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Friday, May 28, 2010

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

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Come To One Of 150 TC Meetups Around The World To Celebrate The Past Five Years Of The Web

Posted: 28 May 2010 08:52 AM PDT

In two weeks on June 11, TechCrunch will celebrate its fifth birthday. We want to celebrate it with as many people as we can all around the world. So we are using the new Meetup Everywhere platform that Scott Heiferman announced on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt on Wednesday to organize TechCrunch Meetups on June 11 all around the world. Already there are almost 150 meetups planned in places including New York City, San Francisco, London, Hyderabad, Seoul, Tel Aviv, Jakarta, and Sophia.

We will be throwing our own party in the Bay Area (more details on that coming soon), but for those who can’t fly to California, these meetups are a great way to gather with other people who obsess about technology and startups near where you live. We really think of this as a celebration of the last five years of technology and all that has happened on the Web since then. So join one of the 150 meetups already organized or start your own. To get some regional rivalries going, we will offer 50 free tickets to the next TechCrunch Disrupt (airfare and hotel not included) to each of the 50 largest meetups so that one person from each meetup will win a ticket. Winners will have to check in via a geo mobile service to qualify. We will be in touch with the organizers of each of the 50 largest meetups with more details.

Our own TechCrunch Europe editor Mike Butcher will be at the London Meetup, and I will attend the one in New York City. I have a feeling some of these meetups will get quite large, so if anyone has space they can offer up or a venue wants to donate a local TechCrunch Meetup, go to the relevant Meetup page and offer it up. In New York City, Yext CEO Howard Lerman, who also launched a new product at Disrupt, is graciously opening up his office space in Chelsea for the meetup. Okay, who is bringing the food and booze? (Don’t worry, Howard, we promise not to trash the place too much).

CrunchGear Reviews the Thin and Light Sony Vaio Z Series

Posted: 28 May 2010 08:50 AM PDT

The Sony Vaio Z-Series is a thin and light with a mission: to prove that a tiny - but expensive - laptop can run Windows 7 and almost anything you throw at it like a champ. When I opened the Sony Z-Series' plain brown box, my heart fell. "Another ultra-portable," I thought, "another sad-making thin-and-light without power or verve." But I fired it up, used it for a solid week, and came out on the other end convinced that Sony still has what it takes to make a nice laptop.

Report: Apple Prepping Cheap, Cloud-Based Apple TV For War With Google

Posted: 28 May 2010 08:13 AM PDT

The idea of putting iPhone apps on the Apple TV has been something some of us have been thinking about since at least 2008, when the original App Store launched. When rumors were swirling about Google TV, it became an even better idea as the living room was likely to be a new battleground for Apple/Google. And with the unveiling of Google TV last week, it became clear that this would be a next major fight — provided Apple started taking it seriously. Soon, they will be, if Engadget’s sources are correct.

The gadget blog says that a tip they’ve since confirmed with “a source very close to Apple” suggests that Apple has been working on the next version of the Apple TV. The goods according to them: it will be a very small box (smaller than the current one) with perhaps only outputs for power and TV-out cables. It will run on Apple’s new A4 chip (the one found in the iPad and soon the new iPhone). It will still do 1080p video, but may have as little as 16GB of flash memory. That’s because the thing will be based around streaming over the cloud (or from other computers in your home) rather than local storage. Most significantly, it will run the iPhone OS.

Basically, it’s an “iPhone without a screen,” is how Engadget hears it. Oh — and it will cost only $99, supposedly.

A product update may seem obvious from Apple, considering the steady pace at which they iterate devices. But the Apple TV hasn’t received a major hardware upgrade in its entire lifespan — almost exactly 3 years. The reason is that Apple still considered the device a “hobby.” The likely reason for that is because they haven’t figured out a way to make money from it yet.

But Google’s announcement of Google TV — a platform which will run on the mobile Android OS — changes everything. Apple needs to take the Apple TV seriously now, or it runs the risk of losing what should be an important battle with Google. While Engadget notes this product has been in development before Google’s announcement, you can probably bet that the announcement put it on the fast-track.

Still, it seems hopeful at best that we’ll hear about it at Apple’s WWDC event next week in San Francisco. The new iPhone is expected to be the centerpiece there. But, if this new device really does run iPhone OS, might Apple hint at it considering the event will be iPhone-centric? Remember, Apple first showed off the original Apple TV a full 6 months before it launched (when it was still tentatively called “iTV”).

Also consider that getting the iPhone OS on to the Apple TV will require some work as developers will yet again (just as with the iPad) have to work on scaling apps to correct resolutions. And that may be a big issue since people have all kinds of different TVs with all kinds of different resolutions.

It’s possible that Apple could pull an iPhone and release the device as a closed system first (maybe in the Fall), and then later open it up to third-party apps. It all depends on how threatened they feel by Google TV — which will also be out in the Fall. But, again, Google TV will run Android apps out of the box, so if Apple released an Apple TV that doesn’t, it will disappoint a lot of people.

Engadget notes that there’s no word on if apps will be included with the product or not. But it makes little sense to use the iPhone OS for this device and not includes apps (at least eventually). As I noted, the reason Apple hasn’t been taking the Apple TV seriously up until now is because they hadn’t figured out the best way to make money from it. That’s largely because Apple makes money off of hardware sales, and for devices like the iPod, those are driven by the availability of content at a good price. That’s the reason the Apple TV has failed to catch on: not enough content at a good price.

The reason there’s not enough content is likely because Hollywood is giving Apple much more push-back than the music industry did. For example, they won’t yet agree to Apple’s idea of subscription-based iTunes TV show packages. But apps could change all of that. Apps are content, and they would immediately vault the Apple TV into must-own status. Imagine playing all those thousands of cheap games on your TV. Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony must be shitting themselves.

And if something like the Netflix app or the ABC app for the iPad worked on the Apple TV, the bitching about a lack of content would simmer down quickly.

Of course, there’s the issue of how you would control those apps — since you’re not about to walk up and touch your giant screen TV anytime soon. But there’s an easy solution for that: make iPhone, iPod touches, and iPads the controllers for the apps on the TV. They already have a Remote app you can use on your iPhone to control the Apple TV.

The $99 price is interesting to me because it suggests that Apple may not make a lot of money off of the device. It’s not clear if that price is just wrong, or if Apple would do something like that because it’s that concerned about Google owning the space. With no glass touch screen needed, it is possible that Apple could produce these things cheaply, but that cheaply?

Assuming these details are right, this Apple TV/Google TV battle should be a good one. Yes, it’s iPhone OS vs. Android in a new battlefield, but the devices would also have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Apple TV would have access to all of your existing iTunes content (and possibly over the cloud). Google TV, meanwhile, would work with your existing cable television, and would simply overlay the Android OS on top of it.

My only hope is that this battle will lead to a transformation of the existing cable television ecosystem in the U.S. For too long it has absolutely sucked.

Geo Services Mismatch Places Up To 40 Percent Of The Time

Posted: 28 May 2010 07:03 AM PDT

Have you ever tried to check into a place on Foursquare or some other geo service only to find that there are 10 names for the same location? For instance, Foursquare has tons of different “places” that are all inside Grand Central Terminal in New York City. There is Grand Central Terminal itself, but there is also Track 32, 34, 108, and so on. You can also check into the Blimpies or Hudson News inside the terminal, or the “5:22 Express To Grand Central Terminal” which is not a single place so much as it is a moving train (literally). While there are times you want to have the granularity of being able to say, “I am in front of the central ticket booth with the clock,” nine times out of ten simply checking into Grand Central Terminal is sufficient for most people.

The Grand Central problem is replicated across many popular places in Foursquare and other places databases. According to mobile marketing startup Placecast, location datasets show similar mismatches up to 40 percent of the time. Placecast launched a MatchAPI two months ago for geo developers which helps resolve place duplication in their location database. Since then, 200 location services have signed up to tap into the free API, pushing 20 million locations through the API, of which 1.5 million were incorrect or duplicative. The mismatch rate ranges from 8 percent to 40 percent. Services which rely on their users to upload and identify places not surprisingly have the higher fault rate.

Normalizing everything down to a single place per location isn’t necessarily the answer. Sometimes I want to tell my friends that I am on Track 32 in Grand Central Terminal, but most of the time I travel alone and simply want to check into Grand Central, the place. The overarching location should be the default, and it should be the same matches across different geo services. As I’ve argued in the past, ultimately an open database of places is going to be needed so that we can all collectively map the world once and various geo services can then tap into that universal places database and spend their efforts building their services on top of it.

Box.net Adopts HTML5; Adds Drag And Drop Functionality Between The Web And Desktop

Posted: 28 May 2010 05:58 AM PDT

Cloud storage and document sharing startup Box.net is the latest startup to adopt HTML5. The startup is announcing today that it is incorporating a broad implementation of HTML5 drag and drop functionality that supports native interaction with desktop. So basically, you can drag and drop files from the desktop right into your Box.net web application. The feature works on Firefox 3.6 and Chrome for PC (with support for Safari and Chrome on all platforms coming in the next few weeks). Box's CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie says that Flash didn't allow this at all due to security issues. While this is a small addition in terms of functionality, he believes that HTML5 provides a much richer user experience when it comes to enterprise applications and the interaction between the browser and the operating system . "HTML5 is the nail on the coffin of desktop applications because we can create this rich interactive experience that acts like a native app." Levie adds that HTML5 is also appealing because it works on every device.

Brits Queue Round The Block As The iPad Goes On Sale In London

Posted: 28 May 2010 02:52 AM PDT

The UK has been gripped by the launch of the iPad if the Twitpics are to be believed. As you can see from the below ( thanks jasonlan and joanikin) there was a large crowd queuing outside Apple's flagship London store on Regent's Street, in a line which literally snaked around the corner into Hanover Square. Believe me, that is a long line. Some estimates have put the crowd at around 500 people outside, waiting to grab the iPad.

Oops. Beware The Accidental Post To Twitter Contemplating An Acquisition

Posted: 28 May 2010 12:17 AM PDT

A certain founder of a certain hot startup made the mistake this evening of posting two messages to Twitter that he clearly didn’t intend to. They were sent via text message – and my guess is they were meant for a friend, not public consumption.

Cleaning it up a little, it reads:

…But the investors are already rich so this doesn’t change their lives like it does mine…[It will] come down to [investors] getting a high enough offer than the investors can [say] let’s take it.

I haven’t been able to verify the messages, which were sent in via a tipster, as accurate and they were quickly taken down (I have contacted the company, no response yet).. It seems reasonable to remove the identifying information.

But oh, the angst. The interests of founders and investors so often diverge when a company starts to get acquisition offers – offers that don’t interest venture capitalists looking for billion dollar exits but that give founders enough money to change their lives forever. That’s why you see a lot of venture deals where founders and key employees take some money off the table, relieving their pressure to sell early. My guess is [company named removed] may want to consider that sometime soon.

What the Hell Is Going on in Indonesia?

Posted: 27 May 2010 11:05 PM PDT

From Silicon Valley to New York, from India to South Africa one question keeps popping up in the mind of Web and mobile Web entrepreneurs: What the hell is going on in Indonesia?

Having matured from its early 2000s Internet obsession with Friendster, it seems Indonesia has become something of a Web force, embracing everything from Facebook to Foursquare catching people off guard with some uncommon swarms. We wrote about an obscure Indonesian awards show taking over Twitter back in March, and on May 6, Indonesians flocking to see Iron Man 2 won their first Super Swarm badge on FourSquare—something US Web addicts usually only earn at large events like SXSW.

I'd like to say I hunted down some impressive Internet entrepreneurs during my current trip to Indonesia to ask them exactly what was going on here, but really they found me. (Just another sign of their Web savvy.) I had dinner with some of them in Jakarta last week, and they're photographed above. They include (from left to right) Leontinus Alpha Edison of Tokopedia, an ecommerce platform; Eduardus Christmas of still-in-progress Evolitera; Rama Mamuaya, creator of the local blog DailySocial; Selina Limman of Urbanesia.com, a local review site; Satya Witoelar of Koprol.com, a location-based social network just acquired by Yahoo and Andrew Darwis of Kaskus, a forum and classifieds portal.

I grilled them on some basic questions to bring you a Web-in-Indonesia primer. But before we get to those, here’s what impressed me the most about this small-but-tightly-knit community: It's incredibly collegial. Plenty of research has shown that the biggest reason Silicon Valley beat Boston as a venture capital and startup hot spot was because culturally it was open, trading employees, funding, mentorship and ideas among competitors. It's not uncommon to see Web competitors in the Valley having dinner together and generally discussing business challenges, before they go back to the office for some late night coding to bury one another in the market.

This is something many emerging markets struggle with as they put up walls, try to enforce NDAs and are generally cagey about their ideas. But the Indonesian crew is so small that they've found each other—mostly via Twitter—and banded together, openly discussing challenges posed by uncertain waters of raising money and offers to get acquired.

Since Indonesia has had little hype, the community seems to have grown organically—like the early days of the Valley and very unlike Web communities in Israel, India and China. Friday night I had dinner with two leading companies Kaskus and Tokopedia—both essentially community sites that have elements of eBay and Craigslist. Edison of Tokopedia was talking about how many ideas they get from reading the forums on Kaskus. "Wait, do you guys consider yourselves direct competitors?" I asked. Both laughed and said yes, sort of, but Darwis explained, "The market is so small, we're better off helping each other."

This seems obvious if you're in the Valley, but I can't tell you how uncommon it is in most places I've been in the last few years. Well done, Jakarta. Don't lose that—as Boston learned the hard way, it's a formidable advantage.

Now, some answers to that title question, mostly courtesy of the entrepreneurs photographed above.

How Many Web Users Are in Indonesia? Reports vary from 38 million users to 8% of the population, which would equal more like 20 million. If the previous reports are true, that's close to Internet usage totals in Brazil and India, far more hyped and targeted markets. But that's just for accessing Internet over computers. Web mobile is huge and Blackberries are the default device. Data services and cheap and you can buy Blackberry data service by the day on prepaid phones, upping the accessibility even more. Access to Facebook and Twitter are advertised on mobile billboards around the country, which is why the audience seems even larger for these services—most people are only interacting with them on their Blackberries.

Why Is the Indonesian Web Swarmy? Part of this is answered above—it's a huge market that few players are explicitly targeting, even larger when you factor in the mobile Web. That means that as many people may be logging onto your site from Indonesia as from India or Brazil, but you have probably heard so much about Brazil and India being big emerging markets that the swell doesn't catch you off guard. Few people know anything about Indonesia—let alone that it has 240 million people, almost as much as the US. So the swells can be surprising.

How Many Web Entrepreneurs Are in Indonesia? This crew estimated between 300 and 1,000 in Jakarta. Mamuaya has personally written about more than 300, and upwards of 1,000 have attended different founder events. Unlike the Valley, most of the "startup people" are founders—most of these companies are still pretty small. (More on entrepreneurs outside Jakarta in a future post.)

Does Anyone Make Money on the Indonesian Web? Most of them do not. There are two problems, they tell me. Indonesians do not want to pay for the Web, so founders are loathe to follow the Chinese model of amassing a large number of micro-payments to build a big company. "There is a big difference between one penny and free here," Edison of Tokopedia says. So most are following the Valley playbook of build-and-monetize later. That may be a risky strategy: Encouraging the idea that the Web is free, rather than setting expectations from the beginning. But the reticence is also practical: Few people have credit cards and banks don't have a universal payment system that ecommerce can exploit.

Advertising can actually be lucrative, even at this nascent stage. Part of that is because a lot of big brands are waking up to the Indonesia's large, untapped market and there aren't a lot of mass media platforms to advertise over. Kaskus makes $50,000 (US) a month in advertising, more than double what it takes to run the business every month.

Are There Traditional, Early-Stage VCs in Indonesia? As far as I can tell, there is exactly one and it's not a traditional firm. East Ventures—a Singapore-based angel fund set up by Batara Eto, the founder of mixi.jp, the Japanese social networking site and others. They're not based here, but have spent time in Jakarta scouting deals and have recently funded Tokopedia and Urbanesia. (Mamuaya reports here that a few more firms are coming or at least considering the move.)

Is Anyone in the West Trying to Buy These Companies? Again, as far as I can tell, there is exactly one suitor, although this one is more traditional: Yahoo. This insight was a lot newsier when I first drafted this post a few days ago. But Koprol aside, Yahoo has approached half-a-dozen small, up-and-coming Indonesian Web startups, this crew said. So far no other deals have been reached. But Yahoo clearly sees something here and likely isn’t done.

What is the Biggest Challenge Indonesian Web Entrepreneurs Face? Surprisingly, no one I asked said capital or exits. The relative lack of big, lucrative coding jobs from the multinationals like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft and the lack of venture capital have kept developer wages and costs of building a startup incredibly low. No one seems to feel a real pain for venture capital, because none of these companies are started with an expectation of it. This makes Indonesia absolutely unique among the 11 or so countries I've visited in the last two years. Instead, the pain point is finding developers. In Indonesia, developers are considered an entry level position, not a lucrative career path. Most companies have to invest six months or so in training the talent they need, making scaling up a challenge.

You Can Try Picplz Soon, But Only On Android

Posted: 27 May 2010 09:52 PM PDT

New online photo and location service Picplz, being developed by imeem execs Dalton Caldwell and Bryan Berg, is still far from being fully baked. But people who are determined to get an early look at the new service will soon have a way to do so – if they have an Android phone.

Think of picplz as a photo-based foursquare. You can use it as a simple publishing tool for a photo stream – think Twitpic or Posterous – but it really shines when you access the service via a mobile device. Picplz is integrated tightly with Foursquare to assign a location to your photo and then check in. Your photos are then published on the Picplz site and, optionally, Twitter. Facebook publishing is also coming soon.

The company has built an unpublished Android application as its first mobile app, which I tested earlier today. The app will be added to the Android marketplace sometime soon, and once it is anyone can download it and test the service. It will be the only way to actually create an active account on the service for now, but once you have an account you can use the picplz website as well.

It fills a huge hole in the Foursquare product, which doesn’t allow photo uploads.

The website has evolved significantly since we first wrote about picplz in April. One feature I like is the “infinite page” – which continues to load photos as you scroll down the page. There’s no concept of a “next” button, and you can scroll forever, or so I assume, when viewing the global feed of pictures.

The official launch of the company will be via an iPhone application later this year. The company is waiting for iPhone 4, says Caldwell. But until then, Android users welcome.

The company has a ridiculous amount of attention on it given the imeem background of the founders, and Caldwell is clearly trying to balance the need for people to test the service with the inevitable criticism that not-fully-baked services tend to receive. If you are a super early adopter type, understand that alpha software tends to have lots of bugs, and want to provide feature and interface feedback, you’ll want to try this out when it hits the Android Marketplace. The skeptics should wait a few months for the general release.

We’ll let you know as soon as the app is available.

(posted at 30,000 feet on Virgin America)

Black Kindle Spotted And (Barely) Pictured

Posted: 27 May 2010 04:52 PM PDT

An anonymous tipster has confirmed the long-whispered rumors that Amazon will offer a Kindle that isn't white. A mystery unit, described by our tipster as "exactly like a Kindle DX but black," was being photographed at a Seattle coffee shop (with a 5D mk II, he or she notes) and Mr/Mrs Tipster had the presence of mind to snap a picture before they put it away.

Exclusive: Twitter’s Director Of Search Is Out As Product Is Restructured

Posted: 27 May 2010 04:21 PM PDT

In July of last year, Twitter Search usage was exploding. As such, Twitter hired a new high-profile engineer, Doug Cook, to take over as the new “Director of Search.” Cook has now left the company, we’ve learned.

When reached for comment, Twitter confirmed the departure, but would not give a reason for the split. We had also heard that the reason Cook is out is that the search team is being split into at least two different groups now. Twitter’s comment on the matter seems to confirm that:

We are investing even more on search and have created new teams to focus our efforts on inference, discovery and real-time search infrastructure.

Twitter would not say if there will be a new Director of Search, but we hear the role may simply not exist anymore with this new multi-team approach.

Search is one of the most important aspects of Twitter these days. It’s not only useful, it’s tied directly into Twitter’s first big plan to make money: Sponsored Tweets. It also is the key to hashtag relevance and a number of other things Twitter is working on — undoubtedly things like analytics.

Search on Twitter began when Twitter bought Summize in the Summer of 2008. That service morphed into Twitter Search, a service that resided at search.twitter.com. By March of 2009, the product was so useful that we wrote it was time to start thinking of Twitter as a search engine. By April of that year, they rolled search into the main Twitter product, and it has been a core feature since.

This is one of the first fairly major shakeups at Twitter (aside from when Ev Williams took the CEO title from creator Jack Dorsey in 2008). This news follows the promotion of Greg Pass (a co-founder of Summize) to be Twitter’s first CTO, as we broke in April. That move was made to make room for Michael Abbott, Palm’s former head of software and services, to take over as VP of Engineering.

Cook came to Twitter from Yahoo, where was a VP of engineering. He took over the search responsibilities from Twitter Chief Scientist Abdur Chowdhury, another Summize co-founder. Cook also runs the wine search engine Able Grape. His LinkedIn profile lists this as his only current job. Recent tweets suggest his next move may be vacationing.

Tweet Off!: What TechCrunch Disrupt Looked Like On Twitter

Posted: 27 May 2010 03:14 PM PDT

After three full days, our first TechCrunch Disrupt conference is now over. By all metrics it was a big success — and that includes on Twitter. The #tcdisrupt hashtag was a Trending Topic in New York City (where the conference was) basically the entire time it was going on. And many of the individual startups that launched appeared on the list too at points. The Twitter and Facebook analytic company RowFeeder ran some numbers about the show — they’re pretty interesting. Below, find some of their data.

To get this info, they looked at both the hashtag “#TCdisrupt,” and the phrase "Techcrunch Disrupt." The first chart below shows huge spikes during certain parts of the show. Obviously, Carol Bartz’s fireside swearing session got a lot of play, but so did the “Lean vs. Fat Startup” debate between VCs Fred Wilson and Ben Horowitz. The startup battlefields each day did well, as did the final competition.

As you might expect, the tweets dropped off after-hours, until late night after the parties ended when people may or may not have been drunk tweeting.

The second chart shows the tweet share among the five finalists for the TechCrunch Disrupt Cup. Interestingly, Soluto was also the winner in tweets, while runner-up UJAM was second in tweets. Certainly some of this is skewed by the fact that they were the winner and runner-up, but it would seem that according to Twitter, the top two were the ones that most interested the audience.

The total Disrupt related tweets according to Row Feeder? 21,054. Very impressive. Of course, that doesn’t count misspellings — and I know that a few times, even I wrote “#tcdistrupt” or something similar as I was rushing to be first to tweet about something.

Also interesting is where the tweets were coming from. Obviously, a huge percentage were in New York (again, where the conference was held), with the Bay Area coming in second, but Los Angeles and Boston had strong showings as well. The fact that so many people watched the live stream (more on that soon) of the event seems undoubtedly was the reason for the surges in these other cities.

ChallengePost Becomes A Government Contractor

Posted: 27 May 2010 01:48 PM PDT

Can we get better government through game mechanics? We are about to find out. Today, ChallengePost was named the official online “challenge platform” of the U.S. federal government. Any government agency that wants to run a challenge to get ideas from citizens can use ChallengePost as a way to gather ideas and even offer cash prizes for the best ideas.

ChallengePost ran the NYC Big Apps contest and Michelle Obama’s Apps for Healthy Kids challenge. Many of these challenges revolve around tapping into government data in creative ways or creating software with some sort of civic benefit.

ChallengePost will be creating a new central hub for government agency challenges. It will launch in July. Putting all the challenges in one place will make them easier to find. However, agencies are not required to use ChallengePost. They can use other platforms, if they prefer. For instance, NASA uses InnoCentive because a lot of scientists and engineers hang out there. But ChallengePost is the official one that has been vetted and approved. The government challenges will also appear on ChallengePost.com.

It is not every day that a startup lands the federal government as a customer, but this is one of those “no-cost” contracts. “The platform is completely free,” says Bev Godwin, Director of the Center for New Media and Citizen Engagement at the U.S. General Services Administration. In other words, ChallengePost won’t be making a dime off it directly.

But it is a great promotional reference for ChallengePost, and the company can charge for extra services, such as consulting around how to define a challenge “There will be additional services that have a price,” confirms CEO Brandon Kessler. He won’t go into details of what those services will be, however, nor what he plans to charge taxpayers for them. Ah, transparent government in action!

Over Six Months Later, Google Finally Closes AdMob Acquisition

Posted: 27 May 2010 01:31 PM PDT

Over six months after announcing its plans to acquire leading mobile ad network AdMob, Google has finally closed the deal. The news comes a week after the FTC unanimously approved the deal, after holding it up for months as it decided whether or not to block it on antitrust grounds.

When it finally reached a decision, the FTC pointed to Apple’s recent entry into the mobile ad market with iAds as evidence that there would still be plenty of competition in the nascent mobile advertising space (an argument that we made before, as did many others). The FTC may have also been swayed by blog posts from developers questioned during the FTC inquiry who felt that the deal should go through. Some developers also wrote that they felt like the FTC had an agenda and that they were being pressured to say things that would hurt Google’s cause.

Facebook Launches Android SDK

Posted: 27 May 2010 11:37 AM PDT

Today, Facebook is releasing its first official SDK for Android, offering developers on Google’s mobile OS an easy way to tie their Android native apps to Facebook Platform. As AllFacebook noted last week, this SDK is actually more advanced than the iPhone SDK because it features Facebook’s Graph API, which was unveiled at its f8 developer conference last month.

According to the post on Facebook’s Developer blog, the SDK also uses OAuth 2.0 for authentication and the ability to publish stories to Facebook using Feed forms.

I spoke with Facebook’s Steven Soneff about the SDK at Google I/O last week, where Facebook was offering a developer preview. Soneff said that there have been ways to integrate Facebook into Android applications before now, but that these have really been hacked together from the iPhone SDK, and weren’t officially supported by Facebook.

Hopefully this is a sign that Facebook is taking Android a bit more seriously. Facebook’s iPhone SDK launched over a year ago. And the official Facebook application for Android has always felt inferior to the iPhone version — it has been improving, but it still has a ways to go.

Palm Loses Their Lead webOS Designer To The Google Android Team, Others May Follow

Posted: 27 May 2010 10:26 AM PDT

In what may very well be considered the geekiest sort of fandom possible, I consider myself a fan of Matias Duarte. As I’ve written before: “Wherever this guy goes, awesome user interfaces follow.” He and his team at Danger built a tremendously usable interface for the Sidekick, his work at Helio (especially the stuff that went to waste at the end, never to be seen by the public eye) was incredible, and then.. then there was webOS.

Say what you will about the Palm Pre and Pixi from a hardware standpoint, but the software that runs on’em is pure user interface gold. That’s largely because of the work of Matias and his team. Alas, Palm just lost Matias to the lil’ green robot that could: Android. Google has confirmed that Matias is joining them as the Android team’s User Experience Director.

Score one for Google.

Read the rest at MobileCrunch >></a

BlockChalk Draws $1 Million In Seed Financing From Schachter, Battery, And Founder Collective

Posted: 27 May 2010 09:34 AM PDT

Geo-messaging startup BlockChalk raised $1 million in seed financing from an impressive group of investors, including Delicious founder Joshua Schachter, Lotus founder Mitch Kapor, the Founder Collective, Battery Ventures, Harrison Metal, Josh Stylman, Tom McInerney, and David Liu. Schachter, in particular, has been investing heavily in geo startups (he is also an investor in Foursquare, SimpleGeo, Square, and Plancast).

BlockChalk makes an iPhone app that lets you leave notes around your neighborhood. They can be anonymous to report things like crimes, or a public shout-out to great neighbor. It uses a geo-fencing approach to revealing messages. Each message is pinned to a specific location, block or neighborhood, which other people using the app can see when they are nearby. As MG wrote in January:

You load up the application on your mobile device, it locates you, and you leave a message. This can be whatever you want: A note about a good cafe, a tip of something in the neighborhood to watch out for, a request to borrow something that someone else may have in the neighborhood, etc. When other people also using the app come upon the area that you've pinned your "Chalk" (their word for message) to, they'll see it on their screen in a stream of Chalks.

The founders are Stephen Hood, who used to head up the product team at Delicious, Dave Baggeroer of Stanford's Institute of Design, and Josh Whiting, a former senior engineer at Delicious and Craigslist.


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