Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

No More Swiping: Launches New Consumer App, Developer Tools Which “See” Your Credit Card

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 08:58 AM PST

cardio_payments_03, the toolkit for mobile app developers which lets users pay for items by holding their credit card up to the phone’s camera, is today launching a consumer-facing app. It’s something like Square, but without the dongle. It’s also not aimed at merchants, as Square is. Instead, the new applications, available for both iPhone and Android, are meant for person-to-person payments. Splitting lunch, borrowing money, paying for gas – that sort of thing.

This doesn’t represent a change in direction for the mobile commerce company, though, explains former AdMob employee Mike Mettler, now Co-founder and CEO. He says the company will continue to invest in both its consumer and developer businesses. To that end, is launching a new, fully functional mobile SDK (software development kit) for developers this morning, also available for iOS and Android.

For those unfamiliar,’s mobile payment solution is meant to speed up the process of inputting credit card numbers on the small screens of mobile devices, like smartphones. Instead of having to manually type in the digits using your phone’s keyboard when making a purchase, apps let you simply hold up the credit card to the phone’s camera. will then “see” the numbers using advanced machine viewing techniques.

There are now over 160 apps which have integrated with the solution, including Venmo, Qthru, Newegg,Spotze, EventDay, Clinkle, TaskRabbit, Ambur, InvoiceASAP, BeagleApp, Floktu, WillCal, and others.

With its new consumer-facing app, is actually now competing with some of its developer partners, as it, too, will enable easy, person-to-person mobile payments. After “scanning” the card using the app, users will enter in their friend’s email address to send them a receipt and the money is transferred to either their bank or PayPal account within seven days. The app is free and there are no monthly charges, but pricing is 3.5% plus $0.30 per transaction.

Also new today is the mobile SDK. Previously,’s mobile SDK was for scanning credit cards only – meaning developers would have to have their own merchant account and payment gateways set up in order to use the service. Now, with the updated mobile SDKs, developers have access to an end-to-end solution provided by the company itself. This puts in closer competition with payments company Jumio, which launched a similar service for both desktop and mobile this past summer. Like Jumio, now offers its own payments network.

It should be noted, however, that Jumio just raised $25.5 million in funding on top of the $6.5 million raised last year., meanwhile, has $1 million in seed funding from angel investors Michael Dearing of Harrison Metal, Jeff Clavier and Charles Hudson of SoftTech VC, Manu Kumar of K9 Ventures, Alok Bhanot (former VP, Risk Technology at PayPal), and Omar Hamoui (CEO and founder of AdMob).

In addition, the company won’t talk much about how it fights fraud, only saying that it takes precautions, like Square does, which are its “secret sauce.” These involve things like tracking a user’s location and using a one-way hash of the phone’s unique identifier (UDID on iOS).

The new mobile applications are available for download here: iOS and Android. And the SDK is here.

New iTunes U App Hits iTunes With Over 500,000 Free Lectures, Videos & Books

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 08:55 AM PST


Following this morning’s education event, Apple has launched a new, dedicated iOS application called “iTunes U.” This educational content portal, previously available only in iTunes, has now arrived in the App Store for all iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices. It has also undergone a major revamp so as to better complement Apple’s newly-announced educational offerings, including iBooks 2 and its iBooks Author Tool, which allows anyone to easily create books and textbooks.

The new application will allow teachers create and manage courses with components like lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and syllabuses, and offer them to iOS users via their mobile devices. Participating universities include Cambridge, Duke, Harvard, Oxford, MIT, Yale, Stanford and others. However, starting today any K-12 school district can now offer full courses through the iTunes U app, too.

Prior to today’s revamp and app launch, iTunes U served up educational content to students, reaching over 700 million downloads. It has always been one of iTunes’ hidden gems, providing access to lectures, course material, presentations and more from top universities. Today, iTunes U is offering over 500,000 free lectures, videos, books and other content from institutions across 26 countries, says Apple.

With the newly added K-12 support, iTunes U will transform iOS devices into educational tools for even younger students, allowing teachers create, manage and share courses, quizzes and handouts through a web-based tool, while also using content and links from the app, the Internet, the iBookstore or the App Store as a part of their curriculum. Teachers can also upload and distribute their own documents, like those made using iWork or the new iBooks, using the iTunes U app.

The content is available for free in the app, also free, but runs on the far-from-free iOS device lineup (running iOS 5+). That means that people who already are well enough off to be able to afford an iPhone or iPad can now better themselves even more through expanded educational materials and access. (Oh sorry, did we forget the economy for a second?) Educational institutions, however, will now be able to leverage Apple’s Volume Purchase Program for books, too. They’ll also continue to have access to volume discounts on Apple hardware.

Nike Officially Announces The Nike+ FuelBand

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 08:41 AM PST

Screen shot 2012-01-19 at 11.43.46 AM

Exercise gadgetry seems to be all the rage this season, with products like the Jawbone UP and MotoACTV entering the marketplace. Nike of all companies will certainly not be left behind, and has today announced a new wristband called the FuelBand. Not unlike its competitors, the FuelBand measures time, steps and calories during your fitness routine.

It’s incredibly similar to the Jawbone UP, as its a fitness tracking wrist band. The most poignant difference is that Nike’s FuelBand measures something called NikeFuel — a measurement of your wrist movement. Nike claims that “the more you move, the more NikeFuel you earn,” according to Business Insider.

The FuelBand can either sync to your PC through a USB connection or via Bluetooth to an iPhone app. From there you can keep all your stats in one place and set goals for yourself.

We haven’t seen the MotoACTV gain a whole lot of traction thus far, and we all remember what a failure the Jawbone UP was. Hopefully Nike’s offering will have more success than the competition.

AppAddictive Raises $1.2 Million For Drag-And-Drop Facebook Page Builder & Ad Platform

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 08:30 AM PST


AppAddictive, a newly launched DreamIt-backed startup from the 2011 NYC class, has just scored $1.2 million in seed funding for its drag-and-drop Facebook page creation tools and (forthcoming) ad platform. Designed to bring the same tools the big guys use to smaller businesses and other industry verticals, AppAddictive will offer dozens of easy-to-install applications for Facebook pages, including things like custom landing pages, photo and video galleries, static HTML, quizzes and more.

The funding comes from Great Oaks Venture Capital, Siemer Ventures, and Tholons.

The current list of apps is somewhat modest – there are now around ten or so drag-and-drop applications available that let you add things like a YouTube gallery or a signup form to a Facebook page. But, explains founder Mike Onghai, the goal is to expand the selection into a veritable “app store” for Facebook pages, with sections dedicated to industry verticals. For example, the finance vertical might have specialized apps like “currency quotes,” while mortgage companies could have apps that showed current mortgage rates, and so on. He says they’re already working with Aviary and email marketing company Vertical Response for upcoming apps, and plan to release new apps at a steady pace.

The idea is that businesses can use the apps to turn visitors into followers, follower into leads, and leads into customers. When the service exits beta, it will be a freemium offering, but all the apps are free to use for now. What’s more, all the apps beta testers install will remain free forever.

In addition, the company is developing a Facebook ad campaign manager which will work hand-in-hand with the Facebook page builder. The ad platform will include features like bulk upload, ad creative testing, ad targeting and optimization tools, and analytics for tracking clicks, conversions and actions.

The company plans to have the ad platform up and running by spring and will later expand its toolset to other social platforms in the summer, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

AppAddictive’s founder Mike Onghai was the third guy at GeoCities and more recently, a hedge fund manager at Ibis Management. He’s joined by his sister, Judy Onghai, Ph.D., also a Co-Founder.

TCTV: Hundreds Rally In The Streets Of NYC To Defend The Internet

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 08:07 AM PST


Yesterday, as some of the biggest sites on the web ‘blacked out’ in bold protests of the deeply flawed anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in several cities across the US to take the fight offline.

Fellow TC reporter Eric Eldon was on the scene in San Francisco — you can find his report here — and I scoped out the protest being held in midtown New York City. As you’ll see in the video, the crowd was densely packed in an area cordoned off by police officers directly across the street from the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who are co-sponsors of PIPA.

It was an energetic scene, with cheers punctuated by speeches from a half-dozen speakers including Clay Shirky of NYU, Alexis Ohanian, and organizers from NY Tech Meetup, which was largely responsible for helping the event come together.

The crowd grew to several hundred — perhaps over 500 — people in attendance (as you’ll see in an interview above, NY Tech MeetUp Chairman Andrew Rasiej says there were actually 2,500 people in attendance, though that number seems high to me). In any case, based on yesterday’s footage it looks like the NYC protest was even larger than the one held in SF, which is somewhat surprising given the later’s proximity to Silicon Valley.

German Clone King Faces Battle With Former Staff, And Satirical Dance Track Of His Memos

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 08:03 AM PST


Rocket Internet, the Berlin-based incubator most famous for slavishly cloning US companies like Zappos, AirBnB and now Pinterest in Germany, now faces a new competitor – in the form of some of its key employees. As we reported recently the core team of Rocket, lead by Oliver Samwer and his two other brothers, left to set up something new, and now we know what it is.

Houghton Mifflin, McGraw Hill, Pearson First Textbook Publishing Partners For Apple’s iBooks 2

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 07:43 AM PST

Screen shot 2012-01-19 at 10.48.25 AM

Today at Apple’s education event, the company introduced iBooks 2, a textbook platform that effectively transforms $200 textbooks into iPad apps at a much more reasonable price. But of course, a textbook platform isn’t worth a thing without the educational powerhouse publishers behind it.

Luckily, the first up to the bat on the iBooks 2 platform are names we know well: Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They’re responsible for 90 percent of the textbooks sold.

Pearson will be offering Algebra 1, Biology, Environmental Science and Geometry, while McGraw Hill offers Algebra 1, Biology, Chemistry, Geometry and Physics. All of McGraw Hill’s offerings are available today, and Pearson’s Biology and High School Science are also available today, with its other textbooks to follow.

Apple is also working with DK Publishing, which has four books launching today: Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life, Natural History Insects, Natural History Animals, and My First ABC.

Apple Isn’t The Only Disruptor: How Amazon Is Killing Publishers

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 07:39 AM PST


While we’re on the subject of publishing, Sarah Lacy found a great monologue on the current state of publishing and how, in short, Amazon is tearing old publishing houses a new one.

Publishers, like music producers, don’t make money piddling around with 50 mid-list books. They make money buying (for millions) and selling (a few) books by human black holes like Snooki and the Kardashians. They make money selling Stephen King novels and Newt Gingrich screeds. They make money, to mix industries, by betting on big budget dramas and reality TV. Sometimes a gem sneaks through, but it’s rare.

Amazon is trying to change that. First, the money shot from Lacy’s source:

But Amazon isn't stupid. They're overpaying intentionally to keep advances high (and high advances will bankrupt publishers). And they're also taking away all the authors who actually move units. They gave Seth Godin really favorable terms on a deal. Only a matter of time before they snag a James Patterson or some other big genre fiction name.

We can't pay $1 million for books anymore. Amazon could probably afford to lose $20 million/year in their publishing arm just to put the other publishers out of business. I think that's what they're trying to do–throw money around in an industry that doesn't have any, until Amazon becomes not only the only place where you buy books, but the only place that publishes books, too.

Amazon’s publishing arm is surprisingly strong. They have a number of benefits including inexpensive print-on-demand as well as a massive Kindle install base. What do traditional publishers have? Well, Amazon. You don’t have to be Ahab to see that little houses will be sunk by the Amazon juggernaut and larger houses are reeling on deck if not taking on water. Publishers snicker that Amazon is a vanity house but, to be honest, isn’t everything a vanity house?

Look: editors do less and less and authors are expected to build platforms, market, and sell their own wares. If that’s not a vanity press, I don’t know what is. The expectation is that the package lands at the printer and goes out. The trucks roll, the author hams it up with Jon Stewart (or gets no publicity at all) and then the book drops onto the remainder table. Rinse. Repeat.

News, music, and video have been disrupted by smaller companies with less cash on hand. Do publishers even think they have a chance against Bezos?

The Shareholder Pitchforks Are Out For Netflix

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 07:31 AM PST

Simpsons netflix

Whenever a broadly held stock like Netflix takes a huge hit, the shareholder lawsuits are not far behind. Back in September, Netflix shares took a 70 percent dive after the company raised subscription prices and announced a (since-cancelled) plan to separate its DVD and streaming businesses.

Armed with pitchforks and hindsight, class action lawyers are gathering up mobs of angry shareholders who lost money and going after the company. Earlier this week a lawsuit was filed against Netflix senior management for not disclosing the short-term nature of its contracts to stream certain movies. And this morning a shareholder rights group called Robbins Umeda announced an “investigation” which could lead to another class-action suit.

Robbins Umeda thinks it can make a case against Netflix board members for selling shares back when they were “artificially inflated” at the same time that they were approving share buybacks from the company. Here is Robbins Umeda’s reasoning, such as it is:

In particular, the firm is investigating allegations that members of the board of directors were unjustly enriched by a scheme that caused Netflix to buyback the company's stock at artificially inflated prices.

In particular, between 2007 and June 30, 2011, members of the board oversaw the Company's purchase of $994 million worth of its own company's stock at allegedly inflated prices. Further, fiduciaries of the company continued with the ill-advised buyback program despite the fact that: (a) Netflix would soon be forced to raise subscription costs; (b) that the company was losing access to some of its premium content; and (c) that officials were planning to separate the company's mail and online service platforms.

Of course, all of this is 20/20 hindsight. Share buybacks are usually considered a good thing for existing shareholders because they reduce the number of shares outstanding, thus spreading earnings across a smaller number of shares (which can boost earnings per share). Basically, these lawsuits want to punish Netflix management and board members for selling their stock when the price was high.

But these lawsuits are the equivalent of saying, “They should have known!” More likely, if Reed Hastings and his senior management team, as well as Netflix board members, would have known what the impact of its changes to Netflix shares and its brand, they would have taken a different course. But they didn’t know because they couldn’t predict the future. What is clear in hindsight is murky at the time of the decision.

I am not defending how Hastings & Co. dealt with the price changes and shifts in strategy. I just don’t think they had any clue how big the backlash would be.

But here’s the thing. These lawsuits are always looking in the rearview mirror. Netflix shares hit a low of $64 in November from a high near $300 back in July. But today, the stock is trading back st $98. I guarantee you that any money a shareholder would see years from now as a result of a successful shareholder lawsuit (where individuals typically get pennies on the dollar after all the lawyer’s fees) will be a tiny fraction of what their shares would be worth if they had just held onto them. You didn’t lose any money unless you were dumb enough to sell your shares at the bottom.

I don’t own any shares of Netflix, but I sure wish I had bought some last November.

Apple Unveils New iBooks Author Tool, Not Just For Textbooks

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 07:28 AM PST


Apple has spent the past few moments demoing all the new education-friendly featured in iBooks 2, but they have just now answered the question of how authors can create that kind of rich content.

All the magic happens in a new OSX application called iBooks Author, which gives users a simple way to integrate different types of media in order to create iBooks of any stripe. What’s more, iBooks Author will be available today for free, so all you aspiring iBook creators can get started post haste.

“Traditionally creating books is really hard, but we think we’ve changed all that with iBooks Author,” said Roger Rosner, Apple’s VP of Productivity Applications.

The process of creating an iBook is surprisingly straightforward. Creators can type their text directly into iBook Author, but Rosner noted that some people prefer doing their writing in a different environment like Microsoft Word. iBook Author plays nice with those Word documents, as it automatically picks out and creates sections and headers from the text itself when the document is dragged into a new iBook chapter. Adding images is just as simple, as users can drag them onto a page while the text reformats itself around whatever you add.

That’s all well and good, but the real meat here is the ability to add interactive elements to an iBook with minimal headaches. Presentations created in Keynote can be dragged directly into iBook Author for inclusion as an interactive widget, and those who have worked with HTML and JavaScript can create more robust widgets on their own. Also included are a nifty glossary creation tool (essentially a two-click process), and the ability to publish the iBook directly into the store.


Sea Change: Apple Guts Textbook Publishing

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 07:20 AM PST


The days of the $500 college textbook bills are, it seems, over. With Apple’s announcement of iBooks 2, the world of textbooks is changed forever.

Education is a hard nut to crack. There are bright spots and clever new ideas, but technology hasn’t quite figured out how to do a better job than the “old ways.” That’s why Apple’s decision to launch iBooks 2 and the attendant editing tools is so important: it tears down a number of entrenched technologies while maintaining the scaffolding of familiarity. It leaves the stuff that works and saves the schools, students, and parents money and time.

In short, it stabs the publishing industry while it embraces it, ensuring that its old methods are no longer profitable but offering it new tools to go forward. Whether they survive the initial thrust, though, is anyone’s guess.

There are, according to Apple, 1.5 million iPads in educational institutions. Each of those can hold thousands of books, apps, and tutorials. It just makes sense for Apple to take the lead on something as important as education, just as Steve and Woz led the way with their first Apple IIs in 1980s classrooms.

I am a luddite when it comes to elearning. I see little value in one laptop per child or giving every kid an iPad. Technology is a distraction, at least to my David Foster Wallace view of where television dumped our generation into the doldrums of reruns and latch-key programming. However, if anyone can change my mind about giving the kids a tablet for school, it’s Apple.

Apple’s product is big on promise and will, in the end, kill the sale of paper textbooks. Of that I’m certain. How long it takes is the million dollar question today, but knowing the speed at which Apple forces the paradigm to shift, I doubt the textbook publishers will survive much longer just selling dead tree product.

The Soul Still Burns: Classic Brawler Soul Calibur Lands On iOS

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 07:14 AM PST


Ready for a blast of late 90′s fighting game nostalgia? Well, get those thumbs ready, because Namco’s arcade/Dreamcast classic Soul Calibur has just been released for iOS.

I enjoyed a long-standing fling with Soul Calibur in my younger days, mostly because it was the only fighting game I was ever good at. My skills seem to have dulled considerably over the intervening years, though the touch controls probably don’t help much.

Make no mistake, experienced Soul Calibur players shouldn’t have too much trouble getting back into the swing of things, but it can be difficult to pull off certain moves with consistency. Still, after playing for a few minutes, even new players should be able to get a solid feel for things.

Thankfully, Bandai Namco hasn’t skimped on the content. The full 19 character roster remains intact, as well as a spate of classic game modes like time attack, survival, and extra survival. The only omissions of note are the lack of the mission and multiplayer modes, which is a real disappointment for game like this. Bandai Namco notes that they will deliver new game modes to Soul Calibur down the line though, so it’s very possible that players will be able to nab that those missing before too long.

This trip down fighting game memory lane doesn’t come cheap though. Soul Calibur is live in the App Store now with an $11.99 price tag, and that’s including a 20% launch day discount. It’s bound to be something of a tough sell in a market where the excellent (and equally classic) Grand Theft Auto 3 goes for $4.99, but who knows — fighting game fans can be a particularly devoted bunch.

Apple: 20,000 Education iPad Apps Developed; 1.5 Million Devices In Use At Schools

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 07:13 AM PST


At Apple’s education event today, the company revealed a number of compelling stats regarding iPad use in the education and learning space. Apple’s SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller announced that there are currently 20,000 education and learning applications that have been built for the iPad.

He added that 1.5 million iPads are currently in use in educational institutions and schools. Obviously, Apple is looking to increase this number, which is why the company is partnering with publishing houses and innovating on iBooks to offer more a more student-focused and education-friendly experience.

With today’s launch of iBooks 2, Apple is looking to reinvent the textbook. "Education is deep in our DNA, and it has been since the very beginning," said Schiller at today’s event.

Apple also revealed today that 1,000 university and colleges around the world are using iTunes U, which is home to free lectures, videos, books, and podcasts from learning institutions. Currently there are
over 500,000 pieces of audio and video material, which Apple says is the largest catalog of free educational content. And iTunes U has seen over 700 million downloads.

Apple Announces iBooks 2, A New Textbook Experience For The iPad

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 07:11 AM PST


“Education is deep in our DNA, and it has been since the very beginning,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing. On that thought Apple just announced iBooks 2.

This move is centered around reinvent the textbook. Schiller explained today that Apple sees textbooks as amazing devices, but they’re heavy, not searchable or durable. According to Apple the iPad is the perfect counter. It’s portable, durable, interactive, searchable, current and capable of containing even richer content.

“Kids are really going to love to learn with iBooks,” said Phil Schiller

The platform embraces interactive textbooks. Pinch to zoom on DNA strands, watch videos about the Hindenburg, experience learning in an interactive fashion. The words are still there. Apple is just making learning a bit more exciting.

Apple claims that this will reinvent textbooks. It will allow the iPad to become a text book of sorts. Schiller started out the conference by proudly proclaiming that at least 1.5 million educational institutions use iPads. The goal here is to make those iPads a bit more functional.

The iBooks 2 also brings quizzes to the tablet, which are also interactive in a new way. Students might be asked to tap on a portion of the map to identify something.

Searching for definitions in iBooks 2 is as easy tapping the word and they aren’t limited to just a block of text. They can also include videos and pictures.

iBooks 2 is available starting today as a free download.

This announcement puts Kno in a bad position. iBooks 2 packs many of Kno’s prime features into a native iPad app. Kno might have the edge with content, though. The company has long worked with the top education publishers and has an impressive library of textbooks. Kno, as a 3rd party app, has the advantage of being able to embrace other platforms like the web and Android where iBooks 2 will likely remain only on the iPad. If Android is to explode, Kno might be able to springboard to victory (that’s a big “if” though).

Apple also announced that Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have signed on as partners. “I can’t overemphasize the importance of these partners working with us,” said Schiller. Starting today, several high-school text books are available for downloading for $14.99 each. These books are currently in school and used by more than four million high school students. More will be available soon.

Foxconn Chief Equates Employees To Animals

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 06:53 AM PST


While I suspect there’s a lot lost in translation here,Foxconn chairman Terry Gou made a wildly distasteful joke this week at the Taipei Zoo, saying (according to WantChinaTimes): “Hon Hai (Foxconn) has a workforce of over one million worldwide and as human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache.”

The comments came during a presentation at the zoo where the superintendant Chin Shih-chien gave a talk on feeding and taking care of his charges. Gou has apparently hired Chin to make recommendations and help Foxconn executives learn how to manage large organizations.

To be fair (and I don’t want to defend this guy, but still), he could have been talking off the cuff using a colloquialism like “herding cats” to a group of insiders. However, we must consider the worldwide animus aimed at Foxconn thanks to the recent suicides as well as a ThisAmericanLife piece by Mike Daisey, a noted thorn in Apple’s side.

Foxconn is much more benign than critics let on and, in the end, it’s companies like Foxconn that keep us in our gadgets. However, a CEO slipping like this – in front of a world already clamoring for his head – is pretty terrible.

Here Come The iPad 2S/3 Cases!

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 06:24 AM PST


It’s that time again, friends. Apple rumors are swirling and case makers are trying to get a jump in their competitive field. So much so that a Chinese manufacturing company “Chineestyle Co., Limited” is actually selling cases for the next-gen iPad, which they are calling the iPad 2S. Yep, it’s that time again.

The cases hint of minimal physically differences between the iPad 2 and the iPad 2S. The new version will look just like the current one. According to these specs the next iPad will be 1mm thicker than the iPad 2 and sport a slightly larger lens. These differences are in line with current rumors that state the next iPad will have a higher resolution screen and a better camera.

But that’s it. The overall design of the next iPad will be the same as the current one — at least that’s the story according to these iPad cases. The cases were reportedly built using information provided by an Apple supply chain vender.

This isn’t the first time cases have hit the market prior to Apple’s announcements. In the summer of 2009 iPod touch cases started appearing with a holes in the backside for a camera. The logical explanation was that Apple was prepping an iPod touch with a camera. A ton of these cases hit within weeks of each other. Apple was surely releasing an iPod touch with a camera, thought the Internet. But it didn’t happen for an entire year.

Then, just this past fall, a bunch of iPhone 5 cases hit lending to the theory that the iPhone 5 would be announced. The world got the iPhone 4S instead.

The same thing could happen with these iPad cases. They could be completely wrong. Or they could be completely right like the ones that appeared last year prior to the iPad 2′s announcement. The only safe bet right now is that Apple will announce a new iPad in the coming months.

Click to view slideshow.

Samsung: One In Ten South Koreans Now Owns A Samsung Galaxy S II

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 05:56 AM PST

White Galaxy S2 3

It’s not really news to say that the Galaxy S II is a hit, but it has actually become a mega hit in South Korea. According to maker Samsung, the Android handset has been sold a whopping 5 million times in its domestic market since release at the end of April 2011. In other words, a little more than 10% of the country’s entire population (48 million people) are now proud owners of the phone.

It’s the first cell phone that has reached this milestone in mobile-crazy South Korea, according to Japanese business daily The Nikkei. The paper also says that one out of four South Korean smartphones users owns a Galaxy S II (sounds like feature phones don’t play a big role in that country anymore).

In 2011, Samsung commanded a 53% market share in South Korea’s smartphone industry.

The company recently decided not to take legal action against its fiercest competitor, Apple, in its home market – despite being in a patent war with the iPhone maker the whole world over. It looks like Samsung can afford it.

Via Sammy Hub



Report: 798 Daily Deal Sites Folded In The Last 6 Months Of 2011

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 05:51 AM PST

Lighted match

According to a new report from Daily Deal Media, a great source of news, information and data about the hot daily deal industry, there’s a whole lot of consolidation and death going on among the many Groupon wannabes on this planet – at least in some regions. Daily Deal Media is keeping most of the good stuff behind a steep paywall, but shared some key findings from its report in a press release earlier this morning. According to them, the world has lost close to 800 – 798 to be precise – daily deal sites in the second half of 2011.

In Asia, particularly, daily deal sites seem to come and go at a tremendously rapid pace. According to Daily Deal Media, 1,348 Asian daily deal sites vanished in the last 6 months of 2011 alone.

However, in the same timeframe, 324 new daily deal sites sprung up in Latin America (+27.5 percent) and another 235 in Europe (+15.7 percent). The US was rather flat.

Overall, the total number of deal publishers dropped 7.61 percent in the second half of 2011.

Daily Deal Media also surveyed merchants who used daily deal services in 2011, as well as 36,600 consumers who used daily deals last year.

Of the merchants that were grilled, 16.5 percent said they were dissatisfied with their daily deal campaign, and 35 percent of companies reported their deal offering was profitable.

Furthermore, merchants indicating ‘overall satisfaction’ in their deal programs rose 17 percent between June 2011 and December 2011.

As for the end users: Daily Deal Media partner Triton Digital polled 60,000 consumers and found 39 percent had never subscribed to a deal program.

Of those who do subscribe to at least one site, 28.4 percent said they “glance at a deal” to decide on their interest, 19.6 percent read the entire deal email, while 10.2 percent subscribe but consider deals spam and delete them. Some people apparently need to take courses in unsubscribing.

Linux Foundation Expects More Enterprise Gains in 2012

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 05:00 AM PST


The Linux Foundation is sharing the results of their latest invitation-only survey of enterprise Linux users. Their last such survey, in August 2010, revealed Linux was gaining popularity in enterprise computing. It should come as no real surprise that the latest survey shows more of the same.

A lot has happened since late 2010, and the Linux Foundation survey reflects that. In “Linux Adoption Trends 2012: A Survey of Enterprise End Users” we find that a substantial number of enterprise users “expressed concern with the rapid growth of data, and Linux is clearly the platform of choice to address it.” Less than half of respondents are planning to use Windows to handle their “Big Data” requirements.

While nearly 80% of respondents expect an increase in the number of Linux deployments in their organizations over the next five years, only 21.7% of those surveyed expect an increase in the number of Windows servers during the same time frame.

Perceived technical barriers to enterprise Linux adoption have dropped significantly, too. Only 12.2% of respondents cited technical issues as an impediment to success, down from 20.3% from the last survey. That says a lot about the overall value proposition for Linux installations.

It’s worth remembering, though, that this was an invitation-only survey. I’m sure a similar survey from Microsoft would yield results more pleasing to Redmond. Nonetheless, Linux is clearly at the vanguard of technical innovation, both for the traditional enterprise data center as well as for nascent cloud computing solutions.

The iRig PRE: A New Microphone Interface For iOS Devices

Posted: 19 Jan 2012 04:39 AM PST


Jeez, CES is barely over and already NAMM is upon us. Unfortunately, this blogger is not in Anaheim for that event, but to be honest, I am still reeling from the few days I spent at CES with Team TechCrunch. Instead, I’ll happily watch the music industry event from a safe distance this year.

I did however spy the iRig PRE while I was at CES but it was not yet ready for prime time. It has been officially announced.

IK Multimedia, the makers of this microphone interface, describe the device as:

The first high-quality microphone preamp designed specifically for iOS devices that allows musicians to use their favorite high-quality stage or studio mics with their iOS device.
The microphone plugs directly into the standard XLR connector of iRig PRE with no need for extra cables or adapters.

Its adjustable thumbwheel gain control allows the user to easily make precise level settings. The onboard 9V battery provides the necessary voltage for phantom-powered studio condenser microphones for at least for 15 hours of continuous use.
The 3.5mm (1/8") standard stereo headphone output allows monitoring while recording.

The small form factor and decent battery life will, no doubt, make this a fine addition to any musician looking to use their iOS device to affect their vocals at a gig or recording session.

As for the technical features:

  • 40 cm (15.75") TRRS cable to connect to any iOS device headset jack
  • XLR input connector for microphones
  • Gain control
  • +48 V phantom power
  • Headphone output
  • On/Off switch
  • Power/Phantom Power provided by 9V battery
  • Battery life is approximately 40 hours with dynamic microphones and 15 hours with phantom powered condenser studio microphones.

Pricing and availability
iRig PRE costs $39.99/€29.99 (excluding taxes) and will be available in early Q2 2012 from electronic and music retailers around the world.

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