mer, 22.05.2013 - 15:25
Sometimes a writer creates a universe so compelling that others feel the need to join and help flesh out that world with their own tribute fiction. And sometimes you make something crappy like Gossip Girl and loads of people want to write using those characters and that world anyway. Now Amazon is introducing a way to let writers profit from their fan fiction, via “Kindle Worlds.”
Worlds joins Kindle Singles and Kindle Serials as a way for authors to earn money from digital publishing, and the best part is that in this case you don’t even have to be all that creative – the idea is to let fans create stories around original properties from other authors, offering them up for purchase on the Kindle book store. Amazon then pays out royalties to both the original rights holder, as well as to the fan fiction author, with the author making around 35 percent of all net revenue for works over 10,000 words.
There’s also a new revenue model aimed at shorter works, which would be between 5,000 and 10,000 words and will typically sell for under a dollar. Under this scheme, the author’s cut will be a digital royalty of 20 percent.
Fanfic writers can sign up now at the official Amazon Kindle Worlds website, and the company expects to launch the Worlds storefront in June. There will be over 50 commissioned works included in the store at launch, Amazon says, and then it’ll be launching its self-serve submission platform for all authors to add their own completed works for consideration.
This is a very shrewd business move on the part of Amazon, since it leverages existing popular properties in a way that would never be possible with just one series author (or even a small list of a few running a title), and since it taps into the existing massive market for fan-created fiction that already exists on the net. Heck, I’ve still got an extremely bad and extremely long Star Wars extended universe manuscript hidden in a closet somewhere. If I can find that, read my childish scrawl well enough to transcribe it, and if Amazon ever secured those rights from Disney, I’d consider throwing it up on Worlds for some easy cash.
Amazon says it’s in the process of securing licensing deals from a variety of sources, including TV, movie, books, games and music properties. The only question I really have about this to be honest is why did this take so long to happen? If you want a near-bottomless supply of written content, fanfic is where it’s at.
XOXO, Gossip Girl.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 15:00
If you’re a big huge e-commerce business, your time is money. Literally. Amazon.com made $61 billion last year, which boils down to $167 million a day, $7 million an hour, and $116,000 a minute. Every minute counts, which is why you cant afford to have your website go down or be slow, even for just a little while.
That’s why Los Angeles-based content delivery startup EdgeCast launched a new product called EdgeCast Transact, provides a dedicated CDN built just for e-commerce companies, with all the features that e-commerce companies need. EdgeCast Transact is built on top of the company’s new Commerce Acceleration Network, which is built to be PCI-compliant and enable acceleration and optimization of e-commerce pages.
While a number of CDNs tout features that e-commerce websites crave, like application acceleration, page optimization, and small-object delivery, EdgeCast is the only one that has broken its e-commerce offering out and put it on its own dedicated network infrastructure. And the company has spent the last year designing and testing out this purpose-built network for e-commerce providers so that they don’t have to share any infrastructure with media companies or social networks or whatever.
That means that e-commerce companies won’t have to worry if there’s a DDOS attack against a media company, or a surge in traffic during the Super Bowl at a social networking site, or whatever. The network is also built to be fully redundant and have all sorts of failover and elastic provisioning to handle holiday traffic spikes and the like.
For clients, that’s like not just buying a Rolls Royce, but having your own private highway to drive it on. At least, that’s what EdgeCast president James Segil says.
Anyway, in addition to having their own private infrastructure, EdgeCast Transact is designed to provide secure sessions between the origin and end user. It also has mobile device detection and front-end optimization built in, to ensure the best performance regardless of the platform or device someone’s using to access the site.
E-commerce companies benefit from also having access to a dedicated customer support team and “white-glove service,” which Segil says is needed for most of those customers. It’s also going to be updated with the needs of business customers in mind — which means e-commerce business cycles, code freezes during the holidays and other busy shopping seasons.
EdgeCast continues to win business in the CDN market, with more than 6,000 customers. Those clients include some big names, like Twitter, Hulu, Pinterest, Etsy, and Tumblr. (Don’t worry, Yahoo is a client too.) The company now has about 260 employees, most of which are in the United States… Although it’s been expanding its footprint with sales and support internationally.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 14:47
Google has updated Chrome in build 27 to include conversational voice search, a feature it demoed on stage at Google I/O this year that allows you to search by voice, but also transcribes your queries in real time and lets you use natural language, asking Google straightforward questions and getting straightforward answers, both read back to you by dictation and in actual Google search results.
The transcription feature is awesome, since you can actually watch Google try to anticipate what you’re going to say and then adapt in real time to the right query. So far in my testing, it hasn’t gotten anything wrong; this isn’t the clumsy voice input of five years ago that got things wrong as often as it got them right. Having it understand natural queries is also very cool, and for the first time, you get a sense that this is what we all imagined something like AskJeeves was meant to be, but good and effective.
Questions that are easily answerable generally are. Ask about nation and state capitals and get the answer right away, read back to you by Google. Ask about a location and get a map. Ask about a person and get a brief bio. It’s a lot like having your own personal information agent or knowledge broker, and it’s so impressive that I might even eventually be able to get over my embarrassment of using it in public.
Conversational search is available in the latest stable build, and can be accessed by going to Google’s homepage and clicking the microphone icon in the search bar. So far, I haven’t run into a single connectivity issue or mistaken query, but let us know if your experience differs. Also, Chrome itself wouldn’t detect the update to version 27 on my Mac, so you may have to go direct to the Chrome website and reinstall altogether to get this up and running.
FYI: Some folks are having issues which are being reported as Internet connectivity problems, though that’s not something I’ve encountered yet.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 14:29
Porn is the new Tumblr. It seems that everyone with a CS degree and a little free time is trying to cash in (or at least dabble) in the world of online sexuality, a happenstance that I’d chalk up to the ubiquity of boobies online and the potential for perceived riches. But what inspires a pair of designers and artists to create a site that essentially catalogs every NSFW GIF they can find?
I had to find out.
To be clear, the site [THIS IS A NSFW LINK. DO NOT CLICK IT AT WORK OR EVER] is very NSFW. It’s also quite basic – you simply press your mouse button to slide through one image after the other in a cavalcade of protuberances and pneumatic efforts that brings to mind Chaplin’s Modern Times crossed with Skinemax. Seriously. Don’t click the link. It’s porn. Instead, let’s talk to Raj and Katie, founders of the site. They preferred to remain somewhat anonymous.
John Biggs: Why did you guys make this?
Raj: Serendipity. In the beginning, in order to ramp up on some new technologies, I built a webapp to pull the most popular animated gifs from the web and present them one after another. I honestly expected kitties, Batman, and Kermit the frog. Instead, the gifs ended up being 99% porn. The next day, I told 6 friends about this happy accident, and by the end of the week, we were getting 200 unique visitors daily. Chris (the designer) has since transformed my clever hack into a polished user experience, Kevin (the hustler) is exploring innovative business models, and Katie (the ballerina) has helped forge our brand and identity. We use the site ourselves, and we’ve just been kindling the fire – it feels like the project has taken on a life of its own.
These are some of the responses to our site on Reddit.
JB: Who are you guys?
Raj: I’m equal parts hacker and guitarist at heart, Chris is an artist, Kevin is a hustler, and Katie is a choreographer. We’re a group of friends, and we each bring unique talents to the table. We love working together. At the moment, we’re building a porn site. Next time, we might record a rock album.
Quick story: A few months ago, we were trying to figure out where to take our product, so I issued Chris a No Fap Challenge. I asked him to not spank it to any porn site other than The Worst Drug for as long as possible. Chris lasted 3 days. He came back to me and told me that he couldn’t get off without video – so along with animated gifs, HTML5 video became our next major feature.
JB: There seems to be a trend of women working on porn startups. Why?
Katie: As porn becomes more mainstream, disrupting the current tech is fair game for anyone who isn’t afraid of it. This includes the kind of savvy and self-governing women who would abandon their kitchens and venture into the tech world in the first place. That’s my guess anyway. For me it was happenstance that the content was porn. These GIFs reveal the usually obscured popular content of the Internet. Imagine observing the planet from a distance, swiping through what we look at, laugh at, get aroused by, and share with each other. I was initially surprised, even shocked, that what we captured was basically all porn, but then I had to laugh. I love this big world of happy, normal, clever, horny people. We’re sexy.
JB: Why porn? Why now?
Raj: We’re driven by a particular philosophy. Recent studies have shown that there’s little correlation between porn use and deviant/risky sexual behavior. Researchers have also been looking into why porn is addictive. I’ve been trolling on 4chan for years, and I think that watching porn makes you a better person. It’s always my belief that knowledge is more powerful than ignorance, and porn is a particular type of knowledge.
Also, there’s nothing in our algorithms that limits our content to porn. Our site simply pulls in the most popular animated gifs as determined by web users around the world. It just happens to be the case that these gifs are all porn – we’re reflecting the world back at itself.
JB: How will you make money?
We don’t know – do you have any money?
We’ve bootstrapped ourselves so far, and we’ve been able to cover our operating expenses. For the moment, we’re focused on building the best user experience that we can.
Unrelated: Our name (The Worst Drug) reflects the addictive nature of the site. Chris chose our logo font because it looks like something that you’d see on a bottle of prescription pills – and it feels a little dirty, but still somehow clean. Our ‘u’ is a forward arrow key, as you can hit that key instead of clicking the image.
JB: Do your parents know what you’re doing?
Raj: My parents have no idea what I’m doing. My parents have never had any idea what I’ve been up to. They still don’t know that I once stole a nice pen from K-Mart in 6th grade. (I hope that my parents don’t read TechCrunch.)
Katie: Yes, and my mom loves the site! She’s offered suggestions for the UI, and she’s even Tweeted about us to her 17 followers. Her response is flattering, but I question her taste, because I also showed her Two Girls, One Cup, and she thought it was hilarious and didn’t throw up in her mouth at all.
JB: What’s your favorite kitten picture?
Catégories: News informatiques
Practice Fusion Continues To Reach Beyond Digital Health Records, Adds Free Expense Tracking To New Booking Engine
mer, 22.05.2013 - 14:15
Practice Fusion has made a name for itself over the past few years by tapping into enormous demand for digital health information — particularly health records. From its inception in 2005, the startup has been on a mission to disrupt the slow-moving, archaic world of Healthcare IT by providing a free, web-based electronic medical records (EMR) platform to doctors and their practices.
These days, we take free scalable, online platforms for granted, but at the time, Practice Fusion’s approach to EMR was far from being the norm in the healthcare market. Since then, the company has gone on to raise $70 million, attract some 150K medical professionals and grow to over 250+ employees. Today, Practice Fusion hosts digital health records for over 64 million people in the U.S., making it one of the largest web-based EMR platforms out there.
With the success of its EMR software, Practice Fusion is now looking to extend the functionality of its platform with the goal of building a true end-to-end health service. Setting its sights on becoming the Salesforce.com for doctors and the Facebook for health, last month the company launched Patient Fusion — a new complementary site that allows anyone and everyone to compare doctor reviews and book appointments within an hour of arriving at the doctor’s office.
The new service takes Practice Fusion into ZocDoc’s territory, combining Yelp-like reviews with an Uber-style on-demand booking service. However, unlike Yelp, which would allow users to rate doctors even if they’ve never stepped foot in their office, Patient Fusion aggregates ratings from patients after their visits. This allows the company to not only build a database of verified reviews (based on visits it knows actually took place), but to lay the groundwork for a sizable local physician search engine as well.
With several million reviews now live, today Practice Fusion is taking the next step toward being a full-service health information platform with the launch of a free tool that aims to help patients keep better tabs on their health spending. Now, along with the ability to book appointments and access digital health records, Patient Fusion allows users to track their health spending across their entire history of medical visits.
The platform, which officially launches in beta today, is available to Practice Fusion patients who are covered by national health insurance providers like Anthem Blue Cross and United. If the initial launch of Patient Fusion brought the company into Yelp (and ZocDoc) territory, then its new free service marks the beginning of Practice Fusion’s own version of Mint.com for health.
By aggregating patients’ health information and family health bills, Patient Fusion allows users to track and visualize the history of their health costs, including out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles, for example. The idea is to help users more accurately plan their flexible spending account (FSA) contributions and estimate the cost of future visits to the doctor’s office, for example.
Another key piece of the new service is that it includes insurance claims information to enable patients to view their claims history and determine which claims have been rejected, which have been accepted and which may need to be disputed. By allowing patients to more effectively stay on top of their health bills, the company also sees a potential upside for doctors — as easier expense management could lead to an increase in payments that are more accurate and are actually on time.
With the average person now spending $3,000/year on out-of-pocket medical costs and with medical bills now representing one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy in the U.S., Practice Fusion is hoping that its new tools can alleviate some of this financial stress. While the company is far from being the only service to allow patients to track their health spending, the service has the benefit of being tied to one of the largest EMR platforms in the U.S. and a search and booking service that now includes more than 27,000 verified providers.
By simplifying health expense tracking and by allowing people to view out-of-pocket expenses incurred to date (as well as costs covered by insurance and the remaining balance of their deductible) — all for free — Patient Fusion comes with plenty of appeal.
This is especially true for doctors and practices already using the company’s EMR platform, as they can now direct their patients to its appointment booking and expense tracking tool without worrying about the high costs of ZocDoc or other similar services. And, for its new tool, having access to the huge network of medical professionals using its EMR software, this means ready-made scale.
The new service will be of particular interest to startups like Simplee, which launched its own “Mint.com for healthcare expenses” service and medical wallet back in 2011 to enable people to better track visits, monitor benefits and pay bills online. More recently, Simplee has expanded its reach by bringing a payment and loyalty platform to hospitals in an effort to give them a better way to distribute bills (digitally), and, last month, it launched a new mobile app that allows people to pay their family’s medical bills from their phone — on the go.
While Simplee has managed over $2 billion in medical bills to date, Patient Fusion’s new service puts the two companies in direct competition — at least in regard to this functionality. However, Practice Fusion’s version does not yet support bill payments, only expense management, nor does it yet have the mobile piece. Though Simplee’s platform is (arguably) more extensive at this point, it likely won’t be long before Practice Fusion fills the remaining gap.
What’s more, as the company further extends it health platform, potentially adding integrations with popular health-tracking devices (like, say, Fitbit), Practice Fusion will begin to compete with a whole new category of startups and companies. While it remains to be seen which tools the average patient will find more accessible (and usable), at this point, given the ridiculous cost of healthcare and medical expenses, the average American will welcome any help in this regard with open arms.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 14:00
The last time we met with the folks from Scanadu, we had a very limited look its much buzzed-about line of gadgets that aim to bring vital sign monitoring beyond the realm of the hospital and available to anyone with a smartphone. This week, the company’s CEO Walter De Brouwer stopped by TechCrunch TV with an update to allow us to demo an updated version of the SCOUT and show that Scanadu is coming a significant step closer to actually having its devices in the hands of real users.
As you’ll see in the video, De Brouwer says that Scanadu has discovered in recent months through early testing that there are a few features that people really want in their personal medical devices, so the company has made key updates to the Scout and its other tools — and we got a hands-on look at those.
Also, true to Scanadu’s overall approach to making health accessible and modern, today the company is launching a 30 day crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo which will let people pay to reserve a first-edition Scanadu Scout (the “early bird special” version is $149 for the device to the first 1,000 participants, with additional units going for $199.) Those who pitch into the campaign will also participate in a usability study of the gadget, which is necessary to bring the SCOUT to FDA approval.
We talk about all this and more — and I get my own vital sign reading — in the video embedded above.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 13:32
Web security provider Blue Coat Systems — itself acquired in a $1.3 billion deal by Thoma Bravo at the end of December 2011 — is making an acquisition today: it’s buying Solera Networks, a specialist in big data security, for an undisclosed sum (although we have reached out to the company to ask). The deal is expected to close in the next thirty days.
Solera, founded in 2005, had raised just over $51 million in VC funds, including a Series D of $20 million from Intel Capital last January.
This looks to be the fourth acquisition for Blue Coat and part of what appears to be a brief shopping spree by the company. Most recently — earlier this month, in fact — Blue Coat bought SSL technology from Netronome for an undisclosed amount. That service, focusing on programmable semiconductor products — will complement the Solera acquisition. The two startups already work together, with Solera integrating its monitoring technology into Netronome’s products to specifically target encrypted traffic.
In total, Blue Coat has spent some $268 million on acquisitions, not including today’s deal.
The Solera acquisition will add the company’s DeepSee platform to Blue Coat’s security range and will give it the capability to process large data files of network traffic to assess for security threats.
“The future of the industry is moving beyond just blocking malware and stopping targeted attacks to also identifying and resolving the full scope of the attacks in real time,” said Greg Clark, CEO at Blue Coat Systems, in a statement. “Retrospective capture and analytics are now an essential component of modern security architecture, and Solera has pioneered this field, creating a DVR for the network that records traffic and allows customers to easily mine that information.”
Together the companies will have a user base that covers 75 million users across 15,000 enterprise customers, including what Blue Coat says is 86% of the Fortune Global 500. The company says it rates more than one billion Web requests per day. Solera’s customer base includes the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security and Defense, Hitachi, Qualcomm, Overstock.com, Parsons Corporation and Zions Bank.
Steve Shillingford, CEO at Solera Networks, describes the company’s technology as a “security camera” on a network. “Along with the big data security analytics and intelligence needed to see zero-day threats and advanced cyberattacks in real-time, Solera DeepSee provides unmatched security forensics to help enterprises answer critical post-breach questions on the nature of the attack and how to prevent it in the future,” he noted in a statement.
The news comes at the same time that Blue Coat has revamped its whole security portfolio into five areas — Security and Policy Enforcement Center (for business continuity);
Mobility Empowerment Center; Trusted Application Center (for apps); Performance Center (for IT infrastructure); Resolution Center (for deep security analysis; likely where Solera will reside).
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 11:58
Australian startup, Airtasker, is keen to expand out of its home country into Southeast Asia, which it says hasn’t been touched by large competitors yet.
The year-old startup provides job matching for freelancers and employers, similar to what oDesk and Elance do. For its first steps outside of Australia, its first port of call will be Singapore, where it wants to hire two country managers.
Airtasker joins a scene that already has a few huge competitors. oDesk, for example, has been around since 2005. Last year, the company raised $15 million, making its total funding $45 million to date. The site processes $300 million in jobs on an annual basis.
Another big competitor, Elance, raised $16 million in funding early last year as well, as its business has continued to grow in the past two years. 650,000 new job postings were listed on the site in 2011, it said.
But big as these sites are, they don’t seem to have made a huge impact on freelancers in Southeast Asia. A quick search for freelancers in Singapore on oDesk showed 248 listings out of 742,113. Hong Kong showed a dismal 84, Kuala Lumpur 7 and Bangkok 31.
While it appears indeed untouched by the large sites, it could just mean that the freelancing scene is a lot less vibrant in Asia, with the majority of workers preferring full-time jobs. It could also be that fewer freelancers rely on online matching sites to get their jobs, as well.
Airtasker’s founder and CEO, Tim Fung, said temp jobs in the region are less organized into verticals. He said some common jobs in Asia include handing out flyers at a train station, or a one-day PA. These can’t really be categorized by industry, and Airtasker has organized its job ads and job seeker profiles in a broader fashion, so that more matches can be made by both sides.
The bulk of Airtasker’s workers, for now, are based in Australia, and its upward trajectory does indicate some sort of pent-up demand on the freelancing scene. Airtasker now processes about $120,000 worth of jobs per month.
Fung hinted that Airtasker will announce a partnership with a global jobs network soon. “I think that’s an indication that the larger ‘mainstream’ job scene is taking part-time job listings more seriously,” he said.
The site will also roll out a new design in about a months’ time, with a “responsive design” adapting to mobile interfaces when accessed through tablets and phones. This is going to make a lot of sense as it expands into Southeast Asia, where mobiles are more popular in emerging markets compared with PCs. About 40 percent of users accessing Airtasker’s site are already coming in on mobile devices, said Fung.
Airtasker has seven people, including co-founders Fung and Jonathan Lui. It’s raised $1.5 million so far.
Catégories: News informatiques
SumUp, One Of Europe's Many Mobile Payments Startups, Launches In Russia - Now Operating In 11 Markets
mer, 22.05.2013 - 11:32
SumUp, one of the myriad European Square-style mobile card reader startups, has expanded its coverage footprint by rolling into an eleventh European market: Russia. SumUp is now operational in the U.K., Germany, Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Belgium and now Russia, giving it a larger international geographical footprint than other European mobile point-of-sales rivals including iZettle and Rocket Internet-backed Payleven.
To support its Russia launch SumUp has opened a local office in Moscow, and partnered with Svyaznoy Group, a Russian retail and financial conglomerate, which will distribute SumUp’s card readers through its nationwide consumer electronics retail network of close to 3,000 stores.
Svyaznoy stores will also be using SumUp’s solution to accept card payments from its customers — giving SumUp another leg up in the market. The retailer, which specialises in the sale of phones, digital equipment and portable electronics, sells close to a third (30%) of all the smartphones in Russia, according to SumUp.
SumUp said Russian businesses can now sign up to its service in Svyaznoy stores as well as on its own website, and are able to receive native language assistance from its Moscow-based support team. Daniel Klein, SumUp CEO, said it’s targeting the more than 6 million small businesses in Russia, and also aiming to grow off rising smartphone usage.
“We see a real need for an easy and secure solution for card payment acceptance in the Russian market. We are excited to work with the strongest possible partner in Russia right from the start,” he said in a statement.
SumUp has been using a partnering strategy to build out its European payments business, including partnering with a women’s plumbers organisation, Stopcocks Women Plumbers, in the U.K.; a maker of iPad POS software in Europe; and with a taxi hailing app and an odd job software platform provider in Germany.
As with the myriad mobile payments players targeting small businesses, SumUp does not charge a monthly fee to businesses using its system but rather takes a 2.75% per card reader transaction charge. It accepts Visa, Mastercard and recently added support for Amex in the majority of its markets.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 10:30
Chalk this up as one to watch closely in the world of consumer fintech. Numbrs, a mobile-first banking app founded out of Swiss company builder Centralway, has raised 7.5 million Swiss francs (~$7.7 million) from its parent, capital it will use to build on its pending German launch, with the UK and Swiss markets up next, followed by Singapore and Hong Kong.
The startup, which also hails from Switzerland (a country known for its “innovative” banking) bills itself as a mobile banking app to rule them all, offering a financial dashboard similar to something like Intuit-owned Mint.com, which enables a user to intelligently track and predict their spending, but with the added functionality of being able to actually make transactions and pay bills from within the app, too. That’s something that most, if not all, of its competitors lack.
Longer term, however, Numbrs’ ambition is to get this working across all countries and all banks, which would be some feat. Tackling Germany first makes sense, where I understand there exists a single and independent protocol over which Numbrs connects to banks locally.
In contrast, the UK — where Numbrs is gunning for a Summer/Fall launch — lacks a common B2C standard. Instead, the startup is working with a “leading” but unnamed API vendor (though I understand it’s not Yodlee, the U.S. company that powers a number of competing dashboards) which has already already done the heavy lifting of creating connectors to all the major UK banks. This will enable Numbrs to authenticate the user with their bank accounts, import and conduct transactions, and present all data in the same aggregated view already present within the German version of the app. It also makes it harder for the banks to pull the plug on Numbrs, since its the same system they use for their own consumer apps.
Another key feature of the Numbrs app, and something that is central to its planned advertising-based revenue model, is what the startup calls the Future Timeline, a technology that predicts what a user’s finances will be like in the future by analysing historical patterns of incoming and outgoing payments, thus enabling financial targets to be met. It’s also the sort of data that I’m guessing advertisers would, indirectly, kill for.
Finally, as part of Numbrs’ UK launch, TechCrunch has learned that Centralway is opening a London office, scheduled to open in September, where the Numbrs UK country manager and other marketing personnel will also be based.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 10:29
Rando only launched in March but the anti-social photo-sharing app that deliberately eschews the standard social network clutter of likes and comments and connections – simply letting users share random photos with random strangers and get random snaps in return — has blasted past five million photo shares after a little over two months in the wild. It is now averaging around 200,000 shares per day, says its creator ustwo.
For half that time Rando was iOS only, with its Android app not launching til April. Platform spread aside, the huge point here is that Rando has ditched all the self-congratulatory, endorphin-boosting hooks that apparently keep people tethered to their social networks. Yet managed to grow regardless. As Rando’s tagline pithily put it: ‘You have no friends’. The photos you share here will never be liked, never be favourited, and if they are shared outside Rando to other social networks, a feature Rando most definitely does not enable within its app, you likely won’t ever know anything about it. It’s a very rare digital social blackhole — but one that’s proving surprisingly popular (and all without any embedded social shares to grow virally), even while it’s refreshingly ego-free.
Rando has been downloaded almost 230,000 times since its March 10 launch, with nearly 35,000 downloads in the past seven days, according to data shared with TechCrunch by ustwo‘s Matt Miller (aka Mills). The platform breakdown is pretty even right now — with only slightly more iOS app downloads than Android (roughly 120,000 vs 107,000), showing how Android users are adopting Rando even faster than their iPhone owning counterparts, having had a month less to send strangers strange shots. There are, of course, many more Android owners than iPhone owners out there so there’s a lot more scope for growth on Google’s platform.
Rando’s top five countries by downloads are as follows:South Korea 82,224 downloads 37% of total downloads United States 41,120 downloads 19% of total downloads Russia 25,553 downloads 12% of total downloads UK 12,173 downloads 6% of total downloads Brazil 7,795 downloads 4%
Even though Rando does not enable social sharing within its app, users can take screengrabs and share shots manually — and that’s happening a little. ustwo notes there have been more than 25,000 #rando Instagram shares, for instance, despite the app not giving users any simple path to do that. Searching for #rando on Twitter also typically brings up a handful of organic daily shares.
The single piece of contextual information that Rando does allow its users to retain — the general location where a photo was taken — is also removed by close to a fifth of users (17%). While less than 1% of shared images have been marked as inappropriate so you can’t accuse Rando’s growth of being fuelled by sexting. You could perhaps argue it’s a bit of a curiosity that’s appealing to a small minority of people, even while most folk find it baffling. ustwo’s data shows that the app’s most active users (top 10% in terms of uploaded randos) have uploaded more than half (57%) of all the shared randos. But the app retention rate (50% in the past week) does sound strong. Specifically that means half of Rando’s users logged in within that week, which isn’t bad as an active user type stat.
A little bird tells me that ustwo, the London-based studio which decided to find out what would happen when it made an anti-social photo-sharing app, is preparing to push Rando onto a third mobile platform in the not too distant future too — so expect Rando’s growth trajectory to continue stepping upwards, as it has been since launch. ustwo says one million randos are being shared every four to five days now, at current usage rates. ”You are literally looking at the next $1billion Yahoo! Acquisition,” jokes Mills.
Joking aside, there is something seriously interesting about Rando’s takeoff. Not to read too much into a single app, of course, but as an experiment in social-less networking it’s fascinating to watch. Not to mention ironic, since on Rando no one is watching you — which is entirely the point. But factor in the rumblings about teens’ declining interest in traditional social networks and Rando could be something of a canary in the social networking coalmine, picking up subtle traces of Facebook fatigue, and identifying a growing appetite among mobile owners at least to take back some control and reintroduce a little private space by slamming shut those social doors.
The rise of mobile messaging apps is another key trend to factor in here, apps which put private communication first, and social comms as a secondary add on. Certain age groups’ attention is arguably increasingly shifting to these more contained communications mediums — channels which offer both private and public comms within the one app, as Facebook does, but which aren’t centrally focused on publicly broadcast personal content. Rather they put the intimacy of one-to-one messaging at their core. Some, like China’s WeChat, even include serendipitous discovery features that are similar to Rando — like its Drift Bottle stranger messaging feature.
Mobile usage is certainly fuelling this messaging-centric shift. There’s no doubt younger social network users have shifted focus away from relying on the workhorse PC in the corner, and on to apps on mobile devices — aka, the device that’s always with its owner. But the mobile is not only highly portable it’s inherently personal, containing an address book of your friends’ phone numbers. Which may be another reason why mobile social networking feels a little different, demands a little more privacy than the old web portal gateway to the social city.
There are certainly various trends at play here. Photo/image-sharing dominating text-based status updates being another, which explains Facebook’s recent focus on photos. But, if Rando’s rise proves anything it proves that humans communicate in more subtle ways than you might imagine, and need less social reinforcement than you might think. And when you think in those terms, it’s not such a huge leap to imagine the shifting sands of communication eroding the foundations of huge walled social strongholds after all. Lots of little apps, all taking away a portion of people’s attention, could eventually add up to a collective social exodus from the old networks. At least of key youth demographics.
Let’s face it, when the ex-owner of former teen-favourite social network MySpace feels capable of some very public Schadenfreude at Facebook’s expense — taking the trouble to dine out on the perception of members’ growing disinterest in Zuckerberg’s empire — something is definitely looking a little wonky in that gigantic electronic country.
MySpace hasn’t expired entirely but exists today, Ozymandias-esque, as a much diminished version of its past all-powerful self. And Murdoch’s Newscorp famously lost a bucket load of cash on the acquisition and sell off. You’d think he’d be too embarrassed to mention it — but instead he’s finding time to chuckle at Facebook’s imagined expense…
Look out Facebook!Hours spent participating per member dropping seriously.First really bad sign as seen by crappy MySpace years ago.
— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) May 17, 2013
Read that again, and it’s the same timeless warning as is contained in Shelley’s poem. Murdoch might as well have tweeted: ‘Look on my past works, Mark Zuckerberg, and despair!’
So while Rando’s relatively modest growth trajectory (vs Facebook or mobile messaging giants) is unlikely to make it onto Zuckerberg’s radar, it’s something any developer working in the social space would do well to take note of. Because even Facebook can’t overlook the wider forces at play in mobile – forces that appear to be reconfiguring the rules of the social game. And Rando is a small but telling member of that movement.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 10:23
One of the early pioneers in the Quantified Self movement has quietly gone out of business. Zeo, a leading maker of hardware and software used by consumers to track sleep and improve their health, has not been operating since the end of last year. A trustee has nearly completed the sale of all company assets. Zeo has been very quiet about the news up until now. In fact, Zeo’s website is still up and doesn’t mention the news.
Zeo was founded by three students at Brown University who had a passion for using the science of sleep and technology to improve people’s lives. The company introduced its first product, the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach in June 2009.
The following week, the first article mentioning the term “Quantified Self” was published in Wired magazine. While the article didn’t mention Zeo, it did claim “a new culture of personal data was taking shape.” And that every facet of life from sleep to mood to pain was becoming trackable. “Even sleep – a challenge to self-track, obviously, since you’re unconscious – is yielding to the skill of the widget maker.”
In 2011, the widget maker Zeo introduced a mobile version to its Sleep Manager product line. By wearing a special headband, with sensors to measure electrical current, the Zeo could track different phases of sleep, such as Light, Deep and REM sleep, in addition to awake time. This data was then sent to an iPhone, iPod, or Android phone, and could be automatically uploaded to a personal and private online sleep database. This data along with some analytical tools could then be used to help improve your sleep and health.What Went Wrong
Former CEO, Dave Dickinson, who lead the company for the past 5 years, tells TechCrunch the problem was not the brand or the product. In fact, the company was growing before it shut down.
Dickinson says the problem was the business model. “The business model is more important than the brand. Consumer health devices are a very capital intensive business. You have to find enough money to address the consumer, funds to address the physicians, and also the retailers, and that’s up and above the device business having to fund inventory.”
Zeo had two business model options on the revenue side. Become a SAAS-like business with subscriptions and recurring revenue or make enough money from a customer who bought just one unit. But that was very difficult when the company started pricing its mobile product at $99, with ‘sub-optimal’ profit margins.
The Newton, Massachusetts-based company had raised more than $30 million over eight years. Dickinson says raising capital was not the problem.Sleep Tracking As A Commodity
Another problem for Zeo was that sleep tracking became a commodity. Devices like the FitBit, lark, and Jawbone Up use an accelerometer to determine sleep and awake cycles, using wrist actigraphy. These products brand their products as sleep trackers just like Zeo.
Dickinson says Zeo had peer reviewed scientific studies, including one published in the Journal of Sleep Research, showing his technology was 7/8th as accurate as data from the a sleep lab, considered to be the gold standard for measuring sleep. The study also says data from wrist actigraphy to measure tiny motions in devices are much less accurate. But that didn’t seem to matter for enough consumers.The Competition
Dickinson says he admires what the Fitbit and others like it have done. Those devices are not limited to one health issue like sleep, which was another problem for Zeo. Those other products work for different health and wellness areas, such as the well established desire to lose weight and become physically fit. Consumers already spend billions of dollars to achieve those goals. And they are already educated and motivated to improve their weight and fitness.
Part of Zeo’s business model required it to educate the consumer on the importance of sleep and how sleep awareness and data can improve your health. Arianna Huffington, Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post, our AOL sister site, has been a crusader on the importance of sleep to your health. But according to Dickinson, “sleep is still lagging behind as important to your wellness. So in that respect, Zeo was early in terms of its mission.”The Product
I used the device for several months last year and thought it was amazing. While wearing the headband took some getting used to, for me and my wife, the data it revealed was eye-popping. In addition to learning that I wasn’t getting enough sleep, which I knew already, I learned about the different types of sleep I was getting.
Most nights, I would get a half hour to an hour of “Deep Sleep” (dark green in the chart below) after going to bed. This is the phase of sleep the helps you feel restored and refreshed.
I would also see several periods of REM sleep, important for overall mental health, mood, and the ability to retain knowledge. The bulk of my time asleep, like most people, was spent in “Light Sleep,” which is better than not sleeping but doesn’t do as much for my health as Deep or REM sleep.
I was able to see graphics like this on my iPhone in the morning.
Here’s a good night with a sleep score of 90 out of 100 and more than 8 hours of sleep.
And here’s a bad night, with a score of 47 with just 4 and a half hours of total sleep.
If I woke up in the morning during REM sleep, it was hard to get out of bed. If I didn’t get enough Deep Sleep, I didn’t feel I had a good night sleep.
Zeo claimed the real value of the program was I could get personalized online sleep coaching. But this required logging in to the website and entering more information about my sleep and other variables I wanted to track. If I could have entered the data right on my iPhone, I would have likely used it more. Since it required logging in on the website, it proved too much friction for me.
I also stopped wearing the headband after awhile because it does feel a bit awkward. The former CEO says the company was aware the device was too invasive for some customers.
But if a less invasive sensor was made and it was easier to enter custom data and get actionable information, I would have used it every night.What’s Next
Dickinson can’t comment on exactly what’s next for Zeo, after all the assets are sold. But he is hopeful that there may be an opportunity for the company to re-emerge in the future.
An article appeared in the MobiHealthNews in March, that reported the Better Business Bureau had listed Zeo as being “out of business” but with no official announcement by the company, the news hasn’t been widely known.
It is still possible to log-in to Zeo’s “My Sleep” site that contains your sleep data. An article on the Quantified Self website today tells users how they can download their data in case the site goes offline.
As word about Zeo’s status has spread, Dickinson says they have received tremendous support and inquires from all over the world from disappointed customers and sleep researchers who had planned to use the units for the research.
He wrote a post on the MobiHealthNews site last week that included some additional lessons learned. He concluded by writing “motivating behavioral change through data visualization can be very powerful, but it is more of an art than a science. We will need far more artists, user interface experts and psychologists to help make our data work harder to motivate better health.”
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 10:16
Zalora, a Zappos-style fashion e-commerce site in South East Asia backed by the Samwer brothers’ Rocket Internet incubator in Germany, is today announcing its latest investment — $100 million, led by Rocket Internet itself, along with regular Samwer investing partners Summit Partners, Investment AB Kinnevik, Verlinvest and Tengelmann Group. The is the largest investment in Zalora to date, and one of the biggest in an e-commerce startup in the region.
Zalora has operations in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and this round comes amid a new flush of money for fashion e-commerce companies: just yesterday it was reported that Fab is raising $250 million at a $1 billion valuation (a deal that only one month ago appeared to be for a $100 million raise).
This is not the first flush of money to come to Zalora. The startup had raised at least two other rounds since launching in March 2012, a “significant double-digit million” investment from JP Morgan in September 2012, and $26 million from Tengelmann in March 2013. It’s been using the funds to build out its footprint into more countries, invest in its logistics and also in R&D, out of its HQ in Singapore, and new platforms — among those, the launch of a iOS app.
As seems to be par for the course with Rocket Internet portfolio companies, Zalora has been no stranger to being subject to the negative rumor mill. In March 2013, Zalora was reported to be shutting down its regional operations in Taiwan, although the company said that it was streamlining and moving some functions to Singapore. That comes after other reports that Oliver Samwer had to go hands-on soon after Zalora’s launch for a little staff motivation. The company appears to already have changed MDs at the company. Today it is being run by Michele Farrario; in September 2012 the MD was Mato Peric.
But any signs of turmoil seem to be behind the company, for now at least. The company is claiming “months of steady growth,” recently delivering its one millionth order, although it doesn’t spell out what those revenues are specifically, noting just “double-digit million USD revenues.” It says that mobile sales make up 25% of all of its sales, which cover 500 brands and some 20,000 products per country site.
“Our company is one of the fastest growing e-commerce companies in South-East Asia and has bright prospects,” said Ferrario in a statement. “It is an honor for us that investors of such great repute have invested into an e-commerce company as young as ZALORA. Our goal is to continue serving up world-class products and services, so everyone in South-East Asia can benefit.”
Rocket Internet got its beginnings building out e-commerce startups across Europe. Mimicking the functions of well-funded e-commerce startups in the U.S., some of those Rocket Internet startups even got acquired as part of the Americans’ inorganic growth strategies.
Rocket Internet still has a strong presence in Europe, but the Samwer brothers have been putting a lot more of their efforts lately into emerging markets like those in South East Asia, Eastern Europe, South America and further afield (case in point: Azmalo, a new Amazon-style online marketplace site in Pakistan launched just this week). The idea is to try to reach a swathe of consumers that represent a new middle class who are only starting to go online to shop, and therefore represent a faster growing user base than consumers in more mature, and more penetrated, markets.
Often the Samwers’ movements are in countries that Rocket’s U.S. counterparts have yet to tackle, making companies like Zalora into potential acquisition targets. In the meantime, adding more Rocket Internet e-commerce startups in each country to bolster existing ones means that they can share backend systems, logistics and get faster economies of scale, essential in getting e-commerce businesses to profit. You can see the full extent of the Rocket Internet empire here.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 09:42
He is proud of the GIF, but remains annoyed that there is still any debate over the pronunciation of the format.
“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations,” Mr. Wilhite said. “They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”
Gizmodo’s Casey Chan pretty much sums up my view on this, in an article so elaborately ridiculous it brings joy, “He’s saying we, the people of America, are wrong. It is a soft ‘G’, pronounced ‘jif’. Sir, why did you not name it JIF like the peanut butter then! End of story. I have long thought the story was over too, but I’m guessing we’re reading different books.”
Chan and I and the US President are just going to ignore Wilhite and just continue pronounce it with a hard ‘G,’ like ‘gift’ without the ‘T.’ Because no one on the planet pronounces it ‘jif.’
End of story.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 08:40
So do we.
Update: We originally thought this email was a missive from Karp’s family. Thank you Scott Kidder for setting us straight.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 08:29
Now in its fourth year, tech conference Echelon will spotlight 52 of the Asia Pacific region’s most promising startups from June 4 to 5 in Singapore. The event will also feature more than 50 speakers and judges, including 500 Startups’ Dave McClure and Sahil Lavingia, who raised $8.1 million for his startup Gumroad when he was just 20 years old, and was an early employee at Pinterest.
“It is our vision at e27 and in organizing Echelon 2013, that this region is given the platform it deserves to find global success in Asia’s emerging knowledge-based economy,” said Mohan Belani, CEO and co-founder of e27, the tech media and events platform that hosts Echelon.
Echelon 2013 will take place at Singapore Expo MAX Atria. Startups participating in the event were picked at the conference’s satellite events, which took in nine countries this spring. The ten startups that will compete for the title of Echelon’s Most Promising Startup are:
POP (Taiwan): an app that allows developers to turn paper sketches into app prototypes.
GridMarkets (Malaysia): a marketplace for institutions to sell their excess CPU capacity and monetize a depreciating asset while allowing buyers to source capacity for much less than primary market public cloud costs.
MathSpace (Australia): a cloud-based math learning software.
MyLegalWhiz (Philippines): a mobile-optimized database that simplifies the tedious task of legal research for lawyers and paralegals
NoonSwoon (Thailand): a dating app that introduces users to other singles who are friends of their friends.
Stamp (Thailand): a cardless mobile loyalty program that generates a unique code with each transaction instead of relying on QR codes or GPS check-in functions.
TanyaDok (Indonesia): a health consultation platform for people seeking quick answers to medical questions
TradeHero (Singapore): a finance app that allows users to practice trading with virtual money using real-time stock market data.
TopAdmit (Taiwan): an online college application editing company
Waygo (Taiwan): a mobile app targeted to travelers that uses optical character recognition to translate Chinese phrases into English
For more information about the event, visit Echelon’s site.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 08:14
Qihoo’s new relationship with Alibaba is noteworthy because Alibaba dominates China’s $190 billion e-commerce market through two of its portals, Taobao and Tmall, and is on its way to becoming the first online retail company in the world to handle $1 trillion a year in transactions.
The launch of 360.etao.com, which currently points to Alibaba’s vertical shopping search engine Etao, is part of aggressive efforts by Qihoo 360 to chip away at Baidu’s dominance in China’s search market. Baidu has 67.2% market share and Qihoo 360 holds 14.9%, according to data from analytics firm CNZZ.
Qihoo 360, which launched its search engine just nine months ago, declared in February (link via Google Translate) that it intends to double its current market share to 20% this year. Other competing products Qihoo 360 has produced include vertical search engines focused on music, software, doctors and mapping services.
Qihoo has sought allies among China’s most important Internet companies. One of its current partners is Sina, which runs Sina Weibo, the country’s largest and most influential microblogging platform. The two companies signed a strategic browser game agreement in January.
Baidu has not been sitting idle. It recently launched security software designed to compete with Qihoo 360′s products (before entering the search business, Qihoo was best known for its antivirus software) and is reportedly trying to increase its share of the search market by purchasing Sogou, Internet company Sohu’s search engine. Baidu also prevailed in a lawsuit that accused Qihoo 360 of engaging in unfair business strategies.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 08:04
Like you and a lot of other people in the Valley, I read the blogs snarking on the Valley, because nothing is funnier than making fun of people just like us, technology elite who download hot apps, ringtones and backgrounds all day and all night – all on our separate phones reserved for daytime and nighttime.
It makes you feel like you’re part of a community instead of a tiny speck of dust in the vast cosmos with no reason for existing beyond randomness.
The best one lately is a Tumblr called Jesus Christ Silicon Valley (note the double meaning), and its most dazzling, scathing piece is this relatively mild one about how silly and vain people’s avatar profile pictures are. Yesterday’s piece on the Tumblr acquisition was also pretty good.
You’ve probably heard the news. No, you’ve definitely heard the news, because it’s Monday and you’ve been reading tech blogs all day, slowly burning your investors’ money. “Keeping tabs on the industry,” of course.
It’s funny because it’s true. Because I am curious and because I like the writing when it’s not too ragey, I dug around a little for the blog’s author. Not too hard obviously (this is TechCrunch after all) — just on Twitter and Quora. The Quora question, which is followed by Keith Rabois, postulates that Jesus is one of us. Just a slob like one of us.
“The secret lies within the pages of the blog itself. Someone so pathologically clever with hints of self-deprecation would hide where least expected: among the very targets referenced.”
And today, I got a response to my Twitter request for an email: An email sent “To the Direction of Alexia Tsotsis” from “email@example.com.”
From: Jesus Christ <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Greetings, To the Direction of Alexia Tsotsis.
Date: May 21, 2013 9:30:28 PM PDT
I am Ivan Moltobov, student in Ukraine.
I am big admiring fan of Tech Valley, and writing about love for Tech Valley on the Jesus Christ Silicon Valley tumblr blogspot by wordpress. You like? What is meaning of word “cock?” Sound funny, Americans seem to enjoy. I write much cock words, get many pageviews, exchange for Bitcoin, buy yak.
American dream to own many yaks.
(I searched and TechCrunch has yet to ‘print’ the phrase “cunty little cumdrops.” What’s with that?!)
Well, now we have “printed” that phrase, Ivan. Moltobov is unGoogleable, in case anyone was about to.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 06:49
You remember Snow Fall, don’t you? It was that awesome interactive reporting piece by The New York Times that everyone talked about for a week.
It was called “the future of online journalism.” It was praised as a way for The New York Times to courageously battle back against online upstarts like Buzzfeed and their non-serious cat spreads. Or to not change the company’s fortunes at all.
The New York Times spent months and had an entire team working on the creation of Snow Fall, and it shows. But what if I told you that you could recreate the same interactive experience in just about an hour? You’d like that, wouldn’t you?
Well, The New York Times wouldn’t.
He recreated the Snow Fall piece using Scroll Kit to show that you didn’t need an army of developers or designers to create the same type of interactive storytelling. In fact, the tools exist today to build other compelling narratives that take advantage of the combination of text, and video, and images.
To show how easy it was, Brown recorded a video of the process, showing how a user could create the same type of experience in under an hour. And he uploaded it to YouTube, and posted it to the Scroll Kit website. There, he introduced it this way:
“The NYT spent hundreads of hours hand-coding ‘Snow Fall.’ We made a replica in an hour.”
The video lived there for about a month, Brown tells me, before receiving a letter from The New York Times legal team, demanding that the video be taken down. After consulting with Scroll Kit’s legal counsel, the team complied with the takedown request, kind of. They actually set the video to private on YouTube so that no one could see it.
But they kept the line about making a replica of Snow Fall on the website. Because, well, it was true.
It wasn’t long before another C&D nastygram from The New York Times arrived, demanding that they not only delete the video from YouTube — which they eventually did — but that they remove any reference to The New York Times from their website.
From Scroll Kit’s perspective, the video was only meant as a way to instruct others about how easy it can be to build a compelling interactive experience, not as a way to aid and abet terrorism copyright infringement.
Brown said the Scroll Kit team was “super excited” to see Snow Fall released and the amazing reception to it. They had been been working on their tools for longer than the NY Times had been working on Snow Fall, and saw it as a validation of their startup. But at the same time, it also represented the inequality between publications that can afford to create interactive stories and those that can’t.
“It’s become a symbol of the potential of journalism, but also the barrier to how something like that could be made,” Brown told me.
If the knock against Snow Fall was that only someplace like The New York Times can afford to create something like that, Brown believes Scroll Kit is the tool that would get costs down enough for smaller organizations and independents to enable a whole new set of unique web experiences.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the legal resources to fight The New York Times — Brown admits that much. But for now, the tiny startup is holding fast and keeping The New York Times reference on its website, and have told the Grey Lady as much.
Unfortunately, she is not amused. She is offended! Peep her legal team’s most recent response, from Senior Counsel Richard Samson:
Dear Mr. Brown:
We are offended by the fact that you are promoting your tool, as a way to quickly replicate copyright-protected content owned by The New York Times Company. It also seems strange to me that you would defend your right to boast about how quickly you were able to commit copyright infringement:
The NYT spent hundreds of hours hand-coding “Snow Fall” We made a replica in an hour.
If you wouldn’t mind using another publication to advertise your infringement tool, we’d appreciate it.
Catégories: News informatiques
mer, 22.05.2013 - 03:14
The Saturday Evening Post has a prominent spot in the history of American magazines. It’s where artist Norman Rockwell made a name for himself, and it has published classic American authors like Edgar Allan Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But if you had no idea that it was still around, you’re not alone — the magazine’s technology director Steve Harman said that many people “are surprised we’re still publishing.”
Yes, it is still putting out a magazine every two months, with a circulation of about 350,000. Subscribers are mostly in their 50s, but The Post is trying to reach younger readers and adapt to the digital world, as recounted in a couple of stories earlier this year. Now it’s taking the next step in that direction with the release of its iPad and iPhone app, which was built by digital publishing company Yudu.
“Lately, there’s been a lot of commitment convert the post into a 21st century media company,” Harman said.
He added that this isn’t The Post’s first move onto tablets and e-readers. It’s already available on the Nook and in Google Play — he said that wasn’t a conscious strategy, but rather a response to overtures from Barnes & Noble and Google. The Post knew it was important to get onto Apple devices too, but it needed to find the right partner to make it happen.
The app itself includes digitized versions of The Post’s issues going back to November/December 2012 — you can enter your existing subscription information, buy a subscription, or purchase individual issues for $3.99 each. The issues themselves are a pretty straightforward PDFs of The Post’s print publication, without additional interactivity or media. Harman said that if Wired represents the cutting edge of what a magazine can do on the iPad, “we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum.”
He doesn’t want to stay that way for long, however — he said The Post chose to work with Yudu because of the promise of adding videos and interactivity. One unique opportunity: The Post already tries to highlight aspects of its long history in the magazine, but the digital versions (which don’t have limited space) provide an opportunity to do that much more of that.
The Post’s broader challenge is trying to court a younger audience without making it seem like it doesn’t value its existing, older readers. I could see that in the May/June table of contents — putting actor Alan Alda‘s face on the cover probably won’t persuade many folks younger than 40 to buy the issue, but there are also stories on Star Trek, Mad Men, and the speed of WiFi in America. And Harman said the magazine’s digital strategy is particularly important for reaching a broader audience. That strategy covers tablet, smartphone, and e-reader editions, and it also includes The Post’s website, which is supposed to be overhauled next month.
Catégories: News informatiques