Monthly Archives: September 2007

Dinerdash Casual games companies are getting serious about where they find their next growth driver, and it’s no surprise they see the boost coming from the introduction of social networking features.

Real Networks agreed to acquire Game Trust this week, a company that allows casual games sites to add customisable communities for players. Read more

Glam Some very big bets are being placed on finding the next online media conglomerates. One thing these companies have in common: they don’t spend too much money on content, but have models designed to aggregate large audiences on the Web.

Glam Media, which claims to have the largest reach of any Website aimed at women, is understood to be looking to raise $250m from private investors. Glam likes to think of itself as a US-style TV network for the Web. It creates a small amount of content, a brand and advertising: other websites with relevant content that want to sign on to the network have to commit to an exclusive relationship, making them the equivalent of the "owned and operated" stations of the TV networks (though Glam doesn’t go actually buy them outright.) This aggregated audience has now reached 25m unique visitors. Read more

Halo3masterchief1 As energy drink-addled Master Chief wannabes emerge from their caffeine haze having conquered Halo 3, they are sure to begin exploring the game’s interesting user-generated features.

The most interesting of these is Forge, a map editor that lets Halo players roam around the game’s multi-player battlefields dropping weapons, vehicles and other materiel around the map. Players can then save their custom-built maps, invite friends and even upload them to the web site of Bungie, Halo 3′s developer, where they can be shared and commented on by the entire Halo 3 community.  Read more

One of the consequences of the evolution of the web from a text-heavy to an increasingly video centric medium is that search tools also need to evolve.

UK-based Blinkx and AOL’s Truveo unit led the way with video search tools that enable users to track down and watch video clips by entering search key words in a browser window. Read more

Crowds The "wisdom of crowds" motif has become a tired cliche in online circles in recent years. With the latest in low-cost interactive Web technologies, though, there finally seems to be a real wave of experimentation underway in how to harness the knowledge of the masses.

The range of that experimentation is intriguing. Two of the companies presenting at the Demo conference – a showcase that tries to filter out the best tech start-ups, though the "winners" of this contest still have to pay $18,000 to show up – represent the extremes. Read more

Q: Where can you find 1m screens, at the heart of a multi-billion-dollar industry, that are just waiting to be connected to the internet?

A: Las Vegas, Atlantic City and anywhere else that players of the slots congregate. Read more

It is always good to kick off a conference – particularly a tech startup beauty show like Demo – with a splash. That is just what DemoFall’s longtime organiser, Chris Shipley, did with Digital Fountain, the kick off demonstrator at today’s event in San Diego.

Digital Fountain, a privately funded Fremont-based digital video infrastructure startup, showed off itsDF Splash technology which cleans up "lossy" IP-delivered video guaranteeing near broadcast quality video even when a sizable number of packets are dropped. Read more

Demo_4 It’s good to see that there are still some internet visionaries out there with really big, outlandish ambitions.

The Demo, which has just started in San Diego, looks like being a great showcase for a wide range of practical businesses being built on today’s internet technologies: online video delivery networks, "wisdom of crowds" marketing systems, workplace social networks, mobile search engines. Read more

Triton_2000 Before the internet came along, I once had a vague interest in orienteering – a sport requiring a map, compass, running gear and a whistle – in case you got lost in the woods.

The advent of the web and GPS devices has made all that seem out of date. In 2000, the US removed selective availability from its GPS system, allowing locations to be nailed down to within three metres and leading to the growth of geocaching as a sport and worldwide treasure huntRead more

Facebookfriends_2 The merry-go-round of big internet companies looking to buy a piece of Facebook is taking another turn, with Microsoft coming into view again – a Wall Street Journal report says it is seeking to invest up to $500m in the social networking site.

Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are all understood to have flirted with Facebook in the past year or so, but it has remained resolutely independent, and there is every chance its founder Mark Zuckerberg would rebuff Microsoft again. Read more

Gaiacollectibles_2 The current credit crisis has caught monetary policy experts by surprise, from the governor of the Bank of England to executives in financial institutions around the world.

But would they have been better prepared if the contributing factors had already been rehearsed in a virtual world economy? Read more

Wfmuwallofsound The appeal of the iPhone, and by association the new iPod touch, is growing as developers come up with more native application icons to add to its screen.

There is everything from the ability to play the original Pong, to Doom, Blackjack, an eBook reader, Etch-a-Sketch and an aquarium. Read more

Lonely_girl_15_3   Don’t fake it.

That’s the main lesson for corporate types who want to use video sites like YouTube to promote their message, according to researchers at the Cass Business School. Viewers apparently don’t like to be taken in. Read more

Woome For a conference that is all about wooing investors, panellists and the media, TechCrunch40 could really have benefited from the technology demonstrated by WooMe in the last session of the two-day start-up auditions.

WooMe brings speed dating online, allowing users to set up video chat sessions where they can meet five people in five minutes, or other combinations. Read more

Mainframe_2 Big Blue can still pack a punch in the Web 2.0 world. Silicon Valley’s eyes have been turned this week on the TechCrunch40 conference (see note below), a coming-out party for the Valley’s hottest new internet companies. How ironic, then, that some of the biggest news has come from an old tech giant that was conspicuously absent.

IBM has said it will distribute a version of Open Office, the open-source office productivity suite, to run with its Lotus Notes software. While Web 2.0 start-ups are racing to out-do each other with new online Office-type applications, IBM has just dusted off an old Microsoft competitor and given it a fresh coat of paint. Read more

Techcrunch40 San Francisco is seething with tech start-ups even more feverishly than usual this week.

The TechCrunch40 event here features 40 of the most promising tech companies from around the world pitching for a $50,000 top prize. Read more

Halo3 A price cut worked for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in August, boosting its US sales, while the release of its Halo 3 game this month is likely to accelerate adoption of the next-generation console.

Sales figures for the video game industry released by the NPD research firm today showed 277,000 360s were sold in August, compared to 170,000 in July. Read more

Syncusb_2 Apple’s talks with Volkswagen have created a frisson of excitement about a possible “iCar”, but Microsoft will be first to embed itself into auto entertainment through its partnership with Ford.

The two companies drove an SUV model and a Ford Focus into San Francisco this week to demonstrate their Sync system, which will debut in a Focus model next month. Read more

ZuckerbergThe latest rumour bouncing around Silicon Valley is that Facebook may be looking to raise another round of venture capital.

It’s an interesting idea, not least because any new funding round would force Facebook’s investors to put a valuation on the company. Peter Thiel, the site’s second-biggest investor, told us last month that Facebook and its founders think the site is worth $8bn to $10bn. It is unlikely that  VCs would be tempted by such a high valuation – far more likely that Mr Thiel was throwing the number out as a signal to potential acquirers. Still, even at a much lower valuation, the buzz around Facebook is such that it could probably raise a hundred million dollars or more for a relatively small dilution in ownership. Read more

Oqo_02 OQO, who thought of the Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) category before Microsoft, Intel and Samsung attempted to define it (remember the Origami Project), launched new versions today of the “world’s smallest fully functional Windows Vista PC.”

OQO gave a preview of the upgrade to its model 02 at a San Francisco warehouse party last week, where its new CEO was also unveiled. Read more