web 2.0

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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LoKast Hits 125K Downloads, Gains Traction As Mobile Digital Stage For Musicians

Posted: 07 May 2010 08:58 AM PDT

We’ve written about NearVerse’s compelling proximity-based social network packaged in an iPhone app, LoKast. Launched at SXSW two months ago, LoKast, which is actually short for "local-casting," allows you to set up a profile that will list all of your photos, selected contacts, videos, web links and music on your mobile phone. You can select which content you'd like to include to the public and which content you'd like to keep private. When a LoKast user is in proximity (300 feet) of other LoKast users, the app will automatically discover other users nearby and allow the user to view and download their content. The iPhone app is seeing steady adoption, with 125,000 downloads, most of which related to music and live events.

The app is ideal for sharing music and is seeing traction in the space as a way for musicians and DJs to connect to fans. Using the app, you can see the iTunes and music library of any user who is in close proximity to you. You can choose to download a 30-second clip of any song to your own profile and can also follow the link to the iTunes store to purchase the music (LoKast collects an affiliate fee for this, of course).

Because of this, LoKast is now being used by over thirty major bands and DJs as a digital stage, including including artists like Third Eye Blind. A number of bands used LoKast to distribute exclusive content throughout their sets at music festival Coachella. LoKast specifically designed a portal within the app to allow audience members to download content from each DJ performing at the several of the events around the festival.

Last week, LoKast partnered with GiantStep, a music label and marketing firm, to allows users to download free music through the app. The startup has struck similar deals with music distribution companies The Orchard, IODA and Monalis 360.

While the app was originally designed to share all types of content, such as photos and videos, music is the type of content that can be comfortably shared with total strangers. And when it comes to the location-based element, the app is perfect for music festivals and concerts.

The Legal Battle Between Apple And Nokia Heats Up

Posted: 07 May 2010 07:51 AM PDT

The ongoing legal wars between Nokia and Apple are heating up. Nokia is slapping Apple with another lawsuit, this time alleging that Apple’s iPhone and iPad 3G products infringe five Nokia patents. The complaint was filed in the Federal District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin.

Nokia is alleging that Apple is infringing patents that “relate to technologies for enhanced speech and data transmission, using positioning data in applications and innovations in antenna configurations that improve performance and save space, allowing smaller and more compact devices.”

In October of 2009, Nokia took Apple to court over alleged patent infringement for technology related to its GSM, UMTS, and WiFi "standards". You can read a detailed report here. Apple then countersued Nokia, alleging a patent holdup.

It’s unclear how much grounding this lawsuit has but it’s sure to annoy Apple, who is embroiled in a patent lawsuit against HTC.

Borders Launches the Kobo eReader and New eBook Store

Posted: 07 May 2010 07:41 AM PDT

Borders just announced that they’re selling the Kobo eReader, an $149 ebook touted, by Wired, no less, as a Kindle killer. This device isn’t formally Border’s only ebook reader. Instead, they will sell multiple readers online and in stores and the real news is that they’re creating an ebook store that will act as their default spot on the interwebs for ebooks and content.

If you pre-order – and you probably don’t want to – you’ll get your Kobo by June 17.

While I doubt the Kobo will sell at all, the more compelling offering is Borders’ ebook store featuring “a million titles” with apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android as well as the iPad. While I’d prefer all my content in one place on each of these devices – an overarching umbrella ebook app, perhaps – having a bit of overlap is always fun and some stores – Apple’s for example – are missing large parts of the catalog due to rights reasons. Regardless, it’s nice to know Borders is no longer absolutely irrelevant in the world of ebooks.

Read more…

Apple Is Now Nintendo’s Biggest Problem

Posted: 07 May 2010 07:35 AM PDT

The last time Nintendo took a big hit in profit, it resulted in the development of perhaps the most successful video game console of all time in the Wii. What's Nintendo's response going to be this time around? Yes, the big N has seen its profits drop from $3.03 billion to $2.48 billion—still a fair a bit of money perhaps to you and me, but cause for panic in the house that Mario built. While a traditional rival, Sony (with the PlayStation), was responsible for the previous rough patch, this time it's Apple. Will Nintendo allow the iPhone to push it around?

Did Apple Force WePad To Change Its Name To WeTab?

Posted: 07 May 2010 06:36 AM PDT

Neofonie, the German company behind the much-hyped iPad rival WePad, has changed the name of its tablet computer to WeTab, in a surprise move. The company has announced the name change on its Facebook page, stopping short of explaining why. We have a sneaking suspicion a certain computer and smartphone maker based in Cupertino has something to do with it, though.

Facebook’s Disconnect: Open Doors, Closed Exits

Posted: 07 May 2010 06:27 AM PDT

This guest post was written by Rohit Khare, an expert in internet standards, he is the co-founder of Ångströ and KnowNow.

Several of my friends recently quit using Facebook, drawing a line at the latest in a long line of changes to their privacy policy. That doesn't mean they quit using the social Web: they are still using a slew of different services that specialize in sharing photos, links, events, resumes, and updates. What it meant for me is merely that Facebook quit connecting me to their life online — but I can always re-connect to those friends myself, thanks to the Open Web.

Why would I think that the Web is more "Open" than any of the "Closed" social networks within it? As a developer, my loyalty to the Web as a whole rests upon the legitimacy of the institutions that govern it: there are ways to voice my concerns effectively, and there are ways to "agree to disagree" by exiting a debate and building my own Web site with my own policies in place.

My reasons are hardly original: that insight is due to "Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and States," an influential treatise by the arguably Nobel-worthy economist Albert Hirschmann. In it, he explained how consumers 'teach' producers what to sell and how, by choosing to complain or switch. Competition — the existence of a viable exit — can actually amplify the impact of "voice" and increase loyalty. Or, as Tyler Cowen put it: "HBO is more responsive than was East Germany."

According to this model, my friends who chose to cope with their dissatisfaction by deciding to exit by opting-out were also implicitly deciding that Facebook's official channels for voice were insufficient, such as the conversation on site governance or voting on the new Terms of Service (and, with a turnout of only 0.32%, they might even be right).

External voices can also be effective. Almost immediately after the Open Graph API was announced, Ka-Ping Yee wrote a browser app to view information it made publicly available. It attracted mainstream news media attention to an unpleasant surprise: that public events have public invitation lists. That triggered changes to a policy implication that was latent in the Facebook data model for quite some time, demonstrating how a program can sometimes be as persuasive as petitions, press, or politicians.

Instead, the most powerful constraint on my friends' loyalty was the data they had contributed to Facebook over the years. Hearing them make plans to quit but wanting their data back inspired us to write a new app for that over the weekend, but even so, it begs the question: Where can folks restore that backup of their posts, photos, statuses, and comments elsewhere onto the Web?

Green Safe transfers your personally identifying information (PII) from Facebook's profile into its own app (running on top of Facebook's platform). In practice, that's an effective form of protest against targeted advertising; but in theory, switching to a different trusted-third-party makes no difference at all.

SocialSafe's marketing message highlights a related trust and reputation risk: Facebook's policies for suspending or canceling accounts for abuse or victims of identity theft (far more likely than catastrophic data loss). As far as being an option for "exit," however, the primary recovery mechanism one can envision appears to be… creating a brand-new Facebook account by hand. The Facebook API makes it easy to download some bits of history, but not to replay it.

Give Me My Data has a more open-ended design that supports exploration and experimentation, in part because it sports an impressive array of formats to download your friend lists and other information for use in other projects such as visualization and charting. Owen Mundy at Florida State originally developed it for his own use, but "this week it kind of exploded because of the interface changes." That could either be a sign of broader awareness of how much data users share with Facebook; or it could be the acute interest users have in putting profile data that Facebook "lost" right back onto Facebook (a feature that may be coming soon).

Our tool, Disco Explorer, is designed to explore everything you've ever posted to Facebook with instant, private search (well, some of it, so far; voice your opinion on what's next!). The technology is unique in that we never keep any of your data on our servers at any point. It's free (as in $0) because it's 100% browser-based and downloads your data to your computer using HTML5's localStorage. You can see how it works by using 'View Source…,' and because we're releasing it freely under the GPLv3 Open Source License today, you can even get your own Facebook API key to use it

I admire Facebook for their innovative Platform, and I respect them for making as much information available to their users as they do through that API. I can see why they choose some of the policies they have to try balancing the interests of the small numbers of people quitting Facebook against the larger risks of automated abuse and harvesting.

It's also fair to say that for a company growing as rapidly as they are — with aspirations as audacious as supporting over a million users per engineer — an 'Open Door' policy for hearing out every last complaint is quite impractical. But their latest (and debatable) definition of "Open," rolled out at the f8 developer conference last month, affects larger organizations even more than individuals: Facebook now offers an Open Door for importing data collected about their users from any partner site on the Web.

Entrusting Facebook to faithfully store all of my personal Likes and download them later on is one thing. Outsourcing the same responsibility on behalf of a corporation is another. Sites that drop in the social plugin for Likes should ask some subtle fiduciary questions before subrogating their rights to Facebook for the social gestures within their site.. This isn’t about the ordinary quality-of-service risks of cloud computing such as downtime; these are user experience risks of relying on external policies and practices that could be considered censorship or inappropriate aggregation with data from sites you haven’t even heard of. The legal questions around entangling terms of service are unsettled enough that Facebook itself is trying to criminalize ToS violations for getting your own data out.

With social plugins, Facebook can now track user behavior just like many other ad networks or analytics tool. They are no more or less powerful than any other 3rd-party widget. Unlike those predecessors, though, Facebook has real users on their own site who are entitled to believe that Facebook only watches every move they make while they stay on Facebook.com — and who could be justifiably upset when they find out the full extent of it.

Here's the crux of the matter: if "exit" is an only-barely-sorta-possible option for superstar developers, advocates of open culture, or early adopters, is that really an option at all? Or has Facebook checked in a mile down the road from its HQ at the Hotel California? "You can check out any time you like / but you can never leave…"

Review Round-up: Custom In-Ear Headphones for Ultimate Sound

Posted: 07 May 2010 06:16 AM PDT

There are a few ways to to get excellent audio out of a pair of headphones. You can have excellent components or a tight, close fit or special electronics. Or, better yet, you can have all three. I was lucky enough to be able to try three types of custom earphones/earbuds and am please to report that if you have the cash they’re definitely a great way to listen to music.

I tested three distinct models from JH Audio, Ultimate Ears, and Etymotic. All of these buds were custom molded for my ear, a process that is, at the very least, undeniably weird.

First a note on these headphones: they’re definitely not cheap. Not only do you have to pay for the headphones, you also have to pay for a licensed audiologist to take a mold of your ear. The mold is then used to create a custom-fitted earbud that fits you, presumably, less like a glove and more like a custom sports mouth guard.

These earbuds are not for everyone but they are amazing bits of audio gear. I chose three different types, ranging from almost $1200 to about $400. If you love music and have a great deal of high quality or lossless content, this is certainly an option to consider. Full disclosure: Obviously these companies squirted gunk into my ears and made these headphones for the review.

Read more…

New Details On iPad’s International Rollout

Posted: 07 May 2010 05:52 AM PDT

Relax Apple fanboys of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, your iPad will be available in stores May 28. Apple, as previously announced, will take pre-orders starting May 10. The next countries on deck, for a July release, is Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore. Local pricing will be disclosed at a later date.

The international release of the iPad has been delayed due to heavy domestic demand, according to Apple. Latest stats: over one million sold, 12 million apps downloaded, and more than 1.5 million ebooks sold. I can’t imagine Steve is thrilled about the delays (though he has piles of fresh iPad cash for comfort)— less than one month ago (at the iPhone OS 4.0 reveal) he was adamant that the international launch would be in April.

In the UK, the iPad will cost from 429 to 699 pounds (with 699 representing the 64GB 3G model). According to MacStories the iPad prices for the rest of Europe will be 499 to 799 euros.

BookRenter Adds Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph To Its Board Of Directors

Posted: 07 May 2010 05:46 AM PDT

Marc Randolph, co-founder and former CEO of Netflix, is joining the board of directors of textbook rental service BookRenter.com.

That’s a big score for venture-backed BookRenter, considering Randolph’s consumer ecommerce and marketing expertise built up at Netflix, one of the pioneers in the DVD rental space.

Marc Randolph founded Netflix in 1997 together with now-chief executive Reed Hastings (who also has a vested interest in the education space, by the way).

Randolph originally served as Netflix CEO before transitioning into the role of executive producer in 1999. He was responsible for all content, features, and the customer interface, and also oversaw all customer communications in addition to heading up the research and analysis arm of the company.

Since retiring from Netflix in 2002, he has been an active investor and consultant to multiple technology startups.

BookRenter launched in 2008 and allows students to rent textbooks for up to 75% off the retail price. The company, which has raised $6 million in venture capital from Storm Ventures and Adams Capital Management, currently carries over 3 million titles and serves thousands of students on over 5,000 U.S. campuses.

(Image via NYDailyNews – Dempsey / AP)

Jack Henry Spends $300 Million On iPay Technologies

Posted: 07 May 2010 05:18 AM PDT

Jack Henry & Associates, a publicly listed provider of integrated technology solutions and data processing services for financial institutions, this morning announced that it is acquiring Kentucky-based iPay Technologies, a portfolio company of Spectrum Equity Investors, Bain Capital Ventures and management. Jack Henry will purchase all of the equity of iPay for a purchase price of $300 million in cash, subject to certain closing and post-closing adjustments. The acquisition is expected to close in June 2010, provided the deal survives regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

Layar Stream Tries To Filter The Augmented Reality Content Mess

Posted: 07 May 2010 04:39 AM PDT

Augmented reality startup Layar is launching Layar Stream, which reveals immediately what Augmented Reality content is available around a user. The problem with AR content is that discovery is an issue with all the new content available. There are now 1.2 million augmented objects served daily by Layar. So Layar Stream tries to solve this by generating a stream which users can pre-filter. They explain it thus:

TweetyMail: It’s Twitter Over Email. And It Works

Posted: 06 May 2010 11:38 PM PDT

To be an interesting third-party Twitter client these days you have to do something that really sets yourself apart. After all, there are no shortage of Twitter clients — and there’s no guarantee that Twitter itself won’t come out with features that eliminate the need to use your client. TweetyMail is a new client that’s a bit different, and Twitter itself is not likely to take it on anytime soon.

TweetyMail is Twitter over email. Yes, it’s that simple. Imagine never having to go to a Twitter client at all. If you want a list of the newest tweets from the people you follow, you just shoot off an email and back a new one comes with the tweets. If you want to tweet yourself, you just shoot off another email. Maybe you want to follow someone? Another email. Retweet? You get the picture.

This works because each Twitter action has a different TweetyMail email address. So if I want to unfollow a user, for example, I would simple email that username to unfollow@tweetymail.com. If I want to send a DM to a user, I would send an email to message@tweetymail.com. And so on.

Obviously, for this to work, you need to link up an email account you control to TweetyMail. But once you do that and verify it’s actually your address, you’re good to go. And you can hook up multiple addresses.

And there’s another benefit to using TweetyMail: improved follower and DM notifications. This is slightly more complicated to set up as TweetyMail gives you a special address that you then have to enter as your main email address on Twitter.com (this is where they figure out which email to send your notifications to). In TweetyMail’s new follower notification email you get things such as one-click follow, a full bio, and most recent tweets. It’s much better than what Twitter itself gives you.

With TweetyMail you can also easily set up alerts for tweets from a certain user, search terms, or mentions. All of these will be sent to your email address until you turn them off.

So yes, with TweetyMail you can completely bypass the need to go to Twitter.com (or any other Twitter client) ever again. TweetyMail currently has all features available for free during its initial testing phase. Eventually, the plan is to charge for some of the features (listed here) and to remove ads. If you’re addicted to email, and live in Gmail all day, this may be worth it for you.

Six Startups Blast Off From The Web 2.0 Launchpad

Posted: 06 May 2010 07:34 PM PDT

Every year at Web 2.0 Expo, a handful of promising startups are invited on stage to give quick, five-minute pitches to an audience of conference attendees and a panel of judges (you can see our past coverage on these events here and here). Yesterday this year’s batch of startups took the stage, and they didn’t disappoint. My notes on the startups are below.

Each company was judged by Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb, Ellen Pack of Elance, and Brian Singerman of Founders Fund. Taking the top prize (as judged by the audience) was Rhomobile.

Ask Your Target Market.com
A TC DemoPit company that we’ve previously covered, AskYourTargetMarket gives you a way to cheaply conduct market research using online surveys. The site lets you direct your questions to a target set of users using a number of demographic options (location, gender, etc.). Once you’ve collected your data, you can view it in slick-looking, customizable charts and graphs. The service costs $29.95 for 50 responses, and $97 for 400 responses.
Kirkpatrick: I think it’s really interesting.. A part of me wonders about the authenticity of the survey takers.
Pack: Fantastic. As a marketer, I’m excited.
Singerman: There are definitely other players in this space. How are you going to go about acquiring your panelists? Would this be better serviced by something like Facebook?

EnglEasy is as new as they come — the company was just formed a few days ago at Startup Weekend, a hackathon where groups of entrepreneurs and engineers throw together a project in a weekend long frenzy of coding. EnglEasy is meant to help teach English through gaming — the company already has an Android application that teaches basic vocab words, using some of Android’s built-in speech recognition and text-to-speech to enrich the experience. The company offers analytics on a website, which will be available to parents on a subscription basis. Everything is still pretty rough, but it’s impressive how much the company was able to put together in less than a week.
Singerman: How do you see yourself getting distribution? Are you going door-to-door to teachers?
A: Easiest way is through the private schools, as it’s very hard to get into the public school system (though you get broad dist. once you do). We’d like to get into private international schools, but we need to build relationships.
Pack: I’m curious to see if you’d be able to get the private schools to buy these graphical progress reports…
Kirkpatrick: I wonder what ages of children these would be most suitable to. Also, building games that are consistently good is easier said than done.

Pearltrees, which we’ve previously covered, offers a slick way to visualize web content that you’re interested in, with items represented as a web of movable bubbles (called pearls). The site just launched a feature that lets you take a portion of your bubble-map and embed it on your blog. The site also has a social component.
Kirkpatrick: It’s pretty incredible that you’ve built a curation tool that looks like a mind map and has been buzzed about quite a bit. But my question is whether this is something that could be popularized, or if the overhead is too much..

Rhomobile is a platform for writing and deploying applications across an array of mobile platforms (write once/run everywhere). It currently supports creating applications for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows, Symbian, and Android, with others in the works. Developers build applications using HTML/JavaScript/VSS/Ruby. The company says it complies with Apple’s developer license, as it generates a local XCode project with Objective C.
Pack: Mobile is hot, this is a very compelling use case. Are you compromising anything for increased compatibility?
A: No..but it’s important for us to keep up with all device capabilities as they emerge. We’re getting lots of action from the enterprise, where employers need to keep their workers in the loop.

Strings launched in February, offering a social tracking and filtering platform that allows users to share and discover things that interest them on the web. The site offers a number of ‘trackers’ that can automatically capture your activity on various popular sites (it’s opt-in). The site uses browser plugins to track this. It looks sort of like Blippy in the sense that it can track your purchases at these select sites. The site’s algorithms are built to find interesting content and eliminate noise.
Singerman: This looks good, but what’s the killer app — the app that people use this for initially.
A:The initial launch was focused on sharing. The killer app is the discovery platform.
Pack: What’s the business model?
A: We never sell your data — it’s private. We help you discover things though, and we’re accelerating consumption/driving increased traffic to these partner sites (sounds like they get money through affiliate programs).

Stupeflix, which we recently covered here, is a web service that lets you quickly generate videos from some basic static content like images and text. Videos can be interactive and updated after they’ve been created. On the backend of the service, users can edit video programmatically; there’s also a rendering API and support for After Effects. This looks quite slick.
Pack: This seems really great. I’m curious about the business model.
A: It’s pay per use, much like AWS..

eBay Partners With Gmarket Founder For $20 Million Expansion Into Japan And Singapore

Posted: 06 May 2010 03:39 PM PDT

Last fall, eBay acquired Korean auction site Gmarket for roughly $1.2 billion to expand to the Korean e-commerce market. Today, eBay is announcing a partnership with Gmarket founder Young Bae Ku to expand Gmarket's existing online marketplaces in Japan and Singapore.

Ku will become CEO of the new entity. eBay will have a 49% stake in the joint venture and eBay and Ku will both put $10 million each to the joint venture. eBay will also license Gmarket's technology and brand on behalf of the joint venture, while Mr. Ku will provide local management expertise.

eBay is trying to capitalize on the growing e-commerce markets in Japan and Singapore – where the e-commerce markets are expected to grow by 30% and 13% respectively between 2009 and 2012. And the joint venture is expected to be a foundation for further expansion in Asia.

eBay reported stronger than expected results for the first quarter of 2010, with PayPal powering eBay’s sales. Clearly, eBay is looking to further its e-commerce revenue streams and sees Asia as a prime market for this expansion.

Google Latitude Has 3 Million Active Users, Check-Ins Likely On The Way

Posted: 06 May 2010 02:40 PM PDT

“Hey Foursquare and MyTown, suck it.”

Okay, Google’s Steve Lee didn’t actually say that during the location panel at the Web 2.0 Expo today, but he may as well have. While Foursquare may have just crossed 1 million users, and MyTown now has 2 million, Lee revealed today that Latitude, Google’s location-based service, has 3 million active users — and some 8 million have signed up since the service launched.

Latitude is not dead,” Lee said in a half-joking manner, presumably refering to the fact that no one really talks about it despite all the talk of the location space right now. In fact, the service has grown 30% per month each month this year so far, Lee says. The reason appears to be the strong growth of the Android platform. Over 10% of all Android users are using Latitude, Lee said.

Lee said that one reason it took some time for Latitude to take off was that there hasn’t been very good iPhone support. The iPhone is key for a lot of location services. The majority of users of Foursquare and all of MyTown users are on the iPhone (or iPod touch/iPad), for example.

But up to this point, you haven’t been able to run third-party services in the background, so even if there was a Latitude iPhone app (which there isn’t), it wouldn’t do much. With the new iPhone 4.0 OS software, services will be able to run in the background and access things such as location. So it will be interesting to see if Google releases a native iPhone app. But right now, the aforementioned Android growth, and big time BlackBerry penetration is countering the lack of iPhone support, Lee said.

But wait, there’s more.

While he wouldn’t specifically speak to Google’s plans, Lee also hinted that Latitude would soon have a check-in component. When moderator Brady Forrest asked if Google would move from implicit to explicit location based on the popularity of check-ins, Lee said he does see the company moving that way. But he made sure to emphasize that they still see promise in the implicit model. “It will be a hybrid model eventually,” Lee said.

So while everyone is worrying about Facebook entering the space, maybe Google should really be the one to worry about? After all, 3 million active users is nothing to sneeze at. But not so fast — Lee also noted that a full quarter of Latitude users have zero friends. Yes, zero.

But Lee doesn’t mind that fact. The reason is that there’s another component Latitude has been working heavily on: location history. While a version of this is out already, Lee hinted that in the next couple week there will be a much more robust version. This will allow people who run Latitude in the background to get interesting information and data about where they’ve been. Foursquare also revamped their location history page recently, but again, since Latitude is always-on, they have a different layer of data.

Naturally, privacy will be important with such a feature, but Lee says this information will be restricted to just users themselves.

I’ve written in the past that Google Buzz perhaps should have started as a location-based service. Now it seems pretty clear that they are definitely taking location very seriously.

Harmonic Acquires Video Storage Company Omneon For $306 Million

Posted: 06 May 2010 02:13 PM PDT

The online video world has begun to consolidate. Broadcast and online video delivery giant Harmonic has acquired video storage company Omneon for approximately $306 million in cash and Harmonic stock. Harmonic will pay $190 million in cash and issue approximately 17.1 million shares of its stock, which is a total value of $306 million roughly. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2010.

Backed by Accel, Omneon produces video server and storage infrastructure for companies that produce and distribute audio and video content for television and the web. Omneon’s video server and storage technology is used by an impressive client list including the BBC, BSkyB, CBS, Comcast, Discovery Communications, Echostar, NBC Universal, News Corporation, Televisa, Turner Broadcasting System, and Viacom.

The company has has impressive revenue numbers. For the year ended December 31, 2009, Omneon’s revenues were approximately $105 million, of which 67% were outside the United States, with no single customer representing more than 10% of total revenue.

iPad Users Who Visit Yahoo Are 66 Percent Male, 10 Percent Foreign, And Love Flickr

Posted: 06 May 2010 02:12 PM PDT

Who exactly is buying all of these iPads? If you think that Yahoo users are representative of the public at large (as one of the largest sites on the Web, they are probably pretty close), then you can get a snapshot of the typical iPad user by looking at iPad visitors on Yahoo. Or maybe not. But that is exactly what Yahoo did, and it wrote up its findings on its mobile blog.

So at least for iPad owners who visit Yahoo (there might be some adverse selection going on there, if you know what I mean), they are 66 percent male, tend to be 35 to 44 years old, and they love Flickr, Yahoo Finance, News, and Sports. In fact they visit Flickr 2.4 times the average user (which makes sense since the iPad is all about the visuals). And they go to Yahoo Finance, Sports, and News twice as much as the average visitor. Conclusion: the iPad is awesome for media consumption. We knew that already, but it’s nice to have some numbers to back it up.

Also, a full 10 percent of Yahoo’s iPad traffic is coming from overseas where the iPad isn’t even available yet. Who’s been smuggling iPads to Europe?!

Lithium Technologies Picks Up Scout Labs For $20+ Million

Posted: 06 May 2010 01:58 PM PDT

Scout Labs, a startup that lets brand owners track what’s being said about them on new and social sites, has been acquired by Lithium Technologies in a stock and cash transaction, we’ve confirmed from multiple sources. We believe the purchase price is $20 million – $25 million.

We first covered Scout Labs, which was created in the Minor Ventures incubator, in late 2007 when it was still in private beta. More recently they updated their UI and improved on the product. We’ve found it to be best in class in auto-determining sentiment and giving brand managers a good real time overview of what’s being said about them.

Scout Labs has raised $4+ million from Minor Ventures, El Dorado Ventures and Javelin Venture Partners.

Lithium Technologies was founded in 2001 and focuses on a broader range of social CRM solutions. To date though their product suite has focused on retaining and communicating with existing customers. Scout Labs brings in the new dimension of seeing what the Internet in general is saying about your products and services. The company has raised $44 million in venture capital.

We expect the deal to be announced shortly.

Will AOL’s Tim Armstrong Redefine Online Publishing? Come Find Out At Disrupt.

Posted: 06 May 2010 01:39 PM PDT

Why are you reading TechCrunch, or anything online, for that matter? We know it’s not because of flashing banner ads. And so do all the online publishers.  Now that online advertising has failed to print money the way people hoped it might a decade ago, large content owners such as AOL and Yahoo are focusing on how to make more of what people actually want to read. AOL, in particular, is reinventing itself under CEO Tim Armstrong as a Time Inc. for the 21st Century. AOL employs thousands of journalists and is hiring hundreds more to help expand its local content. So we’re thrilled to announce Armstrong will be speaking at Disrupt, our conference on media and technology taking place May 24-26 in New York City.

We’ve got a lot going on at Disrupt. Here at TC offices in Palo Alto, we’ve been meeting with the cool startups all morning who will be launching new products for the iPad, consumer Web and more at our Startup Battlefield. We also recently announced a Hack Day, an overnight marathon of creative weirdness led by a team of ace hacks.

Disrupt’s early-bird rate is still good. Get your tickets here.

As for speakers, we’ve got an impressive slate lined up to talk about what’s new in content creation, distribution, and monetization in the media industries undergoing major changes right now. We’re delighted Armstrong is coming by to talk about how one of the original Web biggies is evolving. Also speaking about the evolution of news will be Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau and ngmoco CEO Neil Young will address how gaming has gone from dedicated consoles to general-purpose iPhones.

Many sponsors are helping us make Disrupt happen. In addition to those previously announced, we’re happy to be working with Flybridge Capital Partners, MailChimp and Facebook as partners. Product sponsors include Silicon Valley Bank, Lowenstein Sandler and Eventbrite. But wait! There’s more! Sponsors also include DESIGN about TOWN, WizeHive, Virgin America, and Buildasign.com.

Check out these links for more info on becoming a partner sponsor, or on exhibiting. If you’re a startup, you may want to join our Startup Alley for early-stagers.

Tim Armstrong

Tim Armstrong was appointed CEO and Chairman of AOL in March 2009. Before becoming the CEO of AOL, Armstrong presided over Google's North American and Latin American advertising sales and operations teams. His team provided customers with local partnerships as well as centralized sales and services. They worked with some of the world's most widely recognized brands and advertising agencies in addition to some of the fastest growing medium-sized companies. Armstrong joined Google from Snowball.com, where he was vice president of sales and strategic partnerships. Prior to his role at Snowball.com, he served as director of integrated sales & marketing at Starwave's and Disney's ABC/ESPN Internet Ventures, working across the companies' Internet, TV, radio, and print properties. He started his career by co-founding and running a newspaper based in Boston, MA, before joining IDG to launch their first consumer Internet magazine, I-Way. Armstrong is an investor in Patch and sits on the boards of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Advertising Council, and the Advertising Research Foundation.

Eric Hippeau
CEO, Huffington Post

Eric Hippeau is CEO of the Huffington Post, a leading news and opinion site which in four years has become an influential media brand — “The Internet Newspaper.” Hippeau joined HuffPost in June 2009. Prior, Hippeau was managing partner at Softbank Capital, a New York and Boston-based venture capital fund specializing in early stage investments in technology and digital media. Hippeau joined Softbank Capital in 2000 from Ziff-Davis, Inc., where he was Chairman and CEO. During his career at Ziff-Davis, Hippeau was early to recognize the growth potential of online media. Under his stewardship, ZDNet became one of the few successful examples of a strong online business model evolving from traditional magazine content, and he was instrumental in SoftBank's first investment in Yahoo! in 1995. Hippeau was also responsible for founding ZDTV, a cable channel dedicated to technology and the Internet. Hippeau serves on the boards of several public and private companies, including Yahoo!, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Thumbplay, The Huffington Post, and BuddyMedia, He is also on the investment committee for the SB Asia Infrastructure Fund. Hippeau graduated from the Lycee Francais de Londres and attended the Sorbonne University.

Neil Young
CEO, ngmoco

Neil Young is the founder and CEO of iPhone-game maker ngmoco, which he started in June of 2008. Young started the company after 11 years working at Electronic Arts, most recently as the Group General Manager of the EA|Blueprint Studio group that included Maxis (creators of Spore™ & The Sims™) and EA's collaborative partnership with Steven Spielberg. Neil joined Electronic Arts in 1997 as the General Manager of EA's Origin Systems subsidiary, where he supervised the launch of the world's first Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing game, UltimaOnline™. Prior to EA/Blueprint, Neil served both as Vice President and General Manager of EA Los Angeles (EALA) and EA Maxis, where he oversaw all aspects of the studios responsible for the blockbuster franchises Medal of Honor™, Command &Conquer™, The Lord of the Rings™ & The Sims™. In 2002 and 2003, Young also led the development of the first The Lord of the Rings games at EA Redwood Shores – The Lord of the Rings™: The Two Towers™ and The Lord of the Rings™: The Return of the King™. In addition to his other producing and management credits, he was also the creator and driving force behind Majestic™, the first Alternate Reality Game (ARG) and a pioneering internet experience that blurred the line between fiction and reality by engaging players through non-traditional gaming media.

VMware’s SpringSource Buys Data Management Company GemStone

Posted: 06 May 2010 01:22 PM PDT

SpringSource (which VMware acquired last year) is buying GemStone Systems, a company that provides enterprise data management solutions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. GemStone's flagship product is GemFire Enterprise, a scalable, distributed data platform that dynamically puts data where it is needed across a network to remove latency. Other GemStone products include GemFire SQLFabric, a memory-oriented SQL data management platform and GemStone/S, a platform for running distributed Smalltalk applications.

Google Apps To Become More Connected—Adding Picasa, Reader, AdWords And More

Posted: 06 May 2010 12:57 PM PDT

One of the virtues of using Google's products are the connections you get to the search giant's other applications. For example, I love that my Gmail account can connect to iGoogle, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, and other products in the Google family, making the transition between applications seamless and easy. Google is now planning to bring this interconnectivity to Google Apps. Google says 9 of the top 20 requests from Apps customers are for their accounts to work with more services from Google. Currently, Apps works with Gmail, Docs, Chat, Groups, Video and Calendar. Later this year, Google will roll out functionality with Apps for Picasa, Google Reader, AdWords, News, Finance, and other products. Users won't need to switch between their personal and work account to interact with these products from within the Apps interface.

What’s Up With Google’s New Redundant UI?

Posted: 06 May 2010 12:31 PM PDT

For a company obsessed with removing every spare word from its homepage (“The fewer, the better,” Marissa Mayer once noted), Google’s new search interface seems a bit weighty. If you haven’t noticed by now, yesterday Google launched a redesign which prominently features ways to refine your search on the left-hand side. Now you can search for “Everything” or narrow your search to just news, images, videos, maps, shopping, books, blogs, updates, or discussions.

Sure, Google is borrowing a page from Bing, which centers its entire experience around guided search. That’s okay, Bing copied Google’s universal search box. Competition pushes products forward, and it’s all good.

But what is up with the redundant UI? Nearly all of those options are still also available along the top of the page, where they have always been (including the drop-down “more” menu). Time to get rid of them. Putting the guided search on the side is much better. It lets you toggle between different types of searches for the same keyword and it no longer feels like you are going off to some strange corner of Google like Google Book Search.

Those links across the top add nothing to the page. If fewer words are better, then why is Google cluttering up its search page with unnecessary repetitions? Sure, people are used to finding those options there, and maybe Google just wants to ease them into using the new side navigation before pulling away the familiar ones up top. Sometimes, you’ve got to pull off the band-aid, . . . Marissa.


The Web Struggling To Keep Up With The Stock Market Crash/Bounce

Posted: 06 May 2010 12:03 PM PDT

In case you haven’t been on Twitter in the past 20 minutes, the U.S. stock market is collapsing. Well, it was collapsing (the Dow was down over 1,000 points at one point), but now it’s bouncing back. But you’d be forgiven if you have no idea what’s going on just from watching the web, because frankly, it’s struggling to keep up.

It appears that under the weight of just about everyone checking the web to see what’s happening with the market, sites are failing left and right. Google Finance keeps bringing up an error message to “please try again in 30 seconds.” Yahoo Finance, meanwhile is completely down. Trying to look for the news via Twitter, meanwhile, yields mixed results. At one point when the Dow was down about 1,000, plenty of people were still tweeting that it was down 400. Others were saying it was down 600, etc. The problem is that the “realtime” web wasn’t even fast enough for how fast things were crashing.

Then the bounce started happening and people were still tweeting about the Dow being down 1,000. The problem? It was actually down only like 100 at that point. It’s like whiplash out there on the web right now.

So where else do you turn? Well if you loaded up CNN.com while the crash was occurring, you wouldn’t have even known anything was happening. It was only well after the bounce started occurring that they site had a banner up that the Dow was down 900. And again, the bounce was already happening at that point.

Update: CNBC is reporting that the a typo may have caused at least a part of the sell-off.

According to multiple sources, a trader entered a “b” for billion instead of an “m” for million in a trade possibly involving Procter & Gamble.


Update 2: Yahoo has reached out about the Yahoo Finance downtime:

"Yahoo! Finance experienced intermittent issues related to traffic from today’s market activity.  We will continue to monitor and resolve the issue as necessary."

They also tweeted about it. It’s just now back to normal.

Wikipedia And PediaPress Now Allow You To Create Books From Content In English

Posted: 06 May 2010 11:58 AM PDT

Last year, we reported that the Wikimedia Foundation and PediaPress had partnered to allow you to assemble your own wiki pages from Wikipedia and print them out in book form. Today, the feature is being extended to the English language and all U.S. users.

Previously the ability to create books from the English version of Wikipedia was exclusive to signed in users, because of scalability issues. But now anyone can create books from the over 3 million articles on Wikipedia in English alone. Users can create the book without leaving Wikipedia. A “create a book” button has been added in the print/export section of Wikipedia's left navigation sidebar that brings them to the book creator. When you browse the site, you can add articles to the book by clicking the “Add the Page” button.

Users can then arrange the order of the articles, choose a cover photo and
give the book its title and an editor's name. The price of the unique books depends on the number of pages and starts at $8.90. Books are ready for shipment within two working days.

Currently, PediaPress offers paperbacks, but plans to add hardcovers with color
images soon. Furthermore, it will be possible for users to add own content like a

The Wikimedia Foundation receives (only) 10% of the gross total for each book sold. But this could be a profitable revenue maker for Pedia Press considering the enormity of the English and U.S. market.

YC-Funded Trustmarker Brings Certified Site Badges To The Masses

Posted: 06 May 2010 11:50 AM PDT

The idea of bringing a certified badge to a website isn’t new. Badges on websites from TRUSTe, VeriSign and McAffee are commonplace on sites to certify that the site is secure. But Y Combinator-backed startup Enernetics are hoping to make these badges more mainstream with Trustmarker. Trustmarker allows anyone to create and implement a “trustmark” on a site that can be used to denote a relationship, distinction or certification. For example, on Trustmarker’s homepage, there is a Y Combinator mark at the bottom of the page to denote that it was incubated at YC.

The idea behind Trustmarker was born at Enernetics’ C02Stats, which measured how green a website or service was and created a stamp of approval for an energy-friendly site. Trustmarker allows any organization to create a branded Trustmark that can be embedded on a site easily. The Trustmark is hyperlinked, so the owner can generate traffic to their site, access analytics of who is clicking on their site, and can control who can show their Trustmark. Owners can also earn money by charging licensing fees to use a Trustmark.

Sites simply embed the Trustmark with a line of Javascript. For the sites who display a Trustmark, the startup offers analytics on how the mark helps their visitor engagement and conversion rates through integrated A/B testing. Sites can also customize the appearance of the Trustmark to match their site.

For now, the ability to create and use a Trustmarker is free but the startup plans to add a premium version of the service in the future. Trustmarker’s technology is compelling and easy on any business’ wallet. Offhand, I can think of a number of real world examples of how Trustmarker’s technology can be used as a cost-effective way for a blog, review site, or conference to bring a certification or distinction to a business’ site. And the certifier gets traffic, for free. Seems like a win-win situation to me.


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