All posts by Pathik

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Google Acquires VirusTotal, Online Antivirus Scanner

Google has acquired VirusTotal, an online scanner to detect viruses, trojans and other malware. The terms of the acquisition or the amount hasn’t been revealed yet, but it isn’t likely to be much. Following the acquisition, VirusTotal will be able to leverage Google’s massive infrastructure to improve the quality of its service and scale up operations.

We aren’t sure how exactly Google plans to integrate VirusTotal’s online offering into its search feature. For now, VirusTotal has announced that it will continue to operate independently and maintain its existing partnerships.

Here’s the official press release by VirusTotal:

“Our goal is simple: to help keep you safe on the web. And we’ve worked hard to ensure that the services we offer continually improve. But as a small, resource-constrained company, that can sometimes be challenging. So we’re delighted that Google, a long-time partner, has acquired VirusTotal. This is great news for you, and bad news for malware generators, because:

The quality and power of our malware research tools will keep improving, most likely faster; and
Google’s infrastructure will ensure that our tools are always ready, right when you need them.

VirusTotal will continue to operate independently, maintaining our partnerships with other antivirus companies and security experts. This is an exciting step forward. Google has a long track record working to keep people safe online and we look forward to fighting the good fight together with them.”

via VirusTotal

eBay Acquires Svpply; Looking at Social Shopping

eBay has acquired Svpply, a social shopping startup, to improve its chances in the online social shopping space. Svpply is a retail online curation platform which is similar to Pinterest, but focuses more on online commerce. It allows users to post and manage collections of pictures of stuff they’d like to buy. Svpply aims to provide an online windowshopping experience, and then translate that into actual sales.

Svpply apparently has close to 1.1 million products in its database, and adds nearly 3,000 products every day, covering more than 70,000 brands.

It seems to be a talent acquisition, and eBay will likely try to integrate Svpply into its own offering, and drive sales using its user base. While the acquisition amount hasn’t been revealed, it’s likely to be low.

eBay’s official statement:

“eBay Inc. has acquired Svpply.com, an innovative website that brings shoppers, tastemakers and merchants together onto a single site by offering a curated selection of stylish merchandise from across the Web. Users on Svpply.com recommend their style discoveries to other users, and display galleries of items they want or own.

With Svpply.com, eBay gains access to technology talent to further improve the shopping and selling experience for its customers. Svpply.com assets – including a talented team of six designers and developers – are well-suited to help eBay advance more personalized experiences and merchandising options on eBay.com.”

Amazon Launches New Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD Variants; Priced at $159 to $499

Amazon has launched three new Kindles at its event today, and it’s not done. It also launched two new variants of the Kindle Fire, which has been one of the most popular tablets in the last year. The Kindle Fire has been refreshed with better hardware, and Amazon also launched a Kindle Fire HD with a bigger display and even better hardware.

Amazon Kindle Fire

The new, refreshed Kindle Fire comes with a 7 inch display, a faster processor and twice the amount of RAM in the original Kindle Fire. It has also dropped the pricing down to $159. The refreshed Kindle Fire starts shipping from September 14.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Here’s the more interesting part. It also launched two new versions of the Kindle Fire HD, with 7 inch and 8.9 inch displays, and some really good hardware under the hood.

The 8.9 inch Kindle Fire HD features a larger display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, and a display density of 254 ppi. It is powered by a TI OMAP 4470 and includes stereo speakers. It also offers dual band Wi-Fi support for better connectivity and new MIMO technology.

The 16 GB variant of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is priced at $299. The 16 GB variant of the Kindle Fire HD 7 (with a 7 inch display) is priced at $199. Amazon will soon reveal the exact difference between the two in terms of hardware specifications.

Besides these three, Amazon also unveiled another variant of the Kindle Fire HD. It announced a Kindle Fire HD (8.9 inch) with 4G LTE bundled in at just $50 per month. This 4G Kindle Fire HD comes with 32 GB of internal storage, and is priced at $499, at par with the entry level iPad. The Kindle Fire HD variants will ship on November 20.

via The Verge

Amazon Unveils The New Kindle PaperWhite

After Nokia’s event yesterday, it’s Amazon’s turn today to try to grab the limelight, and it seems to be succeeding so far. It has unveiled three new Kindles at its event so far.

The Kindle PaperWhite is Amazon’s newest Kindle. It comes with a back-lit PaperWhite display developed by Amazon, which enables users to read books without any external light source and doesn’t cause any strain on the eyes, which is why people prefer reading on Kindles.

The display has a higher resolution and offers 62% more pixels with a density of 212 ppi as well as higher contrast. Despite having a back-lit display, it can still offer around 8 weeks of battery life, which is pretty impressive.

It also comes with the standard list of Kindle features like instant book delivery, Whispersync, Free Amazon cloud storage for your content, access to a huge library of books on Amazon etc.

The Amazon PaperWhite has been priced at $119, and ships on October 1. Amazon also launched a 3G enabled version of the Kindle PaperTouch at $179.

Besides that, it refreshed its Kindle and dropped the price down to $69. This will be the entry-level Kindle targeting low budget users.

via The Verge

Twitter Beats Facebook in Mobile Ad Revenue, Google Dominates

eMarketer has released a new report which outlines the state of the mobile advertising market in the U.S. According to the agency, the U.S. mobile ad market will be worth $2.6 billion in 2012. Most of the value will be captured by Google, which will account for around 56% of all mobile ad sales, or nearly $1.45 billion. The other two major players are Facebook and Twitter. Surprisingly, despite being much larger than Twitter, Facebook is expected to generate only around half as much in mobile ad revenue.

Twitter is expected to make around $129.7 million, while Facebook will generate $72.7 million. This highlights the problems Facebook is facing in trying to generate revenue by monetizing its massive mobile audience, which has been one of the major factors driving its stock price down.

Eventually, we expect Facebook to figure out the mobile monetization puzzle, and become the second largest player in the mobile ad space after Google. The report expects that to happen as soon as next year.

Facebook could also lead the mobile display ad market by 2014, which is currently led by Pandora and Google. While the mobile search ad market will be dominated by Google completely, the mobile display ad market will be more balanced in terms of players.

The entire mobile ad market is expected to be worth $11.86 billion in 2016. If Facebook figures out a way to capitalize on this, its share price would rebound just as quickly as it fell. Google will try its best to continue to dominate the market though. It’s highly likely it’ll succeed in the mobile search ad space, but not social or display ads.

Kobo Unveils New eReaders and an Android Tablet

Kobo, which has been largely overshadowed by Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the eReader category, has announced a series of new devices targeted primarily at the eReader and tablet markets. It has launched two new eReaders, Kobo Glo and Kobo Mini, and an Android tablet, the Kobo Arc.

Kobo Mini

The Kobo Mini is a $79 device which comes with a 5 inch E-ink display and 2 GB of internal storage. It also offers Wi-Fi and will compete with the basic Kindle.

Kobo Glo

The Kobo Glo is a $129 device, and comes with a ComfortLight display which enables night-time reading. It has a 6 inch display, and couples internal storage with a microSD slot.

Kobo Arc

This is the most interesting device Kobo unveiled. It is a 7 inch tablet which is priced at $199 for 8 GB and $249 for 16 GB. It comes with a 1.5 GHz dual core processor, and is powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, presumably with a customized Kobo UI. It also has 1 GB of RAM and an IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels.

However, we expect Amazon to release an upgraded Kindle Fire today, which could pretty easily beat this device, not only in terms of hardware, but also pricing and content.

Let’s just wait and watch.

via Techcrunch

Facebook Completes Instagram Acquisition

Facebook acquired Instagram, the fast growing mobile photo sharing startup which challenged its dominance in the space, for more than $1 billion right before its IPO. While the payout to Instagram will be much lower now that its stock has tanked to less than 50% of its IPO price, the Facebook-Instagram acquisition is now finally complete.

Facebook just put out a press release, “Welcoming Instagram to Facebook“.

“So many of us at Facebook love using Instagram to share moments with our friends. And for so many people, sharing photos with friends is an important part of the Facebook experience. That’s why we’re so excited to bring Instagram to Facebook and see what we can create together.

As we said from the beginning, we are committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Instagram will continue to serve its community, and we will help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure. We also can’t wait to work with the talented Instagram team to improve the mobile experience.

We’re looking forward to an exciting future with the Instagram team and to all of the great new experiences we’re going to be able to build together.”

Instagram also officially announced the closure of the deal, and also let out an interesting statistic — over 5 billion photos have been shared through Instagram.

While Facebook has stated that it will maintain Instagram as a separate service, it’ll be interesting to see the synergies that could be derived between their mobile photo apps.

Facebook Cancels Secondary Offering

Facebook’s stock has been completely hammered since it went public, especially in the last couple of weeks. It is trading near its all time low, at around $17. Investors seem to have lost confidence that Facebook will be able to monetize its growing mobile audience. With Facebook’s upcoming secondary offering, the stock price was bound to be pushed even lower. However, Facebook announced today that it has cancelled its seconday offering.

Zuckerberg won’t be selling any stock for another year, and Marc Andreessen and Don Graham will be selling only some of their holdings to pay taxes.

Facebook is trying to time its employee lockup periods such that there is no sudden dumping of its stock on the market. Instead of holding its planned secondary offering to pay for taxes related to RSUs, it will pay the taxes from its cash reserves which increased by $10 billion following the IPO.

While Facebook’s IPO is perceived to be a flop, it was a hit in the sense they managed to raise the maximum cash they could at the highest possible valuation they could do it.

Zuckerberg has already made it clear that they aren’t going to focus on the stock price, but will rather focus on the underlying business itself.

While there will still be significant downward pressure on its stock when the lockup period expires, that’s still a couple of months away.

via Techcrunch

comScore: Android, Apple Continue to Rule U.S. Smartphone Market in July

It’s that time of the year when comScore releases its report on the U.S. mobile phone market. It has revealed numbers for the quarter ending July 2012, and the numbers aren’t really surprising.

Apple was the only OEM which gained in terms of mobile phone market share last quarter. It managed to increase its market share by 1.9% to 16.3%, while both Samsung and LG lost less than 1% each, ending up with 25.6% and 18.4% of the market respectively. Motorola shed some market share to end up with 11.2% of the market, while HTC, surprisingly, gained 0.4% share to end up with 6.4%. The overall mobile phone market expanded to around 234 million.

Smartphone users increased to more than 114 million in the U.S., and the market was dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone. Google increased its share of the smartphone market by 1.4% to 52.2%, while Apple increased its share by 2% to 33.4%.

RIM, Microsoft and Symbian all lost market share. While I wouldn’t bet on the same for RIM and Symbian, Microsoft could reverse the trend in the next quarter with the holiday season coming up, and Windows Phone 8 coming next month.

With the iPhone 5 launching in the next week, expect Apple’s share of the market to shoot up again when comScore reports the numbers in November.

via comScore

Samsung Galaxy S III Overtakes iPhone 4S in August; Victory Short-lived

The Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung’s flagship Android smartphone, has apparently become the top smartphone in the U.S., in terms of sales. While surpassing the most popular smartphone — the iPhone 4S — in the market may seem like a huge achievement, it’s really not.

Apple is expected to launch the next version of the iPhone – the iPhone 5 – on September 12. As users gear up to buy the latest iPhone, many have been holding off their iPhone purchases in the last couple of months, which has led to a decline in iPhone 4S sales.

However, September is expected to be a very good month for Apple, as scores of customers buy its latest iPhone, should it launch it then.

We expect the iPhone 5 to help Apple easily reclaim its throne in the U.S. and multiple international markets for the remainder of 2012, as consumers clamor to buy the newest iPhone.

Samsung’s victory will be short-lived. The Galaxy S III’s prospects may also be diminished by the fact that Apple may now try to get a ban on sales of the device in the U.S., following its success with getting Samsung’s other devices banned last month.

For now, just brace yourselves. The iPhone 5 is coming.

Apple Announces Special Event for September 12th

via AppleInsider