Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

Apple Strikes Long-Awaited Deal With China Mobile, With iPhone 5s and 5c to Hit Stores on January 17

December 22, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

After years of talks, Apple confirmed on Sunday that it has at long last reached a deal with China Mobile to officially carry the iPhone. China Mobile will start selling the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c starting on Jan. 17, with pre-registrations starting this Wednesday. Pricing details will come later, Apple said. “Apple’s iPhone is very much loved by millions of customers around the world,” China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua said in a statement. “We know there are many China Mobile customers and potential new customers who are anxiously awaiting the incredible combination of iPhone on China Mobile’s leading network.

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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

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T-Mobile Plans to Talk "Un-Carrier" 4.0 at CES

December 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

T-Mobile is ready to make another big move, announcing plans for a media event at January’s CES to discuss the next step in its “un-carrier” strategy. “This one you aren’t going to believe,” T-Mobile says in an invitation to journalists. T-Mobile is planning a media event for Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Las Vegas event. The first wave of the strategy was doing away with contracts and device subsidies. Since then, T-Mobile has also announced its Jump early upgrade program, as well as a free data offer for tablets and the ability to cheaply roam globally , albeit at slower data speeds.

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BlackBerry Reports Massive $4.4 Billion Quarterly Loss, Inks a Deal With Foxconn

December 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

BlackBerry, the troubled Canadian smartphone company, just reported its quarterly results and, well, let’s just say its troubles aren’t getting any smaller. Its loss, on a GAAP basis, came out to $4.4 billion on revenue of $1.2 billion. That works out to a per-share loss of $8.37. The loss was the result of a huge $2.7 billion charge against assets, and another $266 million restructuring charge. After backing out those charges, the company lost $354 million, or 67 cents a share. It exited the quarter with $3.2 billion in combined cash and short-term investments. Sales fell by 56 percent compared to the year-ago quarter

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Bulk-SMS App Maker Bazuc Responds to Lookout’s Claims, Says Consumers Should Pay Attention to Risks

December 20, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The maker of an app that Lookout has branded as a security threat contends that it is offering a potentially lucrative, if risky, business opportunity to consumers. Bazuc distributes an Android app that when installed sends SMS messages through a user’s phone, with Bazuc promising to pay users a tenth of a penny for each message sent. After spending a month researching Bazuc.net and its apps, Lookout on Thursday warned that the app poses a significant threat to users, including the potential for angry phone calls and seeing their phone service disconnected for violating the terms of their contracts. Lookout said it would warn users of its security software who have the app installed, and also said it was reaching out to carriers and other companies that it believes may have a problem with what Bazuc is doing. In an email, Bazuc creator Richard Loomis confirmed some things that Lookout said, but took issue with others, and insists that it details many of the potential risks on its website. “Yes, there are risks involved for the app users, which are very clearly posted in a very large font on both the website and inside the app itself,” Loomis said in an email to AllThingsD

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Sony Updates Lens-Style Camera to Include Photo Gallery, Better Connectivity

December 19, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Sony’s better-in-concept-than-in-execution camera is getting a much needed update. The mobile photo app for the Sony QX10 and QX100 lens-style cameras, which I reviewed in full a few months ago , will now have a built-in photo browser. The previous version of the app, called PlayMemories mobile, didn’t have a photo gallery, which meant users had to leave the Sony camera app and navigate to the smartphone’s native camera roll to see the photos they just snapped. And Sony is promising that the updated app, which for now only applies to iOS, will result in a twice-as-fast connection speed when it comes to wirelessly linking the Sony cameras with the smartphone app. An Android app update is in the works, Sony said in a press release. Finally, a firmware update next month will allow for HD video recording and higher ISO settings with the cameras. The Sony lens-style camera hit the market this past fall, costing $250 for the 18.2-megapixel QX10 lens and $500 for its higher-end sibling, and offered a unique way to take pro-level photos with your smartphone. The lenses are technically digital cameras, as I wrote then, packed with image sensors and a shutter button, but they look like cylindrical lenses, without a viewfinder. You smack them onto the back of your smartphone to transform that five-megapixel pocket computer into what’s supposed to be a cool camera. But as I experienced, having to frequently reconnect the lens-camera with the smartphone felt like a hassle when trying to capture a series of photos throughout an event or outing, and the lack of photo gallery in the app just seemed silly. Sony promised updates were on the way, and here they are, at least the first batch of them.

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Big Money for Mobile Crowdsourced Transit App Moovit, With Sequoia Leading $28M Round

December 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The notion that public transportation is a large and growing global opportunity for a tech company might seem a bit of a strange one. But, as Moovit co-founder and CEO Nir Erez sees it, “The world is bending towards public transportation because there’s no choice, cities are too crowded.” More than six billion people are expected to live in cities by 2050, according to the United Nations. Moovit has just raised $28 million led by Sequoia Capital. The round massively ups the stakes for a company that has 30 employees and had previously raised a total of $3.5 million from BRM Group and Gemini Israel Ventures (who also contributed to the new funding). How it works: a Moovit user opens the free iPhone or Android app to check what’s the best means of transportation to a destination and when it’s arriving at his or her current location. When the user hops on the bus and starts moving, Moovit makes a note of the actual arrival time, and updates its estimates in real-time for users looking up later stops. Erez said Moovit now has hundreds of thousands of daily users who generate 10 to 12 million active reports per day. They have made 40 million trip requests in the past year. The app only became available outside of Israel about a year ago, and it is now especially popular in Santiago, Chile; Bogota, Colombia; and Rio Sao Paulo, Brazil. Most Moovit reports are passively contributed, the company also seems to have hit on the crowdsourcing jackpot of voluntary contributions

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Centerbridge Won’t Proceed With Deal to Buy LightSquared

December 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

LightSquared Inc. said Tuesday that Centerbridge Partners LP has backed out of a tentative deal to buy the company out of bankruptcy, although the wireless venture is pursuing a transaction under similar “architecture” with existing stakeholders. Centerbridge left the deal “for economic and noneconomic reasons,” a LightSquared lawyer said at a hearing Tuesday in Manhattan bankruptcy court. Centerbridge didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Pact Raises $1.5M to Help People Hit Health Goals by Putting Money on the Line

December 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

A motivational startup called Pact has raised $1.55 million, led by Khosla Ventures and Max Levchin, for its mobile apps, which help people set monetary stakes for meeting their goals. Pact, currently known as GymPact , had initially focused on workouts . Its 500,000 members (about 100,000 of them are active per month) have completed five million workouts over two years. Pact CEO Yifan Zhang Users pledge via iOS or Android app to pay at least $5 if they fail to complete one of their committed workouts. And all those who do complete their goals gets cash rewards split out from the flakers — generally 30 cents to 50 cents per workout. Now Pact wants to apply the same ideas to eating, so it is broadening both its name and focus. New versions of the app under the new brand are set to launch January 1. Unlike some other goal-setting apps , which often subsist on button clicking and social pressure, Pact tries to hold users to their word. It validates workouts using phone accelerometers that track a minimum of 30 minutes of activity, or by connecting to FitBit and RunKeeper. For food challenges, Pact will connect to MyFitnessPal for meal logging — and a day only counts for credit if users track at least 1,200 calories eaten across three meals. It will also offer an option for daily fruit- and vegetable-eating commitments, where users submit mobile photos. “The very special thing about Pact is that our financial incentives are very motivating,” said Pact co-founder Yifan Zhang in an interview today. ”We are 92 percent effective at getting people to hit their commitment. The average user stays with a pact for six months.” Okay, but what about the kind of sadistic twist that Pact is fostering urges for users to punish themselves for bad behavior? “I think the strongest incentive is the negative incentive,” Zhang said. “It doesn’t mean the motivation comes from you paying money; it comes from you having money on the line.” Zhang said she has faith that Pact has broad appeal, given that only 20 percent of its current users live in major cities. “There are lots of people in suburbia — regular people — trying to get healthy,” she said. Future versions of the app may include new pacts for categories like sleep and weight loss

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Benchmark’s Mitch Lasky on App Discovery, Distribution, and the Power of Chat Networks

December 16, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Benchmark Capital partner Mitch Lasky is a games guy. He’s been in the business for decades — long before he went into venture capital — and when it comes to selling games, he has seen what works and what doesn’t. So it seems strange that Lasky is so knowledgeable on apps like Line, WeChat and KakaoTalk — some of the biggest messaging applications in countries outside the U.S. But it’s not so odd, considering that mobile games companies are increasingly moving toward these chat apps to help people find and download their games. I sat down with Lasky last week to chat about the gaming industry, and social games in particular, and what he had to say about chat networks is something every gaming company should take note of. Oh, and while he wouldn’t speak much about it, pay attention to the part in here about Snapchat, the buzzy messaging app he happens to advise and sit on the board of. AllThingsD: So talk to me about something I know a little bit about, but I hear is going to be big: Games distribution through chat apps. WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk are all offering mobile games for sale or download inside their main chatting apps. Why is this a big thing, and why are American companies interested in it? Mitch Lasky : It’s amazing –if you look at the Korean mobile app stores, 10 out of their Top 10 mobile games are being distributed through KakaoTalk. It’s totally working. It’s an unbelievably great distribution channel. So, why is that better than, say, Apple’s App Store? I want to know how it works so well. Well, if I told you, then I’d have to kill you. No, seriously though. I think you need to decouple the concept of distribution and discovery. Distribution has become completely commoditized.

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