Instagram, an iPhone-only photo app, has become a darling of the fashion world.
Started only 11 months ago, Instagram already has nine million users who take photos on their iPhone and apply effects from 15 filters. They can then share their photos in a stream.
Some professional photographers feel the app is “cheapening the art,” but the results can be quite striking and have already been used in magazines.
Kevin Systrom, chief executive and co-founder of Instagram, says the company is not yet profitable. However, the app is starting to draw attention outside the realm of amateur photo enthusiasts and social networkers.
“The top request Instagram gets from corporate users is for custom filters,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Brands want to create filters specific to their own aesthetic, so that Instagram users can echo a brand’s look — seeing the world as designer Kate Spade does, or Vanity Fair magazine. Mr. Systrom says the company has had other priorities but hinted new filters are coming soon.”
An intellectual property analyst makes the case that the reason Google acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion last month was not to provide patent protection for Android as most believe. It was to prevent Motorola Mobility from making one or more key moves that would have weakened Android’s patent situation even more.
For example, Motorola Mobility could have taken a patent license from Microsoft signaling a surrender that would have affected every other Android licensee.
It could have started work on a Windows Phone as a way to help it deal with a Microsoft infringement case, suggests the FOSS Patents blog. It also could have attacked other Android licensees to collect royalties.
And finally, it could have sold off its patent portfolio to one of Google’s competitors.
Addressing a crowd at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week in San Francisco, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue suggested the Web “will feel a lot different in five years. It will feel a lot like print and be monetized differently than it is currently.”
“I think that the iPad is a superior consumption device for content on the Web,” he added. “It is actually the perfect device for content on the Web. We’re trying to create a new type of browsing experience that is right for the iPad.”
McCue believes that consumers read “more articles on Flipboard than they do in other arenas because they give content room to breathe and have a cleaner layout than the Web. This will lead to a better way to monetize that content with clean, well displayed ads,” reports The Next Web.
McCue added that there is opportunity to move from the Web’s continuous scrolling interface to something similar to the paginated reflow layout that Flipbook uses. “Funny enough, you can actually see this kind of interface in action at the newly launched BostonGlobe.com now,” comments TNW.
Apple’s iPad is becoming a production tool for both professional and amateur musicians.
One band, The Ultramods, produced their recent album in two weeks using only GarageBand on the iPad.
Damon Albarn’s hip-hop project, Gorillaz, combines real vocals and instruments with synthesizers using a collection of apps including Korg iELECTRIBE, Moog Filatron and FunkBox Drum Machine. According to Pocket-lint: “It perfectly illustrates the convenience of being able to lay down tracks on a device, while on the move, with no access to a desktop computer or studio.”
Accessory brand Griffin’s PR director, Jackie Ballinger explains the benefits of tablets for musicians: “Technology, like the iPad enables musicians to become mobile without losing quality, now people are able to make music anywhere without limitations and without substantial costs. With the iPad and relevant apps a less costly alternative to recording studios and instruments, aspiring musicians have the opportunity to produce professional recording using solely these means.”
The article points out that Apple’s GarageBand is the top-selling music app on the iTunes store, and with “iPad prices starting at $499, along with the $4.99 for the GarageBand, that puts the basic cost of The Ultramods’ album production at just under $505.”
Turner Broadcasting has begun airing a series of television commercials on TNT and TBS that lets viewers know they can watch TV episodes streamed online if they have a cable subscription.
The campaign is designed to educate consumers about the concept of TV Everywhere.
“Consumers have bought tens of millions of iPhones and iPads,” explains Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. “Our vision is that TV Everywhere kind of becomes the consumer-enabling technology that allows them to unlock the potential of those devices.”
An instructional video is also posted on YouTube that goes into detail about how to download the app and login (for example, viewers should be aware that they will need to have their cable bill account number available during the process).
It is interesting to note that Nielsen is crediting the viewing in its ratings if the show is watched within three days of airing.
Liberty Global unveiled a new video delivery platform at IBC in Amsterdam that the company claims will reinvent television by combining the interactivity of the Web with cable and personalized content.
The multimedia gateway will create a wireless network that connects the TV to personal devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones, reports Communications Technology.
The technology, dubbed Horizon, centers on a PC as “the heart of the digital home,” includes a 3D user interface, and is presently undergoing field trials in the Netherlands. Liberty Global suggests it will be commercially available next year.
Sixty content providers — including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter — have already signed up to develop applications for the platform.
The platform has a number of tech partners including Samsung, which built the multimedia home gateway, powered by the Intel Atom CE Media Processor.
NAGRA Media Access will provide the conditional access solution that will support MoCA and Wi-Fi, and participate in the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) ecosystem.
Sprint Nextel will reportedly offer unlimited data service plans for the new iPhone 5, expected to debut next month. This would be attractive to big data users and mark a major difference from rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
Sprint has been struggling with its bigger rivals and hopes that adding the iPhone to its lineup will lure new customers. “It’s a competitive disadvantage if your two larger competitors have the iPhone and you don’t,” says Matthew Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities. “Getting the iPhone closes that gap.”
Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, already offers unlimited voice and data for RIM’s BlackBerry and HTC’s Evo customers at $99.99/month.
According to Bloomberg: “Apple’s iPhone has proved to be a valuable recruitment tool for rivals: Of the 5.6 million smartphones AT&T sold in the second quarter, the device accounted for 3.6 million. A quarter of the subscribers who bought the iPhone were new to AT&T, the company said.”
Market research firm Pacific Media Associates estimates that approximately 185,000 3D-ready projectors will be sold to U.S. schools (grades K-12) this year, which would be more than double the number sold last year.
“Schools are trying to keep up with the multiplex, keen to find ways to engage students in an age of 3D movies and gadgets that make traditional classroom materials look dated,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “And the technology and equipment makers are eager to create a new market for their 3D products.”
Teachers who are 3D proponents find that introducing 3D experiences in the classroom are beneficial in explaining a wide range of topics from understanding what cartilage in a skeletal system looks like to how math works in real life. “You don’t want to turn away because you don’t want to miss anything,” said one middle school student of the approach.
It should came as no surprise that younger generations are drawn to 3D, the iPad and mobile devices, but despite new technologies interactive teaching techniques remain the key. This makes 3D technology different in the classroom than it is in the multiplex. “Anyone can watch 3D, but you need to interact with it to really learn,” says James Mayrose, associate professor at Buffalo State College and chief executive of Tactus Technologies Inc., a company that offers a 3D dissectible-frog program.
Early studies indicate 3D projection dramatically increases test scores, and it is interesting to note that, unlike TVs, many 3D-ready projectors typically cost the same as regular projectors ($600-800).
According to WSJ, some schools are evaluating budgets while some are “waiting for more 3D materials that are in compliance with testing and graduation standards.” The article also points out that “few if any of the leading academic publishers, including Pearson PLC and McGraw-Hill Cos., have created their own stereoscopic course material, but Texas Instruments’ DLP says it is currently in discussions with various publishers.”
ETCentric staffer Phil Lelyveld suggests this is a potentially huge market for monetization and marketing opportunities.
Jaguar Financial Corporation CEO Vic Alboini, an investor in struggling Research In Motion, is urging the BlackBerry maker to consider selling the company. He has recommended that RIM form a committee of independent executives to explore the proposal.
According to the article: “RIM is seeing its once commanding presence in the smartphone market eroded by the likes of Android and Apple’s iOS: where a year ago RIM accounted for 19 percent of the market, second-quarter figures from Gartner put the company’s current share at 12 percent.”
Alboini suggests that selling RIM would maximize the company’s value to investors, who have watched their investments in the Canadian company significantly decline during the last year.
“RIM has been hanging hopes for its future on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, as well as a new swath of smartphones expected to land in 2012 based on RIM’s recently-acquired QNX operating system — the same OS used in the PlayBook,” reports Digital Trends. “So far, industry response to the PlayBook has been muted, with many citing its reliance on a BlackBerry handset for email as a major impediment — and U.S. mobile carrier Sprint recently backed out of plans to offer a 4G version of the PlayBook, citing lack of customer interest.”
During his bleak forecast of the publishing industry at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, novelist Ewan Morrison suggested the rise of the e-book will mean the end of writers as a profession, as piracy and a demand for steep discounts take over the book industry as it has with music, newspapers, games, porn, photography, telecommunications and home video.
Publishers will no longer be able to provide advances to enable writers to make a decent living and writers will increasingly depend on the “long tail” which cannot support them. Morrison adds that only established writers will prosper.
In 10 to 15 years, he believes the largest “publishers” will be Google, Amazon and Apple.
“The writer will become an entrepreneur with a short shelf life, in a world without publishers or even shelves,” predicts Morrison.
Apple claims there are more than 600 U.S. school districts that have at least one classroom where each student is receiving an iPad to use throughout the school day.
The popular tablets feature interactive programs in math, note-taking apps, videos and tutorials on everything from history to foreign languages.
The tablets are reportedly very popular in special education and for those who learn visually.
Textbook publishers are racing to develop curriculum specifically for iPads. Moreover, digital programs are less costly than textbooks and have interactivity and videos as well.
“I don’t want to generalize because I don’t want to insult people who are working hard to make those resources,” says Burlington High (Massachusetts) principal Patrick Larkin of textbooks, “but they’re pretty much outdated the minute they’re printed and certainly by the time they’re delivered. The bottom line is that the iPads will give our kids a chance to use much more relevant materials.”
It looks like HP’s TouchPad is not the only tablet to face a challenging market.
Best Buy has placed RIM’s PlayBook on sale, discounting the 64GB model by $150, while the 16GB and 32GB versions have been marked down by $50.
“Research In Motion’s PlayBook has had something of a rough ride since its launch in April this year,” reports Digital Trends. “Reviews have been mixed, while just a month after appearing on shelves, almost 1,000 of the tablets had to be recalled due to unspecified faulty hardware issues.”
Additionally, Sprint announced last month that it was dropping its plan to bring the 4G PlayBook to its network, leaving the device without a major U.S. carrier.
Amazon is reportedly close to production on its long-rumored tablet device. TechCrunch provides a fascinating first-person report on the Android-based Kindle (but sorry, no pictures yet).
The device will initially feature a 7-inch color touchscreen with a 10-inch model coming next year. The interface is Amazon’s and the main screen resembles iTunes Cover Flow with a carousel of books, apps, movies. It is built on top of pre 2.2 Android. It will NOT be getting Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich.
It will be integrated with Amazon’s content store, which is one-click away. Apps will be available though Amazon’s Android App Store (and not Google’s Android Market). Additionally, the book reader is the Kindle app, the music player is Amazon’s Cloud Player and the movie player is Amazon’s Instant Video player. There is no camera.
The device is expected to include a free subscription to Amazon Prime, which will provide access to Amazon Instant Video.
TechCrunch anticipates an end of November launch at a cost of $250. There are many more details in the article…
Engineers at UCLA have created the first fully stretchable organic light-emitting diode (OLED), taking the development of bendable devices to the next level.
“Stretchable electronics promise video displays that could be rolled up and tucked into a shirt pocket, or cell phones that could swell or shrink,” reports MIT’s Technology Review. “Electronic sheets that could be draped like cloth would be a boon for robotic skin and embedded medical devices.”
In order to create the stretchable OLED display, UCLA’s team “sandwiched two layers of the carbon nanotube electrode around a plastic that emits light when a current runs through it. The team used an office laminating device to press the final, layered device together tightly, pushing out any air bubbles and ensuring that the circuit would be complete when electricity was applied.” The result is a small polymer that can stretch up to 45 percent on one axis while emitting a colored light.
The two-centimeter square proof-of-concept unit is a ways off from making it into CE devices, but is a significant breakthrough. “We are still some ways off from having high-performance, really robust, intrinsically stretchable devices,” says Stanford professor of chemical engineering Zhenan Bao who works on stretchable solar cells, but “with this work and those from others, we are getting closer and closer to realizing this kind of sophisticated and multifunctional electronic skin.”
The HTC Jetstream tablet (formerly named Puccini), will be available through AT&T beginning this Sunday.
Notable features include: a Snapdragon 1.5 GHz dual core processor, front-facing camera, 8-megapixel rear camera, and HTC scribe stylus pen.
The Jetstream runs Android 3.1 Honeycomb on a 10.1-inch screen and will be AT&T’s first tablet with real 4G LTE.
According to the company press release: “HTC Jetstream is AT&T’s first tablet to showcase the Android 3.1 OS. The brand new operating system was designed from the ground up for devices with larger screens. It improves on Android favorites with new interactive and resizeable widgets plus improved multi-tasking, browsing, notifications, and customization.”
However, the $700 price tag, “discounted” with a 2-year contract (and $35/month data plan), may prove off-putting to some consumers.