Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

Music Discovery Service ExFM Pulls the Plug

December 21, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

After a four-year-run, music startup ExFM is throwing in the towel. The company, which operates a music discovery Web site, as well as iPhone and Android apps, says it will shut down its apps, as well as the guts of its site, on January 15. Hardcore users will still be able to access a bit of the service, via a Chrome browser extension; ExFm raised a reported $2.75 million from investors including Spark Capital. Startups are hard, and music startups are much harder . And while there was a short window when digitally savvy music fans were quite interested in ExFM, the service was facing an uphill battle from the get-go: It started out as a Chrome extension, which limited its market to the relatively small group of people who knew what a Chrome extension was and how to use one. Here’s ExFM’s summation of its problems: After an amazing four years of sweat and tears, we’re ever-so-reluctantly accepting the reality of sustaining the Exfm platform as it exists today

Read More

You’ve Come a Long Way, Silicon Valley

December 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

At the first big technology conference I attended, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a decade ago, I squeezed past hundreds of attendees on the show floor and was surprised to find myself alone in the ladies’ bathroom. Down the hall, the line for the men’s bathroom snaked out the door. Throughout my career at The Wall Street Journal, I’ve used my casual ladies’ bathroom observations as my own barometer to measure the number of women at events and, more broadly, in the tech community. The more women I see in the field, the less likely it is that just a team of guys are making and marketing tech products. Eleven years later, I’m happy to report I now regularly wait in line for the ladies’ rooms at conferences and product announcement events. A lot has happened since that first conference and I’ve had a front-row seat on this ever-changing industry. I’ve never written exclusively for or about women; rather, I hope my columns are read by anyone interested in learning more about a product. But privately I’ve noted the industry’s shift away from masculine marketing and product designs. In my final column this week, I’m taking a moment to look back at a few examples of how products geared toward women shaped this industry, counting failures and successes. First, the misses. A great example of a now-defunct company that tried entirely too hard to appeal to women with its product was the 2009 Palm Pre. The pebble-shaped smartphone had a slide-out keyboard and the company was proud to note that women would like the mirror that was revealed on the back of the pulled-down keyboard. On top of that, its commercial felt like a cross between a coordinated dance routine and a soap opera, complete with a woman standing on a rock in a windblown dress while she organized her digital life on a Palm Pre. A woman’s breathy voice-over said she was working on sorting “my family’s lives, friends’ lives, work life, play life, my life today and my life next week.” At the end of the commercial, the woman sat on the rock in the middle of a field with her dress tucked under her. All women do this, right? One of the most well-known failed attempts to design for women came in the shade of pink. After years of designing dull black and silver products, tech companies seemed to think they found the solution for appealing to all women by slapping a rosy hue on a device and calling it a female favorite. As laptops, cameras, cellphones, headphones, Bluetooth headsets, portable speaker docks, mice, keyboards and other products flooded the market, women continued to look for the best products with the best user interfaces—not just the pink ones. Another more recent failure: Verizon’s Droid

Read More

Twitter Tries to Get Your Attention

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Twitter’s great, but if you’re a regular human, you can’t spend all of your time looking at it.* So what if someone plops out something interesting, and you miss it? Twitter has a plan for that. Former Foursquare product head Alex Rainert happened to catch a glimpse of it yesterday, when Twitter sent a push notification to his iPhone, telling him that two of his pals were talking about … “Grey’s Anatomy.” As Rainert notes, he’s not particularly interested in knowing about that. But Twitter is very interested in TV, so you can see why it would experiment with different ways of telling users what people are saying about TV on Twitter. (Here’s an earlier experiment from this summer .) And more broadly, as John Herrman pointed out a while back , you can imagine Twitter using push notifications to tell people about all sorts of stuff that’s happening on Twitter. Note that Twitter has recently rolled out two features/experiments designed to surface interesting stuff for you — Event Parrot for breaking news , and Magic Recs for people your friends are paying attention to — and it has already converted Magic Recs into a push notification system. If you opt in, Twitter will start suggesting Twitter users for you to follow, based on the fact that your Twitter pals have started following them, too. (The most recent heads-up I received was about Danah Boyd ’s new “think/do tank” called  Data & Society Research Institute .) In Rainert’s case, he didn’t ask Twitter to tell him that his pals were talking about TV. And you can see the downside of this thing if Twitter pushes too many of these to people who don’t want them. But I think Twitter thinks the upside is pretty significant. Highlighting cool stuff is nice for power users, and may keep them more engaged. And it could be crucial for new users, which Twitter really needs : Hey, we know this seems like a lot of people jabbering about weird stuff — WTF is an RT, right? — but look over here! You might want to know about this . So I have a hunch we’ll see more of this. Even if we don’t ask for it. * I do know some people who look at Twitter every minute they are awake, but they are most definitely not regular humans, even though they are nice people in their own special way.

Read More

One of the Year’s Most Addictive Mobile Games Doesn’t Seem Like a Game At All

December 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s inevitable: When I tell people I write about videogames, someone almost always asks, “What should I play?” Since I’m not a reviewer, there are plenty of games I haven’t played, but I always have at least one game on my phone ready to be shown off; recently, that game has been an unusual one. Clumsy Ninja , which game studio NaturalMotion first demoed at Apple’s iPhone 5 event in September 2012 , finally made it to Apple’s U.S. App Store a few weeks ago, and since then it’s been on a tear. “This is not designed to be a hardcore monetizing game,” NaturalMotion CEO Torsten Reil told me in a pre-launch interview. Well, oops? It is monetizing well — so well, in fact, that it broke into the top-25 iOS grossing apps chart within three days of its launch. At the time of this writing, it peaked at #14 overall on Tuesday and has been hovering between the high teens and low 30s since then, according to App Annie (registration required). (As for what that means in real money terms: According to one report from Distimo, the top-10 grossing apps make at least $47,000 per day . Even if the app never crosses the magical top-10 barrier, that’s still a lot of dough.) So why does Clumsy Ninja monetize so well?

Read More

Yep, It’s Looking Like an iPad Christmas

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Apple isn’t known for its sales, so when it does one, it’s news. Today it unveiled its Black Friday deals available both on its online store and at its retail stores around most of the world in a promotional email to customers. Basically if you buy an iPad, Mac or iPod, and you get an Apple gift-card worth between $50 and $150. And if you buy online but live near an Apple store, you have the option of picking up your purchase at the store today. Otherwise you can skip the crowds and take advantage of free shipping. While technically they’re not discounts, you can apply the value of the gift card to your purchase, and thus turn it into one. I started the process of buying an iPad Air plus a smart cover today from within the Apple Store app on my iPhone and by default, the app applied a $75 reduction. Here’s the rundown: Buying any iPad Air gets you a $75 gift card, while an iPad mini gets you a $50 card. Buy a Mac, either an iMac, a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, and you’ll get a $150 gift card. An iPod touch will get you a $50 a gift card; An iPod nano of Apple TV gets you a $25 gift card. The deal also applies for a few accessories, some Apple made, some from third parties. An Apple Time Capsule will get you a $50 gift card.

Read More

Nokia Lumia 1520 Marks Giant Leap (In Screen Size) for Windows Phone

November 28, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

What’s big and red (or yellow, or white, or black), makes calls and plays movies, and doubles as a butter dish for Thanksgiving dinner? Why, it’s Nokia’s latest Windows Phone device, the Lumia 1520 , of course. And I’m just kidding about the butter dish part — sort of. The Lumia 1520, which is available now from AT&T for $200 on contract, is Nokia’s first foray into the world of “phablets” — those hybrid devices that try to be both smartphone and tablet. Till now, the largest screen to appear on a Windows Phone handset measured 4.5 inches. But the Lumia 1520 ups the ante with a six-inch full-HD display, which I found great for watching movies, reading text and even working on documents. But, as one would expect, it also makes for a large device. Not Samsung Galaxy Mega big, but big enough that it’s cumbersome to hold and carry

Read More

Newt Gingrich Leads a Totally Digital Lifestyle

November 27, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Specs Who Newt Gingrich Age 70 Accomplishments Co-host on CNN’s Crossfire (weeknights at 6:30); author; co-founder of Gingrich Productions; former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Base Arlington, Va. What’s the first information you consume in the morning? I have a retired research director who edits world news for me across an extraordinary range of topics, and I get probably between one and two hundred emails a day from him. So I start every morning by scanning his emails. Tell us about your social media habits. I have Twitter and Facebook. My staff does Instagram for me—I haven’t gotten around to it. My wife [Callista] is a fanatic Instagrammer. Wherever we are, she’s taking pictures. What’s your favorite gadget? My No. 1 tech gadget is the iPad. I gave up my desktop computer. I have no use for it anymore. I have a laptop sitting at home, but it’s very unlikely I’ll use it.

Read More

Jury: Samsung Owes Apple Another $290 Million

November 21, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

A federal jury on Thursday ruled that Samsung owes Apple a further $290 million for infringing on the iPhone maker’s patented technology, according to multiple reports from inside the courtroom. The award concludes a partial retrial of last year’s landmark case between the electronics giants. A jury in that case ruled in Apple’s favor and awarded $1 billion in damages. However, Judge Lucy Koh ruled that more than $400 million of that award was improperly calculated, necessitating the current retrial . Apple had argued it was due a further $379 million, while Samsung maintained it should only owe $52 million for the portion of damages being reconsidered. Barring a successful appeal, Samsung also owes roughly $640 million in damages from the original verdict as well. The six woman, two man jury deliberated for part of three days before returning its verdict. During that time, the jury requested additional paper and pens, better lunch as well as a copy of the sketches of them done by a courtroom artist. This decision, while widely watched, does little to settle the litigation between the two companies, which spans multiple courtrooms and continents. Another case is set for trial next year before Judge Koh involving a newer generation of Samsung’s products, meanwhile both sides are appealing various parts of this current case.

Read More

Men in Black Suits II: Apple-Samsung Retrial Suffers From Sequel’s Curse

November 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The original Apple-Samsung trial had it all — a gripping plot, stellar cast and lots of intrigue. Unfortunately, like all too many sequels, the current retrial feels like just a rehash of something that was admittedly a pretty good show the first time. Where the initial trial brought revelations including new sales figures , early iPhone prototypes and juicy insights into how Apple designs its products , no such new ground is being traversed this time around. And, while the last trial was about dueling perspectives on innovation, this one is just about money. The first jury already decided which Samsung products infringed on which Apple products. But the judge concluded that the original jury erred in how it calculated a portion of the more than $1 billion in damages it awarded. Apple says Samsung owes it an additional $379 million in damages for the products at issue, while Samsung says $52 million is a proper figure. From a cinematic point of view, the best thing one can say about this installment is that it is short. Each side is allowed only eight hours of witnesses, compared to the 25 hours both parties had during the original trial. Testimony is due to wrap up today, with closing arguments expected Tuesday. Perhaps the biggest star in the retrial, Apple marketing head Phil Schiller, took the stand late last week, beginning his testimony Thursday and wrapping up on Friday morning. But most of what he said dealt with the kinds of details surrounding the iPhone launch that he shared the last time he was on the stand . On the bench is the always entertaining Lucy Koh, the same federal judge who presided over the first case. Koh, a rising star, is known for her sharp wit and strict adherence to the clock. She famously suggested during the first trial that one of Apple’s lawyers was smoking crack if he thought he had time to call as many witnesses as he proposed. The supporting cast is also familiar, including many of the same lawyers, expert witnesses, etc. Like any big Hollywood production, though, there were at least enough good moments to make for a decent trailer. Some of the best drama came before the trial itself, during jury selection. Judge Koh dismissed 11 prospective jurors found chatting about the case

Read More

Pfizer’s Prescription for BlackBerry-Using Employees: iPhone and Android

November 15, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Interim CEO John Chen says BlackBerry isn’t dwelling on the past, but looking to the future . Unfortunately for the languishing smartphone maker, some of its big clients are doing the same. And the future they see is one in which BlackBerry doesn’t figure quite so prominently. Some big clients like the U.S. Defense Department are developing mobile device contingency plans to implement should BlackBerry finally, irrevocably, collapse. Others, like Pfizer, are responding to the uncertainty around the company’s business by beginning to phase out its devices entirely. In a recent memo to employees , Pfizer — one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies — told the BlackBerry users among them to switch to an iPhone or Android handset when their wireless contract next permits an upgrade

Read More