Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘mobile 2.0’ Category

Article from GigaOm.

Zscaler a four-year-old startup that has bootstrapped its business by providing a new form of security designed for a mobile and cloud-dependent workforce, has raised $38 million in first-time financing. The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and an unnamed strategic investor.

Zscaler has been fairly successful in its four years building a significant base of clients including Crutchfield Corporation, La-Z-Boy and Telefonica. The company’s software as a service is hosted in more than 100 data centers around the world and essentially protects a company’s web traffic. It does this by routing requests through Zscaler’s software. But there’s no software for users to download on their clients and there’s also no appliance for corporate IT to worry about.

As the cloud and mobility do away with the perimeter model of security where a firewall may prevent harmful traffic from getting in and corporate secrets from getting out, Zscaler is one of several new companies trying to adapt security to a world where there is no perimeter. And even if the corporate IT thought it had a perimeter, the corporation may not own it or have a say in what runs on it. A perfect example of this might be the CEO’s iPad (a aapl).

Zscaler doesn’t solve all problems, but it’s certainly ahead of the pack in thinking about security in a forward-looking way. Other companies trying to address the changes in security required by BYOD and corporate access to the cloud applications are Bromium and CloudPassage. And by waiting to take on venture capital Zscaler’s CEO Jay Chaudhry has joined a select group of established companies who are finally succumbing to the lure of VC cash. For example Qualtrics, a ten-year-old company this year raised $70 million in its first round of outside investment. Another company, Code 42, avoided VC dollars for 11 years before this year raising $52.5 million.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Article from SFGate.

“If Facebook is like hanging out at a banquet with a large buffet to feast on, then social network Path is an intimate dinner with close friends. Path is now getting new silverware and table decorations, so to speak, with the release of updated software.

CEO Dave Morin, a Facebook alum, says the dinner-party philosophy remains but users can now share their comings and goings with up to 150 friends, up from the original 50.

With the new version available this week, a year after its debut, Path aims to be more than a sharing application. It wants to be a digital journal that documents your days with a push of a button.

Morin describes it as “a slightly social experience.” You’re not just updating it to share your day with others; you’re recording your life for yourself.

“The idea has always been to give you a trusted place to share with your close friends and family,” Morin said. “Now that the (mobile phone) is the accessory you have in your hand all the time, it’s become a journal.”

Path began as an iPhone application for sharing photos and videos. Users later got the ability to add one of five emoticons to their friends’ photos.

The new version lets users post music and tell everyone where they are, with whom and whether they are awake or asleep. It’s also compatible with Android-running phones for the first time. And, it includes technology that allows the application to make updates on its own, as long as the user agrees to it, or opts in.

For example, if you fly to Minneapolis, the application can track you with GPS and post this when you land: “Arrived in Minneapolis, it’s 6:06 p.m. Mostly cloudy and 50 degrees.” The location updates are neighborhood and city specific but will not pin an actual location.

Morin says the auto-updates make it easier for users to share richer content without much effort. And, while the details may seem personal, your network is only of close friends and family.

The update retains strict privacy controls, which Morin says is key to making people comfortable with sharing, especially in the wake of high-profile debates over privacy issues at Facebook.

On Tuesday, the government announced a proposed settlement with Facebook over “unfair and deceptive” business practices. The pact requires the company to get people’s approval before changing how it shares their data.

The new version of Path integrates larger social networks Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, allowing status updates to those sites from the Path application.

Morin says the San Francisco-based startup has enough funding for its next stage and just hired its 20th employee. Path has more than 1 million users.”

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Article from SFGate.

“Facebook members have listened to more than 1.5 billion songs in the six weeks since the social network rolled out its latest Open Graph applications platform.

And the online music services that have hitched their wagon to Facebook are flourishing, according to stats posted on the company’s developers blog.

“As a result, some of our biggest music developers have more than doubled their active users, while earlier-stage startups and services starting with a smaller base have seen anywhere between a 2-10x increase in active users,” Facebook’s Casey Maloney Rosales Muller wrote. “It’s still early, but these results show that the Open Graph can be a powerful discovery mechanism for users and drive significant growth for developers.”

One big winner so far is Spotify, the online music service that just expanded to the United States in the summer. Since announcing it was plugging into the beta Open Graph protocol at the F8 developers’ conference Sept. 22, Spotify has gained more than 4 million new users.

And Earbits, the company that also powers SFGate Radio, has recorded a 1,350 percent increase in the number of users who become fans of bands they’re hearing, he said.

Meanwhile, MOG has grown 246 percent, Rdio has seen a 30-fold increase, Slacker reports an 11-fold increase and Deezer has added 10,000 users.

Ticketing sites Eventbrite, Ticketmaster and Ticketfly have also reported $2 to $6 in direct ticket sales for each link shared within Facebook.

And all this has happened before Facebook has had a chance to roll out Open Graph and new Timeline user profiles to a wider portion of its audience of 800 million users. The Palo Alto company says those rollouts are coming soon.”

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Article from SFGate.

“EBay Inc.’s purchase of mobile-payment startup Zong Inc. for $240 million is stepping up pressure on companies such as Google Inc. and American Express Co. to make their own acquisitions in the market.

Google has held exploratory discussions with mobile-payment startups, according to two people with knowledge of the meetings. Credit card companies, including American Express and Visa Inc., also are meeting with takeover candidates, though deals may not be imminent, people familiar with the talks said.

More consumers are looking to pay for things like movie tickets, apps and other items with their phones – rather than cards or cash. That’s pitting financial-service providers, which benefit from transactions, against technology companies like Google. Both sides aim to use mergers and acquisitions to shore up their positions, said Richard Crone, who runs Crone Consulting LLC, a firm focused on mobile banking and payments.

“There’re much more M&A and roll-ups to come in this space,” Crone said. “You will see the activity happening before the end of the year.”

The total value of mobile payments will reach $670 billion by 2015, up from $240 billion in 2011, according to Juniper Research. That includes transactions for digital and physical goods, money transfers and payments using near field communication – a wireless technology that lets users tap their phones against a reader to make a purchase.

Mainstream acceptance

Many companies are shopping for startups that help users charge purchases to their phone bills. Within a year, 40 percent of all U.S. mobile subscribers will put items other than ring tones on wireless bills, according to Chetan Sharma, an industry analyst in Issaquah, Wash. That’s up from 30 percent now.

Potential acquisition targets include Boku Inc.; Payfone Inc.; BilltoMobile, which is majority-owned by Danal Co.; and Amdocs Ltd.’s OpenMarket Inc., Sharma said.

Syniverse Technologies Inc., MindMatics AG’s Mopay unit, Bango and Vindicia Inc. could be candidates as well, according to Crone. Acquisition targets will sell for 10 to 20 times their trailing 12-month sales, he said. It’s unclear how that measures up against the Zong deal because eBay didn’t disclose the startup’s revenue when it announced the purchase last week.

Still, some startups may struggle to attract a deep-pocketed suitor or land that kind of premium. And large technology and finance companies may choose to develop the capabilities themselves.

‘Pressure to act’

Representatives from Google, American Express and Visa declined to comment on any potential deals, as did Bango, Boku, Payfone, Syniverse and Vindicia. OpenMarket didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Ingo Lippert, CEO of Palo Alto’s Mopay, said the Zong deal will likely give rise to more acquisitions, though his company is “solely focused” on operations.

“We’ve been forecasting consolidation within the mobile-payments space for some time,” Lippert said in an e-mail. “With Zong’s acquisition, companies testing out solutions within the mobile-payments market will now feel increased pressure to act.”

Investments in payment startups began picking up several months ago. In February, Visa agreed to spend about $190 million, plus performance incentives, to purchase PlaySpan Inc. The company handles purchases of virtual goods in online games and social networks. In April, American Express led a $19 million funding round in Payfone, a developer of a mobile-payment service.

EBay’s buying spree

Last year, eBay acquired Red Laser and Milo, two comparison-shopping applications that allow users to scan product barcodes and read reviews. With Zong, the company will get a bigger foothold for its PayPal payment service on phones, especially in developing countries.

Zong lets people pay for things by putting them on their mobile-phone bills. That’s attractive in emerging markets, where credit card adoption is low.

“The phone is ubiquitous, and credit cards are not,” Rodger Desai, CEO of Payfone, said.

U.S. carriers lets third-party services such as BilltoMobile operate on their networks. Verizon Wireless, for instance, allows charges of as much as $25 a month. BilltoMobile also declined to comment on whether it was a takeover target.

Carrier bills contained $3 billion worth of charges for virtual goods last year, and these charges are rising at 38 percent annually, Crone estimates. Those purchases can include ring tones, dating-site subscriptions and weapons for mobile video games.

Purchases of apps charged to wireless bills reached $5 billion last year and are growing at 68 percent a year, Crone said. Consumers in countries such as South Korea are increasingly charging physical goods to carrier bills as well.

“We are seeing very rapid growth,” said Jim Greenwell, CEO of BilltoMobile.”

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

As a technology scout, I often look for new behaviors of consumers in order to predict technology evolutions. After some time looking into the GroupOn trend, I have started to form a mental understanding of sorts. The stakes are high and the social shopping trend presents a new prosperous businessmodel and most large online companies are making the move to harness the trend. Let me explain the separate parts that forms my picture and what it all means.

1. eBay – the online fleamarket.

Looking at what today is widely accepted as a stunning success and moneymachine – eBay took the private entrepreneur online. Craigslist and similar services continue to provide broad audiences for the private seller. The shift from paper to online generated a larger audience and more interest for the second-hand market.

2. Facebook – networking our life.

Through the introduction of online social networks like Friendster, MySpace, Bebo, Twitter and Facebook, personal networks got joined together online. The effects of “Faceboking” you social life is a transparency that newer been visible before. New “check in” services from GPS enabled mobile devices further expose our location and automatically connects us with unknown people on the same location.

3. iPhone – making applications smarter.

As mentioned above, “check in” services like “Places” on Facebook, Loopt, Gowalla and Brightkite brought the social context to the mobile device though their “check in” features. Together with Twitter and Facebook mobile, the social and contextual dialogue is more and more becoming a way of using the technology.

The New, New Market!

So, based on these three separate innovations,a new market is emerging – Social Shopping. Sure, not all new in its core – Amazon have for long had recommendation and 3:rd party providers of used products. But, if I look closer on the trend, and take into consideration the companies that have announced that they are testing similar products – it will be a fierce battle ahead.

GroupOn is the one stealing all the headlines right now, IPO rumors are spreading and the race is on for becoming the leader of the pack. Nr. 2 on the market – Living Social are playing catch up. Recently I was invited to sign-up for Facebook Deals, a service originally launched last year and currently going through updates similar to GroupOn and Living Social. Goggle is testing its Google Offers. Microsoft is using it´s Bing to for similar services.

What does it mean?

What does all this mean you might think. I fell it’s a contextual shopping trend that moves the web 2.0 into a truly social value experience. If you are shopping for something and have the mobile device, you will be able to utilize your location and seek out good deals close to where you are, when you want it. The technology evolution exemplified by iPhone and Android phones with location awareness embedded is the technology enabler. Facebook networks are the social context and audience for spreading the word and eBay entrepreneurs can chase deals and post them on the social shopping sites to generate a self-serving ecosystem that becomes a machine in it self.

One might think that this technology trend, contrary to social networks of relationships (which are personal and limited) like Facebook, have enough room for more than one or two major services. As the trend relies on action rather than relation, its a active usage and active user who drives the equation – on Facebook, it’s all a matter of who you know.

Implications

The biggest question for me is if Facebook will succeed in incorporating their Facebook Deals service into the private social networks as a natural extension of smaller, often local groups of a few hundred people, as seem to be the norm of the personal networks on Facebook. If they succeed, they will steal the market from the pioneers like GroupOn and Social Living and further solidify their position as the premier social destination on the net, if not Facebooks value will decline as a result and focus might shift. Google, Amazon and Microsoft will steal their fair share of the market place, as they own large audiences and often “host” a mature audience searching for little less cool and less hip offerings – with high trust and reliability.

The race is on!

Read Full Post »

Article from SFGate.

“It’s been a big couple of weeks in mobile. Verizon Wireless finally got the iPhone. Hewlett-Packard unveiled the first fruits of its Palm purchase last year. Nokia, the world’s biggest maker of handsets, abandoned its once-dominant Symbian mobile software system and demoted itself to a kind of glorified contract manufacturer of Microsoft-powered devices.

The struggle for mobile dominance has entered a new phase. Why would Nokia throw out Symbian, with its 37 percent market share, in favor of software with less than one-seventh of that? Because recently hired Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop is convinced that Microsoft has better odds of going up against the four other mobile powers – Apple, Google, Research In Motion, and HP – and making its new Windows Phone 7 software a center of gravity for the world’s programmers, manufacturers, and consumers.

“The game has changed from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems,” Elop told investors at a recent London news conference.

Actually, it’s the same game that created the most valuable franchises in tech history, from IBM to Microsoft to Facebook. All successfully established themselves as “platforms,” in which countless entrepreneurs and programmers developed products and applications that gave value to customers and profitability to shareholders – sucking oxygen away from rivals all the while.

Platform leaders

In the 1960s, IBM trounced Sperry and other mainframe manufacturers by creating a soup-to-nuts stack of hardware, software and services.

In PCs, Microsoft erased Apple’s early lead by signing up hardwaremakers to create cheap machines, and software companies to develop Windows versions of everything from word processors to Tetris.

Facebook vanquished social networks such as MySpace by repositioning itself as a platform – a decision that led to the creation of gamemaker Zynga and other app companies that keep Facebook’s 500 million users hanging around.

What’s different this time is scale.

“Mobile is the biggest platform war ever,” said Bill Whyman, an analyst with International Strategy & Investment. More smart phones were sold than PCs in the fourth quarter, and sales should reach $120 billion this year. That doesn’t count billions more in mobile services, ads, and e-commerce.

This war will probably last for some time, too. Unlike with PCs, where the unquestioned victor – Microsoft – quickly emerged and enjoyed years of near monopoly, no one has a divine right to dominance in mobile. Microsoft crushed its competition by forcing people to make a choice. There were far more software applications for PCs, and most didn’t work on Macs. The more Microsoft-powered machines out there, the more people wrote software for them, the more people bought them, and the bigger the whole system became. Economists have a name for that phenomenon: “network effects.”

Appealing products

All cell phones can talk to each other and handle the same websites and e-mail systems, so winning means making products that function more effectively and appealingly. That sums up Apple’s success.

Steve Jobs figured out long ago that when people spend their own money, they’ll pay for something a lot nicer than the unsexy gear the cheapskates in corporate procurement choose. While others competed on price, Apple focused on making its products reliable and easy to use. Once customers buy an iPhone and start investing in iTunes songs and apps, they tend to stick with the system and keep buying – even though there’s no proprietary lock on the proverbial door.

Apple’s huge sales volume makes carriers and suppliers more likely to agree to its terms. The software that powers everything Apple makes – all variations of the Mac operating system OS X – is as intuitive to developers as Angry Birds is to app shoppers.

The result is economic leverage of staggering power. To create a blockbuster, Apple doesn’t need to spend billions on a start-from-scratch moon-shot of a development project. It just needs to tweak a previous hit.

Take the iPad, which is in many ways a large iPod touch. Apple won’t say how much the iPad cost to develop. Consider these numbers, though: In the year that ended Sept. 30, during which Apple introduced the iPad and the iPhone 4, the company spent $1.8 billion on research and development. Over the same period, Apple’s revenue increased by $22.3 billion. Nokia spent three times as much as Apple on R&D – $5.86 billion – and increased revenue by just $1.5 billion. No wonder that Apple, whose share of total global mobile-phone sales is only 4.2 percent, gets more than half the profit generated by the industry, according to research firm Asymco.

Fast-growing Android

Even Google, Apple’s mightiest rival, got only a $5 billion increase in sales on its $3.4 billion R&D budget. It does have plenty to show for its efforts, though: Its Android platform is growing at a blistering pace. In the fourth quarter, according to research firm Canalys, twice as many Android devices shipped as iPhones.

“Google is being far more aggressive in building its platform than Microsoft ever was,” says Bill Gurley, a partner at Benchmark Capital.

Barring big surprises, the other contenders – RIM, HP, and Microsoft – are in for a slog: too dependent on mobile devices to give up, yet lacking the tools to make much progress. All lost market share in 2010 and have far fewer apps available for their devices.”

Read original post here

Read Full Post »

Article from NyTimes.

“With Facebook’s membership approaching 600 million, and more features and apps continually being added to the site, it sometimes seems as if it’s the only social network around. But it’s not the only one, even if it’s dominant. Specialized networks are catching on with users who prefer a more focused way to share photos, videos or music, or who simply don’t want everyone on Facebook looking at their pictures.

Some of these networks leverage the existing huge audiences of Facebook or Twitter to let their users reach the maximum number of friends. But if you’re worried about Facebook’s potential privacy holes and want to steer clear of them, there’s a network for that, too.

INSTAGRAM Instagram, a photo-sharing network based around a free app for Apple’s iPhone, is the breakout hit of specialty social networks. The service, which was introduced in October, says that more than a million users have already signed up.

Instagram’s secret weapon is its built-in photo filters, which modify your pictures before you upload them. Some effects are corny, but some — like the sepia-inspired Early Bird filter or the soft-color Toaster — work wonders at removing the often harsh lighting and jarring colors of cellphone photos. With the help of the filters, the images may look better than those uploaded to other social sites, like Facebook.

Davin Bentti, a software engineer in Atlanta, uses Instagram to control where he posts photos.

“Instagram lets me share photos on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Posterous, Tumblr and Foursquare,” he said. “When I take a photo, I can put it everywhere without having to think much about it. But I can also put it only where I want it to go.”

For example, Mr. Bentti said, he skipped Twitter when posting a recent photo of his dog, because his Twitter followers are mostly professional colleagues.

To get started, download the free Instagram iPhone app, and sign up for an account. If you own an Android phone, be patient; an app for that operating system is in the works, the company said.

To find friends to share your photos with, start the app and tap the Profile option at the bottom right of its screen. Instagram offers several ways to find people: log in to Facebook or Twitter to see lists of your friends there who are already signed up with Instagram; search your phone’s contact list to match the e-mail addresses with existing users; send invitations to those in your contact list who have not yet signed up; search Instagram’s database of users and usernames; browse a list of suggested users whom the company has deemed worth following for their photos.

“We don’t see ourselves as an alternative” to Facebook, said Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s chief executive. “We see ourselves as a complement, to allow for sharing on multiple networks, all at once.”

PATH Path, a photo and video sharing network, also sees itself as an enhancement to Facebook; users can log in to Facebook to find Path users to share with. But Path limits the sharing to 50 friends at most, rather than with everyone you know. And you can’t post your Path photos to Facebook itself. Your friends need to check their Path app or Path’s Web site to see your images.”

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »