Monday, December 31, 2012

The Top 25 TechCrunch Posts From 2012


Twenty twelve was a big year for tech news. Facebook went public, Instagram was purchased for $1B, and Apple released rehashes of previous products. But that’s just a small sampling.

The list that follows is which stories you, our fantastic readers, read the most throughout the last year in order of their popularity. Some stories are predictably at the top, but others are surprising. A story about Bruce Willis and iTunes ranks higher than the most read post concerning the Apple/Samsung patent trial.

TechCrunch’s top 25 posts ranked in order of pageviews.

  1. Update: Facebook Confirms No Private Messages Appearing On Timeline. They’re Old Wall Posts.
  2. Why Pundits And Politicians Hate NYT Election Forecaster Nate Silver
  3. Day After IPO, Mark Zuckerberg Marries Longtime Girlfriend Priscilla Chan
  4. Journalists’ Addresses Posted In Revenge For Newspaper’s Google Map Of Gun Permit Owners
  5. Facebook Buys Instagram For $1 Billion, Turns Budding Rival Into Its Standalone Photo App
  6. Apple Officially Reveals The iPhone 5: LTE, 4-Inch Retina Display, New A6 Chip, Lighter Than iPhone 4S
  7. OS X Mountain Lion: Quick, Familiar, Cheap, And Drenched In iOS Goodness
  8. GoDaddy Outage Takes Down Millions Of Sites, Anonymous Member Claims Responsibility
  9. Facebook Targets May 17th For IPO Date
  10. How To Enable Facebook Timeline Right This Second
  11. Putting An End To The Biggest Lie On The Internet
  12. Teenage Sexting Is Becoming The Norm
  13. #ScratchGate: iPhone 5 Owners Are Discovering Aluminum Is Softer Than Glass
  14. Bruce Willis Isn’t Suing Apple Over iTunes Music Ownership Rights
  15. Zynga Just Shut Down Boston Office, Laid Off 100+ Employees From The Ville And Bingo Teams In Austin
  16. Apple Awarded $1.049 Billion In Damages As Jury Finds Samsung Infringed On Design And Software Patents
  17. Court Rules Software Not Protected By Fed Crime Laws, Overturns Conviction of Goldman Engineer
  18. Watch Voting Machine Change Obama Votes To Romney Votes
  19. Lit Motors Will Shake Up The Electric Vehicle Market With Its Two-Wheeled, Untippable C-1
  20. The 20 Best iOS And Android Apps Of 2012 (So Far)
  21. Just In Time For A Facebook IPO Tax Break, Eduardo Saverin Renounces U.S. Citizenship
  22. The Top 30 Android Apps And Games Of 2011
  23. Tim Cook Apologizes For Apple Maps, Points To Competitive Alternatives
  24. Facebook Files For $5 Billion IPO
  25. Samsung Galaxy S III Review: This Is The Phone You’ve Been Waiting For

But enough with 2012. Raise your glasses. Here’s to 2013. May startups avoid the Series A crunch, Randi Zuckerberg figure out Facebook’s photo sharing and something fucking entertain Arrington.

from TechCrunch

Apple Partners With Local Publishers To Launch eBook Service In Japan


Apple will launch an ebook service in Japan fueled with content from top local publishers, according to Japanese financial publication Nikkei (via The Digital Reader).

Apple will begin selling Japanese language ebooks later this month for reading on iPhones and iPads. iPads currently hold about a 60% share of that country’s tablet market in terms of units shipped in April to September. The Cupertino-based company reportedly has already prepared a selection of 80,000 titles from Japanese publishers, including Kodansha, Shogakukan and Kadokawa.

The popularity of iPads in Japan will give Apple’s ebook business an advantage when it launches this month, but this is not the first time that Apple has tried to enter Japan’s ebook market. When the iPad was released in 2010, Apple opened a Japanese ebook store for the launch, but the plan hit a wall when negotiations with Japanese publishers stalled.

According to Nikkei, Apple’s upcoming entry is expected to boost Japan’s ebook market, which some analysts predict will grow from about 70 billion yen to 200 billion yen in fiscal 2016.

Though the Japanese publishing industry generated $22.5 billion in revenue in 2011, bookworms there have had to wait a long time for ereaders to finally arrive. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Japanese consumers rejected devices from Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba, but at the same time foreign manufacturers also shied away from the Japanese market, in large part because of the difficulties involved in adapting software to handle Japanese characters and vertical text.

It wasn’t until October that Amazon finally opened pre-orders for its first Japanese-language Kindle, the Paperwhite, and extended its Kindle Store into Japan with 50,000 titles. But both Amazon and Apple face stiff competition from Rakuten, Amazon’s local rival. Introduced in July, the Kobo eReader is priced inexpensively at about $100 USD and offers 2.5 million titles, including novels, essays, comics and exclusive content.

from TechCrunch

Legimi Wants To Be The ‘Spotify For Ebooks’ With A Business Model That Relies On You Reading Less


Legimi is definitely a startup I’ll be watching closely in 2013. Put simply, it aims to be the ‘Spotify for ebooks,’ in which for a monthly subscription, users get access to a potentially infinite library of reading material, all accessible via the cloud. But more than that, this Polish startup, whether it succeeds or not, epitomises the collision of old media business models with new technology and new consumer habits.

After years of being told that one day consumers will access all of their media from the cloud, anytime and anywhere, thanks to the likes of Spotify, Deezer and Rdio (music), or Netflix, Lovefilm and Hulu (film and television), that day has finally arrived. The subscription, cloud-based model, combined with new consumption devices — tablets, smartphones, and Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes — and near-ubiquitous broadband, has ushered in an era where consumers no longer feel the need or desire to own the media they consume. So, why not apply that same consumption model to ebooks?

Well, as it turns out, there are a number of companies who already are, but in many ways it’s still very early days. Niche offerings, such as Safari Books Online, which specialises in professional and developer-related content, have been around for a while, where a subscription model is viewed by publishers as less-risky because the audience is already somewhat ring-fenced, and content becomes outdated quickly. More mass-market is Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, but this is still very limited and can hardly make the claim to be anything close to a ‘Spotify for ebooks.’ Then there’s the much-hyped and Founders Fund-backed Oyster, which is yet to launch but plans to offer an all-you-can-eat subscription model with an emphasis on mainstream content.

However, the New York-based startup is remaining tight-lipped about which publishers are signed up, and it’s here where many commentators predict that any subscription-based ebook service will fall down at the last hurdle: They simply won’t be able to strike the content licensing deals required, with the number of publishers needed to make the all-you-can-eat proposition a reality. That’s because the new consumption model requires a new licensing model where publishers are given a share of subscription revenue based on the number of books accessed.

Or does it?

This is where we return to Poland. Legimi thinks it’s found a way to change the consumer offering without having to tear up the legal or commercial framework that already exists for ebooks on a pay-per-download basis.

“Our approach is different; we pay the whole price of an ebook once an end user exceeds its free sample (approximately 10 percent of the book),” Legimi co-founder and CEO Mikolaj Malaczynski tells me in an email. The premise being that most readers never make it past the free excerpt, but if they do, the company pays the full wholesale price to publishers. “We have statistically calculated the average consumption for tablet users and smartphone users, which is lower than one book per month,” he says.

Or maybe another way of looking at it is that the business model relies on a tl;dr generation (my words, not Malaczynski’s) where multiple content and services are constantly vying for a user’s attention, and that this is especially true when content is consumed on an always-connected tablet or smartphone. Whether or not consumers are reading less long-form content or not, however, perhaps misses the point. As long as the number of books read past the free sample remains inline with the overall economics of a monthly subscription, then the model could work, or at least act as a bridge until such time when publishers are more willing to embrace the idea of a subscription model.

To that end, Legimi has already launched an MVP in the form of an iPad app in the startup’s native Poland, while an iPhone version should follow in January, with Android and Windows Phone also in the pipeline. I’m told that major publishers locally are playing ball, too, such as W.A.B., Insignis, Muza, and Buchmann, enabling Legimi to offer a range of popular international and domestic titles.

Moving forward, Malaczynski says that the priority is to keep expanding the available catalogue and to optimise the business model, presumably to find the sweet spot in terms of what to charge. But much more ambitiously, Legimi is planning to launch in two additional European markets next, likely Germany and the UK. It’s at this point when the licensing ‘loop hole’ and assumptions about consumption will really be tested.

“If you ask about the average consumption of one book per month, I am not sure if it’s a universal figure,” concedes Malaczynski. “We will need to test it market by market, but we have an algorithm to verify it.”

On the upside, Malaczynski says that the rights infrastructure for publishing doesn’t differ too much between countries, meaning that Legimi can hopefully avoid spending “years negotiating new agreements with publishers, which don’t really understand the subscription model.”

And that’s where we come full circle. In the end, a ‘Spotify for ebooks’ seems inevitable, as consumer habits find themselves ahead of the market once again. It’s probably more a case of when not if. Perhaps Legimi, or another startup willing to take its model and run with it, can help to make it happen sooner rather than later. Here’s to 2013.

from TechCrunch

TechCrunch Makers: Bossa Nova Robotics & Mobi


When I first saw Bossa Nova Robotics Mobi I was amazed. It was a robot that stood on a single, large ball and could roll through tight spaces and between people. It seemed like a ludicrously cool circus trick. Over the folks at BNR were kind enough to give us a quick tour of their facility in Pittsburgh, PA where they’re commercializing the product and hope to bring it to market next year. The Mobi moves effortlessly across almost any smooth surface and, in an odd way, looks like Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons.

The founder, Sarjoun Skaff, brought Mobi to fruition after working on earlier prototypes at the Field Robotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. He and his team have built a prototype and research platform so academics can use Mobi as a base for their projects. The technology itself came from the famed Ralph Hollis, a researcher at CMU who invented Mobi’s form of locomotion. In the video below, we were giving the rare opportunity to see the future of Mobi and other ballbots and to really understand how these devices will help us in the future.

Mobi gave us a peek at what robots could look like a few short years from now and I, for one, welcome our ball-bottomed overlords.

from TechCrunch

Cruise Ship Dancer Busts a Move, Gut

What you think you saw out of the corner of your eye was real. Watch a man confuse and amuse cruise ship vacationers through the art of dance.

More About: pranks, videos, Watercooler

from Mashable!

20 WTF New Year’s Resolutions

Ringing in 2013 properly requires a few things: bottom-shelf champagne, "I survived the apocalypse" t-shirts, excessive sequins and -- most importantly -- New Year's resolutions that may or may not last beyond February.

SEE ALSO: Rock Your New Year's Eve Party With This Playlist

You promise to lose weight or quit smoking or stop stalking your ex on Facebook, but what about those people that shoot for a slightly different goal in the new year? Sometimes these resolution-makers come up with brilliant challenges and other times -- well, ummm -- they share goals that are more "WTF?" than an adult dressed like the New Year's baby.

1. New Years revolution- Stop using my cat as an excuse…
Continue reading...

More About: humor, new years, Twitter, Watercooler, WTF

from Mashable!

Watch New Year’s Eve Live From Times Square

There are at least 2,013 ways to ring in the New Year. But for most Americans, the ball drop at Times Square is a must-see (even if they don't happen to be in the east coast time zone).

For those who don't care to wade through TV ads and commentary to watch the iconic event, we've embedded the livestream above. Hit that fullscreen button and have it on in the background at your party; the stream will be playing until 12:15 a.m. EST.

This is not ABC's New Year's Rockin' Eve, the show traditionally hosted by the late, great Dick Clark (and anchored this year by Ryan Seacrest). Rather, it's a partnership between Livestream and Times Square itself, via the Times Square Alliance.

Continue reading...

More About: New Year 2013, new years eve

from Mashable!

Reddit’s impressive 2012 stats: 37 billion page views, 400 million uniques and 30 million posts

83286948 520x245 Reddits impressive 2012 stats: 37 billion page views, 400 million uniques and 30 million posts

Reddit has announced that in 2012 it served an impressive 37 billion page views and 400 million unique visitors. Additionally, the company has shared that it saw 30 million posts, and received a total of 4 billion votes over the past year — roughly 133 votes per post.

Reddit first hit 1 billion monthly page views back in February 2011, and in December of 2011, the company more than doubled that figure. The service then saw 3.8 billion page views in October 2012, and went on to rack up 4.4 million page views and 1.6 million uniques in one day during Obama’s AMA.

Unsurprisingly, that Obama AMA “post” set records and became Reddit’s #1 post of the year, bringing in more than 5.5 million page views all on its own. The second and third most popular posts were What’s your “picture you can’t see without laughing”? (2.4m page views) and What’s your favorite picture on the whole Internet? (2.1m page views), respectively.

These stats reflect Reddit’s record growth; a little math shows that the site averaged more than 3 billion monthly page views per month during 2012 — not too surprising for those whom have watched the service grow, but nonetheless noteworthy.

For more on Reddit’s top posts of 2012 and the Best of 2012 Awards, head here.

Image credit: Thinkstock / Ciaran Griffin

from The Next Web Feed

Relive the Paralympics’ Most Inspiring Moment of the Year

The Paralympics just picked their best moment of 2012, and it's a remarkable story of resilience and unlikely achievement. Watch here.

More About: olympics, paralympics, Sports

from Mashable!

The Maximum, Beautiful Product


Editor’s note: Glenn Kelman is CEO of Redfin, a technology-powered real estate broker, backed by Greylock Partners, Madrona Venture Group and CrunchFund, with more than $7 billion of home sales. He previously co-founded Plumtree Software, which had a 2002 IPO. He writes a quarterly column on Silicon Valley real estate for TechCrunch.

For years, all of us in Silicon Valley and its outposts have embraced the idea of the lean startup, shipping the minimum viable product, failing fast and iterating quickly based on customer feedback.

This has been the perfect development paradigm for a hit-driven industry, with bright flashes in the pan, but also plenty of silt. Why dedicate years of your life to making the perfect hula hoop if it might never catch on?

The problem with this paradigm is that it isn’t always the best way to build disruptive technologies, which, as Michael Arrington noted yesterday, lately seem in short supply. How many big ideas “failed fast” and were discarded just because they were half-finished?

If Steve Jobs had shipped the minimum viable iPhone, might we have concluded that people preferred a keyboard? If Tesla had manufactured the minimum viable car, would anyone still be driving it?

Maybe the reason we don’t have big ideas is because our entire approach to building them is sometimes so frugal with time, money, and belief. Lean startup techniques have revolutionized how we build software, but the lean startup has also turned the a startup’s only initial asset – the conviction that an idea will work — into a villain rather than the hero. This is why we so often see startups pivot rather than persevere.

At Redfin, we have divided projects into sprints and fits and starts, which has led to incremental improvements, often delivered at a surprising speed. But we also try to set aside time for projects that take longer, such as our recently redesigned page for showing all the details about a listing. Of course you can still build something big, one piece at a time. But without conviction, a lot of little things never quite add up to a big thing.

In my own experience of ADD businesses filled with uncertainties and competing priorities, projects get sidetracked from one sprint to the next by a shiny new idea, or derailed entirely by user feedback on a product you already knew was half-finished.

You often never find out how good a product might have been. As I’ve gotten older and the world has gotten faster, the hardest thing to do has been to take the time to find that out, to create space for myself to screw around in speculative ways, to stay safe from criticism until I’ve hit upon something that really pleases me.

Because the truth is at least one critic has spoken long before you release your product to the world: the beast at the back of your mind always yelling “FASTER, FASTER,” so loud that the little poet in there hardly has a moment to think. Even worse, sometimes the beast says “What’s the point? Of working on a little detail no one will notice? Of exploring an off-the-wall idea likely to end up in the wastepaper basket?”

This isn’t a repudiation of the lean startup, just a reminder that it can’t work without conviction, and it isn’t always the best way to do something big. Some products are a ditty, and some are a symphony, and sometimes you just have to let the music play.

from TechCrunch