The Lightsaber and LEDs Workspace [Featured Workspace]

What has three screens, a couple test servers, and a lightsaber? Possibly a remote rebel-sponsored code farm, but also today's featured workspace.

Lifehacker reader cGarst has put together a simple and uncluttered workspace for himself. A combination of dark colors—green on the walls and black for the worksurface, chair, and file cabinent—combined with downlighting provided by some inexpensive IKEA LED pucks makes for a dramatic workspace.

You can click on the photo above or this one below to get a closer look. If you want additional information about things in the picture check out the photo notes on his Flickr stream at the link below.

If you have a workspace of your own to show off, throw the pictures on your Flickr account and add it to the Lifehacker Workspace Show and Tell Pool. Include some details about your setup and why it works for you, and you just might see it featured on the front page of Lifehacker.




Gmail Supports Attachments Even When You Are Not Attached To The Internet

Gmail is furthering its offline strategy today with the announcement of the ability to include attachments in composed emails when offline. Google says this was one of the most requested features for Offline Gmail and starting today, you be able to attach files in offline mode the way you would in online Gmail.

You’ll be able to attach all types of files except inline images, which are images in the body of the email. When you have Offline Gmail enabled, Google says that mail now goes through the outbox when you’re online or offline, allowing Gmail to capture all attachments regardless of internet connections.

Earlier this year, Google rolled out a Google Gears version of Gmail, which detects when you are offline. It caches your e-mail so that you can read it, respond to it, search it, star it, or label it. When you are connected to the Internet again, it sends all the messages. Google also introduced an offline version of Calendar.

Offline access is a big part of Google’s strategy to chip away at Microsoft’s Outlook’s hold on business email. For promotional purposes, Google now wants Gmail users who are using Offline features to take pictures of themselves while accessing their email from an unusual place, such as a submarine, without internet access. Google will post the most interesting photos on the Gmail Blog. I guess a picture is worth a thousand words.

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NuPower Charger Works with iPhone, micro-USB and mini-USB Devices [jkOnTheRun]

I’m a fan of portable chargers that work with multiple devices, so NewerTech’s NuPower Charge & Sync + hit my radar today. The $39.95 battery only holds 1400 mAh of juice, so one full device charge is about you’ll see with most devices. But it comes with flexibility in three different connectors — one for iPhone and iPod Touch devices, one for mini USB and one for micro USB connections. That should cover the majority of handhelds requiring a 5V output as well as and other portable devices ranging from phones to Bluetooth headsets to some digital audio players. I reckon that even some smaller cameras and handheld gaming devices are supported.

The NuPower won’t take up too much room or weight on the go, measuring in at 2.875″ x 2.25″ x 0.625″ and weighing just 3.12 ounces. There are plenty of other battery chargers out there, but I like the integrated A/C plug — just plug the whole charger into a wall outlet and grab it before leaving. One question though — what’s the “Sync” part of the name for? ;)



Daisy Chain Knots Resize or Store Spare Cords Without Clutter [Cable Management]

Whether you've got a 10-foot cord that only needs to stretch one foot or you simply want to store your cords without worrying about opening your closet to a knotted mess, daisy-chaining your cords solves your problems with aplomb.

Productivity weblog Silver Clipboard details how to daisy chain your computer cords and demonstrates how doing so can be extremely handy for decluttering your cords. Apart from tangle-free storage, daisy chaining your cords is, as mentioned above, a great way to use a long cord in a short space without worrying about eight feet of extra cord cluttering up the space behind your desk. This isn't quite the first time we've seen this idea, but it's a slightly different application, and certainly worth revisiting.




Google Reader Adds Favicon Support [Updates]

Users of our very own Better GReader Firefox extension have been able to turn on favicon support for their feeds in the Reader sidebar for a while now (a favicon is, for example, the little 'lh' that displays next to the address bar when you're visiting Lifehacker); now the folks on the Reader team have caught up, adding favicon support for your subscriptions. It's not enabled by default, so you'll need to head to your Reader Settings page and tick the Show favicons for subscriptions checkbox to get it up and running. Good times. [Google Reader Blog]




eBay Introduces Bargain-Hunting Deals App for the iPhone [TheAppleBlog]


The biggest shopping day of the year for Americans is this Friday, the dreaded Black Friday, and people are in a consuming mood. At the same time, economic pressures have folks watching what they spend. eBay today introduced a new app that capitalizes on both those impulses, called Deals.

Deals shares a lot of the functionality of the more full featured eBay mobile app, but it specifically targets eBay’s daily deals, and any zero bid items that have less than four hours remaining in their auction times, with no reserve price and free or fixed rate shipping, and a total price that includes shipping costs. In other words, with the deals the app presents, you pay exactly the price listed.

The app opens with a few featured daily deals already displayed in rotation on the main screen. You can then click on category buttons at the bottom, choosing between apparel, sports, computers, instruments, jewelry, electronics, collectibles, and photography to view auctions from those categories that fit the criteria I mentioned above.

The built-in searches are great for idle browsing (and possibly ruinous for those with strong impulse buying urges), but if you want to target items more specifically, you can either search on the fly, or create and save your own custom search. Creating a custom search allows you to specify keywords, a category, and a price range, and also assign an icon that will be displayed alongside the other default categories at the bottom of the app screen.

If you’d rather not save your search, there’s a magnifying glass icon at the top of the app that you can use instead to launch a one-time search. Next to that is another button that lists all the deals found in your most recent search. In use, I found that there wasn’t enough search criteria to ensure truly focused results. I’d love the addition of an “at least x dollars” filter, so that when I search for “iPhone,” for example, I can filter out most accessories and replacement parts.

Finally, you can sign in with your eBay account so that you can pay on the fly for any deal you find via the app with PayPal. The idea behind the app, after all, is to make sure eBay customers have access to the site no matter where they are. Apparently eBay mobile wasn’t driving enough business, and the Deals app is designed to remedy that situation. The app is free in the U.S. store (iTunes link), but beware the hidden costs of shopaholism.



Google’s New Search Ads: Ignore This!

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While they’ve been selectively displaying them for a little while now, Google today took the time to talk about and show off its new search ads. The general gist? Bigger, bigger, click me, bigger. Or, in Google’s own words, “Text is often useful, but sometimes videos and pictures are a more effective way to receive information.

That can be true, I suppose, but each of these additions also make the ads units significantly bigger, and as such, much more in-your-face. More often than not, that doesn’t equal a better experience for the user. Of course, Google’s unstated hope is that you’ll be more likely to click on these bigger ads, especially now that many contain visuals.

Naturally, Google says these types of ads are an extension of what they are trying to do with Google itself, which is offer up more rich search results. Over the past several weeks, visitors in the U.S. may have noticed search ads featuring videos, additional links below the main link, Google Map information, and comparison ads.

A new one being added today shows thumbnails of various items, along with their prices, for comparison shopping. I believe Google has finally cracked the code for getting my mother to click on their ads non-stop. Well played, Google.

And what fortuitous timing, right before Black Friday.

For many of the ads with larger visuals (such as the movies and the maps), you can collapse them. Still, I’m worried that these ads will eventually keep growing and shove actual search results farther and farther down the page.

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Capture Ideas On the Go: Idea Organizer for the iPhone [WebWorkerDaily]

There’s one thing I can count on having on me at all times, and that’s my iPhone. It stands to reason, then, that in a pinch, my Apple wonder device is what I turn to in order to keep track of stray ideas and thoughts that might otherwise go unrecorded, lost forever to the ether. Imagine where we’d be if the Snuggie inventor hadn’t been able to record that gem.

Idea Organizer is an app for the iPhone that I recently discovered that makes logging those ideas incredibly easy. There are other ways to do what it does, some via built-in tools offered by Apple itself, but no other solution brings all the features and functionality together in the same place.

Idea Organizer combines an audio recorder, a text notebook and an image capture tool to help make sure that you can not only keep track of any ideas that pop into your head, but also the ones you get from the world around you. You can create an idea using any type of media mentioned, and then add other types of content later to provide context.

The other reason I prefer this app to any other is that it keeps thing simple and has an intelligently designed user interface. The app opens directly to a screen that presents you with a button that gives you access to your most recent idea, and three big buttons that allow you create a new idea based on text input, photo or audio. Idea Organizer’s developers were clearly thinking about the fleeting nature of good ideas when they designed the app.

Finally, you can email any ideas to yourself at any time, for easier editing on an actual computer. You can also batch email all your ideas at once, which is a terrific convenience feature.

For $1.99, Idea Organizer (iTunes link) is great bargain for a very handy little app. Sure, you can approximate its function for free, but in many more steps and with a lot more hassle.

How do you make sure you don’t lose track of great ideas you have while out of the office?



Vid-Biz: AT&T, Rogers, Redbox [NewTeeVee]

AT&T Looking For An Original Content Exec; a job posting reveals the telco wants to hire an executive to lead the development of original programming for its “multiple entertainment and communications platforms.” (Multichannel News)

Rogers Launching On Demand Online Next Week; a beta version of the TV Everywhere service went live yesterday, with a full launch set for Nov. 30. (Mediacaster)

Redbox Launches An iPhone App; the new app surfaced eight months after the company had an unauthorized third-party app taken out of the App Store. (Video Business)

Rovi TV Guide Widget Lands on Samsung HDTVs; the widget gives viewers a snapshot of what’s on 28 of the most popular television channels. (Press release)

FTC Approves $9B Merger of Panasonic and Sanyo; approval came after the two companies agreed to sell Sanyo’s assets in batteries for first responder radios. (Broadcasting & Cable)

TVGuide Network Secures US Rights to Susan Boyle Film; I Dreamed a Dream: The Susan Boyle Story, will air on Dec. 13, the same day it premieres on ITV1 in the UK. (Multichannel News)

Video Ad CPMs Are Down 37 Percent, But Revenues Are Up 84 Percent; BrightRoll saw a 46 percent increase in the number of video ad campaigns, compared to the previous quarter, and a 64 percent increase in RFPs. (TechCrunch)

Deals.Woot is a User-Run Bargain Site [Deals]

Popular one-deal-a-day bargain finder website Woot has just launched a new section, deals.Woot, which instead of featuring one good deal chosen by Woot staffers, features a list of great deals found and voted on by Woot users.

TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid affectionately (and rather accurately) calls the portal the "Digg for bargains." The site features a list of user-submitted and voted-on deals from around the web, and, like the regular Woot site, is very tech- and gadget-heavy in its list of deals. There are still a few other things hiding inside the site, like coffee, t-shirts, and even bacon salt, but old fans of Woot and all technophiles will be happy with the plethora of deals available.

While most of the site is user-run, the deals on the top part of the page are all sponsored—that is, they are still deals, but they were submitted by retailers or manufacturers, not by users. The deals still need to be deemed worthy by Woot's staffers, but just keep in mind that they do not follow the Digg-style process that the rest of the site does.




Google Apps for Blackberry: Now for Businesses of all Sizes

bb_bold9700.jpgGoogle Apps is making it a bit more enticing for companies of all sizes to adopt its service for the Blackberry smart phone.

In a post this morning on the Google Enterprise blog, the group announced Google Apps Connector for Blackberry Enterprise Server has doubled the number of Blackberry phones it can support. This effectively allows larger enterprises to place more users on fewer servers.

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Google is also offering the capability to host multiple Google App accounts, broadening the number of users that can be supported.

In August, Google Apps launched its integration with Blackberry. The most significant aspect of the integration is the syncing capabilities. Google Apps Connector provides access to Google Apps email, calendar, and contacts from the built-in BlackBerry applications.

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Email, folders and contacts are all synchronized between Google Apps and the Blackberry application.

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Smart Grid Stimulus Demo Award Winners Unveiled! [Earth2Tech]

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has just announced another $620 million in stimulus funds for 32 smart grid demonstration projects. As we explained this morning, this latest funding combined with the $3.4 billion in smart grid stimulus grants allocated last month, is delivering $4 billion to utilities for smart grid technology. Chu said the $620 million will also be matched by $1 billion from the private sector and the investment will “create thousands of new job opportunities.”

What’s really interesting about the funding is that a substantial chunk of the cash is going to next-generation energy storage technology. The 32 projects were broken up into two sections: general smart grid tech and energy storage projects. General smart grid projects received 16 awards worth $435 million and energy storage technology received 16 awards for a total of $185 million. Energy storage tech companies that received grant money include Khosla-backed Berkeley, Calif. based Seeo (which we’ve written about here), a variety of unknown energy storage tech companies including SustainX, 44 Tech, Primus Power Corporation, Ktech, and Amber Kinetics, as well as a project that includes A123Systems batteries. Below is a table of some of the big and interesting winners (the DOE video is meant to show how the smart grid stimulus funds will be used):

Company Type of Firm Amount Received Project Location
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Utility $60.28 million Deploy smart grid tech. Los Angeles, CA
Southern California Edison Utility $40.13 million “Demonstrate an integrated, scalable Smart Grid system that includes all of the interlocking pieces of an end-to-end Smart Grid system.” Irvine, CA
Kansas City Power & Light Company Utility $23.94 million End to end smart grid Kansas City, MO
The Boeing Company Tech firm $8.56 million “Project Boeing SGS: Demonstrating a Cyber Secure, Scalable, Interoperable, and Cost-Effective Smart Selection for Optimizing Regional Transmission System Operation.” St Louis, MO, Sunnyvale, CA, and Huntington Beach, CA
Consolidated Edison Company of New York Utility $45.39 million “Secure Interoperable Open Smart Grid Demonstration in New York and New Jersey.” NY, NJ areas.
AEP Ohio Utility $75.16 million “AEP Ohio gridSMART Demonstration Project” half the state of Ohio
Center for Commercialization of Electric Technologies Electric research group $13.51 million “Manage the fluctuations in wind power in the large Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) transmission grid through better system monitoring capabilities, enhanced operator visualization, and load management.” Houston, TX
Pecan Street Project Smart grid project $10.40 million “Develop and implement an Energy Internet microgrid, located in a large mixed-use infill development site in Austin, Texas.” Austin, TX
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Coop Utiity $33.93 million General smart grid Across 10 southern states.
Battelle Memorial Institute Utility Group $88.82 million General smart grid across 5 states. Northwest
Primus Power Corporation Energy Storage Tech Startup $14 million “Deploy a 25 MW – 75 MWh EnergyFarm for the Modesto Irrigation District in California’s Central Valley” Alameda, CA; San Ramon, CA; and Modesto, CA
Seeo Battery Startup $6.2 million “Solid State Batteries for Grid-Scale Energy Storage” Berkeley, CA and Van Nuys, CA
Amber Kinetics Energy Storage Firm $4 million “Develop and demonstrate an innovative flywheel technology for use in grid-connected, low-cost bulk energy storage applications.” Fremont, CA
Southern California Edison Utility $4 million “Deploy and evaluate an 8 MW utility-scale lithium-ion battery technology to improve grid performance and aid in the integration of wind generation into the electric supply.” Tehachapi, CA
PG&E Utility $25 million “Build and validate the design, performance, and reliability of an advanced, underground 300 MW Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES plant using a saline porous rock formation located near Bakersfield, CA as the storage reservoir.” Kern County, CA
Premium Power Corporation Energy Storage Tech Company $7.32 million “Demonstrate competitively-priced, multi-megawatt, long-duration advanced flow batteries for utility grid applications.” Projects in MA, CA and NY
Beacon Power Flywheel Maker $24.06 million “Design, build, test, commission, and operate a utility-scale 20 MW flywheel energy storage frequency regulation plant in Chicago, Illinois, and provide frequency regulation services to the grid operator, the PJM Interconnection. Tyngsboro, MA and Chicago, IL
The Detroit Edison Company Utility $5 million To use A123Systems batteries as energy storage for the power grid. Projects in MI, MA and VA.
SustainX Energy Storage Tech Maker $5.39 million “Design, build, and deploy a utility-scale, low-cost compressed air energy storage system to support the integration of renewable energy sources onto the grid. West Lebanon, NH
44 Tech Energy Storage Tech Maker $5 million “Partner with Carnegie Mellon University to demonstrate a new, low cost, long-life, highly efficient, environmentally friendly, stationary energy storage battery that uses a proven and fully novel cell chemistry.” Pittsburgh, PA
Ktech Corporation Energy Storage Tech Maker $4.76 million “Demonstrate a prototype flow battery system that can be grid connected, charged and discharged, and scaled to utility power levels.” Albuquerque, NM, Sunnyvale, CA and Snelling CA


In Q3, NewNet focus turns to business models and search. Read the, "NewNet Q3 Wrap-up."

Mint Data Shows Online Retail Rebounding

Last night we wrote about Forrester's prediction that online holiday retail sales will grow 8% this year to $44.7 billion. comScore had similar numbers about the growth of online retail - toy web sites grew 9% in October, as did the retail apparel segment. Online personal finance service Mint.com has joined the festive statistics parade, with data analyzing some of the U.S.'s leading retailers.

Mint analyzed spending data and compared it to one year ago. The data is for top performers in the third quarter this year, based on "average monthly spend per user versus recession lows."

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Interestingly, Mint's data says that Q4 sales will not be as good as last year - which is the opposite of what Forrester predicts. However Mint does say that consumer electronics and clothing are set to rise in Q4.

Check out the charts below and compare them to Forrester and comScore's data.

The highlights, via Mint.com:

  • Aeropostale - the clothing retailer is up 10% year-over-year, having grown consistently quarter over quarter.
  • Best Buy - the electronics retailer is up 1% Q3 year-over-year, hit a recession low of -7%.
  • Fry's - while competitor Best Buy's sales exceed where they were at this point last year, Fry's remains down -7% year-over-year (though it's up from a -16% recession low).
  • J.Crew - the clothing retailer's lowest point was -3%, but it has since entirely corrected and even improved sales 4% year-over-year.
  • Sears - the department store's sales are up 8% over this time last year, having dipped to -10%.
  • Target - after an initial drop to -8% in Q109, Target has halved that loss and is currently down only -4% year-over-year.

See also:

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Google Reader Embraces Favicons. My Eyes Scream For Mercy.

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 10.23.10 AMDistinguishing feeds on Google Reader can be a little hard. Since every feed has the same default blue RSS icon, it requires reading on your part to tell them apart. Reading is hard. Pictures are easier. Today, Google Reader takes a step in that direction by finally adding favicon support to feeds.

The new feature certainly livens up Google Reader quite a bit. The only problem now is that you have a lot of feeds, like I do, it’s not exactly easy on the eyes with zillions of colors bombarding your peripheral vision. But hey, no doubt some people will like this, and most importantly, it’s opt-in.

While many of its rivals have been doing favicons for a while, Google Reader was slow to add this. In fact, they only did it after soliciting feedback from their audience for what new things they should add. This feature, not surprisingly, was a popular choice, so one team member built it in their 20% time.

You can activate the favicons in the Subscriptions drop down menu in the left hand column. If you dare.

Update: As former Google Reader team member (and current Thing Labs founder) Jason Shellen notes, favicons have been on the product road map since 2005. Maybe better never than late?

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Why I Love Foursquare [GigaOM]


IMPORTANT POINTS Foursquare recently launched in 50 new cities & is growing at a rate of more than 50% per month. Foursquare wants to be the Netflix of places. Structured datasets are the future of cost-per-action advertising & e-commerce.

If you follow me on Twitter, then you’re already aware of my obsession with Foursquare, a New York-based service that taps into the narcissistic appeal of being able to post unusual locations such as our office cafeteria, Chatz Cafe, or best recommendations about a place and marries it to social networking. What’s more fun — it all seems like a game.

You can access Foursquare on its web site, on the iPhone, or via Android and BlackBerry devices. Every time you stop at a cafe, a bar or an eatery, you have the option to check in your location. Sure you can check-in your visit to a shopping mall or even a 7-Eleven, but the focus is primarily of going out. The service will serendipitously tell you if one of your friends in the same location . I started out as a skeptic of Foursquare but in just three months, have become an addict. And it’s the addictive nature of this little service that puts it on the fast track to the top.

 

Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley

Foursquare, which has received $1.35 million in funding from Union Square Ventures (and others), launched back in March in a handful of U.S. cities. Then earlier this month, it was turned on in 50 additional cities across the world. If the recent increase in the number of requests to connect that I’m now receiving on a daily basis is any indicator, then it won’t be long before Foursquare becomes a mainstream phenomenon.

A prominent story on CNN.com has only helped spread the word about the service co-founded by Dennis Crowley, founder of Dodgeball, a similar pre-smartphone-era offering that was acquired and subsequently shut down by Google. I emailed Crowley recently to ask about Foursquare’s traffic.

“We’ve been growing 50 percent-plus per month,” he said. When I last saw Crowley, back in October, he said the service was growing at roughly 40 percent a month in terms of new users, so this latest figure points to a growth spurt. For a while, there were persistent rumors that the service’s growth had flattened at around 60,000 users.

Crowley, who teamed up with Naveen Selvadurai and Harry Heymann for the startup, said that with Foursquare he’s building the product he wanted to build with Dodgeball, but couldn’t. (He had an acrimonious and very public split with Google.) Crowley believes that if you make software that allows people to discover new places and services, you can quickly build a database of “taste” and “cultural preferences.”

For instance, I have become a big fan of Sightglass, a hip new cafe in San Francisco. Showing up there every day and letting my friends know of my repeated visits indicates my “preference” for Sightglasses’ coffee. The more places I “check into,” the better chance I have to win awards or “badges” with cute names such as “bender” (going out more than four nights in a row), “crunked” (more than four stops in a night), and “overshare” (more than 10 check-ins in 12 hours.) Compared to its rivals — and there are many, including Gowalla (which for some odd reason is popular with a lot of Sand Hill Road VCs) — these little, seemingly silly things are what make Foursquare so much fun. Of course, it helps that most of my friends are big Foursquare users as well, making the other services that much less attractive to me.

In my opinion, structured datasets such as those being collected by Foursquare are going to become highly effective resources for cost-per-action advertising or even e-commerce revenue models. A smart hyper-local advertising platform, coupons or even sponsored badges are possible ways that Foursquare could make money. But Crowley isn’t thinking about revenues just yet; he’s busy getting Foursquare to grow exponentially.

“In the end, we want it to be the Netflix of places,” he said, referring to that company’s movie recommendation system. “We want to use (the) social graph and help with (the) discovery of places.” The company recently launched its API with the hope that it would spur a variety of apps based on Foursquare data — thus making it that much more distinguishable from its rivals.

Like Twitter and Facebook, Foursquare taps into our inner exhibitionist self — a malady of the post-Internet era. It allows everyone to be a Ruth Reichl, the legendary food critic — an arbiter of taste. With a narcissistic quotient that is higher than a genius’s IQ, it’s only a matter of time before it’s discovered by everyone from dithering fashion editors to pro athletes and pop stars. And when that happens, yet another tech pop phenomenon will be born.

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Tags: Dennis Crowley, Foursquare, Gowalla, iPhone, Location Based Services, Mobile

Gmail Now Lets You Add and Send Attachments Offline [Gmail Tip]

Writing emails while offline can help keep you on top of things, especially while on the go. As of today, Offline Gmail allows you to add attachments to an email while you're offline, bringing essentially the full offline experience to Gmail.

No one likes sending out the "Oops! I forgot my attachment!" email following an incomplete draft. If you work offline with regularity, Offline Gmail's new offline attachment feature means less chance of forgetting. For those who have held off using offline access, here's how to get things started:

If you haven't tried offline access yet, visit the Labs tab and follow these instructions to get started:

  1. Select Enable next to Offline Gmail.
  2. Click Save Changes.
  3. After your browser reloads, you'll see a new "Offline" link in the upper righthand corner of the Gmail page, next to your username. Click this link to start the offline set up process and download Gears if you don't already have it.

If you aren't using Offline Gmail just yet, take a closer look at what else it gets you.




Will the iPhone Save eBay? [GigaOM]


eBay is doing good business by getting back to its core of helping people find more efficient ways to buy and sell things. And the company has seen better-than-expected success on the iPhone, with 5 million downloads and $500 million in mobile sales (including sales from mobile browsers too) expected by the end of the year. Today eBay is introducing a second free iPhone app, eBay Deals, which scrapes the site’s listings for those with less than four hours left, no bids, no reserve and shipping included. Both iPhone apps now include PayPal integration.

That still pales in comparison to eBay’s total sales; the site had $45.6 billion in gross marketplace merchandise volume in the last four quarters combined. It does make us wonder about revenue from Amazon’s iPhone app, which includes one-click payments and the nifty feature of matching the site’s products to pictures you upload from your phone.

Meanwhile, eBay CEO John Donahue reiterated to Fox Business this morning that he expects PayPal to be a larger business than eBay someday — and of course mobile payments will help drive that growth.

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Kindle Gets Battery Boost, PDF Support [GigaOM]


Amazon has released a series of software upgrades that make its Kindle eReader even more useful. The new software upgrades allow for more efficient management of wireless connectivity as it boosts the total battery charge to about seven days from four days, even with the wireless turned on. That’s a roughly 85 percent boost…not bad! In addition, the upgrade brings native PDF support to the 6-inch Kindles without first converting the file into a Kindle-readable format. You can simply email PDFs to your Kindle email address or move them to Kindle via the USB connection. Now that should make it easier for you to subscribe to and read all the research on GigaOM Pro on your Kindle :-)

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Mobile Tech Minutes: Acer Aspire 8940G Gaming Notebook [jkOnTheRun]

Say what you will about the Acer Aspire 8940G, it is one giant notebook. The 18.4-inch screen on this evaluation unit is as big as some external monitors on desktop systems, and the great audio / video components onboard make it a good multimedia laptop. In the video I show this big laptop, giving a brief walk around the device. It had to be brief as I couldn’t hold the 10+ lb. laptop up for very long. Take a look at this Acer, you’ll get a chance to see Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 running on a laptop. Hey, I couldn’t resist myself.




Rival Magazine Publishers Plan to Launch iTunes for Magazines

time_conde_hearst_nov09.pngIt's no secret that most magazines are struggling to hold on to their subscribers. Just like the newspaper industry is under a lot of pressure from the Internet, magazines are also having a hard time adjusting to the reality of the Internet. Now, Time Inc., Condé Nast and Hearst are planning to form an alliance that would bring more than 50 magazines to an iTunes-like online store that would sell digital version of these publications. The magazines that could be included in this program include Time, People, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker and Esquire.

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According to The New York Observer's John Koblin, a deal between these rival publishers is imminent. According to Koblin's anonymous sources, Time, Condé Nast and Hearst aren't planning to release their own e-reader for these magazines, but want to build a store and apps that would allow users to download and consume content on a large variety of devices. By grouping together, these publishing houses hope to save money. Koblin's sources also point out that this would be a risky venture for one publisher, but the three companies together could give users a single store to find all of the magazine content they want.

Reinventing Magazines for Digital Distribution

gq_iphone_dec09.jpgAs the Atlantic's Derek Thompson rightly notes, however, these companies will have a hard time charging for content that they are already giving away for free online. To make this venture work, these publishers would either have to offer unique content in their digital magazines or they would have to erect a paywall around all of their sites.

Most importantly, these companies will also have to reinvent their magazines for the digital age along the lines of Wired's app for the rumored Apple Tablet or Condé Nast's iPhone version of GQ (iTunes link). One of the reasons these publications are suffering is the long lead time that makes most of the content outdated by the time it arrives at the printer. While this still works for magazines like the Atlantic, which mostly publishes in-depth long form articles that aren't time-sensitive, gossip magazines can't really compete with TMZ or Perez Hilton. Just putting a digital copy of their magazines online simply won't cut it.

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