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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Windows Live To Focus On The Essentials (Hotmail And Messenger)

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 08:00 AM PDT

With Bing stealing the online spotlight at Microsoft recently, Windows Live has been collecting dust in a corner. But Microsoft is preparing to update the core services that make up Windows Live over the next few months, and is refocusing what used to be a hodgepodge of different online services into three main products: Hotmail, Messenger, and Windows Essentials (which includes photo-organizing and movie-making apps). Microsoft’s VP of Windows Live Chris Jones explains: “Anything about information discovery, retrieval, and the public web is Bing. Anything about personal information is Windows Live.”

The focus will not be to recreate people’s social networks or where they share photos, videos, or status updates, but rather simply to connect Windows IM and email products to the rest of the social Web. Although Hotmail boasts 350 million active users worldwide and Messenger has 320 million, both products are a bit long in the tooth.

You can expect Messenger to tap into social networks and mobile devices in a more unified way, so that you can manage your most important relationships from within IM. I asked Jones if he plans on adopting a lifestream approach like AOL has already done with AIM—one place where you can see both your private and public messages across IM, Twitter, Facebook and other streams. “We have a different approach,” says Jones. “People don't want to merge their feeds.” Instead, Windows Live Messenger will add features to extract “the information most relevant to me.”

What that means is that Messenger will try to filter out the noise and show you public messages from only your most important contacts. Or perhaps those messages which are being amplified the most across the Web. All of these features are still being worked on.

With Hotmail, similarly Microsoft will add more features to help filter out the noise and highlight the most important emails from your most important contacts. (Again, Jones isn’t offering any specific details yet about how this will be implemented). Hotmail will also add more collaboration features to more easily share Office documents and photos.

Finally, with the rollout of Windows 7, Windows Live Essentials will become a way to extend their PCs to the Web, especially when it comes to sharing photos and videos. There will be a big mobile component to all of this too, as the Microsoft Mesh team adds syncing capabilities to these products across devices.

Time Warner Leads $8 Million Series B Round In TV Marketing Platform Simulmedia

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 07:43 AM PDT

Media marketing company Simulmedia, has raised $8 million in a Series B round of financing led by Time Warner Investments with existing investors Avalon Ventures and Union Square Ventures also participating in the round. This brings the company’s total funding up to $12 million.

Simulmedia’s data-focused TV marketing system helps television companies improve ratings by lifting the effectiveness of their TV promotions. Launched in 2009, Simulmedia promises 50 to 350% more viewers per program promotion spot with its targeted marketing campaigns. The company was founded by Dave Morgan, who created ad networks Tacoda (which was acquired by AOL in 2007) and Real Media.

The new funding will be used to continue development of the company’s technology platform and set-top-box-data-driven marketing services, which enable broadcast and cable networks to build audiences for their shows more effectively and efficiently by delivering the right on-air promotions to the right viewers at the right time.

No, JCPR / Edelman, I’m Not Taking That iPhone Sex Appeal Story Down

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 07:21 AM PDT

We see strange things happen in the PR (and yes, also the technology) industry all the time, but this one takes the cake. This morning, I noticed a press release hit the wire carrying the sensational headline “Men With iPhones Are More Attractive to Women”.

Glancing over it, my built-in bullshit alarm went off straight away. So I wrote a post essentially mocking the survey which reached the conclusion in said headline, and particularly its apparent source, mobile phone retailer Phones 4U.

Laughs all around, on to the real news.

Then I get this peculiar email from a PR flack at some agency, neither of which I know:

Hi there,

There is a press release on your website (here: http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/21/54-of-women-more-likely-to-date-men-with-iphones-says-iphone-retailer/ ) which you have sourced from PR Newswire. However, this press release has not come from Phones 4u, nor us, and as such has been removed from the newswire.

Would you be able to remove the story from your site?

We didn’t publish the press release, however, nor was it removed from the newswire as this person claimed (and still isn’t). Weird. Why would anyone lie about that?

Update: looks like it was removed now.

So evidently, I replied asking who this person and the agency that employs him is and why they think I would remove an article upon simple request, without further background information. I also asked whether they happen to be working for Phones 4U, and that if there are problems someone from that company should contact me directly.

In response, I get an email from the flack’s coworker instead:

Hi Robin

I work on the Phones 4u team here at JCPR and firstly wanted to apologise for the team not making this clear in our initial communication with you.

The press office team here at JCPR issue ALL press releases for Phones 4u, however have nothing to do with the release that has been picked up today. We have forwarded your details to our client who will send you an email explaining that this was not issued by us and that we were not aware of the survey.

If we can work together to resolve this as both Phones 4u and Apple are not happy that this story has been issued without their consent. We obviously want to find a solution that works for both TechCrunch and Phones 4u. With the story factually incorrect we are kindly requesting that all sites please remove it.

So it gets better. Now Apple apparently caught wind of the survey and would like to see it removed, too. Yeah, right. And someone really issued a press release on PR Newswire on behalf of Phones 4U without their consent or knowledge? And paid for it? Yeah. Right.

Sounds about as plausible as the fact that 54% of women are more likely to date men with iPhones. But ok, stranger things have happened.

Other publications are getting similar emails and phone calls.

Then finally, I get an email from Phones 4U’s PR Manager, who tells me:

Hi Robin,

I understand that you’ve been speaking with JCPR regarding a press release that was issued on the newswires today entitled ‘Men with iPhones are more attractive to women’.

I just wanted to reiterate that as per your discussions with JCPR, that this press release is NOTHING to do with Phones 4u. We did not issue any such press release, nor were we even aware that a press release was being issued. The first we heard of it was seeing the article published on the web.

Phones 4u have also not carried out any research that the press release claims we have. We have no association with the press release whatsoever, neither do Apple who are keen, as are we, that this story be removed from the websites that have so far published it.

The story currently on your TechCrunch website is false, issued unfortunately by a bogus source and is entirely factually incorrect. As a result, we’d like to ask you to remove the story from the website so that it does not continue to mislead TechCrunch readers.

I hope you will consider our request and remove the said story as soon as possible.

Many thanks,

Update: PR Newswire confirmed to Webuser.co.uk editor Ben Camm-Jones that the release came from “a valid source, one of Phones 4u’s comms agencies”. And I thought JCPR issues “ALL the press releases” for the company.

I wouldn’t want to mislead you, dear reader, but I’m not keen on removing anything on TechCrunch as long as edit buttons exist. You can read, and I updated the original story with a link to this post, so consider yourself no longer misled. Done.

In the event someone actually did decide to pull a fast one on Phones 4u by paying for and issuing a bogus press release on PR Newswire, my apologies to the retailer and JCPR / Edelman. But please work on your communication skills, however ironic that may seem.

And let’s put out a search warrant for that mysterious bogus source.

Final update: they found ‘em! From Phone 4U:

Hi Robin,

I totally understand your confusion surrounding this story, but can now clarify the situation.

We’ve now established that Phones 4u’s Digital Marketing agency, StickyEyes, this morning issued a press release on behalf of Phones 4u without Phones 4u’s knowledge, consent or approval.

StickyEyes conducted research via a third party, again without prior consent from Phones 4u and issued a press release detailing its findings without Phones 4u’s knowledge.

To confirm, Phones 4u had no knowledge of any said survey, nor did Phones 4u consent to or approve of the press release StickyEyes issued to PR Newswire and the information provided within the said release is factually incorrect.

What a mess.

Watch Company Longines Opens Their First Online Store

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 06:20 AM PDT

The world of fine watches is a benighted place. Strange hang-ups masquerading as tradition are the norm and historically watch companies have looked at every new improvement to their business with trepidation. Consider the quartz movement, for example. Texas Instruments approached a number of Swiss companies when they first created the miniaturized quartz watch but no one wanted it - it was beneath them. China and Japan, however, bought the movements by the truckload and ate old horology's lunch. For years, watch companies have only allowed their wares to be sold through authorized dealers. This meant you had to go into a frou-frou shop, get talked down to by a snooty salesperson, and then pay over retail for a watch that was worth, in terms of parts and materials, about half of its sticker price. Pretty nice scam, huh? The Internet came along and those authorized dealers hit on a nice scam. They'd "sell" their watches to real people - shills, usually - and those real people would resell them online. Swatch Group, for example, is currently fighting this grey market in the Supreme Court. However, another part of the Swatch Group, Longines, is taking to the Internet like a duck to duck sauce and this is amazingly important because it opens a $35 billion part of the economy to an entirely new market.

Cooliris Upgrades Embeddable Media Walls And Express Creation Tools

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 06:00 AM PDT

Übercool media sharing technology company Cooliris is beefing up two of its core products, Cooliris Express and the embeddable Cooliris Wall.

The latter product is gaining more and more adoption, the company tells me, growing from an average of 100 new Walls created per day in December last year to more than 400 new Walls per day more recently.

In addition, more than 45,000 Walls with Cooliris Express were launched in the last four months alone, notably about half of them on Facebook.

Cooliris Walls allow customers like TV.com to display media like photos and videos in a visually appealing way, and lets users interact with that content regardless of which browser they use (provided they have Flash installed).

According to the startup, Walls can reduce page load for media-intensive pages by as much as 25%, and the upgraded product also makes for faster scrolling and smoother interactions.

New comScore and Google Analytics support in Cooliris Walls now gives publishers a way to track of the implementation has resulted in increased engagement (the company claims it’s seeing up to 6 times as much interaction on sites like that of singer Taylor Swift), which is helpful information for advertisers and media planners as it increases potential ad opportunities and revenue.

Cooliris worked together with comScore to ensure they are compliant with their current standards: each piece of content viewed via the Wall basically gets counted as a page view.

Also new in Cooliris Walls: new ways for people to share media via Facebook and Twitter.

Lacking because of its reliance on Flash: support for iPad, which would be really cool on there (the company says they’re looking at ways of bringing the experience to the platform). It works really well on the iPhone already, and Google has also tapped Cooliris for Nexus One support earlier this year.

Secondly, Cooliris Express – a free tool that lets anyone create digital experiences centered around their photo and video content – has gotten a revamp and a host of new features.

Users can now use Cooliris Express to publish and dynamically update photo galleries for social networks and blogs from one central location. To access and update Walls, Cooliris Express has enabled a single login that either leverages a Facebook or Google username. OpenID is not supported (yet), but users are free to create a unique account with the service, too.

Cooliris Express introduces editing capabilities that enables users to update and change the content on their Walls at any time. Before, users were supposed to create new Walls to showcase new content. Now users can add or delete photos/videos from their existing Walls. Finally, Cooliris simplified the navigation and created a new user interface for editing and uploading photos in Cooliris Express, all based on user input and suggestions, in an effort to make the process more intuitive for non-technical users.

Palo Alto, CA-based Cooliris is backed by about $18.5 million in VC funding.

LinkedIn Launches URL Shortener, Enhances Sharing Options For Content

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 05:58 AM PDT

Professional social network LinkedIn has been steadily expanding its presence outside of its platform through integrations with Twitter, and Microsoft Outlook and opening up the platform’s API. And as LinkedIn takes its data and status updates from users outside of the network, the company has enhanced its sharing and privacy options for users. And LinkedIn is launching an official URL shortener, Lnkd.in, for any links shared from its site.

With new public vs. private controls, you get complete control over who sees what you're sharing both on the network or on Twitter, whether it's everyone, your connections, a group, or a specific individual. And when you share a link or URL on the site or on Twitter, you’ll be able to shorten the link with companion URL shortener, Lnkd.in.

Instead of creating a branded URL shortener with Bit.ly, LinkedIn decided to develop its own application so it could tie it directly into LinkedIn’s own back-end, with high SLAs and data fidelity.

LinkedIn has made significant enhancements to its sharing features. When you share a news article, LinkedIn will now allows you to customize what the excerpt of the news article you are linking to. So users may have more of an incentive to click on a link that includes an image or the first few lines of what content the link is taking them to. LinkedIn has also stepped up its attribution in terms of sharing, by attributing something you re-share to the person who shared it with you.

With 65 million members, LinkedIn is steadily growing in terms of users. And CEO Jeff Weiner says the company is implementing a product strategy of bringing LinkedIn to any sites or platforms that people may use in their professional life. As the platform expands its presence on the web, it inevitably needs to both enhance and offer restrictions on sharing. And it also needs to track what is being spread from its site, which the URL shortener will do.

Visa Picks Up CyberSource For $2 Billion

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 05:05 AM PDT

Payment network operator Visa has agreed to acquire e-payment company CyberSource for $26 per share, or total consideration of approximately $2 billion to be paid with cash on hand. The price represents a near 34 percent premium over Mountain View-based CyberSource’s Tuesday closing price.

The deal will enable Visa to bolster online sales and offer new and enhanced online fraud prevention services to merchants, financial organizations and end consumers.

CyberSource is said to process about 25 percent of all e-commerce dollars transacted in the United States. The company serves more than 295,000 merchants through its CyberSource and Authorize.Net branded solutions, including companies like Google, Facebook and British Airways. Most of its revenues come from the United States, although Visa says this positions the company for global growth.

Visa and CyberSource have partnered since 1999, and currently collaborate on risk models built into CyberSource’s automated fraud management solutions.

CyberSource’s President and CEO, Michael Walsh, will continue to oversee CyberSource’s operations. The company’s Chairman and Founder, William S. McKiernan, will join Visa as an Executive Advisor to assist in the integration of the two businesses.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in Visa’s fourth fiscal quarter of 2010.

This is the second significant acquisition in tech land this morning; Salesforce just announced it’s acquiring Jigsaw for $142 million in cash.

Who’s next?

Salesforce Buys Business Directory Jigsaw For $142 Million In Cash Plus Earn-Out

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 03:05 AM PDT

Salesforce.com has just announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Jigsaw, which provides crowd-sourced data services in the cloud, for approximately $142 million in cash, plus a performance-based earn out of up to 10% of the purchase price.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of fiscal year 2011, subject to customary closing conditions.

The enterprise cloud computing company in a statement touts Jigsaw’s Wikipedia-style crowd-sourcing model, which it says delivers the world’s most complete, accurate and up-to-date business contact data (e.g. check out Salesforce’s profile on there).

When we first reviewed the company back in 2006, Michael Arrington deemed it a really, really bad idea because Jigsaw would pay people simply to upload other people's contact information (a privacy nightmare).

Jigsaw has changed its model since then: people can now see if their personal information has been uploaded, and there is a process to have it removed, at least temporarily. And users are no longer paid cash to upload contacts. Instead they receive points that can be used to download contact other people’s contact information. Revenue was rumored to be around $30 million per year at the end of 2009.

As for Arrington, he went from calling the company evil to simply amoral. The question is now if the new owner will be inclined to modify its questionable business practices.

Going back to the acquisition: Salesforce says the deal will allow the company to combine its suite of CRM applications and enterprise cloud platform with Jigsaw’s model for the automation of acquiring and keeping up-to-date business contact data. Jigsaw’s data cloud platform, it adds, also creates an opportunity for developers and ISVs to deliver new applications that leverage the business contact data found in Jigsaw.

Looking ahead, Salesforce seeks the creation of new partnerships with information services companies like D&B, Hoover’s and LexisNexis.

Jigsaw’s community is said to consist of more than 1.2 million members. Over the last six years, community members have built and maintained a contact database of more than 21 million professionals at nearly 4 million companies, according to the press release. Jigsaw currently has 800 corporate customers.

The company had raised $18 million in venture capital to date.

54% Of Women More Likely To Date Men With iPhones, Says iPhone Retailer

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 02:46 AM PDT

Straight from the bullshit department: a recent survey of 1500 women has found that men who own an iPhone are more attractive than those who do not. Women were particularly repulsed by men who own a Palm Pre, the study also found.

Ok, I made that second part up, but then again the first part was completely made up, too.

According to the survey, which was held by Phones 4u, an online retailer of iPhones (and other phones) and thus utterly neutral any way you look at it, 54% of women stated that they would be more likely to date a man if he owns an iPhone.

Which model, remains unclear.

Update: this survey may never be actually held, or at least not by Phones 4u, the company now claims. Read the entire background here.

One respondent, the company says, even suggested “if he has an iPhone then he’s obviously intelligent and well-off.”

37% of those quizzed said that owning an iPhone makes a man seem more reliable, to which nearly all went on to say that a second date would be likely.

I have an iPhone 3GS, so clearly, I can verify roughly 98% of all positive claims about men who own an iPhone. (Also, sorry ladies, but I’m happily married).

But let’s not let the statistics get in the way of a good story, and juicy quotes:

“There’s just something about a man who’s good with computers that makes him more trustworthy,” said Lucy, a 23-year-old primary school teacher from London. “If he’s got the cash for an iPhone then he must be very good at his job, too.”

Hear that, Michael Arrington?

(Image via Hottrix, makers of iBeer, and headline blatantly stolen from @StuartDredge)

News Corp. Buys Social Software Studio Irata Labs (Yes, The #Spymaster Guys)

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 02:01 AM PDT

News Corp. has acquired Irata Labs, a small social software development studio based in San Francisco, the LA Times has learned.

The company, which builds games and other apps for social networks, has confirmed the deal to us and on Twitter (check out these tweets from Irata Labs CEO Chris Abad and co-founder and designer D. Keith Robinson). The terms were not disclosed.

The name Irata Labs doesn’t ring a bell, say you? Well, perhaps you’re familiar with their social game Spymaster, which started as a massive time-killer on Twitter and later expanded to the iPhone and Facebook.

Spymaster lets you run your own virtual spy ring across social networks and from your iPhone.

It gained notoriety for being one of the first games to really leverage the viral power of Twitter, but it also got a huge backlash from users when it started sending out direct messages en masse. Venturebeat's Eric Eldon at the time joked that maybe they should rename the game "SpamMaster".

Irata Labs is also behind iList, a nifty social classifieds service, and the company was also working on Flyvly, a platform that aimed to one day enable rapid development of location-based social games.

The LA Times reports that the company, which only has three full-time employees, will not be incorporated into either of News Corp.’s major online assets – MySpace or the game review site IGN. Instead, the developers are expected to work with those divisions whenever it makes sense, a person familiar with the matter told the paper.

Still according to the LA Times article, Irata Labs received angel funding from Veoh founder Dmitry Shapiro, entrepreneur Alex Bard and VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, although it’s unclear exactly how much was raised.

Why Doesn’t Facebook Look Like This?

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 01:39 AM PDT

As you may be aware, tomorrow, Facebook kicks off its big f8 developer conference in San Francisco. We’ll be there to cover what’s going on, but it looks like a lot of the information is already out there — Inside FacebookAll Facebook, and GigaOM have good write-ups of what we can likely expect. We’ve previously reported on a bunch of these possible announcements such as the Meebo Bar-clone, the “Like” button for the Internet, and auto-logins for Facebook Connect.

Obviously, I’m interested in any location announcements the company may make tomorrow — but it’s not clear if Facebook will actually announce anything yet as their plans have been fluid, and possibly still aren’t solidified. I’m also pretty interested in the Open Graph stuff Facebook plans to talk about. When this was first vaguely previewed back in October, Facebook’s intention seemed pretty clear to me at the time: to make the entire web its tributary system. It’s likely to either be huge — or another huge privacy disaster for the network.

These grandiose plans are great and all, but as I sit here the night before f8, I find myself wondering something very simple: why does using Facebook frustrate the hell out of me?

As I noted earlier in my farewell to Facebook Lite, I think it’s just because I find the service too cluttered, and confusing. The various options menus are a nightmare. All the privacy settings are beyond confusing. And while the overall site navigation has improved greatly over the past year (goodbye weird bottom nav bar), I still find myself lost quite often.

And then I see something like this. From 2006 to 2007, the design group, iA, was in touch with Facebook about doing a redesign. Facebook didn’t end up using their stuff, but iA recently decided to take what they had done and update it to work with the way Facebook is currently laid out. The results are excellent — much better than the way Facebook actually currently looks.

Look at these mock-ups, but be sure to go to their site to see them in full resolution, to see how they would actually look in full size.

Sure, it’s a bit Outlook-inspired, but wow do I wish I could navigate Facebook this way. The stream? Nice and clean, most elements are the same size (like Twitter) because comments are shoved into a new column on the right (and collapsed to show only 2 by default). And that comment column looks much, much better because it’s not surrounded by those ugly blue square backgrounds that currently make a complete mess of the stream. And there are in-line replies.

Ads are still there, they’re just in this third column. The search box has been moved from that odd no-mans-land middle off-center to the left column. And the nav makes it very clear which stream you’re currently viewing.

As iA notes:

Our basic idea: To create an mail-application like interface with an elastic three-column layout that clearly separates filter, information-stream, and reaction:

Filter: The left side column works as a sorting instrument
Information-Stream: The center column shows the filtered results
Reaction: The right side column is used for discussing the individual feed items.

It just seems to make sense. More importantly, when you look at it, it seems to make sense.

Sure, it’s hard to argue with 400 million users — and most would undoubtedly hate such a massive change. But Facebook, perhaps more than any other web company, is good at knowing when to when to ignore user complaints and push forward, to improve the product.

I think they should take another look at iA’s work. Or at the very least, use the ideas of those FriendFeed guys more.

Also, where the hell is Facebook’s iPad app?

Downfall Producer And Constantin Film Partner Loves Those Hitler Parodies

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 01:21 AM PDT

The Internet meme whereby people replace the subtitles of the memorable bunker scene where Hitler throws a tantrum in the movie Der Untergang (aka Downfall) with fake translations, is one that we said would never die.

Except Constant Film, the German production company that owns the rights to the movie, is trying to kill it anyway by trying to take down the many YouTube videos showing der Führer getting furious about, well, something, anything really.

These videos are being removed because of YouTube’s automated Content ID system, which allows copyright owners to disable any videos that contain its content, whether or not the videos may be legitimate because they contain other elements.

Dumb? Yes. But also, hypocritical, it appears.

Richard Huffman recently interviewed Bernd Eichinger, writer and producer of Der Untergang and also a large sharefolder of Constantin Film as well as chairman of its supervisory board, and asked him after his opinion of the Hitler parodies.

In short: ironically, he is madly in love with them.

Richard Huffman – This is a personal, non-Baader-Meinhof question. As the writer of Downfall, the superb film about Hitler's final days, I'm sure you've seen your work parodied on youtube literally hundreds of times with the various "Hitler Mash-up" videos. What do you think of those videos? If you find them at all amusing, do you have a favorite? Or are they too inappropriate?

Bernd Eichinger – I find those parodies tremendously amusing! Obviously, the film and this scene in particular is a real fire starter for people's imagination. What else can you hope for as a filmmaker? This is moviemaking heaven! My favorite one is when Hitler is having his tantrum over his losses in the real estate crisis. Hitler's real crisis at the time was also about a gigantic real estate loss: the loss of all those territories he had conquered fuelled by false credit and driven by avarice, megalomania and extreme ruthlessness. And then history's Down Jones came crushing down on him….I find this parody so funny because it's historically relevant.

Tremendously amusing? Moviemaking heaven?

We agree, but Mr. Eichinger, you might want to tell some folks over at Constantin that. Because this is how we feel about those takedown notices (courtesy of EFF board member Brad Templeton):

Update: looks like the director of Downfall, Oliver Hirschbiegel, also thinks the parodies are amusing. He told New York Magazine in January 2010:

“Someone sends me the links every time there’s a new one. I think I’ve seen about 145 of them! Of course, I have to put the sound down when I watch. Many times the lines are so funny, I laugh out loud, and I'm laughing about the scene that I staged myself! You couldn’t get a better compliment as a director.

The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality. I think it’s only fair if now it’s taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like. If only I got royalties for it, then I’d be even happier.”

So who’s behind these takedown notices? (A good analysis can be found here if you’re interested)

Thanks to Richard for sending us a link to the interview!

YC-Funded Mertado: Deal Hunting, Social Shopping For Facebook

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 11:49 PM PDT

Over the last few years we’ve seen many sites try to merge social networks and shopping, but nobody has really cracked the nut yet. Today sees the launch of a new startup called Mertado that’s taking a different route than most online retailers: rather than try to integrate social features into a retail site, it’s offering a store that’s actually built on Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect, and it’s looking to use the social graph to its advantage. Mertado was part of the most recent batch of Y Combinator companies, and drew interest from investors even before Demo Day, closing a round of over $1 million led by Redpoint Ventures, Blumberg Capital, and Stubhub founder Jeff Fluhr

Mertado offers both a Facebook application and a standalone website that uses Facebook Connect. Once you’ve signed up, the service will regularly suggest new deals to you, using information gleaned from your Facebook profile to identify exactly which deals will be most appealing (on any given day it might have ten deals, but it will only suggest the ones it thinks you’ll like). Mertado’s founders say that most deals are at least 50% off of the MSRP. Some deals will continue to drop in price as more people purchase them (and everyone who participates pays the lowest price), though there’s never a cutoff for a deal to become ‘activated’ the way there is on Groupon.

The service’s viral features are based on suggestions: if you suggest a deal to your friend and they purchase the item, both you and your friend will get a reward in the form of ‘Mertado Cash’ (you’ll still get the reward even if you didn’t wind up buying the item yourself). Mertado Cash are a virtual currency that you can apply toward future deal purchases. The only catch is that for some deals, you’ll only be able to use Mertado Cash to cover a percentage of an item’s purchase price (say, 20%) and you’ll have to use real money to cover the rest, though some deals won’t have any restrictions.

Founders Mehul Shah, Rajiv Bhat, and Vijay Chittoor say that the biggest differentiators of Mertado are its personalization and social targeting technology, which will learn what each customer likes over time so that Mertado can offer better deals. They also point out that Mertado is a standalone retailer, not just a deal aggregator, which means that Mertado handles credit card transactions, customer service, and returns themselves.

Mertado’s success will hinge, at least in part, on how accurate it can get its recommendations, and how often it can get users to share deals with each other. Because Facebook recently stopped allowing third party applications to use its Notifications channel, Mertado is going to have to rely on email to notify its members about deals, and there are already a lot of sites that do that. But there’s an opportunity here for a deal service that doesn’t just throw out low prices, but actually leads users to feel like they’ve stumbled across something serendipitous — to the point that they want to show it off to their friends.

Social Gaming Execs Discuss Growth, Monetization, And The Future Of Facebook Games

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 06:27 PM PDT

Today at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco, a panel of top social gaming executives met to discuss the future of gaming on Facebook. The conversation touched on quite a few issues, including the evolution of social gaming mechanics, monetization, and whether or not the industry would be able to continue its incredible growth over the next few years. One bold prediction: Playdom CEO John Pleasants says that the reach of social games will double in the next 18 months.

The Panelists:
John Pleasants, CEO, Playdom
Peter Relan, Executive Chairman, CrowdStar
Vish Makhijani, COO, Zynga
Keith Rabois, VP Strategy and Business Development, Slide
Kavin Stewart, CEO, Lolapps
Moderated by Eric Eldon

Pleasants’ prediction came after an audience member asked if the social gaming companies would be able to sustain the growth they saw through much of last year. Zynga COO Vish Makhijani acknowledged that Zynga had seen some slowdown last quarter, but said that signs pointed to that trend changing. And the general consensus seemed to be that there was still lots of room for growth on Facebook, particularly internationally. The group also noted that there were opportunities abroad on social networks other than Facebook.

Another question touched on multiplayer in social games — or, rather, the lack thereof. Look at most popular social games these days, and you’ll notice that most of the interaction between games happens asynchronously, which isn’t really ‘multiplayer’ in the traditional sense. Lolapps CEO Kavin Stewart says this is because there already is a market for synchronous gaming, with games like World of Warcraft and console games. Slide VP Keith Rabois echoed this sentiment, explaining that synchronous multiplayer games are generally time consuming, and that Slide’s research showed that most people use Facebook in quick, 5-10 minute sessions between classes or when their boss isn’t looking. Not everyone agreed that synchronous gaming was out of the picture though — Playdom’s John Pleasants said that we’d probably see synchronous gameplay as an extension of some asynchronous games (I think he’s right).

One audience member asked about the recent report that Zynga was worth $5 billion. Makhijani declined to comment on the report, but CrowdStar’s Peter Relan concluded that it wasn’t off base. His logic? Relan says that casual games can scale to 10x the audience of more ‘hardcore’ games like World of Warcraft, and perhaps even more than that. The revenue models are different for these games (WoW uses recurring subscriptions while social games favor virtual currencies and virtual goods) but he says this huge audience make the valuation reasonable.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the panel was what wasn’t said, at least not directly. During a question on monetization — namely, Facebook’s Credits — there was a lot of talk about how a unified credits system can help developers because it allows for one-click purchases across all games. But there was also a sense that the developers didn’t want Facebook’s currency to become the only option for developers. Slide’s Keith Rabois noted that Facebook Credits are good for paying users, but there are other channels (like Offers) that address a broader audience. In other words, he doesn’t want to be chained to Facebook Credits, at least not yet.

Ultimately, though, it doesn’t always matter what the developers want. When asked if Facebook listened to these game developers when it came to policy changes, most of the execs noted that while Facebook might solicit their input, when push comes to shove it does what it wants.

iLike Founders Ali And Hadi Partovi Step Down From MySpace Executive Team

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 05:00 PM PDT

Last August, MySpace acquired social music service iLike. As part of the deal iLike founders (and twin brothers) Ali Partovi and Hadi Partovi joined MySpace’s executive team, with Hadi becoming SVP of Technology and Ali taking the role of SVP of Business Development. Today, we’ve confirmed that both men will be stepping down from their executive positions at MySpace. Hadi will be leaving the company entirely to pursue opportunities as an advisor and angel investor (as well as work with tech-related non-profits), while Ali will stay on board as a strategic advisor. iLike cofounder Nat Brown remains at MySpace, where he’s head of Mobile.

Reached for comment, MySpace gave us this statement:

MySpace SVP of Technology Hadi Partovi is stepping down to pursue other opportunities. In addition to continuing his work as an advisor and angel investor to various startups, he will be following his passion for education by working directly with technology focused non-profits. Hadi leaves as a valued friend to the company, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.

This obviously isn’t good news for MySpace. But the iLike deal has actually worked out quite well for the company. iLike is now integrated into Google Search, though a deal that was in the works before MySpace acquired the company. iLike is still the most popular music app on Facebook.  And the iLike team also played an instrumental role in the resurrection of imeem’s playlists and MySpace’s recently upgraded events product.

Still, this continues a string of other recent MySpace departures, including VP and General Manager of Mobile John Faith, SVP User Experience Katie Geminder, ousted CEO Owen Van Natta, and others. Slightshot Labs, a News Corp incubator that works with MySpace, also just saw the departures of President Josh Berman and EVP Strategy and Product Diego Berdakin.

Here’s a video Ali Partovi shot soon after he joined the MySpace executive team last fall, when he showed why he was full of win.

A More Elegant Fail Whale Briefly Surfaces

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 04:58 PM PDT

Twitter’s Fail Whale is a thing of legend at this point. The beast, which appeared so often in years past, now rarely comes out of the water. But today, for a brief moment, the creature reappeared. And behold: he’s prettier than ever!

It looks like at some point last year (hence the out-of-date 2009 copyright at the bottom), Twitter tried to give the Fail Whale error page a bit of a design overhaul (as it did to much of the rest of its site). While the whale itself is the same, the font and styling of the error page has been revamped, as you can see. This is certainly better than the other revamp. And better than ice cream cone man.

But alas, this more elegant whale was not to be. A reload returns my old trusted Fail Whale. I’ve missed you, friend.

Update: Our developer Andy has another theory on the new Fail Whale: “the two different pages, I believe, are from two different types of response codes. a 503 used to return just the black text, the traditional fail whale was (I think) tied to a 408.

Battle Cry? Google Buys Stealth Company Founded By Guys That Spurned Apple

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 04:40 PM PDT

The whole Apple/Google thing continues to get more interesting.

The two tech giant buddies are now clearly at odds with one another (coffee dates and all). The iPhone and Android are already at war. And soon, the two will be at war in ads (AdSense vs. iAds) and portable computing (iPads versus Chrome OS netbooks). And leading up to those wars, both have been making some interesting hires and acquisitions.

The latest is Google, which at some point recently bought the stealth startup Agnilux, according to peHUB. What is Agnilux? No one knows for sure, but the New York Times thought enough of it to profile it a few times — and still wasn’t able to find out any more other than they may be doing something with servers. So why do they matter? Because of who is involved in the company. Agnilux was founded by a few ex-Apple employees. More specifically, it was founded by Apple employees who came over in the PA Semi acquisition.

PA Semi was the chip company that Apple bought in 2008, and is now believed to be the key force behind the new A4 chip that powers the iPad (and perhaps the upcoming iPhone). But, as NYT reported back in February:

Some of the chip engineers Apple gained in its purchase of PA Semi appear to have already left the company. According to partial records on the job networking site LinkedIn, at least half a dozen former PA Semi engineers have left Apple and turned up at a start-up called Agnilux, based in San Jose. The company was co-founded by one of PA's leading system architects, Mark Hayter.

The story goes on:

Neither Mr. Hayter nor other onetime PA workers who left Apple for Agnilux were willing to discuss either company's plans. According to two people with knowledge of the two companies, who were unwilling to be named because the matter is delicate, some PA engineers left Apple a few months after the acquisition because they were given grants of Apple stock at an unattractive price.

In other words, Google’s acquisition of this company probably pisses off Apple.

Who knows, maybe this move was a response to Apple snatching away RJ Pittman, Google’s director of product management. That followed the ending of a gentleman’s agreement between the two companies not to go after each others’ employees. That was when things were still peachy between the two tech giants — obviously, things have changed. Pittman was a key component of Google’s music project which integrated services like Lala into search results. Of course, Apple went on to buy Lala.

And then there was Google’s acquisition of AdMob — a purchase made while Apple was trying to buy the company as well. This led Apple to buy competing platform, Quattro Wireless.

Agnilux has other talent as well, including former Cisco and TiVo employees, but the PA Semi/Apple angle is too interesting to be ignored. The battle continues…

Apple Shares Soar Past $250 After Earnings. Market Cap Skyrockets Towards $240 Billion.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 04:01 PM PDT

Apple demolished earnings estimates today (both its own and Wall Street’s), so as you might expect, the company’s stock is surging in after-hours trading. At one point, after the earnings release went out, shares shot all the way up to over $263, up nearly $20 from where they closed the day, at $244.59. This was the first time Apple shares have passed the $250 threshold.

While the shares have since leveled off a little bit (currently at $258.85, up $14.26 in after-hours), the company seems destined to open trading tomorrow at a new all-time high. And, as we’ve been detailing over the past several weeks, it will once again be the closest it has ever been (well, since the 80s) to hated rival Microsoft when it comes to market cap.

Yes, yes bring on the 100 comments about why this really doesn’t matter. But it will still be a noteworthy milestone when Apple passes Microsoft in this measure of value. Yes, when.

With the surge today, Apple’s market cap soared past $230 billion — and almost hit $240 billion. Not even a month ago, Apple’s market cap passed $210 billion for the first time and got within $50 billion of Microsoft’s. Microsoft, which is currently trading near its own 52-week high at $31.36 has a market cap of $275 billion. Yes, Apple is closing — quickly.

Microsoft’s stock price has been largely stagnant over the past decade. Assuming that continues and Apple’s movement towards $300 continues, it could pass Microsoft in terms of market cap at some point this year. You can expect CEO Steve Jobs to be pleased with that. Just as he undoubtedly was after Apple passed Dell in market cap. Remember that in 1997, when asked what he would do if he ran Apple, Michael Dell responded, “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

Dell’s market cap currently stands at $33 billion. On paper at least, Apple could now buy them — in cash.

[photo: flickr/jurvetson]

Tim Cook “Shocked” At iPad Demand, “Can’t Think Of A Single Thing A Netbook Does Well”

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 03:14 PM PDT

Not surprisingly on Apple’s earnings call today, there were a lot of questions about Apple’s newest product, the iPad. And I do mean a lot — it seems that about half of the questions were about the product. Unfortunately, neither Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer nor COO Tim Cook gave many answers about the product. Their standard line was that there wasn’t enough data yet to draw any conclusions. But Cook did slip in a few interesting statements about the device.

When asked about Apple’s recent decision to delay iPad shipments to Europe, Cook candidly said that U.S. demand for the iPad “has shocked us.” He noted that it’s a good problem to have, and that there are no production problems — Apple simply underestimated how popular the device would be right off the bat. Apple announced that first day sales surpassed 300,000 and that first week sales were past 500,000. But since then, they haven’t said much. Some estimates put sales past 1 million already.

More interesting though, was what Cook said in response to a question about the iPad’s positioning against netbooks. “To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Cook said. “It’s sort of 100 to 0. I can’t think of a single thing a netbook does well.” This echoes similar statements made by CEO Steve Jobs when he remarked during the iPad’s unveiling that netbooks “aren’t better at anything.” And in the past, Jobs has noted that Apple didn’t know how to build $500 computers that weren’t a “piece of junk.” Clearly, Apple thinks of the iPad as different than a regular computer, and, a netbook.

Of course, Apple’s newly heated rival Google has a different opinion. Later this year, Google will unveil the first Chrome OS netbooks. These machines have been built by partners working closely with Google to make sure they’re not — at least in Google’s mind — pieces of junk. This year’s holiday shopping market for $500 machines should be interesting, to say the least.

Answers.com Starts Answering Questions On Twitter

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 03:13 PM PDT

Twitter has always been good for getting immediate answers to the most esoteric questions. Usually it is someone who is following you who supplies the answer, and those are always the best ones. But Q&A sites also want in on the supplying answers to people with questions on Twitter.

One of the biggest Q&A sites on the Web, Answers.com, now offers answers to anyone who Tweets a question to @answersdotcom. (The @answers account is owned by Mahalo, which has its own rival social Q&A service on Twitter which routes questions to humans). When you Tweet a question to @answersdotcom, you get a reply almost immediately which is the top answer from the site, or from WikiAnswers, which it also owns.

@Answersdotcom does best with trivia or factual questions. Ask, How many bones are in the human body? It comes up with 206. Or, How many people live in France? It estimates 65 million.

But if you ask, What wine goes with lamb?, apparently nobody has ever asked that on Answers.com.

Ah well, there’s always Aardvark.

3scale Secures $800,000 In Funding For Cloud-Based API Management Software

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 03:01 PM PDT

3scale Networks, a Barcelona, Spain-based provider of API management solutions, has raised $800.000 in equity and loans from Spanish VC Inveready Seed Capital and public entities like NEOTEC and CIDEM / ACC1Ó. 3scale essentially provides a SaaS API management infrastructure solution that enables Internet-based companies to secure, control, monitor and generate revenue from the distribution and usage of their data, content and services through APIs and Web services.

Apple By The Numbers: iPhone Sales More Than Double, Mac Holds Up

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 02:00 PM PDT

Apple enjoyed strength across the board in the second quarter of 2010, with overall gross margins rising to 41.7% in the quarter, that’s an increase from 39.9% for Q2 2009 (and 40.9% for the prior quarter.) iPhone global sales surged, with astounding growth in Asia, while  Mac sales remained robust in the second quarter. The company is still rapidly adding Mac converts— about  half of the Macs sold in the quarter from Apple stores were to people who had never owned a Mac, according to the conference call.

Abroad, it was all about the iPhone: 474% increase in Asia Pacific, 183% gain in Japan and 133% gain in Europe. Speaking of Asia, overall sales in greater China were impressive, with revenues for the first half of 2010 up 200%— that’s the first time Apple has released that break down. In regards to retail stores, the company is opening 2 stores in Shanghai later this year, and has plans to open 25 stores in China by the end of 2011.

The company’s second quarter report (its best non-holiday quarter ever) easily smashed Wall Street’s expectations with revenues of $13.5 billion and profits of $3.33 a share or $3.07 billion, far beyond expectations for $2.45 a share.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the products:

The number of desktops sold rose 40% year over year, while portable sales advanced 28% (but revenues were up only 17%, due to lower prices). The number of iPods sold actually dropped 1%, but revenues jumped 12% (probably on lower NAND flash pricing). The iPhone of course saw the biggest year over year gain, enjoying a 131% jump. Those numbers are roughly on par with NPD’s latest estimates (predicted sales: 10 million iPods, up to 2.9 million Macs), although its call on the  iPhone was too low.

For the definitive guide to Apple’s earnings/conference call read MG’s post.

HeyZap Launches A ‘Meebo Bar’ For Social Games

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 01:59 PM PDT

Web publishers looking to capitalize on the growth in social and casual gaming just got an easier way to integrate them into their sites. HeyZap, a platform that helps syndicate social and casual games and also offers expanded features like achievements, has just launched its Social Games Bar.  The bar is similar in appearance to the Meebo Bar — it sits at the bottom of the browser window and persists as you navigate through a publisher’s site. But the functionality is obviously quite different. The bar gives users access to 30,000 different social and casual games, some of which are tied to Facebook using Facebook Connect.

HeyZap cofounder Immad Akhund says that there are a few major benefits from the bar. First, it’s actually easier to integrate than HeyZap’s standard gaming widget, because publishers don’t have to worry about where they’re going to position it on their site (they just add a line of code and it appears at the bottom). And because the bar is always visible at the bottom of the page, users are more likely to click it.

He also says that all links shared through games launched by the HeyZap Bar link back to the publisher’s site, as opposed to the game’s Facebook page, which is where they often link to by default.   Finally, Publishers get a rev share on any virtual goods purchased through the games (which is true of the normal HeyZap widget as well).

Apple sold 8.75 million iPhones last quarter, 51.15 million since launch

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 01:55 PM PDT

Aaaand the iPhone continues to print money. Fresh out of their earnings report, Apple has just announced that they managed to push roughly 8.75 million iPhones out the door in the second fiscal quarter of 2010 (January to March).

Read the rest at MobileCrunch >>

Once Again, Apple Has Its “Best Non-Holiday Quarter Ever.” Best iPhone Sales Ever.

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 01:40 PM PDT

Apple has just announced its earnings for Q2 2010 — as we’ve come to expect from the company, it’s been another amazing quarter. Revenues were $13.5 billion destroying both their own and the Street’s estimates. Net quarterly profit came in at $3.07 billion — $3.33-a-share. The key blurb from CEO Steve Jobs in the release:

"We're thrilled to report our best non-holiday quarter ever, with revenues up 49 percent and profits up 90 percent," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We've launched our revolutionary new iPad and users are loving it, and we have several more extraordinary products in the pipeline for this year."

The Street estimates had been earnings of $2.45-a-share on revenues of $12.04 billion. Apple’s own guidance (which is always low) had been between $2.06 to $2.18-a-share on revenues of $11 to $11.4 billion. So yeah, Apple killed it.

Other key numbers include that the company sold 2.94 million Macs (up 33% over last year), 8.75 million iPhones (up 131% over last year), and 10.89 million iPods (down 1% over last year) during the quarter. No direct iPad figures were given.

Last quarter, the holiday quarter, Apple solid 8.7 million iPhones, so the fact that they eclipsed that (and were up 131% versus a year ago) is very, very impressive. Of course, now that we all know the iPhone HD (or whatever you choose to call it) is coming, sale the next quarter might dip a bit (of course, everyone should have known new hardware was coming anyway, just as it does every Summer).

Apple also shifted guidance for next quarter upward considerably. CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted that revenue should be in the $13 billion to $13.4 billion range. Again, Apple always gives low numbers, so you can probably expect the actual numbers, when reported, to be much higher.

Below find notes from the earnings call:

On the call are CFO Peter Oppenheimer, COO Tim Cook, and Apple’s Treasurer.

Oppenheimer: Outstanding March quarter results exceeding our expectations. Best non-holiday quarter ever. Highest quarterly iPhone sales ever. Best Mac sales in a March quarter. Revenue up 49% over prior March quarter. iPhone sales more than doubled (over last year). Net income was up 91% over the year-ago quarter.

We just updated the MacBook Pro line. 3 and 4 weeks of Mac channel inventory. iPod sales were about equal (down 1%) — sales of iPod touch were up 61% year over year though. iPod revenue growth (12%) was the strongest growth in 2 years. Share is still over 70%.

3,500 new apps for the iPad so far. 185,000 apps overall.

All-time high for iPhone sales, beating our previous record last quarter. We have iPhone on 151 carriers in 88 countries. In Asia, Australia, Japan, and Europe, sales were strong.

Extremely pleased with iPad sales over the past few weeks. iPad with 3G will ship April 30 in the U.S.

$1.68 billion revenue from Apple Stores — way up from last year. 47 million visitors during the quarter – and increase of 20% over last year’s quarter. 40 to 50 new stores in 2010.

Gross margin was 41.7%.

Cash is $41.7 billion, up $1.9 billion from last quarter. The priority is preservation of capital.

Looking forward, iPad sales should be strong — and a new product transition should help sales (maybe the new iPhone?).

—————- Q&A Time ———————

Q: iPad is off to a fast start — any insights?

Cook: We don’t have enough experience to judge things yet. We’ll see how it goes. We’re thrilled with the sales so far.

Q: Were Mac sales slower in March due to the iPad?

Cook: If you look at the previous March we announced a new iMac and new Mac mini, this year we didn’t have that, so you can’t judge it on that, really.

Q: What about WiFi vs. 3G iPad?

Cook: Too early to tell what the mix will be.

Q: Why not put guidance higher for next quarter?

Oppenheimer: Some of it is lower iTunes sales (people use gift cards after the holidays). Mac sales should be up. iPod should decline year over year, as it has been doing. iPhone, we’re not sure. iPad is also a wait-and-see with the 3G version coming and it coming to other countries in May.

Q: Why was iPhone so good? It was staggering.

Cook: We had some staggering growth rates. 474% in Asia Pacific region. 183% growth in Japan. 133% growth in Europe. A lot of this was adding new carrier partners.

Q: What about China?

Cook: China has been interesting. Up 9 times year over year. Through the first half of this fiscal year, our revenue from China is almost $1.3 billion — that’s up over 200% year over year. (That includes Hong Kong.)

Q: How quickly can you ramp up iPad production?

Cook: We’ve done well versus our planned capacity. There isn’t a production problem — demand in the U.S. was just too high. It’s a good problem to have.

Q: Component pricing?

Cook: The DRAM market is constrained.

Q: What about the iAd business? Is this a profit center?

Oppenheimer: We’re putting our toes in the water. Don’t expect much from us this calendar year. We’ll learn going forward.

Q: What about AT&T?

Cook: They continue to work hard, and are making improvements. I think this will continue. Surveys back this up.

Q: What about carriers?

Cook: There are only three main countries with exclusive deals: United States, Germany, and Spain. We’ve expanded in the others beyond one carrier and we’ve seen sales grow. But that doesn’t mean that will always happen. We look at it on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Are you open minded about iPad pricing?

Cook: We have nothing to say on that, but we’re priced very aggressively right now.

Q: Accounting for the iPad — do you defer a portion of the revenue? Charge for iPad OS updates?

Oppenheimer: We’ll discuss that on the July conference call after the iPad is out there.

Q: China updates?

Oppenheimer: Tim talked a bit about the revenue, in terms of retail stores, we’ll open 2 in Shanghai. We should have 25 open by end of 2011.

Q: Apple has been aggressive about the patents. How should we think of legal expenses?

Oppenheimer: We’ve definitely factored in legal expenses into our forward-looking numbers.

Q: Can you talk about the different ways to move the iPhone?

Cook: The smartphone market is a great market to be in. And the iPhone is outgrowing the market by 3x. The numbers are even better outside the U.S. (in terms of growth). We’ve learned a lot.

Q: About the Apple TV — what’s going on there?

Cook: Units were up 34% year over year. But it’s still very small — it’s still a hobby for the company. If you look at the other markets Apple is in — computers are 300 million units a year, call phones are 1.2 billion per year, MP3 players are 100 million per year. These are enormous markets. The market for Apple TV is not, in our view, nearly that large yet. That’s why we classify it as a hobby. Don’t want to trick people. But a number of us love the product, and use the product. We continue to think there’s something interesting there.

Q: More about iAds?

Oppenheimer: As I commented earlier, we’re just putting our toes in the water now.

Q: iPad cannibalization of the Mac?

Cook: So far there’s nothing pointing to that yet. But we don’t know yet, it’s too early. Remember, we just announced new MacBook Pros too. With the iPad in terms of netbooks — to me it’s a no brainer. ”It’s sort of 100 to 0. I can’t think of a single thing a netbook does well.

Q: But there’s no category for the iPad market yet, right?

Cook: I think Steve set this up well in January. The iPad is between the mobile phone and a notebook. There is so much you can do on an iPad. We already have the ecosystem with the App Store. Now we have a bigger canvas.

Q: What about the iPhone price? Should there be lower service plans?

Cook: We do everything that we can to try and get the best deal possible for the consumer. I feel like each of our carrier partners agree. When we dropped the iPhone 3G to $99, we were sort of surprised that so many people were still spending $199 for the iPhone 3GS. People want extremely innovative products.

Q: Margins for iPads — what about accessories?

Oppenheimer: The accessory portfolio is good for us. Many of iPhone and iPod accessories work with the iPad too. Let’s give it a little time, great things will happen.

Q: Any insight into iPad apps?

Oppenheimer: We’re not focused on making a lot of money on the App Store — with the iPad or iPhone. We’re just above break-even.

Q: Are there completely new Apple customers just from the iPad?

Cook: I think so, but it’s too early to tell.

Q: Other products in the pipeline? Are those enhancements?

Oppenheimer: We’re not going to help our competitors, so I won’t answer that. But we’re very excited about upcoming products.

That’s a wrap.


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