Tech Week in Review 06-17-2011

Restart to Safari

MacRumors reports an interesting feature in Mac OS X Lion called Restart to Safari. This feature is reminiscent of Google’s Chromebook, which cuts away your operating system and puts all the focus on accessing the Internet via a web browser. In Apple’s case, though, the motivations are different. They are probably not planning to dump Mac OS X in favor of providing a lightweight, browser-only interface.

This feature seems to be part of the “Find My Mac” feature set which allows users to get access to the internet. Though the premise appears to be to give your Mac a chance to phone home, the feature seems very useful for day to day use.

Updates to Google Sync for iOS


Google Sync is the technology that keeps your phone’s native mail and calendar apps in sync with your Gmail, Calendar and Contacts. Google has released 3 updates for Google Sync that should make some iPhone and iPad users more productive:

  • Now, you will be able to search all your emails in Gmail, not just the ones stored locally in your iOS Mail app.
  • Accept, decline or edit calendar events from the iOS calendar app.
  • Send email from the address you want. Many of us manage multiple addresses and Gmail’s “Send Mail as” feature was not available on your iOS device. Now, you can keep things more consistent as the iOS mail app will respect those settings.

Lady Gaga and 50 Cent All About

bread-50-cent[1] is a custom link shortener funded by Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter. There are many…many link shorteners already out there, but seems focused on big brands and those looking to promote themselves. Promoting online requires strategy. There is a delicate balance between promoting your own stuff and helping others to shine. sort of allows you to do both at the same time. Clicking a link takes you to a splash page where you spend five seconds reading a custom message and viewing a branded image before being forwarded to the actual destination. Sounds annoying as all get-out, but Lady Gaga, 50 Cent, and Pepsi have all already signed on. With most users not willing to wait any more than a few seconds for a site to load, it will be interesting to see how does.

via BetaBeat

Facebook Moves in Against Apple and Photo Sharing


Two major leaks from Facebook this week. The first is a photo sharing app which has the potential to completely change the game. Photo sharing is a hot area right now with apps like Instagram and PicPlz exploding. Facebook, still quite popular for sharing photos with friends, apparently has no plans to be left behind. Their leaked photo sharing app seems to do way more than just share photos, building on features from Color, Path, and even Path’s new side project, With. Check out TC for a healthy helping of screenshots from the mobile app.


Facebook has made a commitment to support HTML5, which powered their recent upgrade of the mobile Facebook site and is likely behind the upcoming photo sharing app. Development using HTML5 also happens to be one of the ways to get around Apple’s lockdown. One could distribute apps across most mobile platforms using HTML5 web apps. Facebook’s Project Spartan is allegedly going to do just that, and more. Instead of simply using HTML5 support in the Safari mobile browser to bypass Apple’s App Store, they are rumored to be planning a full on attack by distributing mobile apps and games through the mobile browser. I have long been a supporter of HTML5 as a mobile development platform as it gives the developer full control, but I never thought Facebook would leverage it in this way.

Tech Week in Review 6-3-2011

Samsung and Apple Trade Prototypes

Apple filed suit against Samsung a while back, saying that Samsung is basically biting Apple’s style with their line of Android phones and tablets. As part of this suit, Apple demanded to see pre-production samples of the upcoming Droid Charge, Infuse 4G, Galaxy S II, and Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 so that they could evaluate any similarities. What does Samsung do in response? They demand access to the upcoming and unannounced iPhone 5 and iPad 3. A pretty ballsy move by Samsung, with the goal being to get Apple to move on and resolve this lawsuit. Are Samsung devices similar to iPhones? I’d say so, but so are all the other touchscreen smartphones out there. Apple was the innovator, but I doubt they can really stop other companies from leveraging that innovation. Check out the full rundown at This Is My Next.

Tupac and Biggie Alive and Living It Up in New Zealand?!

No, not really. Just a prank pulled by a group called LulzSec. They hacked into the website and, among other defacements, posted this fake story about Tupac and Biggie staying in some unnamed town in New Zealand. Besides defacing the site, they also compromised network, server, and database details, and user login data for some PBS staff and contractors. In a statement, LulzSec sort of explains why they attacked PBS:

Greetings, Internets. We just finished watching WikiSecrets and were less than impressed. We decided to sail our Lulz Boat over to the PBS servers for further… perusing. As you should know by now, not even that fancy-ass fortress from the third shitty Pirates of the Caribbean movie (first one was better!) can withhold our barrage of chaos and lulz. Anyway, unnecessary sequels aside… wait, actually: second and third Matrix movies sucked too! Anyway, say hello to the insides of the PBS servers, folks. They best watch where they’re sailing next time.

via BoingBoing

Twitter Launches Photos and Follow Button

Twitter had two interesting announcements this week. The first being a revamped search interface with tighter integration for photos and videos. This comes in part via a partnership with Photobucket, one of the first photo sharing sites in the game. See relevant photos and videos right alongside your searches at We will also soon see the rollout of a feature that lets you add photos directly to your tweets. Yes, you could do this before with 3rd party services, but it’s a feature of the official interface now.

Next up is Twitter’s new Follow button. This makes it a snap to follow people and brands on Twitter instantly from their sites. It’s almost exactly the same as the Facebook Like button, except you’re actually subscribing to someone on Twitter. In addition to integration across sites like and, you can integrate the follow button into your own site.

Klout Introduces +K for Topical Influence

Speaking of buttons, the popular social media influence monitoring site Klout has announced a feature they call +K. This allows you to vouch for your peers on specific topics.

  • Give +K on topics: If a user has recently influenced you in a topic, give them +K in that topic
  • More topics: our topics model is even more accurate, and now surfaces up to 10 topics per user
  • Hide topics: You can now opt to hide your topics from public display
Introducing such human input to the Klout algorithm should immediately raise red flags, but there are some limitations that should keep the potential abuse to a minimum. You get 5 +K’s to give out each day and you can only do so by visiting the Klout website. Unlike Google’s +1′s, Facebook’s Likes, and Twitter’s Follow, you can’t just drop a +K button on your site. People who want to give you props have to visit the Klout site to do it.
via Klout

Tech Week in Review 5-27-2011

Microsoft Gets $5 Everytime HTC Sells an Android Phone

Windows Phone 7 may not be the hottest mobile platform out right now, but at least Microsoft can make some change off Android. Wait…What?! According to Citi analyst Walter Pritchard, this is exactly what’s happening. Microsoft makes 5 bucks for every Android device sold by HTC. This is due to a patent settlement with HTC over intellectual William Pitt Real Estate property infringement. They aren’t stopping there, though. Microsoft is seeking anywhere from $7.50 to $12.50 per device against other handset manufacturers. Why not go directly after Google? Probably because the actual manufacturers are easier to pick on. There is also the fact that Google isn’t actually selling the phones, just providing the OS.

via TNW source BI

Twitter Officially Buys Tweetdeck

In a deal finalized on Tuesday, Tweetdeck has officially been acquired by Twitter. It’s both exciting and scary, kind of like when Microsoft acquired Skype. It means that TweetDeck will now have abundant resources to do what they do, but there is really no telling what Twitter will do with it. They haven’t exactly been to keen on third-party clients and developers. TweetDeck could very well be scrapped for parts to bolster the #1 Twitter interface: Remember, TweetDeck has already created a multi-column HTML5 version of the popular TweetDeck client that works in Chrome.

Quora Launches SMS Support

You can now search and add questions to Quora via SMS on your mobile device. No fancy iPhone or Android app. No fancy HTML5 mobile website. This is straight up text messaging. Might sound archaic, but the fact is that most people still do not have a smartphone. Most of those people can text and they probably have questions they want answered. Holden Page says this move is pure genius, citing chat only 17% of Gen X and Y folks have a smartphone and pointing to Twitter’s rise being powered by initial SMS support. This now puts Quora in competition with services like ChaCha. If you are not already using Quora, will this make a difference?

HTC to Unlock Bootloaders

Due to consumer feedback, HTC will soon make it much easier to install custom ROMS on their Android phones. You know, the ones they pay Microsoft $5 a piece to sell (see above). ROM creators like @Cyanogen, who develop the popular (and totally awesome) CyanogenMod, had to resort to hackery and other mischief to get their product onto HTC devices. Now, this process will be much easier. After outcry from the HTC community, HTC CEO Peter Chou’s released the following statement:

There has been overwhelmingly customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones. I want you to know that we’ve listened. Today, I’m confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices. Thanks for your passion, support and patience.

via MobileLuv source GDGT

Square Moves Towards Mobile Wallet

The app that lets anyone accept credit card payments using their mobile device has taken things to the next level. Their Card Case feature turns your mobile into a virtual wallet, eliminating the need to actually pull out a physical card to pay for anything when you visit a trusted business.

Card Case is a new venture by Square that essentially puts a mobile wallet on a consumer’s iPhone or Android smartphone that they can use at any Square-enabled business. Users can store credit card information for each business they frequent. Upon entering the business, users can enter their name, select their virtual card from the Card Case app, order their stuff, and Card Case takes care of the rest.

Tech Week in Review 5-20-2011

Android Users Vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle Attack

Due to an insecurity in Google’s ClientLogin Protocol, it seems any Android user running 2.3.3 or earlier could unknowingly give away access to personal data. Researchers at uulm claim that authToken information, stored for 14 days any time you login to sites like Facebook and Twitter, can be easily obtained by hackers:

“To collect such authTokens on a large scale an adversary could setup a wifi access point with a common SSID evil twin of an unencrypted wireless network, e.g., T-Mobile, attwifi, starbucks…With default settings, Android phones automatically connect to a previously known network and many apps will attempt syncing immediately. While syncing would fail unless the adversary forwards the requests, the adversary would capture authTokens for each service that attempted syncing.”

Today, Google announced a fix for the problem, which will be completely transparent to users. You won’t have to do an update or install anything. Picasa synchronization, introduced in Android 2.3, will remain unencrypted. If you think you already got got, you will still need to change your Google password.

Keep in mind that, in order for the attack to work, you would have had to connect to a “fake” unencrypted WiFi network at some point.

via Gizmodo

AT&T Sees the Light. Removes App Restrictions.

It’s been a long time coming for AT&T Android smartphone customers, but you will FINALLY be able to install 3rd-party applications on your devices (sideloading). This means you will also now get access to Amazon’s Android Appstore, which is still giving away a free app on the daily. The Samsung Infuse, which just launched recently, will be the first phone to get this functionality.

“Over the next few weeks, we will also roll out this capability to existing devices in our base for which an upgrade is possible,” an AT&T spokesman said.

It appears those free daily apps from Amazon were a huge factor in AT&T changing their position. Customers were very vocal and AT&T had no choice.

via Wired

Netflix Single Largest Source of Interenet Traffic in the US

According to a report by Sandyvine, Netflix now accounts for 29.7 percent of peak downstream traffic in North America. This puts it ahead of Bittorrent, YouTube, and all HTTP websites by a pretty big margin. Bittorrent still dominates upstream traffic, though. The reasons for Netflix dominating our downloads? Video streaming eats up a lot of bandwidth, so it doesn’t take much actual usage to post big numbers. Still, this report highlights the major changes in how we consume visual content.

via TechCrunch

Google Teaches Developers How To Turn Apps Into Businesses

Apps are where it’s at right now, but there is more to success than just developing an app. Just like any other creative pursuit, there is work to be done once you have a finished product. It’s highly likely that, just like your average musician, developers need a little direction when it comes to the business end of things. This is where Google’s Guide to the App Galaxy comes in:

App Galaxy isn’t an eBook, PDF, or subscription you have to pay for to take advantage. You don’t have to specifically be an Android (Powered by Google) developer either. App Galaxy is pretty awesome website (no sign-up required) that’s designed as a spaceship taking off that carries you through the many aspects of the app business, regardless of what platform you choose to develop for, as it blasts off into the app success stars.

via BrothaTech

Tech Week in Review 5-13-2011

Amazon Cloud Player Now Works on iOS?

Amazon’s Cloud Player service is a ballsy move by Amazon that lets users stream music from the cloud directly to their mobile devices or web browsers. The service does not have the blessing of the music industry and launched with only an Android app. This is understandable given Apple’s relationship with the recording industry. To bad, so sad, for iOS device owners…until now. MG Siegler explains how it works:

If you visit Amazon’s Cloud Player through the Safari web browser on an iOS device, you’ll see that it does in fact now work. You’ll first hit a warning page telling you that your browser is not supported, but just ignore that. Click into the music in your drive and it will begin playing. It works flawlessly — even to the point where if you get a Push Notification or incoming call, the music will be paused.

Netflix Finally Available on (some) Android Devices

For all you Androids at there, rejoice. You can now watch Netflix on select Android devices. Watching shows and movies instantly over 3G or WiFi. Resume right where you left off on your computer or TV. Search and browse titles with ease. There are currently 5 officially supported devices:

  1. HTC Incredible with Android 2.2
  2. HTC Nexus One with Android 2.2, 2.3
  3. HTC Evo 4G with Android 2.2
  4. HTC G2 with Android 2.2
  5. Samsung Nexus S with Android 2.3
According to Netflix Product Manager Roma De, the reason only some devices are supported boils down to a “lack of standard streaming playback features that the Netflix application can use to gain broad penetration across all available Android phones.” In order to expand support across other devices, they each have to be tested individually to see if they support playback. Why would Netflix bother pushing the app out at this point? Wired points out that Google just launched movie rentals on Android. Grab the Netflix app from the Android Marketplace if you have a supported device and be sure to let us know if you got it working on something else.
via GigaOM

Facebook Responds on Smear Campaign

Facebook was recently caught trying to pull a fast one against competitor Google, by hiring a PR Firm to basically drag Google’s name through the mud. In true Facebook style, their response to getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar doesn’t say much at all. They’ve repeatedly escaped reprisals from users by sticking their collective heads in the sand until everything boils over. This latest event seems no different.

No ‘smear’ campaign was authorized or intended. Instead, we wanted third parties to verify that people did not approve of the collection and use of information from their accounts on Facebook and other services for inclusion in Google Social Circles — just as Facebook did not approve of use or collection for this purpose. We engaged Burson-Marsteller to focus attention on this issue, using publicly available information that could be independently verified by any media organization or analyst. The issues are serious and we should have presented them in a serious and transparent way.

TechCrunch attempted to reach out to Facebook for a less sterile response, but got none. Since Facebook doesn’t want to speak up for what they’ve done, MG Siegler breaks it down for us without their input.

Africa’s Internet Censorship Dilemma

Troubles with Internet Censorship on the African continent stretch far beyond what we’ve heard from countries like Egypt. Ethiopia, Uganda, Ivory Coast and others have begun filtering the web in fear of protest movements gaining popularity and using social media to organize.

With an Internet penetration rate of only 0.5 percent, the state-owned Ethiopian networking infrastructure blocks a wide range of political opposition and independent news sites which report on the country.

Ethiopian officials recently hijacked an event sponsored by UNESCO, replacing independent journalists with government-approved reporters. They also unblocked a number of sites, probably temporarily, due to the event’s theme of new media and the Internet.

Ethiopia continues to be one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s worst offenders when it comes to Internet freedom. –Al Jazeera

A new method of Internet Censorship, Just-in-Time blocking, has become popular due to protests spreading across the Middle East and North Africa. In this case, sites are blocked temporarily in direct response to protests and other gatherings. On April 14, Uganda’s Communications Commission (UCC) allegedly used this method to block Twitter and Facebook for 24 hours as citizens protested against rising food and fuel prices.

Ugandan Commissioner of Police Andrew Kaweesi has called cyberactivism a Western phenomenon, stating that “governments need to come up with an enabling law that guards against misuse of communication networks to protect social values and national identity,” and called for regulation of online publications.

With only 5.6 per cent of the total global online population, Africa lags behind the rest of the world. Even with efforts to get more Africans online, they run the risk of increased Internet filtering and incarceration. While countries like Egypt and Sudan have mostly open access to the Internet, dozens of bloggers have been arrested in Egypt and the Sudanese government is known to use social networking to track down protesters.

Will the cost that citizens will have to pay be worth having widespread Internet access?

via Al Jazeera English.

Facebook Caught Trying to Stab Google in the Back

It’s no secret that Google and Facebook aren’t the best of friends. Facebook has 600 million users or so, with a huge social graph that Google wants in on. Facebook isn’t having it. They’ve had their little spats before, but this latest story is nothing short of ridiculous. Facebook got the idea to get at Google by highlighting privacy concerns in using Google services. The problem is, Facebook couldn’t do so directly because of their own privacy issues. To get around this, they hired a PR firm to do their dirty work.

While this firm, Burson-Marsteller, has “represented lots of blue-chip corporate clients in its 58-year history,” has consulted for Bill Clinton, and strategized for Hillary in 2008, their approach here was quite amateur. The Daily Beast says it best: “here were two guys from one of the biggest and best-known PR agencies in the world, blustering around Silicon Valley like a pair of Keystone Kops.”

They approached Privacy advocate Christopher Soghoian, hoping to use his name for Facebook’s vendetta against Google. He told BetaBeat that they even offered to ghost-write the piece. Instead of simple refusing their request, he posted the email exchange online, much to Facebook’s embarrassment.

Why should Facebook be embarrassed? Their have no privacy concerns, right? It’s not as if Facebook’s API has ever leaked private information. They’ve never forced users to opt-out of sharing their information with third-parties. They didn’t have to have a meeting specifically about privacy since users had become so upset they were flocking to Facebook alternatives. There wasn’t even an unofficial Quit Facebook Day as users attempted to rebel against the popular social networking site. Kidding aside, even after changing their privacy policies, Facebook apps still leaked data. It was only a couple of days ago that Symantec discovered Facebook applications accidentally leaking data to third parties, again. This last leak caused Facebook to overhaul their security protocols and implement OAuth 2.0, HTTPS and SSL Certificates.

I’ll refrain from making references to black pots and kettles, but Facebook definitely loses face here. As far as many are concerned, Facebook’s integrity was already in question when it came to privacy, and this backstabbing and desperate move doesn’t help any. One has to wonder, though. How scared of Google is Facebook to pull a stunt like this?

Switch to Hitch Radio for Real-time Access to 33,000 Radio Stations

Hitch Radio provides access over 33,000 radio stations worldwide, allowing you to explore new music and listen to what you want when you want. You can search for content and share what you find with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to music, Hitch also covers news, talk, and sports stations.

Hitch Radio not only provides a way to access these regional radio stations, but makes it easy to find what you need. Data is organized in real-time and passed to the user. Instead of tuning into a station, you Hitch-a-Ride. If you like where it takes you, it’s easy to share with your social networks.

Facebook connect integration allows you to Hitch-a-Ride with a friend. This means they’re in the driver’s seat and you hear whatever they hear. From the Hitch Radio About page:

It’s a pretty cool way to sit back and relax while you stay in touch with your friends throughout the day. Ever hear a song on the radio and call up your friends to make sure they’re listening, too?

The site itself is simple to interact with. You search for what you need and the play buttons appear directly in the search results. Look for artists and songs, radio personalities or stations, or just search in a specific location. Hit play in the results and a new window opens with the station info so you can listen in the background.

Hitch Radio, currently in private beta, is definitely a cool service if you’re looking for a way to occupy your ears. One of the most interesting features is the real-time nature of the search. Have you ever just missed your favorite song or news show on the radio? Doesn’t happen on Hitch Radio because you can just search for a different station playing the same thing.

Google I/O 2011: Google’s Plans Revealed

This year’s Google I/O conference illustrates exactly where Google is headed as a company. There is a heavy focus on Android and Chrome OS with some very interesting announcements thrown in. Here are a few of them.

Chrome Web Store Available Worldwide

Google has opened up the Chrome Web Store to its entire user base of 160 million users. The store is going worldwide, speaking 41 different languages. Those outside the current markets will only have access to free apps initially, but that still means they can grab ChromeDeck.

Another app that makes it’s debut in the Chrome Web Store? Angry Birds. Now, you don’t even need a mobile device to waste you life away throwing birds at pigs. This is possible only because of the accelerated development of browsers and web applications load by Google and their Chrome Browser.

Google also announced in-app purchases, which takes just one line of code for developers to add, and is keeping the fee structure simple at a flat 5%. To date, 17 million apps have been installed from the Chrome Web Store.

Google Music is Finally Here

A year after it’s announcement, Google Music is finally running in beta. The service is quite close to what Amazon launched recently with their Cloud Drive. Both services allow for the upload, storage, and streaming of your music from the cloud. While Amazon is giving you 5GB of storage, Google is measuring your storage in “songs” and you get to store 20,000 of them. They say this is only for a limited time, though. Check ReadWriteWeb for a detailed run-down and comparison of the two services. You can request an invite to the service here.

A New Kind of Computer: Chromebook

Just when you thought those CR-48 laptops were just a gimmick to promote Chrome OS, Google changes the whole game. With the Chrome Web Browser at its core, the Chromebook offers a lightweight, fast, secure, and reliable way to do business. Remember the Chrome Web Store? Yeah, it’s in the Chromebook. You’ll soon be able to grab one from Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers.

Just another type of netbook, you say? While that may be true, the key here is in how Google is approaching the business and education. In an effort to address costly and insecure setups for these organizations, Google has announced Chromebooks for Business and Education:

This service from Google includes Chromebooks and a cloud management console to remotely administer and manage users, devices, applications and policies. Also included is enterprise-level support, device warranties and replacements as well as regular hardware refreshes. Monthly subscriptions will start at $28/user for businesses and $20/user for schools.

I’d say “BOOM!,” but that’s getting so overused, isn’t it? You also may be wondering how Google will address the problem of offline access, a major sticking point for a browser-based OS. They’ve announced today that they’ve been internally testing totally offline versions of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. These will become available to all users this summer.

Check out the hilarious video for more details on the Chromebook. One of my favorite quotes from the video is in response to the question “This has the web?,” where the Chromebook responds, “it actually IS the web.”

Pharrell Williams Named Creative Director for Karmaloop TV

Artist and producer Pharrell Williams has been named creative director of the new Karmaloop TV network, which launches later this year. The network is aimed at the 18-34 demographic who grew up with the Internet.

In a video on the Karmaloop TV site, Pharrell says that they reach a unique demographic that is not currently being addressed, as he puts it, “in the right way.”

“We don’t wanna follow youth culture. We want to continue to lead. We want to bring programming that not only changes their mentality, but lifts their mentality.”

KarmaLoop TV says Pharrell will have a “significant equity position” in the company. Karmaloop CEO Greg Selkoe said Williams will help create a brand that will get “cutting-edge youth culture” excited about TV, as MTV did in the 80s. KarmaLoop TV, a spin-off from the 10yr old Karmaloop streetwear shopping site, is headed by former president of the AMC cable channel Katie McEnroe.

It will be interesting to see what the front man for N.E.R.D. will bring to the network. Will you be tuning into Karmaloop TV?

via The Washington Post.

Hip-Hop Word Count to be Featured in MoMA Exhibit

This summer, in July, Hip-Hop Word Count will be featured in the Art & Design Exhibition Talk To Me at The Museum Of Modern Art. Hip-Hop Word Count is a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 50,000 Hip-Hop songs from 1979 to present day. The exhibit focuses on interactions with objects, including: interfaces, information systems, visualization design, and communication devices, and on projects that establish an emotional, sensual, or intellectual connection with their users.

Examples range from a few iconic products of the late 1960s to several projects currently in development—including computer and machine interfaces, websites, video games, devices and tools, furniture like the one you can get in the Ivy and Wilde store and other physical products, and extending to installations and whole environments.

Tahir Hemphill of HHWC will be presenting infographics of Jay-Z and 50 Cent’s careers as well as an interactive data visualization tracking mentions of ‘Champagne’ from 1980 to 2010. Hemphill’s work has been previously been exhibited at Siggraph (Siggraph 2002); Queens Museum of Art (Queens International Biennial, 2002) and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Black New York Photographers of the Twentieth Century, 1999).

Hemphill and Hip-Hop Word Count were recently featured on the Michael Eric Dyson show, where he discussed some of the motivations behind the hip-hop database. He shared his hopes that HHWC would be used as a teaching tool, in advertising and marketing, and as a tool for new rappers to figure out whether they’re actually adding anything new to the rap game.

Also coming in July, Hemphill will be working on The Crown Heights Gold exhibition. Inspired by the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Crown Heights riot, a tragic event that began on August 19, 1991, Hemphill will focus on a critical re-reading of historical events and facts surrounding the riots via Hip-Hop videos and news reels. tragic event that began on August 19, 1991.

Microsoft Acquires Skype for $8.5 Billion Cash

Rumors swirled yesterday of a Skype acquisition by Microsoft and they’ve now been proven to be true. Microsoft has officially announced a deal under which Microsoft will acquire Skype, the leading Internet communications company, for $8.5 billion in cash from the investor group led by Silver Lake. This is a very aggressive move by Microsoft to get into the “increasingly-converged worlds of communication, information and entertainment.”

Buying Skype—a service that connects millions of users around the world via Internet-based telephony and video— would give Microsoft a recognized brand name on the Internet at a time when it is struggling to get more traction in the consumer market.

The acquisition will increase accessibility of real-time video communications for both consumers and enterprise users, in addition to providing revenue opportunities for both parties. Skype’s 170 million users will join the family of real-time communications platforms at Microsoft, including: Lync (which saw 30 percent revenue growth in Q3), Outlook, Messenger, Hotmail and Xbox LIVE.

“Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”

Skype will be taken under Microsoft’s wing as a new business division within the company. Skype CEO Tony Bates will become President of the Microsoft Skype Division, reporting directly to Ballmer, who says “Bates has a great track record as a leader and will strengthen the Microsoft management team. I’m looking forward to Skype’s talented global workforce bringing its insights, ideas and experience to Microsoft.”

Egon Durban of Silver Lake said about the deal, “We are excited about Skype’s long-term future with Microsoft, as it is poised to become one of the world’s most dynamic and comprehensive communications platforms.”

If you recall, it was just a short while ago that Google and Facebook contemplated a Skype acquisition. Now, Microsoft puts itself in a better position in this communications race by teaming up with Skype.

via, Microsoft ht SocialWayne

Microsoft Brings Windows Azure Toolkits to iOS, Android, and Windows Phone

Microsoft has announced the availability of the Windows Azure Toolkits for mobile devices, including: Windows Phone, iOS, and a preview of tools for Android. These tools allow developers to leverage the cloud to accelerate creation of mobile apps. Groupon, for instance, is using the platform to create a consistent mobile experience for users.

“At Groupon, we recognize that people aren’t tied to their computers and want to get deals – whenever and wherever they happen to be. Taking advantage of the Windows Azure Toolkits for Mobile Devices, we can rely on a common backend to create consistent, next generation mobile experiences like real-time notification services that integrate into each phone’s home screen and app experience,” said Groupon’s Michael Shim, vice president of Mobile Business Developer & Partnerships.

Mobile apps is a booming industry and is only growing. Forrester predicts the market will exceed $7 billion by 2015. The problem is that there are too many options out there for developers to create for. They’re forced to prioritize one mobile platform over another and, even when they do try to cover all platforms, the user experience can be inconsistent.

The Windows Azure Toolkits simplify things by providing a common back-end to share features like requirements like device notifications, authentication, storage. Developers can still write client code that exploits the strengths of each individual platform.

Microsoft is also announcing a “Cloud Ready” package for the toolkit. This simplifies the process of setting up services in Windows Azure and allows you to get started quickly without worrying about modifying services. Check out the screencast below for a tutorial on Windows Azure for iOS and hit TechNet Blogs for more details.

The Resumator Raises $700,000 Round of Funding

The Resumator, a service aiming to “take the hassle out of hiring”, has secured $700,000 in funding led by Rincon Venture Partners, with Paige Craig, ff Venture Capital and Christopher Muenchhoff participating. The Pittsburgh-based company is a graduate of the May 2009 AlphaLab program run by seed stage investor Innovation Works, which was also part of this round.

The Resumator is no stranger to Black Web 2.0. Founder and CEO Don Charlton is featured on our list of Tastemakers and was at our recent NewMe conference. He’s shared his knowledge and experiences here a number of times, including details on what he learned from participating in the AlphaLab accelerator program, and has shared some strategies for starting your own new media property (don’t forget part 2).

In our Q&A with Charlton back in 2009, he described The Resumator:

For small businesses and startups, hiring is extra work, and no one’s expertise. Someone is usually “deputized” to manage the hiring process, and this person (the CEO, office manager, or “unlucky stiff”) usually has no formal experience in recruiting.

The Resumator helps these deputized HR managers save time and money on hiring by instantly replacing the inefficiency of their HR inbox with an entire online recruiting platform for promoting jobs and reviewing resumes.

Companies who trust The Resumator for their hiring include Evernote, ThinkGeek, Dreamhost, Disqus, and Daily Burn.

Charlton tells TechCrunch that The Resumator had been growing steadily since their 2009 launch, but were having trouble making connections with investors on the West Coast. They solved the problem by joining AngelList, which quickly led to this round of funding. They’ve now raised close to $900,000 in funding altogether.

MukamiTV Amplifies Your Voice and Rethinks Television

Oprah may have dropped the ball on this one. Mukami Kinoti-Kimotho is an “on-air personality, journalist, organizational ambassador and celebrity spokesperson” based in Washington, DC. Last year, she had the opportunity to compete for a spot on Oprah’s OWN network. She didn’t win, but that hasn’t stopped her from seeking to become a media mogul.

Mukami’s own multimedia company, MaWazo Media, will launch their first season on May 12th at 4pm EST (that’s this Thursday). Mukami will tweet the event live from her account (@MukamiTV) using the hashtag #MukamiTV.

Why do you want to tune in? Not only is Mukami living the dream and taking advantage of the fact that the gatekeepers are gone, but there is a greater purpose in her hustle. Not just another pretty face, she tackles issue like “Global Diversity and Inclusion, Leadership Development, Gender Equity, Child Survival, Health, Education and Sustainability of the Arts.” One of the goals of the show is to “amplify the voices of individuals doing extraordinary things,” highlighting those her are “overcoming obstacles” and “working and succeeding at becoming their very best and fulfilling their ultimate purpose in life.”

read their guide here

Subscribe to the MukamiTV YouTube channel, mark your calendars, and be sure to check out the first episode of the season this Thursday.

via afrospear