26 November, 2011



Week in review: Sex and video games

Posted: 26 Nov 2011 08:53 AM PST

Every week we highlight some of our favorite recent stories, as well as revisiting the most popular VentureBeat stories of the week.

But first: This is the first big holiday shopping weekend of the year. Kick it off with our Black Friday coverage, which has a ton of tips on where the sales are, which gadgets are cheap, and how the economy is doing. Or, just watch VentureBeat’s Christopher Peri explain in a short video what you need to know about Black Friday.

Now, let’s take a look at the past week’s most popular posts.

Most popular

GirlGamerOnline_1Women who play online games have more sex (Infographic)
Freelance contributor Jacob Lopez published this infographic, which is loaded with statistics about women who play online games. They actually have a life, it turns out.

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword proves Nintendo hasn't learned anything
Contributor Sebastian Haley’s goes in-depth with the latest Zelda game.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin gives $500,000 to help Wikipedia

It’s not just about the PageRank. Brin made a much-needed donation to help Wikipedia this week, Jolie O’Dell reports.

Apple Black Friday deals include big discounts on iPad, Macbooks and more
If you’re looking for Apple products this weekend, Devindra Hardawar has a list of the best deals for you.

 Asus Transformer Prime is the first Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablet
Asus is planning a new tablet, Jolie O’Dell reports, and it will be the first to be running the latest version of the Android operating system.

Editor’s picks

Peter Molyneux parody account 'Molydeux' suspended by Twitter
Someone created a hilarious parody of videogame designer Peter Molyneux, but he (and Twitter) were not amused. Dan Crawley reports.

Want to know what Ron Conway got up to in 2011? Here's his full list of investments
Bay Area super-angel Ron Conway has made over 70 investments so far in 2011. Jolie O’Dell pored through the list and created a set of graphs showing where he’s putting his money.

Liquid Robotics Wave Gliders start difficult ocean journey for science
Ocean-crossing robots set out on a journey across the Pacific, collecting data. Chikodi Chima brought back the story and photos.

How HiveMind's Will Wright plans to crowdsource your happiness (interview)
Dean Takahashi’s interview with the master video game maker goes into detail on the next game he’s planning.

RiseArt introduces the fine arts world and social media with its new e-commerce website (exclusive)
Artists aren’t always the best business people, and it can be hard to get into a real-world gallery. So RiseArt hopes to provide an online alternative. Meghan Kelly has the exclusive story.

More good stuff

Looking for a good read? Don’t miss VentureBeat’s features section, where we highlight the stories that we’ve worked hard on. From Dean’s history of the Xbox to Jolie’s inside looks at Google+ and contributor Ciara Byrne’s story about Charity:Water, there are lots of great stories in here.

Filed under: VentureBeat

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Google Chrome upgrades: Gamepad and WebRTC support coming early next year

Posted: 26 Nov 2011 06:00 AM PST

Google is set to add plug-and-play gamepad support to its Chrome web browser early next year, Develop reports. Google developer advocate Paul Kinlan also announced the search behemoth will be adding open source video and voice chat application WebRTC to its browser.

Speaking at the Develop Liverpool conference, Kinlan’s plans could pave the way for cloud-based gaming and open video chat services to make an appearance on the browser, which is currently supported by over 200 million users worldwide. As the popularity of  HTML5 web apps and the Google Chrome Web Store continues to grow, the shift towards a web-based console experience seems completely natural.

Alongside the gamepad, webcam and microphone support will also undergo the plug-and-play treatment, allowing users to connect instantly. It has been rumoured that this will be used to progress the use of Augmented Reality, the use of computer graphics on top of live imagery, which is already being used across a variety of advertisements and gaming platforms.

Google will also look to exploit the abilities of WebRTC, an open-source real-time communications application. This will grant users with the ability to communicate without the need for plug-ins.

With Google Chrome updates appearing every six weeks, there’s plenty for web developers to get excited about at the moment. Will Google launch a HTML5 gaming console? Will it wait for others to take advantage of the structure it’s slowly unravelling to the public? Either way, Google Chrome’s stock continues to rise.

Filed under: games, media, VentureBeat

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Authorities seize 131 domains associated with piracy and counterfeiting

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 07:48 PM PST

Federal NoticeThe US government has seized 131 domains allegedly associated with counterfeiting- and piracy-related websites, reports TorrentFreak.

The action signals that U.S. authorities have resumed “Operation In Our Sites”, a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement that aims to stop online piracy and counterfeit item sales by assuming control of a site’s domain name. The domain seizure strategy is very similar to what both the Protect IP and SOPA pieces of legislation intend to do.

Last year, authorities seized 82 domains on Black Friday, the day following the Thanksgiving holiday and routinely the most profitable of the entire year. The operation is intended to protect both consumers and U.S. companies from illegitimate businesses, but many critics believe the government is simply over stepping its authority and infringing on their civil liberties.

If this were a simple case of the government coming down on shady websites that fooled users into purchasing $99 iPhone 4S knock-offs filled with candy, I doubt many people would care. However, the domain seizures are for plenty of websites that have some gray area when it comes to who is actually responsible for illegal activity. For instance, sites that simply share links to potentially illegal streaming content as well as torrent search sites were among those that had domains seized by the government.

Unlike the previous year’s round of domain seizures, this time authorities seem to have focused primarily on sites that process payments and/or handle money directly. Neither the DOJ or ICE have made an official statement about the seizures at this point. I’d expect they will provide justification closer to Cyber Monday, a day set aside by online retailers for the best deals of the holiday season.

Filed under: security, VentureBeat

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PC phenomenon Minecraft scores big on Metacritic

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 06:04 PM PST


After more than two years in development, indie sandbox building game Minecraft is finally getting some love on Metacritic.

Fourteen publications have weighed in with overwhelmingly positive reviews since the game’s official launch during last weekend’s sold-out MineCon event, giving Minecraft a combined Metacritic score of 95 out of 100. Most outlets praised the game for its genre-defining game play and imagination, with Eurogamer going so far as to call it “a towering achievement in the very possibilities of gaming.”

User reviews have been a bit more restrained. Gamers gave Minecraft a 7.5 out of 10 rating.

Earlier this week, Minecraft developer Mojang revealed that the game sees roughly 242 million logins each month. Plus, more than 17 million people have registered on the Minecraft website. The game sold its 4 millionth copy on Nov. 6, and has generated an estimated $50 million in revenue.

An iOS version of Minecraft was released last week for the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone. An Xbox 360 version is scheduled to launch sometime in 2012.

Filed under: games, VentureBeat

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Network virtualization poised on the brink of big things, Big Switch co-founder says (video)

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 04:34 PM PST

Earlier this year, VentureBeat sat down with Kyle Forster, the co-founder of Big Switch Networks, to talk about network virtualization, a key cloud technology.

The company’s technology is built on OpenFlow, a platform for network virtualization that gives network administrators more control over the behavior of network devices, such as routers and switches.

“We like to think of our company as a VMware for networks,” Forster says.

Big Switch’s software can make it so that people sharing the same physical network never see one another’s traffic — it looks to each one as if they’ve got exclusive access to the same 24-port switch, for example.

It also enables companies to virtually integrate multiple data centers, often widely separated by geography, so that it looks like they’re all sitting on one big switch — thus the company’s name.

The market for network switching is $16 billion, Forster says. Because equipment quickly goes out of date, networking virtualization technologies let companies adapt more quickly.

“We’ll see a whole OpenFlow ecosystem come together. I think the next few quarters are going to be a very interesting time,” Forster said.

The video was conducted by Matthew Lynley, who until earlier this year was a writer with VentureBeat.

CloudBeat 2011CloudBeat 2011 takes place Nov 30 – Dec 1 at the Hotel Sofitel in Redwood City, CA. Unlike any other cloud events, we'll be focusing on 12 case studies where we'll dissect the most disruptive instances of enterprise adoption of the cloud. Speakers include: Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box.net; Amit Singh VP of Enterprise at Google; Adrian Cockcroft, Director of Cloud Architecture at Netflix; Byron Sebastian, Senior VP of Platforms at Salesforce; Lew Tucker, VP & CTO of Cloud Computing at Cisco, and many more. Join 500 executives for two days packed with actionable lessons and networking opportunities as we define the key processes and architectures that companies must put in place in order to survive and prosper. Register here. Spaces are very limited!

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Tesla opens showrooms to show off its electric Model S cars

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 04:07 PM PST

Black Friday shoppers on the market for an electric car might want to drop by a Tesla showroom this weekend. The company has put its vehicle technology on display, with prototypes of the new Model S Beta electric sedan appearing in stores around the U.S. and Canada.

The technology tour will be rolling out in selected cities across the country, showing off the vehicle’s drive train and electric motor, as well as the battery pack, front suspension and rear drive unit.

The idea is to let people get up close and personal with the new car, and experience an electric car not as some luxury toy, but as something they might one day own.

“Tesla stores are designed to let people explore and learn about Tesla's technology for themselves," said vice president George Blankenship, in a statement. "You'll never see a 'Don't Touch' sign in a Tesla store. We want everyone — from kindergartners to grandparents — to come in and see for themselves why driving electric is the future."

Blankenship was hired by Tesla to design its retail facilities after successfully contributing to the signature look of Apple’s retail stores. He was Apple’s vice president for real estate from 2000 to 2006.

The Tesla Model S Beta is the first mass-market electric car produced  by the company, whose headquarters are in Palo Alto, CA. The first Model S Beta units will be on the streets in 2012, and the company has taken orders for more than 6,500 pre-orders, selling out completely. VentureBeat recently visited the Palo Alto facility, and we got to test ride the new Model S.

What makes the Model S different from the company’s earlier vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, is that it looks like a regular sedan, and is built to seat seven people, five adults and two kids. It’s also priced like a normal car, starting at about $49,000. By contrast, the Tesla Roadster was a two-seater sports car and had a sticker price of $112,000 and up.

Even with a price tag that makes owning Tesla Model S more affordable, don’t expect any Black Friday madness at the Tesla store.

Filed under: green

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Not content to wait for Black Friday, mobile shoppers spent big on Thanksgiving

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 03:10 PM PST

Thanksgiving Day 2011 will go down as a day when many of you opted to indulge in more than just an extra helping of turkey. A growing number of shoppers opened up their mobile wallets for online deals too good to pass up.

The U.S. holiday saw a 511 percent jump in global mobile payment volume from Thanksgiving 2010, with a majority of folks in the U.S. shopping via mobile between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. PST, payments platform Paypal announced Friday.

A much larger pool of mobile shoppers contributed to the gigantic leap in payment volume. According to PayPal, an eBay-owned company, there was a 350 percent increase in the number of global customers shopping on mobile this year. Shoppers in New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago opted to pay via PayPal mobile more than shoppers elsewhere in the world, the company said.

eBay mobile also experienced record Thanksgiving Day activity in the U.S. “The amount shoppers in the U.S. spent via eBay Mobile more than doubled this Thanksgiving over last year,” eBay said in a press statement.

Perhaps, if the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, the Thanksgiving Day mobile shopping phenomenon warrants its own name. Couch Potato Thursday, anyone?

But what’s really going on here? The prevalence of smartphones and tablets means that consumers can now shop from the comfort of their couches any time they’d like. And eBay wisely kicked off a massive “When it's on your mind, it's on eBay” television ad campaign in September of this year to promote its mobile application as a convenient, whenever-the-mood-strikes-you shopping assistant. Consumers apparently took notice.

The company said Toms shoes, iPhone accessories and a Traxxas brand radio-controlled truck were among the most popular items purchased via eBay mobile in the fashion, electronics and toys categories.

The big bump in mobile shopping underscores the fact that tablets and mobile phones are fast-becoming more common mechanisms for shopping, and further suggests that the emerging mobile pay/wallet industry is on the cusp of a breakout moment.

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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How I explained Occupy Wall Street to my kids with Hershey’s Kisses (video)

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 02:45 PM PST

What does it mean to be the “99 percent?” And why is everyone so mad at the top 1 percent?

I decided to explain it to my daughter and son, ages 10 and 5, in terms of candy. One recent Friday afternoon, I bought two bags of Hershey’s Kisses and went down to the Occupy SF encampment a few blocks from VentureBeat’s headquarters.

I was armed with some hard statistics: For income distribution, I used an analysis from the U.S. Census. (See the bottom of this post for that graph.)

For wealth distribution, I used some figures cited by a sociology professor at U.C. Santa Cruz. (Not the most impartial source, but his data seems good.) The graph of wealth distribution is right here.

Wealth distribution in the U.S.

I counted out 100 kisses to represent wealth, and another 100 to represent annual income. In reality, the wealth pie is probably bigger than the income pie (you need $300,000 to $400,000 in income to be in the top 1%, or $1.2 million in net worth), but this would do for explaining things to kids.

We rounded up 10 volunteers from Occupy SF. Then we proceeded to hand out candies in rough proportion to how they’d be distributed in the U.S., if they were dollars and the 10 people were the whole population of the country. This video is the result.

I actually got mixed up on the count partway through the video. In the income distribution part, my daughter — the very last person in line — should have received just one Hershey’s Kiss, but I had already given them all away, so she got none.

But you can see from her reaction that she understands the point.

Video edited by Amanda Lopez. Thanks to Christopher Peri and Meghan Kelly for help shooting video and wrangling volunteers.

graph of income distribution in the U.S.

Filed under: offBeat, video

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Penguin restores most e-books to lending library services

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 02:07 PM PST

penguinGiant book publishing company Penguin Group has decided to restore its catalog of e-books to e-book library lending services, such as the one offered via Amazon’s Kindle e-reader and tablet devices.

As VentureBeat reported earlier this week, Penguin decided to yank all e-books from any book sharing service that used the OverDrive lending system — which includes Amazon and several public libraries across the country — due to concerns that lending would lead to increased piracy. Others, however, speculate that Penguin made the decision because it doesn’t consider lending services productive for e-book sales.

“Amazon has undertaken to work with Penguin and OverDrive between now and the end of the year to address Penguin’s concerns. Penguin will, as a result, restore the supply of these titles until the end of the year in order to return the availability of older titles to all its digital customers,” a Penguin Group spokesperson said in a statement to The Register.

Penguin isn’t providing additional comment on why it yanked its e-books, but my guess is that the company realized the rash decision was an overreaction. Regardless, we’re reaching out to the company and will update here if and when we here anything new from them.

As for new releases of e-books, Penguin will continue to delay them for the time being. I’m not sure the move will curb illegal piracy of those new titles, as most people tend to resort to the tactic when there isn’t a legitimate solution available.

Filed under: media, mobile, social, VentureBeat

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Samsung calls Australian tablet ban “grossly unjust”

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 12:45 PM PST

samsung-galaxy-tab-blockedDevice maker Samsung says an Australian judge who banned the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in that country does not know the basic facts of the case, and her reasoning  is “grossly unjust.” Lawyers for Samsung are appealing a temporary injunction that has frozen the company out of the market due to claims that Samsung  ”slavishly copied” the iPad when creating its own tablet, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Samsung’s attorneys claim the judge in the case did not properly evaluate the merits of Apple’s infringement suit before issuing an injunction, which “stopped dead,” any efforts by the company to sell its tablet computers in Australia.

"We contend that the primary judge made a series of fundamental errors in her disposition of the interlocutory application. They were all errors of principle," Samsung’s lawyer told the court.

A final hearing is not scheduled until March of 2012, and Samsung would be prevented from selling the tablet in Australia until the matter is resolved. The company’s lawyers want to undo this ruling and speed up the time table for a final ruling.

While Samsung continues to fight in the legal arena, others are left to wonder just how closely the company copied the iPad.  Samsung, which produces the A6 chips that will be in future Apple iOS devices, maintains the originality of the intellectual property in its product. Apple’s quadcore A6 chips are produced by Samsung in its Austin, TX foundry, and are the brains that power applications on the phone. Despite the tense relationship, Apple is still dependent upon Samsun to manufacture the chips, but has rival TSMC has begun making test batches, according to EE Times, which would give Apple significant leverage in the future.

However, it’s not the first time that Samsung has been accused of stalking Apple.

Check out this picture of a Samsung store in Italy with several logos for Apple’s Safari browser printed on the back wall. This is important, because at the very least it indicates that Samsung is very reckless with its brand, or it could further indicate the extent to which the company really does follow Apple’s every move.

Filed under: media, mobile

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Verizon runs Galaxy Nexus ad with $200 price — still won’t let you buy

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 11:52 AM PST

Verizon Wireless may be trolling Android fans this Thanksgiving weekend.

The carrier has begun running an ad featuring the much-anticipated Galaxy Nexus for $199.99, but for some strange reason the ad doesn’t allow you to actually pre-order the phone for that price. It’s like Verizon cooked you a drool-worthy turkey dinner that you can’t eat.

The Galaxy Nexus, the latest in Google’s flagship Nexus Android phone lineup, is slated to launch in Canada on December 8, and it’s rumored to land at Verizon in the U.S. on the same date. The $200 price may be part of a planned holiday promotion, especially since all of Verizon’s other high-end Android phones (the HTC Rezound and Droid Razr) retail for $300.

Verizon may have planned to launch the Galaxy Nexus before this holiday weekend, but recent issues with the phone’s volume may have pushed back those plans. It’s likely that the ads were scheduled to run ahead of time, but for whatever reason they weren’t disabled before they began appearing on websites.

The Galaxy Nexus is the first phone to run Android 4.0, nicknamed “Ice Cream Sandwich.” It features a 4.65-inch screen with an astonishing 720p high-definition resolution.

Via Electronista

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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VBWeekly: Everything you need to know about Black Friday (video)

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 11:47 AM PST

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and the VentureBeat offices are deserted. Where is everyone? Out shopping for insane Black Friday deals, apparently.

VentureBeat chief technical officer and resident videographer Christopher Peri spends some quality time with his camera, talking about what’s going on with holiday shopping this year. So far, online shopping is up 14 percent over the same period last year, which is a great trend.

Chris also talks about the top 10 Black Friday deals for gamers, including Uncharted 3, Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, the Xbox 360 Kinect controller, and a cool 3D TV from Sony.

Looking for an e-book reader? The Nook Simple Touch and the Kindle are both just $79 this weekend, and Kindles are just as cheap.

And finally, get a glimpse of the future: The Landing Zone is a slick-looking docking station for the MacBook Air.

Looking for the best deals? Here’s our advice on the best apps for holiday shoppers.

Filed under: video

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That’s the ticket! Gogobot raises $18.5M for social travel recommendations

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 10:53 AM PST

Gogobot has raised an $18.5 million second round of funding for its social travel search site.

Gogobot recommends travel deals powered by tips from friends and family. It also has an iPhone app that allows people to share their travel experiences and photo “postcards” from their trips.

“We believe the best advice comes from people you trust – people like you – and not from anonymous strangers on the internet,” the company’s website reads.

Documents filed with the SEC show that previous investors Redpoint Capital and Battery Ventures both participated in the round.

MySpace alum Travis Katz and former Yahoo executive Ori Zaltzman cofounded the company, and in 2010 Gogobot was chosen as the winner in the “Best Design” category at The Crunchies, an awards program cosponsored by VentureBeat, TechCrunch and GigaOm.

Gogobot has raised a total of $19 million from Redpoint Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, Battery Ventures, The Crunchfund and angels such as Square chief operating officer Keith Rabois and Oren Zeev.

Filed under: deals

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Pepper spray: One more reason to do your Black Friday gadget shopping online

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 10:42 AM PST

Last night an overzealous shopper at a Walmart near Los Angeles used pepper spray on a crowd in an effort to get at a stash of heavily-discounted Black Friday gadgets.

Around 10:20 on Thanksgiving night, the unidentified woman shot pepper spray inside the store when the coverings were lifted off items she intended to purchase.

"Somehow she was trying to use it to gain an upper hand," police Lt. Abel Parga told The Associated Press.

The use of the chemical agent appears to have set off a small panic in the store, resulting in 20 minor injuries, according to fire department officials who said that “rapid crowd movement” was to blame for the injuries.

The store remained open after the incident, and people on the scene continued to shop, though many probably wish they had made their purchases online instead.

The woman fled the scene, according to police, and we can assume she didn’t get her Black Friday discounts.

via Washington Post. Hat tip: Anup

Image via mag3737/Flickr

Filed under: offBeat

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Foxconn makes $63M investment in cloud computing centers

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 10:36 AM PST

Proving that cloud computing is more than a here-today-gone-tomorrow fad, Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, will spend $63.3 million over the next five years to construct two cloud computing buildings.

Foxconn, which is best known in the U.S. as the maker of key parts for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, will start building its cloud complex on a 4.57-acre lot at Kaohsiung Software Park in southern Taiwan beginning December 1, according to a Digitimes report that cites sources familiar with the company’s plans.

The cloud complex will employ 3,000 software engineers and house three centers: “a cloud computing center to be equipped with an internally developed container data center; a software development center focusing on cloud computing, digital content, security monitoring, and environmental protection; and a technological innovation incubation center,” Digitimes reported.

The pricey investment highlights just how significant cloud infrastructure and applications could be to the next wave on Internet innovation.

"The market opportunity is enormous,” Dan Schnolnick, general partner at Trinity Ventures, told VentureBeat in a recent interview on the relatively untapped market of cloud technologies.

And if the “cloud,” an ambiguous term often used interchangeably to mean a variety of things, is a concept you’ve not yet mastered, fret not. VentureBeat’s Sean Ludwig breaks down the term and dissects what cloud computing means for the industry in this handy Cloud 101 guide.

[via Thing_]

[Image via Flickr/foto.bulle]

CloudBeat 2011CloudBeat 2011 takes place Nov 30 – Dec 1 at the Hotel Sofitel in Redwood City, CA. Unlike any other cloud events, we’ll be focusing on 12 case studies where we’ll dissect the most disruptive instances of enterprise adoption of the cloud. Speakers include: Aaron Levie, Co-Founder & CEO of Box.net; Amit Singh VP of Enterprise at Google; Adrian Cockcroft, Director of Cloud Architecture at Netflix; Byron Sebastian, Senior VP of Platforms at Salesforce; Lew Tucker, VP & CTO of Cloud Computing at Cisco, and many more. Join 500 executives for two days packed with actionable lessons and networking opportunities as we define the key processes and architectures that companies must put in place in order to survive and prosper. Register here. Spaces are very limited!

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BalconyTV turns apartment balconies into music venues

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 10:29 AM PST

Irish band The Script have opened for U2 and appeared on CNN, but they made their TV debut on Stephen O’ Regan’s balcony in Dublin.

O’ Regan runs BalconyTV, a home-made TV show in which new bands perform on apartment balconies from Mexico to New Zealand. The company just pitched at Startup Bootcamp’s investor day in Copenhagen.

"One day in my apartment in Dublin about 5 years ago we had the silly idea to start doing an Internet show from our apartment balcony,” says O’ Regan. “I had come out of film school and I’d already made a film that had become quite successful on Youtube. We wanted to have a new show every single day so we started inviting local bands to perform on our balcony. Very quickly we were being contacted by bands all over Ireland who wanted to play on our balcony.”

Now BalconyTV operates in 22 cities all over the world and has been contacted by potential hosts in over 100 cities. The resulting 6,000 original music videos have been viewed over 25 million times.

BalconyTV hosts are all volunteers, although they may seek local sponsorship. "We give people a document saying ‘This is the structure of the show, these are the opening graphics that you need,’ ” O’ Regan explains. “We invite them to do a few test shows. If the test shows are good enough we give them a license to produce. They must commit to producing a certain number of shows per week.”

Despite its underground success, BalconyTV doesn’t currently make money. O’ Regan is keen to change that. The first step is to establish a centralized production team to maintain quality and package all the content. “We would like to develop our content, package it in a number of formats and license it to TV stations around the world. We also want to sell the rights to create BalconyTV to broadcasters," he says.

A BalconyTV merchandising site is being launched but the real money is in sponsorship of the show by big brands and in selling the content and format to TV stations. BalconyTV plans to license to 200 TV stations in the next 2 years.

There are a couple of similar shows around the world like the UK’s Black Cab Sessions and France’s Takeaway Shows. Neither operates in more than one country as BalconyTV does, and both shows focus on emerging artists rather than complete unknowns.

BalconyTV was founded in 2008, is based in Dublin (or as O’Regan says “It’s based on my laptop”), has a team of 3 supplemented by 100 volunteers worldwide, and is privately funded.

Startup Bootcamp funded the travel and accommodation required for this story.

Filed under: media, social, VentureBeat

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Google running long-winded Google+ commercial over Thanksgiving weekend

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 09:47 AM PST

Google Plus CommercialGoogle is certainly stepping up its game when it comes to prime time advertising via television commercials. Its most recent is running over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to promote the company’s social network Google+.

It uses essentially the same pitch Google+ used when it first debuted in July 2011, which would be fine except that the total length of the video is roughly 90 seconds — about a minute longer than the super-effective 30-second TV commercial spots most advertisers opt for. (See the video embedded below.)

I can see how it would be difficult to condense that message by two-thirds. Still, it probably would have been worth it if you’re already spending top dollar on prime time TV ads during the biggest sales weekend of the year.

Google’s biggest TV ad push to date was the commercial for its search engine product during the 2010 Super Bowl. Since then the company has produced a few others, like its “year in review” spot in December of last year.

Update: A Google spokesperson responded to our post with the following statement…

“Yes, we did air a Google+ ad during yesterday’s game. The ad was about introducing people to new ways of sharing the right things with the right people on Google+. In regards to our motivation for running the ad, we are doing this because we think it's a great way to reach our target audience and raise awareness about Google+. During recent years, we have tried new forms of advertising like our TV ads for our browser Chrome and our ‘Gone Google’ campaign for Enterprise on billboards in cities around the world. Overall, Google has increased its investment in marketing and we plan to continue to do that where it makes sense.

We do not comment on the cost of our marketing campaigns.

In regards to our overall vision for Google+ and our marketing strategy, we would say that, ‘We believe that sharing is one of the best features on the web. We want to raise awareness of the new ways that Google+ allows people to share online. Just like in real life, you share certain things with certain people, and Google+ was built with this in mind. Our vision is to transform the way people connect, communicate and share – across all of Google.’”

[VentureBeat Staff Writer Jennifer Van Grove contributed to this report]

Filed under: media, social, VentureBeat

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