Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Instagram Not Just A Photos And Filters App Insists Systrom At Le Web

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 09:17 AM PST

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Interviewed on stage at Le Web by our very own Alexia Tsotsis, Kevin Systrom, CEO Instagram, said the photo app is hitting a new watermark in adoption “every day”. Now on 14 million users , the app is now generating “60 photos per second” and “We’re only at the tip of where we want to be,” said Systrom.

As a former member of the Odeo podcasting team which went on to “pivot” into a little thing called Twitter, Systrom also counselled the audience into thinking not about great products, but “great teams”.

“In the last 2 months we’ve doubled staff, and will be about 10 people in a month. Even though Odeo didn’t go anywhere, it was clear that Twitter cam about because we learned ‘Team’ was so important.”

Now On The iPhone: Opuss, An Instagram For Words

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 08:55 AM PST


Attention, hipsters: you can now take your poetry slams mobile. (Do hipsters still like poetry slams? I don’t know). Anyway, there’s a new iPhone app called Opuss, which describes itself as an “Instagram for words.” But to be clear, it doesn’t have to be just for poetry. It can also be used to save and share beloved quotes, jokes, recipes, reviews, stories or anything else you feel the need to write…but not tweet.

Opuss is a darned pretty app, I have to admit, even though I’m not completely sold on the concept. CTO Adam Neilson says the app is meant to be sort of a grown up Twitter, but the first entry I saw upon opening the app was a bit more juvenile.

For your amusement, the poem was called “Glow Worm.”

Here’s how it goes:


I wish I were a glow worm
A glow worm’s never glum,
‘Cause how can you be grumpy,
when the sun shines out your bum?

(credit: loz)

OK. Um. Yeah.

That being said, it would be nice to read some higher-quality poetry in here (sorry, loz), because the app itself looks great. I can see how it would be fun to use.

After you download and install Opuss, the app briefly walks you through how to use its buttons and features. Usually, I find “walk-throughs” annoying and in the way (my philosophy: if your app needs an explainer, you need to start over), but for some reason I found myself actually reading the Opuss tutorial. You swipe through each screen as the button being described lights up at the bottom. There are even iPhone homescreen-esque dots at the bottom indicating your current page and position.

A decent tutorial seems like such a simple thing, but it’s not. I’ve seen some serious disasters involving what appear to be hand-drawn circles and handwritten notes describing an app’s elements. So cheers, Opuss, on that.

Using the app is pretty straightforward, too. You can view the feed, filter by category, follow others, comment, like and share.

I don’t get the app’s cat theme – paw prints, collars, and kitty icons fill Opuss. (Oh, puss?) And I’m not sure of the stickiness factor of an app for following and favoriting people’s words in the age of Twitter. But this app looks good, which is all the more impressive given the company’s lack of funding.

Opuss is the product of Seamonster Ltd., a London-based outfit staffed by Adam Neilsen, former Probability CTO, now Seamonster CTO (and Interim CEO), Technical Director and Co-founder Jeff Hodnett and Creative Director Chris Knight.

You can try it for yourself from here.

At Le Web, Crowley Hints At Foursquare’s Future In Recommendations For Everything

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 08:53 AM PST


At Le Web Foursquare Co-Founder and CEO Dennis Crowley expanded on the future direction for the company and product, signalling how check-in data is becoming less important than the recommendations it is capable of producing for users.

Interviewed on stage by blogger Robert Scoble, Crowley went in to the Explore feature of the product and how the sheer number of check-ins are adding to the recommendations Explore can give and feeding back into the other new feature, Radar. It’s this ability for to “technology to generate serendipity” that is at the core of what Foursquare is about he said.

Backed By Angel Round, GiftRocket Goes Beyond The Check-In To Make Virtual Gift Giving Even Easier

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 08:41 AM PST


GiftRocket, a graduate of this year’s Y Combinator spring class, launched behind a great idea. The startup wanted to marry gift carding with location-based services, so that friends could send gift cards to each other that could only be accessed once they “checked in” to a certain location. So, for example, if you really wanted your friend to try out the coffee at a certain local coffee shop, you could send them a gift card to that coffee joint, which they could only redeem from the shopt itself.

As Robin pointed out in March, the idea was a simplified version of Venmo’s Gifi, which basically had users combine Venmo and Foursquare apps to achieve the same effect. I say “was”, because GiftRocket is today moving away from the “check in” portion of their service to an even more simplified and universal approach to sending personalized gift cards.

Beginning today, GiftRocket users can send and receive digital gift cards via email or Facebook, using PayPal, a bank account transfer, or check. Basically, GiftRocket is now an easy P2P money donation service, as users can decide to send $50 to their mother for Mother’s Day, and in a personalized email say, “Mom here’s $50 for you to use at Barnes & Nobles”. GiftRocket doesn’t involve merchants directly, but GiftRocket Co-founder Kapil Kale tells me that he thinks this social pressure/proof element will assure that people use the virtualized gift cards in the way they were intended. And the best part? Their gift cards don’t expire.

If you send $50 to a friend or loved one, there’s no way to be positive they use the money at the intended location (Patel said that the check-in service they originally launched became too complicated and hamstrung certain interactions), but with loved ones sending you the money, you’ll be less likely to use it for something else. But, hey, you can always just email them back and ask.

GiftRocket is also launching two complementary tools (one today, one in the near future) to help beef up its service, including a feature that enables users to identify the true sale value of retailers’ physical gift cards. Obviously, depending on the merchant, gift cards are generally worth between 50 to 90 percent of their face value, the primary reason being that physical gift cards can often only be redeemed at a single, designated retailer — or they get lost or empire. (The reason why there is a strong secondary market for unused gift cards, of which there are an estimated $30 billion worth.) So the startup’s calculator will help you figure out what the value of your card is.

And the second, coming soon, is GiftRocket’s VIP Concierge service, which will recommend gift ideas for senders and recipients based on their purchase history. Want to know what to get your mother-in-law for Christmas? GiftRocket can help.

As to how the startup is making money,it charges $1 + 5% of the gift amount. And, on that note, Kale also told us today that the startup has raised $500K in angel funding to help expand from their current team of three. GiftRocket has been boot-strapping in lean startup mode and is looking to hire, and Kale tells me that the company has been growing 70 percent month over month in terms of customers and sales.

Check ‘em out here.

2011 Gift Guide: 6 Hot PC Accessories To Keep You And Yours Warm This Holiday

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 08:11 AM PST

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Most of us eat, sleep and drink at our desk. It’s our live and we can do with it whatever we please. If your loved one spends more time at a desk in front of a computer than anywhere else, the following gifts will likely light up their face. There’s something here for everyone from the Mac fanboy to the retro gamer.

Retro NES USB Controller

If the gamer in your life fires up emulators more than modern games (or even if it’s an occasional thing), this $29.99 controller is a great gift. It will certainly invoke memories of nights attempting to beat Castlevania. The classic NES controller is still one of the best form factors of all time. Real games do not need 32 buttons. Give the gift of simplicity this year.

The controller is available at ThinkGeek for just $29.99 where they also sell a USB joystick that’s even more retro. Both are safe bets, though.

iLaunch Thunder

These USB rocket launchers are nothing new, but this model now supports direct control via an iPhone or iPad, allowing you to remotely aim and rain down hellfire upon unsuspecting office mates from outside of the room. Casual Body Armor Friday will never be the same. The launcher connects to your phone via Bluetooth and you can aim remotely. Sadly, there is no built-in camera for aiming more precisely and at $82 it's a bit expensive, but it may be just the thing you need to unleash hell on accounting — or your mother-in-law Christmas morning.

USB aromatherapy oil burner

Simply plug this little guy into a horizontal USB port and drop a bit of the included lavender oil into the receptacle. That’s it. In a few short moments, your cube will transform from an institutionalized torture chamber into a relaxing room at the finest spa. All for $5.99 plus shipping from ThinkGeek. There are no drivers to install and it really doesn’t require a computer. The adventurous among us will try this with wall wart USB chargers and the like. But no matter how you butter the toast, the result will be a more pleasing area to be in as aromatherapy is often just a fancy $10 word for a pleasing smell — something most people could use at their desk.

FitDesk X Compact Pedal Desk

The modern office will likely lead to the rise of apes and the collapse of society. You better do your part this holiday season and ensure that your loved ones do not waste away in an office chair. The FitDesk X Compact Pedal Desk is just what it sounds like: a desk with pedals. That way, you know, office workers can tone their calves and strengthen their core while avoiding work by browsing Reddit. With an MSRP of $289 (Amazon sells it for $229), it’s not the cheapest gift available. Plus, it would be mighty tough to wrap. But giving the gift of a better tomorrow cannot be ignored. That might be the greatest gift of all.


The Neatdesk is just a fancy scanner. It knows that and so will the gift receiver. However, they will be pleasantly surprised once they discover that this novel device will actually clean up their desk and organize their life. Because it will. The scanner is quiet, quick and effective. The software is a bit confusing at first but the user should be able to overcome the learning curve by News Year’s. The little scanner takes everything from business cards to receipts and quickly organizes the lot. It’s not as exciting as a puppy, but this is a gift that will continue giving throughout the year. $379 at Amazon.

Twelve South PlugBug All-in-One Dual Charger

It’s hard to improve upon the design of Apple products. But Twelve South managed to do just that. The PlugBug All-in-One Dual Charger piggybacks on a MacBook charger, adding a full-power USB charging port to the power brick — charge an iPad, charge an iPhone, heck, it would even work with that silly USB aromatherapy oil burner above. Better yet, it works as a stand-alone charger. The novel product will likely warm the heart of any MacBook owner who also owns a smartphone that charges via USB (that’s everyone).

The Behringer iNuke: The 8-Foot iPhone Dock For The Oligarch Who Has Everything

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 08:10 AM PST

iNuke 1

While I’m fairly certain that this is a publicity stunt tied into the upcoming CES season, BEHRINGER (their caps, not mine) has announced the iNuke, an 8×4 foot, 700 pound iPhone/iPad dock. It costs $30,000 and pumps out – no joke – 10,000 Watts.

This is part of their Eurosound brand, a higher-end range of 50 products that is cashing in on the newfound popularity of expensive but horrible headphones (see: Beats). To be fair, Behringer has always made good audio gear and mixers, so why can’t they dip a toe into the CE market? It’s a free planet, right?

Anyway, look for the iNuke at an aircraft hangar near you, because I doubt most houses will be able to withstand its onslaught of pure, unadulterated power.

Marketing Network Martini Media Raises $13 Million

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 08:07 AM PST


Martini Media, an online ad network targeting affluent consumers, has raised $13 million in venture capital led by Granite Ventures, with participation from Reed Elsevier Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank and Venrock.

Martini Media is a digital media and content platform for audience with the most money and influence online. The company’s marketing technologies allow for advance targeting in display, video, mobile, social, and audience targeting. Currently, 1,000 publishers across multiple lifestyle and business verticals are using the company’s technology.

Martini will use the new funding to continue commercializing its proprietary analytics, targeting products, differentiated multimedia and social media formats. The company also acquired U.K. B-to-B and lifestyle platform TDP Media Group

FindTheBest Adds Smart Ratings And A Better Way To Compare Products

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 08:00 AM PST

Findthebest ski resorts

Sometimes having better data isn’t enough, even in search. You have to present it in an intuitive way that is easy to grasp. Kevin O’Connor, the founder of FindtTheBest (and before that, DoubelClick), has been working on a very hard problem: how to help people compare different products and services so that they can quickly figure out which is the best one. “How do you communicate what is better?” he asks. “How do you take a bunch of dry, mind-numbing data and communicate it back?”

Today, FindTheBest is taking another major step towards that ideal with a revamp of its site design. Instead of mind-numbing rows of data comparing everything from smartphones to ski resorts, the site is introducing more intuitive color-coded cues and a new “Smart Rating” system. The Smart Rating is a single, normalized number between 1 and 100 (replacing the old 5-star system). It is based on a combination of expert ratings from outside sources and FindTheBest’s own quantitative rating based on factors such screen size and battery life for a smartphone, or skiable acres and vertical feet for a ski resort. They figure out which are the most authoritative sources for a given category and weight them accordingly.

So far the site is growing slowly but steadily with more than 2.5 million unique visitors per month. O’Connor is taking his time getting this right, and he’s raised $6 million from Kleiner Perkins.

“We want to tell companies what drives decisions,” he says. Already, they’ve discovered out some interesting correlations. The No. 1 filter used for picking a ski resort is not average snowfall or vertical feet, but whether or not there is a children’s ski school. And FM receivers are a big deciding factor for phones.

O’Connor wants FindTheBest to become a “big funnel for purchase intent.” People go to his site to make decisions, which is the most valuable time for advertisers and merchants to try to get in front of them. In order to get more distribution, FindTheBest is also launching badges and syndicated buyer’s guides to other sites.

Below is a screenshot of what the site used to look like, and below that is a clip from a Founder Stories where O’Connor explains what he is trying to accomplish with FindTheBest.

Facebook To Launch A Subscribe Button For Websites

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 07:36 AM PST


Facebook subscriptions are about to blow up! At Le Web, Joanna Shields, VP and Managing Director for Facebook Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), announced that the company is planning to roll out a “Subscribe” plugin for all websites. The plugin will allow a website’s visitors a one-click way to begin following all of the news from an individual reporter, public figure, politician, celebrity, or anyone else who wants to post public updates via their Facebook user profile.

You may recall that Facebook launched its “subscriptions” feature earlier this fall at its annual f8 conference. The button, available as an optional addition to your Facebook user profile, introduced a Twitter-like functionality to the social networking service. It introduced one-way friendships (at last!) where a user could follow someone, like a public figure, celebrity, politician, journalist, etc., without that person having to “friend” the subscriber in return. This benefits both parties – the subscriber who wants to use Facebook to receive the news, and the public figure who wants to reach their audience on Facebook, but isn’t a brand or company deserving of their own Facebook Fan Page.

Now this same one-way follow option is going to become easier to access through the new subscribe plugin. Publishers will be able to add the button to their websites, much like they do with the Twitter “follow” button today, allowing users one-click access to a person’s public updates. The updates from that person will then begin appearing in the subscriber’s News Feed, alongside updates from friends and the pages the user had previously “liked.”

While the introduction of a website button is typically relatively minor news, for Facebook, this is huge. It means that the company is directly attacking the entire Twitter model head-on, by allowing for these one-way subscription buttons to be as easy to use and as ubiquitous as they are for Twitter.

There is one downside to posting publicly on Facebook, however. If you’re a public figure who begins sharing your news at Twitter’s same pace, you’re sure to annoy your real Facebook friends.

Facebook’s subscribe button is coming “soon,” but Facebook isn’t confirming the launch date or time.

Nintendo President Iwata Says The 3DS Is Back On Track

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 07:25 AM PST

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Nintendo caused a huge splash in the video gaming world earlier this year, when it announced a drastic price cut for the 3DS (which was meant to be an answer to disappointing sales). But it looks like pushing down the price from 25,000 to 15,000 Yen helped, at least in Nintendo’s home market of Japan.

According to big N’s president Satoru Iwata, the 3DS has sold a solid 3 million times so far, a number it reached two weeks earlier than the predecessor of the console, the DS. In an interview with Japanese business daily The Nikkei, Iwata said the device has “regained its momentum” and that sales started picking up (in Japan) around October.

Nintendo now expects to pass the four million unit mark in February next year, fueled by the launch of first-party hit titles and higher sales during the holiday season.

In fact, Japan’s biggest video game magazine Famitsu is reporting that between December 1 and 4, Mario Kart 7 was sold a whopping 450,000 times, making it the fastest-selling 3DS title so far. In the same week, Nintendo Japan sold 216.350 3DS consoles.

For the US and Europe, Iwata said he expects improved numbers in the near future, too, and added that the Mario series is actually selling better in these regions than in Japan.

Nintendo hasn’t revised its (pretty negative) financial forecast for the current fiscal year, however.

Apple’s Hiring To Improve Siri, Possibly Readying API For Third Parties

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 07:19 AM PST


While Siri is no doubt one of the coolest features I’ve ever seen on a phone, we’re all still dealing with some form of disenchantment. Siri blows your mind that first day, and then it feels like you spend the rest of your time chasing that magic, repeating things so she’ll understand, waiting for her to get over “trouble connecting to the network,” etc. Luckily though, Apple is on the hunt for a few stellar iOS engineers to not only make Siri more beautiful, but also to perhaps get her ready for third party integration.

Siri UI boss Dan Keen last night tweeted “Want to help make Siri even better? I’m hiring ,” with links to two job postings. Both call for Siri UI software engineers, reports 9to5Mac. In both posts there is specific mention of a Siri API.

iOS Software Engineer:

We are looking for an engineer to join the team that implements the UI for Siri. You will primarily be responsible for implementing the content that appears within the conversational view. This is a broad-ranging task – we take every application that Siri interacts with, distill it down to fundamentals, and implement that application’s UI in a theme fitting with Siri. Consider it an entire miniature OS within the OS, and you get a good idea of the scope!

Each of these little “snippets” corresponds to an individual application, so you will have extensive cross-functional work with many other teams. You’ll need to work with them to enable access to their data and behaviors, and wire them up to your implementations. As a result, strong API design is needed to keep communications ideal.

Apple then gets even more poignant with its API needs.

Senior iOS Software Engineer:

We are looking for an engineer to join the team that implements the UI for Siri. You will primarily be responsible for implementing the conversation view and its many different actions. This includes defining a system that enables a dialog to appear intuitive, a task that involves many subtle UI behaviors in a dynamic, complex system. You will have several clients of your code, so the ability to formulate and support a clear API is needed.

There’s no question that one day the Siri API will be available to third-party developers. The demand for it is clear, as we’re already seeing hackers do some pretty awesome things with Siri unofficially. But Apple switched up its strategy with this feature, releasing it as a somewhat unpolished beta. That said, it’ll take time and apparently two more software engineers to get our artificially intelligent friend ready for developers.

The Hottest Israeli Investment In Years Is A Facebook Performance Marketing Platform

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 06:59 AM PST


The hottest deal in Israel is turning out to be a company whose name I first heard only a few of months ago. I can’t go to any industry networking event these days without being asked what I know about the company, which has managed to keep a low profile since its founding a couple of years ago.

Why are VCs in hot pursuit for a company they know so little about? First and foremost, because it’s playing in what is already and what will only grow as a lucrative performance marketing playing-field: Facebook.

By all accounts, the company developed an engine that does this really, really well. Second, it bootstrapped itself to $5M in annual revenues for 2011 and is expecting to nearly tripple that in 2012. Finally, it’s about to bet the entire house on a shift to a SaaS solution.

This company is Adotomi.

I recently had a chance to learn more about Adotomi from CEO Joe McCormack, whom I met at the company’s offices, located in a very non-chic area of Tel-Aviv, overlooking a brothel (seriously).

Adotomi’s technology was built upon the premise that in Social, advertisers are creating a demand, as opposed to Search, in which they are fulfilling a demand (users’ search queries). In the case of the latter, a new ad campaign is initiated typically with a large amount of ads which are then funneled down to a much small quantity that are the best performing. The challenge is figuring out the best performing keywords to target against.

In Social though, instead of being built upon keywords, user profiles are built upon the volunteering of demographic data (age, gender, etc.), and explicit sentiment by way of ‘Likes’ or ‘+1′s’. The challenge here is to optimize ad spend on the decypehring of the optimal demographics. The problem though is that if the pool is small and the CTR’s are high, the cost of targeting this group increases dramatically, contrary of course to what advertisers are trying to accomplish.

Adotomi’s approach is the opposite. Instead of auto-bidding on a large amount of ads, they start with a small set of ads they are fairly certain will work. They then let their engine find correlations that expand the target group. In this way, a small number of ads is expanded to thousands.

The key to this is Big Data crunching. Specifically, large data sets of user types and their behavior and engagement with ads.

How did Adotomi come to own these data sets? Well, Adotomi is a Facebook Preferred Developer and were one of the first companies to get access to the social networking company’s Ads API. This means that they’re crunching historical data that very few companies are sitting on top of. Read as ‘competitive advantage’.

“Crunching billions of pieces of data,” in the words of McCormack, allows Adotomi to figure out in real-time how to expand the targeted pool of users with a high likelihood of affinity to the advertised product, at the lowest possible cost.

Granted, a very vague and high-level description of the company’s ‘secret sauce’, however, from what I’ve been able to understand from the company itself and those that have looked deeper into it, Adotomi’s platform emobdies Israeli software engineering prowess.

What is making the local VCs really salivate is Adotomi’s intent to open up the platform. While many media platforms have built enterprise solutions for agencies and large advertisers, Facebook still does not have such a system.

Adotomi thinks it can plug that hole. Evidently, investors seems think so as well and are actively vying for participation in the company’s Series A round.

Eric Schmidt: Google Is Buying One Company A Week

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 06:56 AM PST

Eric Schmidt

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt just took the stage at the Le Web conference to chat about Android, the search giant’s expansion and more. When he was asked about why the search engine hadn't acquired any French companies, Schmidt jokingly commented on stage that Google was now buying around one company day.

That’s clearly a lot of companies to purchase even for a company with deep pockets like Google. So our intrepid reporter Alexia Tsotsis ran backstage to confirm this, where Schmidt told her on the record that Google was actually acquiring around one company per week. "But why do you never announce them?" she asked him. "We don't have to," he said.

As revealed in October, this year Google has spent $1.4 billion on 57 acquisitions this year. So yes, with 52 weeks in a year, that sounds about right. Of course, Google has been particularly aggressive with its acquisitions this year, especially in the mobile, social, and search areas. We’ll have to see if the search giant will continue its acquisitive strategy in 2012, or scale back.

All jokes aside, with $43 billion in cash, clearly the company has room to up the ante and start buying a company per day.

Cloud Application Services Company Raises $1.4 Million Seed Round From Baseline

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 06:52 AM PST


Cloud application services provider has just closed a $1.4 million round of seed funding, led by Baseline Ventures, the same investors who led the seed rounds for Instagram, TaskRabbit, Heroku, Weebly and many others. Additional investors participating in this round are Ignition Partners, Cloud Capital Partners, Citrix Systems, Jonathan Siegel, Matt Ocko, Jared Kopf and Lance White. Steve Anderson, founder of Baseline Ventures, will join's Board of Directors.

Alongside the funding announcement, also launched its IronMQ service into public beta today., essentially an application infrastructure as a service provider (IaaS), makes multiple cloud application services that work across multiple platforms and clouds. One product is IronWorker (originally called SimpleWorker), a scalable task queue that allows developers to offload front-end tasks and manage their scheduled jobs and background processing. IronWorker launched in January of this year and has now executed over 10 million tasks and supports thousands of jobs per day for the company’s user base.

IronMQ, now in public beta, is a flexible message queue for orchestrating data and event flow within cloud applications and between systems. This allows different parts of an app to interface and scale independently from other internal and external processes.

The value of’s products is the same for all these “as a service” companies – they allow developers to focus on building the application itself, not the plumbing. Today, most web application workers use open source solutions to build their own message and task queues, but with IronMQ and IronWorker, there’s not much setup or maintenance involved. The service also provides a real-time view into the systems through its online solution.

Developers can now sign up for IronMQ as a free trial. IronWorker is already available as a beta. Pricing is usage-based with free message blocks and compute hours per month.

Basis Triumphes Over RIM In Name Dispute, BBX Is Now BlackBerry 10

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 06:50 AM PST


Just days after RIM unveiled the BBX platform at BlackBerry DevCon, they were served legal papers from a New Mexico-based software development company named Basis over the BBX name. News on that front has been quiet recently, but last night the U.S. Federal Court in Albuquerque forced RIM to raise their white flag and change their new OS’s name in time for DevCon Asia.

Their new choice? BlackBerry 10. Thrilling.

Research In Motion
#BBDevCon Asia Keynote: BlackBerry 10 is the official name of the next generation platform that will power future BlackBerry smartphones!^BZ

RIM, I hope you know that I’d love to stop harping on you so much, but things like this whole BBX debacle just make it irresistable. BBX BlackBerry 10 is a make-it-or-break-it situation, and for what it’s worth, I’d like to see RIM stick around for a long time to come. Losing a competitive force in the marketplace usually means fewer choices for consumers and that’s never a good thing. But still, you really couldn’t have looked into this a bit further first? I mean, I get the fact that you and Basis operate in different markets (hence the Reuters quote expressing confidence), but really guys — it would’ve killed you to hedge your bets a little?

Alright, fine: in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter what name RIM chooses for their next-gen operating system. If BlackBerry 10 can’t pose a competitive threat to Android, iOS, or Windows Phone, it could be called “RIM Will Pay You To Buy This Phone OS” and it wouldn’t make a difference.

But seriously RIM, after everything you’ve been through lately, you’ve got to fight to win back the confidence of your current (and future) customers. Getting tied up in a legal kerfuffle over something as basic as your operating system’s name isn’t the way to go, but there’s still time to learn from your mistakes. Stay out of the spotlight for the next few months, and make BlackBerry 10 as amazing as possible.

Developer Of ‘Social Keyboard’ Android App SwiftKey Raises $2.4 Million

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 06:43 AM PST


TouchType, the London-based company behind the popular SwiftKey Android applications, has raise $2.4 million (£1.5 million) in Series A funding in a round led by Octopus Investments.

SwiftKey is a keyboard app that leverages TouchType’s natural language engine technology (dubbed Fluency) to learn a user's writing style and try to accurately correct and even predict their text input. The idea is for the app to reduce the number of keystrokes and speed up text entry on smartphones and tablet computers.

Read more at TechCrunch Europe.

DIY Android Phone Name Generator: Be Your Own Confused Marketing Department

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 06:33 AM PST

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What’s your next Android phone? The HTC Moment Neo? Samsung Wildfire Slide Prime V S? Samsung Dream Slide G2 E 4G? All these – and more – can be yours if you use the Android Phone Name Generator from Yinzcam. Why let some bulbous, red-faced carrier marketing exec make up names like the HTC Suave for Verizon and the Xyboard when you can do it yourself from the comfort of your office chair!

Branding: it’s not just for the professionals anymore! Drop your favorite names in comments and maybe HTC will make them!

comScore And Buddy Media Team Up To Offer In-Depth Social Media Analytics To Brands

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 06:30 AM PST


comScore, a web and mobile data measurement company, is teaming up with Buddy Media, a company that provides Facebook Page and social media management tools to brands. The strategic partnership basically aims to give brands and agencies better data measurement on social analytics.

Buddy Media is best known for its all-in-one social media management system to help create, manage and track social campaigns on Facebook. With regard to Facebook, the platform lets brand managers agencies create, manage and track Facebook pages in a variety of languages to drive and increase user and brand engagement.

Mutual clients using the Buddy Media social marketing suite and comScore Social measurement service will be able to better quantify the impact of their social media efforts, accessing in-depth data on reach/frequency, demographics, online behavior and benchmarking of competitive brands. As part of the partnership, the companies have agreed to integrate comScore data into the Buddy Media product suite and workflow.

The integration is a premium product, and current Buddy Media clients will continue to receive the company’s in-house analytics in the social marketing suite for free. But clearly, the comScore analytics could provide more in-depth information.

Buddy Media recently raised $54 million in new funding from GGV Capital, Institutional Venture Partners, Bay Partners and Insight Venture Partners. The company also just announced a pilot program with google to allow businesses and brands to manage their Google+ Pages using Buddy Media.

Google’s Eric Schmidt: Google Is Not A Country

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 06:25 AM PST

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Despite the search engine’s aggressive growth and “manifest destiny”-type approach to its expansion, “Think of us a teenager,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt replied, to an interesting question from audience member Jeremaiah Owyang here at Le Web, “If Google were a country which country would it be?”

“We’re not a country,”Schmidt said, bringing up the fact that Google did not have nuclear weapons, nor a police force and that it was subject to the laws of most actual countries, a fact made most obvious in Google’s dealings with China.

Despite not being a country, Google does have values, Schmidt emphasized, revolving around freedom of speech and transparency. When the Chinese government wanted to censor Google search results a couple years ago, Google management leaned on those values and eventually took its Chinese outpost to Hong Kong.

“If we were to take our values to a country,” Schmidt said, “We’d value personal privacy and personal expression, but a lot of public debate and discussion.”

Earlier in the discussion Schmidt gave this advice to government leaders, “Whatever you do, don’t turn off the Internet. “The role of government is to make sure that citizens have access to fixed and wireless broadband,” he went on, “If you have fixed and wireless broadband the citizens will take care of the rest.”

Sidenote: In response to a question about about why the search engine hadn’t acquired any French companies onstage at Le Web, Schmidt joked Google was now buying around one company a day. Running backstage to clarify, Schmidt told me on the record that it was more like one a week. “But why do you never announce them?” I asked him. “We don’t have to,” he said.

Imagine a government leader saying something like that.

Groupon Buys OpenCal, Launches Online Appointment Booking Service ‘Scheduler’

Posted: 07 Dec 2011 06:20 AM PST


Now this makes a lot of sense. Groupon this morning announced its latest product, dubbed Groupon Scheduler, an online appointment service that makes it easier for both end users and merchants to go from offer to actual booking.

Groupon Scheduler is based on technology from OpenCal, a Vancouver, Canada-based startup Groupon apparently – quietly – acquired in September 2011. The new product will become available to Groupon merchants and consumers in Sacramento and Miami beginning on December 7, 2011 (i.e. today) and be rolled out in other markets “soon after”.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

More about Groupon Scheduler, straight from the press release:

Business owners using Groupon Scheduler can set up an appointment calendar covering all their staff, services and business locations, allowing consumers to instantly book appointments online without having to call or email.

The service can be used to take appointments for Groupon features or as a freestanding tool to manage a merchant's entire calendar.

Once they've purchased a Groupon deal, consumers can schedule or cancel appointments through their accounts. Both consumers and merchants get immediate email confirmation of each booking, as well as automated email reminders 24 hours before scheduled appointments.

Merchants also have the ability to add "Book Now" buttons on their own websites and use Groupon Scheduler to manage online bookings for all their services – not only those offered through Groupon.

In other words, this marks Groupon’s entry into the online booking services market. The company is trying hard to become much more than just a pure-play, daily deals site that’s too ‘easy’ to clone.

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