web 2.0

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Plancast Plans To Spread Throughout The Web With An API And Widgets

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 09:00 AM PDT

Plancast, the social planning service created by TechCrunch alum Mark Hendrickson, is rich with data. It knows not only what you’re planning to do in the foreseeable future, but what your friends are planning, and what their friends are planning. But all of this data has been trapped inside of Plancast. Not anymore.

Today, the service is announcing its API. This gives developers the ability to build new apps using Plancast’s data — or to add that data to their existing apps. And the API is both read and write-enabled, so other services will be able to feed their data back into Plancast as well. The importing of event data from Facebook (through Connect) has helped Plancast grow, so this full read/write API should be a continuation of that.

Actually, the API work started out of necessity for Plancast. They needed it in order to build their iPhone app in time for the SXSW conference back in March. Since then, the API has been rebuilt, Hendrickson tells us. And it’s already been tested with some third-party developers such as Exygy, which built a Plancast Andorid app (aptly named Plandroid).

Currently the API only support basic authentication (username/password), but that’s because Hendrickson wants to enable OAuth 2.0 as soon as it’s ready.

Alongside the API, Pancast is also launching its first widgets and buttons as yet another way to help seed its data around the web. The widgets look great — they use a simple JavaScript embed that allows you to display all of the upcoming plans you have on a website you control (such as a blog’s sidebar). There is also a full page profile widget which was created because people were porting their data to things like Google Calendar and then embedding those to show their Plancast events. This solution is much more seamless.

Then, of course, there are buttons for those who don’t want to embed their data but want a cutesy way to link to their Plancast profile. And yes, one of them has the cute penguin logo on it.

These are the first pieces of our general platform strategy in which we want to power any and all plan-related listings on the web and do so with a thoroughly social context,” Hendrickson says about the new elements of Plancast. He notes that they have some other cool ideas in the works — particularly surrounding places, something which Twitter and Google are now targeting (not to mention Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, etc).

Again, you can read all about Plancast’s API here.

After Going Premium, Ning Adds E-Commerce And Gaming Revenue Channels For Networks

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:59 AM PDT

It’s been no secret that social network platform Ning has been going through a significant transition in both its leadership and business model in 2010. In March, longtime CEO Gina Bianchini was replaced by COO Jason Rosenthal. And in April, Ning’s bubble burst — the company laid off 40% of its staff and killed off its free service. In May, Ning rolled out the different paid models for its platform, Ning Pro, Ning Plus and Ning Mini. And June brings new revenue streams for Ning’s social networks, in an effort to help Ning users monetize their social networks.

Ning is announcing two partnerships, with branded product creator CafePress and social gaming startup Heyzap, to offer monetization options to Network Creators. Custom CafePress shops can now be integrated directly into Ning Networks, offering creators the opportunity to sell branded products, like mugs, t-shirts and more, to members and fans. With Heyzap, Ning creators can add Heyzap pay-to-play games onto their networks. Creators will earn 10% of all revenue from premium game purchases. Ning has also partnered with Chipin to allow non-profit creators to raise funds and collect donations from members. A number of networks have already been experimenting with the new channels, including The Veloist, Duke City Fix, and TuDiabetes.

Of course, Ning is taking a cut of any revenue made through these channels (with the exception of funds collected through Chipin), but Rosenthal assures us that this cut is small and the majority of the revenue goes to the network creator. These revenue channels join Ning's Run Your Own Ads option that allows creators to collect revenue from running display advertisements in their sites.

Rosenthal adds that this is the beginning of a string of revenue channels that Ning plans to open up for network creators. While he declined to name any future channels, he did say they would be in the areas of e-commerce, gaming, group buying and more. Rosenthal added that they would be exploring any channels that are currently working on other similar platforms.

It seems safe to infer that he probably meant channels that were working on Facebook, which could mean that Ning may get into the offers game as well, considering its success in social games and applications on Facebook.

It’s clear that Rosenthal seems to have big plans for Ning when it comes to revenue for the network and its creators. He has told us in the past that the DIY social network arena focusing on subscription model could represent a $4 billion plus revenue stream. It should be interesting to see if Ning can capture a portion of this anticipated cash.

Demand Media Taps Joost For Video Advertising Sales And Technology

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:59 AM PDT

Video distribution and monetization platform provider Joost, owned by Adconion Media Group since its assets were acquired in November 2009, is today announcing a global sales and technology partnership with online publishing powerhouse Demand Media.

Under the terms of the exclusive agreement, Demand Media will leverage Adconion’s video ad serving platform to deliver all premium video campaigns sold by the former’s sales force.

In addition, (15 sec) pre-roll inventory on Demand Media owned and operated websites, including eHow.com, Cracked.com, Mania.com and Airlines.net, will become part of the Joost Video Network (which claims a reach of 67 million unique viewers and some 500 million total streams per month as it is).

As a result of the cross-sales deal, the Joost Video Network will be able to present Demand Media's worldwide audience to its premium brand partners through audience and vertical channel sales packages. Adconion specially touts its targeting abilities, saying it can target pre-roll ads by demographics (age, gender, etc.), location, various ways of retargeting and behavioral data provided by third parties like BlueKai and others.

Adconion will also – exclusively – provide its video technology platform to power all of Demand Media's in-stream video advertising needs, including trafficking, optimization, and reporting.

Demand Media claims that, collectively, its seven media brands currently attract more than 88 million unique visitors each month – 61 million people alone visit eHow.com for ‘how to’ articles and video. The company adds that it currently counts about 150,000 videos in its library.

The Top Five Unanswered Questions About The Nintendo 3DS

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:46 AM PDT

The Nintendo 3DS is real -- we know that. The 3D works well -- we know that, too. But that's where our 3DS knowledge stops. Nintendo isn't talking-up 3DS details right now and we have so many questions about the handheld 3D gaming.

AT&T: iPhone 4 Pre-Order Sales Were Ten Times Higher Than First Day 3GS Sales

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:41 AM PDT

AT&T just issued a statement addressing the massive iPhone 4 pre-order sales yesterday. The company said that sales of the iPhone 4 were 10-times higher than the first day of pre-ordering for the iPhone 3G S last year.

AT&T also said that they are suspending pre-ordering today in order to fulfill the orders they’ve already received. At&T wil resume taking pre-orders when they get more inventory from Apple. Yesterday’s chaos also brought more than 13 million visits to AT&T’s website to determine if users were able to upgrade to the new phone, which was about 3-times higher than the previous record for eligibility upgrade checks in one day.

The Apple Online Store is out of the devices as well. They'll still let you pre-order one, but you won't be getting it on June 24 (launch day). Instead, Apple is saying the next batch of phones will ship by July 2.

This huge numbers of pre-orders and traffic also brought massive failures in Apple’s and AT&T’s system that prevented people from completing their orders. Both systems seem to be resolved now.

UPDATE – Apple apologized too, said they got 600,000 pre-orders.

Allen Kurzweil Takes On The Science Of Potato Chips

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:33 AM PDT

If you have a wee one with an interest in science (face it, you’re reading CG and TC, your procreative material is pre-disposed to nerdity) then check out Allen Kurzweil’s latest project, a science kit in a potato chip bag.

Potato Chip Science, available now for pre-order and shipping in September, lets you learn science through the magic of bag chips, tubes, and even actual potato products. You can study acoustics, aeronautics, forensics, and as well as the psychology of shame when you realize that you’ve eaten far too many potato chips in your life.

Read more…

What Do @BarackObama and @TechCrunch Followers Have In Common?

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:31 AM PDT

At first glance, our Twitter account, @TechCrunch, doesn’t have much in common with @BarackObama‘s. He’s the President, we are a lowly tech blog. His staff Tweets out quotes from his speeches, we Tweet out links to our stories. He has 5.3 million followers, we have 1.4 million. But according to social media analytics firm Sysomos, both of our followers have the same average authority—2.4 on a scale of 0 to 10.

The average is so low because the law of large numbers starts to take hold with accounts above one million followers. The authority ranking is based on how many followers each person has compared to how many people they follow, as well as how active they are in terms of retweeting and other factors. Basically, if you are passive and have no followers, you get a score of 0 (these are the Twitter bots that bring down the average), but if you have a lot of followers, follow only a few people and retweet a lot, you get a higher score.

Sysomos looked at three different types of popular accounts (celebrities, news organizations, and “social media heavyweights”). Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher (@Aplusk) and Britney Spears have the highest number of followers (5 million and 4.8 million, respectively, but the lowest average authority scores (1.8 and 1.3, respectively). News organizations like the New York Times and TechCrunch have a slightly higher average, at 2.2 and 2.4, respectively. But the accounts with the highest authority followers belong to the “social media heavyweights” like @steverubel, @chrisbrogan, and @jowyang. These are all social media consultants and PR experts. They have fewer followers (42,000, 140,000, and 65,000, respectively) but those who do follow them, not surprisingly, tend to retweet more and have higher authority as measured by Sysomos. You can see the distribution of authority is bunched closer to the middle (see below).

Measuring authority by number of followers is flawed, but it is an easy number to track. A better measure is to find out how much each follower amplifies a message or set of messages. I’d like to see a similar study of follower authority from TunkRank or Klout.

Klout’s BirdBrain Measures Influence Based On Data From Twitter And Facebook

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:23 AM PDT

Klout, a startup that measures influence on Twitter, is expanding its horizons today with the launch of BirdBrain, a new feature that allows you to measure influence using data from both Facebook and Twitter.

BirdBrain uses Facebook connect to look at the interests listed on a user’s profile and then uses that data to search for the most influential people on Twitter, based on interests. Klout, which recently released a new API, evaluates Twitter users’ behavior with complex ranking algorithms and semantic analysis of content to measure the influence of individuals and topics around the web.

The premise for this specific development is based on Klout’s belief that Twitter’s suggested user list is flawed. The buckets they use, says Klout, are simply too big. BirdBrain uses Facebook Connect to evaluate your interests, and will mashup that data up with Tweets from Twitter users with terms associated with those interests. For example, if you list the TV show Lost as an interest on your Facebook profile, Klout will search for users Tweeting about the latest smoke, or polar bear conspiracies. And Klout breaks down the influencers onTwitter by the type of influencer they are. For example, a person might be a “chatterbox” which means they like chit chat about the topic on the network while another type of influencer might be a “curator,” who simply sends out the best content.

BirdBrain is part of Klout’s newly launched Labs section, which will experiment with products that assess influence based on the interaction within social networks, beyond just Twitter. Of course, BirdBrain represents Klout’s first data foray outside of the Twitter-sphere. Klout’s CEO Joe Fernandez says that this is a sneak-peak into the startup’s eventual movement to cross-platform influencer data. Considering that Twitter is looking to build its own powerful analytics platform, it’s probably wise for Klout, which just raised $1.5 million in funding, to look for ways to offer innovative technologies that combine both data from Facebook and Twitter.

Swype For Android Is Available Now – Get It While It’s Hot

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:02 AM PDT

We told you this was coming: Swype has just made it possible for any Android handset owner to download their innovative touch-screen enabled text-input application straight from the website. Which means a whole lot of people can henceforth start challenging that Guinness World Record for speedy textin'. Up until today, Swype came pre-installed on only a fraction of available Android phones (including the all new Motorola Droid X) due to its licensing business model, although the company did open up to 25,000 eager beta testers a couple of months ago - most of whom seem to have completely fallen in love with it. Well, anyone can download it now, but only for a limited time (a couple of days) and with a somewhat limited feature set. Important: it won't work if you have a phone that came pre-installed with Swype and support will be via Swype's forums only.

Worlize Is Building A User-Generated Social Gaming Platform, Raises Funding

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 07:53 AM PDT

Worlize is kicking off the private beta of what it calls the first user-created social gaming and chat platform for Facebook and other social networks. The service will be kept under wraps until the public launch in Fall 2010, but you can head to the website now to sign up for the public beta release.

The fledgling company has secured about $150,000 in angel funding from private individuals ‘across the gaming and technology spectrum’, including CFO Greg Diller, and is currently raising a more significant Series A round of financing to gear up for launch.

It’s practically impossible to review an app that we can’t get access to, but here’s the official pitch:

Within Worlize, beginners have point-and-click access to customizable plug-and-play games including puzzle, time management / strategy, card and board games, and MMORGs.

For advanced users and game developers, Worlize will release the Worlize API in late Summer 2010 to allow the creation of highly interactive areas and games within the platform.

Worlize was founded by Brian McKelvey, who will serve as the company’s chief exec. McKelvey is said to have designed and deployed applications and casual games for companies like Paramount, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, TNT, GSN and Live Nation.

Recently named CFO and early investor, Greg Diller, brings over thirty years of corporate financial and technology expertise from companies like The Hollywood Reporter to Canon Pictures, and most recently, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).

And here’s a not-so-revealing screenshot of Worlize:

Splendora’s SalesCast Aggregates Flash Sales On The Go

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 06:35 AM PDT

Flash sales have proven to be a valuable place to find a deal on almost anything; from clothing to travel to home goods to wine. But with growing number of flash sales sites out there, it can be overwhelming to track every sale each day via individual emails. Splendora’s SalesCast iPhone app aggregates over 20 sales into one free app.

SalesCast, which is free, pulls in sales from Gilt Groupe, HauteLook, One Kings Lane, Daily Candy's Swirl, Rue La La and more. You can flag favorite sales to create your own custom reminder list and filter sales by category, including Women, Beauty, Lifestyle, Home, Kids, Men. Of course, when you want to buy, you can click through the app to purchase an item from the flash sales’ site.

Splendora’s founder, Gina Pell, created the app after she found she was missing sales because of the barrage of emails from sample sale sites that flooded her inbox. She wanted to be able to see all the sales when they were ready to shop, and have the sales organized.

Splendora, which is a fashion news site similar to Refinery29, will eventually create a web-based app for Salescast. Of course, this isn’t the first app to aggregate sales. MyNines, which launched a few months ago, also aggregates flash sales sites.

CollegeHumor Media Launches Videogame Humor Site Dorkly.com

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 06:29 AM PDT

Recently soft-launched by CollegeHumor Media (aka Connected Ventures), the IAC company is today formally introducing the latest addition to its ever-expanding network of funny websites.

Meet Dorkly.com, a new videogame humor property that caters to “all gamers, be they nerds, geeks, or even dweebs”. That sounds like you, so we thought we’d share.

According to the press release, Dorkly.com will feature original articles, comics, user-submitted photos and viral videos relevant to the gaming community, edited by Brian Murphy. Dorkly essentially wants to become the web’s go-to source for funny content about games and gaming culture. Example: Christian-Approved Versions of Controversial Games.

On a sidenote: you can write for Dorkly too, if you’re content with their pay-out schemes: $25 for 10,000 pageviews, $50 for 25,000 pageviews, and so on.

Go check it out. But do come back.

Memeo Connect 2.0 Makes GDrive A Reality

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 06:00 AM PDT

Back in January, we wrote about the launch of Memeo Connect — a nifty application that debuted alongside the Google Docs ‘upload any file‘ feature. The application makes it easy to sync documents between your computer’s desktop and Google Docs account, but Memeo says that version 1.0 didn’t match their full vision (they were trying to get the product out the door to meet the Google Docs feature launch). Today, Memeo is launching the 2.0 edition of Connect which includes all the functionality Memeo originally envisioned. And it’s bringing one new feature that many people have been waiting years for: GDrive.

A cloud-based Google storage service, AKA GDrive, was rumored since at least 2006, and in January it became a reality, sort of — Google started allowing users to upload any kind of file they wanted to their Google Docs accounts. At the same time, Google told us that it wasn’t GDrive “because GDrive doesn’t exist”. Right.

Semantics aside, the ‘any-file’ feature that launched on Google Docs couldn’t really be used as a networked drive with Memeo before now. With Memeo Connect 1.0, in order to upload files you’d have to drag them into the Memeo application or use a file upload widget, neither of which were particularly easy to use for a large number of files. With Memeo Connect 2.0, you’ll be able to actually create a virtual Google drive that ties into your PC’s file system. Memeo is coyly calling the feature GDrive, though they say that the name was Memeo’s choice, not Google’s.

Memeo’s GDrive lets you drag and drop entire folders into your Google Docs account, much as you would with a service like Dropbox. You can also save directly to this cloud-attached drive from an application’s ‘Save As’ command. If you open the drive, you can double click on files to open them with your desktop’s native software, then save the changes back to the cloud (again, as you would with services like Dropbox). The app is available for both Mac and Windows.

Along with the GDrive feature, the new version of Memeo Connect features a more robust search engine that lets you search both file names and the content of the files you’re storing in Google Docs (this content search works both for Google Docs files and ‘native’ files that were saved with a program like Microsoft Word). It also offers the ability to browse through your files using more advanced filters than the online version of Google Docs offers.

So why use Memeo for file storage when you could use another service like Dropbox, Box.net, or SugarSync? Spencer Chen, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Memeo, says that in the next few years consumers will trend toward the massive tech companies like Google and Microsoft for their cloud storage needs, the way they have with webmail services. He believes consumers will trust Google’s security measures more than a smaller companies (though it obviously isn’t infallible). He also contends that these smaller companies are going to have a hard time monetizing mass storage, whereas Google can just eat the cost.

Time will tell if those arguments are sound (I for one have been quite happy with Dropbox so far). But Chen did have a point that we’ll be able to observe in the shorter term: because Memeo Connect is running on Google’s backend, it can tap into Google’s wide array of technology. For example, the advanced search feature that’s live in Connect 2.0 is powered through a Google API. And Google will probably be rolling out new features in the future.

Chen also shared some updated stats on how Memeo Connect has done since it launched in January. So far, the the average company to deploy Memeo Connect has 10,000 employees, and 40% of Google’s top enterprise clients are testing or deploying the client.

Also see Syncplicity, another Google partner that lets you sync files between designated folders and your Google Docs account.

Under Pressure: Nokia Cuts Q2 And Full-Year 2010 Outlook

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 05:42 AM PDT

Nokia has gone ahead and updated its second quarter and full year 2010 outlook for both the Devices and the Services unit.

During Q2 2010, Nokia says ‘multiple factors’ are negatively impacting its business more than it had previously anticipated.

The company cites heated competition, particularly in the smartphone segment where it battles with Apple, RIM and a slew of Asian handset giants, the recent depreciation of the Euro and global pricing tactics as the main reasons for the updated outlook.

Nokia now says it expects Devices & Services net sales to hit the lower end or slightly below its previously expected range of €6.7 billion to €7.2 billion for the second quarter, primarily due to lower than anticipated average selling prices and mobile device volumes.

For the full year, Nokia says it continues to expect industry mobile device volumes to be up approximately 10% in 2010. At the same time, the company says it targets its own mobile device volume market share to be flat in 2010 compared to the year before.

Nokia will provide its second quarter results and more details on its 2010 full year outlook when it reports its Q2 2010 earnings on July 22.

(Via IntoMobile)

Travelocity Cements Its Position As Default Travel Booking Service On Yahoo

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 04:55 AM PDT

Travelocity has signed a contract to renew its partnership with Yahoo. Under the terms of the agreement, Travelocity will remain the exclusive booking provider for all air, car and hotel packaging options, and the new exclusive provider for cruise and vacation packages, available on Yahoo Travel.

The ability to combine the Travelocity and Yahoo networks through the agreement will allow users to view and share content, such as travel reviews posted to both sites, and open the door for additional joint marketing opportunities, the companies said.

The news comes over a year after Yahoo shuttered its travel shopping engine Farechase, which it originally acquired back in July 2004 and re-launched two years later.

The partnership between Yahoo and Travelocity has been standing since 1997, which is like an eternity in Internet years.

Photoshop-To-Website Service BaseKit Launches In UK and U.S. After Raising $2.6m

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 04:01 AM PDT

BaseKit, which lets designers build websites from a Photoshop concept without the need to write code, has secured a $2.6m Series A round from Eden Ventures and NESTA (the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts). Today also sees the startup, which was a Seedcamp winner in 2008, launch in the UK and U.S.

Bill.com Raises Another $8.5 Million To Streamline Business Bill Payments

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 03:54 AM PDT

Bill management and payments service Bill.com has raised another $8.5 million in additional funding. The new round was led by Jafco Ventures with DCM, Emergence Capital and August Capital participating. This brings Bill.com’s total funding to over $25 million.

Bill.com helps businesses streamline the confusing processes that are involved in paying bills at large companies. Unlike your typical personal bill payments, which simply require hopping onto your bank's website and transferring funds, large busineses typically have fairly complex approval processes in place before a bill gets paid: various managers have to sign off on the bills, and then they have to get sent to the finance department that handles the actual payments. In fact, businesses are still shuffling and filing paper and printing, signing and mailing paper checks.

Bill.com allows businesses and accounting firms to enable digital bill payments. You fax your bills to a specified phone number (any bills that come in digitally can simply be Emailed into the service). Bill.com automatically scans the document, and lets you email it to anyone who needs to sign off on the bill before it is paid (mangers click a special link to indicate they approve). Once everyone has signed off, the finance department can use Bill.com's online payment system to make the actual transactions.

And Bill.com’s platform is gaining traction. Bill.com’s monthly revenue, total number of customers and unique paid vendors all increased by over 800% in 2009. Bill.com, which raised $8.5 million last fall as well, was founded by RenĂ© Lacerte, who previously founded online payroll service PayCycle, which was acquired last month by Intuit for $170 million.

Mendeley Rolls Out Premium Packages To Appease Nervous Academics

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 03:49 AM PDT

Mendeley, "the Last.fm of research", has rolled out new premium packages after customers requested features such as more storage and expressed a willingness to pay. If only to see the longevity of the London-based startup. Mendeley offers a secure online database for scientists, academics and researchers to store their research papers in the 'cloud', making it easier to share those documents with peers. The system also helps researchers find and connect to like-minded academics in similar fields by looking at and extracting relevant meta-data from the millions of research papers stored in its database.

Android Team “Laser Focused” On The User Experience For Next Release

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 03:01 AM PDT

Google’s Android team has been pushing new versions of the operating system at a furious pace since the first Android device hit the market in 2008. Lots of features have been added over the last couple of years. But the user experience hasn’t evolved much.

That’s all going to change in the next version, we’ve heard from multiple sources close to Google.

The team more or less has the core features they want at this point, say our sources, although more tweaks are certainly coming. But Google wants to put an end to the desire of handset manufacturers and carriers to add their own UI layer on top of Google – things like Sense, Motoblur, Ninjablur, etc.

Most of the time their shells aren’t all that great anyway (see HTC EVO), and they tend to slow down the device.

Google is focusing the bulk of its efforts on the user experience for the upcoming Gingerbread release to counter this. And they want to get the Android experience closer to the iPhone.

It’s unlikely that third parties will ever completely resist the temptation to meddle to differentiate their products and to get more control over the user. But Google’s goal is to make those “skins” as pointless as possible.

That’s a big goal, particularly since Android is a flexible operating system that is designed to handle a variety of hardware options. When you don’t lock down the hardware it’s very hard to make the UI perfect. Which is why Apple’s Macs, with locked down hardware, have always been a better experience than the hugely hardware-flexible Windows operating system.

Indian Startup InMobi May Be The Big Winner In Apple-Google Ad Brawl

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 01:30 AM PDT

Mobile advertising network InMobi has come a long way since we first covered them in April 2008 (they were then called mKhoj). Today they are probably the second biggest mobile advertising network in the world, with nearly 17 billion monthly impressions combined on mobile apps and mobile websites. Google’s AdMob has 18 billion impressions/month).

Most of InMobi’s ad impressions are outside of the U.S. The bulk – 10 billion – are in Asia where the company first launched. 2 billion are in the U.S., where the company has had limited operations since January 2010. Africa takes 2.3 billion, Europe 1.6 billion and the Middle East .5 billion. A full U.S. launch took place last week, and a Japan launch is coming soon.

How well will InMobi do in the U.S.? They were bullish before the recent news about Apple taking steps to make it nearly impossible for non-independent advertising networks like AdMob to work on the the iPhone and iPad.

Now, with the market in disarray and the FTC looking into the situation they think they can grab a lot of market share really fast. That’s because they’re hitting the ground running with a self serve platform and a human sales team. Apple’s own iAds is actually going to have to catch up to InMobi in some respects.

InMobi isn’t just some random Asian focused ad network. They’re backed in part by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sherpalo Ventures and revenues, we’ve heard, are in the $35 million range already. The company is targeting $75 million in 2010, say our sources.

Leena Rao rightly points out that while the new rules, if they stand, both help and hurt independent ad networks. They can grab market share but they probably can’t get acquired, for example. But InMobi doesn’t seem too concerned. Who knows how long Apple can keep these rules in place. And there are lots of other mobile platforms out there, particularly the exploding Android ecosystem. And while chaos reigns the smart guys will grab everything they can.

We interviewed InMobi CEO Naveen Tewari last week to talk about his business. The video is below:

Flock Switches From Mozilla To Chromium For New Browser, But Is That Enough?

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 01:03 AM PDT

Flock, the social Web browser company, has released a new and completely different version of its desktop browser client after nearly a year of silence. The news comes about a week after Apple released Safari 5 and around the same time Opera launched a beta version of its upcoming Opera 10.60 browser.

In a perhaps surprising twist, Flock is moving away from Mozilla technology after 6 years and making the switch to Chromium. Google will also become the default search engine.

Note: it’s only available for Windows today – a Mac version will be available later this summer.

As a former user and fan, I’ve been pondering doing a post on Flock to question its whole reason for being but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. This release gives me the perfect excuse to ask the big question: is Flock fast becoming immensely irrelevant?

When Flock got started (and funded), it was easy to defend the need for a Web browser that incorporated tons of functionalities that catered to a new breed of online services and applications (remember Web 2.0?) and their power users. Personally, I loved it, despite the annoying persistent bugs and crash issues that would eventually make me switch to Mozilla Firefox (now replaced with Google Chrome).

Back then, the Web was just the Web, and users of social networks weren’t as plentiful and demanding as they are today. The Web has now turned into the Social, Realtime Web, and that is a trend that will likely continue to manifest in the coming years.

So now that there’s this proliferation in potent social Web services, applications and increasingly, browser extensions, that enable users to communicate and share with other people using whatever browser they prefer, is there really a need for a product like Flock?

Don’t think they’re not asking themselves that very question. Read Flock VP of Engineering Clayton Stark’s blog post on the switch to Chromium, and you’ll notice they aren’t blind for the issues at hand. He writes (among many other things):

After all, the social Web isn't bleeding edge any longer. It's pretty much everyone.

And he’s right. And I fear that what makes Flock still unique today (integrated social search, the ability to create Groups that let you ‘channel surf’ the Web, extensive sharing options, and so on) may not be enough to make its userbase grow much larger than it already is.

I will download and install the new version, and I’ll try it, and I’ll do a review if time permits (check CNET if you want one now). But even if I fall completely in love with it, the $28.3 million question still remains: is Flock increasingly becoming a solution in search of a problem?

(Thanks to Atul for the heads up)

Opera 10.60 Beta Lands, Brings More Speed, Geolocation And WebM Support

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 11:59 PM PDT

(click image for larger size)

Fresh off the heels of the release of Safari 5, Norwegian software company Opera is today launching version 10.60 of its desktop browser. And yes, they promise it’s faster. Much faster. Like ’50% faster than its predecessor on selected JavaScript tests’ faster.

Opera 10.60 (beta) also boasts a fresh UI, geolocation support and WebM support for HTML5 video, so it isn’t all about the need for speed. Although the company does place a lot of emphasis on the notion that it’s supposed to be lightning fast.

Which calls for some high-level speed testing, if anyone is up for it.

Performance aside, let’s look at the other features now integrated into the browser:


Opera can now detect your location based on your WiFi connection and ‘other factors’, which enables it to cater search results and whatnot to your area.

Online video

Opera 10.60 now boasts support for open video format WebM, built right into the browser. Not much of a surprise, since Opera – along with Google and Mozilla – is behind the royalty-free video codec project.

And that’s not the only anti-Flash bet the company’s making:

HTML5 Appcache and Web Workers

Appcache lets you use different apps, such as word processor, image editor, spreadsheets and more, in your Web browser even when offline. Web developers can now also use HTML5 Web Workers for doing heavy calculations without slowing down the user’s browsing experience.

Search suggestions

Opera 10.60 beta makes search more efficient, introducing search suggestions for selected partners (e.g. Wikipedia) in the Speed Dial and search box.

User interface changes

Thumbnails for tabs have now been replaced with icons, and there are new graphics for Speed Dial, tab previews and the Opera menu button.

According to the beta product landing page, the browser should be released for Windows, Mac and Linux simultaneously this Summer.

As always, give it a whirl and tell us what you think.

(Via press release)

AT&T, Will You Please Sell Us Your Rip-Off Box To Fix Your Service That Doesn’t Work?

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 10:19 PM PDT

AT&T has had a rough day. First there was the massive system failure during the iPhone 4 pre-orders. Then it was revealed that private customer data may have been exposed during the fiasco. So maybe we should give them a break, right? Nah.

As you may have heard, TechCrunch recently moved into a new office. It’s a great spot in San Francisco; we love it. That said, it happens to reside on planet Earth which basically assures that we’ll have no reliable AT&T coverage. Sure enough, we don’t. I mean absolutely none — can’t place calls, don’t receive them. As an old pro in the SoMa area of San Francisco, I’m used to this. But some of my coworkers aren’t and would prefer to use their phones as actual phones from time to time. So we needed a solution.

That solution, everyone has been telling us, is the AT&T 3G MicroCell (basically a mini cell tower that you put inside your office). I was against getting one because I’m still absolutely enraged that AT&T expects its customers with shitty service to pay for this thing — and $150, no less! We pay AT&T $100 (or more) a month for their service that doesn’t work and they want to charge us more to fix it. Brilliant.

But whatever, I’m a team player. I’ll suck it up and swallow my pride so my coworkers can make calls. So we tried to buy one today. Guess what? AT&T won’t sell it to us.

That’s right, not only does AT&T service not work in our office, but they won’t sell us their proposed solution. Why? Apparently it needs to be attached to an AT&T phone with a billing address that matches our office address. I would assume this has something to do with AT&T wanting to know where you’re using this thing (it also has GPS that you must activate) — because heaven forbid we bestow actual AT&T coverage to somewhere besides our office. It may also have something to do with emergency 911 rules — but that’s not what they told us, and I can’t find that anywhere on the site.

AT&T: Will you please give us your damn rip-off fix-it box? Sorry, did I say “give us”? Silly me. I meant: Will you please sell us your damn rip-off fix-it box? We promise not to take the thing on a cross-country tour giving actual AT&T coverage to those already paying for it. We just want to make some damn calls. In our office. It’s actually kind of important for what we do.

Even With Pre-Order Failures, iPhone 4 Sells Out In Under A Day

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 09:01 PM PDT

Well that didn’t take long. Not even 24 hours after the iPhone 4 became available online for pre-order, it is completely sold out. Earlier today, reports had AT&T being out of the device. Now the Apple Online Store is out of them too. They’ll still let you pre-order one, but you won’t be getting it on June 24 (launch day). Instead, Apple is saying the next batch of phones will ship by July 2.

The fact that Apple blew through their entire first run of iPhone 4s in something like 20 hours is impressive any way you slice it. But it also begs the question: how fast would the device have sold out if the pre-order system actually worked today? I don’t think it’s a stretch to think the iPhone might have been gone twice as fast.

As we covered last night, when the iPhone 4 first went up for pre-order on Apple’s website, there were massive failures in the system that prevented people from completing their orders. Those failures carried into this morning and even this afternoon and people still were having difficulty ordering the phone. Some were able to order it from AT&T’s site, others weren’t. Some were able to order from the new iPhone Apple Store app, others weren’t.

The system seems to be running smoothly now, but again, if you place your order on Apple’s site, it will state that you phone will ship after launch. The July 2 date currently listed is just 8 days after the current June 24 launch — but that’s also the ship date, so it could arrive a few days after that.

Right now, if you’re hoping for an iPhone 4 before July, your best bet may be to hope Apple releases the elusive white iPhone 4 (which didn’t go up for pre-sale last night) into the wild before then. Or hope that Apple saved a few to sell in stores to those that didn’t pre-order.

T-Mobile Rolls Out “4G Speed” Network In 15+ New Cities

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 08:59 PM PDT

4G is in the air! Or, at least for T-Mobile, 4G speeds are in the air. While T-Mobile isn’t technically allowed to pitch their HSPA+ network as 4G, its speeds can exceed that of the networks that some carriers (read: Sprint) have been toting as 4G for the last few months.

This morning, T-Mobile is officially debuting their HSPA+ network in 15 new cities, from Los Angeles, CA to New Orleans, LA.

Read the rest at MobileCrunch >>


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