Television is changing, and so are the devices we watch it on
A new study from Ooyala, a digital video provider with customers like ESPN, FOX Sports and Comedy Central, found that mobile and tablet video consumption grew 133% year-over-year. Video that was streamed to tablets and mobile devices accounted for 15% of all streamed video in Q3, a new record, according to Ooyala’s Global Video Index
The report takes into account more than 200 million unique monthly viewers from 130 different countries, says Simon Jones, Ooyala’s solutions director. In fact, Q3 isn’t even a traditionally popular quarter for video streaming, he added, citing a lack on season television programming and summer vacations as reasons people consume less video Read more…
Samsung smartphones play second fiddle to the iPhone in the U.S., but globally, the Korean company’s handsets are easily the most popular. One disgruntled customer, however, has posted a damaging online video that could put a dent in Samsung’s reputation
On Dec. 2, Canadian resident Richard Wygand posted a YouTube video in which he claimed that his Galaxy S4 was dangerously defective. “I just plugged it in to charge it,” Wygand says in the video. “Went to sleep, woke up to smoke and a little bit of burning.”
Wygand then shows off his S4′s damaged power plug, which appears to be severely burned and warped (see the gallery, below). Read more…
nWay, a San Francisco-based gaming startup from an experienced team of MMO-makers, just raised $5 million in funding led by TransLink Capital.
They also had participation from several of Silicon Valley’s better known micro-VCs and early-stage funds like Baseline Ventures’ Steven Anderson, Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee and Harrison Metal’s Michael Dearing. Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Jeremy Liew, WI Harper Group, Zhen Fund, Bowana, and XG Ventures also joined the round.
Before starting nWay, CEO Taehoon Kim had racked up years of experience through building several gaming companies including one MMO maker called Nurien, that he eventually sold to CJ E&M. They were behind several social dance and fashion show titles.
He’s returning to the game-making world with a team that has worked on titles like Grand Theft Auto, Diablo II and Dead Space 2 & 3.
“We wanted to basically create what we thought were real games. Some games are very blurry with the line between social networking and gameplay,” he said.
The company’s main title ChronoBlade, is a title where a handful of hero characters battle to protect a Multi-verse, or a universe where multiple versions of Earth exist. The enemy army, the Chronarch Imperium, has advanced weaponry that it uses to destroy most worlds’ defenses. Players take on the role of one of four inter-dimensional heroes that have to keep the Chronarch Imperium at bay. Each of course has its own unique skill sets and specialties.
Right now, the game is just available on Facebook and on the new Android-based console Ouya. They’ll be launching a multi-player mode in three days. But nWay plans to have it work seamlessly across several platforms including consoles, PCs and mobile devices. Android and iOS should be coming in 2014.
But the reason the company has been able to attract investor interest in a tough climate for gaming startups is because of the team’s experience and because they’ve developed some back-end technology that should allow for 60-frame-per-second synchronous multiplayer game play.
“We think it will be breakthrough technology for twitch-based games that require low latency,” Kim said.
So far, Kim says that tests show players are spending at least 30 minutes on average. They haven’t turned on any monetization features at the moment, as the company is focused on retention rather than revenue at the moment.
The two-year-old company has raised about $11 million in total and has 34 employees. Jay Eum, a managing director at TransLink Capital will join Baseline’s Steve Anderson on the company’s board.
Square Reader, the popular gadget that turns iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones into credit-card accepting devices, received a sleek reboot on Tuesday, with a slimmer form factor and no battery necessary.
Square first launched its reader in 2009, giving small businesses — from retail shops and contractors to a stand at a farmer’s market — a way to easily complete transactions with customers. But this is the first major redesign of its hardware and software since the launch, incorporating more custom parts for better performance and making it look more elegant
Few things in life are more frustrating than trying to find a new place to live (especially if you’re itching to move to the housing market hellholes that are New York City and San Francisco). It’s no wonder then that so many startups — Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, Apartment List, Rental Engine, Zumper, Nestio, the list goes on — are trying to make it all just a little bit easier.
Of these myriad startups, apartment-centric Lovely has been especially busy these past few months: it closed a (sadly undisclosed) Series A and snapped up automated rent payment startup Rentmatic to help prove its worth to property owners too. So what was next on their agenda? Getting a new Android app out the door, which the company finally did earlier today.
Lovely is hardly new to the mobile realm — it launched an iOS version of the app a little over a year ago, and anyone who’s mucked around with that should feel comfortable taking the Android version for a spin. That’s far from a bad thing when more than a few competing mobile real estate apps are happy to throw everything plus the kitchen sink into the mix. It’s not hard to see why: as stated, finding an apartment is hard and bombarding a user with fiddly options and controls makes them feel like they’re actually getting something done. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, but the illusion of control persists.
The Lovely approach is to strip out the cruft. When you fire up the app for the first time, color-coded listings appear in location-based groups that expand when tapped. From there it takes a but a few taps to directly contact the property owner, share the listing, or report obvious frauds. If you go on to create an account, even more doors open (I slay me) so you can set alerts when properties free up within specific areas and preload some personal and financial information to put potential renters at ease.
There’s little here that differentiates the Android app from its iOS cousin, but that’s hardly an issue — CEO Blake Pierson said he considers Lovely a mobile-first company that uses what it’s learned from fast iteration on the web to inform the mobile experience. All things considered, this new Android version of the app is a handsome one and I actually found a few interesting leads while I was writing this story (what can I say, I’ve grown a little weary of southern New Jersey).
“Some think of us as purely a search tool,” Pierson noted on the phone. “But our long term vision is to be the platform and THE marketplace for rentals.” What he means is that the Lovely vision ultimately encompasses the renting process from both ends: tools for renters and apartment hunters alike. The team has already starting moving down that path with its Rentmatic acquisition, but we’ll see if they can really balance both sides of that equation.
Well, that was fast. LG inadvertently outed a G-Pad tablet that would be getting the Google Play Edition treatment earlier today, and Google has just followed up with a confirmation, a price tag ($349) and another device to add to the mix. Sony’s $649 Z Ultra is also available in the Google Play store, much to the chagrin of rumormongers who have long claimed that Sony would soon get a crack at crafting a Nexus device.
Alas, global gadget fiends won’t be able to join in the fun — like the Google Play Edition HTC One and Galaxy S 4 before it, these devices aren’t yet slated for an international launch.
The spec sheet on the G Pad 8.3 hasn’t changed since last we saw it (8.3-inch 1920×1200 display, 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 chipset with 2GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage) but the announcement of the Sony Z Ultra largely came out of the blue. If that name sounds mildly familiar, it’s because the X Ultra is a lightly modified version of the Xperia Z Ultra smartphone that debuted to positive critical feedback earlier this year. The exclusion of the Xperia branding is honestly a little confusing though — it’s not like the brand couldn’t use a publicity boost in the United States, and Samsung’s Galaxy moniker is still slapped on its Google Play Edition phone.
Branding or not, the Z Ultra is still a hot little number with its 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip, 2GB of RAM, 6.4-inch 1080p display, LTE support, and waterproof chassis. It’s one of Sony’s best handsets to date, and frankly it’s heartening to see that the company is finally seems to be finding its footing in a hectic smartphone market after it discontinued its efforts on lower-end devices. Then again, the Google Play Edition badge (and the accoutrements that come with us) don’t always translate into sales success. Both devices are available for sale now if you’re living within the confines of the 50 states, so have at it if you’re itching for a little pre-holiday shopping spree.
This is a developing story, please refresh for updates.
One day, your high-tech eyewear will talk to the refrigerator and let you know when you’re out of milk. From there, you could send a tweet to your spouse — either via the specs or the fridge — and ask him to pick up a gallon on the way home. If he forgets to lock the car door after getting home, the TV will notify you
As more companies integrate smart, connected capabilities into household items, it’s only a matter of time before the Internet is in everything. In fact, Gartner Research predicts “smart home” technology will add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020
With $3M From Andreessen And Others, Doctor On Demand Launches To Bring A $40 (Virtual) House Call To Healthcare
Adam Jackson and former Stanford physician and White House fellow Dr. Pat Basu want to help modernize healthcare by bringing the house call back — mobile-style. To do that, today, they’re officially launching Doctor On Demand, a service that aims to connect consumers to a licensed U.S. physician via app an on iPhone, Android or tablet — from anywhere.
Well, in saying “anywhere,” that’s the eventual goal. For now, at launch, the service is available in 15 U.S. states for a price of $40 per video call — a price the co-founders believe puts Doctor on Demand on par with most insurance co-pays and cheaper than most urgent care. The idea is to make a quality, experienced physician available to any consumer for just $40.
Because this model is not without its antecedents, Doctor on Demand is looking to remove as much friction as possible from the process, allowing patients to connect with a doctor in real and pay with their Health Care Spending Account, Flexible Spending Account or any major credit card. The other, ancillary benefit (so to speak) of this is the ability to reduce wait times at doctor’s offices and practices across the country, and allow patients to receive quality medical care from the comfort of their couch.
To do that, Doctor on Demand uses a HIPAA-secure network and synchronous video chat to allow patients to communicate with doctors. However, there is a caveat: Doctor on Demand is to be used for “non-emergent clinical issues that do not immediately require a direct presence, lab work or imaging.”
While this limits the network’s utility to some degree, it still covers a significant portion of medical issues. For instance, you could talk to a doctor about symptoms of common colds, fevers, coughs, sinus infections, allergies, upset stomachs, fevers, rashes, eye problems and so on. You can even get your prescription refilled, and upload high-res images during the call so that, say, a busy parent can give the doctor a sense of how their child’s symptoms appeared at their worst.
Jackson and Basu tell us that, through partnerships with health systems, their network of physicians has grown to 1,000 nationally and are overseen by Basu himself — the co-founder and CMO (Chief Medical Officer). They are also in the process of putting together a multidisciplinary team of doctors, so that, eventually, when one signs on to Doctors on Demand, they will be able to be routed immediately to a specialist (say an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor) based on the keywords they input from the start.
But today, the team includes the support of people like former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who serves on the company’s board of directors and co-founder Jay McGraw, an Emmy Award-winning executive producer of The Doctors. To support its launch in 15 states today (which, by the way, include California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington), Doctor on Demand has raised $3 million in seed funding from Venrock, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Shasta Ventures and Athena Health CEO Jonathan Bush.
Yodo1, a Beijing-based mobile games publisher that has gradually built a business that helps take games from the West to Asia and vice versa, has raised $11 million in funding led by GGV Capital.
This is the company’s second round and brings its total funding to $18 million. Other new investors, including Pavillion Capital and Iris Capital, participated. The previous round was led by Singtel Innov8.
Henry Fong, Yodo1′s CEO, said that GGV made sense as a fit because of their cross-border strategy with investments in both China and the U.S.
“They were the ones that were the most passionate, proactive and they literally moved the quickest,” he said.
GGV’s Jenny Lee, who has seen at least four exits over the last two years, including the IPO of China’s video-based social network YY, is the one joining Yodo1′s board.
Yodo1 started out by helping Western developers break into the Chinese market by co-producing localized games that had art and music tailored to local tastes.
Their belief is that you can’t just translate copy inside games if you want to succeed in China. They take a more hands-on approach where they access the game’s underlying code and may change the art or characters to fit local tastes.
Through their 30 published games, they reach about 90 million monthly actives in China and are adding about 10 million users per month. After signing deals with developers like Cut The Rope-maker Zeptolab and Germany’s HandyGames, they started to take their model to South Korea, with a local studio in Seoul that just opened up.
The company will use the funding to expand its model to Japan and Korea, which are the biggest markets in the world by revenue for Google Play developers.
“Android is definitely where the money is in the foreseeable future,” Fong said.
The round comes just as China’s mobile gaming market is heating up. There are more than a half-billion Android and iOS devices circulating in China, according to the country’s leading mobile app analytics company Umeng. That number is expected to swell to more than 800 million next year.
Those rising adoption numbers are fueling growing revenues for game makers in the country. Top-grossing Android games in China can make anywhere from $5 to $10 million per month when you add up all their revenues from the top app stores there, Fong said. (Unlike in the U.S. where there are the two official iOS and Google Play app stores, China has scores of independent, third-party app stores.)
Mozilla launched the latest version of its Firefox browser for Android and desktop today. While the desktop version gets its fair share of minor updates and now sets all plug-ins with the exception of recent Flash versions as “click to play,” the Android version is getting some time in the spotlight.
Firefox for Android now features a brand-new homescreen that aims to provide users with easier access to the sites they visit most often, browsing history and bookmarks, as well as Firefox’s Reading List feature for distraction-free reading.
This new homescreen, Mozilla says, is meant to “give you a streamlined and speedier browsing experience on-the-go, when you need it most.” It made its first appearance in the beta channel in late October and the feedback must have been god, because Mozilla graduated it to the stable channel pretty quickly. It’s available in both the phone and tablet interface.
With this update, Firefox also now gives its mobile users the option to choose Bing and Yahoo for search. Until now, mobile Firefox users had to use Google (which still provides the Mozilla Foundation with the vast majority of its income). It’s unclear if Mozilla has struck any deals with Yahoo or Microsoft for a similar profit-sharing agreement.
On the desktop side, things aren’t quite as interesting. Plug-ins are now all ‘click to play,’ with the exception of Flash, and users who are still on Windows XP get support for MP3 decoding (which means Firefox now supports this on every version of Windows).
The new versions for mobile and desktop also sport the usual tweaks to Firefox’s developer tools and a slew of bug fixes. You can find a detailed rundown of those here.