All posts by Apurva Chaudhary

Apurva is a tech enthusiast, works at ClassMatrix , cycles on her Firefox Cyclone, and runs a newsletter at Techknots . Follow her on Twitter

Blueseed Gains US and Indian Startup Entrepreneurs Confidence

Blueseed, a visa-free startup incubator planning to locate on a vessel anchored in international waters near the coast of Silicon Valley, announced in a survey that 550+ entrepreneurs from 180+ startups in 50+ countries have shown interest in taking up residence on the ship.

Blueseed concept vessel

In the survey, 25.2% of startups originating from the US have shown interest in locating on Blueseed. While 8.9% of Indian startups and 5.4% of Australian startups have shown similar interest. Check out the graph for details on other countries:

Founded in late 2011, Blueseed was started by two former employees of The Seasteading Institute. The company aims at working on launching a ship near Silicon Valley which will serve as a visa-free startup community and entrepreneurial incubator. The project is funded by PayPal founder  Peter Thiel. The need for such a vessel originated as existing Visa system in the US does not support Entrepreneurs and there has been no progress on legislation like Startup Visa Act. Entrepreneurs like Amit Aharoni, an Israeli national and a graduate of Stanford Business School, who secured $1.65 million in venture capital funding, received a letter from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) denying his visa request and notifying him to leave the country immediately. His startup, at that time, employees 9 employees. However, when the issue went public, he was granted a Visa.

Benefits Blueseed offers

Blueseed’s vessel is to be located 12 miles from Bay area in International waters. As the Ship will be in the international waters, entrepreneurs will require no visa to visit or work. Domestic US laws will also not be applicable on people living on the ship. However, it’s assuring that the US still has the right to “act to prevent violations of its environmental, customs, fiscal, or immigration laws, or to apprehend vessels suspected of violating them” within that zone if it sees fits, according to Wired, as fully international waters begin only 44km offshore. Blueseed aims to create a dorm type environment where it wants to bring together the best technology minds and ideas from around the world. Apart from that, Blueseed will also be offering facilities such as 1GBPS internet connection, twice a day ferry to the coast, and more.

What’s not clear

Blueseed hasn’t confirmed yet, but it is expected to register its vessel with the Bahamas or the Marshall Islands for international tax regulations.

What concerns us

Although the idea is novel, what concerns us is that with a bunch load of talented people on board, the ship is going to face hell lots of poaching issues which might lead to yet another Anti-poaching agreement. Not only are such agreements distasteful, they might slow down employees over all growth.

While 38.1% of Startups would move to Blueseed if the environment met their needs right now, Blueseed is slated for launch only in Q3 2012.

HP To Get Back In Tablet Business With Windows 8

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, wants HP to get back into the ever booming tablet business, reports Bangkok Post. Having burnt their hands with WebOS powered TocuhPad tablets, this time HP will be bringing tablets in the market with Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system.

After acquiring Palm for $1.2 billion, HP launched their first WebOS based TouchPad tablets in the market. However, due to poor response from the market, HP decided to shut down TouchPad tablets and sold the available stock for $99, which sold like hot cakes. HP then shut down their smartphone business and was looking to sell WebOS. However, since it didn’t find any buyer, HP decided to open source the OS.

Now, HP is ready to start production on its tablets based on Windows 8. HP’s Windows 8 based tablets will come with cloud-based integration that will allow users to sync files between multiple devices.

Meg Whitman, after taking charge of HP,  reversed the decision to spin off the PC business. Under her leadership HP gain its foothold again in the market.

During a surprise appearance at the Global Influencer Summit 2012 in Shanghai, Whitman said that, as the world becomes more digital, HP’s PC and printing franchises continue to increase in importance. She said that, “PCs are a part of how we create and access digital information. We’ve found that we can differentiate our products through design and innovation. As the only player with leadership positions in both the consumer and the enterprise markets, we can bridge that gap that is being created by the consumerisation of IT,” reports ARNnet.

Apple still remains the darling of consumers when it comes to tablet market share with Apple’s iPad capturing 68 per cent tablet market share in the first quarter of 2012, according to IDC.

 

Apple To Drop Google Maps In iOS 6; Will Debut Homebrewed Mapping Solutions

Apple is ready to ditch Google Maps in favor of home brewed mapping solution on its iOS operating system that powers iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, reports 9To5MacContinue reading Apple To Drop Google Maps In iOS 6; Will Debut Homebrewed Mapping Solutions

Spotify Launches New Version Of Windows/Mac App – Brings Playlist-Sased Radio, Post To Tumblr & More

Spotify has announced tons of new features to its application on Windows and Mac OS, while it rolls out Version 0.8.3 today. The new features include:

  • Ability to listen to radio stations based on a playlist or an album: When users are on any album or a playlist they can click on Start Playlist Radio or Start Album Radio to listen to similar music using Spotify Radio.

  • Instant Search: Instant search, made popular by Google’s search engine has made its entry to Spotify app. This will let users hover over results in the search suggestion drop-down, or use the arrow keys to navigate between them, they’ll render automatically in the main view.

  • Sharing made easier: Users can now right click on any album, playlist or track and select “Copy Embed Code” to get embeddable HTML codes for users to easily post Spotify Play Buttons on their website or blog.

  • New Sharing options: Spotify has not only made it easier to embed a song but has also added new sharing options. Users can now share any music content from Spotify directly to their Tumblr, and get a shortened spoti.fi link for Twitter.

Earlier this month, Spotify launched its iPhone and iPad app. Spotify, which was available only in US, is now available in 12 other countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

The update will be rolled out to users, but the impatient ones can download newest version of the app from Spotify website and enjoy the new features.

RIM Finally Appoints CMO & COO

Research In Motion (RIM), has finally filled in the gap created by former CMO Keith Pardy’s resignation from the position. RIM just announced that it has hired French telecom executive Frank Boulben  as the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Apart from that, RIM also hired Kristian Tear as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

RIM

Previously, Kristian served as Executive Vice President at Sony Mobile Communications AB, as a Chairman of the Product Business Council, Chairman of the Accessories Business Unit, Board member of Sony Mobile Japan and China. He has also served as the Corporate Vice President of Sony Ericsson Western Europe based in Munich, with responsibility for the region Western Europe and Global Customer Accounts.  Prior to that, he served as Corporate Vice President at Sony Ericsson Headquarters in London.  From 1999-2005, he served as President and CEO of Ericsson in various regions and markets, including in South East Asia, Germany, Switzerland and Austria and Central America. As for Frank Boulben, he comes LightSquared where he served as Executive Vice President for Strategy, Marketing and Sales.

Why is this important?

RIM, of late, has been in huge turmoil. RIM’s share price has tumbled more than 75 percent in the past 13 months. BlackBerry’s market share has been more or less flat and had failed to attract customers in last couple of months. RIM’s global smartphone market share slipped to 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from 13.6 percent a year earlier, according to research firm IDC. The only thing that could save RIM is BlackBerry 10 OS which is not making its debut until late 2012.

If you look at RIM’s recent marketing strategies — wakeupbehold, it’s just yawn-worthy even though it’s trying to take a jab at Apple’s iPhone. RIM needs someone to make BlackBerry’s cool. With the new hires, hopefully, RIM will suck less now.

Tata DOCOMO Launches Deal Zone – Limited Period Partnership With Snapdeal.com

Tata DOCOMO, Indian cellular service provider, has announced a limited period exclusive partnership with Snapdeal.com to launch ‘Deal Zone’. Snapdeal is an eCommerce daily deal website that features discount offers across lifestyle segments such as dining, health & beauty, entertainment and travel.

With the deal, Tata Docomo GSM subscribers can subscribe to SMS alerts on a range of products and services such as restaurants, spas, electronic goods, fashion accessories, personal care products and lot more. Apart from that, subscribers can also avail an additional benefit of up to 15% off on all offers for services like restaurants , spas, entertainment, etc and  up to 2 percent off on product categories like Mobiles, Fashion and Electronics among others featured on the Snapdeal.com website. Deal Zone will cost subscribers Re. 1 per day and is an auto renewed service. However, customers can unsubscribe the service if they wish to. Tata DOCOMO GSM customers can send SMS DEAL to 53333 to avail this service.

Delhi-based, Snapdeal.com was launched in 2010 and has raised $40 million from Bessemer, NVP & IndoUS Venture Partners. In 2010, Snapdeal acquired group buying site Grabbon and more recently an online retailer of sports – Esportsbuy.com.

Google Plus Announces Hangouts On Air For Everyone

Google has announced in a blog post that Google Plus has now opened Hangouts on Air  to its users. Hangouts is the most notable feature of Google Plus, the deserted island social network. Hangouts on Air will allow users to broadcast live to an audience while recording to YouTube.

Google Plus users can:

  • Broadcast publicly. By checking “Enable Hangouts On Air,” you can broadcast your live hangout—from the Google+ stream, your YouTube channel or your website—to the entire world.
  • See how many viewers you’ve got. During your broadcast, you can look inside the hangout to see how many people are watching live.
  • Record and re-share. Once you’re off the air, we’ll upload a public recording to your YouTube channel, and to your original Google+ post. This way it’s easy to share and discuss your broadcast after it’s over.

However, it should be noted that Google has limited the functionality to YouTube users whose account has been previously flagged for copyright infringement. The feature is also being rolled out in the following 40 countries: Argentina,  Morocco, Australia, Netherlands, Brazil, New Zealand, Canada, Nigeria, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Poland, Czech Republic, Portugal, Egypt, Russian Federation, France, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Israel, Switzerland, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey, Kenya, Ukraine, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Mexico, and United States.

Check out the video:

Google has previously rolled out this feature for a select number of broadcasters. Google has earlier launched YouTube Live, a platform to stream live videos on YouTube to a select number of broadcasters, competing against the likes of Ustream and Justin.tv.

Working towards Google TV?

Google’s social network hasn’t been able to attract a number of users as it does not offer anything that other social networks out there have to offer. However, with Google Plus’ recent feature addition, it looks like Google Plus might want to become a video hub for everything video along with YouTube. It should also be noted that Google recently bought Machinima, original video content producer for YouTube. Now combine all this together — Live Stream Content, Original Video Content, Movies on Google Play; and it’s tons of  video content for Google TV.

Evernote Acquires Penultimate – A Digital Handwriting App

Evernote, the note-taking service, has acquired Cocoa Box’s Penultimate for an undisclosed amount. For the uninitiated, Penultimate is  a digital handwriting app designed for the iPad and available for just 99 cents in the Apple app store. The app looks like a notebook and users can jot down notes, draw an image with the help of a stylus or fingers, or even post pictures.

Ben Zotto, the founder of Penultimate, will be joining Evernote. Ben also notes in a blog post that Evernote will not only not shut down the app but will also make the app available on various platforms. At the time of writing this, Penultimate already offers basic Evernote integration where users can send notes directly to Evernote.

The acquisition makes sense for Evernote and Penultimate. Evernote is already good at handwriting recognition and its integration with Penultimate will bring Evernote to the iPad audience. In fact, according to Apple, it’s the #4 best-selling paid iPad app of all time. Whereas for Penultimate, Evernote will keep the app independent and bring it to a wider audience with its promise of bringing it on various other platforms. Ben Zotto will also lead the effort to put handwriting and digital ink functionality into other Evernote products and platforms.

Currently, the Evernote app is available on OSes such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Chrome OS, Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS, WebOS, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone. We can’t wait to see how Evernote integrates Penultimate on its app on touch enabled operating systems.

Evernote recently raised $70 million in a Series-D round at a valuation of $1 Billion from Meritech Capital and CBC Capital. The company is said to be preparing for an IPO.

Buy Penultimate for iPad for 99 cents from iTunes App Store.

Facebook acquires Location based stalking app Glancee

It’s not even a month that Facebook splurged $1 billion on Instagram, Facebook has bought yet another mobile app. Glancee, a location based discovery app has announced that it has been acquired by Facebook.

Although it’s not clear how much Facebook paid for the startup, given the popularity of Glancee it shouldn’t be much. Based in Menlo Park, California and founded in late 2010, Glancee, via its mobile apps lets user connect the app to their Facebook account and discover people nearby them who share friends and interests. Glancee is just a competitor to tech press sweetheart Highlight, which made a lot of noise during the SXSW. Glancee’s three co-founders and the only full time employees will join Facebook following the shut down of the app.

From Glancee’s homepage:

“We started Glancee in 2010 with the goal of bringing together the best of your physical and digital worlds. We wanted to make it easy to discover the hidden connections around you, and to meet interesting people. Since then Glancee has connected thousands of people, empowering serendipity and pioneering social discovery.

We are therefore very excited to announce that Facebook has acquired Glancee and that we have joined the team in Menlo Park to build great products for over 900 million Facebook users. We’ve had such a blast connecting people through Glancee, and we truly thank our users for being a part of the Glancee community.”

Facebook, now with 900+ million users is agrresively moving towards its mobile strategy. Facebook is also aiming for an IPO on May 18th. In its Amendment S1 form, Facebook has proposed that it intends to make available 337 million shares at an expected IPO price between $28 and $35. Since 2012, Facebook has acquired five startups — including the high profile Instagram buyout, Tagtile, Gazehawk, Sendoid, and now Glancee. Since its Instagram buyout, Facebook has made Instagram filters to Facebook for every phone.
Why the buyout?

Facebook’s recent acquisition clearly indicates that it wants its users to be active and spend more time on its mobile apps/site. Facebook’s monthly active users on mobile apps/site now equals to 40% of its user base. Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, said in a video posted yesterday to accompany the investor road show, “Mobile is a key area of growth for Facebook,”

TRAI Blocks All Pesky Calls/SMS From Mid-Night

TRAI seems to be adamant with its decision to enforce a restriction of 100 SMS per day per SIM for all subscribers. This decision comes after Telecom Operators lobby COAI requested to go away with 100 SMS per day restriction on grounds of fundamental rights to subscribers.

sms-spam

Telecom Operators lobby COAI Rajan S Mathews said. “All our operators are ready to implement the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to curb the menace of unsolicited calls and SMSes. However, we are concerned about the 100 SMSes per SIM a day and we will be in discussion with the regulator to sort this out”.

In order to stop the annoyance of unwanted Spam calls/SMS TRAI has no plans to rethink this decisions. Starting Mid-Night today, all operators are to follow the 100 SMS per day restrictions on its subscribers.

“In order to curb the menace of pesky calls and messages, as of now, this (limit of hundred SMS per day per SIM) will be applicable to all users. If in future some problem arises, we will see the things,” a Trai source said.

Subscribers can chose to partially as well as fully block category. If subscribers chose partially block category they can receive SMS from category chosen by them. Currently TRAI has categories — banking and financial products, real estate, education, health, consumer goods, automobiles, communication and entertainment, tourism and leisure.

To register under fully blocked category users need to send an SMS “START 0″ to 1909 without quotes. To register under partially block category users need to replace 0 with category number. For example to receive SMS from communication category users can send SMS “START 6″ to 1909.

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