- FuzeBox Launches A Powerful Video Conferencing App For The iPhone
- 500 Startups-Backed Bombfell Helps Nerds Get Stylish, For Just $69 A Month
- Pulse Goes Beyond Text, Launches New Video Channels With Over 30 Partners
- Spun Out Of Evri With $3.5M From Paul Allen, SportStream Brings Its Social Sports Platform To The iPad
- Amazon Web Services Announces Price Cuts On Premium Support, Free Basic Support For All
- Give Some To Get Some: Karma Makes Your HotSpot Connectivity Social
- Lua Organizes Any Mobile Workforce With (Duh!) A Mobile App
- Pickie Is A Personalized Shopping Magazine Based On Your Friends’ Social Mentions
- 10Sheet Will Cut The Bookkeeper Out Of Your Financial Equation
- PopTip Offers Real-Time Twitter Poll Result Tracking, Hashtags And Correct Spelling Not Required
- Skype For Mac Update Brings Improved Contact List, Video Calls & Screen Sharing, But No “Conversation Ads” Just Yet
- The Climate Corporation Raises $50M For Big Data Driven Weather Insurance
- iOS 6 Includes Gay And Lesbian Couple Emoji
- Professional Photographer Creates ConditionOne, A 180-Degree Video Player For iPad, iPhone
- It’s Not Just About Price: Nokia’s Elop Says They’re Not Getting The Retail Traction They “Prefer”
- Better Late Than Never: Time Inc. Adds Subscriptions For Apple’s Newsstand
- Software Comparison Service CatchFree Acquires KISSinsights, Shifts Focus To Real-Time Customer Feedback
- This Homemade Portal Video Is Pretty Darn Amazing
- Wander Is A More Beautiful Yelp For All The Places
- Kurrenci Is Money For The Web… With A Twist
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 09:18 AM PDT
FuzeBox has squeezed its online meeting experience into a new iPhone app called Fuze Join for iPhone.
The company already has an iPad app that Apple named one of the best business apps for 2011. In fact, it even had an earlier iPhone app, but CEO Jeff Cavins says the company realized that it wasn’t as good as it needed to be, so the team took the app down last year and started working on a new one.
“We just wanted to do something completely different and much more advanced,” he says. “We want to put personal telepresence in the palm of your hand.”
So what’s changed in the new version? Well, FuzeBox added what is perhaps the key feature, the ability to broadcast and view video. It also rethought the interface, allowing users to control the app with just five buttons.
Cavins took me through a demo of the new FuzeBox app — joining a meeting, viewing video feeds from other participants, starting text chats, and sharing our own slides and documents. There were lots of nice touches, for example the ability to tap a point on a slide on the iPhone screen and having that point get highlighted with a red dot on everyone else’s screen. We could also to get video from telepresence systems offered by other companies like Polycom and Cisco/tandberg.
What was most impressive, however, was the speed and responsiveness. We were able to watch high-quality streaming video (which Cavins says was 1080p resolution) over a cellular network connection in downtown San Francisco, and it was perfectly synced up with what was shown on the other computers in the meeting. Cavins was able to scroll through all the slides in a presentation from his iPhone, and again, the screens of the other participants followed virtually instantaneously.
One limitation on this front is the fact that you can “only” watch four video streams at once, so that the app doesn’t tax the iPhone too heavily. FuzeBox meetings can actually be much larger than that, so when you go over four streams, the remaining participants are represented by a still image at the bottom of the screen. You can move participants from one area to another, so if someone important joins late, you can still tell the app you want to see their video feed (it just means someone else will get bumped).
Fuze Join for iPhone is available to FuzeBox customers as part of its overall meeting service. You can download the app here.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 09:00 AM PDT
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you know how horrendously unfashionable guys can be these days. Offices and coworking spaces from Sunnyvale all the way up to the city are filled to the brim with dudes in jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, and sandals, all kind of looking like they’re about to spend the rest of the day hanging out, getting drunk, and watching TV.
Subscription commerce startup Bombfell believes things don’t have to be that way. And it’s attempting to cure our aversion to dressing well with a monthly subscription service that will send users at least one piece of fashionable clothing per month for just $69 dollars.
Bombfell isn’t the first subscription commerce startup targeting the male fashion market, and it won’t be the last, but it combines an ease-of-use, affordability, and personalization that few others can match. When you sign up for the service, you provide the site with your measurements, body type, a list of brands that you wear, and some general information about the type of styles you prefer, as well as those you wouldn’t be caught dead in.
The startup then selects one piece of clothing a month to send to you, based on your preferences, and charges you $69 for it. Currently the startup touts a system which takes into account all the info that you’ve submitted, as well as past orders, and then passes it on to a stylist, who makes the final determination of what to send. That’s one way it’s able to continue scaling, even though it’s very quickly adding new users.
Bombfell doesn’t just send leftover, off-brand clothes that no one would want to wear, either. It buys high-quality clothing from big brands you’ve heard of, like Ben Sherman, Original Penguin, French Connection. It also hunts down up-and-coming designers that are normally found in boutiques — names like BTNS, Maker & Company, and Farm Tactics. And since Bombfell operates on a pretty forecastable monthly subscription model, it doesn’t have to carry a ton of inventory month-to-month to support its growth.
But what if you don’t like what they send? Or if it doesn’t fit? Just send it back (free shipping’s included), and Bombfell will give you your money back and take the return into account the next time it picks something out for you.
Bombfell launched in private beta last spring and opened up to the general public in November, allowing anyone to sign up for its monthly clothing delivery service. It’s already backed by 500 Startups (It’s part of this summer’s Accelerator program), as well as angels that include David Shen, Galen Ward, Diane Loviglio, and Kavin Stewart.
Despite not being around for that long, it’s already sporting some pretty impressive metrics. The average lifetime value of one of its users is more than $500, which means that they’re typically staying signed up for at least six or seven months. It’s getting some help from some major tech companies in the Valley, with Facebook, Twitter, and Google all offering Bombfell discounts to their employees. But despite its initial partners in the tech scene, the service is available to all guys in the U.S. with a credit card and a desire to not dress like a slob.
Anyway, in preparation for Father’s Day, Bombfell put together this photo of “dads in tech,” showing off what they could look like if they signed up and started getting their own monthly packages of clothing shipped. That includes 500 Startups founder and Sith Lord Dave McClure, KISSmetrics CEO Hiten Shah, and Glenn Allen, co-founder of Pocket Labs and OpenTable. And I mean, Dave McClure didn’t dress up to meet Hillary Clinton, so any startup that can get him looking snazzy probably has something going for it.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 09:00 AM PDT
Pulse, the popular free mobile news reader for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, just announced that it is adding more video to its platform. The company is launching over 30 new video channels on its platform and is partnering with the likes of ESPN, Fox Sports, the White House, The Daily Beast, College Humor, The Today Show, and National Geographic to bring their shows to its apps. Broadly, the new channels fall into three categories: sports, TV news and humor.
As Pulse co-founder Akshay Kothari told me yesterday, the company mostly focused on text and images until now and is obviously proud of the partnerships it has built with premium publishers around the world. Along the way, though, the Pulse team realized that stories with short videos in them were doing very well on its platform. About 4 months ago then, the team decided to put more emphasis on getting more and better video content onto its service.
The new video channels should be live in Pulse now. They will only work in the latest version of the app, however, so make sure you have recently updated your install. For the time being, the new video channels will only appear in the iOS and Android versions of the app.
Just like with its text-focused partnerships, today’s announcement is about content syndication. Video providers on Pulse will still be able to show their own video ads and Pulse won’t take any of this revenue away from them. For the most part, Pulse is getting these videos either through YouTube or its partners’ APIs.
Pulse, which just moved out of its Palo Alto offices and into a larger space in San Francisco, currently has about 20 employees. The team is working hard on version 3.0 of the app. Kothari didn’t say much about what we can expect from this update, though he did note that we should expect it to arrive later this summer.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 08:49 AM PDT
The Web is noisier than ever before. Content is being produced en masse, in realtime, making it increasingly difficult to separate the signal from the noise. Evri, the realtime content discover engine, aims to help you find the signal by indexing millions of news sources, turning that unstructured data into topic-based channels to let you more easily follow subjects that interest you, rather than just following the same old news sources.
Last year, the startup really accelerated its shift to mobile, differentiating its own apps from the umpteen news-aggregating iPad ‘zines out there by not only by letting you follow your interests, but by using its engine to determine the relevance of a topic based on how much it’s been covered, the coverage’s velocity, and the rate of sharing on social networks.
And what creates more noise, sharing, and inspires more loyalty than sports? Sports content is inherently suited to topic based consumption. We all have our allegiances to sports teams, and we want to consume our coverage accordingly. Web readers and surfers want their content personalized and targeted. Bleacher Report gets this.
General news aggregation is a crowded space, but sports? Not so much. Not one to miss an opportunity, last year Evri began expanding into the sports world with a suite of apps for iOS and Android called SportStream, which basically ported its social and topic-based discovery engine to sports content.
Its first app allowed fans to access realtime news from a whole mess of sources, integrate their social feeds, tweet highlights, view in-game scores, and personalize their feeds based on their favorite teams, players, or topics, like injuries and trades.
Today, the free social sports platform is launching on the iPad to give users more a interactive and personalized way to share and participate in live sports. SportStream offers a second-screen experience for watching live sports by putting friends, followers, curated social media streams, real-time stats, and chat inside the touchscreen interface.
SportStream also offers Facebook authentication to let users quickly find the games their friends are watching and join them. And, based on the teams and players you “like,” it provides a customized experience by following games you will likely find interesting. The app only shows relevant social content to a particular game or event, while letting users hop into chat rooms to talk about a game, or begin a conversation on social networks.
Obviously, SportStream is riding a changing trend in the way that people are viewing and consuming live sports content. Social media platforms and additional screens have transformed the viewing experience from passive to interactive. In fact, Forrester recently reported that 85 percent of tablet owners use their devices while watching TV.
Proving just how big of an opportunity it thinks the sports market is, Evri spun out SportStream, turning it into its own company a few weeks ago. Not only that, but the newly minted startup closed a $3.5 million series A funding round from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital shortly thereafter. And who better to have your back than the guy who both co-founded Microsoft and owns the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks?
The crazy number of tweets generated every second at this year’s Super Bowl proved that there’s a ridiculous amount of realtime engagement and sharing happening around big sporting events, but it still largely remains noise. It’s unstructured data. So, by creating a platform where fans can go to find info that’s relevant to them, interact with other fans, chat, etc., SportStream hopes to become the go-to solution for sports consumers.
But, with Pulse, Taptu, Bleacher Report and others moving into sports (and fantasy sports) content aggregation, personalization, and socialization, Evri and SportStream better gird themselves for some serious competition. The ways in which sports content is being consumed is continuing to change fast, and as more and more people cut the cord, mobile and connected TV solutions will pick up the slack.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 08:39 AM PDT
Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing business run by internet retailer Amazon, today announced a revamp to its support offerings. The company cut the prices for its premium (paid) support offerings, while also automatically enrolling its customers in the “Basic” support tier for free. In conjunction with the changes, AWS also rebranded its support tiers from Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum to new, more descriptive names: Basic, Developer, Business and Enterprise.
For enterprise customers, there comes another big change, too: support pricing is now being based on usage as opposed to a flat fee, which could potentially translate to cost-savings for some customers as it now offers levels of pricing below the previous flat 10% fee.
All of the plans announced today include support for an unlimited number of cases, are contact-free and are available worldwide.
The new, free Basic support offering available now to all customers includes 24/7 customer service for account and billing issues, and technical support for system health issues.
The full description of the revamped plans is below:
In January, Amazon added its Trusted Advisor service to its Gold and Platinum offerings, which monitors customers’ use of AWS and recommends configuration changes and new services that may help them save money, improve system performance, and close security gaps. You’ll notice that Trusted Advisor still remains only available to those in the top two tiers today, however.
Amazon’s move to cut support pricing is an important change in terms of its ability to remain competitive in an increasingly crowded cloud computing business, especially in terms of keeping enterprise customers happy. And by cutting prices on a key area like support, enterprise and business customers will be less likely to jump to a competitor’s product.
More details on the new pricing options are available here.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 08:37 AM PDT
Sharing isn’t something we like to do with our data. Stealing, however, is. Knowing someone is on your WiFi network slowing you down is bad news bears, whereas hopping on an open network when your ISP lets you down is no problem whatsoever. That said, a new pay-as-you-go hotspot package fresh out of TechStars NYC Demo day is looking to make the most of that dynamic, and it’s called Karma.
Karma is amazing in that it not only offers a pay-per-use model with a 4G mobile Hotspot, but it offers something called social bandwidth. Here’s how it works:
I own a Karma hotspot. It costs me $69 for the hardware, which has a 4G connection courtesy of Clearwire and lasts up to eight hours on a single charge. By buying the hardware and signing in to the network with my Facebook ID, I automatically get 100mb of free data. From there, I can buy as many GB of data as I want for $14.99 each.
So now I’m set up, and I head off to a Starbucks to get some work done. My Karma network is an open one, so people in Starbucks can try to hop onto the network and steal some bandwidth. Little do they know, Karma is giving them a free 100mb of data as well for using the network if they sign in with Facebook (they can’t get on otherwise). More importantly, I also get 100mb of free data for every person that uses my network. Give some to get some — that’s what my mom always says.
The idea is that the network thief, let’s call him Kevin, doesn’t even need to buy his own hotspot to be a part of the Karmic action. He now has 100mb of free data attached to his Facebook ID, so he can use the rest of it the next time he sees a Karma network. He can also purchase 1GB of data without owning a hotspot and continue using Karma networks as he sees them.
Karma has raised close to $1 million in funding thanks to angels like Werner Vogels, Kal Vepuri, Chang Ng, Jerry Neumann, David Tisch, David Cohen, Collaborative Fund, BOLDstart Ventures and 500 Startups.
Karma has also just announced deals with American Airlines, which will offer free Karma hotspots to frequent fliers, and Uber, which will provide wireless Karma connectivity within their cars.
Check out all of the cool stuff coming out of TechStars NYC Demo Day here.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 08:33 AM PDT
Lua, a company focused on enhancing communication and project management within mobile workforces, has just launched today at the Techstars NYC Demo Day. The software allows any mobile workforce, from a production crew on a film set to construction workers to salespeople, to communicate throughout the day on their smartphones. It’s a messaging platform, at its core, that facilitates one-way messaging, two-way messaging, conference calling and document sharing among every member of a crew.
So let’s paint a little picture.
A director or producer on a film set has about a million different teams to work with. There’s hair and makeup, wardrobe, talent, camera crew, sound crew, and probably a whole bunch of other ones that I don’t know anything about. Not all of them need to see or hear the same messages, so Lua allows the admin to categorize people into specific groups, either from the app or from a web dashboard.
From there, the admin can make an announcement and see read receipts for each individual to make sure that the message has been heard loud and clear. The admin can also require an actual response as a confirmation of receipt, in which case the workers see a Copy That button.
Messages can be sent to the whole crew, specific groups, or one-to-one, and conference calling is also available within the app itself.
Lua has already signed on clients like the Batman production crew, the Mets baseball team, and American Idol, and today announces a partnership with YouTube who is taking Lua to the Olympics this year. Lua is available on iOS and Android with an SMS app plug-in allowing every phone to get in on the action.Click to view slideshow.
Check out all of the cool stuff that came out of TechStars NYC Demo Day here.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 08:27 AM PDT
Today at the TechStars NYC Demo Day, Pickie launched onto the scene. At its core, it’s an iPad magazine that is totally personalized based on all brand mentions from friends and the people you follow. Nothing’s stronger than the power of word of mouth, and with social networks abounding, bringing those personal recommendations online only makes sense.
On Pickie, shopping with the help of your favorite blogs and friends becomes super simple. The layout is somewhat Pinterest-esque, with category tiles for Home Goods, Arts, Gadgets, Furniture, Crafts, Gifts, and Clothing. Once you’ve clarified the categories you’re interested in, Pickie pulls in only viable products that have been recommended or mentioned by your friends.
Content is broken up into four different verticals. Social content is only the content your friends have been chatting about, whereas trending content offers up the most popular items within your categories. Pickie also includes editorial pages compiled by the Pickie team, along with a Discover page. The more Pickie learns about you, the better the Discover page will look to you.
In essence, product data and social data are coming together within the well-designed app to make purchasing that much easier. Any product you click on will display a price, availability, and anything your friends have said about it.
The service is launching on the iPad, where 90 percent of mobile shopping goes down. Revenue comes in through sponsored products, marketing in a natural way to users without being intrusive.
Pickie is currently in the process of raising a $1 million seed round.
Check out all of the cool stuff that came out of TechStars NYC Demo Day here.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 08:22 AM PDT
One thing small businesses struggle with most is bookkeeping — it’s tedious, time-consuming, and it can be really confusing come tax season. Because of this, most folks turn to bookkeepers to do the dirty work for them, at a cost of hundreds of dollars a month. That’s where 10sheet comes in.
The old model, which involves a traditional bookkeeper, leaves people hauling stacks of paper to their bookkeeper and wrangling together shoeboxes full of receipts. With the new model, it’s as simple as hopping online.
You set up your financial accounts the same way you would with Mint.com, and you have two routes for sending in your receipts. You can either snap a photo and send them in through the app, or book a FedEx pick-up direct from within the application to have your receipts messengered back to 10sheet.
Through machine learning and computer vision techniques, 10sheet has a rather powerful automation tool that takes care of most of the heavy lifting. This includes categorizing transactions and matching up receipts to bank statements and credit card statements. Every user is also assigned a real-life bookkeeper who works out of 10sheet’s NY office. The bookkeeper is on-call to answer any questions via phone or email, and check that everything matches up properly.
It’s this mix of software and service that keeps 10sheet way ahead of the competition in terms of pricing. Whereas you’d spend at least a couple hundred dollars a month using a traditional bookkeeper, 10sheet only costs $69 per month, saving small businesses quite a bit of cash. That goes a long way in this economy.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 08:11 AM PDT
More often than not, a crowdsourced answer is the right one. Just take a look at Estimize — the anonymous user base of 6,500 users is more accurate than Wall Street 67 percent of the time when estimating the trajectory of a company’s stock. So it only follows that brands would want to harness this type of data, which is why PopTip has just launched into existence at TechStars NYC Demo Day.
The service offers real-time polling for any question and can handle misspelled words or responses that haven’t been hashtagged.
From there, pollers can see results fly by in real-time, and check out organized reports of each results page, which can then be shared. To ask a question, you simply write out a question (like “Who makes the best hardware?”) followed by possible answers with hashtags (like “#Apple #RIM #HTC #Motorola #Samsung #Sony #LG #Nokia), and cc/ #poptip. Whether you’re tweeting from the PopTip dash or Twitter the results will be tracked and sent straight back to PopTip.
For now the service only works with Twitter, but eventually PopTip will head to Facebook and be able to give brands more knowledge around long-term engagement and specific demographic data. This, and real-time result tracking, are the main differentiators between TwitPolls and PopTip.
Here’s a look at how it works:
Check out all of the cool stuff that came out of TechStars NYC Demo Day here.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 08:03 AM PDT
Skype just announced a new version of its Mac software which brings changes based on user feedback, including the return of the resizable contact list and improvements to video calls and screen sharing features. The news follows yesterday’s announcement from the company which said that Windows users on Skype’s free service would now see advertisements in the software. However, no mention of the same was made in detailing today’s new feature set for Mac.
That’s not to say that the ads won’t come to Mac. After all, Skype is now owned by Microsoft – it was probably just easier for them to start the ad integrations on Windows first. But it’s unlikely that they would worsen (yes, that’s what the ads do) the user experience on their own platform, while keeping Mac ad-free.
But until now, a reprieve.
As always, here in blogger land, we take careful notice of Skype’s updates for Mac because a) the majority of us use Macs and b) we’re heavy Skype users. So today’s update of Skype for Mac deserves a quick run-through of what’s changed.
According to the Skype blog, a feature users have asked for – the slim contact list – is making a return with the update to Skype 5.8 for Mac. You’ll now once again be able to resize and reposition your contact lists however you like. (Pictured)
Video calling has also been improved between the Mac client and mobile devices. When someone on Skype for iPhone, Skype for iPad or Skype for Android rotates their screen, that change will now reflect in the Mac software. (Windows Phone was already supported).
Screen sharing, which lets you share your desktop or show your photos to a friend, has been tweaked, too, but only for paying subscribers. It will now display your live video alongside your shared photos, so you can share content and watch a friend’s reaction at the same time. This will work in both one-to-one screen sharing sessions and group sessions, says Skype.
The new version of Skype is now OS X Mountain Lion ready as well, and is backward-compatible to Leopard. The company notes that other features, including the ability to open chats in separate windows, are still in the works.
Skype for Mac 5.8 is available for download here.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 08:00 AM PDT
Formerly known as Weatherbill, The Climate Corporation is announcing its $50 million Series C round today, led by new investor Founders Fund and followed on by existing investors Khosla, Google Ventures, NEA, Index Ventures and Atomico. The round comes after another formidable $42 million raise from the aforementioned group sans Founders Fund.
While on the surface The Climate Corporation seems like a weather insurance company, CEO and former Googler Dave Friedberg explains (video above) that it is actually a big data play, using a complex relationship of data sources and machine learning algorithms in order to predict the weather and other agribusiness conditions.
Currently the company monetizes by optimizing custom insurance plans for farmers based on this data, and, unlike traditional weather insurance companies, uses its data measurement system to pay out farmers if bad/out of the ordinary weather happens.
The Climate Corporation’s “Total Weather” insurance plans cost $30 an acre, and pay out around 10x if a covered weather event like rain or drought happens. The insurance costs are around 3% of an average farmer’s revenue according to Friedberg, who views the potential size of the market at $3 trillion globally.
Friedberg tells me he will use this fresh funding to expand The Climate Corporation internationally, and underscores why this is important by referencing an incident where 2000 Indian farmers committed suicide when expected monsoons did not arrive on time. With these expansion efforts, the company will be hiring another 50 people, a combination of engineers, researchers and data scientists.
“We like to tackle and solve some of the world’s most challenging problems,” Friedberg says, on what’s next for The Climate Corporation beyond insuring farmers, “A farmer is about as analog as it gets. To be able tell a farmer this is what’s going to happen at the end of a season, that’s mind-blowing.”
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 07:56 AM PDT
Now this is nice: Apple has updated their Emoji collection to reflect reality. They’ve added a lesbian and homosexual couple to the usual collection of goofy faces, monkeys, and weird skulls.
The new Emoji will appear in iOS 6 but to access the keyboard now in iOS 5 just pop into “Settings>General>Keyboard” and click International Keyboards. Add a new keyboard and select Emoji. Now, when you type, press the globe button near the keyboard and you’ll see a selection of icons for your perusal.
The company also added some very cute Sanzaru monkeys and, most important, a gust of wind Emoji that I intend to use for a very different purpose.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 07:53 AM PDT
Danfung Dennis is a war photographer.
He’s covered the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award for his documentary, “Hell And Back Again”. But he’s ready to tackle a new space: technology. His company, ConditionOne, has created a video player for the iPad and iPhone that offers a full 180 degree view, allowing the user to pan or tilt the device to look around inside the video.
So you open up the player, either through the C1 app or inside a branded application, and calibrate by pressing a little cross hair button that pops up. After setting your positioning, you can move the iPad around in front of you (similar to how you would with an AR app) and look around 180 degrees while the video is playing.
Brands are able to use an API to bake the viewer right into their own app, or market their content as a stand-alone product.
Brands and media companies can license the software from C1 to distribute content through the ConditionOne player, and then create real-life experiences for their users and consumers. The key here is that the C1 player doesn’t require any new camera hardware or interrupt the usual work flow of photographer or filmmaker, making it an attractive avenue for brands. A number of companies have signed on to joint the ConditionOne pilot program, including Mercedes, Discovery Communications, XL Recordings, The Guardian, and Popular Science.
In fact, Popular Science has just released a ConditionOne-equipped app that takes you through the ATLAS Large Hadron Collider.
We’ve also learned that Mark Cuban has invested $500,000 in the startup.
Check out all of the cool stuff that came out of TechStars NYC Demo Day here.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 07:52 AM PDT
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and CFO Timo Ihamuotila took to an early morning conference call to shed some light on the dramatic announcements that the company made today, and in doing so the pair let slip some details about the future of the company’s Lumia smartphone line.
Among Nokia’s plans were to go even lower than their recently-released Lumia 610 in terms of price, something that the Finnish company has apparently been mulling for quite some time. Elop also revealed that Microsoft was giving Nokia “specific support” to go even lower than they had planned.
Aggressive pricing and a broader Lumia product line could potentially go a long way for Nokia — especially in markets like China where tackling the low-cost segment is downright critical — but those don’t address some of the other issues that the beleaguered company is having. Towards the end of the conference call, CEO Elop pointed out that Nokia was still having issues with retail salespeople being either unfamiliar with, or reticent to recommend Lumia smartphones to potential buyers.
“The challenge in all of this is breaking through the strength Android and Apple have in a retail environment, ” Elop said. “We aren’t getting the traction we prefer.”
Addressing that issue going forward is going to be absolutely crucial for Nokia — after all, what good is a having a solid product line if the people on the front lines actually doing the selling won’t close the deal? Nokia’s approach to selling varies between markets — they rely heavily on promoters to capture consumer attention in China for example — but their plan to claw their way back to relevance in the U.S. hinges on an informed salesforce that can recommend Lumia Windows Phones as a viable option when it meets their customers’ needs.
Elop noted that there were a few ways to go about this, specifically by partnering up with carriers (as they had done with AT&T) and focusing on certain retailers. From there Nokia can work with their partners to “adjust” their messaging and better train salespeople, but Nokia still has a long way to go in fine-tuning their process. Hopefully it doesn’t take them too long to crack the code, because their competitors certainly aren’t going to sit and wait for Nokia catch up.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 07:50 AM PDT
The dead tree publishing division of Time Warner announced this morning that its stable of magazines will now be available for subscriptions through Apple’s Newsstand.
But why did it take this long? Was it the debate over who gets subscriber data? Maybe it was over that 30 percent cut Apple gets? Who knows but it certainly took them long enough. Or maybe Time just realized they needed something to increase sales.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 07:35 AM PDT
Web analytics company KISSmetrics is today announcing the sale of its web-based survey tool, KISSinsights to CatchFree, a former TechCrunch Disrupt participant and the maker of a socially-infused comparison service for finding free web and mobile software solutions. Launched in 2010, and backed by $5.5 million in funding from Index Ventures, First Round Capital, True Ventures, Polaris and 500 Startups, CatchFree previously collected feedback from users across the web, compiles the results and presents orderly comparison charts rating the software’s various features. KISSinsights, meanwhile, offers tools for acquiring customer feedback directly from a business’s website through a small pop-up that appears at the bottom right-hand corner of a web page.
Through the development of its service, CatchFree found that customers were getting more value out of the insights it provided versus the traffic it drove to the software companies. For this reason, post-acquisition, CatchFree will be evolving its business to revolve around KISSinsights‘ technology.
KISSinsights was launched in November 2010 as a part of KISSmetrics, and has customers that have ranged from Starbucks to Airbnb. “It’s been a growing Software as a Service product,” says KISSmetrics founder Hiten Shah, “but not our main product, KISSmetrics.” He explains that the deal is part of his company’s continual efforts to focus on its core product, which he says is seeing “tremendous traction.” However, Shah would not disclose the number of current KISSinsights customers. Terms of the deal were not provided, either.
Since its launch at Disrupt in May 2011, CatchFree has reached 1,830,760 people and has over 1,013 application publishers signed up, including Dropbox, LogMeIn, Lookout, Billguard, Live Nation, Soluto, Bu.mp, SignNow, and SoundCloud. Of those publishers, over 40% signed up specifically to get insights from their customer base, which is the service KISSinsights provides.
CatchFree’s acquisition involves all the assets of KISSinsights, and Shah will be joining as an advisor. The company will announce the details on its blog and send out an email to all KISSinsights users later on today.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 07:35 AM PDT
If you’ve enjoyed the game Portal in the past, you understand the allure of being able to open wormholes in space. Filmmaker Jason Craft decided he wanted to recreate that experience with his goofy friends so he created a CG movie that is on par with anything you can see at the theatre these days. His short, Portal: Terminal Velocity, shows us what would happen if a bunch of dudes had a gun that could instantly transport you through space and time.
The video is pretty amazing and even more amazing is their “working” portal gun. Sadly, it too isn’t real:
I like when he makes his friend fall on the stairs. Human injury is funny.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 07:31 AM PDT
The best way I know how to explain Wander is that it’s a love child between the information of Yelp and the beauty of Pinterest, but for all places.
The idea is that you share places that are meaningful to you, whether it be your first date with your wife, places you have fun at, and places you wish you could go. The compilation of these things is called a Wanderlog. According to founder Jeremy Fisher, everyone already has a Wanderlog. It’s just made up of old pictures, post cards, and ticket stubs. With Wander, users can compile their entire Wanderlog online using beautiful templates both on the web and on iOS.
But it’s not just for users. Brands can leverage a Wanderlog, too. For example, the Grand Hotel can post about various restaurants and shops nearby that guests can tap into by visiting the Grand Hotel Wander log.
A new form of “the mention” comes along with Wander. Instead of @mentioning a person, Wander asks you to *mention a place. This categorizes and tags places and users, so that anyone who jumps on Wander can not only search vertically to follow a specific users’ Wanderlog, but search horizontally to follow the Wanderlog of a specific place.
Wander has received $1.2 million in seed funding so far.
Check out all of the cool stuff that came out of TechStars NYC Demo Day here.
Posted: 14 Jun 2012 07:15 AM PDT
Sometimes an idea is so out there that it’s hard to even explain clearly without sounding like a crazy person. Kurrenci is one of those ideas.
Kurrenci is money for the Internet. You “buy” Kurrenci (or earn it through browsing and other interactions) and then you can use it at various locations on the Web, including ecommerce sites, gaming services, and peer-to-peer payments.
Now one of the best things about currency exchange is arbitrage. Here’s where that comes in. Look at the list below. Each of those are exchange rates. But like mini-Pyongyangs, each website is in control of its own exchange rate. Parity can be 1 to 1 to the dollar or Amazon can offer 1.25, essentially offering a considerable discount on everything they sell. Kurrenci takes a small percentage of these “discounts” as payment for customer discovery.
“We came to this by thinking about the problems that currently exist as they relate to money on the Internet. From the merchant’s perspective, it has become increasingly difficult and expensive to acquire a customer. They are forced to resort to marketplaces and affiliates that only move product and don’t bring lasting customers. From the shopper’s perceptive, the coupon and discount mechanisms have become so fragmented that it is overwhelming,” said CEO Nathan Hecht. In other words this is a coupon that applies to everything on a site and, more important, is accepted everywhere on the Internet.
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