Mint is more of a “balance sheet” and isn’t very indicative of what exactly a users money gets spent on. OneReceipt takes a bit of a different approach: it pulls receipt data from email accounts linked with the service, so it serves not only as a tracker for where user money is spent, but on the types of products that are being purchased.

In fairness, OneReceipt is entering a market where a few impressive companies have already staked their claim. Rival Lemon also tracks email receipts, and has a nifty smartphone app that allows users to snap photos of their paper receipts before tossing them in the trash. Eric Schmidt-backed Slice also tracks receipts by connecting to email accounts, but focuses less on financial transparency and more on product logistics.

Unlike Lemon, OneReceipt focuses on pulling receipt data from different sources rather than making the user set things up manually. During my brief time with OneReceipt, I linked up three separate Gmail accounts to the service, all associated with different types of purchases. OneReceipt was able to pull all the receipts from each account and display them in a timeline view. There were a few hiccups — a pair of tickets to see the final Harry Potter movie showed up at the top of my timeline despite buying them in July — but the rest of the data seemed spot-on.

Fine sees OneReceipt in its current form as a starting point for users looking to get control over their spending. He figures that all of the receipt data that OneReceipt pulls in is only half of the equation — users will have to get in the habit of adding their paper receipt info by sending a picture of the receipt to their @onereceipt email address. OneReceipt hopes to streamline that paper handling process with the addition of smartphone and mobile web apps to their arsenal, which I’m told will see the light of day in coming weeks.

Aggregating receipts is only the beginning for OneReceipt — co-founder Sam Fine told me that the company is looking at providing special purchasing offers based on user spending patterns. It seems like a bit of an odd mix: I’ve been using OneReceipt as a way to track how much useless junk I’ve been buying and don’t need the temptation to buy even more, but the functionality could certainly come in handy for some.

OneReceipt has just finished up their private beta, and is now open to the public. Using OneReceipt costs nothing, but Fine and his team are looking at offering premium solutions for small and mid-sized business down the road.

Microsoft Updates Windows Phone 7 Connector For Mac, Makes It Less Broken

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 09:00 AM PST

WP7 Connector

If you’ve been having trouble getting your Windows Phone 7 handset to connect with your Mac (I’m sure the hybrid Mac/WP7-owner exists out there somewhere, right?), it’s time to give it another spin — after you’ve taken a trip to the Mac App Store for an update, that is.

Microsoft’s latest release of the Windows Phone 7 Connector is said to fix a number of bugs, including the spotty connectivity that a number of users have reported.

The full change list follows:

• Full sync and import support for Apple Aperture software
• Drag and drop import of files from Browse Device
• Ringtone transfer support (for phones running Windows Phone 7.5 or later)
• Improved video conversion process with user configuration options
• Support for Windows Phone Marketplace (for phones running Windows Phone 7.5 or later)
• Localization support for 13 additional languages
• Improvements to backup and restore operations
• Improved configuration for podcast sync and photo import
• Improved iTunes import support in certain languages
• Improved metadata support for videos

• Added additional error codes and help references for device update
• Resolved connectivity issues with certain devices
• Resolved album art display issues for certain device

You can find the update right over here — let us know how it goes, won’t you?

Viadeo Acquires Contact Management, Syncing Service Soocial

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 08:43 AM PST


French business media are reporting that Viadeo, the professional social network challenging LinkedIn in a number of countries, has acquired Soocial, a Dutch contact management, syncing and backup service provider (via Journal Du Net).

The service basically lets users sync all their contacts across their smartphones, email accounts and computers, and lets them manage, clean up and share contacts from their digital address books.

Read more on TechCrunch Europe.

U.S. Online Video Watching Reaches Record High In October, With 42.6 Billion Videos Viewed

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 08:33 AM PST

comScore Releases October 2011 U.S. Online Video Rankings -- RESTON, Va., Nov. 28, 2011 _PRNewswire_ ---1

The U.S. comScore Video Metrix stats are out now for October, revealing that 184 million U.S. Internet users watched online videos last month, with an average of 21.1 hours per viewers. The total U.S. audience viewed 42.6 billion videos, an all-time high, says the measurement firm. Meanwhile, “Google sites,” led by YouTube, retained its number one ranking. However, in October, Facebook staged a comeback by moving up into the number two slot from its previous position of fifth place.

Facebook had been the number three property in August, but dropped down to the fifth slot in September, losing out to VEVO, Microsoft Sites and Viacom Digital. This month, Facebook saw 59.8 million viewers, second only to the ever-dominant “Google Sites” (mainly YouTube) and its record-high of 161 million views and 20.9 billion videos viewed.

VEVO is still going strong, with 57 million viewers, followed by Microsoft Sites with 49.1 million and Viacom Digital with 48.2 million. As noted above, there were more than 42 billion videos viewed this past month, which meant a lot of ads were viewed too. 7.5 billion video ads were shown in October, the most of which were on Hulu where over 1.3 billion impressions were served. Hulu also had the high frequency of ads, with an average of 46.5 ads per viewer.

Time spent viewing ads totaled over 3.2 billion minutes during the month, with Tremor Video delivering the highest duration of ads at 614 million minutes. Tremor Video ranked second overall in ad impressions, too, and highest among video ad exchanges/networks, as it crossed the 1 billion mark for the first time. BrightRoll Video Network ranked third with 756 million, followed by Specific Media with 512 million and CBS Interactive with 415 million.

53% of the U.S. population watched video ads in October, at an average of 47 times per month. (Makes you want that part of your life back, doesn’t it?)

ComScore also ranked the top YouTube partner channels this month, with the top being VEVO (54.2 million viewers), Warner Music (30.4 million viewers), gaming channel Machinima, Schmooru, Maker Studios, Demand Media, FullScreen, Warner Bros, IGN and Big Frame.

It’s Still A Feature Phone World: Global Smartphone Penetration At 27%

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 07:59 AM PST


With all the talk of iPhone vs. Android these days, it’s easy to forget how the majority of the world’s mobile users still make calls and access data: via feature phones. A recently released report (download) from mobile strategy firm VisionMobile takes a look at today’s mobile marketplace finding that, despite the sharp rise in smartphone shipments over 2010 and 2011, global smartphone penetration (by OS) is at just 27%.

Smartphone adoption varies wildly by region, the report finds. Not surprisingly, those markets where 3G coverage is extensive and subscription plans are “post-paid” (as opposed to pre-paid) see the highest smartphone adoption rates. Meanwhile, in markets dominated by pre-paid subscriptions, the real battle is price. Here, Nokia’s mid-tier Symbian platforms and BlackBerry consumer-targeted models are still holding onto significant market share. However, both platforms are now facing threats from low-cost Android phones, thanks to the latter’s pricing versatility. Android devices today sell for anywhere from $100 to $750 (USD), allowing the phones to compete both on the high-end and the low-end of the pricing spectrum.

In the North American and European markets, smartphone penetration is the highest, with 63% and 51% market share, respectively. In the Asia-Pacific region (19%), Africa/Middle East region (18%) and Latin America (17%), it’s much lower.

As for today’s smartphone leaders, it really is an iPhone vs. Android world out there, since former mobile leader Nokia was slow to react to the iPhone’s coming, and steadily lost ground in the high-end smartphone market. Nokia’s decision to move from Symbian to Windows Phone allowed other Android players an edge, including Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG, Sony-Ericsson as well as newcomers like Huawei, ZTE, Acer, Dell and Asus.

Despite the numerous differences between the two leading smartphone platforms, iOS and Android, there are some notable similarities. Both originate from non-telecom players. Both are monetized indirectly. (Instead of software license sales, they either profit from high-margin device sales or, in Google’s case, enhancing its online ad business). And both are driven by companies able to sustain investments of billions of dollars in order to develop an OS and create the accompanying developer and app ecosystems.

And yet, even though it’s “Android vs. iPhone” in terms of consumer choice, VisionMobile says there won’t be a single winner in the smartphone race. Both platforms have reached critical mass with hundreds of millions of users, making it almost impossible to displace them. As for RIM and Windows Phone, the jury’s still out on whether or not there’s even room for a third player and whether Microsoft, with Nokia’s help, can move into position number three.

Although the report doesn’t dive into speculation about what happens next, when the rest of the non-smartphone world upgrades their handsets, it does examine the network effects belonging to today’s dominant players. Not only are these platforms winning because of their technological sophistication, but also because of their application ecosystems. With 500,000+ iOS apps and 300,000 on Android, both platforms have reached critical mass. When that occurs, the platform begins to grow exponentially. However, app counts alone aren’t the ultimate measure of long-term health – the sustainability of the developer ecosystem is.

What’s interesting is to see the network effects in terms of mobile apps plotted out for all the top smartphone players. Below, the graphs show the number of apps available on a particular platform at a particular point in time, and the number of devices shipped for that platform in the quarter just preceding it. The resulting charts show just how popular Android and iOS are, and how difficult a battle it will be for a third major smartphone player to emerge.

You can also see the challenge that Apple faces as it attempts entry into emerging markets to take its share of the feature phone upgraders. As the report notes, Apple has high margin device sales, which means it doesn’t have as much flexibility in terms of hardware discounts as Android does with its $100 phones. But Apple did something else recently – when it brought out the iPhone 4S, it greatly discounted the prices of older model iPhones. The iPhone 3GS became free and the iPhone 4 was just $99, both with 2-year commitments. However, while that’s a viable strategy in attracting price-sensitive consumers in post-paid markets, it’s not necessarily going to be enough to attract pre-paid consumers to switch subscription plans. It’s the data bill that’s the killer, not the initial cost of the phone.

Apple knows that it needs compete in the pre-paid market, though. On its Q3 2011 earnings call, COO, now CEO, Tim Cook said, Apple is not avoiding that market. ”We don't want to avoid that market. We know that we need to play there in order to have the kind of volumes that we’d like to have.”

And yet, when it came to its pre-paid strategy, Cook only mentioned getting customers to switch plans. ”In some cases, we convince someone to start a post-paid plan because in the long-term, I think, that’s better for the customer, the carrier and us.”

If that’s Apple’s pre-paid strategy, it looks like the iOS vs. Android battle in emerging markets may just now be heating up. And given how much of the world is still yet to upgrade, it’s a long fight ahead.

Having Galaxy Nexus Volume Woes? Download The Fix Now

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 07:52 AM PST


We’re still waiting for our chance to nab a Galaxy Nexus on this side of the pond, but it seems European users haven’t exactly been having the best luck with their first-run devices. Fortunately, it looks like the folks at MoDaCo have a (quasi-official) fix for one of the Galaxy Nexus’s most irritating issues: the dreaded volume bug.

If you haven’t seen the volume bug strike before, do yourself a favor and check it out below. When the Nexus hops onto the 900MHz 2G band (or is even placed near another device that is), the volume level can be seen jumping around wildly. Google and Samsung have owned up to the issue and promised a fix, but haven’t officially disclosed the cause of the issue or an official release date.

Still, that didn’t stop Google’s Dan Morill from tacitly confirming that it is in fact a hardware issue on his Google Plus account. Thankfully, the fix is a relatively simple software update, so international users can do all the legwork from home.

If you’re fed up with flaky volume, you’ve got a choice to make: take the plunge on the pre-release build, or wait until it officially gets pushed out. For what it’s worth, it seems safe enough — according to Paul at MoDaCo, the tweaked ROM is still undergoing some internal testing, but it gets the job done without issue. Installing the fixed ROM isn’t a terribly difficult process, but first-time users who just can’t take it anymore should tread carefully. Oh, and don’t forget to backup your data if you decide to take the plunge — the bootloader unlock required to install the fix will essentially wipe your device in the process.

Rumor Has It: Apple Planning 15-Inch MacBook Air

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 07:41 AM PST


We’ve heard rumors of a sort of MacBook Pro/MacBook Air convergence for the past few months and it seems Digitimes may be confirming the arrival of a larger, ultrabook-like 15-inch MacBook Air.

The source believes that Apple is working on updated 11.6-inch, 13.3-inch and 15-inch models. This will be distinct from the Pro line.

Analysts believe this move will drive down current MBA prices as Apple tries to head off the coming flood of Windows-based ultrabooks – 30-50 at CES alone, according to some estimates. This partially confirms rumors that Apple’s next 15-inchers will be thinner and lighter than the current MacBook Pro line-up.

No comments:

Post a Comment