Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Study: Facebook Pages Shouldn’t Post More Than 1x Every 3 hours

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 10:42 AM PST

Facebook Page Post

The average news feed post by a Facebook Page receives Likes and comments for 3 hours after being published. To maximize the engagement, impressions, and traffic driven by the news feed, Facebook Page owners should wait at least 3 hours between posts.

This new finding from a study by Facebook Page analytics company EdgeRank Checker could help Page owners avoid cutting short the lifetimes of their posts and overshadowing them with new content.

Last month, EdgeRank Checker analyzed 30,000 posts by over 500 Pages with an average fan count of 140,000. The company defines the end of a post’s lifetime as when it receives 10% of the engagement per hour as it did in its most popular hour. It’s important to maximize engagement because this influences the EdgeRank, or news feed visibility of a post and a Page’s future posts. Engagement is also strong indicator that a post is being seen and receiving clicks for Pages looking to drive awareness or traffic.

The study found that the average post lifetime was 3 hours and 7 minutes, while the median post lifetime is 2 hours and 56 minutes. After a post’s death, it only receive a trickle of engagement and there’s little lost by posting again.

There is variance in any specific Page’s post lifetime average. Service like EdgeRank Checker can help Pages find their average. Alternatively, Pages can chart their own lifetime by manually recording the total Likes and comments their posts receive every hour and then watching for when they stop accumulating.

To be clear, the 3 hour average post lifetime does not mean Page owners should post every 3 hours. 8 posts a day would likely force them to churn out low quality content and annoy their fans. Optimal post frequency is a separate question depending on a Page’s audience, content production skills, its post lifetime but also other factors.

Instead, Page owners should remember this when they have tons of great content and are anxious to share. Take a breath, watch your last post’s Likes and comments rise, and wait  at least 3 hours before posting again.

Trigger Gets $1M From SV Angel, Paul Graham And Others To Make Cross-Platform Mobile Development Effortless

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 10:33 AM PST

Screen Shot 2012-01-17 at 10.30.28 AM

Mobile development platform Trigger is announcing one million dollars in funding today, from way legit investors SV Angel, Paul Graham, Ron Conway, 500 Startups, Russ Siegelman, Steve Walske, RightVentures, Venture51 and John Taysom.

In the same space as Appcelerator and Phone Gap, Trigger, which was previously web bookmarking tool WebMynd, aims to make web to mobile development a snap (yes, I know this is cliche), allowing web developers to write an app once in HTML 5, CSS or Javascript and then use the Trigger ‘Forge’ framework to translate the app into Android, iOS and desktop browsers. “It’s designed for web developers who may not have any experience of mobile development yet,” says co-founder Amir Nathoo, “We’re a faster, simpler development process, focused on the much larger percentage of people who develop for web.”

Trigger’s Javascript API lets developers wrap their code in a native wrapper, letting them use phone-only functions like Camera and Notifications and submit their apps to a native app store, “Basically gives you more power as a developer,”  Nathoo tells me.

The Trigger team consists of 14 people split between SF and London and will use the funding for expansion. The company monetizes through a freemium model that involves a “with attribution” and “white label” product, and it already has hundreds of developers using it in thousands of builds, as well as paying customers and “significant” revenue.

“Amir is an awesome hacker and is building something that solves a real pain for him and other developers,” SV Angel’s David Lee enthuses. ”It’s really hard to support all the different platforms out there,” Nathoo says, “If I’ve developed once for iOS, the last thing I want to do is develop for Android. Any one developing software in the next ten years is going to be developing mobile software … If  you talk about software for the next ten years you’re really talking about mobile software.”

DreamIt Ventures Launches First Israel-U.S. Accelerator

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 10:18 AM PST


Startup incubator DreamIt Ventures is announcing the first Israel-U.S. accelerator, which will help up to five Israeli startups expand into the U.S. market through DreamIt’s NYC 2012 program. The new program, called DreamIt Israel, will take place over four months, with the first month in Israel followed by three months in New York. The startups will also participate in two Demo Day events – one in the U.S. and the other back home with local investors.

Despite some VCs’ contention that entrepreneurs still need to be based in the Valley to succeed, Israel has been pushing out innovative new web and mobile startups at a rapid pace, including, of course, Disrupt winner Shaker.

DreamIt hopes to now capitalize on this trend with the new DreamIt Israel program, which kicks off on April 15th. Participating companies will have access to the U.S. and other global markets through the program, plus mentorship, guidance, and up to $25,000 in early stage capital. To qualify, founders must be residing in Israel and holding citizenship or residence.

After the first month in Israel, the startups will work alongside U.S. companies in DreamIt’s NYC 2012 program, which runs from May 14th through August 17th, 2012. After NYC’s Demo Day in August, the Israeli startups will return home to present before local investors, too. They will also be provided with two more months of workspace (location TBD) following the second Demo Day in Israel.

DreamIt Israel joins the accelerator’s two other regional efforts, DreamIt New York and DreamIt Philly, which have been home to graduates like SCVNGR, SeatGeek, Take the Interview, CloudMine, Notehall, SupplyHog, Adaptly and 57 others.

Says DreamIt’s founder David Bookspan, “for a number of years we have wanted to bring the same benefits to the Israeli startup community and we are glad that now there is the right mix of team and timing." Indeed.

Mitchell Golner, who has over 18 years of hi-tech business management experience, will serve as DreamIt Israel’s Managing Partner.

Five companies will be chosen to participate in the inaugural launch of the Israeli program, and applications are open now. The deadline for early acceptance is February 22nd. To apply, go to DreamItVentures.com/Israel.


Aviary Launches Major Upgrade To SDK, Now Powering 10 Million Photo Edits Per Month

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 10:06 AM PST


Aviary, the company that makes it easy for mobile developers to integrate image editing into their apps, has a major launch today: they’re introducing an overhauled version of their mobile SDK that’s both more powerful and significantly better looking than the previous one, which launched in September.

You may associate Aviary with the startup’s advanced suite of web-based image editing apps, which is what it focused on for years. But last year it shifted toward this developer-facing mobile SDK, which allows third-party developers to quickly integrate photo editing, filters, virtual stickers, and other related features into their applications. It’s essentially a drop-in photo editor, and given how popular image sharing apps like Instagram are these days, it’s no surprise that plenty of mobile developers are baking it into their apps.

Today’s update, which is available for both Android, iOS, and web apps includes additional image effects and a refreshed UI. It also paves the way for Aviary’s monetization plans: developers will be able to sell special filters and stickers via in-app purchases, and Aviary will take a cut of these transactions. These monetization features aren’t available broadly yet — Aviary is currently rolling them out to select partners. The first application to include the SDK (which will let you try it out for yourself) will be Pic Stitch (the updated version of their app is currently pending approval from Apple and should be up soon).

Alongside the update, Aviary is also sharing some stats: usage of the SDK is growing 50% a month (measured based on how many users are accessing the editor and editing images). And across the 300 partner web and mobile apps to have integrated the SDK, users are editing over 10 million photos each month. Aviary says that a lot of this growth is concentrated among its top applications (it grows as they grow), but says that it’s seeing a nice long-tail in usage too.

To help reduce confusion over the mobile SDK and their old suite of image editing tools, Aviary recently revamped its homepage at Aviary.com which now focuses on the developer-facing SDK. If you’re looking for the old, consumer-facing image editors, you’ll need to head to advanced.aviary.com.

Bionic Panda Builds A Social Gaming Business On Android, Raises Funding From Top Investors

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 09:54 AM PST


If you’re trying to build a mobile game for the hardcore crowd, you’re going to want things like at least moderately elaborate graphics… you’ll probably choose to build on iOS first. But if you’re trying to build a casual-style game that anyone can play easily, that reaches as many people as possible, Android is looking better and better.

That’s at least the thesis behind Bionic Panda, the Android-focused gaming company from veteran entrepreneur Charles Hudson. The company is today announcing some growth numbers and a founding round — in other words, its strategy seems to be working out so far.

Its first game, Aqua Pets, will be familiar to anyone who has played the many popular aquarium care titles on Facebook over the years. You feed fish, buy pretty new ones, clean your aquarium, etc. Since launching early last year, the title has managed to get 3 million downloads on Android, and is one of the platform’s top 100 grossing apps. The company, meanwhile, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Norwest Venture Partners, Google Ventures, 500 Startups, and angels Craig Sherman and Kal Vepuri, as well as from SoftTech VC, where Hudson is a Venture Partner.

“We’re not doing the Kabam/Kixeye thing,” Hudson explains, contrasting Bionic Panda’s approach to building social games with the action and violence-themed RPGs and simulations those developers build for hardcore gamers on Facebook. Instead, he says, “we’re focused on casual. The nice thing is that these games tend to have big mass market hits — which gives you the ability to benefit from volume and scale on the Android platform.”

What he means is that the Android operating system now has the most market share of any OS in the US, with the same trend happening around the world. Even if it offers fewer development possibilities, it offers potentially bigger market opportunities.

A big existing issue, of course, is payments. Similar to other free-to-play social games, Aqua Pets relies on users getting hooked (har) on the free play, then deciding on their own to buy fish and accessories. Hudson tells me the company is a believer in Google’s payment product, Wallet (which now includes Checkout), even with the relatively lower monetization rates per user versus similar iOS games, because Google is working hard to improve it, and because he’s seeing it catch up.

The current problem is that Wallet has far fewer credit cards on file than iOS. As of last year, Apple said it had some 200 million credit card-connected iTunes accounts, which it has been accumulating over the past decade, largely through digital music sales. While any of these users can make one-click purchases, Android users who want to pay via Wallet most likely don’t have an account yet, so they’ll have to deal with the friction of setting one up.

Hudson, who is also a social gaming industry expert — he’s the co-author of the Inside Virtual Goods reports — notes that many developers report two to four times higher revenues per user on iOS versus Android. But this problem, as he said, is allayed by the company’s casual focus, by Android’s increasingly large market size, and by the gains in its payments systems.

But it’s not only focused on the Google world. Hudson is openly interested in Amazon’s Kindle implementation of Android, and given his company’s overall goal of reaching as many users as possible, he’s not opposed to moving on to iOS at some point. Next up are two more games from the company (presumably for Android first): Poker Farm Pets and Angry Zombies.

HTC And Sprint Working On Software Updates That Remove Carrier IQ

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 09:08 AM PST


Most of the furor surrounding the Carrier IQ diagnostic software has wound down by now, but that doesn’t mean that the companies involved have already forgotten. HTC has confirmed to The Verge that they were working with Sprint to push out maintenance updates that would remove the Carrier IQ software from affected devices.

The rollout already seems to have begun, albeit slowly — a recent update for the Evo 3D has indeed removed Carrier IQ, along with packing some battery and performance fixes. There’s no word yet on when other devices will soon experience life without Carrier IQ, though I imagine it’ll take some time to bake up an update for each particular handset.

Samsung couldn’t be reached for comment at time of writing, but hopefully they’re working on something similar as more than a few of their Android handsets have been revealed to run the Carrier IQ software.

Sprint has been in something of a holding pattern recently where Carrier IQ was concerned. Back in December, representatives from the country’s third-largest wireless carrier confirmed that Sprint would no longer be “tasking” devices for diagnostic data, although they made no mention of any efforts to remove the software. Well, no public mention anyway.

Geek.com reported at the time that Sprint had entered into back-room talks with several of their hardware partners (HTC included) in which they stressed the importance of removing the Carrier IQ software from affected devices on the network as soon as possible. Not a surprising move considering the kerfuffle they and other companies were embroiled in thanks to Carrier IQ’s initial PR blunders, but announcing that they were taking steps to remedy the issue via software update could have scored Sprint some serious brownie points.

If I had to guess, it all came down to an issue of timing — if Sprint made it publicly known that they and their hardware partners were working on a fix with no ETA, they would open themselves up to scores of emails, forum posts and blog entries about why the company has yet to deliver. Rather than risk another PR headache, Sprint (perhaps wisely) kept their collective head down until things blew over, and are now working to make things right.

Science Data Sharing Site figshare Relaunches, Adds Features

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 09:01 AM PST

figshare logo

figshare, originally launched in January 2011, is re-launching today with some new features. figshare aims to be a repository for scientific figures, raw datasets, videos and more. The retooled service offers AWS storage, version control, and unlimited public storage capacity. All uploaded data is made available with easy-to-use citation links (and a QR code) and is licensed under CreativeCommons terms to encourage re-use. In addition to faster uploads and an easier-to-navigate interface, figshare is also working on desktop clients.

According to their FAQ, “We are a data sharing platform where you can add figures that might otherwise go unpublished – complete with the raw data tables.” All data is organized by categorgy and tags and is readily searchable, making it easy for researchers to find the data they need. Visitors can comment on the works, too.

One of the goals of figshare is to get researchers to share even negative results from their works, in order to reduce duplication of effort, as well as to encourage citations. Publicly available data leads to more citations. According to figshare, unless “we as scientists publish all of our data, we will never achieve access to the sum of all scientific knowledge.” By sharing unpublished negative results, researchers can accrue citations for their efforts from other researchers who build upon the work.

You can also follow figshare on Twitter, if that’s your thing.

With Focus On International Expansion, Airbnb Comes To Android And Revamps Mobile Web Offerings

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 09:01 AM PST

Screen Shot 2012-01-17 at 8.52.10 AM

After about a year of being iPhone only, the Airbnb app comes to Android this morning alongside a complete revamp of the Airbnb mobile features.

With over 500K downloads and 125k active users on iOS, and over 10% of its traffic coming through mobile, Airbnb mobile web genius Andrew Vilcsak tells me that the move to Android was inevitable, “The biggest complaint was that it wasn’t on Android, which currently holds 48% of the entire world’s market share.”

Vilcsak tells me that they made the mobile updates with international expansion in mind; Airbnb currently serves over 19,000 cities in 192 countries and the company expects their usership to double after today’s Android launch. “A host with a mobile app can respond two and a half times faster which means a substantially better guest experience.”

The Airbnb app will be available in five different languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Danish, Portuguese, Russian) compatible with over 100 Android devices on everything from Android 2.1 to Android 4.0.

The jump to Android comes with a refresh of the company’s web app as well, and now both Android and mobile web users can search for listings through their phone, book lodgings the night of, access their itinerary and host details. You can also browse through user profiles, message people through the app, accept and decline reservations, take pics of your property, in addition to keeping track of your guest schedule and setting up custom pricing.

Both the mobile web and the Android app will allow offline accessibility, “So even if you’re traveling through the Spanish countryside everything gets saved through your phone,” Vilcsak says.

These mobile updates are part of a larger series of product developments, Vilcsak hopes that the company can build out these already existing features and expand into more platforms and device coverage including Nokia phones, “The quicker people can communicate the better,” he says.

Airbnb presently has a $120 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, YCombinator, Keith Rabois and others. You can find the app in the Android market by searching for “Airbnb.”

comScore Publishes December 2011 U.S. Online Video Rankings; Facebook Slips

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 08:28 AM PST


Audience measurement firm comScore has just released its U.S. online video rankings for December 2011. There are few surprises: Google’s YouTube is still king of the hill, while VEVO remains firmly in second place with roughly a third of Google Sites’ audience.

In total, comScore says 182 million U.S. users watched online video content in December 2011 for an average of 23.2 hours per viewer. The total U.S. Internet audience viewed 43.5 billion videos.

What caught my eye, however, was that Facebook dropped from third place in November 2011 to fifth place, trailing Yahoo and Viacom properties again, in a single month.

According to comScore’s data, almost 50.8 million unique viewers watched online videos on Facebook.com in November 2011. The month after that, only a little over 42 million people did.

The number of videos watched by these people also dropped significantly: from roughly 270 million in November 2011 to close to 240 million in December 2011.

Looking at the data from October 2011, the drop becomes even more noteworthy: that month Facebook had bumped VEVO off #2 with almost 60 million viewers watching 346 million videos.

That’s a loss of 18 million unique viewers in two months for online video content posted on Facebook.com. I’m struggling to find an explanation for this, and comScore did not offer one either.

Care to venture a guess?

Cálmate: Put Down Your Smartphone To Feel Better

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 08:23 AM PST

Screen Shot 2012-01-17 at 11.17.07 AM

A study by the British Psychological Society found a link between stress levels and the number of times a person picks up their smartphone to check messages and mails. As an addict, I can completely agree with this finding. In short, the more you do it, the worse you feel.

Oddly, the study found that less stress was induced when checking work e-mail rather than other online interactions. The group conducted a survey of 100 Britons in different lines of work.

The study found something they called a “helpful-stressful cycle” in which a smart phone is purchased to help manage the workload and then becomes the bane of their existence, inciting compulsive behaviors and stress.

Quoth the BPS:

“Organizations will not flourish if their employees are stressed, irrespective of the source of stress, so it is in their interest to encourage their employees to switch their phones off; cut the number of work emails sent out of hours, reduce people’s temptation to check their devices,” said psychologist Richard Balding from the University of Worcester, who presented the findings.

Anyone with a passing familiarity with the monkey mind will recognize that cell phones, while making us more connected, actually change our brain chemistry and encourage some obsessive behaviors. I, for one, find myself waking up at night to check e-mails that I know are unimportant at best and a distraction at worst. I don’t smoke but I do slide to unlock in the morning before I roll out of bed.

What we really need, is a Gmail plug-in that will shut down e-mail for certain period of time during the day – perhaps a three-hour window of freedom during the workday and another evening window that prevents all e-mail from rolling in while eating dinner and enjoying some family conversation. The assumption that everyone is always on and always available is a rude one and this study only points to further proof that our mobile lives are encroaching negatively on our corporeal existence.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to Tweet out a funny cat picture from my Nexus.

via BPS

Reuters Launches Web TV Channel, Bringing 10 New & Original Shows To YouTube

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 08:22 AM PST


The move to bring original programming to the web continues to heat up this week, with today’s announcement of Reuters TV, a new YouTube channel featuring ten new commentary and analysis shows from the news and media division of Thomson Reuters.

The new channel joins nearly 100 other media partners on YouTube who are delivering original content, including a few big names like eHow, Motor Trend, Pitchfork TV, TED, The Onion, WSJ, WWE and more.

Reuters, however, is arguably the biggest news provider among the 100 being featured on YouTube’s partner page. And plans for its newly arrived TV news channel are no small effort.

According to the company’s announcement, the YouTube channel won’t mimic traditional TV, but will use an editing style that’s “suited for Internet programming.” Reuters global exec producer Barclay Palmer developed the shows, which will be “high energy” (oh, so that’s what they mean by “Internet programming,” hmm?) and will include reports and commentary from the outlet’s nearly 3,000 journalists worldwide.

The 10 new shows include the following:

  • Reuters Investigates, featuring investigative journalism and special reports from around the world, in coordination with Reuters award-winning Enterprise unit;
  • The Trail, with Reuters political reporters covering the presidential candidates on the campaign trail;
  • Felix TV, with Reuters finance blogger Felix Salmon, named by Time magazine one of the Top 25 financial bloggers;
  • Media Bite, featuring Peter Lauria, editor of technology, media & telecommunications, and his team of reporters covering a media world experiencing massive change;
  • Tech Tonic, with Anthony De Rosa, Reuters Digital’s social media editor, dubbed by The New York Times “the undisputed king of Tumblr”;
  • Freeland File, with Reuters Digital editor Chrystia Freeland interviewing top newsmakers;
  • Fast Forward, hosted by Chrystia Freeland and featuring Reuters’ top commentators and journalists, including David Rohde, Reuters columnist, author and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Rob Cox, US editor of Breakingviews; Bethany McLean, Reuters columnist, Vanity Fair contributor and author; David Cay Johnston, tax expert, author and Pulitzer Prize winner; Geraldine Fabrikant, Reuters columnist, senior writer for The New York Times and winner of the Loeb Award; Steven Brill, Reuters columnist, author and founder of the Yale Journalism Initiative; Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group; James Ledbetter, Reuters Op-ed editor and author;
  • Money Clip, with Lauren Young, personal finance editor and former editor at BusinessWeek and SmartMoney;
  • Rough Cuts, with Jen Rogers, showcasing the remarkable news video that Reuters video journalists shoot around the world, allowing viewers to see and hear that video in greater depth than most television networks can offer;
  • Decoder, explaining in succinct and surprising ways the key topics in the news, ranging from the debt ceiling to the Strait of Hormuz.

Reuters is kicking off the launch with an exclusive interview from Chrystia Freeland with Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire and sportsman who has made the controversial announcement that he is running for president in Russia, challenging Vladimir Putin.

YouTube is spending $100 million on original programming, and is attempting to line up big media partners, including distributors, studios and other content producers.

It’s only one of many companies competing in the newly hot Internet TV space in recent months. Just yesterday, for example, we covered Hulu’s move into original programming with its plans to launch Battleground, a new scripted show. Netflix also has plans for original shows including LilyhammerHouse of Cards starring Kevin Spacey, and it’s resurrecting Arrested Development. Tom Hanks is making a cartoon TV series for Yahoo. MTV Networks’ NextMovie site just snagged vlogger Sarah Austin today for scripted content. MTVN’s Comedy Central property also moved to bulk up web show production this past spring.

Looks like Pseduo’s dream is now, in 2012, finally coming true.

LA-Based Incubator Amplify Debuts Five New Startups

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 07:00 AM PST


Amplify, a recently launched LA-based startup accelerator is announcing its first set of startups today. As we reported in December, the accelerator, which is being managed by Paul Bricault and Richard Wolpert, will be incubating and investing in companies at the intersection of technology and entertainment.

Amplify will provide portfolio companies with four months of intense collaboration and mentorship with each startup receiving up to $50,000 in seed capital, office space, weekly mentor meetings with entrepreneurs and a 3-year hiatus on city taxes.

Here are the five startups chosen (out of over 100 applications):

GetBonkers is a game publisher and aggregator building a large suite of fun and engaging mobile learning apps for children.

Look IO overlays live chat support with visual feedback into mobile apps that allows customer service agents to view and support mobile users in real-time.

TidePool is a gamified psychometrics platform to assess and track the characteristics of job seekers.

Invested.in allows users to create and customize interactive fundraising campaigns. Invested.in also offers licensing and partnership deals to larger entities for their own customized "crowdfunding" platforms.

StackSocial is a white-label eCommerce platform enabling technology-focused publishers to generate additional revenues by offering exclusive flash sales on software, apps, video tutorials, and other digital tools.

Amplify’s backers include ark Burnett (Apprentice, Survivor), Brian Grazer, Jarl Mohn, Accel Partners, BV Capital, Greycroft Partners, Rustic Canyon, Tomorrow Ventures (Eric Schmidt), Tim Draper, Gordon Crawford, Vivi Nevo, Paige Craig, Diego Berdakin and Tom McInerney.

ZTE Plans Huge Smartphone Push Into China, U.S.

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 06:51 AM PST


We often forget about ZTE here in the states since the company does most of its operations outside of our home turf. Still, we shouldn’t forget that the company ranks fourth in the world in terms of handset makers, largely due to its focus on budget handsets.

The first half of last year brought about a loss of three percentage points in terms of profit, and ZTE is now ready to come back guns blazing. And where else is better to stage an attack than in two of the most mobile hungry countries on the planet: China and the United States.

ZTE began selling Windows Phone-powered handsets here last year, but the U.S. will garner more of the company’s attention as it expands its roll out into China by the third quarter of this year. ZTE is also focusing on more high-end models rather than budget-friendly feature phones, according to an interview with Reuters.

“The United States and China will be key engines driving our smartphone sales,” said head of handset strategy Lv Qianhao. “If we say ZTE started out as a contractor, like those building mass housing that are value for money, then we want to be a developer of luxury high-end estates.”

BMW DesignworksUSA, Thermaltake Team Up For The Level 10 M Mouse

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 06:44 AM PST

level 10 m mouse

The Level 10 brand is back with the M Mouse. BMW Designworks and Thermaltake joined forces again for another unconventional PC peripheral. The two teamed up previously for the spectacular (and expensive) Level 10 case. Hopefully the Level 10 M Mouse will be a bit more accessible. Not everyone can afford a $800 case.

The Level 10 M Mouse is said to be the first in a line of Level 10 PC peripherals. The open design, the metal casing, the love-it-or-hate-it design, it’s all very reminiscent of the Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. mouse sans the gaming-specific additions like adjustable thumb rest and optional weights. Still, the Level 10 M Mouse is unique. A set screw can adjust the height. The top platform is perforated for passive hand cooling while the hollow design helps with air flow.

There’s no word when this mouse will hit the market or the target price. High-end gaming mice can cost well north of $100. With the Level 10 case as a pricing barometer, the Level 10 M Mouse could hit $200.

InMobi: Smartphone Ad Impressions Up 488% In 2011, Tablets Up 771%

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 06:42 AM PST

Image (1) apple_ipad_2.jpg for post 218900

Independent mobile ad network InMobi has released its Mobile Market 2011 Review report today, finding significant growth in mobile advertising over the past year, with global smartphone impressions up by 488%. The company also saw 251% growth in mobile impressions on its network, which includes tablet devices and smartphones combined.

Tablet impressions alone grew by an incredible 771% year-over-year, up to 1.2 billion. And the market is growing still, led by, of course, Apple’s iPad.

Of the regions surveyed, North America was the fastest growing, with 366% overall growth in mobile impressions and a 625% increase in smartphones.

On InMobi’s network, the race between two top mobile platforms, iOS and Android, was very close throughout the year. In Q4 2011, Android was the number one operating system on the network, with 21% share of impressions. Apple, meanwhile, had a 17% share. In North America, however, Apple’s share increased by 23.4% to 33.1%, thanks to the release of the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S in 2011. Android increased by 3.3% to 32.5% in this region.

Globally, Android came out on top, above Nokia and Symbian, and InMobi expects it will win in 2012 as well.

Keep in mind that data about InMobi’s view of the mobile ecosystem is relative to the devices on its advertising network. The company says the data was sourced from over 200 billion impressions in Q4 2011 and was compared with Q4 2010. There were over 140 countries represented with over 10 million impressions in December, to give you an idea of the network’s size. Regions reported on include Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe,  the Middle East, North America and South America.

Global data:

Location, Location, Location: MIT Builds A Bracelet That Controls The Office Thermostat

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 06:36 AM PST


The WristQue may look like one of those cloth bracelets worn by old soul Sophomores who spent a semester in Prague and came back with dredlocks and an absinthe fetish, but it’s not. It’s actually a personal climate control system. Let me explain.

The bracelet identifies you to the building and allows it to follow you from room to room. Is the meeting room too cold? Press a button and it starts to warm up. It will also prepare rooms for your arrival, reading your patterns of movement over time. If it sounds creepy, it is.

MIT researchers Joe Paradiso and Brian Mayton began the project in October and connects with a number of environmental sensors to ensure a “smart” building stays smart yet allows “fine-grained” control over the environment.

It’s a concept right now but expect your building to know what’s up with you sooner than later.

via phonerpt

CliqSearch Releases New Social Search App In Beta, Raises $840,000

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 06:33 AM PST


Is there room for another social search site?

A group of Philadelphia-based angel investors seems to think there is, and have collectively injected $840,000 into CliqSearch, a new Web application that lets users discover local businesses based on recommendations and review from friends and ‘friends of friends’.

CliqSearch wants to make it easier for people to search for information on local businesses based on relevant social data shared by friends and contacts through Facebook Likes, foursquare checkins, Twitter followers and whatnot, to help them make better decisions on places to go or things to do.

The startup refers to its service as a ‘social knowledge engine’ and says its directory of local US-based businesses is already 1 million strong (though I’m still a little fuzzy on where the data comes from, considering they’re launching in beta today after months in private alpha mode).

The company is currently working on mobile apps for iOS and Android, and in the ‘near future’ users will also be able to add and search shared social data from Google+ and LinkedIn.

RIM To Release 7-Inch And 10-Inch PlayBooks This Year?

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 06:08 AM PST

Screen shot 2012-01-17 at 9.05.57 AM

At the beginning of 2011, RIM was doing fine. The company still started the year with a relatively high market share in the smartphone arena, even though Android and iOS were growing rapidly. Then the PlayBook struck. I say it like that because the original PlayBook will be remembered as a calamity to the company, a horrible mistake. It was a rushed premium product missing all of RIM’s specialty, high-end services. What did they expect?

But it’s a new year, with new opportunities for the company to redeem itself (possibly the final opportunities), which is likely why we’re hearing rumors of two new PlayBooks this year. The first will be another 7-incher and I’d expect it to have almost all the same hardware specs as its predecessor. However, the new model will pack a 3G radio which will make the tablet much more worthy of what I’m sure will be another high price tag out of RIM.

N4BB also reports that the company will release a 10-inch model at the end of 2012 with an LTE radio in tow. Both models will run the new version of BlackBerry PlayBook OS (2.0), which is set to be released in February.

The tablet segment won’t be where RIM makes its comeback. A lot is riding on the BB 10 OS, and RIM’s ability to adapt in the hardware arena. At the same time, the last PlayBook ended up being a huge loss for the company, both financially and in terms of mind share. Putting two solid tablet offerings into the market this year should gain back some credibility, but to rake in the dough the company will need to be smart about pricing.

Bessemer Leads $21M Round In Cloud-Based Email Delivery And Management Service SendGrid

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 05:59 AM PST


SendGrid, an email delivery and management service, has raised $21 million in Series B funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Existing investors Foundry Group, Highway 12 Ventures, SoftTechVC, 500 Startups and Bullet Time Ventures also participated in the round. This brings the company’s total funding to $26 million.

SendGrid, which was incubated in TechStars and has raised $5 million in funding, offers businesses a way to manage transactional emails (emails generated by web applications). SendGrid's cloud-based SMTP platform provides a secure and scalable infrastructure that solves core transactional email deliverability issues, allowing companies to outsource these challenges and remain organized.

It can handle services like subscription, bounce management and complaint feedback. SendGrid also offers analytics to clients, allowing users to track requests, bounces, spam reports, invalid email requests, click tracking, unsubscribes and more.

Its service is aimed towards business who send out 100K emails per month or millions of emails. Clients include Foursquare, Spotify, Twilio, Airbnb, Pinterest, Path and Hootsuite. Plans range from free to $400 per month. The company also offers a pay-as-you-go plan as well.

SendGrid now sends 2.6 billion emails per month for customers in more than 150 countries and tracks and reports more than 400 million events per day. In total, SendGrid has sent 26 billion emails on behalf of clients. The company nearly tripled its customer base (to 40,000) in 2011 alone.

The company is also announcing a new partnership with Windows Azure, Microsoft's enterprise cloud platform for building, hosting and scaling web applications. SendGrid's email infrastructure will be integrated with Windows Azure and customers can access a free package, with 25,000 free emails each month, as part of the initial sign-up. SendGrid has a similar partnership in place with RackSpace.

As CEO Jim Franklin explains, “we want to be the go-to company for transactional email.” Franklin joined the company nearly a year ago, and was formerly Vice President of Enterprise Performance Management at Oracle.

SendGrid faces competition from Amazon Web Services and AuthSmtp.

Franklin says the new funding will be used to make the product feature set more robust, hiring more developers, expanding operations, and towards improving the customers experience. The company is also eying international expansion as well.

Rockers One Like Son Record Full Album Using Only iPhones

Posted: 17 Jan 2012 05:52 AM PST


In August, I remember seeing YouTube links for the band One Like Son, who recorded an entire song using only their iPhones and a few iPhone peripherals (in addition to their instruments and drum programs). Today, I received a press release indicating that the band have finished recording an entire 10 song album using the same setup.

Intrigued, I contacted Stephen Poff, the mastermind behind the record, to get a few more details about the impetus and methods behind the project.

The 10 song record was an intentional project by Mr. Poff that started on January 1, 2011 and was recorded, mixed and mastered right up until December 31, 2011. So it took a full year to complete this side project, amidst an undoubtably busy day job as a videographer/photographer at the agency LWT in Montgomery AL.

As a former "four-tracker" myself, I have to say the results are surprisingly good. Poff clearly has a flair for writing pop punk/rock songs and he and his remote bandmates are adept at using some of the audio tools we have reviewed here at TechCrunch.

Here is an example from the new release so you can hear the quality – Glory Days by One Like Son

Remote bandmates? It was interesting to hear that Poff and fellow musicians Bill Rester (Bass and Backing Vocals), Perry Brown (Backing Vocals), and Bryan Segraves (Piano/Organ) crafted these songs together in different locations using Dropbox as their repository for adding their parts. Apparently, Poff would lay a MIDI drum part, guitar riff and main vocal line, then upload the file to Dropbox where his bandmates would download, add their parts and then put the files back into Dropbox.

The main technology the group used in the recording process, other than iPhones included:
GuitarJack, AmpKit and the AmpKit LiNK, FourTrack, Multitrack DAW, Pocket Organ, ThumbJam, the Moog Filtatron and GarageBand.

One Like Son are not the first band ever to do this (see The Gorillaz and The Ultramods—both using iPads), but they may be one of the first groups from more of the “Pop/Rock ‘n Roll” tradition to attempt recording this way. I would estimate that tracking analog riffs this way could present many different challenges than music styles rooted purely in synth pop, mashup, or minimalism. So props for this effort!

No comments:

Post a Comment