Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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Lies Entrepreneurs Tell

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 08:48 AM PST

lying nose

Editor's note: Contributor Ashkan Karbasfrooshan is the founder and CEO of WatchMojo.  Follow him @ashkan.

Entrepreneurs are always in "sell mode", but that doesn't mean they need to be BS-artists.  Most entrepreneurs aren't born liars, but we're brought up in a system that rewards bad behavior and taking the easy way out by lying instead of being truthful, something that eventually catches up with you.

If you're an entrepreneur, here are 5 common lies you've probably told.

Lie No. 1: "I have no regrets" or "If I had to do it again, I wouldn't do it any differently".

Conventional wisdom suggests that you should not regret anything.  Highly unlikely if you ask me; the key is how you manage the things you regret and what you do about them: do you let them affect you and cloud your judgment in the future?  Do you dwell on the mistakes you have made or have you learned from your errors and ensure to avoid them in the future?

Human beings are more Velcro than Teflon, but we are raised to think that having regrets or regretting something makes us feel inferior.

I regret the color of socks I decided to wear today.  I also regret not starting a company sooner.  I regret that last shot of tequila at our office party last Friday.  I could go on.  The point is, it's what you do about the mistakes and missed opportunities that you regret that matter, not pretending that you ever did anything wrong.  Don't live a lie, be honest about your past to live a better future.

Lie No. 2: "It's not personal, it's business"

You've certainly heard the line "it's business, not personal" from The Godfather.

I had a boss who used to live by this motto.  After I helped make him millions, I left to start WatchMojo; he sued me in a frivolous lawsuit (which I won despite representing myself).  He had no case and lost any shred of integrity he had left.  It was personal.

In other words, just because you hear a cool line in a movie doesn't make it true, and certainly doesn't mean you should live by it.  It's Hollywood, it's make-believe.  In real life, everything is personal, especially in business—and in particular at startups, where emotions run high and personalities spill over into the workplace.

Of course, without a doubt, anyone who can manage their feelings and not let personal emotions affect business decisions has an upper hand in business dealings, but that doesn't make business any less personal.  In sports, it's great to remain cool—think Joe Montana.  But those who take losing personally and play to win tend to win more often than they lose.

Success boils down to vision, ambition, determination, execution, luck and timing.  Luck and timing are the most important externalities and determination is arguably the biggest variable you can control.  As such, success or failure boils down to emotions and how determined you are to win, take your victories and setbacks personally, but act professionally about it.

In my experience, anyone who says this lie is probably most likely to take things personally, even if they don't realize it.  I tell my colleagues that I expect them to take their work personally (so that they are passionate) but that they should remain professional about how they show their reactions.

Lie No. 3: "We're not raising money"

It's practically the American dream to spend other people's money.  Yet publicly, entrepreneurs oftentimes play charades and pretend that they're not raising money.  Why?  Building companies takes time and money.  Telling an investor who is taking the time to meet you that you're not interested in raising money isn't playing hard to get, it's wasting their time.

Lie No. 4: "We're not looking to sell"

When the Google guys were willing to sell their search engine early on to Yahoo! for a couple of million dollars, then you know that all entrepreneurs would sell if the price was right.  If there's one thing I can't stand, it's when entrepreneurs try to convince anyone who will listen that they're going to IPO.  A fraction of startups go on to survive, let alone succeed.  A fraction of those will have liquidity events, and—you guessed it—a small portion of those will come from IPOs.  This year we saw the return of tech IPOs, and most of them fizzled after the offering.  Call me a cynic, but as an investor, I like to know that an entrepreneur is thinking of who might buy his company.

Lie No. 5: "I'm your biggest fan"

People who say "I'm your biggest fan" probably have already stabbed you in the back or will throw you under when you're not around.  Whenever someone has said this to me in the past, it's been akin to the kiss of death.  Be honest with people: if you are actually their biggest fan, don't just say it—act on it.  And if you don't like someone, then don't be a hypocrite.

I’ve found that people who use this line like to use it a lot. They are everyone’s biggest fan. When it's said and done, the truth always comes out.  And when it comes to clich├ęs, eventually people see through them and you look hollow.  All you have is your integrity and your word; don’t waste your credibility by trying to curry favor.

Image by Arena Creative/Shutterstock.



The Decline And Fall Of The Appian Empires

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 07:11 AM PST

roman-forum

A couple weeks ago, MG wrote: Android development itself remains a huge pain in the ass. I hear this again, and again, and again. Which took me a bit aback. I’ve developed numerous Android and iOS apps (though not games, so I can’t speak to the differences there) over the last few years, and neither set of developer tools seems to me to be hugely superior: both have their strengths and their really irritating failings.

But then I realized–if you’re an iOS developer moving to Android, then yes, Android would initially seem a million times worse, just as the converse would. It’s just that the converse has been far less common. The platform you don’t know always seems unbearably clumsy, whereas the platform you do know generally feels easy and comfortable: you’ve already gone through the setup nightmares, figured out its quirks and idiosyncracies, and learned what not to do or try.

This, I think, is a big factor in the reign of apps.

Ever since the App Store came out, people have been prophesying that apps are a passing fad, soon to be replaced by HTML5. For years now, PhoneGap and Sencha, Mono, etc., have offered cross-platform app development, ie the ability to write a single app that works on both iOS and Android. If the transition between the two is such a giant pain, then why wouldn’t everyone do that?

Well, there are a whole bunch of reasons. Cross-platform apps are still slower and clumsier. They don’t feel as polished as native apps; also, they generally don’t look like native apps. It’s a pain to get them to work with the many hardware and software services provided by the device’s OS, which native apps do very easily. Generated code is almost always much inferior to written code. To get real estate on the phone’s screen, and presence in the app store/market, you have to package your HTML5 in a native-app wrapper, which can quickly begin to feel like the worst of both worlds.

Also, cross-platform development in and of itself means learning Yet Another Set Of Tools And Languages. For some time Apple ruled the only app platform that mattered, so writing apps meant Objective-C, XCode, and iOS libraries. Then Android began to boom. App developers who wanted to expand to it as well had a choice: either learn how to develop native Android apps, or expend a comparable amount of time and energy learning how to write cross-platform apps that would be mediocre on the iOS environment where they already excelled. No wonder the latter never took off.

But the story is far from over. More and more developers are becoming fluent in HTML5 (which is really very powerful; in particular, it’s easy to write apps which are fully functional even while offline) for web app development, and more and more “apps” are really becoming “mobile portals to web services”. It would be much easier for such services to have a single HTML5 interface, tweaked slightly depending on whether the client is a phone, tablet, or desktop, than to have to support an Android app written in Java, an iOS app written in Objective-C, and an HTML5 desktop web client. This is doubtless one of the motivations for Facebook’s long-mooted “Project Spartan“.

Unless Apple and Google take the drastic step of crippling HTML5 in Android/iOS, it’s really hard to see this not happening over the medium term. (For the short term, see Ben Savage’s excellent “14 HTML5 Predictions For 2012” post.) If Windows Phone starts to take any significant bite out of the marketplace, and a third app platform arises, it will happen even faster; developers will throw up their hands and head to HTML5 en masse. But even if the Android/iOS duopoly continues to reign, the HTML5 is on the wall for native apps. They’ll continue to reign through 2012, and maybe even 2013; but make no mistake, their days are numbered.

Image credit: Wikipedia



Siri, What Were Your Top 5 Hacks And Mods Of 2011?

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 06:41 AM PST

siri

2011 saw the rise and fall of Siri. What was initially hailed as something just short of the savior of mankind turned out to be a limited voice control system. Apple insists Siri is still a beta product. They say it will get better.

But some out there couldn’t wait for Apple. And so, with a little imagineering, people made Siri do all sorts of unconventional tasks in 2011. These hacks led to her opening beer, playing the piano, and even warning owners about what’s on a specific TV station. Yeah, the official feature set of Siri is a bit underwhelming, but hackers and modders managed to roll out an impressive set of avant-garde use cases to keep owners occupied until Apple rolls out the next Siri revision. Read on for the top 5 Siri hacks and mods of 2011.

Beeri. Siri-controlled beer bot

Using an Arduino, R/C truck and a metal spike, this hack is more about the triumph of man over machine than actually pouring a proper glass of beer. But who cares! It’s awesome. And as one of the very first Siri hacks, beeri occupies a special place in the history books.

Start Your Car With Siri

“Start my car.” It’s just that easy. Developer Brandon Fiquett used an open source Siri Proxy server and coded a PHP script that interacts with the Viper SmartStart system installed in his Acura. Then, with just a quick conversation with Siri, this guy can start and stop his car from afar. Like a boss.

Siri Proxy & ioBridge Home Automation

Using the same Siri Proxy has the previous hack, this mod interacts with an X10 home automation system. “Siri, turn off everything.” “Your house has been powered down. Good bye.” Eat your electronic heart out, HAL 9000.

Play it again, Siri

Never mind the Yamaha marketing nonsense, the video still fun to watch. However, when you dig into the so-called mod, Siri is simply initiating the playback of a specific file. In this case, Siri is telling the iPhone to start playing a Midi file which is streamed using Airplay to the Yamaha piano through an AirPort Express. I think. It could be magic.

Siri Universal Remote

The Siri Universal Remote leans on SiriProxy and an Arduino IR box. But it’s a lot more than that. As the video shows above, when Siri is asked to change the channel, she announces the program currently playing on the station. Think of it as a Pawn Stars/Jersey Shore early warning system.



Shaker Is Going To Have A Rockin’ New Year’s Eve

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 11:18 PM PST

Shaker New Year's eve

TechCrunch Disrupt winner Shaker is already getting ready for New Year’s Eve. The Facebook app creates 3D virtual rooms where you can party with your friends and meet new people. The startup is partnering with Dick Clark Productions to create a virtual loft where a pre-party will take place right before the “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2012″ show begins.

The New Year’s Eve loft will be a place where people can virtually hang out between 4PM and 8PM ET on New Year’s Eve before the live show begins. You will be able to dance, mingle, buy virtual drinks and watch exclusive interviews with some of the performers who will be on the ABC television show, including Will.i.am, Taio Cruz, LMFAO, Gym Class Heroes, Fergie, Blink 182, and The Band Perry. (RSVP for the event here, or just show up on New Year’s Eve—there are no fire codes for virtual lofts so there is no limit to how many people can be packed inside).

Hanging out in virtual spaces to meet new people is still a fairly new concept. Big partnership’s like this one will expose Shaker to a mainstream audience. But the experience will have to be compelling enough for them to come back on their own. Ultimately, that will depend on who shows up for the party.



Facebook Subscriber # > Twitter Follower # ?

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 04:52 PM PST

Twitter Extinct done

Where do you publish first if you have more Facebook subscribers than Twitter followers?  That’s a question more and more journalists are going to be asking themselves. This is just 3.5 months after the launch of Facebook’s late entry into asymmetrical following (I follow you, you don’t have to follow me back). Many individual content producers including TechCrunch / CrunchFund’s MG Siegler, The New York Times’ Nick Bilton, and myself have have seen our subscriber counts surpass our follower tallies. How? Because Facebook’s larger user count makes it easier to amass subscribers.

This is why I think Facebook has a real chance to beat, or at least severely reduce the value of Twitter. For the mainstream internet user, the barrier to following someone on Twitter is high because, well, they have to sign up for Twitter. Most people already have Facebook, so subscribing to someone doesn’t require additional work. They’re just rolled into your existing news feed. You don’t have to make any conscious entry into interest graph networking.

Over time, the sheer popularity of Facebook could lead many to have a larger public audience there. If publishers prioritize by audience size, the shift could jeopardize Twitter’s prowess as the source for breaking news.

Some caveats. Facebook may have taken the lead so quickly for some journalists because they appear more often on its dynamic suggested subscribe list. However, people are gaining lots of subscribers through links on the comments they leave through Facebook’s Comments Box widget for websites.

Yes, the big influencers are on Twitter, and reaching them is important. And yes, Twitter is more reliable for breaking news because the unpredictable nature of the news feed and EdgeRank mean updates aren’t always delivered immediately. But for publishers, reaching the long tail is important too, especially from a money-making perspective.

All Facebook has to do is expose subscribe links to its huge user base. Eventually publishers will gain enough subscribers that they consistently post publicly there. Then, people on the fence about whether to join or invest time in Twitter may not bother. Facebook will be good enough.

There’s still a big problem with Subscribe in that you can’t post separately to subscribers vs friends. And there’ll always be unique use cases for the rapid consumption, 140-character format. Not enough to win over the mainstream, though. Turns out it’s not easy for a little bird to fight an 800 million user gorilla.



Ron Paul Is The Second Most Popular Republican Candidate On Facebook (And He’s Gaining)

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 04:20 PM PST

Screen Shot 2011-12-23 at 3.57.00 PM

I know there are lots of people out there who have passionate feelings about Ron Paul. He’s a principled and independent fighter for old-time American values, or a conspiracy theorist loon, or someone who let idiotic racist stuff get published in his newsletters decades ago… or whatever else it is that you see about him that makes you react.

I’m not here to take sides and tell you how to vote, I’m just writing this article to point out that he’s been gaining the most new Facebook fans every day for most of the past month. He’s now the second-most popular candidate behind Mitt Romney (and Democratic incumbent Barack Obama, of course), according to the Inside Facebook Election Tracker.

Paul currently has 655,000 fans, half of Romney’s 1.23 million, and a fraction of Obama’s 24.3 million, but he’s well ahead of third-place primary candidate Michele Bachmann. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, who has appeared at many points in recent weeks to be Romney’s main Republican challenger, has had pretty minimal growth.

Fan counts are not a perfect proxy for real-world popularity because candidates can do things like buy lots of ads on Facebook, run contests on their Pages to bring in more people, or promote their Like buttons on their campaign web sites. Also worth noting: the fan counts here are far lower than the active voters out there, so this is a subpopulation of politically involved people. Facebook has around two-thirds of the US online population, and anyone in the world can like Facebook Pages. It’s just that most people don’t.

But the trends do seem to reflect many of the voter shifts in the primary over the last month.

By numerical gains, Paul has had the most new fans every day since December 5th, the election tracker shows. The rise began around when previous top outsider candidate Herman Cain announced he would drop out. It leveled off for a bit during a short Rick Perry resurgence, right around the 8th of the month, when Perry released his widely hated “Strong” video against gays in the military. So maybe Perry gained some Facebook fans even though he created the most disliked video on YouTube? But as Perry’s blip tapered down towards zero, both Gingrich and Paul grew.

It’s true that Romney has surged over the past week or two as Cain, Perry and Gingrich have faded down. But Paul has gained even more every day, with monthly growth highs among all candidates at nearly 7,000 new fans per day at some points last week. Maybe it’s because of how people are receiving his debate performance.

What does it all mean? Until a few months ago, online success for Paul might have been chalked up to the relatively small but very earnest group of online supporters, who have helped him win online polls for years. But now he’s also winning real-world polls, like in the Iowa primaries. His Facebook fan growth is looking more and more like a proxy for his overall trajectory.



Flurry: Largest Addressable Markets For Mobile Developers In 2012 Include India, China, Japan & U.S.

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 01:40 PM PST

12-23-2011 7-07-00 AM-resized-600

Mobile analytics firm Flurry is closing out the year with a look into the forthcoming shift in mobile installed bases expected in 2012. Using data from the firm’s dataset of over 140,000 apps running worldwide, it was able to calculate smartphone penetration in established markets like U.S. and Europe. Then, using additional data from the IMF in combination with Flurry’s own data, the firm was able to then determine which countries represented the top market opportunities for mobile app developers.

Not surprisingly, China and India made the list. But so did the U.S.

To start, Flurry looked at a snapshot of apps running across its user base over the past 30 days in order to rank the current addressable market. The U.S. led the way, with an installed base of 109 million out of 264 million (41%). Flurry notes that 264 million is about half of what Apple and Google say they’ve activated – something that can be accounted for by old device replacement.

China (#2) and South Korea (#4) appeared in the top five, ranking above Japan (#5), France (#6) and Germany (#7). The U.K. is #2.

Next, Flurry wanted to determine which markets hold the most future promise. It used the adult population counts from the IMF, then adjusted the numbers based on the size of the middle class in each country using a study by Miller-McCune. Flurry then estimated the size of the upper class for each country, as those folks could also afford a smartphone. This way, China, India and Brazil would not be over-represented in the estimations just because they have large populations.

And yet, they did make a showing. China has 122 million users who could afford an iPhone or Android. The U.S. has 91 million, India 75 million, Japan 65 million and Brazil 34 million.

In the final bit of analysis, Flurry wanted to determine the world’s largest addressable markets, regardless of penetration. For starters, it looked at current market maturity (the measure of how penetrated smartphone devices are among a country's addressable audience.)  The U.S., with the largest light blue circle in the graph below, has the largest total addressable audience (TAM) at 200 million. Sweden is the most mature country with 3.2 million of 5 million (66%) addressable consumers already using iOS and Android devices.  France, 10th in maturity, has 9.6 million of 34 million (28%) consumers using iOS and Android devices.

In looking at the future addressable markets, Flurry found that even though India’s total population is not far behind China's, its total addressable market is. Meanwhile Japan, the world's fourth largest market, has a lot of upside given light penetration of iOS and Android devices against its large, addressable market, says Flurry.

Using this method, the top 10 addressable markets are the U.S., China, Japan, India, Germany, Brazil, Italy, France, the U.K. and Russia.

More analysis can be found on Flurry’s blog post.



Gillmor Gang Live 12.23.11 (TCTV)

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 01:00 PM PST

Gillmore Gang test pattern

The Gillmor Gang – Robert Scoble, Kevin Marks, John Taschek, and Steve Gillmor – are recording live at 1pm PT.

Recording has concluded.



GoDaddy CEO: “There Has To Be Consensus About The Leadership Of The Internet Community”

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 12:53 PM PST

gdu

In a brief interview with TechCrunch, GoDaddy’s new CEO, Warren Adelman, did a little damage control relating to the company’s highly public reversal of its position on SOPA. GoDaddy had previously issued a strong statement of support for the controversial bill, which you can find here. The last day has seen a growing grassroots rejection of the company and its position in the form of a boycott (this Reddit thread has much related info). But today brought a statement from the company apparently doing a complete about-face.

Adelman noted that he had “been CEO of this company for all of one week,” and that the complaints and feedback had grown just over the last 24 hours, and it is during this time that he became involved. He said that the feedback made him realize they should “take a step back and look at the current legislation.” Of course, the outcry against SOPA and its twin in the Senate goes back much further.

I suggested it was easy to say they should take a step back, but that they had in fact already demonstrated strong support on the record for nearly every provision in the bill. Adelman declined to address this, saying he “can’t comment on the history of it up to this point.” When I asked whether the company still thinks the objections raised to SOPA are “unfounded,” he said that “there are others that need to voice their advocacy positions,” presumably alluding to the fact that testimony by experts and internet luminaries has been scarce.

Adelman couldn’t commit to changing its position on the record in Congress when asked about that, but said “I’ll take that back to our legislative guys, but I agree that’s an important step.” But when pressed, he said “We’re going to step back and let others take leadership roles.” He felt that the public statement removing their support would be sufficient for now, though further steps would be considered.

Lastly, on the subject of the company’s rather vague promise that “Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it,” I said it seemed unlikely that the internet community would ever support a bill of this type, and certainly not SOPA in any shape or form – so the statement is difficult to interpret. Adelman said “There has to be concensus about the leadership of the internet community. It’s a large community and a global one.” The

The statements made by GoDaddy and its new CEO are far from strong, but they may solidify with time. “Not supporting” is not the same as opposing, and on an issue like this the internet, by their own admission the source of their reversal, will demand opposition. They can’t avoid the fact that they were a strong, on-the-record supporter of the bill, however, and that may be something of an albatross for them for some time. While this quick reversal in the face of a widespread outcry may possibly be nothing but a business decision, it is still a business decision that could be a useful one in the opposition of SOPA and similar legislation.



The Congressional Grill: House Co-Sponsor Defends SOPA (TCTV)

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 11:42 AM PST

bill owens

The Internet is up in arms about the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and for good reason. It could potentially block and censor sites for alleged copyright infringement without full due process. Companies that support the bill are facing boycotts (GoDaddy just withdrew its support for this reason).

But people on the two sides of the debate still don’t see eye to eye, which is why we invited one of the SOPA’s co-sponsors, Congressman Bill Owens (D-NY), to address the issues. We captured the conversation in the video above.

Owens defends SOPA (what did you expect?). But he is also open to amendments to prevent some of the abuses opponents fear. The thrust of the bill is aimed at shutting off access to pirated content on overseas sites. Owens compares the effort to stopping illegal physical goods from crossing the border. But the way SOPA proposes to block these sites could have all sorts of unintended consequences, such as it being applied to legitimate sites by overzealous prosecutors and judges.

SOPA cripples the safe harbor provisions under the current DMCA law by making third-party sites, search engines, and ISPs liable for copyright infringement by other sites they point to. Under the current DMCA rules, if a video, photo, or other piece of content is infringing, the content owner can request to take it down. Under SOPA, the entire site gets blocked, even if it contains millions of other legitimate videos and photos. SOPA raises so many red flags around the lack of due process, censorship, and simply messing with the basic way the Internet works by blocking traffic at DNS servers.

Owens and I get into all of these issues. He didn’t back down from supporting the main thrust of SOPA (which is directed at online piracy rampant in other countries like China), but he also admits the bill may not be perfect as currently written. At least that’s a start. Unfortunately, he is not on the Judiciary Committee marking up the bill. His response to the Internet industry which opposes the bill, however, is to suggest changes that would protect the Internet while still fighting piracy. If you have any ideas, add them in comments.

You can read more of our SOPA coverage and watch my previous interview with Union Square’s Brad Burnham on Why SOPA Must Be Stopped.



UC Berkeley Picks Google Over Microsoft In Battle Over Campus Cloud Services

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 11:32 AM PST

uc-tour

When you’ve got a campus with 70,000 students and staff on it, all requiring some form of integrated cloud service, be it for email, scheduling, documents, or what have you, the decision-making process over which service to use is not a trivial one.

Fortunately, UC Berkeley considered it not only necessary, but a duty to the public to not just consider the options carefully but to explain those considerations. They’ve put up a nice detailed comparison of Google and Microsoft’s offerings (Apps and Office 365) as they relate to University business. Anyone or any institution thinking of doing a similar deployment may find it interesting reading.

For the rest of us, perhaps an executive summary will do:

Google essentially won out on flexibility and ease of use for both those implementing the system and their users. Migration from Cal’s local services to Google’s would take far less time, cost less money, and be far less complicated than if they had gone with Microsoft, whose installation process involves putting in local servers and replacing key services.

But it was far from a knockout; in fact, Google receives a drubbing in calendar features and integration, and in the specifics of the contracts. Microsoft’s robust calendar, built on years and years of enterprise work, is far superior to Google Calendar, which is made to be a simple, accessible, social tool. And Microsoft appears to have a contract that is more sensitive to, say, HIPAA requirements and other things important to a research university. Microsoft also ekes ahead on security, which isn’t surprising.

It seems that Berkeley felt that the most important thing was to have a good-enough system (with room for improvement) that’s familiar to its users. A quarter of Berkeley students are already on Gmail, which indicates the ubiquity of the service, and Microsoft was less yielding on a few features that would have to be migrated to their own solutions. Universities are patchworks of overlapping semi-compatible systems, but Cal appears to feel that Google’s system integrates and improves more than it fails (or necessitates changes in).

University digital infrastructure is a strange beast, and judging by the fact that both of these high-profile services have serious shortcomings, it may be that there’s room for someone to step in with a better solution. Students often have their own emails that they’d like to keep for as long as possible, and an @berkeley.edu one just isn’t important to them. They also are extremely likely to have smartphones, and those ownership numbers are only growing. We’ve seen some work on digitizing the content in our universities, but we’re still waiting on the breakthrough that definitively brings the university experience into the 21st century.

Berkeley’s existing agreements with Microsoft are unaffected (bulk software licenses and lots of specialty software). The announcement sent to students can be found here.

[via Wired]



Last-Minute Gift Guide 2011: iOS Apps

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 11:06 AM PST

iPhone Apps

Looking for a quick last-minute gift? Not feeling up to fighting the holiday traffic, crowds and checkout lines? Just too lazy busy to shop? Then you may want to consider giving the gift of an iOS app. You can gift any paid app from iTunes on your computer or from the app’s description page on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Just scroll down past the screenshot and look for the “gift this app” button. All you’ll need is the recipient’s email address to complete the transaction. This app list includes both new releases and old favorites. It’s entirely subjective! Note that some of this year’s best apps are free, so they aren’t on here. (Waving to Instagram, Path, Spotify, Flipboard, Pinterest, HBO GO, etc.) Also, everyone already has Angry Birds (the original). It’s not on here, either.

Apps Your Parents May Not Have Heard Of, But Would Really Enjoy

1. iMovie ($4.99) Everyone should have this app from Apple, the fun moviemaking app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Designed for multi-touch, iMovie puts everything you need to tell your story at your fingertips. Make a movie in minutes by adding video, photos, music and sound effects. Then give it the Hollywood treatment by adding a theme, titles and transitions.

2. Camera+ ($0.99 sale) Whether you're a seasoned photographer or someone who's barely touched a camera, Camera+ will make you love taking photos. Offers exposure, lighting controls, stabilizer, high quality zoom, scene modes, digital flash, cropping tools, effects, borders, sharing features and more.

3. Snapseed ($4.99) iPad App of the Year Snapseed makes any photograph extraordinary with a fun, high-quality photo experience right at your fingertips. Anyone can enhance, transform, and share their photos with ease.

4. SkyView – Explore the Universe ($1.99) Simply point the camera to the sky, tap on what you see and discover neat things about these sky objects. SkyView is unique as it blends the camera view with incredible 3D graphics of the sky objects to provide an Augmented Reality (AR) view of your sky.

5. Fahrenheit ($1.99) This super clever app is a weather application that shows you the current temperature of any location right on your iPhone/iPad homescreen using iOS’s push notifications (the red badges). Beyond the real-time temperature display, it also gives you detailed weather information from unlimited cities worldwide.

6. Numbers, Pages, Keynote ($9.99 each) From Apple’s iWork Suite, its own versions of Excel, Word and Powerpoint designed for iOS. All three work with iCloud, so your files stay up to date across all your iOS devices automatically. Alternate choices: QuickOffice Pro HD; for text only, Elements

7. Garmin StreetPilot onDemand ($0.99) Garmin StreetPilot onDemand offers rich navigation features for walking or driving, a simple and intuitive user interface. Using your data connection, StreetPilot onDemand always has access to the most up-to-date maps for the U.S. and Canada so you can navigate with confidence whether you're on foot or in the car. (Premium features require monthly subscription of $2.99). Alternate choice: TeleNav

8. TripIt (ad free version) ($3.99) TripIt "automagically" takes all your trip details and creates one truly helpful itinerary that's there when and where you need it – on your iPhone or iPad, synced with your calendar, and online at tripit.com. When you receive a confirmation email from anywhere you book, simply forward it to plans@tripit.com. TripIt instantly recognizes reservations from 3,000+ booking sites including cruises, restaurants, concerts and more.

9. WolframAlpha ($2.99) Building on 25 years of development led by Stephen Wolfram, Wolfram|Alpha has rapidly become the world’s definitive source for instant expert knowledge and computation. Across thousands of domains, Wolfram|Alpha uses its vast collection of algorithms and data to compute answers and generate reports for you.

10. Instacast($1.99) A better podcast manager for iOS, Instacast lets you manage all your podcasts (audio and video) in one place and get new episodes instantly. Supports AirPlay, download over Wi-Fi, Edge and 3G, show notes, 2x playback, pull-to-refresh, favoriting, and more.

Apps For Athletes And The Annoyingly Fit

1. Tiger Woods: My Swing ($4.99) Tiger Woods: My Swing helps golfers of all levels improve their golf swing through video analysis and instruction from golf great Tiger Woods. Compare swings against every club in Tiger’s bag and against friends.

2. P90X ($4.99) The breakthrough workout program that revolutionized home fitness now has an app that lets you Bring It! on your iPhone, so you can get even more amazing results—and work out with P90X anywhere. Keep track of your sets, reps, and weights, view your progress, log your nutrition, and share your results.

3. iMuscle ($1.99) iMuscle is a sophisticated workout aid that can be taken anywhere. Use it to identify a body part or individual muscle by zooming into a 3-Dimensional human body with the musculature exposed. Then access all the exercises associated with the development / rehabilitation of that muscle.

4. Tempo Magic Pro($4.99) Featured by Apple as a Fitness Essential, Tempo Magic Pro lets you change the BPM of your music. Perfect for DJs, Music Instructors and Dance Instructors or anyone who needs to set the pace for their workout.

Apps For Creative Types

1. GarageBand ($4.99) GarageBand turns your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch into a collection of Touch Instruments and a full-featured recording studio. Use Multi-Touch gestures to play pianos, organs, guitars, drums, and basses. They sound and play like their counterparts, but let you do things you could never do on a real instrument.

2. djay ($9.99 iPhone – on sale for $0.99 / $20.99 iPad) Djay transforms your iOS device into a full-fledged portable DJ system and seamlessly integrates with your iPod library, giving you direct access to all your favorite tracks and playlists. A hyper-realistic touchscreen interface and ultra-low latency converge to offer you a true professional mixing experience, right in the palm of your hand. You can perform live, record mixes on-the-go, or enable Automix mode.

3. Procreate ($1.99) Procreate is a professional painting & sketching app, made exclusively for iPad. Engineered using the Silica painting engine, painting & sketching on an iPad has never been so responsive and precise.

4. Animation Desk for iPhone ($1.99) Animation Desk for iPhone is a mobile application that allows users to create hand-drawn animations on iPhone or iPod Touch. The drawing interface provided by the app resembles the real working environment of a professional animator who completes each frame of an animation on a specially-designed desk, the animation desk.

5. SoundHound ($6.99) SoundHound is an instant music search and discovery app for music recognition, including via singing and humming, lyrics, and on iPad, YouTube videos. 6. Brushes($4.99) The ever-popular painting application featuring an advanced color picker, several realistic brushes, layers, extreme zooming, and a simple yet deep interface.

Apps For “Serious” Gamers

1. Infinity Blade II ($6.99) The continuing journey of young Siris unfolds as you delve deeper into the world of the Deathless tyrants and their legion of Titans. Includes Unreal Engine 3 graphics, new styles of combat, an immersive 3D works and more.

2. Grand Theft Auto 3 ($2.99) Grand Theft Auto III brings to life the dark and seedy underworld of Liberty City. With a massive and diverse open world, a wild cast of characters from every walk of life and the freedom to explore at will, Grand Theft Auto III puts the dark, intriguing and ruthless world of crime at your fingertips.

3. Dead Space ($0.99) Featuring hardcore gameplay and a rich audio experience, immerse yourself in events that unleash the Necromorph horde again – and set the stage for the horrifying action of Dead Space 2. Hailed by fans and critics, this stunning vision of the Dead Space franchise is truly a landmark "must-play."

4. StarFront: Collision ($0.99) Similar to Starcraft II, this real-time strategy title from Gameloft brings you to a Sci-Fi world on the planet Sinistral, where rare Xenodium crystals are coveted by a human mining conglomerate called the Consortium. The Myriad, an indigenous race of aliens, is addicted to Xenodium and will do everything they can to prevent the Consortium from plundering their resources. To add to the chaos, a sentient robot race called the Wardens is trying to turn the war in their favor.

5. Asphalt 6 ($0.99) Another Gameloft title, Asphalt 6 lets you build a dream collection from 42 cars and bikes, race your friends across the city streets of L.A., Tokyo, the Bahamas and more. 11 leagues and 55 events are included.

6. Shadowgun($2.99) Shadowgun puts you into the role of John Slade, the galaxy's most infamous bounty hunter. Your mission: hunt down Dr. Edgar Simon, maniacal genius and leader of his own mutant army. Infiltrate Dr. Simon's mountain fortress and fight his personal guard of cyborgs, battle droids, and genetically-enhanced humanoids.

Apps For Casual Gamers (Aka “Everyone”)

1. World of Goo ($4.99) A popular PC and Mac puzzle game has been transitioned to iOS devices, letting you drag and drop living, squirming, talking, globs of goo to build structures, bridges, cannonballs, zeppelins, and giant tongues.

2. Cut The Rope: Experiments ($0.99) Intrigued by the candy-eating monster Om Nom's insatiable appetite for sweets, the Professor puts him through a series of experiments in this all-new game, a follow-up to one of the most original in the App Store.

3. Angry Birds Seasons ($0.99) Angry Birds’ holiday app includes 25 new levels in the Christmas edition featuring gingerbread cookies, bells, twinkling lights, and candy canes. The newest Angry Bird will also make an appearance. And on the last day you'll meet the big pig himself.

4. Tiny Wings ($0.99) Players assume the role of a bird with tiny wings. You use hills as jumps to fly up, then gravity pulls you back down again. The goal is to see how far the bird can fly until the sun sets.

5. Scribblenauts Remix ($0.99) A popular Warner Bros. Nintendo DS puzzle game involves a character called Maxwell who solves puzzles by drawing or typing in tools like blocks or bridges. Includes 40 levels, 10 that are exclusive to iOS.

6. Fruit Ninja ($0.99) Fruit Ninja is a juicy action game enjoyed by millions of players around the world, with squishy, splatty and satisfying fruit carnage! Become the ultimate bringer of sweet, tasty destruction with every slash.

7. Words With Friends($0.99) Zynga’s version of Scrabble now has over 20 million people addicted to the word building, triple score seeking, chat bubble sending goodness of Words With Friends.

Apps To Keep Your Kid Quiet For At Least 2 Minutes

1. Bugs And Buttons ($2.99) Bugs and Buttons is a uniquely styled collection of games and activities that are entertaining and educational. The app goes beyond simply great graphics and beautiful music by engaging children through intriguing game play that progressively adapts to their skill level.

2. The Three Little Pigs ($1.99 -sale), Cinderella ($7.99) (Books from Nosy Crow) Fun, animated versions of children’s classics with great graphics, sounds and interactivity.

3. Peekaboo Barn ($1.99) Inside a little bouncing barn, friendly farm animals are waiting to pop out and surprise your little one. Work with your child to learn the names of animals and hear the sounds they make. Younger children will love opening the barn doors to find a new animal animation, as they learn about cause and effect and become familiar with animal names and sounds.

4. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox ($0.99) Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is a collection of six exciting educational games for your preschooler including games for memory, counting, letters, shapes and more. (ages 2 to 5).

5. Nighty Night!($0.99) The bedtime book “Nighty Night!” for iPad helps children get to know animals interactively while preparing to go to bed. Dog, Pig, Sheep, Duck, Cow, Fish and Chickens moo and bubble, hop and lay eggs, until a kid turns the light out and the animals go to sleep.

Apps For Bloggers, Social Networkers And Other People Who Don’t Need App Lists

1. Tweetbot ($2.99) Tweetbot is a full-featured iPhone (and iPod Touch) Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it's the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds & animation, or features like multiple timelines & smart gestures, there's a lot to love about Tweetbot.

2. Momento ($2.99) Momento is a unique diary/journal writing application which provides a quick and easy way to privately record moments throughout your day. Connect with popular web services, such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Foursquare, Gowalla, YouTube, Vimeo, Digg and Last.fm, to collect and display your online activity as part of your diary.

3. AP Stylebook 2011 ($24.99) The Associated Press Stylebook is an essential tool for writers, editors, students and public relations professionals. It provides fundamental guidelines on spelling, grammar, punctuation, usage and journalistic style, with special sections on reporting business and sports.

4. Reeder for iPad ($4.99) A beautiful Google Reader client which lets you sync feeds, star, notate and save items to Instapaper, ReadItLater, Readability, Delicious, Pinboard, Zootool, or share with Facebook and Twitter.



GoDaddy No Longer Supports SOPA

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 10:48 AM PST

gdjk

Surprise! GoDaddy has just recanted their support of SOPA, issuing a press release and blasting out a massive mountain of tweets on the matter. This comes just hours after they were seemingly cementing their position, shrugging off the boycotts as something that had yet to cause “any impact to [their] business”.

For those who somehow missed it: after GoDaddy publicly stated their support for SOPA yesterday morning, a colossal chunk of the Internet (read: the chunk that understands how the Internet works) began to rally. There were no torches or pitchforks here; the only weapons here were wallets, all being carried off in another direction.

The mob got loud, quick: Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh publicly announced that he’d be taking his 1,000+ domains (I Can Has Cheezburger, FAIL Blog, Know Your Meme, etc.) elsewhere if GoDaddy continued to support the act. Meanwhile, thousands of Redditors pledged to transfer their domains, with December 29th set as the mass-move day.

While it’s nice that they changed their stance (publicly, at least), you’ve got to ask yourself: do you want to continue throwing money at a company blind enough to support SOPA in the first place?

GO DADDY NO LONGER SUPPORTS SOPA
Looks to Internet Community & Fellow Tech Leaders to Develop Legislation We All Support

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Dec. 23, 2011) — Go Daddy is no longer supporting SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” currently working its way through U.S. Congress.

“Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation — but we can clearly do better,” Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s newly appointed CEO, said. “It’s very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it.”

Go Daddy and its General Counsel, Christine Jones, have worked with federal lawmakers for months to help craft revisions to legislation first introduced some three years ago. Jones has fought to express the concerns of the entire Internet community and to improve the bill by proposing changes to key defined terms, limitations on DNS filtering to ensure the integrity of the Internet, more significant consequences for frivolous claims, and specific provisions to protect free speech.

“As a company that is all about innovation, with our own technology and in support of our customers, Go Daddy is rooted in the idea of First Amendment Rights and believes 100 percent that the Internet is a key engine for our new economy,” said Adelman.

In changing its position, Go Daddy remains steadfast in its promise to support security and stability of the Internet. In an effort to eliminate any confusion about its reversal on SOPA though, Jones has removed blog postings that had outlined areas of the bill Go Daddy did support.

“Go Daddy has always fought to preserve the intellectual property rights of third parties, and will continue to do so in the future,” Jones said.



Forget BBX: RIM Faces Legal Woes Over BBM Trademark

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 10:46 AM PST

sadberrys

I swear, it never ends — not long after a U.S. court passed down a judgment that saw RIM change the name of their new operating system, the company has once again gotten themselves into a tiff over trademarks. This time, the name in question is “BBM,” RIM’s preferred shorthand for their popular BlackBerry Messenger service.

The lawsuit comes courtesy of BBM Canada, a not-for-profit broadcast and audience measurement organization that’s been in business considerably longer than RIM has. Originally known as the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement, the group was originally founded in 1944 and took on the BBM moniker in 2001 — well before RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger service came to be.

RIM has gotten quite a bit of mileage out of BBM, and went on an advertising spree a while back in order to drum up some public interest for it. While using the BBM mark is totally admissible here in the States, the company filed for and was denied a trademark for BBM in their native Canada.

“We want our name back,” said BBM Canada CEO Jim MacLeod. “I find it kind of amazing that this wouldn't have been thought about before they decided to use the name. The same thing goes for BBX.”

MacLeod seems strangely apologetic about the whole thing — he has made efforts to accomodate the much larger company, even going so far as offering to rebrand the group entirely in order to avoid making a scene. Those overtures were met with silence from RIM, which has led to the sticky situation these companies are embroiled in.

RIM hasn’t yet responded to these allegations, but when they do, I imagine that they’ll say there’s no conflict since both companies operate in different fields. Then again, since they tried that line during the BBX case to no avail, RIM’s legal team may need to work out a different approach. If this sort of thing keeps up, the company runs the risk of looking, well, incompetent. And really, the last thing RIM needs now is for their top brass to look foolish, lest their stock price take (another) dive.



LogMeIn Remote Control iOS App Goes Freemium

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 10:45 AM PST

Screen shot 2011-12-23 at 1.39.52 PM

Users of LogMeIn’s Ignition are in for a pleasant surprise this holiday season. The once paid — and quite expensive — app is now migrating to a freemium model.

That said, users who paid for Ignition won’t have to cough up the dough for a LogMeIn Pro subscription, but they will get the added premium features including HD remote control (and HD streaming) from their computers to their iOS devices.

For LogMeIn noobs: The app is free to download and includes access to an unlimited number of PCs/Macs, remote view and control of the PC/Mac, and the ability to run computer-based applications like Salesforce, Microsoft Office, Quickbooks etc. Users will also be able to view files through either a WiFi or 3G connection.

If that isn’t quite enough control, an annual in-app purchase of $39.99 gives you HD remote control (allowing for HD streaming of video and audio content to the iPad/iPhone), cloud storage integration, and file management. In other words, you can view, copy, transfer, and save files between your iOS devices and your PC or Mac.

The app is available now in the Apple App Store, and LogMeIn promises an Android version of the app in 2012.



A Very Merry Giveaway: Galaxy Nexus #TechCrunch

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 10:13 AM PST

samsung-galaxy-nexus2

You spoke and we listened. The holidays are upon us and yesterday we asked all of you what you would want as a gift out of six different options. Those options were: iPad 2, Canon S100, Kindle Fire, Galaxy Nexus, Boxee Box, and last but not least, a Kinect for Xbox 360. At first, all of you wanted an iPad 2. Then we asked one more time, and you all chose a Galaxy Nexus for your most wanted gift. So, with it being that time of the year and all, we are giving away..

a Galaxy Nexus to one lucky reader!

If you want a chance at winning it, all you have to do is follow the steps below.

1) “Like” our TechCrunch Facebook Page:

2) Then do one of the following:

- Retweet this post (including the #TechCrunch hashtag)
- Or leave us a comment below telling us what your favorite holiday memory is

The contest starts now and goes through New Years. It will end January 1st at 7:30pm PT.

Make sure you only tweet the message once, or you will be disqualified. We’ll choose the winner at random and contact them when the giveaway is over. Anyone in the world is eligible, as long as you can receive deliverable packages.

Good luck everyone and happy holidays!



New Startups Pitch In Berlin At HackFwd Build Event [TCTV]

Posted: 23 Dec 2011 09:45 AM PST

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HackFwd, the pan-European accelerator created by Lars Hinrichs, the founder of LinkedIn competitor XING, recently held its open PitchInBerlin session, where startups are invited to enter the programme. It’s a sign that HackFwd, one of the few accelerators in Europe to stress the need for technical co-founders, is opening up to new teams. I went to the event in Berlin and interviewed all the startups pitching on the day, as you’ll see in the below video.



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