Zynga Now Has 1,000 Employees and $835 Million In Annual Revenue

Zynga, the company behind popular Facebook games like FarmVille and MafiaWars, is experiencing an amazing growth. Within 1 year, the number of employees has jumped from 375 to 1,000, offices have been established in India, revenue has been growing steadily and is estimated to be $835 Million for 2010, and above all, customers and investors are both more happy than they have been with probably any other start-up.

The games Zynga offers may sound silly and goofy to some, but they are played by 211 Million active users each month. Zynga makes money by letting people buy virtual in-game products using real money  and even though the number of people who engage in these transactions are very small, it adds up to several hundred million dollars each year. People believe Zynga is the hottest digital property coming out of Silicon valley since Facebook and Twitter.

This, however, is just the beginning! Or at least that is what Zynga’s founder Mark Pincus thinkgs. Mr. Pincus who has been involved in at least 3 different start-ups before Zynga, wants to make Zynga for social apps what Google is to search; and given the current track record, nobody can say he is over expecting. It is estimated that between 20% to 30% of Facebook users come to the platform for playing games. This strong dependency of Facebook and Zynga on each other has also brewed some major differences in the recent past, but both companies claim that all that is now behind them and the relationship between the two social media giants is stronger than ever.

Some analysts also believe that Zynga is planning to go public very soon and the company is currently valued at around $5 Billion. An interesting thing to note is that despite Google’s fierce competition with Facebook in social media properties, Google has invested heavily in Zynga along with Softbank. On the other hand, Zynga has also partnered with Apple to offer its games on the iPhone. This intricate web of collaboration makes all the internet giants more dependent on each other than they would probably like to admit.

Apple Posts Antenna Performance Video Targeting Droid X

The antenna issue with the latest iPhone 4 has become a major headache for Apple. When Apple announced free cases for all iPhone 4 owners, many thought that the issue is behind us but interestingly Apple doesn’t want to leave it at that. Apple recently created an Antenna performance page on its website that compares iPhone 4’s antenna issues with other major smart phones in an effort to prove Apple’s point that iPhone 4 is not any different when it comes to antenna issues.

Apple does that by posting pictures and videos that show the drop in signal for other smart phones when held in a way that attenuated the signal. Up til now, Apple had targeted Blackberry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris, Samsung Omnia and Nokia N97 Mini. However, now Apple has also added Droid X to the list and in addition to posting pictures and video about the antenna test with Droid X, Apple has also post the video to its YouTube page. Apple’s targeting Droid X is a little bit different than other smart phones since Droid X has been called a “serious iPhone  competitor”. The strategy Apple has adopted to tackle this issue is not winning Apple any friends in the mobile phone industry. In fact, by calling out names and forcing people to see how other smart phones also have issues, Apple is giving its competitors another chance to come together against Apple’s growing share of the mobile phone market.

India Unveils A $35 Laptop!

Forget iPad, the $500 touch screen tablet from Apple! India has just unveiled a touch screen computer that it plans to sell for $35 starting next year. The iPad-like device is aimed towards enabling students for better learning opportunities. The computer will have a built-in word processor, video conferencing capability and most importantly a web browser.

There are no details available, as of yet, about the exact specifications of the drive such as processor speed, RAM and display size, but it is clear that the device would not have any internal storage and would completely rely on cloud-based apps or external memory cards that could be plugged in for local storage. Indian government has created the prototype with the help of two most prestigious institutes, IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) and IIS (Indian Institute of Science), and is now contacting manufacturers in an effort to enable mass production of the device.

Such a low price for the device has been made possible due to the falling hardware costs and the ability to perform most of the necessary functions through free software like Linux or cloud-based apps. Furthermore, Indian government aims to lower the price more to eventually $10 per tablet in a year or two making the device almost disposable for users who can afford it. In addition to this, Indian government also plans to bring broadband internet to 25,000 colleges across the country in an effort to promote learning.

Do you think India will be able to keep the price so low once the project moves from R&D to mass production?

[Image Credit BBC]

Microsoft Brand Gets a new Tagline: “Be What’s Next”

Microsoft hasn’t exactly been cutting edge when it comes to technology and innovation. However, in an effort to compete with rivals like Apple and Google, Microsoft has inititated a rebranding strategy with a new tag line. “Be What’s Next” is what you will see on many Microsoft promotions in a few days.

The announcement was made today at Microsoft Global Experience Conference in Atlanta. A video clip was also displayed at the conference with different logos for various Microsoft products. The spokesman Lou Gellos explained that the logos are not new logos but “directional examples” shown to the employees.  Many people think that the tagline doesn’t follow the approach Microsoft has adopted since last few years. With no game-changing products being introduced and slow rate of adoption for innovative technologies, it is hard to perceive Microsoft as the company of tomorrow; something which the new tag line hopes to achieve.

What do you think about this new branding strategy? Would it give Microsoft something a boost or would it be another object of ridicule for Microsoft?

[Via SeattlePi]

Was Yahoo Down For More Than an Hour?

Yahoo-Down Reports are coming in that Yahoo was not accessible to a certain subset of users for well over an hour. It’s not exactly clear what happened, but the problem appears to have impacted a significant number of users. DBKP notes that complaints have been received from users in diverse locations like Virginia, USA and Mumbai, India.

A discussion on Neowin suggests that at least a portion of the affected users were having trouble due to issues with Comcast and AT&T’s DNS service. The problems seem to have been resolved for most users. However, in case you are still having trouble accessing Yahoo Search or Yahoo Mail, try your luck with alternate DNS services like OpenDNS and Google Public DNS. If you are not comfortable with manually changing your DNS settings, DNS Jumper can do it automatically for you.

Yahoo has been accessible on my end throughout the day. However, I use OpenDNS, which apparently is not affected by this outage. Don’t forget to let us know if Yahoo is/was down for you.

15-Year Old Pwnes Apple App Store Quality Check

Today I am presenting to you, the iPhone App Handy Light. Possibly developed by a 15-year old and with the Fisher Price look and feel, it has got nothing more to it than five simple colors in which you can make the screen glow respectively. This might come in handy as torchlight. However, running in the background, is an app, which lets you tether your internet connection over Wifi.

Apple app store needs strict quality checks. However, this $.99 torchlight app was so simple that it could not give them a thought that such capabilities can co-exist in this KISS from a 15 year old!

Using this app, you can use your iPhone as a 3G modem to dial an Internet connection from your computer. I know. You will say this can already be done but, the catch with Handy Light is that you do not pay the stupid $20 per month that AT&T so badly wants from you for dialing an internet connection using the 3G modem in your iPhone.

As obvious, such awesomeness does not remain hidden for long and as word started spreading, Apple came to know about this app. Apple has now removed Handy Lights from the app store. However, those who have it installed already, can still reap the benefits.


Adobe Planning to Introduce Sandboxing Technologies in Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Internet explorer have become a top favorite with hackers. Internet Explorer with its innumerable vulnerabilities forms an excellent learning ground for crackers. Another hot favorite with them is Adobe Reader.


Both Adobe and its users are fed up by continuous release of updates and follow up hack attempts in spite of these updates. In a recent announcement, Adobe has announced that it will release its next Reader software as a sandboxed application.

Sandboxing prevents an application from accessing the underlying data and creates a virtual environment for the application to run. This keeps the processes within the application free from each other and prevents them from accessing data from the computer.

Brad Arkin, Adobe’s director of security and privacy says,

With sandboxing, anyone who encounters a malicious PDF will find that a successful exploit is kept within the sandbox.

The sandboxing approach however, cannot ensure complete safety, as the sandbox itself has to be powerful enough. However, it will need two levels of breach before any actual data is compromised.


Winamp now supports WebM Playback

NO matter how many feature rich or lightweight media players come into the market, there are people who still swear by Winamp. Winamp is extremely popular because of its low memory footprint and for being a reputed media player for the last 12 years.

Winamp has a strong user’s base and has evolved with time continuously. Keeping up with this, Winamp has introduced a VP8 decoder in its latest build of version 5.581. This will allow Winamp to playback WebM videos.

WebM was introduced in May by Google and has between popular for the web in theory. However, Winamp being desktop software poses as an early adopter in adding native support for this video format. WebM is already available in VLC media player and Miro video player.

More information can be found at the  official Winamp blog, which explains WebM as,

WebM’s file structure is based on the Matroska container. WebM defines the file container structure, video and audio formats. The video streams are compressed with the VP8 video codec, while the audio streams are compressed with Vorbis audio codec.

This brings WebM as a strong contender for desktop videos unlike other formats like FLV, which have remained a web phenomenon right from their inception.

Yahoo Starts Testing Microsoft Search Listings

Quite recently, we told you that Yahoo was going to start testing with Microsoft soon, and today, they have officially announced that Yahoo is now testing organic and paid search listings from Microsoft’s Bing powered search backend.

Yahoo has begun testing displaying organic and paid listings using Microsoft’s search engine Bing. The only difference between the older and newer search is that the results will no longer be served by Yahoo, however, the interface and design of Yahoo search will remain the same.


As seen in the screenshot above, the organic search results in the yellow boxes are powered by Microsoft and include a mix of both organic and paid listings, the rest of the content on the page is still processed by Yahoo themselves. Right now, the Microsoft powered search listings will only be displayed on Yahoo web search.

However, Yahoo is also planning to include the Microsoft powered search listings on Yahoo! Mobile properties. Yahoo plans to roll out full Microsoft integration to all US and Canada users by August/September timeframe. More at the Yahoo! Search Blog.

Apple Makes $3.25 Billion Profit in 3rd Quarter, 78% Revenue Increase

Apple who have had a few big launches this year including the and have had a profitable 3rd quarter with a 78% increase in earnings. In the 3rd Quarter Apple made $15.7 billion in revenues and $3.25 billion in profits.

Apple Logo

In the 3rd quarter, Apple sold 3.47 million Macs which was a 33% increase YoY. They also sold 8.4 million which was a 61% growth over iPhone sales from same quarter last year. Apple also sold 3.27 million iPad during this period and 9.41 million iPods including .

It was a phenomenal quarter that exceeded our expectations all around, including the most successful product launch in Apple’s history with iPhone 4,said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. iPad is off to a terrific start, more people are buying Macs than ever before, and we have amazing new products still to come this year.

Steve Jobs hinted that there will be more amazing new products coming this year, which is basically the new line of iPod Touch devices with 5MP camera and FaceTime which is expected in September and may also include other new products in the iPod family. The new devices may also include new Macs too.

Overall Apple generated over $4 billion cash during the quarter and are expecting about $18 billion revenue in the 4th quarter. This is definitely a good quarter for Apple and with the iPhone 4 just launched it would add to their revenue coffers.

In addition to the US revenue, Apple is all set to launch iPad in 9 more countries this Friday and also launch the iPhone 4 in 18 more countries shortly. Also, unlike the iPhone 3GS, Apple was also supposed to launch the iPhone 4 in India this September, however, it is now confirmed that Airtel will launch iPhone 4 in India in October.

(Apple Press Release)