Archive for day September 1st, 2011

AppRedeem Launches In-App Deals To Drive Users Of Free Apps To Their Paid Versions


In January, AppRedeem raised $750,000 from SV Angel and Blue Run Ventures to offer mobile app developers innovative, effective solutions aimed at driving app installs and engagement. Since then, the startup has been quietly working its way into a hot new category: Deals. Today, the Mountain View-based startup is officially announcing AppRedeem Deals, a new mobile in-app promotional network that rewards users for continued app engagement, while helping developers to drive conversion to paid versions of their apps.

To test the waters, the startup began with “The Moron Test Section 2″, currently the third ranked free app on the iTunes app store. To use this app as an example of how AppRedeem Deals works, when a Moron Test user reaches “Game Over”, AppRedeem presents a promotional discount for Moron Test’s paid app. The startup is currently offering 50 to 100 percent off those paid apps from within its free counterpart. Unlike Tapjoy, said AppRedeem Co-founder Sheffield Nolan, AppRedeem Deals aims to ensure that people taking advantage of the discount have already installed the free version without any incentive, so the motivation to buy the paid version is fully aligned with that of Apple and its policy.

According to Nolan, this enables users of the free app to take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade at no cost to them, whereas for developers, their paid apps are then monetized more effectively, and they get to use those promotional dollars targeting people who already tried and enjoyed their apps. The paid version of Moron Test jumped up to the fourteenth spot on the App Store after the developers integrated their free app with AppRedeem Deals.

Since launching the beta 6 weeks ago, AppRedeem membership has grown from 55,000 to over 580,000 — in other words, membership has grown by more than 34K members per day since adding Deals.

Here are the key numbers that came from the first 6 weeks of AppRedeem ‘Deals’. Nolan tells me that, at first, AppRedeem will use their new deals network as a customer acquisition tool. At present, they are not taking a cut of the discount they are offering gamers, so all the money earned from the discounts is going straight to the developers. The team plans to offer cuts and take a small percentage of the deal in the future.

The startup’s next focus, the co-founder said, is to begin helping developers drive increased engagement of their apps, and to begin implementing deals with more partners to enable further functionality to promotional offers for in-app purchases. In the last week, Nolan said, AppRedeem hit profitability, so they will also be looking to raise a series A round in the coming months. (They will also be announcing the addition of a top executive of a big deals company in the near future.)

For more, check out AppRedeem at home here.

Launch Date:

AppRedeem is an early-stage, high-growth promotion and advertising platform that drives mobile application engagement. World-class firms – Gilt Groupe, Groupon, and others – use AppRedeem today to fuel their...

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Rip Empson

September 1st


Two additional ‘Anonymous’ hackers charged in UK

Two additional members of Anonymous have been charged in the United Kingdom. The hackers were identified by London’s Metropolitan Police as Christopher Jan Weatherhead (20 years old) and Ashley Rhodes (26 years old), and they were both arrested in January of this year, The Wall Street Journal said. According to London’s Metropolitan Police, Weatherhead and Rhodes are charged with “conspiracy to do an unauthorized act in relation to a computer, with intent to impair the operation of any computer or prevent or hinder access to any program or data held in a computer or to impair the operation of any such program or the reliability of such data.” Rhodes and Weatherhead are out on bail and will appear in court on September 7th. A 22-year old U.K. hacker named Peter David Gibson was also charged for the same crimes on August 22nd. In addition, Jack Davis, a.k.a. Topiary from LulzSec, was arrested and released on bail earlier this month. Anonymous and LulzSec have carried out a number of large-scale DDoS attacks against major corporations, and most recently targeted Apple.


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Todd Haselton

September 1st


AT&T Merger Fail Highlights Failure Of Spectrum Politics


Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Frank Barbieri, a serial entrepreneur and sometimes blogger. You can follow him @frankba

Those reveling in the thumb-in-the-eye the DOJ gave to AT&T over the T-Mobile merger should pause a moment to consider the politics of spectrum allocation in the US.

Anyone who has an iPhone on AT&T knows they need spectrum. Spectrum is a finite resource of airwaves allocated by the federal government (FCC) to businesses based on a bidding process that necessitates demonstrated consumer benefit.

AT&T has been hungry for such spectrum ever since it won a few years of iPhone exclusivity and saw the usage and capacity lines cross on their forecasts and MG develop finger blisters from typing so many hate posts. We all felt AT&T’s constraints as an infuriating experience of dropped calls and poor app connectivity.

So AT&T has been on a spectrum buying spree to try and, well, improve service. They are trying to buy the failed FloTV spectrum from Qualcomm, but it’s not enough. So AT&T is running out of options to improve their service.

You may already know all of this, but what you might not know is that powerful local television broadcasters are squatting on very valuable spectrum with the mere promise of deploying local television services that, well, no one really wants.

Have you heard of the Open Mobile Video Coalition?  I thought not. How about startups like Tivit and Sungale and iMovee?  I thought not as well.

In looking for someone to blame for your bad cell service have a glance at these guys. The OMVC represents the interests of over 800 local television broadcasters who in the transition from analog to digital terrestrial television in 2009 ended up with rights to big chunks of unused, extra spectrum.

The whole reason Congress and the FCC mandated the switch to digital was that digital is far more efficient and thus frees up spectrum for new services. Local broadcasters fought hard against this of course because it meant buying new equipment and potentially losing customers. A product of the haggling was that the local TV companies got to retain access to the spectrum they freed up as long as they use it for “consumer benefit.”

What are the local television broadcasters doing with that extra spectrum? Nothing. Well, nothing that anyone wants. What they are doing is issuing press releases (PDF) saying that live local television is coming to your mobile phone. Aren’t you excited? I thought not.

What they are not saying is:

  1. Qualcomm already tried this, investing several billion dollars in FloTV which was an abject failure.
  2. No one wants local television live on their mobile phones. Have you watched daytime local TV lately?
  3. No cellphone manufactures are ever going to pay the extra money for another radio receiver in their phones for a service no one wants. Yes, it requires specialized battery-depleting hardware.
  4. Broadcasters are in private negotiations with the FCC to share in the profits of selling that spectrum.

Let’s set aside the fact that the sharing of profits with private companies for the sale of a public asset is unprecedented, and just recognize the cynicism of local television owners for a second. They have temporary rights to a public asset. The asset does not enhance their existing business and they have no ideas for using that asset on a service consumers want. So they are blackmailing the public (federal government) for release of that asset, and issuing press releases pretending they are creating the next great consumer service. This stifles innovation that could happen if that asset was used to just give consumers what they want: more, faster, mobile connectivity. It’s like a crazy hermit holed up in a national park with a shotgun demanding the Department of the Interior gives him $100 to leave.

Of course the FCC could just take that spectrum away. There is ample evidence that they are just squatting, and their live television idea is completely bankrupt. But these are broadcasters, with nightly news programs. Eight hundred of them. Starting to follow the path of politics? The FCC doesn’t really want eight hundred local anchors on the nightly news harping about how unjust the FCC is.

So the next time you drop a call on your AT&T iPhone, or can’t load Google Maps when you’re late for a meeting, flip the bird at a local news van if you see one. It will not change the gridlock on spectrum, but it is at least directing your rage at the right target.

Photo credit: Paul Garland


T-Mobile is a mobile telephone operator headquartered in Bonn, Germany. It is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. T-Mobile has 101 million subscribers making it the worlds sixth largest mobile...

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Frank founded Transpera with the vision of helping normal people enjoy new kinds of mobile video experiences. Frank formerly ran media products at InfoSpace and prior to that, ran...

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September 1st


Some Guy Pranked YouTube Into Taking Down Justin Bieber’s Official Videos Because of a Fake Copyright Claim [YouTube]

YouTube is big fat no fun having missy when it comes to copyright rules. They're so afraid of pissing somebody off (and getting a lawsuit) that they'll even pull official videos now. Like today, when a prankster submitted a copyright claim against Justin Bieber's Vevo and YouTube took down his page. More »

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Casey Chan

September 1st


Review: The Syma S107 R/C Helicopter Is The Coolest Thing $20 Can Buy


If you’re one of the brave souls who dares follow me on the Twitters, you probably know exactly where this post is going. I haven’t been able to shut up about this thing for over a day.

As someone who writes about shiny electronic things for a living and just generally spends far too much time rummaging around the Internet, I’ve come to be wonderfully adept at spotting up-and-coming awesome crap that no one really needs trends. When three unrelated individuals from all walks of life all started talking about this little $20 RC helicopter (the Syma S107) within a few days of each other, I figured it was something worth looking into.

It arrived yesterday. Any time it’s left my hands since, it because it had either run out of juice or had been commandeered by someone else. It is, without a doubt, the coolest little gadget I’ve nabbed for under $20 in a really, really long time, and I fully intend to convince AOL we need a fleet of these for the office.

Insanely Easy To Fly
All metal chassis, with a surprisingly high build quality
Charges over USB, making it a killer office toy
It’s sub-$20!
Replacement parts are equally dirt cheap

You’ll only get about 7 minutes of flight per charge, but that’s not really a surmountable issue; current battery tech is just too heavy for anything that lasts much longer.

Doesn’t work outside (Too light for even the slightest of breezes, sun kills infrared signal)
No wall charger included


Now, this isn’t my first trip to the ol’ air show. While I’m not about to be crushed to death by the weight of my helicopter collection or anything, I’ve picked up a flyer or five in my days. From Air Hogs, to the pricier $200-$300 Walkera choppers, to one random little junker that we quite literally bought up out of the back of some dude’s van, I’ve flown (and totally wrecked) more of these things than someone who doesn’t consider himself a hobbyist probably should.

If only in terms of learning curve, the S107 is king. Of the five people who have blasted this thing all around my office since it arrived yesterday, not a one took more than a minute or two to figure out the basics. Sure, you’ll crash plenty. Yeah, you’ll probably get your directions reversed and send this thing spinning toward your face at LEAST five times on day one. But, like a good video game, the difficulty comes from things inherent to the act itself (that is, flying a friggin’ tiny helicopter around your house) rather than things introduced by poor design.

When we first opened it, our goal was to fly from a table to an ottoman without careening into a wall or clipping a ceiling fan. By the end of the day, we were launching from the desk and landing on an iPad case (that we convinced ourselves looked just like a landing pad) across the room. For a group that was mostly made up of ne’er-flyers, that’s one heck of a nice learning curve. Hell, I took the above super-classy photo while I was flying (Note the camera lens hiding in the nook of my elbow.)

The controller has three primary parts: two control sticks and a central knob. The leftmost control stick accelerates the propeller, sending you up or down. The right control stick allows you to lean forward or back, or turn left or right. The center knob can be twisted left or right to cancel out any subtle but constant turning tendencies — if your Chopper always seems to be turning slightly to the right, for example, you can bump the center knob to the left to compensate.

Though it’s simple enough for anyone to learn, I’d still consider this something of a big-boy toy. The plastic blades don’t hurt too bad when they clip skin (it’s like stopping a battery powered hand fan), but they’re by all means sharp enough to at least scratch the hell out of a bare eyeball. Add in the fact that animals seem to be incredibly intrigued by this terrifying little creature flying around the living room and that a brief skimming of the ceiling will send it hurdling toward whatever’s below it, and it’s probably best to keep this one to sober/supervised play time.

It’s also worth noting that the S107 cannot be flown outside. It’s light enough that even the slightest gust of wind will send it spinning out of control, and the Infrared-based control system doesn’t play friendly with sunlight.

Build Quality:

For $20, I completely expected to open the box to find a wonky, styrofoam-core piece of junk. Nope.

Though the blades and body are plastic (“Thank God”, says my skin and every other surface that we clipped with a propeller last night), the inner construction of the helicopter is all metal.

By the time we called it quits last night, we’d sent this thing into walls, lamps, windows, couches, and door frames. This morning, it still looks and flies like it just came out of the box — which is considerably more than I can say for similar products I’ve tried that come at twice the price. You shouldn’t go and drop kick it, but it should fair well with reasonably responsible use. And if you do crack a blade or lose a tail rotor, replacement parts can be found all around the Internet for cheap.

The only thing that feels a bit chintzy? The provided USB charging cable. Speaking of which..


As with most helicopters of this size, you don’t get a ton of flying time out of each charge — but that’s really just a limitation of current battery tech. Batteries are heavy, and spinning a motor fast enough to get something off the ground and keep it there takes a good amount of juice. You’ll get around 7 minutes of fly time for every 40 minute charge. There are apparently mods that can get you around 30% more fly time in exchange for a $7 replacement battery and a bit of solder, but I can’t speak to how well they work.

There are two ways to charge the S107: via the provided USB cable (which rocks if you’re using this thing as an office toy), or, if you’re on the go, through a pull-out cable built into the controller. The controller itself requires 6 AA batteries, which seems pretty steep. The USB cable feels reaaaally cheap — which is too bad, because it’s not a very common type. Lastly, it’s a bit annoying that they don’t include a USB wall charger. It’s acceptable at the price-point, but sacrificing a USB port isn’t always convenient. Fortunately, most phones these days come with USB wall chargers so it shouldn’t be too much of a bother to track one down.

The Wrap Up:

If you have kids that you want to introduce to the basics of aerodynamics and physics, buy this. If you’ve tinkered around with other wallet-friendly RC helicopters and were left disappointed, buy this. If you’ve got $20 bucks to burn and have ever wanted to experience the joys of sending a little spinning chunk of terror screaming around your house, buy this.

At just 20 bucks on Amazon, this is going to be my go-to stocking stuffer of 2011.

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Greg Kumparak

September 1st


The End of Silicon Valley [Summermodo]

It's the end of the summer. And in Silicon Valley, it's the end of an era. The garage days are over. It's time to move on. The future belongs to the dorm. More »

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Mat Honan

September 1st


64GB PlayBook Gets Price Cut To $550 At Best Buy


It may not be quite the savings we got from the $100 TouchPad, but taking $150 off the top of the PlayBook’s price may help move a few more units. There hasn’t been much action lately regarding RIM’s first tablet, which received lukewarm reviews and promptly dropped off the radar. The last thing we heard was that native email and BBM coming some time this month. But wait! A wild news item appears!

It looks like Best Buy is reducing the 64GB version of the device to $550. That’s not a bad deal… if you want a PlayBook. Unfortunately, it’s still not a particularly good deal if you just want a tablet. RIM hasn’t followed up much on adding value to the device, and while the new features due this month will make it more of a contender, playing catch-up isn’t going to do it for this thing.

The early adopters are still waiting on the promised Android app support, which may be scheduled for a 2012 release alongside the QNX Blackberry devices. By that time, though, there may be a new iPad and a dozen or so new Android tablets.

No word on whether the 16GB or 32GB model (the latter costs the same as a 64GB now) will be getting similar price drops.

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Devin Coldewey

September 1st


Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, Legoized [Past Perfect]

The Robie House is at the pinnacle of American architecture. One of the first houses to be turned into a national landmark, Lego has released a replica kit of Frank Lloyd Wright's 101-year-old masterpiece. More »

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Adrian Covert

September 1st


WikiLeaks cables shed light on Apple’s battle against counterfeit wares

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but if you're Rolex, Gucci or Apple, you probably aren't very interested in being flattered. Due to Apple's intense popularity, an entire industry has arisen that thrives on knocking off the iconic wares Designed in Cupertino. We've seen plenty in our day, and while it may strike some as if Apple's doing absolutely nothing to curtail the aping, a new WikiLeaks release confirms otherwise. According to an electronic memo from the Beijing embassy dated September 2008, Apple began to put obvious and deliberate pressure on China to act against businesses who were copying its wares a few years back. As it turns out, knocking out the knockoffs isn't exactly high on China's list of governmental priorities, and progress on halting the KIRF extravaganza has been sluggish at best. The entire story is quite the exhausting read, but it's worth delving into if you're curious -- per usual, you can get educated in the links below.

WikiLeaks cables shed light on Apple's battle against counterfeit wares originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 01 Sep 2011 18:41:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Darren Murph

September 1st


What Do Apple and Viagra Have in Common? [Apple]

Apple and Viagra seem like two brands least likely to share a common bond, but in fact, both have employed the services of, as the New Yorker's Evan Osnos puts it, "the Seal Team Six of global manufacturing." More »

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Adrian Covert

September 1st

September 2011
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