Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Keen On…. Adam Lashinsky: How Apple Really Works (TCTV)

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 09:21 AM PST

Keen On…. Adam Lashinsky_ How Apple Really Works (TCTV) | TechCrunch

After Walter Isaacson’s magnum opus, do we really need yet another book about Apple? Yes, I think we do. Whereas Isaacson wrote the authorized biography of Jobs, the journalist and author Adam Lashinsky has written a most unauthorized and, in some ways, unpalatable book about Jobs’ company which gets Inside Apple and explains How America’s Most Admired – and Secretive – Company Really works.

Having talked to “many many people” who used to work for Apple, Lashinksy really did go inside the Cupertino based company. And what he found, he told me when he came into our New York City studio yesterday, was a highly secretive organization in which regular staff don’t multi-task and where everyone except senior executives are forced to exclusively focus on doing their discrete job. There’s “no free lunch” at Apple, Lashinksy told me, either in metaphorical or real terms – with Apple employees having to actually pay for their food and drink. Apple, he thus explained, is the anti Google – a company whose success is built on its lack of transparency and on its rigidly authoritarian organizational structures.

Lashinsky’s book, then, is an important rebuttal of today’s Silicon Valley orthodoxy that a successful 21st century company needs to be organizationally flat and open. Lashinksy may indeed be telling a truth that most of us don’t want to hear. Apple, rather than Google, is the future of corporate America. And that future will be defined by secrets and lies, rather than by transparency and truth.

Direct Deals Mobile Ad Marketplace Chartboost Expands To Asia

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 09:07 AM PST


A month after its expansion to Android, Chartboost, the newly launched (already profitable) direct deals mobile ad marketplace for game developers is expanding to Asia. Starting today, the company is rolling out localized versions in ChineseJapanese and Korean.

Though serving the needs of the mobile app community’s need to monetize via ads, Chartboost’s marketplace isn’t like a traditional mobile ad network. Instead, it allows game publishers to do direct deals with each other, and avoid having to share huge chunks of their revenue with ad networks. It operates under a freemium model: the ad-server technology is free when used for direct deals or internal cross-promotion, but the opt-in ad network offers revenue sharing with publishers.

In Asia, the company has already been working with several leading game developers, including Animoca (Hong Kong), Com2US, Nexon Mobile and Devsisters (South Korea). Here in the U.S., it has well-known names like TinyCo, Pocket Gems and Storm8 on board.

Created by former Tapulous employees, Maria Alegre, now Chartboost CEO, and Sean Fannan, CTO, Chartboost closed $2 million in Series A funding in October, with Translink Capital, SKTVC and XG Ventures. At the time, it said it would focus on international expansion going into 2012, starting with Asia.

Says Algere, the new localized versions will allow Asian game developers to acquire U.S. traffic through the Chartboost marketplace.

Flickr Joins SOPA Protest, Lets Users Black Out Photos

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 08:36 AM PST


This morning, online photo sharing site Flickr joined the growing number of web companies protesting the SOPA and PIPA legislation, which now include Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, and others. For a 24-hour period, starting today, Flickr is letting its members darken their own photos in an effort to raise awareness about the proposed, highly damaging legislation. But that’s not all – Flickr is going a step further, and will allow users to darken other members’ photos, too. Now that’s what censorship really feels like.

For those unaware, living under rocks, etc., Congress is considering two bills, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, which would effectively censor the web. They’re the result of seriously misguided attempts to fight online piracy, which, if enacted, would eliminate due process and fundamentally change how the Internet works.

Flickr’s solution for awareness-raising is one of the more creative ones we’ve seen. Instead of taking its whole website down, as Wikipedia did, it’s allowing members to practice, and feel the effects of web censorship directly. Anyone can darken their own photos, but the kicker is that others’ can darken your own photos, too. That’s something that hits closer to home than web banners, blog posts, and cute videos.  Now, even if you’re trying to ignore the news of SOPA (hey, I can live without Wikipedia for a day!), you’ll know how it feels when powers beyond your control take away content you should have access to.

Well kind of.

According to Flickr’s announcement, members can only darken up to 10 photos, then the option will be taken away. (I guess they didn’t want big-time SOPA supporters spending all day blacking out its entire archive of photos? Too bad.) And since Flickr also offers a paid service used by professional photographers, there is an opt-out mechanism so your photos won’t be darkened, which you can choose from any photo.

Even though Flickr’s joining of the SOPA fight came at the last minute – early morning on protest day itself – it’s good to see another big name involved. For more information on SOPA, check out TechCrunch’s previous coverage here.

In Face Of Protests, Congressmen Begin To Abandon SOPA Ship

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 08:27 AM PST

Justin Amash FB page

In case you haven’t noticed, a lot of sites like Reddit and Wikipedia are blacked out today in protest. Google blacked out its logo and is running a huge advertising campaign (including on TechCrunch) to get Internet users to sign petitions and oppose the bills. We’ve changed the TC logo in support, which links to another petition if you click on it, and you can learn more about the issue by reading our SOPA coverage.

The online uproar against the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in Congress is already causing some in Washington to abandon the SOPA ship. The tide began to turn this weekend when a hearing scheduled for today was canceled and the White House pushed back on some of the more controversial portions of the House bill and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Already, a couple of co-sponsors of the bill are pulling their support. Representative Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) is no longer a co-sponsor, and Representative Lee Terry (R-Neb.) is also planning to remove his name from the co-sponsor list, according to Politico. One Congressman, Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is even joining the protest movement. He changed his Facebook profile picture and added the added the note below to his Facebook page. Excerpt:

On Wednesday, January 18, I will join others across the Internet in a 24-hour “blackout” to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate. These bills give the federal government unprecedented power to censor Internet content and will stifle the free flow of information and ideas. In protest, I have changed my profile picture and will temporarily disable your ability to post independent content on my Wall (although you still may comment under this post). Demand that Congress and the President keep the Internet open and free. Please borrow my profile pic, share this message, and contact your Representatives and Senators in Congress to urge them to protect your right to free speech by opposing SOPA and PIPA.

Dude, you are a Congressman. You keep the Internet open and free, and tell the people you work with to do the same thing. Thank you.

Okay, who’s next?

Citi Backs Gift Card Exchange Plastic Jungle

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 08:18 AM PST


Plastic Jungle, which operates an online gift card marketplace, has received a strategic investment from Citi Ventures, Citigroup’s investment arm. The size of the capital injection was not disclosed. The startup has previously raised over $23 million in financing from Jafco Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Redpoint Ventures and First Round Capital, among others.

Plastic Jungle allows people to sell unredeemed gift cards for up to 92 percent of the gift card value, or purchase gift cards at a significant discount.

The San Jose, California-based company says it exchanged “hundreds of thousands” of gift cards and “tens of millions” of gift card value across 400 brands in 2011.

Adzuna Raises New Funding To Make Job Ads Fully Social

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 08:14 AM PST


Adzuna, a startup with something it calls the next-generation job search engine, has raised a round of funding from Index Ventures, The Accelerator Group and existing investors including Passion Capital. The latest funding follows a seed round last year. It’s landed £500,000, taking its total funding to £800,000 (£300,000 from Passion Capital in July).

Launched in July 2011, Adzuna is aiming to be a global search engine for classified job ads, effectively aggregating ads, then putting a social layer over them. Yes, I know similar things have been tried before but here’s how they’ll do it.

AT&T Eyeing Up Dish Network For Potential Acquisition?

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 08:11 AM PST


Shortly before the AT&T/T-Mobile merger came to its ignominious end, Dish Network CEO Joseph Clayton casually expressed his interest in a partnership with T-Mobile as a means of bringing wireless voice service to Dish customers.

Those plans may not pan out if AT&T has anything to do with it. A new report from Bloomberg indicates that AT&T is apparently so hard up for additional spectrum that they’re considering shelling out “the highest premium in more than a decade” to acquire the satellite TV provider and their spectrum holdings.

Clayton, ever the opportunist, seemed receptive to the possibility of at acquisition — he noted last week in an interview with Bloomberg West that the company is “open to all possible options.”

“We could be acquired, or we could be the acquirer,” he added.

Clayton’s original vision was to create a “national wireless network” comprised of video, voice, and data services. To that end, Clayton made it known that he would consider a partnership with companies like T-Mobile or Sprint to make it happen. They would get Dish’s spectrum holdings, and Dish would get their expertise in managing voice networks.

It’s questionable whether Dish would ever be able to offer those services if AT&T indeed acquires the company, as it would pose a credible threat to AT&T’s own portfolio of network services. Still, it seems clear that AT&T needs Dish more than Dish needs AT&T at this point.

Clayton seemed more than happy to forge partnerships with the smaller carriers in order make his network vision a reality, but without T-Mobile’s network support, AT&T may be facing a bumpy road when it comes to the rollout of their LTE network. It certainly doesn’t help that AT&T has to yield a portion of their spectrum holdings to Deutsche Telekom as a result of their very-public break up.

Meanwhile, rival Verizon’s LTE network continues to expand (albeit with a few hiccups), and Sprint is also preparing to light up their own around June of this year. Competition will only get stiffer for AT&T in the coming months, and it will take some bold moves for them to stay ahead of the curve. While not the most likely bedfellows, a Dish acquisition could nevertheless be just what the doctor ordered.

Pro Tip: Do Not Buy An iPad Made Of Clay

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 08:03 AM PST


The story goes that at least ten customers were sold clay iPads over the holidays from Canadian electronic stores. These customers were sold what appeared to be sealed iPad 2s, but turned out to contain slabs of clay rather than, you know, iPad 2s. Best Buy and Future Shop of Canada opened investigations, but since the stores already compensated the customers, we’re in the clear to laugh at the situation a bit.

This scam is a lot less scandalous than the iPad McDonalds story. In that case a lady went against every shred of common sense and purchased what she thought was an iPad from a pair of men in a McDonald’s parking lot. It turned out to be wooden block. But this time, the buyers purchased sealed boxes from reputable retailers. They had no idea that a slab of clay was inside the box.

The popular theory right now is that scammer purchased the iPads and replaced the units with a block of clay weighing the same as the iPad. The person than re-wrapped the iPad in retail-grade cellophane and returned it to the store as an unopened item, effectively circumventing any return policy. The scammer likely had to employ a bit of social engineering too as most stores log the customer’s ID on large returns. From there, the retailers simply returned the units to the shelves to be sold to unsuspecting customers.

Of course once these customers started showing up at the retailers, the stores responded with suspicion and bewilderment. At first the customers were turned away with the stores claiming they were the scammers. But after a bit of persisting, the stores recanted and refunded the purchase amount, and at least in one case, also gave the customer a free tablet to compensate for the hassle.

Returning a brick in a box is one of the oldest scams. If that box gets placed back on the store’s shelves, the customer will lose nearly every time. Consumers have no protection against it aside from opening the box right in front of the cashier. I mean, most will not buy an iPad from guys in a McDonald’s parking lot. That’s just straight up dumb. Buying an iPad from a major retailer shouldn’t throw up the same warning flags.

So here’s what you do: Skip the iPad and buy a Playbook or Xoom 2 next time. No one is going to go the trouble of putting a brick in Playbook box.

Among New Smartphone Adopters, iOS Share Rises While Android Declines

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 07:23 AM PST


Nielsen just released its latest numbers with regard to new smartphone owners, and it would seem that the iPhone (particularly the 4S) is quite popular among those migrating over to the smartphone segment.

In fact, since the iPhone 4S launched in October, the number of recent smartphone buyers who chose the iPhone has reached 44.5 percent, up from just 25 percent in October.

What’s interesting is that new smartphone buyers seem less and less interested in Android, as Android market share among noobs has gone from 61.6 percent in October to 46.9 percent. Of course, Android still leads in total market share with 46.3 percent.

General interest in smartphones is also on the rise, with 60 percent of new phone buyers saying they chose a smartphone over a feature phone. Meanwhile, 57 percent of those who bought a new iPhone chose to go with the flagship 4S.

Ignition Leads $20M Round In Cloud Security And Identity Company Symplified

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 07:23 AM PST


Symplified, which provides identity and access management tools for cloud applications, has raised $20 million in Series C funding led by Ignition Partners. Existing investor Allegis Capital, Granite Ventures, and Quest Software also participated in the financing, which brings the company's total funding to $38.8 million.

With more than 3.8 million subscribers, Symplified offers a cloud identity and access management service for enterprises. Businesses can use Symplified for cloud identity management, access control, single sign-on for employees, user management and auditing across any access device using a unique proxy gateway architecture deployed either in the cloud or on premises. The company provides secure access to SaaS applications like Salesforce, ADP, WebEx, Xactly, Taleo, Success Factors and many others.

Clients include HP, Blue Shield, ESPN, Forest Laboratories, Moody's, Zynga, Netflix, Rambus and Dolby Laboratories. The company says that it tripled revenues and customer adoption last year. Symplified also has a strategic partnership with Amazon in place, and launched the Trust Cloud on Amazon Web Services to become the only provider of identity management services on Amazon’s cloud platform at the time.

Symplified will use the funds to expand operations, service and support, research and development, and marketing.

Mobile Payments Company BilltoMobile Launches One-Click Checkout For The Mobile Web

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 07:09 AM PST


Mobile payments company BilltoMobile, which now has relationships with all four major carriers in the U.S. (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile), is today launching one-click processing for mobile web transactions. Previously, users had to enter in their mobile number manually, sometimes a zip code, then wait for a verification code that was sent to their phone through an SMS text. Now, the company says it’s able to identify a user’s mobile number automatically thanks to deeper integration with the carriers’ networks.

The first time a user goes to purchase something via the mobile web using BilltoMobile’s checkout process, they’ll be asked to accept the Carrier’s Terms of Use by way of an opt-in checkbox. They then have to opt in a second time on the same screen to the amount being charged to the phone number BilltoMobile has identified as associated with that device.

Merchants who want to transition their customers to this new checkout process don’t have to make any changes on their end – the same RESTful APIs they used before will now be used to enable this speedier transaction flow.

As for security, BilltoMobile’s payment gateway is tied directly to those belonging to its carrier partners for billing, authentication and customer care purposes. Purchases made through the system then show up on the customer’s next wireless bill, without additional interest charges or subscriber fees. These direct carrier relationships are important to BilltoMobile, as they allow the company to greatly reduce the typical transaction fees than historically ranged from 30%-40%.

The first to use BilltoMobile’s new one-click mobile transaction processing is the social gaming community MocoSpace. Initially, the option will be available on just one, yet to be named carrier partner, but BilltoMobile VP of Sales Paris Leung says the company expects to roll out to the service to the other three top U.S. carriers soon.

Comcast Leads $5M Round In Subscription Service For Kids Activities Kiwi Crate

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 07:02 AM PST


Kiwi Crate, a subscription service for kids activities, has raised $5 million in new funding led by Comcast Ventures with existing investors First Round Capital, Mayfield Fund, Felicis Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, Consigliere Brand Capital, Uj Ventures and 500 Startups participating in the round.

The company offers a subscription-based service that produces and delivers hands-on activities boxes for kids. The products are science activities, and arts and crafts projects that are designed to be educational but also entertaining for kids. And Kiwi Crate provides all the necessary materials, ideas and instructions for themed activities.

Kiwi Crate’s monthly subscriptions are $19.95 per month, or $220 for an annual subscription. Gift subscriptions for 3, 6 or 12 months are also available. The startup says each crate is designed by a community of parents, reviewed by team of experts, and tested by kids. Kiwi Crate also began offering crates designed for siblings, which has quickly become one of the company's most popular products.

Thanks to the rise in subscription commerce, Kiwi is tripling its user base each month. The new funding will be used to scale the company, and expand its product offering. Kiwi Crate faces competition from BabbaCo.

South African VC Firm Debuts $200M US Fund, Invests $30M In ‘The Jetstream’

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 06:58 AM PST


A South African venture capital firm by the name Quantum Capital Fund (QCF) this morning officially launched a $200 million fund in the United States.

QCF’s first investment in a US technology venture is a $30 million capital injection into The Jetstream, a mysterious company that is working on a “social media network targeted to a wide variety of people who are on a journey to self-discovery”.

The fund says it will focus on “information technology, online media and Internet-related sectors”.

The VC firm’s U.S. operations will be led by Arnold Magcale, from Santa Clara, California. Magcale has stints at Danger / Microsoft, Motorola and Loudcloud under his belt.

LabGuru Offers Project Management For Science People

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 06:41 AM PST

Screen Shot 2012-01-18 at 9.37.29 AM

Science People AKA Scientists need project management, too. At least that’s what Macmillan, a major science publisher, thinks so they’ve created a new business unit, Digital Science to push their Basecamp-like lab products.

Take, for example, their new site, LabGuru. This site offers collaborative project planning and document storage for labs, allowing science people to work together on major projects like “going to Mars” and “giving diarrhea to mice” (true story! My friend does this for real in her lab!).

I, for one, find it interesting that this sort of software-as-a-service is just now appearing in major laboratories, but one can only assume that older scientists didn’t want to interrupt their irrigation and pipetting to upload PDF documents and fill out project plans.

LabGuru seems fairly limited in terms of features right now and joins competitors like Colwiz and Quartzy to grab the burgeoning space. I suspect something like DEVONThink would also be a good tool for information sharing and retrieval, but I’m no science person.

“Many Labguru users say their workdays are again the way they should be: fun. Instead of slogging through dull daily management tasks, they spend more time on research and collaboration,” said founder Jonathan Gross. The company is part of BioData, a Macmillan subsidiary. The company is based in Boston and Tel Aviv. The service is free for personal use and charges apply for group use.

Scientific research tools have been stagnant at best. I remember building a fairly cool system for a teaching hospital about seven years ago using “state-of-the-art” javascript tools and they were pretty much amazed by what a little PHP and some browser magic could do with study data. These tools, on the other hand, offer new project management techniques to old-school workspaces where a scientist might not have the impetus to sit down for hours at a PC but rather add project points on the fly via a computer or tablet.

API Management Service Apigee Acquires Mobile Data Platform Usergrid

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 06:38 AM PST


Apigee, a provider of API management products and services, which we’ve referred to in the past as a “Google Analytics for APIs” has acquired the mobile cloud platform Usergrid. For those unfamiliar, Usergrid helps to make mobile app development easier by providing the APIs needed to manage data, users and events. The company provides these kind of core APIs for the backend so mobile developers can speed their time to market.

With the acquisition, Apigee says it will enable enterprises and developers a “full universe” of APIs, including enterprise APIs, public APIs, and now, thanks to Usergrid, mobile APIs.

According to Apigee CEO Chet Kapoor, Usergrid reduces the cost of developing mobile apps by up to 80%, something which complements his company’s goals. “We’re focused on accelerating growth and innovation in the burgeoning ‘app economy’ with a full range of solutions not only for managing and using APIs, but also with best-in-class APIs such as Usergrid,” he says of the move.

As a part of the deal, Usergrid founder and CEO Ed Anuff is joining Apigee’s leadership team, where he will continue to guide the development of Usergrid software. Prior to starting Usergrid, Anuff served as executive vice president and general manager of Six Apart, and before that, co-founder of enterprise software company Epicentric.

Usergrid is currently in beta and will be offered as part of Apigee’s enterprise API platform and free API developer tools in the months following the acquisition. Apigee will provide Usergrid as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and it will also be available as a free open source software stack that enterprises and developers can host in their own cloud.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Amazon Web Services Introduces Web-Scale Database, DynamoDB

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 06:25 AM PST

Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon just added a new cloud computing service to its suite of Amazon Web Services, a distributed database called DynamoDB. Web applications can spike suddenly in demand or grow so big that they tax traditional databases, or even clusters of traditional databases, which are hard to maintain, especially for smaller companies. With DynamoDB, Amazon offers and on-demand web-scale distrubted database to the tens of thousands of customers who already use other cloud computing services from Amazon.

DynamoDB is a “a fully managed NoSQL database” that can be scaled up or down according to demand. Amazon takes care of all the provisioning and management of the database. The whole service takes advantage of solid-state drives, greatly speeding up the transfer of data from the database (which is often a bottleneck).

Three years ago, Amazon Web Services launched a much simpler database, SimpleDB. With DynamoDB, Amazon is moving up the stack and competing more directly with traditional databases from Oracle and IBM.

Here is a video explaining the basic concept:

Data Storage Company Nexenta Scores $21 Million In Series C Funding

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 06:24 AM PST


Data storage solutions provider Nexenta this morning announced that it has secured $21 million in Series C funding in a round led by new investor Menlo Ventures and joined by Sierra Ventures and Razor's Edge Ventures, Javelin Venture Partners and TransLink Capital.

Nexenta claims its open source storage software solutions help enterprises avoid vendor lock-in and enjoy unified storage management at a fraction of the cost of legacy systems.

Nexenta has operations around the world in the United States (Mountain View, California), Russia, and India. Its customers include the U.S. Army and Korea Telecom.

Essay Due? Here’s How To Access Wikipedia During The SOPA Blackout

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 06:14 AM PST


As you can tell from the homepage, it’s a sad, trying day for the internet. Many of our favorite sites like Reddit and Wikipedia have gone dark, leaving only an argument against SOPA on their homepages in lieu of cat gifs and knowledge. All in all, it will shape up to be an incredibly boring day in the name of justice. Because to be honest, SOPA is unconstitutional in the way it’ll be enforced, and means rarely if ever justify the ends.

I drone on because I’m about to hook you up with access to Wikipedia, and I want to make sure you still understand what it will mean to our internet if SOPA passes. However, I’m sure plenty of you have papers due tomorrow or simply want to learn more about SOPA, which you should, and so we wanted to give you a circumvention for the Wiki blackout.

It’s actually quite simple, according to CK Sample II:

Just tap the escape button as soon as you begin to load a link to Wikipedia. I find that if you hold the button down, the page stops loading. If you press it too late, you’ll be redirected. It’s an acquired skill but should only take a few tries tops. Otherwise, you’re doing it wrong.

If you can’t seem to get the jist of it, you can always check out Wikipedia on your phone. We’re seeing reports here and there that the mobile version of the site does not redirect, and my iPhone 4S confirms.

Again, we here at TechCrunch oppose SOPA and are proud of the sites willing to take a hit in order to show the world what a life without Reddit or Wikipedia is like. I think we can all agree that it sucks.

Wow, and it’s only 9am.

Motorola Is Now Serving Up Ice Cream Sandwichs To The Xoom

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 05:57 AM PST


Good news, Xoom owners. No, you’re not getting a refund but rather the official Ice Cream Sandwich update should now be available for OTA downloading. This update replaces the Xoom’s stock Honeycomb operating system with ICS, Google’s latest Android build. This comes just a week after Asus started rolling the update out to its new Transformer Prime tab.

Right now it seems as if only the American Wi-Fi are receiving the update. The international and 3G/4G models are seemingly on deck.

Hopefully this signals the flood gates are now open and most first-gen Honeycomb Tegra 2 tablets will soon get Android 4.x. The majority of the original Honeycomb tablets are built on very similar hardware, which should mean most will get the latest Android build. It’s up to each manufacturer to roll out the update to its devices though. Asus was the first out of the gate followed by Notion Ink and now Motorola. Hopefully Samsung, Acer, LG and all the rest are prepping their updates as well.

NetLED: Japan Gets Cloud-Based, Smartphone-Compatible LED Lighting System

Posted: 18 Jan 2012 05:39 AM PST


First, Japan got the world’s first connected home garden device, and now it’s time for Nippon to get the world’s first cloud-based LED lighting system. Developed by Tokyo-based lighting tech startup Net LED Technology Corp., the so-called NetLED system will go on sale in Japan on February 20 (here‘s the company’s English website).

The 40W lights, which have a 40,000-hour lifespan, come with built-in Wi-Fi: users can control each tube over the web after installing the NetLed app on a smartphone, tablet, or computer (the iPhone app is already out, while iPad and Android apps will be released this summer). It’s possible to dim the lights (each tube has 10 different dimming levels) and to turn them on or off.

Users can control individual, multiple, or a set of lights (which can be located in separate rooms) via the app, which also offers a timer function. The system also makes it possible to track energy usage in real-time and to automatically aggregate data over an extended period of time.

Net LED says that when a company, for example, uses 200 of these lights, power consumption can be pushed down by up to 50%.

Using the app and Net LED’s servers is free.

The system’s own costs depend on how many lights are needed: the price for the control box/router set (see above) is fixed at US$780. One Wi-Fi-enabled tube (US$260) can be connected to up to three NetLED lights without a Wi-Fi module (those lights cost US$180 each), resulting in sets of four lights (as you can see above).

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