Archive for day September 8th, 2011

Vodafone Launches Their First Silicon Valley R&D/Investment Center

Xone

Vodafone. It’s a brand that most folks here in the states would, at first pass, almost certainly chalk up as “that one European company that puts their name on a bunch of football soccer jerseys” — that is, if they recognized it at all.

And yet, Vodafone is essentially the biggest wireless carrier in the world. They’re the top carrier by revenues, and second to only China Mobile by subscribers. Oh, and they own 45% of Verizon. In other words, they’re kind of a big deal — and now they’re lookin’ to get in on some of that Silicon Valley action.

This evening, Vodafone is opening the doors to the Vodafone Xone (the sign store ran out of Z’s, so they just rolled with it.) Xone is a brand new research and development center in Redwood City which will serve as, amongst other things, a means of assessing potential investments for their Vodafone Ventures group.

But wait, there’s more! Vodafone’s new shop will also:

  • Serve as an incubator with office space for up to 25 companies at a time
  • Act as an event space, with Vodafone mentioning things like hackathons and conferences as options.
  • Allow developers to test their products on Vodafone’s 2G/3G/LTE networks in a lab rather than.. you know, flying to Europe. They’ve actually built a backbone to connect back to Vodafone’s European network, so things should be as true-to-life as it gets (minus the tea, sausages, and any other British stereotypes I can’t think of at the moment.)

It’ll probably be a few weeks before Vodafone really settles in and starts diggin’ around for startups to usher in, but folks interested on getting their foot in the door early can find more info here. Do note, though, that (at least from my early conversations with them) it sounds like Vodafone is primarily interested in investing in companies with a product they’re ready to expand globally, rather than Angel/Early-seed stage startups.


Company: Vodafone
Launch Date: September 9, 1983
IPO: VOD

Vodafone Group is a mobile telecommunications company. The company has a significant presence in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the United States. In the United...

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Greg Kumparak

September 8th

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Radio Shack lands the Verizon iPhone 4 on September 15th, just ahead of iPhone 5

Radio Shack promised they would begin selling Verizon devices in mid-September, and now they have picked a great device to kickoff their Verizon Wireless partnership: the Verizon iPhone 4. Radio Shack will begin carrying the 16GB and 32GB (some locations) models (possibly only in black) of the Verizon iPhone 4 on September 15th, just a couple of weeks before the launch of the iPhone 5. Some Radio Shack locations will also get the Verizon iPad 2.

To us, the timing seems a bit odd. When Apple released the 8GB version of the iPhone 3GS alongside the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4, they immediately removed the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 3GS models from the iPhone lineup. If Radio Shack landing the 16GB and 32GB Verizon iPhone 4 has anything to do with Apple’s future iPhone plans – which may seem unlikely to some – we’re not too sure what to think about the 8GB iPhone 4 rumor.

For those interested in Android, we’ve posted the rest of Radio Shack’s initial Verizon device lineup at 9to5Google.com



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Mark Gurman

September 8th

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Unlimited Music Service MOG Launches A Desktop App For The Mac

Screen Shot 2011-09-08 at 4.23.15 PM

MOG, the all-you-can-eat streaming music service that competes with the likes of Spotify and Rdio, has some good news for Mac users: it’s just launched a native application for OS X, which is now available on the Mac App Store. You can download it right here (the service is free for 14 days, then costs $10/month, which includes access to the web and mobile applications as well).

The native Mac application will look familiar to anyone who has used the service’s recently-revamped HTML5 web app , because it’s based on the same code. It isn’t loaded with native Mac widgets, but it works well — everything feels snappy, and in my testing songs began playing in less than a second.

And there is one nifty feature that the web app doesn’t have: AirPlay support, which means you can stream your MOG music to an Apple TV or any speakers hooked up to an Airport Express (MOG says this is the first of the streaming music apps to offer this feature). The app also supports those media keys on your keyboard, as well as Apple Remotes.

Existing MOG users will be pleased with the app, but this release is particularly important for users debating between Spotify, Rdio, MOG, and Rhapsody. Each of these services offers large music libraries — so they tend to compete on offering better app support and user experiences.  Spotify and Rdio already offer native apps; now MOG can check that box as well.

Spotify does has one advantage over MOG and Rdio for the time being: it has a limited free version, though it’s invitation-only in the US.


Company: MOG
Website: http://mog.com/
Launch Date: January 6, 2005
Funding: $24.9M

MOG Inc. is a next-generation music media company founded in June 2005 by David Hyman, former CEO for Gracenote. MOG has one simple goal: to perfect your music-listening experience. MOG’s...

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Jason Kincaid

September 8th

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Meet Up with Gizmodo Tomorrow Night in New York City [Meetup]

Tomorrow, September 9, Gizmodo's going to nerd up NYC, and we'd love for you to drop in and meet us and your fellow readers. We'll be at The Magician Bar in Manhattan, at 118 Rivington. We'll be chatting about any nerdy or awesome or prurient interests you have, or any combination thereof—we're the world's foremost Fleshlight experts, remember. So come out, have a few drinks, and get to know the socially-adequate folks who make Gizmodo. More »


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Kyle Wagner

September 8th

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Google Music Comes to iOS with a Pretty Decent Web App [IPhone Apps]

Google seems to pick and choose when they'll make a native app and when they'll go the web route with iOS. For Google Music, which is still in beta, they chose the web app route and it's actually still pretty good. More »


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Casey Chan

September 8th

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The Gundam Leica Camera That Doesn’t Really Have Anything to Do With Anime [Cameras]

When I first heard about a new Leica camera being designed by Kunio Okawara-sama, the man responsible for the mechanical design of the insanely popular Gundam anime series, I nearly shit myself in excitement. Then I saw what it looked like. More »


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Andrew Tarantola

September 8th

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British Social Discovery Site Snog.com Looks To Build A Better Hot Or Not; Goes Viral (And Mobile)

Screen shot 2011-09-08 at 1.59.07 PM

The Web has been home to a fair number of questionable memes and websites over the years, really too many to mention here. One among them that you’re likely familiar with is “Hot Or Not”, the site that allows visitors to vote on photos of random people based on attractiveness. It’s not exactly high brow, but games like this have been around for years — in various incarnations. In the U.K., the theme gave rise to a popular reality TV show, called “Snog, Marry, Avoid” — the content of which you can probably guess based on the title.

The show is also the inspiration for a young British startup, called Snog.com, that has seen some serious viral adoption in the U.K. over the last six months. The startup was founded by Jonny Teeling and Will Peirce, two recent grads from Leeds University, who set out to create a social discovery site that offered a new spin on the old model, plus a way for young people to break the ice and interact without the awkwardness of traditional dating sites.

The idea was simple: Create a community that removes the daunting aspects of social interaction for young people, and make it easy for them to connect, meet, and maybe even snog. The co-founders rather obviously grabbed the concept behind Snog, Marry, and Avoid, brought it to an online audience (with enough to distinguish from the TV series as to avoid lawsuits), and, after an all-night coding session, the site went viral, recording 30,000 page views in the first two hours.

The story has a feel of Facebook’s early history, when Zuckerberg created Facemash, which attracted 22,000 views from Harvard students within an hour of being online. Of course, this is the problem that Snog.com has to confront: Facemash was only a precursor to the social network to rule them all, so the question becomes how to make sure Snog.com isn’t just a flash in the pan.

The site’s early viral activity almost immediately overloaded the servers, leading to more than a few hours of downtime. But, based on the early interest, the founders were able to raise a “six-figure” investment from Kevin Ham, the investor and former “man who owns the Internet”. The investment led to a team of developers, Amazon hosting, and an advisor well familiar with building popular domains; and since the early stumble, Snog has continued to surge. The founders tell me that the site is currently attracting more than 1.5 million pageviews a day, and users are spending an average of 20 minutes on the site per visit. What’s more, the site has pulled in over 260 million pageviews in all since January.

Clearly, Snog.com has struck an addictive chord for British teenagers, but there are many examples of early success in Web 2.0 that later find themselves hosting a plot in the Web graveyard. Snog therefore seems to be an interesting case study for how to build a social web business, maintain early interest, and make it something more than just another updated Hot or Not. (Granted, Hot or Not did sell for $20 million.)

As of right now, Snog.com users can either choose to ‘Snog, Marry or Avoid’ based on another user’s photos and a small “about me” (or profile) section. The site also incorporates social elements, too, encouraging users to follow other users they like, write public notes, or send private messages. The average age on the site is about 17, which is certainly a coveted demographic for advertisers (Snog’s main monetization model at this point), but also somewhat limiting. The founders don’t want the site just to become a glorified chat room for teens, it wants to create a social discovery platform — not another social network.

For starters, Snog has just released an iPhone app that offers users a gallery in which they can see top members and which of their friends are currently online, play with their user profiles, check their responses, send private messages, as well as a “Shuffle” setting that allows them to quickly browse — and, well, shuffle — through profiles.

Mobile is certainly an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s really an added feature, what’s more important is baking more significant components into the site’s structure that make it a social discovery platform based on more than just a user’s profile pic and silly bio.

Next, Snog plans to add more enhanced location features (for both web and mobile) that allow users to connect based on proximity, and hopefully take online flirting and connecting offline. Beyond that, the founders want to integrate users’ interest graphs into the site, allowing users to search for people with similar interests and demographics. The founders also plan to add “like, love, dislike” buttons across the site, which visitors can use to vote on statuses, specific photos, movies, books, cities, brands, etc.

Snog is an interesting site, to be sure, and the founders clearly have a vision to transform their site a community platform — not to mention that they want to make “snog” an international word. There’s potential for both, especially for the latter (thanks to Harry Potter), but other young web entrepreneurs would be smart to pay attention to what happens to the site over the next year — it should be an interesting litmus.

What do you think? Snog, marry, or avoid?


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Rip Empson

September 8th

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Google should favor Motorola with new Android builds, internal doc suggests

On August 15th, Google announced its intentions to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion and Motorola’s competitors all voiced support for the deal, suggesting the acquisition would help each company fight in patent battles against Apple and Microsoft. FossPatents, however, recently revealed a document that suggests Motorola Mobility could soon have the upper hand when it comes to new Android builds. An internal document that was released by a judge in the Oracle vs. Google case says Google should provide Motorola Mobility with the latest versions of the Android operating system ahead of its competitors:

  • Do not develop in the open. Instead, make source code available after innovation is complete
  • Lead device concept: Give early access to the software to partners who build and distribute devices to our specification (ie, Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to market advantage and in return they align to our standard.

As FossPatents points out, it is unlikely the above information is simply about Google’s Nexus line of products. As we’ve exclusively reported, Google’s first Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” phone will be made by Samsung. In addition, Google typically markets its Nexus products under its own name, not that of other handset manufacturers, so Motorola’s brand wouldn’t get the benefit. Either way, we can’t say we’re surprised by the proposed strategy to give Motorola the lead. Read on for an image of the court document.

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Todd Haselton

September 8th

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This Is the First Mobile Building In the World [Video]

This three-story 9,300-square-foot apartment building weighs 220 tons and is 40-foot high. It also moves. In fact, it's the first building in the world that can be moved anywhere. It's also earthquake resistant. More »


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Jesus Diaz

September 8th

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Google Music Beta crosses the aisle, launches for iOS via web app (hands-on)

We know, we know -- you're anxiously awaiting the public launch of iTunes Match, but what if you're one of those people? You know, the crowd that dips their toes into both Google and Apple offerings. It's clearly not as blasphemous as you may have been led to believe, as the fine folks in Google's mobile department have just produced an iOS-specific web app for Google Music Beta. For those who've forgotten, Music Beta was launched a few months back at Google I/O, giving audio archivists the chance to upload 20,000 of their favorite jams into the cloud; now, as you might imagine, it ain't just Android users tapping into those libraries. Predictably, the Music Beta iOS web app enables iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users to login to their accounts and stream at will, and if you're down to give it a go, the download link is just below -- you'll need to have been accepted previously into the beta, though.

We gave it a quick whirl on the iPad here at Engadget HQ, and it works beautifully. As you'd expect, the actual graphical elements are a bit lacking compared to the Android app, but all of the core functionality is there. Swiping left / right cruises through Artists, Albums, Songs, Playlists and Genres, and the track currently playing remains in a top bar regardless of what main window you're in. The search function works as advertised, and on a basic cable connection our results populated within two seconds of getting the third letter down. All in all, it's a fairly nice spread (see for yourself in the gallery below), but not quite as nice as we're envisioning a dedicated app to be. Still holding out for one? Heh... we never said Google was that generous.

Google Music Beta crosses the aisle, launches for iOS via web app (hands-on) originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 08 Sep 2011 18:20:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Darren Murph

September 8th

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