Google Travels The World In Search Of Android Insights From Its Most Important Growth Markets

Posted November 20, 2013 & filed under Android, Mobile Apps Feeds, Mobile News.

moto-gGoogle isn’t just targeting a broader user base with Android 4.4 based on speculative assumptions – TechCrunch has learned that the Internet giant recently sent teams of Android staffers all over the world on information gathering missions to find out about how its mobile OS is used in various markets. There was a particular emphasis on Japan with these excursions, our tipster says, but it also reached China, India, Spain and many more markets where lower cost devices have a very strong foothold. Continue reading

Slice Brings Its Shopping Companion & Shipment Tracker To Tablets, Goes Android-First

Posted & filed under Android, Mobile Apps Feeds, Mobile News.

Slice_Android_Tablet_HomeMobile shopping assistant Slice has just launched a new version of its Android application today, that brings a full-screen, better optimized experience designed for those using Android tablets. This is the company’s first tablet application, in fact, arriving ahead of Slice’s expected iPad debut. The new app doesn’t yet work on Kindle Fire devices, however, nor will Slice confirm an expected launch date for its iPad release at this time. But one would imagine the company is working to bring those to consumers as soon as possible, given that we’re now approaching the busiest time of the year for shopping, both online and off. The choice to go Android-first seems odd, given that so many retailers report the majority of mobile shoppers arrive from iOS. (Perhaps it’s worth noting that one of Slice’s backers is Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, then). The company, which raised $23 million in Series B funding this summer, rolled out its first major update to Slice just last month, introducing support for product recall notifications for the first time. This is now one of the flagship features in the Slice app, which also helps users track their order confirmations, shipments, online spending, and price drops for select retailers. Today, Slice works with a number of retailers for this latter feature, including Buy.com, Home Depot, Zappos, REI, Best Buy, Bonobos, Nordstrom, NewEgg, HSN, Hanes, Bath & Body Works, Jo-Ann, Avon, Crate&Barrel, Overstock.com, MacMall, and others. The service itself integrates with users’ email inboxes in order to keep an eye on their shopping and spending behaviors, aggregating e-receipts and other automated shopping-related messages, and making sense of their buying patterns and keeping them alerted to any changes. On Android, the new app out this morning will now feature large images of everything you’ve bought so far, each annotated with key product information and shipping statuses. And it continues to support all the features found on mobile versions, including the newly added recall notices. Also new is a map feature, which lets you track your packages in real-time. (See above). Presumably, the Slice iPad app, when it arrives, will be similar. The company declines to offer details on its user numbers, actives, or app downloads, but says that it has processed more than 100 million items to date for a total purchase value of over $3.2 billion, which is up from 90 million and $3 billion just a month ago. The new app is available now Continue reading

Now With 2M Users, CreativeLive Lands $21.5M Led By Social+Capital To Bring Free, Live Courses To The World’s Entrepreneurs

Posted November 14, 2013 & filed under Funding, Mobile Apps Feeds, Startups.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 6.26.30 AMBeginning with the likes of Khan Academy and Coursera, over the last two years, a new kind of learning has begun to emerge on the Web, bringing with it the promise of affordable, quality education at scale. Looking to capitalize on this fast-growing opportunity in online learning, Chase Jarvis and Craig Swanson launched CreativeLIVE in early 2010 to put a twist on the Khan-inspired, video-focused online learning model. They decided to offer their content not only for free, but totally live, while catering to a particular audience that they knew well: Creative entrepreneurs. Since raising $7.5 million from Greylock and hiring former president of Viacom Digital, Mika Salmi, as the its CEO, CreativeLive has been growing fast. Today, with over 2 million students have consumed more than one billion minutes of CreativeLive’s skills-based learning content, CreativeLive is adding more coin to its coffers. Over the last six months, the team has moved to scale production to keep pace with the growing opportunity in online education and content delivery, building new state-of-the-art studios to broadcast is live, online lessons. With two studios in Seattle and two in San Francisco, CreativeLive is looking to continue its expansion and ramp up its investment on the infrastructure side. To do that, the company has raised $21.5 million of Series B financing in a round led by The Social+Capital Partnership, with participation from existing investor, Greylock Partners, and a handful of others. With this new round, CreativeLive has now raised just under $30 million in about 16 months, which new CEO Mika Salmi tells us the company will use to invest in people, technology and content. When Salmi stepped into his new role as CEO last June, he tells us, CreativeLive had a total of eight full-time employees. Today, that number has grown ten-fold to 80 and, with its new capital, the company will look to continue that expansion, adding to its engineering and data science teams over the next year, he says. Furthermore, though he remained tight-lipped about details, the CreativeLive CEO said that the new investment would become part of a “major investment” the company is making in its technology and infrastructure. It seems that, with four studios (two of them new), the company decided that its time to update its front-end video architecture and player, as well as the back-end support systems that help it produce and display its content. Today, CreativeLive Continue reading

Gartner: 456M Phones Sold In Q3, 55% Of Them Smartphones; Android At 82% Share, Samsung A Flat Leader

Posted & filed under Android, Mobile Apps Feeds, Mobile News.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 10.51.34Last year, Strategy Analytics made the prediction that we may have approached “peak Android” for how big a market share the operating system may be able to attain in the U.S. market. Fast forward to today, and it’s clear that Android is continuing to grow worldwide — although its biggest OEM, Samsung, may be the one that has reached a ceiling of sorts. Figures out today from Gartner indicate that in Q3, Android accounted for nearly 82% of all smartphone sales in the period, and while Samsung has continued to remain in the lead, it is doing so with a flat marketshare of 32%.
Continue reading

Online Real Estate Veteran Redfin Lands $50M From Tiger Global, Investment Giant T. Rowe Price As It Looks To Gain Market Share In The U.S.

Posted & filed under Funding, Mobile Apps Feeds, Startups.

oAs the real estate market regains some life after an extended dip, people are beginning to get comfortable with the idea of selling their home again and, in turn, getting comfortable with looking around for that special place. To help in an increasingly fast-paced market, technology-powered real estate brokerage, Redfin, has been on a mission to help people not only find the right house, but to help potential sellers get feedback on the price of their home from hundreds of potential buyers. On the heels of launching a series of these “Price Whisperer”-like tools that aim to reduce the cost of the real estate search process for both homebuyers and sellers, Redfin is doing a little price whispering of its own. The company today announced that it has raised $50 million in late-stage growth capital from a handful of investors, beginning with Tiger Global and T. Rowe Price Associates. The new round, which also includes contributions from the company’s existing investors, like Greylock Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Vulcan Capital, Globespan Capital Partners and The Hillman Company, brings the company’s total funding to just under $100 million. In addition, from what we’ve been hearing from sources, the round values its online brokerage and search business in the ballpark of $500 million. Fortune also reported a similar valuation. With the new injection of capital, Redfin becomes yet another addition to the list of companies pursuing growth capital from backers outside the usual confines of the venture capital world. The investment is the second of its kind that T. Rowe Price has made in recent months, following its investment in MongoDB last month, for example. Furthermore, a raise of this size, at this point in Redfin’s growth, seems to give credence to and provide further supporting evidence to recent reports that have pegged Redfin as a potential IPO candidate in 2014. However, while an IPO is very likely in Redfin’s future, this could also buy the company some time. With the help of firms like Tiger Global, which have plenty of experience investing in mature companies in later stages of growth, the round also allows Redfin to extend its runway as a private company and delay an IPO for that much longer if it so chooses. In either case, the new capital allows Redfin to focus on increasing its existing marketshare, increase marketing and spend on boosting consumer awareness, which according to Fortune, Continue reading

The Sub-$200 Moto G Smartphone Is Google’s Answer To Android’s Laggy Low-End

Posted & filed under Android, Gadgets, Mobile Apps Feeds.

IMG_9823When Google bought Motorola there were plenty of theories about why it wanted the mobile maker. Patents, being named chief among them. But today’s launch of the low cost Moto G smartphone suggests the strategy was — or has certainly become — multi-faceted. Google is using Motorola to chide and school its Android OEMs on what it takes to make decent budget handsets. Continue reading

Prefundia, A Platform For Crowdfunding Projects To Gain Backers Ahead Of Launch, Exits Beta

Posted November 10, 2013 & filed under Crowdfunding, Gadgets, Mobile Apps Feeds, Startups.

Prefundia_LogoPrefundia wants to help crowdfunding projects get backers before they launch their campaign. The startup, for startup it is — launching out of U.S. accelerator Boomstartup this summer — has been operating in beta for the past three months, and has just released some early performance data as it opens its doors to the public. Continue reading

Green Throttle Ends Arena Support As The Android Game Microconsole Herd Begins To Thin

Posted November 8, 2013 & filed under Android, Games News, Mobile Apps Feeds, Startups.

green throttleGuitar Hero creator Charles Huang founded Green Throttle, a Santa Clara-based startup with $6 million in funding, to build out multiplayer Android gaming for the living room. Now, the company says it’s closing the door on that mission for now. It’s a mission shared by others including Ouya, BlueStacks and its GamePop, and Nvidia’s Shield, but now the space is a little less crowded. The question is, was Green Throttle a canary indicating the whole market’s unstable, or just or just part of the natural culling of a herd centered on a real, but limited opportunity? Green Throttle worked by providing an Arena app in the Play Store and Amazon Appstore for Android, which worked with their Atlas Bluetooth controllers. It had created some games on its own, and partnered with third-party devs to provide an SDK that would let their software work with Arena, too. It’s a slightly different vision than that espoused by consoles like Ouya and GamePop, and Green Throttle had a more concentrated focus on multiplayer interaction, but it’s still not a confidence-inspiring development for anyone watching this space. The closure involves the end of support and removal of Arena from the digital app stores where it appears. The app will still work with existing games tailored to Arena for those who already own it, and the Atlas controllers will work as normal, too. The controllers are compatible with any titles that support Bluetooth HID as well, and Green Throttle will continue to sell the controllers, too. Green Throttle still seems like it will exist, as it says to watch for “the evolution” of the company. That could indicate that there’s been an acquisition of some kind, but it’s tough to say at this point. We’ve reached out to Green Throttle for more information, but for now, it’s hard to come up with a very positive spin. Android gaming is something many are betting on, and Nvidia’s CEO was positively bubbly about the possibilities earlier today on an investor call. So far, though, no one company has managed to come up with the right formula to really get the ball rolling on consumer demand. Continue reading

Android Will Show You Google+ Photos For Incoming Calls Beginning In 2014

Posted November 6, 2013 & filed under Android, Mobile Apps Feeds, Mobile News.

dialerGoogle is making Android’s dialer smarter, and it already talked about KitKat features that add automatic caller ID for businesses that Google has in its places database. Early next year, the basic phone dialing app will also pull in your Google+ profile pic to show a call recipient via caller ID, according to Android Central. It’s an option that’s on by default, too, so long as you’ve verified your phone number through your Google account. Continue reading