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Dear Friends, – by Brad Powers, Founder & CEO

April has been a tremendous month for Cupcake Digital Inc. and I’m extremely excited to share our exciting progress you.

App News:

April has not only been our strongest month for App production, but we continue to achieve top ranking positions for our releases on major distribution platforms.

In fact, yesterday Wubbzy’s Dance Party, an App released only this past Tuesday (4/23), achieved the “#1 Paid App” ranking for iPad in Apple iTunes books in just three days.

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Other April Releases Include:

pngApril 4: Wubbzy’s Magic School

In this feature-rich, deluxe storybook app, Wubbzy’s Magic School! After a day at Moo Moo the Magician’s Castle, the friends learn that magic really does happen when you believe in yourself and try your hardest.

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April 11: Wubbzy’s Space Adventure / Wubbzy en una Aventura Espacial

This is a very special release since it is our offering to include both an English and Spanish version within the same App.  Kids, parents, and caregivers now have the choice of language with which to listen to the narration or read the story themselves.

This initiative not only increases the addressable market for our Apps, but also expands our marketing capabilities.

We are currently working on adding a Spanish version to a series of English-only Apps in our existing library across all distribution channels.

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April 16: Animal Planet’s Hide and Seek Pets

Wubbzy’s Dance Party, an App released only this past Tuesday (4/23), achieved the “#1 Paid App” ranking for iPad in Apple iTunes books in just three days.

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This is our first App for Animal Planet marking the first property expansion for our library beyond Wow, Wow, Wubbzy.

We are extremely excited about both the sales generated and the reviews we have been getting.  Premium priced at $3.99, this App has already already reached the “#3 position” within HOT New Education Section on Amazon.

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Apr 25: Wubbzy’s Animal Coloring Book

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This marks the debut of our new coloring engine.  It will not only allow us to create “stand alone” coloring and activity books for all our properties, but it will also be integrated into all of our new Apps.
Looking Ahead:

Early May: Fraggle Rock “Fraggle Friends Forever”

This release will expand our App library to three active licensed properties.

As part of the preparations for its release, I have just returned from the 30th Anniversary Celebration for Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock in Los Angeles.  We have provided sneak peeks to several national media outlets. The feedback has been fantastic.

The App launch in early May will be supported by a significant media campaign in collaboration with the Henson organization.

In June: Strawberry Shortcake

We look forward to our first App release for American Greeting’s Strawberry Shortcake in June with great anticipation.

Strawberry Shortcake is an iconic children’s property and we are proud to be their licensed partner. This will be the fourth active licensed property in our growing App library.

Like all our properties, the launch of the Strawberry Shortcake App will be supported by a robust marketing campaign to increase sales rapidly.

Properties & Licensing Pipeline

We continue to make great progress in our property acquisition initiatives.  We are currently in the final stages of negotiation with several “A+” properties and will be making announcements about them shortly.

Continued Accolades for Cupcake Digital Apps

In addition to increased sales, the positive accolades for our Apps continue to keep pouring in.

We have received a tremendous amount of press with the release of our first dual language App, Wubbzy’s Space Adventure/ Wubbzy en una Aventura Espacial, both in online and traditional press.

We also continue to win awards from Famigo (a site that provides recommendations for kid-safe apps and content) and Appysmarts (a resource that helps parents choose the best apps for their kids).

For a full list of our reviews and awards please visit: http://www.cupcakedigital.com/testimonials/

Distribution Partnerships

One of the key stones of our marketing strategy is building strong relationships with our distribution partners.

Recent results of those relationships include:

1.  iTunes featuring Animal Planet Hide and Seek Pets and Wubbzy’s Dance Party in their New and Noteworthy section.

2.  iTunes also selected Wubbzy’s Pirate Treasure as a feature in a special “Apps for Preschool & Kindergarten” selection.

3.  Amazon also continue to feature Cupcake Digital Inc. Apps throughout their App store. Barnes & Noble is currently planning several “curated” mailings and site positions especially for us.

4.  New Position Paper Regarding Parental Guidelines for Children’s Apps

We are delighted to have recently published a new white paper based on an interview with Dr. Natascha Crandall, PH.D.  Dr. Crandall is a psychologist and educator with a special interest in enhancing children’s growth and development through the power of media. This paper explores Dr. Crandall’s findings on App use by children while also establishing a framework for the continuous improvement of our own Apps.

As part of the white paper we also included parent and caregiver guidelines for using Apps as a supplement to children’s learning.

To read the complete position paper, please visit:

http://www.cupcakedigital.com/blog/new-white-paper-features-dr-natachsa-crandall-on-apps-for-children/

Make Your Opinion Count: Download & Review a Cupcake App Today!

As always, if you have not already done so, please visit http://www.cupcakedigital.com/apps/ and click on the store icon of your choice (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play or Nook) to download our Apps on any mobile phone or tablet device.

Give it a test drive and make sure to write a review!

Encourage your friends, family and loved ones to do the same. Help us create a bigger viral buzz about the quality of our products.

Thank you for your on-going support! I will continue to update you on a regular basis.

In the meantime, please feel free to contact me anytime with questions or comments.

Sincerely,

Brad Powers

Chairman

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Article from SFGate.

“Here’s how effortless it is to move your digital music collection from Apple’s iTunes software to Amazon’s new Cloud Drive music service:

1. Visit Amazon.com, enter your user name and password, and find the link that says “upload files.”

2. Agree to the terms of service and solve a Captcha, one of those tricky image-recognition puzzles that prove you’re an human being.

3. Download Amazon’s MP3 uploader software, which scans the music on your hard drive.

4. Select about 1,000 of the gazillion songs you own and mark them for upload.

5. Wait around six hours for the upload to finish.

6. Download Amazon’s separate Cloud Player app for Android to stream that music to your phone, or use a Web browser to listen to it from any PC.

Sounds easy, right?

Welcome to the awkward stage of the digital music revolution. Online song sales have stagnated, depriving the endangered music industry of one of its last remaining lifelines. Yet digital music continues to be a vital battleground for Google, Apple and Amazon to try to lure users to their other devices and online offerings.

Now, Jeff Bezos & Co. have boldly tried to leapfrog Google and Apple in the quest to liberate people from the decade-old practice of buying and downloading digital songs to a computer and then manually transferring them between devices.

The idea behind “cloud music” is to let people stream their music collections from the Web to any computer or device. Analysts believe such services are inevitable – even if Amazon stumbles.

“Having access to your music on all your devices has to be the starting point of any next-generation music service and product,” said Mark Mulligan, an analyst at Forrester Research.

That’s the vision, but right now, the convoluted uploading process is the result of key trade-offs Amazon made to get to the cloud music market before its rivals.

Licensing deals

First, major labels want new licensing arrangements for cloud services and a bigger cut of the online music pie. Their demands have slowed down the introduction of cloud music features, and Amazon designed its service without their permission, instigating a wave of complaints from Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.

“We’re disappointed by their decision to launch without a license,” said Brian Garrity, a spokesman for Sony.

Bill Carr, Amazon’s vice president for music and movies, claims Amazon “highly values” its relationship with the labels, but compares uploading songs to the legally harmless practice of attaching a hard drive to your PC and transferring music files to it.

Amazon primarily designed a service to comply with copyright laws – not to make shifting music to the cloud seamless. Amazon requires users to upload their own copies of songs that it could more easily supply from its digital store. Services like MyPlay and Mp3tunes have tried the same basic approach over the years. None attracted many users.

Amazon, which controls only about 13 percent of the digital music market despite four years of battling iTunes, apparently believes it has unique advantages in the coming cloud music battle.

Thanks to the massive server capacity backing its successful cloud computing business, in which it rents computing power to other companies, Amazon can offer its streaming music users 5 gigabytes of music storage for free, or 20 GB if they buy just one album from Amazon. The company is also prominently advertising the service on its home page.

“We observed from our other digital media businesses that buy-once, play-anywhere really resonates with consumers,” Carr said.

The service Amazon released last week has been criticized for being difficult to use and incompatible with Apple iPads and iPhones.

Not social

“There’s nothing social about it. How can you launch anything on the Web today that doesn’t integrate social?” said David Pakman, the former chief executive of eMusic and a partner at Palo Alto venture capital firm Venrock.

David Hyman, founder of Berkeley music subscription service Mog, says of Amazon’s cloud offering: “It’s a stepping-stone. This is Amazon putting its feet in and testing the waters.”

So what does the future of cloud music look like? Google, Apple or Amazon might finally get the major-label licenses that will allow them to make storing music collections in the cloud seamless for users. (Instead of uploading each song, the service could simply scan the names of songs in a collection and reproduce them in the cloud.) Or subscription music services such as Mog, Rdio and Rhapsody that offer unlimited access to a broad catalog of Web-based music for a monthly fee may find the mainstream success that has long eluded them.

Such an unlimited cloud music offering may be Amazon’s ultimate goal; Carr doesn’t rule out developing a music subscription service and offering it for free to members of Amazon Prime.

“This is an exciting Day One,” he said of Cloud Drive. “We always have an open mind.”

Read original post here.

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Article from GigaOm.

“A few years ago, Jeff Jarvis, a good friend of mine, published a book called What Would Google Do? When he wrote that book, Google had an aura of invincibility. Fast forward to today: Thanks to Facebook, it doesn’t seem so invincible. The new social web has passed it by. So, the question today is: What should Google do?

I’ve always maintained Google has to play to its strengths – that is, tap into its DNA of being an engineering-driven culture that can leverage its immense infrastructure. It also needs to leverage its existing assets even more, instead of chasing rainbows. In other words, it needs to look at Android and see if it can build a layer of services that get to the very essence of social experience: communication.

However, instead of getting bogged down by the old-fashioned notion of communication – phone calls, emails, instant messages and text messages – it needs to think about interactions. In other words, Google needs to think of a world beyond Google Talk, Google Chat and Google Voice.

To me, interactions are synchronous, are highly personal, are location-aware and allow the sharing of experiences, whether it’s photographs, video streams or simply smiley faces. Interactions are supposed to mimic the feeling of actually being there. Interactions are about enmeshing the virtual with the physical.

In a post earlier, I outlined that with the introduction of its unified Inbox, the constantly changing Facebook had shifted its core value proposition from being a plain vanilla social network to a communication company. Here’s a relevant bit from that post.

Facebook imagined email only as a subset of what is in reality communication. SMS, Chat, Facebook messages, status updates and email is how Zuckerberg sees the world. With the address book under its control, Facebook is now looking to become the “interaction hub” of our post-broadband, always-on lives. Having trained nearly 350 million people to use its stream-based, simple inbox, Facebook has reinvented the “communication” experience. …. Facebook as a service is amazingly effective when it focuses all its attention on what is the second order of friends – people you would like to stay in touch with, but just don’t have enough bandwidth (time) to stay in touch with. Those who matter to you the most are infinitely intimate, and as a result you communicate with them via SMS, IM Chat and voice. So far, this intimate communication has eluded Facebook. The launch of the new social inbox is a first step by Facebook to get a grip on this real world intimacy.

In 2007, I had argued that the real social network in our lives was the address book on our mobile phone. Google has access to real-world intimacy – the mobile phone address book – thanks to Android OS. All it has to do is use that as a lever to facilitate interactions.

In order to understand Google’s interaction-driven social future, one doesn’t have to look far: no further than Apple’s iTunes app store.  As you know, I have switched from BlackBerry to the iPhone, and as a result, I’ve been looking for a BBM replacement, and have been playing around with a score of apps.

In the process of searching for this app, I came across an app called Beluga, which essentially allows me to connect to my friends. And then I can create Pods (essentially Groups) with one or more of my friends. Sort of like what I did on BBM. Except, there’s more to Beluga.

It taps into my social graph (Facebook); it leverages my location, and it allows me to share photos as part of the messaging process. It’s a beautifully designed application that’s very inviting – and the experience is less communication, more interaction.

What’s beautiful about Beluga is it’s as personal and private as you want it to be. It’s just ironic that Beluga was co-founded by three Google engineers — Ben Davenport, Lucy Zhang and Jonathan Perlow — and if you see their bios, it is hardly a surprise that they ended up with an interaction-centric product like Beluga.

Yesterday, I was introduced to a new app called Yobongo, and it comes from a San Francisco startup co-founded by alumni of Justin.tv. It’s a good-looking application that leverages your location, allowing you to find people around you and to chat with them. It is at the extreme opposite of Beluga: It’s open, and you can chat with anyone. It is very real-time in nature. Of course, there are other apps like Yobongo: MessageParty, for example!

What’s common between these two apps is their ability for synchronous messaging. This messaging can, in turn, become the under-pinning of what I earlier called interactions.

Ability to interact on an ongoing basis anywhere, any time and sharing everything, from moments to emotions – is what social is all about. From my vantage point, this is what Google should focus on. If not — you know it very well — Facebook will.”

Read the original post here.

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Article from SF Gate.

“Pinger Inc., a San Jose developer of mobile applications, can get twice as much in sales from programs for Apple devices than for phones powered by Android software. That’s not stopping it from creating its first Android app.

“Even if the revenue generation might be less, we think it’s still going to be significant,” said Joe Sipher, chief product and marketing officer at Pinger, which makes text-messaging and other programs. “Our users are saying, ‘Gosh, I switched to an Android phone. Can you put your Textfree app on Android?’ ”

Pinger and other programmers don’t want to miss out on the $40 billion that Booz & Co. estimates will come from sales of apps by 2014, much of it from Google Inc.‘s Android platform. Android unseated Research In Motion Ltd.‘s mobile operating system as the top U.S. smart phone software last quarter, making developers more willing to put up with its drawbacks, including higher app-creation costs and an online marketplace some users consider harder to navigate than Apple’s App Store.

PopCap Games Inc., maker of the Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies games, doesn’t have any titles in the Android Market. But by mid-2011, the Seattle company expects to release games simultaneously for iPhone and Android handsets.

“Even though we are not making any money on Android right now, we have pretty high hopes for it,” said Andrew Stein, PopCap’s director of mobile business development. “There’s really no reason why users shouldn’t consume and buy content to the same extent on an Android phone as they are on an iPhone.”

Android phones like Motorola Inc.’s Droid X and HTC Corp.’s Droid Incredible are gaining devotees. Stein expects the revenue generated from Android games to approach that of PopCap’s iPhone versions by the end of 2011.

Apple way ahead

A wide variety of apps – as well as the availability of the most popular ones for games, location, texting and content – is critical to luring phone buyers. Android lags behind Apple by that measure. Apple has more than 250,000 apps available, compared with about 70,000 for Android.

Like Apple, Google takes a 30 percent cut of revenue from apps sold in its marketplace.

“We want to reduce friction and remove the barriers that make it difficult for developers to make great apps available to users – across as many devices, geographies and carriers as possible,” said Randall Sarafa, a Google spokesman.

Google may be taking steps to remedy some of the problems that make Android apps less lucrative to developers.

Apple iTunes users can do one-click shopping because iTunes saves their information. While Android buyers can do the same if they sign up for Google Checkout, that service doesn’t have as many users.

Android Market also lacks features for in-app purchases, which some developers of Apple apps use to sell new game levels or virtual products, said Tim Chang, a venture capitalist at Norwest Venture Partners, whose investments includes Ngmoco of San Francisco, which makes games for the iPhone.

Google is in talks with eBay’s PayPal to add its payment service, three people familiar with the matter said last month. That may ease the process. Google may also offer tools that let developers sell subscriptions and virtual goods from within apps, Andy Rubin, Google’s vice president of engineering, said in June.

For now, producing programs for Android isn’t as lucrative. Loopt Inc., the maker of an app for locating your friends on a map, and Zecter Inc., which offers the ZumoDrive file storage service, said they make less from the sales of their Android apps than they do from their iPhone versions. Neither of the Mountain View companies would specify the difference.

Developers hesitant

“There’s no question Android has a lot more phones out than six months ago, but that’s very different from saying Android is a more appealing platform for developers,” said Sam Altman, chief executive officer at Loopt.

ZumoDrive makes money by getting people to download the free program and then upgrade to a paid version. Thirty percent more iPhone customers do that, said CEO David Zhao.

Besides generating fewer downloads of paid apps, fewer people click on ads in Android programs, according to data from Smaato Inc., a Redwood City mobile-ad firm. In July, the iPhone had a click-through score of 140 in the United States, compared with 103 for Android, Smaato said.

Plus, the market share Gartner Inc. measures for Android – 34 percent in the United States last quarter – doesn’t mean there are that many customers for apps, said Pinger’s Sipher. Some Android phones don’t have the ability to access Google’s app store and the proliferation of models means some programs won’t work on some phones.

App creators have to contend with various versions of Android and differences in screen resolution and keyboards. That makes it more expensive to test programs and can force developers to design for the lowest common denominator, said Bill Predmore, president of POP, which builds mobile applications and ads for such clients as Google, Microsoft Corp. and Target Corp.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/01/BU381F6GOA.DTL&type=tech#ixzz0yLeTxmEa

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Here is a good summary from Shai Goldman on top events in the VC and tech industry of 2009.

“Given that we are just about at year-end, I wanted to provide a recap of some of the most memorable moments that took place in the venture capital and technology ecosystem.  Below is a list of  the 10 most important events:

First VC backed technology IPO –  OpenTable goes public at $20/share on May 21st.

First VC backed acquisition (above $500M) – Pure Digital acquired by Cisco for $590M.

First VC backed cleantech IPO – A123 goes public at $17/share on September 23rd.

Khosla Ventures raises $1.1B – in 2009 most VC funds were shrinking in size, yet Khosla Ventures was able to raise $1.1B, this event was a sign that Limited Partners (L.P.s) we actively seeking investment opportunities in the VC sector – September 1st.

Tesla Motors receives $465M from the D.O.E – First technology company to receive a loan guaranty – June 23rd.

Twitter raises a $100M VC round of financing – at a time when there are questions about the consumer internet sector, this funding provided some positive support that $ can be made in the sector – September 25th.

NASDAQ closes above 2,000 – August 3rd- the previous time NASDAQ was above 2,000 was September 30, 2008.

Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 – October 14th – the previous time the Dow was above 10,000 was October 2, 2008.

Apple App Store gets more that 100,000 applications published – November 4th – as you may recall the App Store launched on July 10, 2008 and the creation of the iPhone and App Store has created opportunities for both VCs and Startups to make $$.

Facebook Connect is widely adopted by 60M users and 80K sites – the utilization of Facebook Connect has allowed startup companies a way to reduce the time / effort for their users to sign up for a particular service.”

Read the full article here.

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From GigaOm

Following in the footsteps of Apple and its iTunes App store, several mobile companies have announced plans to launch their own storefronts. Research In Motion is looking to launch its store relatively soon, and it took a major step forward when it started accepting applications from app writers to have their apps included in the new Blackberry Storefront.

While RIM already has a wide variety of applications available for its platform, it doesn’t have the momentum of Apple, which recently noted that more than 500 million apps were downloaded to its iPhones and iTouch devices. RIM has its work cut out for it; the company is fighting with the likes of Apple, Google, Palm and Symbian to get a toehold with developers. The company had launched a special VC fund to help find and grow apps for its platform. (Related posts: Watch the Future of mobile apps and economics of the platforms video at Mobilize 08 conference.)

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Here is a quote from Matt Murphy KPCB in regards to their iFund and what focus it has.

Matt Murphy, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers: We are seeing at the iFund 15 percent enterprise, 85 percent consumer, with even distribution between social networking, games, communication and stuff like that. Right now they’re simple, lightweight, fun, easy to use — given that we’re only three months into this and six months since we launched the SDK, pretty good. Not bad revenue streams either. I’m most excited going forward about the next wave of more sophisticated applications.”

Read more at GigaOm here

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