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Archives: June 2010

Microsoft Gives Up On Kin

Just three months after Microsoft announced the Kin phones, Microsoft has decided to halt their plans of selling them in Europe and is merging the Kin team into the Windows Phone 7 team. Existing inventory will probably continue to be sold by Verizon at low, low prices, but it is likely Microsoft won’t release any updates for existing phones, and one has to wonder how long they will maintain the Kin Studio, which provides web access to the data from Kin phones that is stored on Microsoft’s servers.

The phones have received lukewarm reviews from technology web sites, and there has been reports that the phones have not sold very well. Despite the problems, it is surprising that Microsoft is so quickly killing the phones, and the whole episode has been a very expensive failure. The genesis of the Kin phones is the February 2008 acquisition of Danger, which Om Malik reported cost Microsoft $500 million. Several millions of dollars must have been spent by Microsoft in developing Kin, not to mention the partnership with Sharp and Verizon, to whom Microsoft might even have to pay a penalty to escape their contract.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Danger has never made sense to me. Microsoft gave no indication that it was going to replace Windows Mobile with Sidekick, which is the phone and operating system that Danger developed. My belief is that the Kin has mostly been an attempt to gain some return on Microsoft’s investment in purchasing Danger. We now know that Windows Phone 7 looks nothing like Sidekick, and as far as I know the only existing Microsoft product that has any ties back to the acquisition is My Phone. My Phone is a service that backs up Windows Mobile phones and provides web access to your contacts and text messages, and Microsoft does not charge to use the service. Hopefully Microsoft makes a version of Kin Studio work with Windows Phone 7.

On one hand it is good thing that Microsoft made the decision to cut their losses with Kin, but on the other hand I feel bad for the people who probably gave up a good part of their life to develop Kin. While one can debate whether the UI and the phone experience was good or bad, in my opinion the technology is not what has killed Kin, that was done by very high monthly costs of using the phone. The programmers and designers that made Kin are not responsible for the decisions made by their bosses.

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mIQ Backup Service For Android

BestBuy Mobile has launched a new backup service for mobile phones called m:IQ that initially only supports Android, but will also support Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile phones as well. The mIQ Android app runs in the background and backs up contacts, text messages, call history, appointments, photos and videos to the mIQ servers as changes are made on your phone. You can then access that information via the miQ Live web site, and then if you like, share that information with friends on Facebook or Twitter. One nice feature of the service is that it will also automatically share photos with Flickr, which is where I like to store my photos.

Unfortunately, I cannot run mIQ on my Nexus One because I have upgraded it to Android 2.2 and it only works with Android 2.1, though mIQ plans to release an update for Android 2.2 very soon. The mIQ application doesn’t even appear in the Android Market on my phone. However, I have had some experience with Dashwire, which mIQ is a Best Buy branded version.

Dashwire was developed by Ford Davidson, who left Microsoft’s mobile devices group to create the product, and has existed for Windows Mobile for some time. When it first released Dashwire was sold directly to consumers, but in October 2009 the company decided to license it’s platform to mobile operators, device makers, and retailers, and Best Buy is the first company to license the platform.

When I last used Dashwire on Windows Mobile the service worked very well. My problem with it was that it did not provide enough control over what I could prevent from synchronizing, and I did not want to synchronize my business contacts to their server. While I have a backup of my contacts and appointments on my Nexus One with Google, I don’t have the same for text messages, call history, and most importantly, my photos. While you can always manually back up those items to a PC, the mIQ app will do that for me without having to do anything, so I am looking forward to trying it out when it supports Android 2.2.

Android Fork Speculation

As someone who likes Android, I am nervous about how Google seems destined to make the same mistakes as Microsoft. In my opinion, the high number of different Windows Mobile builds (touchscreen, non-touchscreen, Smartphone, Pocket PC, Pocket PC Phone Edition, etc..) made developing and releasing new features too complicated and time consuming. The slow pace of change with Windows Mobile is the main reason why Microsoft has lost so much marketshare in smartphones.

Today the Android Community web site has an article about the next version of Android, which has the code name Gingerbread. The article states that Gingerbread will have a minimum hardware specification, like Windows Phone 7, that in itself is not bad, but what I find most alarming is the statement that lower end phones will stick with Android 2.X. In my opinion the worst thing Google can do is create low-end and high-end versions of Android, because all that will do is stretch development resources thin and slow down the pace of improvements. The strategy is also likely to create confusion in the market as some programs and features that work on some Android phones won’t work on others, and that confusion can quickly convince people to avoid Android.

BP’s Bob Dudley to Face the Music Live on YouTube’s CitizenTube

Bob Dudley, president and CEO of BP‘s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, will respond directly to the best questions submitted by YouTube users in a live interview Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET on the Google-owned video site’s CitizenTube.


Ray Suarez
of PBS NewsHour will moderate the live session from BP headquarters in Houston. Users can submit questions via Google Moderator or CitizenTube. Portions of the interview will also air on Thursday’s installment of PBS NewsHour.

New Look for Google News

The big news at Google News is a redesigned homepage, highlighted by its News for You customizable headline stream, as well as more prominent positioning for its Spotlight list of stories with greater staying power, and easier integration with Buzz, Reader, Facebook, and Twitter.

Software engineer Kevin Stolt posted on the Google Blog:

The new heart of the homepage is something we call “News for You”: a stream of headlines automatically tailored to your interests. You can help us get it right by using the “Edit Personalization” box to specify how much you’re interested in Business, Health, Entertainment, Sports, or any subject you want to add (whether it’s the Supreme Court, the World Cup, or synthetic biology). You can choose to view the stories by Section view or List view, and reveal more headlines by hovering over the headline with your mouse. We’ll remember your preferences each time you log in. If you don’t want customized Google News, hit “Reset Personalization” to clear all personalization preferences. If you haven’t previously customized and would prefer not to, simply close the “Edit Personalization” box. You can always go back and change it later.

To give you more control over the news that you see, we’re now allowing you to choose which news sources you’d like to see more or less often. You can do so in News Settings. These sources will rank higher or lower for you (but not for anyone else) in Google News search results and story clusters. We’ve also added keyboard shortcuts for easier navigation, like in Gmail or Google Reader. When you’re in Google News, hit the question-mark key to pop up a full list of shortcuts.

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Paper.li: Twitter in Newspaper Form

PaperliFIFA.jpgTwitter is a source of news for many users, so why not view it as a newspaper? That’s the thinking behind Paper.li, a new Web app from Swiss startup SmallRivers that allows users to view Twitter streams, tags, and lists as a daily online newspaper, TechCrunch reported.

Small Rivers also got some large cash, with TechCrunch reporting that German investment and media group Econa, French early-stage investment firm Kima Ventures, and a group of unnamed Web 2.0 angel investors combined on a new funding round.

The alpha launch of Paper.li occurred in April, and the beta launch will follow soon, according to TechCrunch.

HuffPost’s Greg Coleman: ‘We Are Positioning Ourselves as a Social-Media Company’

HuffingtonPostLogo.jpg“First and foremost, we are positioning ourselves as a social-media company,” The Huffington Post president and chief revenue officer Greg Coleman told AdAge.com during the course of a Q&A. Highlights:

This company is known for its great editorial product, and it should be. But the biggest surprise is (the role of) technology and openness in enabling us to grow so fast…It’s the whole content-management system that our team has that enables editors to do their own search-engine optimization and (content) sharing right at their desks and to get updates on how well their stories are doing every 15 minutes. We had one of our really strong editors here leave to go to another news organization, a very large newspaper, I won’t say which. When she was hired, everybody’s like, “Do that magic the way you did at The Huffington Post.” But without the technology, you can’t spread your wings the way that she was enabled to do here.

First and foremost, we are positioning ourselves as a social-media company, meaning that all of the great and powerful social marketing tools that have made The Huffington Post grow right now to 24 million unique visitors, we can now use those tools to help our marketers beam their messages throughout the Internet, across the galaxy, the Internet, and the world. So whether it’s tapping into our Facebook Connect, tapping into our partnership with Twitter, our SEO, that’s really our point of differentiation, and I’m hiring a number of people that we’re calling “social marketing managers” that will, literally, project-manage those tools for marketers. So we’re doing that, and then of course, we’re open for regular advertising, so we position ourselves as a fast-growing, high-income, high-education, highly opinionated audience with scale, and that’s gotten a tremendous amount of recognition within the marketing community.

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Google Editions Pricing Still Up in the Air

books.jpg

Google has been touting its Google Editions for the last couple of months. It could be any day now, that the online giant goes head to head with Apple and Amazon and releases its own browser based eBook store.

Pricing is still up in the air, according to a piece today in the Wall Street Journal. “Google is still deciding whether it will follow the model where publishers set the retail price or whether Google sets the price.”

Google has also been pushing the fact that its books will be readable across devices, which is cool considering that devices like the Kindle and Nook are tied to their respective retailers. However, the launch of the iPad has driven the launch of apps across devices and now it doesn’t feel so restricted. These days, you can read books from Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and the iBookstore through apps on various devices. Still it will be interesting to see what Google brings to the party.

It could open things up for independent books store. From the WSJ, “It will also allow book retailers–even independent shops–to sell Google Editions on their own sites, giving partners the bulk of the revenue.”

We anxiously await what Google will bring.

Jive Named Leader By Gartner In Social CRM Quadrant

jiveJive Software is one of the fastest growing Social Business Software companies in the world. Communication has been drastically altered with the advent of the social web, rendering traditional corporate communication, both internal and external, archaic. Social Business is a concept that has risen out of the emergence of the social web and indoctrinates new ways to engage employees, customers and others out in the turbulent waters of the social web. Helping manage these processes are social software providers, with Jive coming out on top according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Social CRM, 2010. Read more after the jump.

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Kindle To Release Previewer For Web Viewing

amazonlogoed23.pngAmazon’s Kindle team is busy on development this week. First, the company announced that is was adding interactive features to the Kindle.

Now Kindle is releasing the “Kindle Previewer for HTML 5″ which will let book shoppers preview a sample Kindle eBook from a web browser. Prior to this release, this preview screen was only available on Kindle eReader devices and on the Kindle apps. Like the “Look inside this book” feature, now shoppers can click to preview a Kindle book online.

Kindle is also releasing Kindle Web Widgets, so that authors and publishers can embed their Kindle books and post them on their websites as a widget. It is designed specifically for HTML 5 and CSS3.