Ngmoco And AT&T Partner To Bring Social Gaming Platform Mobage To Android Users

mobage

AT&T and mobile social games company ngmoco, which is owned by Japanese gaming giant DeNA, have just announced a pretty significant agreement to bring the Mobage social gaming platform to AT&T Android customers.

According to a release, Mobage will serve as a hub for AT&T Android users to discover and play games, as well as connect and communicate with other players worldwide. AT&T says the agreement is the first of its kind between ngmoco and a U.S. wireless carrier.

AT&T customers will be able to find the Mobage app conveniently on Android Market where they can easily access the full catalog of Mobage titles as well as connect with the entire Mobage mobile social gaming community.

Tokyo-based DeNA, which makes $1.3 billion a year, acquired ngmoco for $400 million last year. Mobage launched worldwide last week platform is a stand-alone social network with a focus on mobile gaming and includes its own virtual currency MobaCoin. The platform offers most games for free and monetizes via the sales of virtual items. As my colleague Serkan Toto wrote last week, Mobage in English is initially targeted at Android users in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Eventually Ngmoco plans to roll out Mobage to iOS users.

AT&T has also partnered with Zynga to provide customized games and content to the carrier’s customers.


EyeEm’s Camera App Is A Beautiful New Interface For Photography

With the iPhone and other smartphones gradually becoming the default point and shoot cameras we always have with us, photo apps have exploded.

One wonders how another startup could possibly come up with yet another app and hope to succeed. However, hot Berlin startup EyeEm, thinks it might just have stumbled up on a new approach, missed by the likes of Instagram and others: the content of the photos.

Now live on the iOS App Store and Android Marketplace after a beta trial with over 5,000 users, EyeEm is a smartphone camera and photo sharing app which monitors its users’ tastes in photography and uses the data to recommend albums of similar photos of friends and like-minded people. EyeEm has also raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Passion Capital, Wellington Partners and well known Berlin angel investor Christophe Maire, who is also the company’s executive chairman.

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Broadcaster Or Blogger, Cent2Cent Helps Anyone Charge For Video

Generally speaking, video producers have a much easier time producing content than monetizing it. This is because the monetization side of the equation has two x-factors that are hard to get right. The first being the ‘with what to monetize’ factor–that is, the mechanism that facilitates the billing aspect of the user-flow. The second, being the ‘how to monetize’ factor– this being the model(s) under which the content is charged for.

Enter Cent2Cent, an Israeli company with a video monetization solution that is versatile enough for both high-end tv broadcasters (NBC is a client), and low-end bloggers. And with over 200,000 paid transactions to date, they might be on to something, too.

One immediate benefit with Cent2Cent is that choosing its monetization solution doesn’t require the content owner to bet the entire house on it. By this I mean that monetizing via Cent2Cent doesn’t require the content to be migrated to Cent2Cent’s hosting infrastructure. Content can be encased within a JavaScript wrapper, or for those that want more programmatic control, there are also a SOAP/REST APIs. For those however that do require hosting, Cent2Cent is integrated with Kaltura, so that’s solved as well. And to round off, there are also plugins for Drupal & WordPress.

The second key benefit with Cent2Cent’s solution is that monetization options are quite varied. These include: Daily/Weekly/Monthly/Recurring Subscription plans, Pay-per-View, Bundles and Packages, and Metered plans (by number of views, or time viewed).

On the face of it, all these options can be overwhelming, but this is where Cent2Cent’s built-in diagnostic tool can assist the content owner make monetization decisions. The module collects viewing data that it segments for insights to be deduced. For example, a content owner can discover that 2% of users viewed more than ten videos, while 5% viewed more than five. Both segments fit more of a subscription model, as opposed to the rest of the users which could be offered only a pay-per-view purchase model.

Cent2Cent began its commercial activity in October 2010 and has raised $500,000 from private investors to date.




Foxconn Planning To Hire 1 Million Robots

Foxconn is planning on replacing many of it’s hard-working human manufacturers with about 1 million robots, a number that, if you think about it, is a very telling comment on the current state of electronics manufacturing.

There are apparently 10,000 robots at the factory now and that number will increase by 300,000 next year. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou plans another million robots by 2014. The company currently employs 1.2 million humans.

The most important thing to note here is that most of the repetitive tasks associated with manufacturing – placing components, closing cases, applying decals and paint, and testing – are all done by hand. Although we imagine that the manufacturing industry is run by huge, Transformer-like robots that plop out fully formed iPads in a wicked silicon satire of human reproduction, there are actual people involved in almost every step of the process. We are literally not far off from the Industrial Revolution here.

Where will those hands who once snapped our plastic geegaws together go once the robots arrive? Probably to the unemployment line, which is another matter entirely. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that, but any time serious labor savings have been applied to mass manufacturing it hasn’t ended well. Just ask Detroit.

Image via TheOldRobots


Social Broadcast Network

Every day I try and do the media rounds to see what’s happening. The Journal, the Times, the Techcrunch, and the Twitter. Twitter is consumed via a number of aggregators that I rotate, mostly settling for News.Me and the Media something newsletter that the guy from MySpace produces.

Techmeme gets my votes about once a day, in the following order: upper right hand corner for the latest breaking, lower right hand corner to see what’s falling off the edge, then straight to the middle clump where two or three stories reside if anything’s really jumping. I’ve usually read the top in the other venues by then.

Google+ is not on this list, yet. Mostly because I haven’t got a handle on its core value as a news trigger. If you’re Scoble, the value is obvious as he is now demonstrating by turning it into his blog. But sooner or later the service will have to decide what it wants to be when it grows up — a conversation hub with no tools for rapid synthesis of knowledge, a social graph to challenge Twitter (it’s getting there fast), or some other thing perhaps more substantial than currently appreciated, like a stalking horse for YouTube live streaming aka the social broadcast network.

SBN we’ll call it has all the earmarks of a Gmail beta operation. Launching it on top of Hangouts with their limited reach even if daisy chained will not scare the networks until google flips the bits around and couples live streams with API access to embedded comment streams like the ones we use on Gillmor Gang sessions from the Friendfeed API. 10 Hangouters is more than enough in the context of a live chat of hundreds, and the API can be broadened to allow concentric groups to nominate or be given the microphone from a joint console.

This will put pressure on Google to provide a way in for the Tweet stream, since aggregators like Seesmic and others will have the same API access and an incentive to merge the multiple social networks. Facebook will be in the odd role of having little to offer here, what with YouTube’s huge clout in video marketshare. The Skype deal is a longer term strategy for climbing into a classic 3 or 4 network clump, with Apple/Twitter bargaining access to AirPlay all the more important.

G+ project manager Bradley Horowitz buttonholed me at the TechCrunch August Capital party to say he enjoyed this week’s Gillmor Gang live cast earlier that afternoon. The team’s proactive approach to interacting with field test users is good politics, but it also underlines the need to respond to criticisms such as Scoble’s laments about a buggy and crash prone iPhone client. If SBN is a not so hidden priority for Google (especially in the wake of Google TV’s Wave/Buzz like performance) then the kinds of viral crowds live streaming will invite will make fixing the Scoble-sized instability on iOS mandatory.

The last thing G+ needs is to go directly against Twitter (and Apple) in an Android/iOS shootout. For one, it blows a huge hole in the G+ social graph while it is still forming. For another, given Facebook’s Microsoft-induced stupidity about an iPad client, what part of 90% share of the tablet market do you want to lose. The only thing G+ HTML 5 on the iPad has going for it is that it sucks less that HTML 5 on the iPhone. SBN makes iPad native more likely.

The last few weeks in Washington make it clear that both parties have decided on waging the political campaign in realtime via social. Live casting blends just as well today with party fundraising if not more so than when Obama ran the table starting early with the Iowa caucuses. The Republicans have clearly understood the need to frame their agenda in a way that promotes realtime tracking of what is now a Twitter news cycle. The cable networks may offer round the clock coverage, but even political junkies like myself tune in once Twitter alerts hit the push notification bus.

CNN jumped out ahead last week with the ability to broadcast live to the iPad if users already subscribed to Comcast or several other cable or satellite services. Once iOS 5 hits with its notification hub, we should be able to move from a push notification directly into the cooperating video stream. SBN can take advantage of the same opportunity in September, but they need to convince Horowitz and Gundotra to put some engineering cycles into pulling Twitter alerts not only from iOS but from the other platforms.

Scoble doesn’t like the idea of a Friendfeed-like aggregation of the Twitter stream, but that speaks more to the lack of filtering tools in G+ than anything more fundamental. And the firestorm over businesses not having first class citizenship would be significantly neutralized while we wait if we could push brand stories into our G+ streams to seed the live cast model. Frankly, this is going to happen sooner than later, and I vote for sooner so that the resulting feedback loop will prompt Twitter to accelerate its live streaming and Tracking to feed the push notification network. I’ll call that PNN.


Buying An Electric Car

This guest post is by venture capitalist David Cowan. David has recently purchased a Nissan Leaf after going car-less for two year.

After 3.5 years, I’ve finally re-joined the community of car owners.

Between February 2008 and last week, I was car-less. I borrowed and rented cars, took taxis and Zip cars, and occasionally biked. I also bummed a lot of rides (thank you very much – you know who you are). It had started when the warranty on my fancy German gas guzzler expired; I sold the thing, and never really found the time to shop around for a replacement – Who Has Time For This?

I felt a lot more excited about the prospect of driving an electric sedan, which should be greener, potentially faster, simpler to operate, and cheaper to fuel. Most importantly, I’d never have to kill ten minutes stopping for gas – Who Has Time For This? So I put my name down on the lists for a Tesla Model S, Fisker Karma, Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, deciding to wait for one to be built. Three years later, I got calls from Fisker, Nissan and Chevy, and it was time to decide.

After examining the options and driving the cars, it was a pretty easy decision to buy the Leaf for these eight reasons:

1. Compared to the others, the Leaf gets twice the range from a battery charge: 100 miles, or 85 miles with the AC cranking. (Plugging the car in and out adds about 15 seconds a day to your daily routine, or 5 minutes a month – about half the time we spend at gas pumps.)

2. With a pure electric motor (not a hybrid gasoline engine) the Leaf is nimbler, less fragile, and legal to drive in California’s carpool lanes so I can bypass the Highway 101 traffic jams – WHTFT?

3. Driving in electric mode (without the help of a hybrid gasoline engine) is wonderfully quiet and smooth (no transmission). Even at 80 miles per hour the acceleration is immediate and impressive.

4. The Leaf steers as smoothly as a Lexus, and the small wheels turn on a dime.

5. Only the Leaf has open, comfortable seats with ample head room in front and leg room in back (a must if you have kids)

6. Only the Leaf carries 5 passengers (a must if you have THREE kids!)

7. The Leaf has the largest trunk, and the back seats fold down for more cargo space.

8. The Leaf costs 3/4 as much as the Volt, and 1/3 as much as the Karma. You get at least $7500 in tax credits, offset by the $2,000 expense of a home 220 volt charging station.

These reasons explain why the Nissan Leaf now the outsells the pack. I can think of only three good reasons why you might wish to buy one of the other cars:

1. The Leaf’s pure electric motor is not a problem for two car families – on that rare day once a month when you drive more than 100 miles, you can always take the gas guzzler instead (Honda Odysseys are awesome). But without that fallback, one-car households will find the Volt more practical (albeit expensive and cramped).

2. If you love driving enormous, heavy sports cars that sit low to the ground and you’ve got $100k to burn (like these guys), then you might prefer the gorgeous design of the Karma. It has the look and feel of a luxury muscle car with a growling engine, bucket seats, and beautiful wood/leather interiors. (The Leaf is all plastic.) Having said that, the Karma performs like a sports car at lower speeds but on the highway I found it downright sluggish compared to the Leaf. The Karma handled highway acceleration nearly as well as the Leaf only when in Stealth Mode which means that the gasoline engine is off. (You may be as disappointed as I was to learn that people can still see you in Stealth Mode.)

3. Stephen Colbert will mock you for driving a Leaf.

All three cars come chock full of gizmos we all love (rear view camera, navigation, keyless entry, XM radio, Bluetooth, heated seats…) so there’s no reason to stick with gasoline. The Leaf even comes with a cool iPhone app for remote operation of the charger and climate control.

So I’ve been zipping around in my Leaf for a week now and absolutely loving it. Even after three years, it was worth the wait.