Sharp slashing LCD production by half at Osaka plant in response to sagging HDTV market


This post is by Chris Welch from The Verge - All Posts


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Sharp CES watermarked

While Sharp may have high expectations for the large HDTV (60+ inches) segment, it would seem that the manufacturer is nonetheless feeling the effects of an overall stagnant market. Nikkei reports that Sharp will cut LCD production by half at a plant in Osaka, Japan in response to a downturn in TV demand. That’s not to say the affected factory lines will sit idle during the break. Sharp is allegedly considering retooling its facilities to develop higher-resolution displays and improve power management options for its panels.

This marks the second time in less than a year that the company has halted LCD output — the massive earthquake that struck Japan last March put a gas used in its manufacturing process in short supply, leading to a…

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Japan’s DeNa moves into Chinese smartphone game market in deal with Baidu


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Japan’s DeNA is bent on being a global powerhouse in social games on mobile platforms. Today, the company announced it will put its Mobage mobile gaming social network on Baidu-Yi smartphones in China.

As the market for games becomes global and more competitive, game companies are spreading out and moving into emerging markets such as China in a kind of race to make social and mobile games ubiquitous.

Baidu, China’s leading internet search provider, has formed an alliance with DeNA’s China subsidiary so that DeNA can offer the Mobage platform and its games on smartphones. Baidu’s official mobile app store, the Yi Store, comes pre-loaded on smartphones and it will have a dedicated section for Mobage.

Users can tap twice to move from the default screen to the Mobage platform on an Android phone. Baidu’s first Yi-based smartphone — manufactured by Dell — went on sale in China on Jan. 13.

The Baidu Yi platform is compatible with Android apps and integrates Baidu’s intelligent search box, cloud services and mobile apps. Baidu has about an 83 percent market share for internet searches in China.

DeNA first launched its Mobage China for Android in July 2011, and on iOS in November 2011. DeNA is a billion-dollar company that has 1,800 games played by 35 million users in Japan.

Filed under: games, mobile, social


Samsung GT-P3100 and GT-P5100 tablet codenames leak out


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samsung galaxy tab 10.1n-640

Remember the Samsung tablet we told you about last week, with the 2GHz processor and 2560 x 1600 resolution screen? Today’s leak actually has no discernable connection to that rumor, but it’s vaguely possible the specs belong to one of two brand-new Samsung codenames. The Samsung GT-P3100 and GT-P5100 just showed up in the Wi-Fi Alliance certification database, as spotted by Ameblo.jp, and while we don’t really know anything for certain about either device — not even which Wi-Fi variants they support, as the certification forms are currently blank — the P3100’s UserAgent Profile is also available and suggests that the tablet may have a relatively low-res 1024 x 600 display. Not terribly exciting, we know, but at least we know that…

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Congratulations Crunchies Winners! Dropbox Is The Best Overall Startup


This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch


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crunchieaward1

This year’s fifth annual Crunchies Awards has just finished up at the classy Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and it was a smashing success. We poked fun #humblebraggers, got cussed at by Siri, honored former TechCrunch CEO Heather Harde, and gave wild monkey trophies to tech’s greatest innovators. If you missed the event or our livestream, check out the full list of nominees and winners below.

The world owes a thank you to Jack Dorsey, the “Founder Of The Year” and leader of Twitter, winner of “Biggest Social Impact”. His poise and dedication helped keep the microblogging service online so it could aid revolutions. And a big congrats to Dropbox on its win for “Best Overall Startup”. The company’s young founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi (seen below) demonstrated the power of the freemium model, and had the guts to turn down a 9 figure acquisition bid.

Here are the nominees and winners:

Best Technology Achievement
Lytro (Runner Up)
NFC
OnLive
Siri (Winner)
Tesla Flat Pack Battery

Best Social Application
Facebook Timeline
Instagram (Runner Up)
Google+ (Winner)
The New New Twitter
Path 2.0

Best Shopping Application
Birchbox
Fab  (Winner)
Gilt Groupe
Lot18
Warby Parker (Runner Up)

Best Mobile Application
Evernote (Winner)
Flipboard (Runner Up)
Pandora
Spotify
Square
TaskRabbit

Best Location Application
Airbnb
Foursquare
Grindr (Winner)
RunKeeper (Runner Up)
Uber

Best Tablet Application
djay
Eventbrite At the Door
Fotopedia (Winner)
GarageBand
Netflix (Runner Up)
StumbleUpon

Best Design
Gojee
Orchestra
Path 2.0  (Winner)
Pinterest (Runner Up)
Quora

Best Bootstrapped Startup (2010 winner: addmired)
Github (Runner Up)
Imgur (Winner)
Instapaper
Onesheet
Tap Tap Tap (Camera+)

Best Cloud Service
Asana
Box (Runner Up)
CloudFlare
Dropbox (Winner)
Okta
Twilio

Best International Startup
Badoo
Klarna (Runner Up)
Peixe Urbano (Winner)
Rovio
SoundCloud
Wonga

Best Clean Tech Startup
Alta Energy
Array Power (Runner Up)
EcoATM (Winner)
EcoMotors
Hara

Best New Device
Galaxy Nexus
iPad 2
iPhone 4S
Kindle Fire (Runner Up)
Nest (Winner)

Best Time Sink
Modern Warfare 3
Quora
Skyrim (Runner Up)
Turntable.fm
Words With Friends (Winner)

Biggest Social Impact
Charity: Water (Runner Up)
Khan Academy
Kickstarter
Practice Fusion
Twitter (Winner)

Angel of the Year
Ron Conway
Paul Graham
Reid Hoffman (Winner)
Keith Rabois
Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi (Runner Up)
Kevin Rose

VC of the Year
Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz (Winner)
Matt Cohler (Runner Up)
Vinod Khosla
Aileen Lee
Yuri Milner
David Sze

Founder of the Year
Leah Busque (Task Rabbit)
Brian Chesky (Airbnb)
Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter) (Winner)
Susan Feldman & Ali Pincus (One Kings Lane)
Drew Houston (Dropbox) (Runner Up)

CEO of the Year
Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Daniel Ek (Spotify) (Runner Up)
Phil Libin (Evernote)
Mark Pincus (Zynga)
Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn) (Winner)

Best New Startup of 2011
Codecademy (Runner Up)
Fab
Nest
Pinterest (Winner)
Turntable.fm

Best Overall Startup of 2011
Dropbox (Winner)
Instagram
Gilt Groupe
Spotify
Square (Runner Up)
Tumblr

Thanks to everyone who watched, voted, or attended the Crunchies. This award show is about the tech community, and we’re honored to have you as our readers.


Announcing the 2011 Crunchies Awards winners


This post is by Sarah Mitroff from VentureBeat


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Ah, the Crunchies Awards; the glitz, the glamour, the tech innovation. This awards show gathers the best and brightest startups and tech companies from 2011 to celebrate their achievements and amazing technology.

VentureBeat, GigaOm, and TechCrunch hosted the event, which took place Tuesday night at the glamorous Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. The event was filled with tech celebrities and entertaining personalities, including host Harris Wittels, a “Parks and Recreation” alum and #humblebrag curator, and San Francisco’s mayor Ed Lee, who spoke about his tech jobs initiative for the City of San Francisco.

The votes have been tallied, the judges have spoken, and without further ado, here are the 2011 Crunchies Award winners!

Best Technology Achievement (2010 winner: Google Self Driving Cars)
Lytro
NFC
OnLive
Siri
Tesla Flat Pack Battery

Apple’s popular voice recognition personal assistant took the 2011 Best Technology Achievement Crunchies award.

Best Social Application (2010 winner: DailyBooth)
Facebook Timeline
Instagram
Google+
The New New Twitter
Path 2.0

Google’s breakout social network snagged the award in the Best Social Application category.

Best Shopping Application (2010 winner: Groupon)
Birchbox
Fab
Gilt Groupe
Lot 18
Warby Parker

Best Mobile Application (2010 winner: Google Mobile Maps for Android)
Evernote
Flipboard
Pandora
Spotify
Square
Task Rabbit

Best Location Application (New category for 2011)
Airbnb
Foursquare
Grindr
RunKeeper
Uber

Best Tablet Application (2010 winner: Flipboard)
djay
Eventbrite At the Door
Fotopedia
GarageBand
Netflix
StumbleUpon

Best Design (2010 winner: gogobot)
Gojee
Orchestra
Path 2.0
Pinterest
Quora

Best Bootstrapped Startup (2010 winner: addmired)
Github
Imgur
Instapaper
One Sheet
Tap Tap Tap (Camera+)

Best Cloud Service (New category for 2011)
Asana
Box
CloudFlare
Dropbox
Okta
Twilio

Best International Startup (2010 winner: Viki)
Badoo
Klarna
Peixe Urbano
Rovio
SoundCloud
Wonga

“Groupon for Brazil” Peixe Urbano took the Best International Startup Crunchies award.

Best Clean Tech Startup (2010 winner: SolarCity)
Alta Energy
Array Power
EcoATM
Eco Motors
Hara

Best New Device (2010 winner: iPad)
Galaxy Nexus
iPad 2
iPhone 4S
Kindle Fire
Nest

The coolest thermostat created thus far, Nest, nabbed the Best New Device Crunchies award.

Best Time Sink (2010 winner: Cityville)
Modern Warfare 3
Quora
Skyrim
Turntable.fm
Words With Friends

Zynga’s addictive word game won the Best Time Sink Crunchies award.

Biggest Social Impact (New category for 2011)
Charity: Water
Khan Academy
Kickstarter
Practice Fusion
Twitter

Angel of the Year (2010 winner: Paul Graham)
Ron Conway
Paul Graham
Reid Hoffman
Keith Rabois
Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi
Kevin Rose

VC of the Year (2010 winner: Yuri Milner)
Marc Andreessen & Ben Horowitz
Matt Cohler
Vinod Khosla
Aileen Lee
Yuri Milner
David Sze

Founder of the Year (2010 winner: Mark Pincus)
Leah Busque (Task Rabbit)
Brian Chesky (Airbnb)
Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter)
Susan Feldman & Ali Pincus (One Kings Lane)
Drew Houston (Dropbox)

CEO of the Year (2010 winner: Andrew Mason)
Dick Costolo (Twitter)
Daniel Ek (Spotify)
Phil Libin (Evernote)
Mark Pincus (Zynga)
Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn)

Best New Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Quora)
Codeacademy
Fab
Nest
Pinterest
Turntable.fm

Best Overall Startup of 2011 (2010 winner: Twitter)
Dropbox
Instagram
Gilt Groupe
Spotify
Square
Tumblr

Filed under: VentureBeat


Why buy the latest smartphone when you can lease it?


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We can lease cars and all kinds of other products, so why not a smartphone? TMNG Global, a consulting and strategy firm that works with all the major carriers, is introducing the first mobile device leasing program in the U.S., which will allow operators to offer no-money-down one-year leases for handsets to their best customers.

The Mobile Device Lease xChange will be administered by MDLx, a subsidiary of TMNG. The program will offer carriers an integrated business system for mobile device leasing along with a technology platform for lease administration and accounting. No carriers have officially signed on to the program but MDLx’s chief marketing officer Tom Murphy told me discussions are ongoing with tier one carriers.

Under the MDLx program, a carrier would be able to offer their top customers the ability to lease a phone for 12 months at about $20-30 a month for the device. They would need to pay for voice and data plans separately and the device would need to be covered through an insurance plan, either though the operator or by the customer themselves. The amount of the payments would vary based on the value of the device and the carrier has the option of waiving the insurance plan, accepting a deposit instead.

Murphy said the carriers would ultimately choose which devices to offer under a lease program, how much they charge and who would qualify. He said it could be an attractive option for consumers who don’t want to remain locked into two-year contracts, which force them to absorb either the full cost of a new phone before their contracts expire or pay early termination fees to get out of their agreements. Leasing would allow them to stay current on the latest devices and be assured they are up to date on technology. And it could be especially popular for iPhone lovers, who want to move up to the next model when it comes out each year.

“We’re cutting the commitment to the device in half so there’s no longer a two-year commitment and early termination fee,” Murphy said. “Technology assurance is the value proposition for consumers.”

Leases would presumably be offered on higher-end devices that can fetch a good return after 12 months. For carriers, this allows them to better deal with the high cost of device subsidies for top smartphones. Even as device prices push past $600, carriers have face pressure to keep prices for subsidized devices at $300 or less. In the leasing  scenario, the carrier’s financial partner would own the device for 12 months and then when it was returned, MDLx would find either a good secondary channel to sell it, or the carrier could buy it at market value and then resell it directly to consumers. MDLx would oversee the leasing program, managing the relationship between the carrier and the finance partner.

“The economics of the mobile device market are complex and particularly burdensome for carriers, who must offer the latest technology at affordable price points.  Escalating smartphone prices, higher subsidies absorbed by carriers, market-driven caps on consumer upfront payments and regulatory pressure to eliminate early termination fees – are all factors which contribute to frustrations for carriers, subscribers and even the OEMs,” said Don Klumb, TMNG Global’s CEO.  “We think the market is ready for a viable smartphone leasing option.  MDLx provides a complete solution that enables carriers to dramatically reduce their device subsidy obligations; provide subscribers access to the latest device technology as it becomes available and on a more frequent basis; and also benefits OEMs by decreasing their sales cycles by half and facilitating development of new technology with less concern for carrier subsidy constraints.”

TMNG built the leasing program based on the experience it had running a handset recapture program that is in use by Sprint. Through that program, TMNG was able to learn the secondary market for returned devices and figure out how to predict the worth of handsets. With stable pricing for devices, TMNG is able to create a program that leaves the carriers ahead after 12 months. But the strategy depends on leasing only to the most reliable customers, probably in the top 8-10 percent of post paid customers, to ensure carriers aren’t exposed to too much risk, said Murphy.

The concept of leasing phones has picked up recently. O2 in the U.K. launched a proprietary leasing program in December for the iPhone 4S that started at about $86 a month for both the device and service. Similar to MDLx, O2 lessees don’t own the product and can move to another device after 12 months. GigaOM freelance contributor John S. Wilson wrote a couple weeks ago urging carriers to consider leasing programs just like MDLx, saying it’s one way to get consumers to actually like their carrier contracts.

Leasing won’t become a big tool for carriers right away. But I think it makes some sense to offer different options to consumers, providing plans that give them flexibility without much upfront cost. Now that most carriers have been doing away with one-year contracts, it can also be a tough proposition for early adopters, who have to decide between paying full price for a new device without a contract or getting stuck with an agreement that lasts two years. Having a leasing option means they can always be looking forward to picking up the newest phone in a year.

But I’m curious what will happen to used phone prices if a significant number of devices from leasing programs start hitting the market. It could hurt secondary prices, which could threaten the whole leasing system since its based on stable secondary value for used phones. Though as Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reported, there is also an added benefit for carriers, who can get a new service contract from a used device without having to pay a subsidy.

I’ll wait to see if carriers actually take this up, but with carrier subsidies eating into profitability, they may interested in giving this a shot. And consumers may be open to a new way to get their hands on the latest devices.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user CC Chapman. 

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Business intelligence startup Domo pulls in another $20M


This post is by Dylan Tweney from VentureBeat


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Josh James, founder of business intelligence company Domo

Domo, which is building a dashboard for real-time business intelligence, has landed another $20 million without even trying.

The funds come from Silicon Valley-based Institutional Venture Partners, which also invested in Domo founder Josh James’ previous startup, Omniture. It brings the company’s total funding to $63 million.

“There’s probably three people a week that I turn down, who want to put money into our company,” said James, in an interview with VentureBeat. He agreed to accept IVP’s investment because the venture firm has a good track record and James has worked with it before.

“We thought it made sense to take additional money,” James said, but added: “We’re always trying to build the company in a way that we won’t need more money.”

The company is calling this second round of investment its “Series A-1″ tranche, to indicate that it has the same terms as its $33 million Series A round (but at a higher valuation). Previous investors include Benchmark Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Ron Conway and David Lee of SV Angel, and Hummer Winblad.

Domo hopes to give executives and managers a single, customizable, sharable view of the business metrics that matter to them, delivering its product as an online service, similar to the way Salesforce.com, Omniture, Microsoft’s Office 365, and other software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions work. It will aim at collecting a slice of the estimated $10 billion annual market for business intelligence services.

James’ previous gig was Omniture. After cofounding the web metrics company, he led it to its initial public offering in 2006 and subsequent $1.8 billion sale to Adobe in 2009. He left Omniture in July, 2010.

Domo is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and currently employs about 100 people, mostly engineers, James said. However, once the product is ready to go, he plans to kick the sales organization into high gear.

“We will definitely be a sales-driven organization,” James said. “Right now we’re in the process of making sure the product is absolutely right, and then we’re going to sell it to every man, woman, child and retired person I can find.”

Photo courtesy Domo.

Filed under: VentureBeat


Omniture Co-Founder’s Business Intelligence SaaS Company Domo Lands $20M From IVP


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DOMO __ Home

Domo, the SaaS business intelligence startup launched by Omniture founder Josh James, has raised $20 million in new funding from Institutional Venture Partners (IVP). This round brings total investment in Domo to $63 million. Previous investors include Benchmark Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Ron Conway and David Lee of SV Angel, and Hummer Winblad.

As you may remember, Omniture is a web analytics SaaS company that went public and was subsequently bought by Adobe in 2009 for $1.8 billion. Last year, James debuted his next project, Domo, with $33 million in funding from Benchmark, and aimed to tackle the business intelligence space. Domo purchased a company called Corda, and started accepting customers on a selective basis to test out the platform.

James tells us in an interview that he believes existing business intelligence offerings are static and non-collaborative. He is seeking to put all of this in the cloud, but in a scalable and easy to use format so people can actually make sense of (and make money off of) massive amounts of business data. James is hesitant to reveal exact details on how the application works but says the SaaS is a “dramatic departure for existing business intelligence offerings.” The application is able to analyze business data and display it in a user-friendly and realtime format.

“We’re continuing to build out our company to attack and completely reform an old industry that doesn’t work, while creating a brand new way of doing business with our business management platform,” said James.

He also tells us that the company still has much of the $43 million in funding raised last year in the bank but decided to raise additional funding because the company wanted to be aggressive with acquisitions in the coming year. IVP apparently was outbid by Benchmark in the last round, and jumped at the opportunity to to work with James and fund Domo.

IVP actually backed Omniture back in the day, and as Todd Chaffee, General Partner at IVP explained to me, “our investment thesis can be summarized in two words-Josh James.” Chaffee says that James is in the category of the Marc Benioffs, Larry Ellisons and Michael Dells of the enterprise world. “When he showed us what he was doing, we were in. We were blown away by what he built. He’s crazy enough and passionate enough to have a bigger exit than Omniture.”

“Josh and the Domo team are at the forefront of a huge opportunity,” said said Benchmark’s Matt Cohler, who is also a Domo Board Member. “Domo has the team, the vision, the focus and the product to transform an entire market.”

James says that for the past 9 months, Domo has had a controlled release with a number of enterprise companies. “The hit rate has been high of people who want it pay for it,’ he says. And the product is aimed at large enterprises as opposed to small businesses.

“We’ve been testing the market through an early adopter program and the overwhelming response signals that we’ve tapped into a major pain point for CEOs and other executives. Today, we can’t install customers fast enough. We are scheduling customers weeks out and have a two-month waiting list for our beta product,” James said. The new funding will also be used towards sales and marketing efforts. The company plans to reveal more news in the next few months including names of large global customers and more details behind its products and strategy

The business analytics software market set to hit $33.9 billion in 2012, and is only expected to grow in the coming years. James is taking on the likes of giants like Oracle, Microsoft, and others, but clearly he has a proven track record of creating lasting and valuable companies. And investors agree.

Below is video of James talking at the Web 2.0 Summit last Fall and another one showing how the Fort Worth Police Department is using Domo:





Nest & The New Era of Home Appliances


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Earlier this week I listed 5 signs of a great user experience in a tech product. One sign is that it changes you. I referred to revolutionary products like the iPhone and Twitter, that modified our online behaviors or habits. This trend is becoming more noticeable with the so called Internet of Things, where everyday objects are connected to the Internet. If a device or object has traditionally been a static thing, then it’s guaranteed to morph into something different once it becomes interactive.

Over the coming decade, we’re going to see a lot of new Internet-connected household devices that will literally change the way you live. A great example is a new device from a very well-funded startup called Nest Labs. At the end of 2011, the company released a Web-enabled thermostat called the Nest. Yes, a thermostat. It was designed by the man who invented the iPod for Apple, Tony Fadell.

Sponsor

The Nest thermostat is a round, shiny, stainless steel-encased object that is attached to a wall in your home. It features a scroll-wheel navigation, inspired by the original iPod. There is a digital screen in the middle, which changes color according to the temperature (orange for heat and blue for cool). You can have more than one Nest in your home and they’ll act as a network.

The idea behind Nest was directly inspired by the revolution in smartphones, which transformed the mobile phone into a full-fledged mobile computer. Nest labs co-founder Matt Rogers explained in a blog post how he and Fadell aim to do the same for the thermostat:

“The gap between the consumer experience in mobile products and the ones in our homes is enormous. I’ve been a programmer my entire life and could not program a thermostat for the life of me. I looked at it and thought, this beige plastic box cannot be the best our generation can come up with. Surely, there must be a better way.”


So other than the elegant design of Nest (another of the 5 signs of a great user experience), what makes the product different from the traditional thermostat? The main difference is that Nest is powered by 6 sensors and proprietary algorithms, which enables it to “learn” your living habits and adjust the temperature automatically throughout the day and night. The company claims that Nest will have created a personalized temperature schedule for you after just one week of use. Nest has WiFi, which enables it to monitor weather patterns. You can also control it via an iPhone app or on the Web.

Nest is a lot more expensive than the traditional thermostat you’d buy from your local hardware store. It costs $249, plus an installation fee of $119 if you want to get it professionally installed (which All Things D’s Katherine Boehret learned is a good move). The idea is that Nest will save you money on your energy bills. Note that Nest is currently sold out, but you can add your name to an email list to be notified of availability.

The thermostat is the first home device out of Nest Labs, but it intends to expand to other devices. In a CES video interview with Techcrunch, Nest Labs co-founder Matt Rogers noted that “there are lot of things in the home that have not been changed in 20-30 years.” The smoke alarm is one example of a device ripe for Internet connection, given that it operates via sensors.

It remains to be seen whether Nest can capture a large chunk of the thermostat market, especially given its high price relative to traditional thermostats. But there’s no doubt that this is where household devices like the thermostat are heading.

Using data and the Web to learn your living patterns and change your life for the better. Get used to that, because it’s what the next generation of home appliances will do.

Photo credit: Seth Frankel, via Nest.com

Discuss


Redbox breaks with Warner Bros. over 56-day waiting period


This post is by Adi Robertson from The Verge - All Posts


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via latimesblogs.latimes.com

Redbox customers will no longer have to wait 28 days after a DVD release to rent Warner Bros. movies like A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas. Redbox has allowed its deal with Warner Bros. to expire, meaning that it will no longer be directly purchasing DVDs at wholesale prices from the company. The two companies were apparently unable to come to an agreement over Warner Bros.’ insistence that rental companies wait 56 days after DVD release to offer a movie. While Warner Bros. says it hopes to “continue discussions with Redbox and reach a mutually agreed upon solution to this situation,” a source has told the Los Angeles Times that no more talks are planned.

Redbox has pledged to keep stocking Warner Bros. movies, but without the agreement…

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Watch The Crunchies Awards Live [Video]


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We’re live at The Crunchies Awards at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. Once again we’ve partnered with fellow blogs VentureBeat and GigaOm to celebrate the best technology achievements of 2011. Those of you at home can watch the live stream here. The show starts at 7:30 pm.


Watch the 2011 Crunchies live!


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Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Missed your chance to get a ticket to the sold-out Crunchies? Never fear. We’re hosting the livestream of the entire event right here.

Watch from 7:30 to 9 p.m. today to see what companies, technologies, products and people were chosen by their peers as the most innovative, most exciting and overall best in their field. Will Foursquare win Best Location App for the second year in a row, beating out such buzz-worthy contenders as Grindr, Runkeeper, Uber and Airbnb? And of all the great visionaries nominated — some familiar, such as Jack Dorsey, and some newcomers, such as Leah Busque — who did Crunchies voters choose for Founder of the Year? Will Apple, nominated for both the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, win for best device or will the popular Galaxy Nexus, much-talked about Kindle Fire or groundbreaking connected-home device Nest take the best gadget award?

And perhaps most importantly, will the 2011 CEO of the year ever be able to top Andrew Mason’s amazing acceptance speech from last year?

The Crunchies will be hosted by Harris Wittels, writer for Parks and Recreation and author of @humblebrag. Katie Fehrenbacher, Om Malik and Colleen Taylor will be presenting, alongside our colleagues from VentureBeat and TechCrunch (our co-hosts for the event) and other members of the tech community, including Jack Dorsey, Kevin Rose, Marissa Mayer, Kevin Systrom, Reid Hoffman and Ron Conway.

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Boxee to remove PC application from its website


This post is by Tom Cheredar from VentureBeat


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Boxee Box

It’s no secret that streaming media startup Boxee is no longer supporting the PC version of its media center software, but after today it might be hard to find.

Boxee is known for producing streaming media software that allows you to access web content from your television set and manage your digital media collections. Last month, the company announced that it would end support for its PC applications, and instead, focus all resources on connected devices, such as the company-branded D-Link set-top box (Boxee Box), the iPad, and others.

As the next logical step towards Boxee’s realigned strategy, the company will remove all copies of its PC-based application (Mac/Windows/Linux) from its website at the end of today, reports Gigaom.

“We believe the future of TV will be driven by devices such as the Boxee Box, Connected TVs / Blu-Rays and 2nd screen devices such as tablets and phones,” wrote Boxee Vice President of Marketing Andrew Kippen in an old blog post announcing the company’s new strategy. “People will continue to watch a lot of video on their computer, but it is more likely to be a laptop than a home-theater PC and probably through a browser rather than downloaded software.”

Many long-time Boxee users have criticized the company’s decision to end PC support, but the move does make sense. Boxee needs to improve its product before getting eliminated by powerful competitors, like the Apple TV and a variety of Google TV-enabled devices. While the PC software might have initially been a way for Boxee to lure in tech-savvy cordcutters (a.k.a. people who end their cable or satellite television subscription and rely entirely on web media), it’s no longer helping the company boost revenue. Also, the finite resources Boxee dedicated to building and maintaining the PC applications can now be channeled into creating new features for the part of the business that is lucrative.

People who want to continue using a PC-powered media center software for their televisions can either download Boxee’s PC app before tomorrow, or check out alternatives like XBMC or Plex.

Filed under: media, VentureBeat


What Recession? Razer’s $2800 Blade Gaming Laptop Sells Out In 30 Minutes


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For months we’ve been waiting on Razer’s Blade notebook, a $2800, 17-inch beast that we weren’t sure whether to laud or mock. It’s just that it’s kind of a strange thing to see making a big debut when people are more cautious than usual with their money, and PC gaming (as ever) is being declared dead. But after our hands-on at CES, we were convinced that it was at the very least impressive and well-built, and apparently enough other people thought so that Razer sold out almost immediately.

Now, the actual number sold isn’t mentioned, but Razer isn’t a small company and they were going all-out with this thing at CES. But we’ve seen devices launch to sales of dozens, so a strong response to a launch like this is definitely good news.

The company shared the news on their Facebook page, and urges prospective buyers to sign up for a notification email list. Hopefully that $2800 won’t burn a hole in your pocket in the meantime.

Personally, I’m more excited about their plans to disconnect the touchscreen and LCD keys from the laptop, making a customizable piece of hardware you can use with your existing PC. I’m not really down with the small-screen gaming and I like my keyboards a little meatier, so the Blade isn’t for me — but I do have gear envy when I see all those future toys on the side.


Good Deal: Amazon’s steep AT&T smartphone sale offers one cent HD7S, Inspire 4G, Captivate, and more


This post is by Dante D'Orazio from The Verge - All Posts


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AT&T Smartphone Good Deal

It’s the harsh reality of smartphones nowadays: with the number of device choices and the rate at which they’re replaced the so-called phones of yesteryear are really only a few months old. There is a good side to all of this gloom and doom, however: if you’re willing to pass on the latest-and-greatest you can pick up perfectly-capable phones for bargin-bin prices. Amazon Wireless has new deals on some AT&T BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Android smartphones from now through February 14th. Most cost merely a cent, though there are a few that are still going to put a dent in your wallet even after discount. Check below for the list of choices.

Windows Phone 7:

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Daily Wrap: Lanyrd’s Innovative HTML5 Mobile App and More


This post is by Robyn Tippins from ReadWriteWeb


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dailywrap-150x150.pngDan Rowinski takes a look at how Lanyrd has created a great mobile web app using HTML5. This and more in today’s Daily Wrap.

Sometimes it’s difficult to catch everything that hits tech media in a day, so we wrap up some of the most talked about stories. We give you a daily recap of what you missed in the ReadWriteWeb Community, including a link to some of the most popular discussions in our offsite communities on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ as well.

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How Lanyrd Uses HTML5 for a Great Mobile Web App

How Lanyrd Uses HTML5 for a Great Mobile Web App

Lanyrd’s new mobile web app, released today, is a great example of how the HTML5 spec can be innovated upon. Taking advantage of offline caching, if the phone and browser support it, the app allows for a mobile conference experience that isn’t at the whim of the very fallible Wi-Fi offerings at so many events. Dan says that there is great potential for an app like this, especially in regards to how they might package the app.

“It can offer this functionality to conferences as a backbone service and help organizers put together dynamic cross-platform apps with offline caching. Or it could lend its mobile Web app to conferences as a partner app. This is not just cool technology being put to use. With a little creativity, Lanyrd could build a business model around its HTML5 offering.”

More Must Read Stories:

[Infographic] The Rise and Fall of Megaupload

[Infographic] The Rise and Fall of Megaupload

We’re not even two weeks into the aftermath of the Megaupload shutdown, but the saga seems to unfold with a new angle or detail everyday. From Kim Dotcom’s colorful personal life to questions about the fate of non-infringing data uploaded by former Megaupload users, this story is far from over. (more)

How to Take Better Food Porn Photos

How to Take Better Food Porn Photos

Admit it. You’re an amateur food porn photographer. But don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone.

Last week, my esteemed Internet ReadWriteWeb-y colleagues Jon Mitchell and Curt Hopkins cooked up this insanely hilarious story about the grossness of amateur food porn. Amazingly, every single photograph in his story was shot by an amateur. And every single time, the food looked totally disgusting. (more)

How Pinterest Uses Your Content Without Violating Copyright Laws

How Pinterest Uses Your Content Without Violating Copyright Laws

Pinterest, the increasingly popular pinboarding social network, is able to present a visually arresting interface in large part by using copyrighted images pinned by users.

“It’s a huge concern for creative bloggers,” said Amy Anderson, who blogs on the arts and crafts site Crafter Minds. “I don’t think Pinterest does anything to help protect copyright besides removing content when people ask.” (more)

Not So Fast: Teens Aren't Fleeing Facebook For Twitter

Not So Fast: Teens Aren’t Fleeing Facebook For Twitter

Contrary to an Associated Press report implying otherwise, teens are not shutting down their Facebook accounts in favor of Twitter.

Emil Protalinski has a much more thorough analysis of what is happening, which includes the Pew Research report AP used, as well as a July 2011 Pew report that focused solely on teens and social media use. His conclusion? Teens are definitely using Twitter more, but they are not giving up their Facebook accounts to do so. (more)

Startup's Petition Raises $3M in 24 Hours if Senate Passes Crowdfunding Act

Startup’s Petition Raises $3M in 24 Hours if Senate Passes Crowdfunding Act

“We can gamble in Vegas. We can donate on Kiva or Kickstarter. But it’s illegal to purchase $100 of stock in a job-creating business? That makes no sense.”

That is the tagline to a new project called WeFunder from three TechStars Boston alumni who are trying to garner support for the “Democratizing Access to Capital Act” (S.1791) that would allow entrepreneurs to crowdfund startups. (more)

“Anonymous” Fights the Drug Cartels and the Movie Moguls: Reaction

It’s being called the “Mexican SOPA,” especially by press sources wanting to place highly with Google News. Last week, Mexican Senator Federico Döring announced an anti-piracy bill, which that country’s justice ministry describes as establishing a notification service for suspected content pirates, one which would enable the authorities to obtain those suspects’ identities. (more)

The Other 99% of Entrepreneurs

The Other 99% of Entrepreneurs

In my recent piece Reengineering Capitalism I highlighted a phenomenon that the global entrepreneurship ecosystem is paying very little attention to: Over 99% of entrepreneurs who seek funding get rejected. Yet, the entire world is focused on the 1% that is “fundable.”

The media, when pitched a startup story, is interested in who funded the venture. They seldom ask how much revenue the company has or if it is profitable. (more)

Surprise, Surprise: Amazon Doesn't Say How Many Kindle Fires It Sold

Surprise, Surprise: Amazon Doesn’t Say How Many Kindle Fires It Sold

Amazon is notorious for sharing very little information about how its products and business units perform. Its new Kindle Fire tablet is no different.

Amazon just reported its fourth quarter financial results, and, shocking no one, it doesn’t disclose how many Kindle Fire tablets it sold. Or even how many total Kindles it sold. (more)

Blogger.com's New Takedown Policy Thwarts Censorship

Blogger.com’s New Takedown Policy Thwarts Censorship

Google’s Blogger has found a way to handle local government takedown requests similar to the way Twitter now does. It will now start redirecting readers to country-specific top-level domains (TLD) instead of the usual blogspot.com domain. It does so based on the location of the user’s IP address, just as many other Google services do. This gives Google the “flexibility” to comply with removal requests according to local laws. (more)

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Exec shuffle focuses AT&T on the real prize: mobile


This post is by Kevin Fitchard from GigaOM


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AT&T's Ralph de la Vega is now solely responsible for wireless

With its executive reshuffling this week AT&T returned to a structure that more accurately reflects where its businesses are heading: mobile. The wireless division juggernaut that drives most of AT&T’s revenues is now firmly in the hands of former consumer CEO Ralph de la Vega, who is giving up his U-Verse responsibilities to the new head of AT&T Business and Home Solutions Andy Geisse. It’s a smart move considering how ridiculous it was for AT&T to lump consumer wireless and wireline together in the first place.

I say that because AT&T is a nationwide wireless operator with a Baby Bell operating territory, covering Southwestern Bell, BellSouth, PacBell and Ameritechs’ old turf. Those wireless and wireline footprints overlap but it’s hard to run a nationwide strategy when a significant part of your business is not only a regional operation, but a shrinking regional operation at that. De la Vega was in the odd position of trying to get residential customers to hold onto their phone lines while simultaneously selling them huge buckets of mobile minutes.

AT&T tried to combine those consumer businesses in the first place because of a now-dead vision of a world of “three screens”. It wanted to interlink the services it offered to the PC (through DSL), the TV (through U-Verse) and the mobile phone. It sounds like a neat idea, but the vision never took off. Except for the cursory U-Verse smartphone app and the glue of a unified monthly bill, AT&T’s mobile services have remained distinct from its wireline ones. AT&T ditched its ‘three screens’ advertising long ago and now it appears to have ditched the strategy as well.

The move leaves de la Vega to focus solely on AT&T’s huge-growth wireless business, and he will have plenty to keep him busy. AT&T has the industry’s largest base of iPhone and overall smartphone subscribers, all of which are placing pressure enormous pressure on its 3G and 4G networks. De la Vega, along with newly promoted SVP of technology and network operations John Donovan, will also oversee AT&T nationwide launch of LTE, in hopes of catching up to arch-competitor Verizon Wireless.

John Stankey - President and CEO, AT&T Business Solutions - Structure 2011

John Stankey takes over as AT&T's strategy guru

De la Vega apparently won’t have to deal with the task of finding new spectrum though. That job now falls to John Stankey, who will give up his title as CEO of business operations to assume the mantle of Group President and Chief Strategy Officer. AT&T is looking to grow its airwave holdings, and to do so it’s had no qualms with attacking the people that stand between it and the frequencies it so desires. Stankey is well respected throughout the telecom industry, and he has elaborated, quite reasonably and eloquently, in the past on the evolution of wireless networking and the need for spectrum to meet growing mobile data demands.

I’m a bit worried that eloquence and reason will now fall to the wayside. To overcome objections to AT&T’s consolidation ambitions, the carrier needs to unleash a bulldog on its regulators and critics – a role that until now has been filled by CEO Randall Stephenson. It looks like that bulldog will now have to be John Stankey.

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Launch Center’s Curious Quest to Fix the iPhone


This post is by Jon Mitchell from ReadWriteWeb


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launchcenter_dock150.jpgMacworld | iWorld was last week, and as Apple-watchers expected, the emphasis was on the i-part. The iPhone and iPad are becoming blockbusters, so this must have been an exciting year to be at that show. I wasn’t cool enough to be there, but I’m pretty sure I read the blogs of every single person who was. And there’s one iPhone app they’re all talking about this week: Launch Center.

To a hardcore iPhone user, it seems like it should be relatively easy to explain what Launch Center does. But as the many meditative blog posts show, there’s more here than meets the eye. Launch Center’s creators at App Cubby are still figuring out for themselves what they’re onto here. They’ve broken into something fundamental about iOS that it doesn’t have yet, and they’ve made a $0.99 app we can all use to figure out together exactly what that is.

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Launching An Experiment

Launch Center is one app for launching tasks across many apps. It can be a simple speed-dial-Mom or text-my-girlfriend launcher, or it can hook deeply into an app and, for example, go straight to Instagram’s camera screen. You can also link to any Web URL, which it will open in Safari. It also comes loaded with some neat shortcuts like a “Flashlight” button to turn on the phone’s LED. An update last week added scheduled tasks, so you can now associate an in-app action with a timed reminder. This all sounds so useful, but it’s surprisingly hard to figure out how to work it in.

I talked to App Cubby founder David Barnard today, and it sounds like he and developer Justin Youens are still figuring it out, too. Barnard says they only put Launch Center in their iPhone docks themselves in the last week or two. They’re experimenting now with different kinds of interfaces, beyond a simple list of actions, as well as different kinds of tasks to launch.

drbarnard.jpgThey’re also working with developers of other apps to create good URL schemes for inclusion in Launch Center. iOS apps have URLs for different screens or actions, just like websites. For example, to launch Instagram straight to the camera screen, the URL is instagram://camera. Launch Center users can input URLs themselves, and developers often make these publicly available. But it also comes loaded with some easy and common ones for users who don’t want to get their hands too dirty.

But is this something users want? Is the convenience of going straight to a common action, rather than swiping around for the app you need, tapping it and then acting, important enough for most users? Barnard and I discussed that at length, and I think we concluded that there’s no way to know without trying. So they went ahead and launched Launch Center at the unbelievably good price of $0.99, and now we can all try it. Barnard says that they’re getting about 1,000 downloads a day, and they’re especially big in Japan.

A Better Mental Model

launchcenterphone.jpgFederico Viticci at MacStories wrote a thoughtful post last week about the shortcomings of Apple’s iOS home screen. The problem is that its “badges on a table” approach is not quite flexible enough sometimes. It forces users to think about launching an app and then finding a task, even though one or two taps might seem like enough to cut straight to the action. Apple has had to hack its own interface with features like Notification Center to speed things up.

Launch Center started as a way to extend Notification Center, but the first version was rejected by Apple. The Launch Center of today is like a shelf containing its own list of actions chosen by the user. Barnard says they’re considering making an “experimental” version for pro users, letting people choose from a variety of different launcher styles to see what works for them.

Whether or not we’re conscious of them, I believe these kinds of time-savers and mental models are important to everyone with a smartphone. RWW fans almost certainly don’t know this, but I co-host a weekly podcast with my friend Jamie from App Advice about what to do with all these devices. We discussed Launch Center when we first heard of it and again in great detail two days ago, because we’re both frantically searching for ways to work this app into our lives. For now, I think we’ve both decided to just stick it on our docks first and find a way to use it over time.

In my Launch Center right now, I’ve got the Instagram camera launcher, “compose tweet” in Tweetbot (my Twitter client of choice), and a few Web bookmarks I use all the time, like my Kippt inbox. It’s still very much an experiment, but that’s the fun of Launch Center. If you’re looking for ways to get a little more oomph out of your iPhone, check out Launch Center and share what you come up with.

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