Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has hit 10 million channel sales one month after its release. The company announced its latest milestone today just eight days after confirming that it had shipped over 6 million units of the S4 since its international launch on April 26. According to Samsung, this is the fastest ever sell rate for any of its smartphones.
The latest entry in the Galaxy series–meant as Samsung’s iPhone challenger–has sold much more quickly than its predecessors. The Galaxy S4′s milestone beats the record set by the Galaxy S3, which reached 10 million channel sales 50 days after its launch in 2012. The Galaxy S2 took five months and the Galaxy S seven months to reach the same number.
(Channel sales are to wireless operators and not direct to consumers. In other words, the numbers are for units shipped.)
The Galaxy S4 had to overcome inventory issues that disrupted its U.S. rollout and were attributed by the company to unexpectedly high demand for the phone. Though the Galaxy S4 is indeed selling swiftly, reinforcing Samsung’s dominance of the worldwide smartphone market, Jordan Crook noted after it hit 6 million units shipped that the iPhone is still technically a faster selling phone than any of Samsung’s Galaxy models.
When the iPhone 5 launched, Apple took over 2 million pre-orders in the first 24 hours available. Furthermore, iPhone 5 pre-orders were two times the number of pre-orders seen for the iPhone 4S. Despite Apple’s recent earnings woes, consumers still love their iPhones, and Samsung VS Apple: Battle Smartphone is not over quite yet, especially as the Cupertino company prepares to launch new products this fall.Read More →
Encoding.com’s Vid.ly Integrates With FreeWheel To Provide Monetization Of Universal, Cross-Platform Video URLs
Cloud encoding vendor Encoding.com launched Vid.ly a couple of years ago to provide video creators with a way to publish a single universal video URL and then have that content accessible on any device. Now it’s providing a way to monetize those videos, thanks to an integration with ad delivery platorm FreeWheel.
The idea behind Vid.ly is that Encoding.com does all the hard work of encoding it into as many video formats and renditions as necessary, then serving up the appropriate copy of the video depending on which device was accessing it. In addition to transcoding, it also provided all of the storage, video player technology, device detection, streaming, and analytics needed by video creators. Customers could simply connect with the Vid.ly API and have a single universal URL created for them.
All of that’s great, especially for brands and agencies and marketers who wish to make their videos playable for all audiences on every PC, mobile phone, or tablet. But what Vid.ly didn’t provide (until now) was a way to monetize all of those videos. Hence, the partnership and integration with FreeWheel.
By integrating with FreeWheel’s ad-serving platform, Vid.ly will be able to provide all the same convenience and reach to publishers, but it will also enable them to monetize those videos across all those devices. By connecting with Encoding.com’s user interface or API, when a video is requested, Vid.ly will pass along user info to the FreeWheel ad server and pass along targeted ads along with the video. Pre-rolls, mid-rolls and post-rolls, as well as banner overlays, will all be supported.
Encoding.com has raised $4.5 million since being founded in 2008. While Vid.ly is a growing piece of its business, the company is still primarily focused on providing cloud encoding services to a growing number of publishers moving their content online.Read More →
After previously investing in the company, Google has now acquired Makani Power, a green energy startup that is currently building airborne wind turbines. The acquisition was first reported in Brad Stone’s Businessweek story about Google X, and judging from Stone’s story, the team will join Google X. Google invested $10 million in the Alameda, Calif.-based company in 2006 and another $5 million in 2008. As far as we can see, this also marks the first time Google has acquired a company specifically for its Google X skunkworks.
Stone reports that Google CEO Larry Page approved the acquisition, but as Google X’s director Astro Teller notes, Page said that X “could have the budget and the people to go do this, but that we had to make sure to crash at least five of the devices in the near future.”
The company was founded by Saul Griffith and Don Montague, a former World Cup windsurfer. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.
Google has confirmed this acquisition and provided us with the following statement from Astro Teller, Google X’s “Captain of Moonshots”:
Creating clean energy is one of the most pressing issues facing the world, and Google for years has been interested in helping to solve this problem. Makani Power’s technology has opened the door to a radical new approach to wind energy. They’ve turned a technology that today involves hundreds of tons of steel and precious open space into a problem that can be solved with really intelligent software. We’re looking forward to bringing them into Google[x].
Makani says it hopes that this acquisition will provide it with “the resources to accelerate our work to make wind energy cost competitive with fossil fuels.” The acquisition comes just a week after the company completed the first autonomous flight of its Wing 7 prototype.
Here is how TechCrunch columnist Matylda Czarnecka described the project back in 2012:
Read More →
The Makani Airborne Wind Turbines, which resemble mini airplanes, are launched when wind speeds reach 3.5 meters per second. Rotors on each blade help propel it into orbit, and double as turbines once airborne. The blades are tethered to the ground with a cord that delivers power to throw them into the sky and receives energy generated by the turbines to be sent to the grid-connected ground station.
CabinetHardware debuts an exciting new business model fusing crowdfunding and ecommerce to offer a unique way to give back to some of the most deserving projects in the world.Read More →
WO Funding stands for World’s Online Funding. WO Funding is a platform that allows people to raise money for basically anything. From a new business idea, for a film, music, technology, or an event. People post projects that they want to raise money for, share their stories and carry out fundraising campaigns.Read More →
Editor’s note: Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research and blogs at Techspressive. Each column looks at crowdfunded products that have either met or missed their funding goals. Follow him on Twitter @rossrubin.
An ancient and once-sacred bond between author and audience, reading and writing have become but two more tasks along with a multitude of other things that we do on a host of digital devices — watcing videos, listening to music, playing games, and really anything except using Facebook Home. Still, there are some for whom the intimate act of interface between pen and paper retains more magic than all the electrons powering all the devices in the world have not been able to recreate. For them, a trio of European crowdfunding projects have trotted out a range of products to improve both endpoints of analog document creation.
Whacked: LazyPete. Arrgh! Listen up, ye scurvy dogs, as I tell ye the legend of Lazy Pete, a pirate so wrapped up in his romance novels that he didn’t see a great white shark leap from the ocean to leave him with just one hand. ‘Tis in Lazy Pete’s honor that Philip Musche surely named his one-handed book reading contraption, which essentially puts one of those book stands that keep pages open on a beefy handle. Despite showing off the reading aid in nearly enough colors to cover the Seven Seas, Musche failed to capture enough crowdfunding booty, and the campaign ended with only £533 of the desired £30,000 treasure.
Backed: Idae. What the GoPro is to most digital cameras, Idae is to most pocket journals, even the durable Field Notes. The waterproof, tear-resistant notebook is just the thing for when you need to make that critical addition to your grocery shopping list in the middle of your next scuba dive, and a perfect match for your Fisher Space Pen. And if you needed any more proof of just how extreme it is, it has a hole for a carabiner.
That said, fire will consume it along with the haiku you were inspired to write on the slopes. And if you’re not planning to keep your notes around indefinitely, the notebook can be recycled. Developed in Milan and shipped to backers last month for between $20 and $30 depending on cover color, the 32-page thought preserver cleared its $7,200 funding goal with a couple of hundred dollars to spare, but you’d expect that kind of nail-biting excitement from such a tough guy.
Backed: Meteor Grip. The pencil has been thin enough to serve as a benchmark against which to compare high-tech electronics. While it’s comfortable for many, at least for short periods, it can be difficult to grasp for some. Receiving inspiration when his partner Zoë, a tattoo artist, began suffering hand pain in December 2011, Pontefract, UK-based Jai Dickerson Pierce developed the Meteor Grip. Few details are provided about what material is used to create the grip. Rather, the key to its uniqueness is being available in both right and left-handed versions. As the campaign page employs double negatives to claim, “No other manufacturer produces an ergonomic hand grip that is not ambidextrous.”
That said, the campaign is not above covering a spectrum of uses, claiming that the product is useful as a novelty gift while also proclaiming that it is “changing the writing experience forever.” Not yet changed for kiddies, though, as a potential meteorite grip is for now on the drawing board. With a bit over three weeks left to go, the Meteor Grip has collected about a quarter of its humble £875 goal. Seven pounds will marry your love of astronomy with hatred of thin writing tools, and ten pounds can get one for you as well as the cramping tattoo artist in your life as soon as this month.Read More →
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is denying the reported existence of camera-phone footage showing him partaking in crack cocaine.
How is that video not online yet, you ask? Gawker’s John Cook posted a story describing the video, but refused to pay the sources the $200,000 they demanded for the file. Cook — who broke the story Thursday — has turned to crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo to raise the cash for the footage.
Cook’s “Rob Ford Crackstarter” has only raised $55 at press time, though three separate Ford-related campaigns have garnered approximately $2,500 between them
In a post about the campaign, Cook acknowledges $200,000 is “a lot of money,” but says his sources “fear for their safety, and want enough money to pay for a chance to get out of Toronto and set up in a new town.” He goes on to address concerns his sources may not be “reliable” kinds of people, but promises that if the deal falls through, whatever funds are raised will be donated to an unnamed Canadian non-profit that assists people with addiction. Read more…Read More →
Google’s underwater Street View launched last September, but Google’s Ocean program actually began six years ago, when one of the founders of Keyhole (which, after being acquired by Google, later became Google Earth), was inspired to also look into mapping the ocean. For several years now Google has been mapping the oceans, but bringing Street View underwater is still very challenging.
“Our goal is to really make all of our maps data more comprehensive by adding more ocean data. We want to take you from your home to the turtle’s home,” Google’s Jennifer Austin Foulkes said. So far, Google has launched this for six locations, including Oahu, Maui and locations around the Great Barrier Reef.
Because there is a strong scientific component to this project, the team set up a strict protocol for taking this imagery. Richard Vevers, director of the Catlin Seaview Survey – Google’s partner in this project – said that the cameras his team uses for this project are very different from those used by Google’s other Street View vehicles. The team had to use wider-angle lenses, for example. Google’s underwater Street View camera has three cameras on its front and takes images every three seconds. One of the cameras points downward, because that’s how images during reef surveys have traditionally been taken. The back of the scooter features a tablet that can control the cameras.
During a typical dive, the divers cover about 2km and take 3,000 to 4,000 images per camera, and the team does three dives per day, each of which lasts about an hour. In total, the team has taken about 150,000 images so far, and Vevers expects this number to grow exponentially over the next few months. In the long run, the team hopes to create diver-less systems that can stay underwater for 12 hours or more. The technology is already available, but it needs to be adapted to the kind of camera system needed for Street View.
In addition to the usual cameras, the team is also testing stereo cameras to create 3D imagery and has recently experimented with doing underwater Hangouts and using Photo Spheres to engage the public.
Every camera system costs about $50,000, and four of them are currently in existence, though two of them haven’t been in the water yet.
To get this underwater data into Street View, Vevers used Google’s standard Business Photos tool. The actual location of the images, by the way, is triangulated. The images, it’s worth noting, are also freely available for scientists.
The team is focusing on the Americas right now, but plans to bring underwater Street View to all of the world’s oceans over the next three years (that’s obviously just a few locations – not all of the oceans…). Another focus for the team is getting more developers involved – both for crowdsourcing data and for developing better reef-recognition algorithms. The existing algorithms can only interpret images from a downward-facing camera, but the team is hoping to create tools for working with all of the data the cameras generate.
Given the threats to the ocean, there is obviously a serious side to this project, something Vevers noted during his talk. Street View, he argues, is an important tool to inform the public about the threats that the ocean’s face today. “People don’t want to protect anything they can’t see,” he said. Most people don’t dive, but there’s no reason why we can’t take them diving virtually. There is no point in doing science, Vevers argues, if it doesn’t get out to the public and policy makers.Read More →
Enterprise Mobility, BYOD Startup AirWatch Adds $25M From Accel To Take Its Series A Total To $225M, As It Preps For Acquisitions
AirWatch, the startup that helps businesses manage security and more on employees’ mobile devices, is today announcing that it has raised another $25 million, led by Accel with participation also from Insight Venture Partners. The funds come as part of an expanded Series A round, originally for $200 million, which the company announced with a splash in February during Mobile World Congress. This Series A is the first outside money raised by AirWatch, and values the company at just over $1 billion, according to sources.
Both AirWatch’s CEO, John Marshall, and Ryan Sweeney, the partner who led the round at Accel, tell TechCrunch that this latest expansion of the round was made at the same valuation. It comes just weeks after rival Good Technology raised a $50 million round and is preparing for an IPO.
As with the earlier $200 million, this latest injection will be used to help AirWatch build out its business, add more services, and quite possibly make some acquisitions along the way.
Marshall declined to say what areas acquisitions might be in, other than to note that they would be strategic investments to expand product lines and customers. “I think we will look very carefully at adjancent technology or tuck-in acquisitions,” he told TechCrunch. “I would not want to answer [who they are]. The three companies that I am looking at right now are all doing different things, and I don’t want to tip off our competitors.”
One area where AirWatch sees a particularly bright spot is in what Marshall refers to as “containerization of content,” in which services exist not just to manage whole devices but to be able to make more sophisticated services to partition and control particular services, such as a specific suite of enterprise apps or even one particular area of data. “The largest portion of our business is still in the enterprise mobility management space, including devices as well as apps,” he said. “The growing part of the business is around being able to secure the content in a digital locker. We see a lot of growth in extending that out within our customer base. I can’t emphasize how important this is in our strategy.” It will also lead AirWatch further also into desktop services, supporting not just mobile devices and platforms but the services and PCs used to run things when workers are not running around.
The funding, and AirWatch’s moves to grow, are signs of a consolidation afoot in the area of mobile enterprise services, specifically around mobile device management and the larger “BYOD” trend, where workers are following larger consumer trends using smartphones and tablets to do everything online, and are increasingly bringing in their devices to the office to help them work there, too. Up to now, there have been dozens of companies working in this space, both big (like AirWatch and Good) and small.
“We think this market is going to play out quickly,” said Marshall. “There are haves and have nots, and we want to be the market leader and continue increasing that separation. Consolidation is absolutely on the cards.”
He also says that will play out not just in terms of services and winning business but also in terms of funding. “The VCs are getting pretty smart and are realizing that the winners are shaping up. That wil cut off capital for those players who are not in the leading pack. Some will be acquired, and some will disappear.”
Indeed, Sweeney at Accel agrees on the investing front, but adds that the company is also gearing up to look for more mobile enterprise investments going forward.
“We’re actively looking in mobile enterprise,” he told TechCrunch. “This is the largest investment we’ve made in mobile enterprise to date but [the trend of] folks bringing phones and tablets from home to work and leaving with your PC in your pocket are still growing, so we think mobile enterprise will be a grwoth area for 3-5 years for sure.”
Marshall says AirWatch is currently adding 500 business per month, which would put its current client base at around 7,500, with some of the bigger names including Delta, Lowe’s; United Airlines; Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Skanska; PepsiCo; Henry Ford Health System; Mount Sinai Medical Center; Best Buy and Abbott Laboratories. The company boasts four of the top five global Fortune companies; the top four global energy companies; six of the top 10 global airlines; six of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies; seven of the top 10 global consumer product companies; five of the top 10 global luxury goods companies; two of the top three global hotel groups; nine of the top 10 U.S. retailers and three of the top five U.S. medical device companies.Read More →