30 October, 2011



YouTube’s original channels could be Google TV’s killer app

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 09:43 AM PDT

Google has officially announced its plans to bring a slew of original content to YouTube, backed by some big names, but the news could also be huge for Google TV.

The company’s smart TV platform could certainly use a killer product to coincide with its recently announced update, which will bring a newer version of Android and an apps marketplace. Google’s plans for original content channels, which would basically turn it into an alternative to traditional TV channels, seems like the perfect way to show off Google TV’s value as a unified hub of online and traditional content.

Google is reportedly spending upwards of $100 million on its original content plans, which includes well-known personalities like skateboarder Tony Hawk,  comedian Rainn Wilson, and self-hulp guru Deepak Chopra. The apparent aim is to add more professional content to YouTube’s library, ultimately making it something more than a destination for user-created cat videos. Google is also offering a sweet deal to content creators: 55 percent of ad revenues (after it recoups its initial cash advances), the Wall Street Journal reports.

Google has already said that it’s building a new YouTube application specifically for Google TV, and I wouldn’t be surprised if its new original channels will be heavily featured. If the content is good enough, it could make consumers forget about the fact that broadcast networks (and by extension Hulu) are blocking GTV from video content on its websites, and it could entice new users to the platform.

It would also be the full realization of Google TV’s initial goal of combining online and traditional TV content. For all of its initial problems, Google TV is the only smart TV platform that makes the web instantly available a few keystrokes away from your favorite TV show. Instead of fighting with TV networks, Google would be better off positioning its own content alongside traditional TV. Eventually, consumers may not even be able to tell the difference between a show produced for TV and one made for YouTube.

I don’t suspect that Google is thinking of GTV as the premiere platform for original YouTube content — desktop users will likely remain the main focus for some times — but it makes sense for the company to integrate the content somehow. And as is Google’s habit, the original YouTube content will likely be featured on other smart TV platforms as well.

But over time, Google TV could find its identity through YouTube’s original programming. Just like Android is more tightly integrated into Google’s services than any other mobile platform, GTV’s value would be far easier to appreciate as the premiere way to enjoy YouTube from the comfort of your couch.

Filed under: media, VentureBeat

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Siri hack on iPhone 4, iPod Touch can now chat with Apple’s servers

Posted: 30 Oct 2011 07:57 AM PDT

The hacker who first ported Siri to the iPhone 4 has now surpassed the next major hurdle towards porting the virtual assistant: getting it to talk to Apple’s servers.

Hacker Steven Troughton-Smith was able to trick the iPhone 4 and latest-generation iPod Touch into successfully communicating with Apple’s servers thanks to a recent iPhone 4S jailbreak, which gave him access to new files integral to Siri’s functionality, 9to5 Mac reports.

Troughton-Smith made headlines soon after the iPhone 4S launch by being the first to port Siri on the iPhone 4 — right now Siri is exclusive to Apple’s newest smartphone. But his port still lacked the crucial ability to talk with Apple’s servers, through which most of Siri’s functionality runs through.

But the hacker still has a way to go before the port is readily available:

At this point it's all about confirming this works across devices, making it reproducible (we got it working on two devices today), and documenting everything. It does require files from an iPhone 4S which aren't ours to distribute, and it also requires a validation token from the iPhone 4S that has to be pulled live from a jailbroken iPhone 4S, and it's about a 20-step process right now.

Troughton-Smith told 9to5 Mac that he won’t take part in distributing the completed Siri port, since it will require pushing Apple-owned files, but he wouldn’t be surprised if the quasi-legal software made its way to the public. He partnered with the jailbreak developer Chpwn to finalize the port, who is known for jailbreak apps like ProSwitcher and Infiniapps.

Below, check out a video of Siri running on the iPod Touch. Due to its slightly weaker microphone, Troughton-Smith says you have to speak louder and more clearly to use Siri on the iPod Touch .

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Week in Review: How a $35 Android tablet could change the world

Posted: 29 Oct 2011 03:55 PM PDT

This week saw everything from a $35 Android tablet to the launch of Nokia’s long-awaited Windows phone … and more developments around the growing Occupy movement. Here are the highlights from VentureBeat.

Most Popular

Main screen of the $35 Aaakash android tabletHands On: India's $35 Aakash Android tablet lands in America (exclusive)
With a subsidized price of just $35, the Aakash tablet is meant to help tens of millions of Indian children get on the internet. Chikodi Chima took a first look at the tablet, including hands-on video.

Why World of Warcraft added Pokemon-like battling to Mists of Pandaria
Companion animals have been part of WoW for a long time. Now you can pit your pets against others, as Tom Cheredar reports.

Anonymous releases private police information in name of Occupy Wall Street
A group of hackers operating under the banner of “Anonymous” hacked into several databases of police information and released them to the public. Meghan Kelly reports.

Microsoft's vision of the mobile future is astounding (video)
This week, Microsoft released a mind-blowing video showing its vision for what the interfaces of the future might look like. If imagination were all it took, Microsoft would be winning this week. Story by Sean Ludwig.

The "world's most wanted hacker," Kevin Mitnick, has gone straight (interview)
VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi sat down with one of the world’s most famous hackers to talk about what he’s doing now that his gag order has been lifted.

Editor’s picks

In a commitment to honesty, Twitter tries to bury the hatchet with third-party developers
Jolie O’Dell covers the long, twisted history of Twitter’s relationship with its developers. After squashing some (and pissing off many), the company is trying to patch things up now.

steve-jobs-icloudWhy iCloud is a bigger deal than you think for Steve Jobs' legacy
One of the Apple CEO’s most significant achievements didn’t actually launch until after his death, Sean Ludwig argues.

Allegations of past and present Internet crime haunt Airbnb co-founder
A former roommate accuses Nathan Blecharczyk of running a large-scale spam operation during his college days, and of breaking California financial regulations today. Chikodi Chima reports on the allegations.

Hands on with Nokia's Lumia 800 and 710 Windows Phones
After a long wait, Nokia has given the world a glimpse at its first handsets designed to run the Windows Phone OS. Sean Ludwig got his hands on both and brought back some beautiful photos of them.

"The ugly cousin" no more: inside Android's beautiful new design
Android users enjoy their phones’ flexibility and power but have to endure the taunts of Apple fans who are smugly convinced of their iPhones’ aesthetic superiority. Now, Jolie O’Dell reports, Google is trying to turn things around with a gorgeous new design for Android “Ice Cream Sandwich.”

Meg Whitman joins Zaarly's board, company gets $14M from Kleiner Perkins
New HP CEO Meg Whitman has her hands full, trying to right the listing supertanker she now helms. But she’s not too busy to take on a board position with a hot young startup — and Zaarly’s CEO is just tickled about it. Meghan Kelly reports.

Filed under: VentureBeat

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

HP PC Boss: Shutting down of WebOS is “unfounded rumor”

Posted: 29 Oct 2011 03:37 PM PDT

Web OSThe head of HP’s PC division Todd Bradley called a report yesterday that HP has decided to shut down its WebOS devision an “unfounded rumor.”

Bradley, appearing in a Bloomberg West interview last night, said that contrary to the rumors published yesterday by the Guardian, HP had not yet made up its mind, and that it will weigh all the “data and information” before making “the right decision.”

Still, the statements leave WebOS dangerously in limbo, and that’s likely to discourage employees of the WebOS unit at a time when some high-ranking HP employees have already started leaving the company. WebOS, a slick mobile operating system, developed by smartphone maker Palm before it was acquired by HP, had received wide accolades. But it was hobbled by the fumbling of its owners, first Palm, and then HP — who did too little, too late to encourage developers to make applications for it. Meanwhile, HP looks set to throw its PC and device future to Microsoft’s mobile OS.

Filed under: VentureBeat

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Apple buys C3 Technologies — a shot at Google Maps

Posted: 29 Oct 2011 01:41 PM PDT

Apple buys 3G TechnologiesApple has apparently acquired a company called C3 Technologies that has sophisticated processing technology that can build 3D maps.

Here’s why: If there's one thing Apple hates, it's having to rely on technology from a competitor. And when you navigate or get directions on Apple iOS devices, such as the iPhone, you're using an application from Google Maps — because Apple has nothing else.

That's a big sore spot for Apple. And because it concerns Google, it’s a very big one.

Well, there's evidence that Apple is secretly building out its own mapping technology, even if it's not clear right now just how ambitious the effort is.

This acquisition of C3 is just the latest move. The deal looks worth about $240 million. (The terms are a bit confusing: There are reports that it was worth $1 billion, but there were more credible reports that it was less, based on the fact that the company’s biggest shareholder, SAAB AB, had a 57.8 percent stake in the company that was worth $150M). The acquisition was made last year, but it has only now come to light that Apple is the owner.

Here’s what’s interesting: C3′s technology can be used to seamlessly integrate 3D imaging into traditional 2D maps and other photographies. 9to5 Mac has the scoop, with more details.

You can see a video demonstrating the technology at bottom.

The acquisition comes after a string of moves that suggest Apple is building both a back-end mapping system to be able to compete with Google's GPS offerings as well as a string of other high-tech layers — such as this 3D map offering — that will give it something special. Apple's move to offer high-powered custom chips (A5, for example) keeps it on the bleeding edge and gives it a leg-up against other manufacturers when it comes to processing-heavy apps like maps. So Apple may be hoping to more than catch up with Google's superior mapping offerings — it probably wants to surpass them.

In 2009, Apple bought Placebase, a mapping software development company, which appears to be the foundation of Apple's mapping efforts. Then, last summer, Apple acquired web-based 3D mapping company Poly9.

Another reason Apple must make a move: Even though it licenses Google's mapping technology for its users, the technology just doesn't work as seamlessly only Apple’s devices as it does on Google's Android phones.

Google's Android supports maps with deeper integration with the phone and offers more bells and whistles. For example, while navigating on Google phones, Google will automatically update your next turn from your current location — in other words, operating like a standalone GPS device. Google’s Android offering also has offline caching of frequently used areas of the map, so you can find your way home if you lose connectivity. You can also more easily view location history, and there's nice integration with cool features like Latitude and Places — including letting you rate places easily.

Expect to see more from Apple on mapping soon. C3 Technologies CEO Mattias Astrom, CFO Kjell Cederstrand, and lead C3 Technologies Product Manager Ludvig Emgard, as well as most of the former C3 team, all now work within Apple's iOS division, 9to5 reports. The team is based in Sweden and called "Sputnik."

“Yep, Sputnik, a clear reference to the “Sputnik crisis” of 1957 when President Eisenhower created NASA in order to catch up to the perceived advantage by the Soviet Union in space. For Apple, this clearly a big deal.”

Filed under: dev, mobile

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Redeem&Get pulls in $200K to manage daily deals

Posted: 29 Oct 2011 09:17 AM PDT

Suffering from Daily Deal fatigue? Dublin startup Redeem&Get aims to make the process of redeeming a deal smoother for customers and more profitable for merchants. The company just won the Spark of Genius competition at the Dublin Web Summit, with prizes that included 40,000 EUR ($56,000) in cash and a 100,000 EUR ($141,000) termsheet from ACT Venture Capital.

Once merchants place a daily deal via a company like Groupon or Living Social they are often bombarded with phone calls from customers and don’t have any effective way to keep track of new customers brought in by the deal.

“We find that 40 percent of daily deal customers redeem their vouchers on our system between 7am and 11am on the first day vouchers are released to them,” said Redeem&Get’s CEO Gene Murphy. “Imagine a deal that has sold 500 vouchers and then trying to take this many phone calls, bookings or walk in customers at 9am when a business opens its doors.”

Redeem&Get allows voucher holders to redeem the voucher and book appointments online. Data about deal customers is gathered and entered into the merchant’s database as part of this process, and the merchant can view analytics on the progress of the deal. Finally, the merchant can upsell to redeeming customers (“Would you like to book a manicure with your Groupon deal pedicure?”).

Mob Manager in the U.S. offers a different service to ours but is the closest competitor as merchant services in the daily deal space is a very early emerging market,” said Murphy.

I quizzed Murphy on the backlash against the daily deal industry and how that might affect his business. While acknowledging that the hype over daily deals is settling, he doesn’t think that daily deals will be disappearing anytime soon, and he says that systems like his can lead to more satisfied customers and merchants. As a deal buyer who has had merchants refuse to accept a voucher displayed on a mobile phone rather than on paper (I don’t have a printer) and who couldn’t get an appointment for that cut price facial for 2 months, I would certainly welcome some improvement in how deals are managed.

Redeem&Get was founded in 2011, is based in Dublin and has 5 employees.

Filed under: deals, social, VentureBeat

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now