Now that China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest smartphone market, it’s no surprise that many developers are intrigued by the prospect of a country that may have 500 million devices in circulation by the end of next year.
Because of that, plenty of companies like Yodo1, iDreamSky and CocoaChina have cropped up to help advise studios on how to navigate the unique complexities of the market. In China, you need to distribute through dozens of app stores and market through different social networks.
Kii Corp, which was created out of a merger three years ago between Servo Software and Synclore Corporation, is also getting into the game with its own publishing service.
With that, they’ll help with all of the standard things like integrating with China’s different in-app payment systems and mobile ad networks.
They’ll also integrate with China’s unique social networks like Sina Weibo and WeChat, because most players don’t access Facebook and Twitter because of the Great Firewall.
They’ll help with distribution to China’s many different Android app stores. There are about four to five leading ones, but beyond that there is a long tail of dozens of other ones.
“Google Play isn’t formally available in the Chinese market so a lot of developers can’t find out how to go there,” said Masanari Arai, who is Kii’s founder and CEO.
Then there are a few more pieces with handling quality assurance, translation and hosting apps through a mobile-backend-as-a-service product called Kii Cloud, which handles in-app analytics, cloud storage, user and data management. It’s a service that resembles Parse, which Facebook bought for at least $ 85 million excluding retention earlier this year.
Kii competes with many, many other players like iDreamSky, which publishes Halfbrick’s Fruit Ninja and Imangi’s Temple Run in China. Yodo1 is also another emerging player, but they do a lot of hands-on work beyond translation to localize a game, such as changing the graphics and music to make them more appealing to Chinese tastes. Another publisher, CocoaChina, says that its first-party games are starting to see about $ 6 million a month, most of which is in China.
The company has a lower revenue share than its competitors, taking a 15 percent cut instead of the typical 50 percent share that we see.
Kii, which is Tokyo-based, has offices in Silicon Valley, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, as well.
TechCrunch » Social
You might not have heard of Spanish social network Tuenti, but it was acquired by Telefonica back in 2010 for $ 99 million and has garnered over 14 million users. Since then it’s opened up to worldwide users in most languages, launched new apps (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Firefox OS) and moved heavily into messaging.
It’s also become more than just a social networking app. Last year it launched an MVNO – Tuenti Móvil – and now it’s unveiling a new strategy. Tuenti Móvil customers will now be able to call, chat, and share without using data or phone credit. It sounds crazy but in fact it’s clever. It will draw more customers to the Tuenti MVNO because it’s tied to this social network.
Just over a year ago, they launched in Spain a data-centric MVNO offer with 1GB for a €6 tariff which is very competitive in Europe.
Here’s how it works: The free (called “Zerolimites”) data tariff on Tuenti Móvil is automatically activated as soon as the user purchases a data bundle with any of Tuenti Móvil’s tariffs. If the user consumes the entire Gig of data they are allowed, they still get to use the Tuenti app, and send messages, without it being reflected on their bill. If they run out of cash and can’t top up the account (kinda important in cash-strappedSpain right now) they can still continue to use the Tuenti app for 30 more days. The fair use policy of Tuenti is 1GB per month of exclusive use of the Tuenti app.
But here’s the secret sauce: there is an enormous viral factor in that anyone on any operator can use the Tuenti app. So when your friend on Tuenti Móvil runs out of credit, they can still chat with you though the app. That just incentivises more people to sign up to Tuenti Móvil, knowing that their temporary cash flow issue won’t be a problem. This is a big deal for younger mobile users, of course.
The numbers are not big right now. Tuenti Móvil has so far reached 150,000 customers in its the first year. In theory this new service will help those numbers.
CEO and founder Zaryn Dentzel says “we’re not just a social network anymore, but rather an integrated social communication multi-platform, primarily mobile, that’s backed up by innovation and added value.”
Like Twitter, Tuenti’s messages are limited to 140 characters and Facebook you can share photos etc — “moments” in Tuenti lingo — that appear in your contacts’ timelines. Users broadcast to everyone (Twitter), to your close friends (like Facebook), or just directly to single contacts, a little like you would on an app like Pair.
In Spanish “tu entidad” means ‘your entity, your identity’, hence the name and in English it’s a pun on the number 20, or 20 close friends.
Note also that the data is sent via SSL – an interesting point in the age of PRISM. It means none of the activity on Tuenti is ever indexed in Google.
TechCrunch » Social
Apple Reportedly Trying 4.7- and 5.7-Inch Screens On iPhones Next Year, Cheaper Model Coming In Fall
Apple is looking at various changes to its iPhone lineup over the course of the next year, according to a new report from Reuters, including two sizes of larger smartphone devices, in both a 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch flavor. The “phablet” plans are also being considered alongside a less expensive iPhone model, which is slated to begin production next month, according to Reuters’ sources, after a brief delay as Apple attempts to get the colors right for the new plastic-backed device.
The cheaper iPhone would be launching in September following full production kicking in in August, according to some of Reuters’ sources, with an initial shipment target of around 20 million low-cost devices for the holiday quarter next year. The report details echo what we’ve heard from other sources recently, including from fairly accurate analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who previously shared reports of multi-color options for the cheaper iPhone, with a thin plastic case and the same 4-inch screen as the iPhone 5. Reuters adds that it should cost around $ 99 when it launches, and that its release timeline might be pushed back by as much of a year.
Reports of the low-cost iPhone have been making the rounds in more or less reliable circles for a while now, which is the more interesting component of this new report. Other sources have reported that Apple is looking at bigger-screened devices, so-called “phablets” to compete with similar offerings from Android smartphone manufacturers, including the Galaxy Note line from Samsung. But even Apple’s flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5, lags behind most competing general-purpose non-phablet devices like the HTC One and Galaxy S4 in terms of screen size at 4-inches.
Apple’s big-screen iPhone plans are less evolved than those for its low cost device, the report claims, with one of Reuters’ sources suggesting that we could still see the plans shift considerably before anything reaches a production stage. Apple has discussed the idea with production partners, but has not set any kind of timeframe for test production or launch as of yet. Reuters says that Apple is considering the different screen sizes comes as there’s increased pressure to field more than one device a year.
Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested that we might see a larger iPhone when the trade-offs of battery life, screen quality, color reproduction and other failings brought about would be possible to counteract, speaking at the recent AllThingsD D11 conference. He did admit that some consumers are interested in those devices, however, so it’s likely that these reports come from Apple’s attempts to overcome those limitations with engineering. Plenty of Apple products don’t make it past the testing phase, however, so while you can be sure Apple is experimenting with big displays for iPhone, you can’t be equally sure we’ll ever see one. Still, Cook’s guidance to consumers and media that they can look for big product launches in the fall and through next year specifically do line up with the timing of possible iOS phablet launches reported by Reuters today.
Brief news items of note for Lifehacker readers including: Kogan crows about landmark profits, Internode launches new Biz bundles, Facebook adds hashtags. More »
RelateIQ Launches With $29M From Formation 8, Dustin Moskovitz And More To Be Your Next-Gen Relationship Manager
Last summer, word started to trickle out about a young, stealth startup called RelateIQ that was rumored to be one of the more ambitious players among the new (and expanding) class of Big Data startups. Adam Evans and Steve Loughlin had founded RelateIQ the summer before to tackle some enduring problems in the way we manage our professional relationships — the same ones that led to the birth of Plaxo lo a decade ago, and many more since. Though we live in the Digital Age of smartphones and cloud computing, Evans and Louglin were frustrated by the fact that people still manually entering important professional data into aging and stuffy relationship management tools.
On a mission to change that by using Big Data to automate relationship tracking and by taking mobile seriously, RelateIQ was able to attract $ 9 million from Accel, Morgenthaler and SV Angel in Series A financing, while recruiting key advisors like LinkedIn’s former chief data scientist DJ Patil, Bob Cohn (of Octel, Lucent and Sequoia fame) and current Apple board member and former Intuit CEO, Bill Campbell. Fast forward to today and, after two years of extensive and stealthy testing and fueled by a hefty new round of funding from a roster of familiar names, the startup is finally throwing open its doors to the public.
The new Series B round, which was first reported by former colleague Evelyn Rusli of the WSJ, brings RelateIQ’s total funding to $ 29 million and values the company at $ 100 million. The company has since confirmed these numbers, telling us that its new, $ 20 million Series B round was co-led by Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale’s new, “smart enterprise”-focused venture capital firm, Formation 8 (which just raised its first, $ 448 million fund) and Accel Partners.
The lead investors were also accompanied by an impressive supporting cast, including Battery Ventures, AMC Cloud Ventures (via Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang), Thrive Capital, Allen & Co. and Facebook and Asana co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz — among others.
Not bad for a startup that works out of the basement of a home decor business in Palo Alto, right? (Never you mind that Facebook used to house its servers in the same basement before “The Social Network” Era.) In fact, considering that CRM and relationship intelligence software isn’t exactly The New Kid On The Block, it makes one wonder what it is about RelateIQ that attracted this gaggle of tech industry veterans.
Traditionally, the Customer Relationship Management space (and to a lesser degree social CRM) has been dominated by veteran enterprise software companies like Salesforce.com, Oracle and SAP. Today, however, the Bigs find themselves being chased by a bevy of startups that are trying to beat them at their own game by using advances in cloud computing and data tech (among others) to offer smarter, more consumer-friendly experiences or by moving downstream to bring enterprise-grade tech to startups and small businesses.
As Evelyn points out, this has forced CRM incumbents to modernize, get more mobile and social either by building out their platforms themselves and acquiring (like Jive’s buying Producteev), or by turning to Big Data startups to help them make sense of enormous data sets.
RelateIQ, which has 100 clients already in tow at launch including companies like T3 Advisors and WellnessFX, wants to go after the incumbents by not only offering social integration and data enrichment out of the box, but by significantly reducing the amount of manual data entry required to get more insight into their professional relationships. Features like the ability to quickly deploy new workflows, the founders explain, are attractive to teams that manage their business’ external relationships, whether in business development, sales or product, allowing them to get started immediately.
Of course, using algorithms and machines to try to better understand and glean insight from the chaos of human relationships is an uphill battle. RelateIQ wants to close that gap by sucking in and analyzing faster, on a bigger scale, and by offering more nuanced analysis of the details in your professional relationships, than the next guy.
It does that by automatically capturing data from email, voice, social networks and calendars and analyzing language in those communications to identify words and phrases in an email that might indicate a lead is getting ready to take the next step, or just the opposite. In other words, the idea is to reduce the amount of work you have to do and only surface the critical stuff you can’t ignore.
The startup’s SaaS service also eliminates the headache that results from the fact that your contact information is scattered across multiple platforms or hiding in someone’s spreadsheet or address book. RelateIQ cleans your contact info and merges it from across address books to give companies one reliable source of contact info, along with offering features of a digital personal assistant, like email tracking and prompts when you forget to reply to important contacts.
The other key to RelateIQ’s value proposition is mobile, allowing teams to track and manage their professional relationships in realtime, collaborate with colleagues and access dynamic reporting and updates contact info from native Android and iPhone apps. By adding an automated intelligence layer to relationship management, it becomes easier for overworked teams to prioritize legit leads and save those that are falling through the cracks by automatically bubbling up forgotten leads in your contact list.
The ability to do that on-the-go while you’re on a business trip — without having to manually log calls from your iPhone — is huge. But what is this all going to cost, your ask? While its mobile apps are free, its SaaS product runs $ 49/user/month or $ 99/user/month for its premium version.
For more, find RelateIQ at home here.
Crowdsourced ad design platform Dispop has launched today after raising $ 600,000 in seed funding from Inimiti Capital Partners. Basically, the crowdsourcing platform employs a similar concept to popular design competition service 99Designs but is targeted squarely at advertisers and has an added twist – it allows companies to shortlist designs then run ad campaigns to test their efficacy.
SOURCE LINK: http://thenextweb.com/us/2013/06/12/crowdsourced-ad-design-platform-dispop-launches-with-600000-seed-funding/
The world‘s biggest e-tailer launches Amazon Marketplace in India to aggregate third-party retailers on a platform successful elsewhere in the world.
Popular British retailer River Island is launching a new Australia-specific website today, the next step in its entrance to the Australian market.
The $ 75,000 will be used for a new custom website, hire individuals that can help StampLabel successfully broadcast the social good it does, and obtain office space so that the company does not have to continue operating in the home of the founders.
SOURCE LINK: http://www.prweb.com/releases/StampLabel/IndiegogoCampaign/prweb10802433.htm
Bloomberg Launches Bloomberg Beta, A $75 Million Early-Stage Investment Fund Led By Former IGN Exec Roy Bahat
Media company Bloomberg is launching its own venture capital fund, called Bloomberg Beta today. With the fund, the company is putting aside $ 75 million to invest in early-stage startups. The fund, which has already put money into nine companies, is being led by Roy Bahat, chairman of video game hardware startup Ouya and former head of IGN Entertainment.
Bloomberg Beta shouldn’t be confused with Bloomberg Ventures, an internal incubator that the media company founded back in 2008. But that was shut down as co-founder Matt Turck left to go to FirstMark Capital. Instead, Bloomberg Beta is an independent venture firm for investing in outside startups and technologies.
The launch of Bloomberg Beta follows a trend of media and entertainment companies creating venture capital funds for investment in young, innovative companies. There are a number of examples out there already, such as Conde Nast, Hearst Interactive Media, and Time Warner Investments.
But unlike those companies, Bloomberg Beta is less interested in strategic investments and more interested in generating venture-type returns. Bloomberg Beta was formed as an independent entity with Bloomberg as its sole LP, sort of along the lines of the Google Ventures model. Bahat says the fund will be financially independent from Bloomberg, with no strategic imperative to work with the mothership.
However, while its investments won’t be considered strategic, the new fund will make bets on companies in areas that fit Bloomberg’s areas of interest. According to Bahat, that includes things like big data technology platforms, content discovery, media distribution, new organizational models, and human-computer interaction technologies.
Bloomberg Beta will be focused on early-stage opportunities, but is flexible about the terms of those investments. “We’re happy to go as early as the womb to find investable opportunities,” Bahat told me. “We’re happy to lead, or be the only check in. But we’re also happy to syndicate. We’re optimizing for the best companies.”
While flying under the radar, the fund has invested in nine startups already, including Newsle, MkII, Nodejitsu, Codecademy, Errplane, and ProsperWorks. Bahat tells me that there are a few more which the firm isn’t quite ready to announce.
In addition to investing in startups that are already formed, Bahat sees an opportunity to incubate startups within the fund itself. “We look at this as the natural progression of venture funds becoming progressively more operational,” Bahat said. That means funds that “both make companies and invest in them,” something which Bloomberg Beta plans to do. Betaworks might be the most famous example of this, but there are also firms like Lightbank and others that are following this same track.
Based in San Francisco at the same offices as Bloomberg West, and will have three partners at launch. Prior to founding Bloomberg Beta, Bahat was head of IGN Entertainment for five years while the media property was owned by News Corp. He is also chairman of hot new gaming hardware startup Ouya, and has also served on the boards of Revision3 and Flixster.
In addition to Bahat, the firm will have Karin Klein based in New York City to lead investments on the East Coast. Formerly the head of new initiatives at Bloomberg, she also served as vice president of Softbank’s venture fund, where she made investments in companies like Buddy Media.
Helping Bahat on the west coast will be James Cham, who recently served as a principal at Trinity Ventures with a focus on consumer services, enterprise software, and digital media investments. Before that, he was a VP at Bessemer Venture Partners.