Friday, December 30, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

LG To Debut Second Intel-Powered Smartphone At CES 2012

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 09:13 AM PST


“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” It looks like LG and Intel have taken that old adage to heart, if a new report is to be believed. The Korea Times reports that LG will debut an Intel-powered smartphone at CES 2012, but the bigger question is whether or not the device will ever make it to market.

LG and Intel’s first mobile partnership yielded an Android smartphone running on Intel’s Moorestown chipset for CES 2011, but the device was ultimately scrapped. The reason for its premature demise? As the story goes, the device died because of it’s “lack of marketability.”

LG’s brass certainly thinks their Intel smartphone is viable — according to one of the Times’ executive sources, the device could be released as soon this March. Still, the original LG-Intel phone was pegged with a 2011 release date, so take those claims with a grain of salt for bow.

Hopefully LG’s second swing at an Intel-powered phone fares a little better — it’s said to run on Intel’s next-generation Medfield system-on-a-chip, and early tests have yielded some pretty impressive benchmarks when compared to NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon MSM8260 SoCs.

Of course, the real competition is yet to come, as nearly every player in the mobile chipset market is hard at work on their next-generation platforms. Intel has a lot of brand recognition when it comes to PCs, but their lack of presence in the mobile market to date could mean that Medfield could drown in a sea of established ARM-based chipsets.

That’s why the partnership with LG is so critical — despite their handset division spending a few quarters in the red, LG is still the number two handset OEM in the U.S. Having a major hardware vendor taking a chance on their new platform could establish Intel as a real player in the mobile space, and right now Intel’s mobile efforts could use all the visibility they can get.

Gillmor Gang Live 12.30.11 (TCTV)

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 09:00 AM PST

Gillmore Gang test pattern

The Gillmor Gang – Mike Arrington, John Borthwick, Robert Scoble, John Taschek, and Steve Gillmor – are recording live at 9am PT.

Insync (“Dropbox For Google Users”) Gets Major Revamp, Goes Free

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 08:57 AM PST


File synchronization and sharing platform Insync has been around for over a year now, and today, the eponymous startup has rolled out a totally revamped version of its “Dropbox for Google users”. Insync 2.0, so t speak, is more focused on Google Docs as ever, removed registration and sync limits, streamlined the user experience, and is now free to use.

The main target group here are GDocs users who want Dropbox-like functionality when it comes to handling files (the more Google accounts, the more useful Insync should become). In a nutshell, Insync allows you to automatically sync, update, manage, and share files stored on GDocs on your Mac or Windows desktop (in Finder or Explorer).

For example, nested or individual sharing of files is possible (Dropbox only supports sharing of folders), as is assigning read/write or read only permissions to others. All file formats, including MP3, exe, dmg, MS Office documents, etc. are supported.

Insync doesn’t require a sign-up anymore: just visit the site, sign in with your existing Google account, download and install the client, link the account with your PC or Mac, and you’ll find all files synced on your computer’s desktop. (According to the company, Insync’s now simpler web app is currently in the process of getting another “facelift”, too.)

Insync co-founder and CEO Terence Pua says a key bullet point is price: while his service now went free (existing users can ask for a refund or credit), Dropbox loses the price comparison with Google’s storage offering by 1:8. For example, US$100 a year gets you 50GB at Dropbox but a whopping 400GB at big G (overview). For its own platform, Insync removed syncing limits entirely.

Insnyc, which is based out of Singapore and Manila, just raised a US$800,000 angel round from Joi Ito (via Neoteny Labs), Reid Hoffman, Toivo Annus (co-founder at Skype), and Santosh Jayaram (ex-COO at Twitter).


Startups: Give Us Your Best One-Sentence Pitch

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 08:35 AM PST


If you had to describe your company’s mission in a single sentence, what would your pitch read or sound like? One good way to summarize what you do and boil it down to one clear sentence, in my opinion, is following the advice of Founder Institute founder Adeo Ressi (see above).

This is how it’s done: “my company, _(insert name of company)_, is developing _(a defined offering)_ to help _(a defined audience)_ _(solve a problem)_ with _(secret sauce)_”.

Simple, right? In your dreams. Now, I know that the sentence above is somewhat vague (and I also realize that we’ve posted Ressi’s advice over a year ago already) but it’s spot-on, and even just thinking about this is a very useful exercise. In the short video below, you can watch Ressi talk more about his proposed one-sentence pitch setup along with some concrete examples.

I’ve seen the man explain the importance of writing, refining and delivering the one-sentence pitch to a group of aspiring startup founders just a few months ago, and I thought it was great (and amusing to see even experienced entrepreneurs struggling with this). It’s way more difficult than you’d think.

So, startup founders, watch the video below, think about it carefully, and give us your best one-sentence pitch in the comments of this post. If you can’t or won’t use our comment section, feel free to email us at, but please stick to one sentence.

I asked Ressi if he wanted to help judge the entries and jump into the comment section to voice his opinion on pitches, and he agreed, so we’ll both be looking at your submissions attentively.

The best one-sentence pitches get featured in a separate post on the first day of next year.

Inspired by: Inside FI: Our Favorite #Startup VC Pitching Resources (must-click)

As Millions Of Consumers Unwrapped Kindle Fires Over Christmas, Mobile Ad Impressions Spiked 261 Percent

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 08:22 AM PST

Kindle Fire -1

In November, Mobile ad network Millennial Media reported that Amazon's new tablet devices Kindle Fire, was seeing ad impressions grow at an average daily rate of 19% since its launch to the public in the middle of the month. Millennial says it's not just seeing millions of impressions and the device is on a monthly run rate of hundreds of millions of impressions. But that data was gathered from a few weeks of usage from consumers in November, and as Amazon reported yesterday, December’s holiday season brought record sales for the Kindle Fire, with over 4 million Kindle devices sold in December. The Kindle Fire was the most gifted and wished for product on Amazon this season.

Today, Millennial is releasing data from its ad network showing impressive growth numbers from the Kindle Fire over the holiday weekend. In November, impressions on the Kindle Fire grew an average rate of 19 percent every day. Over this past weekend, Millennial says that as consumers opened and used their new Kindle Fires, ad impressions increased even more. As millions of consumers unwrapped new Kindle Fires, Millennial saw an average daily growth rate of 113 percent.

On December 24, impressions grew 32 percent; and on Christmas day in particular, impressions on the Kindle Fire grew 261 percent. The day after Christmas saw a 46 percent jump in ad impressions.

Of course, the Kindle Fire wasn't the only tablet that saw a spike from the holidays. From December 23 to 26, the iPad had a daily growth rate of 6 percent. The iPad remained the leading tablet overall on Millennial’s platform during this time period, although the massive gain from the Kindle Fire helped to significantly close the gap.

The Kindle Fire's impression growth on the platform has slightly outpaced that of the iPad when the iPad launched in early 2010. Millennial says that though the Kindle Fire has been introduced into a more mature tablet market than the market which greeted the original iPad, Amazon's entertainment-focused platform and the lower price point have helped drive this early use by consumers.

Now that the holiday gifting season if over, it should be interesting to see if consumer usage of the Kindle Fire continues to grow at such a rapid pace. For example, the release of a new version of the iPad could effect Kindle Fire growth in 2012.

Dropbox Automator Is Like IFTTT For Dropbox

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 08:07 AM PST


Thirty-six hours ago, the recently founded software development firm Wappwolf launched Dropbox Automator, which is sort of like an IFTTT for Dropbox. IFTTT, for those of you not up to speed on the latest Internet trends (where have you been?!), is a pretty amazing online tool that automates tasks to trigger when a particular action has occurred. For example: when my Facebook profile picture changes, update my Twitter profile pic too; email me when Amazon posts its free Android app of the day; text me when a get a new email; etc.

Like IFTTT, Dropbox Automator is capable of triggering a similar series of actions, based on what kind of files have been added to your Dropbox folders.

In IFTTT, these actions are called “Recipes,” but in Dropbox Automator, they’re called “automations.” Not only are they trigged by file type (e.g. a photo, a .doc, a PDF, etc.), they’re also triggered based on which Dropbox folder the file has been placed into.

For documents, you can choose from actions like convert to PDF, convert PDF to text, summarize, translate, upload to Google Docs, upload to Slideshare and more. Photos can be uploaded to Facebook, Flickr, rotated, annotated with text, a map or a logo, have effects applied, and downscaled.

Any file can be emailed, zipped, renamed, FTP’d, encrypted or decrypted, saved to another Dropbox, tweeted, or set as a Facebook status.

The only problem I had with the service is that the results were not immediate, as I expected. It took a good ten minutes for photos to show up on Flickr, for example. The speed of other actions may vary based on the processing speed required and the current server load. (The company says its new and improved server engine will be ready next week.)

If speed is of a concern, then, this service is not ideal…at least not in its present form. But if you’re simply automating stuff that you don’t want to forget to do later on (e.g. put photos on Flickr, upload to Google Docs), then Dropbox Automator could be quite the useful tool.

Since its launch barely two days ago, the company has signed up 1,500 users on the platform. Given Dropbox’s popularity and the loyal, nerdy following of IFTTT, my guess is they’re about to get a bunch more.

You can try out Dropbox Auotmator for yourself from here.

This Cat Might Be Better At Fruit Ninja Than Your Kids

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 07:33 AM PST


iOS devices are generally very accessible for most people. But for felines? Apparently so according to the video recently tweeted by Halfbrick Studios, the developer of Fruit Ninja. It’s clear within seconds of the video starting that the cat has done this before. This cat slashes fruit like a boss.

As UberGizmo notes, the cat displays a surprising amount of accuracy and navigates the arcade mode with ease. But Fruit Ninja is one thing. I wanna see this cat slice and dice its way through Infinity Blade II.

Photo Organization Service Everpix Launches Public Beta

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 07:05 AM PST


Photo organization service (and TechCrunch Disrupt finalistEverpix has just launched into public beta, bringing with it a number of changes to its backend infrastructure, web interface and its desktop software.

The service, for those unaware, automatically organizes and combines all your photos, whether they’re stored on your computer or in the cloud. It then combines them into an online photo gallery where groups of photos are laid out into attractive albums called “Moments.”

The service currently supports only Mac computers (iPhoto, Aperture, Lightroom), but plans to support Windows in the future. It also gathers photos from your online collections on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Picasa and can even locate photos found in your email.

Once connected,  Everpix uses a feature called "assistive curating" to create “Moments," which are similar to iPhoto's "Events," but are built for you automatically. You can see an Apple-like design aesthetic here, which is not surprising given that two of Everpix's Co-founders, Pierre-Olivier Latour and Kevin Quennesson, each spent several years with the company. Meanwhile, the third Co-founder, Wayne Fan, was previously at frog design.

Within these “Moments,” Everpix automatically detects bad photos, like those that are blurry, out of focus or under or overexposed and hides them from view. You can also share photos or albums using a simple one-click setting.

Since exiting its alpha, Everpix made a number of changes and improvements. It has increased its performance and handles your imported photos better than before. The company says that it improved color accuracy, timestamp detection, and the preview and thumbnail quality of the photos, among other things. It also automatically reconciles duplicates on import and merges the corresponding metadata.

The Mac uploader software has been updated, too, with more options, partial support for Picasa Mac (hooray!) and more.

However, the most exciting news is that the Everpix iOS application is almost here. (It’s in the review queue at Apple right now). When launched, this app will automatically mirror your entire Everpix photo collection to your iOS device, while also supporting social sharing and offline access to photos. In the future, support for photo uploads is planned as well.

You can sign up for the Everpix public beta here.


Casio’s New G-SHOCK Connects To Smartphones, Shows Incoming Calls, Emails, SMS

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 05:33 AM PST


Casio Japan is planning [JP] to roll out the G-SHOCK GB-6900 on March 16 next year, a wristwatch that connects to certain smartphones via Bluetooth LE (LE=low-energy, a standard that’s baked into Bluetooth 4.0). The device will be compatible with the Medias LTE N-04D Android phone from NEC  (to be released next year) and NEC’s Medias PP N-01D.

Casio says that the G-SHOCK not only synchronizes the time with the phones but also shows incoming calls, emails, or SMS on its display. Users can also switch their handsets to vibration mode by pushing a button on the watch or set alarms.

The watch isn’t the first that connects to phones, but the main selling point here is the Bluetooth LE feature (in fact, it’s the first watch with Bluetooth 4.0 on board): Bluetooth LE consumes a fraction of the energy of other Bluetooth versions. In the case of the G-SHOCK GB-6900, Casio says users can expect a battery life of about 2 years with one conventional CR2032 button battery.

The company initially planned to start selling the watch in December but had to push back the release date to March 16 because of the floods in Thailand (which dampened production). It will cost 18,000 Yen (US$231).

It’s My Meme Karaoke Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 04:45 AM PST


It’s the end of the year and that means Zaraguza Digital has cooked something special for all tech bloggers struggling to find something to post on a very slow news day, and for their bored audiences.

Last year, it was Drunk TechCrunch, and this year they’re throwing a Meme Karaoke Party … and every procrastinator’s invited! Enjoy, and if I don’t see you anymore, Happy New Year boys and girls.

Shock Horror! Berlin VC Invests In Italian Startup. Is This The Start Of Something?

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 02:42 AM PST


Point Nine Capital has made a seed investment into Cibando, an Italian startup which operates a popular iPhone application that makes it easy to find the best restaurants in Rome, Milan, Florence and other cities in Italy. Fabio Pezzotti, one of Italy’s more successful Internet entrepreneurs and angel investors, also participated in the round. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. The deal is significant since it’s the first investment by Point Nine in a startup in Italy, a market traditional vastly under-served by risk capital. Outside of traditional e-commerce style businesses, there remains very few Italian startups compared to the rest of Europe’s major countries.

Daily Crunch: Car Tracking

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 01:00 AM PST

Someone Is Selling An Apple “Five Year Employee Award” On eBay, For $2K

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 12:00 AM PST

Screen Shot 2011-12-29 at 11.56.39 PM

Today in employee loyalty and the slow winter tech news cycle, someone is selling an Apple “Five Year Employee Award,” on eBay, for $2K if you want to buy it now. While the immediate impulse of you cynical, cynical people is to yell “FAKE” as loud as you can in the comments section, sources are telling me it looks legit. You can’t argue with “sources.”

It just so happens that the name of the Apple employee in question is blurred out in the item thumbnail, meaning one of two things, either the person is dumb enough to be selling his own Apple “Five Year Employee award, or somehow procured it from a particularly steadfast Apple employee (friend, garage sale, robbery?).

The most intriguing thing about the seller’s guesstimate of market value is that so many of us are so fascinated with the culture behind Apple at this point that someone honestly thinks someone else is willing to pay two grand for a robo-signed Steve Jobs “signature.”  Or a hoodie that’s ”like the one given to Apple employees.” Lololol at “like.”

Even if it is real, what are the chances Jobs even looked at this thing? Or any of these things?

Hey person that buys this, I’ve got a “signed” Christmas card from Obama I’m selling for 4k … You can find me on Twitter here.

Verizon Cuts $50 Off The Droid Xyboards On-Contract Price But They’re Still Too Expensive

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 06:28 PM PST


It seems that Verizon (or Motorola) got the message: The Droid Xyboards are too damn expensive when tied to a 2-year commitment. Until today, Verizon was selling the 10.1 Xoom 2 for $529 and required a 2-year contract. Ludicrous. Well, after today’s price cuts, the prices are less absurd, but just slightly.

Verizon lopped $50 off the on-contract price making the 16GB 10.1-inch $479 with the 8-inch retailing just $379. Of course buyers are still required to sign on the dotted line in order to get that price. But the unsubsidized models didn’t get the same love. Never mind that the new tabs are essentially downgraded versions of the 10 month old Xoom, these models still retail for $699 for buyers smart enough to avoid the contract (but dumb enough to want the tab in the first place).

Even with the lower price, the 2-year commitment is very troublesome. By essentially locking an early adopter (every single Android tab buyer still qualifies for this title) into already dated hardware, carriers are dramatically slowing the adoption rate. If Apple or AT&T had employed the same tactic with the original iPad, the iPad 2 would surely not been as big of a hit. But now, whatever delusional Android fanboy buys a Xoom 2 from Verizon on-contract, barring paying the high ETF, they’re locked into that particular model until at least 2013.

It looks like once again everyone’s to blame for another Motorola tablet failure.

Google Testing New Email Subscription Ad Format

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 06:18 PM PST

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Google is experimenting with its Google Adwords offerings, attempting to go beyond regular text ads with Google Email Subscription Ads, allowing companies to buy ads that automatically fill in a “Subscribe to newsletter (or whatever, I’m assuming)” slot with a given searcher’s Google email address during a search.

Emailblog pointed out earlier this month that the ads were running with automaker Honda (ads which I still can’t see), and it seems like those offerings have expanded to results for email marketing services AWeber and Constant Contact (ads which I can see). Clicking on the “Privacy” button next to the subscription button lets you know that your email will be sent to the advertiser — In case that wasn’t clear(?).

When asked to explain what exactly was going on, a Google representative gave me the following statement (which is basically a more official sounding version I just said):

“We’re currently running a small experiment of a new ad format that helps users sign up more easily for email subscriptions or other free newsletters. This new ad format contains a box within the ad that displays a user’s Google email address (if logged in). If a user chooses to click ‘Subscribe to newsletter’ then the email address is sent to the advertiser directly, which is clearly disclosed within the ad itself.”

Something tells me TONS of email marketing companies will be using this once it’s actually official. My requests about whether or not (and when, if so) this will become a permanent feature have as of yet gone unanswered by Google.

The Gizmon iCA Might Be The Ultimate iPhone Camera Case

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 05:53 PM PST


There are iPhone cases and then there are…more iPhone cases. There are probably close to a gazillion different iPhone cases available now. But none are as elaborate as the Gizmon iCA — at least none I have seen. The case — if you call it just a case — is made of 32 different polycarbonate parts, it features a conversion lens mount with additional optional lenses, and adds a working shutter button and optical viewfinder. There is even an optional faux pancake lens for additional street cred with the camera nerds. It gets better, too. No, seriously, this contraption is genius.

The case is available in white, black, and retrotastic orange. Both corners feature eyelets for a neck strap because, you know, if you have such a case, it deserves to live outside of a pocket. There’s a tripod mount even a mirror inside the fake lens for self portraits.

Four Corner Store currently sells the Gizmon case in the States along with a host of other unique photography-themed items. The iCA alone cost $65 with the strap running an additional $30 and the lenses costing $45 for either the macro or fisheye. It’s really a fair price to pay to dress your modern smartphone as a sexy rangefinder.

Tiny Flashlight Illuminates The Kindle Fire’s Appstore Impact

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 04:37 PM PST


Early this year, Amazon made a bold move: it took advantage of the open nature of Android to launch an Android Appstore — one that serves as a direct rival to Google’s official Android Market, which comes installed on many Android devices.

Thus far, Amazon’s early traction hasn’t been particularly strong, primarily because the Appstore is such a pain to install: you need to dive into your phone’s Settings menu, enable a scary-sounding option allowing the installation of ‘non-Market’ applications, and then manually download Amazon’s store yourself. Most Android users aren’t going to take the time to do this, even though Amazon is doing its best to offer plenty of incentives like free and discounted top-tier applications.

But things are starting to change, thanks to the Kindle Fire.

The Fire, which is Amazon’s $200 challenger to the iPad (and the entire tablet market), unsurprisingly comes with Amazon’s Appstore pre-installed, so users don’t have to jump through any hoops to use it (in fact, they don’t really have any choice but to use it). And, as Amazon reported this morning, there were a lot of Kindle Fires sold over the holidays. But just how much growth did the Appstore see as a result?

Nikolay Ananiev, the developer behind the popular application Tiny Flashlight, has shared some stats that give quite a bit of insight into how the Appstore is faring.

He says that prior to the holidays, Tiny Flashlight was doing around 800-1000 downloads per day — a far cry from the roughly 200,000 downloads he gets each day on Google’s Android Market. But last week, Amazon’s store started picking up steam: Tiny Flashlight was downloaded over 3000 times on December 23rd, and skyrocketed to 33,000 downloads on Christmas day (see graph below).

To put that in context, Ananiev says that the application was downloaded at least 310,000 times on Christmas (he can’t give an exact number, as Google doesn’t break it out by day). Put another way, Google’s store drove nearly ten times as many downloads on Christmas day — but given that the Kindle Fire has only been out for a month and a half, Amazon should be encouraged by these results (though we’ll have to wait and see if the growth is sustained).

Note that Ananiev says that the application hasn’t been placed on any featured area on Amazon’s Appstore, though it is highlighted in organic lists on both stores as one of the top Utility/Tool apps.

Ananiev also says that Tiny Flashlight now ranks among the top 30 applications overall on Amazon’s Appstore, and based on his observations, he guesses that the top three applications average more than 70,000 downloads a day.

Oh, and if you’re interested, you can find Tiny Flashlight on Android Market right here, and Amazon’s Appstore here.

Could ‘Watched On’ Facebook News Feed Stories Save Netflix?

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 04:30 PM PST

Facebook Netflix News Feed Story Fin

After a disastrous Q3 2011, Netflix stands to replace some of the 800,000 subscribers it lost. It’s savior? The Facebook news feed. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a revised bill to change the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 to allow people to opt in to having their movie rental activity shared. This Act had delayed the Netflix Facebook app‘s launch in the US. Now the Facebook news feed is beginning to show “Josh Constine watched The Walking Dead on Netflix” stories that point back to the Netflix site. After being enticed by something a friend has watched, Facebook users might sign up and pay on so they can watch too.

So far we’ve only spotted these stories coming from Facebook employee profiles. Above you can see how they look (ignore the Netflix logo I added). They would appear in the Ticker, news feed, and Timeline. They may just be tests in preparation for the official US launch of the Netflix Facebook Open Graph app. Regarding the roll out of the news feed stories, Facebook declined to comment and we’re awaiting a response from Netflix.

The Facebook Open Graph platform launched at f8 in September has helped Spotify gain millions of daily active Facebook users. This contributed to the 1.5 million new paying subscribers it pulled in this year. That kind of growth could help Netflix bounce back from a price hike that scared off subscribers, an embarrassing scrapped move to spin out its DVD rental business, and its plummeting stock price.

Despite these issues, twice as much time is spent watching videos on Netflix than on its competitor Hulu. The TV studio-backed Hulu launched its own Facebook app in July, and then pushed an Open Graph version at f8 which offers several ways to share videos with friends. Netflix could grow its lead over Hulu through the US release of its Facebook app and the viral distribution it would receive through the news feed.

Netflix won’t be the only company capitalizing on Facebook’s Open Graph platform, which can automatically share a user’s in-app activity with their friends. Facebook yesterday announced that non-partnered third-party developers would begin to have their Open Graph apps approved in January. That means in addition to seeing what friends “read”, “watched” or “listened to”, any developer will be able to gain news feed, Ticker, and Timeline exposure for their apps.

Until then, Ticker and Timeline are a bit sparse, providing added visibility of apps like Spotify and The Washington Post reader. Netflix should be hoping to get its app legal for US launch before Facebook gets more crowded.

Update 12/29/2011 10pm PST: A Netflix spokesperson confirmed that “currently only Netflix employees and non-US members can connect their Netflix and Facebook accounts. Unfortunately US members can not currently connect their Netflix accounts to Facebook because of the ambiguous Video Privacy Protection Act. We hope this will change soon.”

600,000 Calls Later, Callin’ Oates’ Developers Share Their Code

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 03:09 PM PST


When Michael Selvidge called me up to talk about his new project, Callin’ Oates, I laughed it off and called it “silly”. Built with the help of a friend to satisfy the new-hire requirements at Michael’s new job (at Twilio, where every employee has to build an app with their cloud-based telephony API) it’s an on-demand Hall & Oates hotline. Call the number, pick a song, hear Hall & Oates music. Simple.

One week, 600,000 phone calls, and a mountain of coverage later, it’s probably safe to say this little weekend project was a success. I still think it’s silly.

To celebrate their success, Reid Butler (the aforementioned friend) has released the service’s code and a quick tutorial on how to put it all together to build a hotline of your very own. Think of the possibilities! Bob Dialin’! Rung D.M.C! The Rolling Tones!

Alas, gag clones aren’t Butler’s intention in releasing the code. Instead, the guys hope that bands will take the concept and make their own hotlines as a new form of promotion. Sure, that kind of ignores that a good chunk of Callin’ Oates success presumably stems from the hokeyness of the whole thing — but hey, free knowledge!

Butler is releasing the code via his newly formed “Exploring Twilio” blog, where he plans to dive deeper into developing with Twilio’s APIs over time. And for the curious: Butler is neither employed nor affiliated with Twilio, outside of his friendship with Michael.

Bonus Video:

At the peak of the Callin’ Oates excitement, I found out Selvidge and Butler were going on the local ABC affiliate for an interview. Dared them to sneak a “meow” in there somewhere… and they did. Catch it a minute and thirty seconds in:

Update: Facebook Officially Releases “Messenger For Windows” Desktop Client Following Leak

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 02:34 PM PST

Facebook Messenger For Windows

[Update 12/29/2011 5:20pm: Facebook tells me it has now made the Messenger for Windows download link publicly available in its Help Center. Users can also learn details about the client there. Still no sign of a Mac version, though.]

The test group for “Facebook Messenger for Windows” just got a whole lot bigger. Israeli blog TechIT has leaked a Facebook CDN download link for the desktop chat client Facebook began testing with a small number of users last month. The client includes notifications and the Ticker which link back to, and therefore could drive engagement with the website. Messenger could also pull market share away from other desktop chat clients like AOL Instant Messenger and Windows Live Messenger.

The client will help Facebook in two core ways:

  • Persistent access to Chat will increase engagement of the primary user, and also draw their friends to spend more time on Facebook
  • Persistent access to notifications, messages, and friend requests that launch may lead to more return visits than users haphazardly stopping by the website to check for these alerts

I just tested the Facebook Messenger for Windows client version 2.0.4373. It’s snappy and functions intuitively. It can float or easily be snapped to the desktop’s sidebar. Similar to the standalone mobile Messenger apps Facebook released this summer, frequently contacted friends automatically move into a favorites section above the complete list of friends who are online. My only gripe is that the log out button is relatively hard to find.

AIM and Windows Live Messenger should be worried. Sorting through a buddy list of cryptic screen names can’t match the user experience of an authenticated identity chat client. Facebook’s client also delivers messages to whatever device a recipient is currently using. That means even if a recipient isn’t currently logged in, they’ll easily be able to access their messages.

AIM and Live Messenger will still be useful for staying in contact with internet pals who aren’t your real friends, but Messenger for Windows seriously reduces the unique value of these services.Clients that handle chat across different platforms exist, but to work with Facebook they take configuring that can confuse and deter mainstream users.

Facebook could potentially kill the download link to prevent the app from reaching more users before its official launch. So, if you want it, download it now. Even then, Facebook could release an update to the app and cease support for this leaked version. However, this would interrupt its test and force those it actually wanted to give access to to re-download.

There might be some unseen security or stability bugs that need to be fixed. Still, Facebook shouldn’t worry too much about this leak as product looks good. Instead, it should consider capitalizing on press of the leak by soft launching now. [Update 12/29/2011 5:20pm: Facebook has done just that. An official download link is now publicly available in its Help Center.]

News Source: The Verge

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