Gawker Launches Video Ephemera Site [NewTeeVee]

Gawker today launched Gawker.TV (aka, a “video-centric” site that aims to present a steady stream of random, timely, offensive and/or awesome virals and would-be virals. An introductory note promises:

Amazingly cheesy 80’s and 90’s music videos, the best comedy sketches in existence, a daily wrap-up of what we’ll be watching every night, cute animal videos to make you smile, the best in fail videos, weekly how-to’s on a variety of subjects, wrap-ups of the week in video, the web shows that you should be watching, and always leaving you with a daily moment of WTF.

Gawker founder Nick Denton told The Business Insider that the site spins off Gawker’s popular coverage of “TV highlights, mashups, viral web video” and gives Gawker video producer Richard Blakeley a bigger role.

Gawker.TV So far the Gawker.TV editors haven’t found any videos that really wow us — how to peel a banana, that one about the puppy that still can’t get up. It does seem promising that they’ll be doing their own editing, for instance this roundup of shameless TV product placement. But seriously guys, make your own videos embeddable, it’s only fair.

Gawker actually used to have a really similar video clip aggregator blog called Screenhead, which it put up for sale in 2006 due to underperformance. We don’t know who bought it but now the site seems to be all about movie reviews. A more current competitor is the often hilarious Videogum, an offshoot of Stereogum that’s always been an odd duck within owner Buzznet’s celeb-driven blog network.

But there’s no lack of kooky web video streaming across the web every day, and we’re grateful to people who find good stuff, so we’ve subscribed.

Redbox Testing Higher-Priced Rentals [NewTeeVee]

RedboxLogoRedbox is testing different, higher price points for DVD rentals in some markets, reports Video Business.

The company has been a disruptor in the home video market with its low-cost, $1-a-night movie rentals. That price is so low that Redbox is embroiled in multiple legal battles with Hollywood over access to DVDs.

But maybe Redbox thinks renting a movie is worth more than a buck a night. In Harrisburg, Penn., the company is charging $2 for first-night rentals ($1 for each night after) and in Albuquerque, NM, it’s testing a $1.50 nightly rate.

Coinstar, which owns Redbox, said in August that the company would try out different pricing, offer Blu-ray disc rentals and create videogame rental machines. Redbox has already started testing kiosks that sell DVDs.

Redbox has said in the past that though it charges just $1 a night for a DVD, it typically rents a DVD 15 times at an average of $2 per transaction.

Redbox has been growing like a weed and now has more than 17,000 locations across the country. Whether the company is buckling under industry pressure, fueling expansion or just wants to make more money, nudging the price up just seems so inelegant.

Part of the beauty of the Redbox value proposition is its simplicity. A dollar a night — boom! — done. Doubling it or adding in half dollars to the mix just mucks it up. Granted, since the kiosks work off credit cards, you won’t have to fumble for quarters, but the more you dumb it down (and the cheaper you make it), the more people will use it.

Sure, prices go up all the time for everything, but Redbox hasn’t been around that long, and its value message is just now taking hold.

DIY Hi-Low Beam Bike Headlights from Hardware Store Parts [DIY]

It's getting darker sooner, and that means more and more bicycle enthusiasts are spending their rides in little-to-no light. Try whipping up a pair of these hi-low beam headlights to keep the world around you bright at night.

Biking at night can be a dangerous thing. These headlights can switch on their own hi-beams to give you a better view when you're alone on the road or to issue notice to oncoming vehicles to dim their brights when you're around. They also pack enough punch to light the ground at high speeds, as it's always a bonus to be able to see the rock or pothole before you hit it—especially while going downhill in the dark.

Hit up DIY weblog Steam Punk Workshop for more details on making your bike into a safer mode of nighttime transportation with a few parts from your local Home Depot. Added bonus: it looks a lot like Johnny 5.

Ribbit Mobile’s Launch Shows BT’s Strategy Isn’t Just All Talk [GigaOM]

ribbitlogoBT’s Ribbit is taking on Google Voice with a cloud-based service that combines Internet voice, smart call routing and voicemail transcriptions. Like Google Voice, Ribbit Mobile allows consumers to transfer calls from an existing mobile number to Ribbit’s platform, which includes features such as routing calls to mobile phones and transcribing voicemails. Ribbit Mobile can forward calls to Skype, MSN or Google Talk Accounts, and can alert users to missed calls or new voicemails via e-mail, Skype, Google Talk or text message.

While the offering appears to be a worthy competitor to Google Voice, it also underscores BT’s larger strategy of merging its voice business with the Internet. BT acquired Ribbit in a $105 million deal last year and installed Ribbit founder Ted Griggs as chief technology officer of BT Voice in an attempt to expand beyond traditional cellular service into alternative forms of communication.

BT’s strategy is one that is surely being studied by savvy network operators around the world. Consumers are increasingly turning to web-based services such as Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging to communicate with others, and Skype’s 40 million-plus daily users prove that Internet voice has gained mass-market traction. Voice still accounts for the vast majority of revenues for carriers around the world, but operators will have to embrace alternative forms of communication as the Internet collides with the traditional mobile industry. Whether Ribbit Mobile can overtake Google Voice has yet to be determined, but BT’s strategy of embracing Internet-based communications is refreshingly progressive in the conservative world of mobile telecoms.

eBay CEO Still More Bullish On PayPal Than eBay

Today is the first day of PayPal’s much-hyped PayPal Innovate X 2009, the payments company’s first dedicated developer conference. PayPal, which reported strong earnings recently, is hoping to engage developers in producing applications on top of PayPal’s newly released API. We reported on parts of the open platform here and here. PayPal is already testing the platform with startups Payvment, FundRazr, Lottay and TwitPay. PayPal is officially opening up its PayPal X platform to developers and also unveiling additional APIs at the conference and will be presenting a roadmap for its view of the future of payments.

Taking the stage this morning for the keynote address is PayPal’s senior director of PayPal’s developer network, Naveed Anwar. He says that PayPal X, the new platform, is officially open. PayPal moves over $2200 dollars per second. John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO, takes the stage next. He says that this is an important marking point in the company’s history. The bottom line message is that working together with developers to unleash the next wave of payments technology. Donahoe admits that eBay was not know as the a bed of innovation but saw the opportunity in PayPal. Marc Andreessen has been a huge part of technology playing a growing role at eBay, says Donahoe. PayPal was given an unlimited budget to hire talent and develop key innovations.

Online payments only represent 5 percent of payments worldwide, Donahoe thinks that online payments should be higher than 20 percent. He believes consumer behavior with regard to payments will change radically in the next few years. This year the eBay app on the iPhone will do $500 million in volume, with PayPal integrated in the payments system. He says he thinks PayPal will be bigger than eBay in time, which he has said before. He wants to double PayPal’s reach in the next two years. The developers are a critically important part of PayPal’s future, with the company’s role to provide robust platforms, such as PayPal X.

Scott Thompson, PayPal’s president now takes the stage. Thompson says cash is obsolete. PayPal has been successful because the company has met customer needs for a safe secure, way to pay online. Thompson says the industry has been slow to embrace payment technologies, not because the ideas were bad but because it’s a very complicated issue.

Today, PayPal opens up its platform, called PayPal X, to all developers. X was originally PayPal’s API platform in its early days. There are more than 78 million active PayPal account in nearly 200 international markets. Thompson says that that there is a lot of opportunity in the mobile space, specially in India. But PayPal has further ambitions-to become the “wallet” that transcends across mobile, computers, and more.

Vice President of PayPal platforms, Osama Bedier, also takes the stage, says that PayPal will complete transactions valuing $70 billion dollars, which is pocket change compared to the $30 trillion that consumers spend globally. Bedier says PayPal will be introducing new APIs and pricing models.

The Adaptive Payments API is the easiest way for developers to move money. Developers can build applications including pre-approvals, currency conversions, and pay anyone, chained payments and parallel payments. PayPal is also launching Adaptive Accounts, another API that lets developers develop applications that let users just enter their PayPal username and password. PayPal is also unveiling a pricing model. The model is a $0.50 cents flat free per transaction or 0.75 percent of transaction depending on user cases.

And PayPal is even gaining traction from large tech companies to integrate the new API. This morning, Sun Microsystems announced a partnership with PayPal to support for-fee applications submitted by developers for distribution in the Java Store. Utilizing the new Adaptive Payment API from PayPal, consumers can authorize the Java Store to bill against their PayPal account so they can simply click the “Buy” button and never have to leave the store. In addition, when a customer makes a payment in the Java Store Beta, the application owner also gets paid at the time of the purchase. This way, the developer immediately receives the revenue and knows exactly how many people have purchased their application. Microsoft Azure is also integrating PayPal’s new API in its offerings.

PayPal is also seeing adoption across social networking sites growing 20 percent, month over month. Payvment, a shopping cart web service that we wrote about here, is using PayPal’s API on Facebook. Payvment lets anyone set up e-commerce retail stores on Facebook, using PayPal’s Adaptive Payments API.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

Sony Ericsson’s New Android Phone Is Sleek, But Has a Hole [GigaOM]

Sony Ericsson today announced its Xperia X10 smartphone, based on Android, which features a customized software layer called UX built on top of the open-source operating system. It’s the first of a family of smartphones that the company plans to deliver in the first half of next year, and won’t be available until then. While it has some high-end features that could help it compete with the much-hyped Droid, unlike Motorola’s and Verizon’s handset, this phone has a surprising shortcoming.

The Xperia X10 — even though it won’t ship until next quarter — will run Android 1.6. The Droid runs Android 2.0, which has a slew of advanced features and is shipping this month. In fact, most of the Droid’s substantial marketing campaign is built around new features in Android 2.0.

The X10 also has a 1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, which many of the newer Android-based smartphones are moving to in an effort to keep up with the iPhone, which runs on the processor. While the Droid phone has a 5-megapixel camera, the Xperia X10’s is 8.1 megapixels with video recording and 16x digital zoom. jkOnTheRun points out some of the other notable features:

  • 4-inch capacitive touchscreen at 854 x 480 resolution
  • Android 1.6
  • 1GB of internal memory, 8GB of included microSD storage
  • GPS, Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth
  • Quad-band GSM and two flavors of HSPA support, depending on model (UMTS HSPA 900/1700/2100 or UMTS HSPA 800/1900/2100)

The Xperia X10 will run applications from both the Android Market and Sony Ericsson’s PlayNow Arena. There is no price available yet, but it already looks like this phone will have a tough time competing unless it sees an upgrade to Android 2.0 as it goes to market. You can check out a video of the Xperia X10 below.

CompareMyDocs: Comparing and Merging Documents Made Easy

compare_my_docs_nov09.pngCompareMyDocs makes it easy to compare multiple revisions of a document and to compile a final version based on these revisions. The site, which launched today, can handle Word documents and rich-text files. You simply selects up to seven documents and the service will display all the differences between these in a very well-designed interface. CompareMyDocs is available free of charge.


CompareMyDocs is based on TextFlow, a more advanced desktop version of CompareMyDocs that also features an online storage component. We reviewed the latest version of TextFlow in March. Right now, sign-ups for TextFlow are closed, as the team works on bringing the CompareMyDocs interface to the desktop tool



The app color codes all the differences between the versions of the document. Hovering over one of the boxes with a different version of a part of the text gives you the option to accept or reject a change. You can also add new text to a document within the app and make minor formatting changes to the text (bulleted lists, italics, bold, etc.). At the end of this process, you can save the newly compiled document for further editing in your word processor. 

CompareMyDocs does have quite a few limitations. It can't handle images and tables, for example, and footnotes simply become part of the text. Because of this, the service works best for relatively straightforward documents as you will have to add all of these assets back into the text after you finish your comparison.


TextFlow also launched its new API today. This API, which will be available free of charge, allows developers to integrate TextFlow's document comparison service into their own applications. This would be a great addition to other online office suites and online storage services like DropBox and, as Josh Lowensohn points out on CNet.