Feb 2, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Apple Working On Second Tablet Device

The iPad is touted as a bigger version of the iPhone. Now it looks like a smaller version of the Mac could also be in the works. TechCrunch reports second hand sources as revealing that Apple could possibly be working on a second tablet device which, unlike the iPad, would tend to serve as a laptop substitute.

While not much information is available regarding this device, it is speculated that this new tablet will have a much bigger screen; around 15.4″ and could run on Mac OS X. TechCrunch further writes in that the device is likely to be demoed during the WWDC event in June of this year and could be launched before the end of the year.

We still have our doubts regarding this – Primarily, Apple is a kind of company that would like to get more things under the company’s control. With a Mac OS X powered tablet, the company could be losing out on vital revenues that the company could otherwise be making from app sales. However, this could also be a contingency device that could be launched if any of Apple’s competitors launch rival tablets that are much more open compared to the iPad and hence rake in market share.

What are your thoughts on this?

Feb 1, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Acer Technology Helps Your Watch Television Via Instant Messenger Service

Acer is working on a technology that will combine the real-time connectivity offered by instant messengers with Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) technology to build a system that will enable users watch the TV shows of their choice right from the comfort of their instant messengers.

The technology, a patent for which was filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently describes a way to connect an instant messaging module to a television card and control the outputted audio and video signals from the IM service.
It is not clear if Acer plans to integrate this service with third party messengers like Skype or Yahoo Messenger

Jan 30, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Will Amazon Buy Netflix This Time?

Rumors of Amazon being interested in Netflix are not new. There was talk about this as early as June of last year though at that point, it seemed more unlikely since Netflix’s strategy of staying with physical goods did not fit Amazon’s core philosophy of selling digital content.

However, a lot of things have changed since then. Netflix now allows video streaming and according to its latest quarterly report, 48% of its users at least streamed 15 minutes of video in this quarter. Besides this, Netflix’s subscription model has seemingly been received better among its registered users compared to Amazon’s pay-per-view model. Nearly 97% of the company’s 12.2 million registered users are paid subscribers. All this has given the DVD renting company an overall market value of $3.4 billion.

Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal says Netflix’s recent online streaming model along with newer market dynamics can mean Amazon will be flirting with the idea of acquiring the Los Gatos, CA based company. “There is now even a higher possibility. If someone is a category leader and it is still growing rapidly, they go ahead and acquire it”, he says referring to Amazon’s recent acquisition of online shoe retailer, Zappos.

What do you think? Will a Netflix acquisition be a good fit for Amazon? Let us know in the comments.

[via WSJ]

Jan 29, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Google Chrome OS Could Come With Touch

There have been rumors in the past about HTC working on a Google Chrome OS touch screen tablet. However the strongest indications of this came today when Google Senior Product Manger, Anders Sandholm fumbled for words as a question was directly put to him – ‘Does Chrome OS come with Touch screen support?’.

According to the folks at TechRadar, Sandholm couldn’t manage to answer it in a Yes or No. Instead he said

“I can’t… I mean… right now we are targeting netbooks, that’s what we’re focused on, but I expect it to work well… we expect it to target everything up to desktop computers.Chrome OS will be built for a specific hardware setup.”

While this is still not an explicit confirmation, it probably has given away Google’s plans for the Chrome OS. What would you say?

[via TechRadar]

Jan 29, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Is iPad Coming With Flash After All?

As Steve Jobs went about unveiling his latest creation on stage, the world collectively groaned about the non-availability of vital features like the camera and Flash.

Now looks like there is still hope for those who badly want to see Flash on the iPad. At least, there is some solace. The official iPad video demoed on the Apple website showcases an iPad that actually renders Flash.

In the video which is embedded below (check out 02:08), the user launches the New York Times website which launches seamlessly. Interestingly, two sections of the website; Travel and Video are built on Flash which means those two sections should not be ideally rendered on an iPad.

Could this be a fudged job? Folks at 9to5Mac think otherwise. They write

“Normally, we’d say that Apple simply did the renders in the Mac version of Safari and just CG’ed it into the video. However, you can see the page rendering and being resolution independent as well, so it is likely being done on an iPad. Note the iPad simulator in Dev Tools also doesn’t render Flash.”

We really are not sure whether to be skeptical on this one. But in any case, Apple decides to bring in Flash at the last moment, we would just say that they are always welcome.

[via 9to5Mac]

Jan 29, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Facebook Working On FourSquare Killer

Checking-in” has suddenly become sexy and every startup in town is trying to incorporate it into their core service. After Yelp and Gowalla, Facebook too is trying to introduce a “check-in” feature to users of its mobile website.

Checking in was first introduced by New York based startup, FourSquare. The service that offered reward points for multiple check-ins has proved to be extremely popular among its users that other LBS startups too have been trying to introduce the service to their users.

However unlike Yelp or Gowalla, Facebook is a massive network that can squash the ambitions of a small time startup like FourSquare. However, Dennis Crowley, Founder of FourSquare seems unfaced and is in fact enthused by the entry of Facebook which could help make checking-in the “commodity of the year”. Crowley says

“I think we’re doing this better than anyone else and I think we’ll continue to do so. We have so much stuff on the whiteboard that we haven’t even touched yet… we’re really just getting started.”

Competition in this segment is just heating up and it will be interesting to see how 2010 pans out for each of these startups.

[via Business Insider]

Jan 29, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

iPad Originally Priced At $399?

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad on Wednesday, everyone expected the price to touch $999. But to everyone’s astonishment, the price was nearly halved and the starting price was announced as $499 – something that got the world applauding.

However, it now appears that the original price of the iPad was supposed to only be $399. ValleyWag reports that people close to the product were caught offguard when an additional $100 were added to the final price. It is not clear if this rumor is true and if it is, why Apple chose to increase the price at the last moment.

ValleyWag proceeds to reveal that the initial rumor of $999 was also spread by Apple’s marketing team to keep the competitors guessing. What do you think? Do you see any truth in these rumors?

[via ValleyWag]

Jan 29, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Microsoft’s Local Search Algorithm A Privacy Nightmare?

Local search is big and everyone is jumping into this segment. And for a fact, we all tend to realize that the local results from major search engines is nothing to brag about; except if you are in a high internet density area like New York or San Francisco.

While companies have been devising different ways to go local, Microsoft’s new technology seems to offer you very relevant local search results; except that it can be a privacy nightmare.

In a patent filed recently with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Microsoft has described a new way to rank local search results. The inventors cite the following issues with current search results

  • Search engines make use of link authority to rank results. While they are good for most cases, they are not exactly relevant when a person is searching for say ‘Italian restaurants near MG Road, Bangalore’. This is because restaurants around MG Road in Bangalore might not necessarily have good PR value
  • Some search engines make use of  ’click popularity’ where sites which have been clicked a higher number of times tend to be ranked higher. These sites create a positive feedback loop which does not help in showing the relevant results

To overcome these, Microsoft has proposed the usage of the users’ access log in order to study the pages visited in a specific time period and build an implicit pagerank for pages from the user log which will be used as a factor while  displaying search results. So in the earlier example, if the user has visited BangaloreRestaurants.com, results from this website could fetch higher weightage than results from a site like Yelp.

Microsoft says this technology will be particularly useful while ranking pages from intranet websites. While the algorithm sounds interesting, making use of a user’s access log sounds scary. Users are not always comfortable giving third party websites access to the sites they visit. Something does not sound right in Microsoft’s plan to record this log, processing them for implicit pageranking and delivering results back to the user.

What do you think? Are the fears justified or are they unfounded?

Jan 29, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Bank Of America Brings Proximity-Based Authentication

Next time you forget your login credentials for your BoA account and ask for the password to be sent to your mobile phone, chances are that the system will track the location of your device as well.

In a new patent filed by the company, the inventors claim one way of minimizing risks in false authentication is by ensuring that a mobile device the password is sent to is at more or less the same location as the computer terminal used to access the online account. The inventors say this location based service could help add an alternative way to authenticate the user over the existing methods.

The inventors say the location of the mobile phone can be tracked by one of several ways such as GPS, Wireless IP geolocation, cellphone tower signal triangulation,etc.

Do you see this technology helping authentication or do you think this is a needless additional layer?

Jan 28, 2010
Anand Srinivasan

Motorola Gets Into Social Networking?

Blackberry users have been offered the ability to chat and share files with other Blackberry users through the Blackberry Messenger. Now, if the indications are true, Motorola may be going a step ahead and launch a comprehensive social network for their customers.

In a patent filed recently with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Motorola has described a social networking service over their telecommunication network that will enable users to discover new friends, share pictures and videos, comment on others messages, etc.

Interestingly, it appears that Motorola could be partnering with existing social networks to kick this feature off. The inventors explain

“In another embodiment of the invention a third party service provider may provide the social networking service to the user using the telecommunication network “

Much like the friends discovery tool in most of the social networks, Motorola’s invention too talks about making use of the users’ contact information like phone number and email address to search for other friends who are already in the network.

Motorola has been gaining traction in the smartphone segment since the launch of Droid and it is likely that the company sees a social networking service as a way to showcase their handsets to a cluster of a population rather than sell it to individuals.

With social networking apps already available, do you see this strategy picking up?