Whispers that Apple might delay the international launch of the iPad 2 given the general lack of availability here in the U.S. since its launch just 10 days ago have proven to be false. Proof positive of that is new word from the company this morning that buyers abroad will still be able to get their hands on the tablet come Friday, as originally planned.
I know that patience isn't everybody's thing. Friday, I wandered along early in the (my) morning to see how many people were lined up at the Apple store in Corte Madera, Calif.
It was the most civilized line I have ever seen, not unlike the one you'd see at Starbucks every morning. It was populated by those who might be described as being past the middle of their lives.
And yet, it seems, there was still no guarantee that these very nice people would actually get the iPad 2 that they were queuing for.
If there were any lingering doubts that Apple's iPad sequel would draw the same interest the first-generation device did, they were quashed before stores even opened their doors yesterday.
The iPad 2, a device that was unveiled just 10 days ago, launched to huge crowds and inventory that sold out quickly, both in stores and online.
Shipping times for online orders, which opened yesterday morning at 1 a.m. PT--some 16 hours before the first Apple retail stores began selling the iPad 2--were quickly pushed from days into weeks. This left the best chance for customers who wanted to … Read more
We got our hands on a prerelease version of Apple's latest big cat, Mac OS X Lion, and we're definitely excited about what we've seen so far. The new Mac OS isn't slated for release until this summer, but the early prerelease shows off many of the latest bells and whistles that Apple hopes will help you be more efficient on your Mac.
Several of the new features make navigating your system and software easier. The new Launchpad, accessed from an icon in the Dock, lays out your applications just as on an iOS device, making … Read more
The Apple iPad 2 hits store shelves at 5 p.m. local time today all over the country, and the second-generation tablet is already generating a lot of buzz with a few eager customers lining up outside some Apple stores at least a day in advance.
Unlike notable Apple product launches of the past, this time, the company didn't offer an extended preorder period. And it wasn't allowing customers to reserve devices weeks in advance of the sale. Instead, the company only began taking orders for the iPad 2 starting at 1 a.m. PT with orders expected … Read more
Mock them or envy them, you can expect more than a few gadget aficionados to be lining up at Apple stores today to buy the new iPad.
The overwhelming success of the original iPad ended up taking Apple by surprise last year, with the company announcing sales of more than 300,000 Wi-Fi iPads on its first day, going on to hit 1 million in just under a month. Over the following months, supply was scarce, with Apple resorting to a reservation system that would have users waiting weeks in some cases. This ended up affecting Apple's plans to … Read more
Spotify has reached an important milestone, but Americans are still waiting for their chance to try it out.
The music service announced today that it has hit 1 million subscribers. The company reached the figure nearly two years after it tallied its 1 millionth registered user. Spotify's Web site says it now has 10 million such users.
The discrepancy in users compared with subscribers is due to Spotify's business model. The company offers a free, ad-supported version of its service, allowing people to stream music for a limited amount of time. It also has a premium service that … Read more
PALM DESERT, Calif.--In 2008, when TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington told CNET that the venerable Demo conference "needs to die," he ushered in an era of extreme competitiveness in the tech start-up-oriented conference world.
Arrington issued his sinister words as part of a conversation about why he had scheduled his own conference--the TechCrunch 50--directly against Demo that year, and his general argument was that shows that charged well into five-figures to let start-ups present their wares to investors and press needed to be dispensed with.
Flash forward three years later, and the TechCrunch 50, or TC 50 as … Read more
Dave Mathews, the Dave Mathews who invented the CueCat, is at the Launch Conference today showing off his latest out-there company, NeuAer. He believes that location reporting services on mobile phones--apps such as Foursquare--are too coarse and require too much work to use. NeuAer technology uses more than just the location sensors in phones to "tag" locations, for much better resolution. But the really cool and weird thing: You can tag other people, too.
Mathews' technology, ToothTag (can we talk about that?), uses all the radio signals that come into a phone--Wi-Fi, GPS, near-field, and most importantly Bluetooth--to fingerprint a location or a person with high accuracy. Most of the real-world locations and things you care about, he says, emit a complex radio-frequency signature based on more than one transmitter. Mobile-phone location services don't use enough of these signals, he says. When it comes to mobile assets like Bluetooth headsets, you don't even have to connect to the other device or "pair" with it. In other words, once you collect the Bluetooth signature from someone you know, you could, with ToothTag technology, get an alert on your mobile device whenever that person came within Bluetooth range of you.
Don't everybody freak out at once, OK? The privacy implications of this are serious. I told Mathews I'm looking forward to covering his testimony in front of a congressional hearing if this technology takes off. But the benefits are real, too. You could drop an old Bluetooth headset into your kid's backpack and get a ping whenever he or she wandered away from you. You could set your home security system to arm when you walked out the door, or you could automatically flag the location of where you're parking your car. Contractors could start tracking their billable time when they sat down next to their client. And, of course, for dating and business matchmaking apps, there are tons of opportunities for developers to use (or abuse) a system like this.
With the location fingerprinting technology, check-ins a la Foursquare can become more automated, since they're more accurate. Mathews has a lot of ideas for this, as well.
NeuAer's business, as Mathews rightly realizes, is not so much creating the fun, useful, or terrifying new apps, but rather building the location-reporting technology and platform, opening up developer access to it, and somehow earning fees from that. At least this time (versus CueCat), he has some history to study before he launches: There's Google Latitude, for example, and Yahoo tried a similar concept with FireEagle, which hasn't exactly worked out. Mathews can learn from that. FireEagle also didn't have core mobile technology under its hood, as NeuAer does.
The first ToothTag app will be available from NeuAer for Android phones. Android exposes more of what's happening in phone radios and sensors to developers than Apple's iPhone does, but Mathews said an iPhone app will follow.
What do you think of this technology? Great new tool for location-based apps, or another blow to physical privacy? Or both? … Read more
ShopSquad is a peer-to-peer home shopping network. The service connects people shopping for specific items with live, online experts who know the space. If the user then buys an item the expert is recommending, the expert makes affiliate money minus ShopSquad's cut. The service is general but currently appears to be geared toward new parents; there are more experts and products in the baby gear department than any other.
The judges at the Launch conference, where this product was introduced, believe ShopSquad is on to something, but that the demo here only hinted at the company's potential. First, ShopSquad is heavy into video advice, which is impressive to demo but overkill for shopping advice for many people. Second, the service only connects buyers to experts who are ShopSquad users. As the judges pointed out, if it could somehow find experts elsewhere and rope them into an advice session as needed, the available pool of products and experts to discuss them would be much bigger. Conceptually this means the people writing reviews on Amazon could find a new way to profit from that work. There is still the problem of shills for certain products. An expert rating system might help keep this under control.
Tech businesses pioneered the idea of crowd-sourcing customer support, with message boards and through start-ups like Get Satisfaction. Of course, many businesses have tried to use their fans to also sell products, but ShopSquad's capability to automate, institutionalize, and help consumers profit from their expertise is quite smart. … Read more