Archive for October 7, 2011

What’s Cooking At Rovio? Angry Birds Cookbooks, Movies And – Gasp – Games (TCTV)


I caught up with Peter Vesterbacka, Mighty Eagle at Rovio, the creators of the successful Angry Birds franchise, yesterday at the Planet Of The Apps conference in London.

It wasn’t a huge secret, but I certainly didn’t know this: Vesterbacka tells me you will soon be able to buy Angry Birds-themed cookbooks; actual physical books and ebooks for Kindle, Nook and iPad.

Full disclosure: I got one of these limited-edition Angry Birds cookbooks for free (hence the pictures above and below). Also, I’m not much of a cook (hence why I accepted the book in the first place).

In all seriousness, Vesterbacka tells me there have been 400 million downloads of the Angry Birds apps to date, and that its merchandising business is chugging along nicely as well, with about 10 million plush toys having gone over the counter already. I also bought two for our baby boy recently.

Rovio is on a mission to turn Angry Birds into a brand as iconic as Nintendo’s Mario and Mickey Mouse, Vesterbacka adds. Gotta love ambitious (European) startups.

Enjoy the interview:


Rovio is one of Europe’s leading independent developers of wireless games with an ever-growing portfolio of award-winning titles spanning many genres from casual to core next-gen console IP. Their studio has developed games for some of the biggest names in the mobile space, including Electronic Arts, Nokia, Vivendi, Namco Bandai and Mr. Goodliving/Real Networks.

The seeds of Rovio were sown in 2003 when Helsinki University of Technology students Niklas Hed, Jarno Väkeväinen, and Kim Dikert participated in a mobile game…

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Angry Birds is a puzzle video game developed by Rovio, a developer based in Finland. Since its release for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices, over 6.5 million copies of the game have been purchased, and versions have appeared for other touchscreen-based smartphones.

In Angry Birds, players take control of a flock of birds that are attempting to retrieve eggs that have been stolen by a group of evil pigs. The pigs have taken refuge on or within structures made…

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10 Things You Need To Know This Morning (AAPL, YHOO, NUAN)

Tim Morse

Tim Morse

See Also:

steve jobs as pixar ceo

chart of the day, apple vs microsoft market capitalization, october 2011

Steve Jobs

Good morning, here’s the news:

Moving on to other things in the news …

  • Yahoo’s interim CEO held a meeting with VPs to address concerns about the company. He didn’t say much, other than the company needs to move “quickly” on its strategic review. He denied Yahoo is up for sale.

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4G LTE broadband trial kicks off in rural UK

Back in May, we reported that the first UK trials of ‘superfast 4G mobile broadband’ were to begin this year, with Cornwall the chosen location for the pilot project. And EverythingEverywhere, owners of Orange and T-Mobile, has announced that the trial has now kicked-off.

200 triallists in the St. Newlyn East and surrounding South Newquay area of Cornwall are now testing the country’s first mobile and fixed line broadband network collaboration, which will look at the potential of 4G LTEi technology in so-called broadband ‘not-spots’ – rural areas which have thus far been unable to access high-speed Internet.

It’s hoped that the 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology will enable data download speeds of 100mbps for mobile users, but the main benefit could be for users on stationary wireless connections at home, where speeds can be even higher.

Whilst 40% of the UK should be connecting to faster fibre-optic broadband by the end of next year, the cost of providing cabling to rural areas can be prohibitively expensive, and this is the problem that 4G LTE is attempting to eliminate, given that broadband is distributed wirelessly via masts.

Everything Everywhere has teamed up with BT Wholesale for the live trial of the technology, and has chosen these particular parts of Cornwall because they have limited or no broadband services. This live roll-out follows an 8 week “laboratory trial” which tested the network deployment in simulated conditions, seeking to prove it would be possible to share radio resources between two service providers.

Given that data speeds vary due to various factors, such as the number of people using the network, physical distance from a mast and geographical obstructions, it’s hoped the Cornwall trial will help them better understand the potential of LTE technology as a longer term solution.

The participants in the trial will include 100 mobile and 100 fixed-wireless broadband users, all living within a 25 square kilometre area, using 10MHz of test 800MHz spectrum. Everything Everywhere and BT ran a series of workshops and made some home visits to help participants familiarise themselves with the technology. The trial will run until early 2012.

Olaf Swantee, CEO, Everything Everywhere, said:

“Soon, more people will be accessing the internet on their mobile devices than on their PCs, and that means we need the right kind of networks in place to deliver the right kind of experience for our customers. That’s why, as the UK’s largest communications company, we are leading the development and introduction of new technologies like 4G. This next generation mobile network will allow individuals and businesses across Britain to access the people, places and things they want, wherever they are, whenever they want.”

We’ve previously written about the UK’s m-commerce not-spots, with studies suggesting that 16% of the UK sits in mobile Internet blackspots, and where mobile spending is at least a fifth lower than the national average. These ‘not-spots’ lie in sparsely populated areas such as the Scottish Highlands and Islands, rural Wales and the rural counties of England.

If successful, this trial should go some way towards bringing the UK up to speed – literally – with other developed countries around the world, with the likes of Germany, Sweden, Japan and the US already having public 4G networks in place.

Starbucks rolls out free WiFi in the UK

Last year, Starbucks rolled out free WiFi in its US coffeeshops, and today it’s been extended to the UK.

Whereas previously, a Starbucks card and a log-in was required for free WiFi access, from today anyone can jump on the chain’s network freely. Starbucks confirmed the move in a tweet today, saying that hundreds of its locations were covered by the move, so this isn’t a complete country-wide rollout as yet. (Update: A press release just sent out confirms that 650 locations are currently covered).

Screen Shot 2011 10 07 at 11.19.40 520x248 Starbucks rolls out free WiFi in the UK

However, there’s no news yet about the content partnerships which were launched on the same day as free WiFi in the US. There, free access to otherwise paywalled or chargeable content from the likes of iTunes, The New York Times, Patch, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! and ZAGAT was bundled with Starbucks Internet connections.

Still, this is a good move for UK customers of the global chain, and this post is brought to you by the very free Wifi we’re reporting on. The WiFi’s unsecured though, so remember to log in to websites using an HTTPS connection if you can to avoid people snooping on your data.

Screen Shot 2011 10 07 at 09.17.50 520x291 Starbucks rolls out free WiFi in the UK

Stephen Colbert’s Tribute To Steve Jobs (AAPL)

Another funny, heartfelt remembrance of Steve Jobs, this time from Stephen Colbert:

Stephen Colbert Drops The Sarcasm In His Steve Jobs Homage

Screen Shot 2011-10-07 at 2.19.34 AM

Watch, just watch. Stephen Colbert, America’s favorite persnickety alter ego, breaks face as he nears the end of tonight’s tribute to Steve Jobs, a man who most of us never met, but whose death a lot of us — for many many reasons – are sad about tonight, and probably tomorrow, and quite likely the next day, etc.

Colbert digs through his show archives to present an evolving portrait of Apple products as a hot commodity, quipping, “No one else could make me beg quite like him; ‘Apple, what part of ‘Give me a free iPhone ‘don’t you understand?”’Come on Apple, give me one through the TV, I know you have the technology.’”

Later on Colbert, who is the (self-described) “first non-Apple person to have an iPad” recounts what it was like to preview and present the device months before launch at the 52nd Grammy Awards, revealing email he received from Jobs himself afterwards,”I was one of the few people who could call Steve Jobs a close friend — in that he communicated with me once.”

The communication?




To which Colbert, breaking character and with a 100% sincerity, proceeded to respond while live on-air:

“Right back at ya!

Thanks for everything.”



Steve Jobs was the co-founder and CEO of Apple and formerly Pixar.

Steve Jobs was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin to Joanne Simpson and a Syrian father. Paul and Clara Jobs of Mountain View, California then adopted him. In 1972, Jobs graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, California and enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. One semester later, he had dropped out, later taking up the study of philosophy and foreign cultures.

Steve Jobs had a deep-seated interest in…

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iPhone 4S pre-orders now officially live

Apple officially began taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4S via its online store at around 12:45 a.m. PDT (3:45 a.m. EDT) on Friday morning. Users eligible for an upgrade can place their order now, and shipments will begin arriving at customer doorsteps next Friday, Oct. 14. Pre-orders are began earlier at around 12 a.m. PDT at Sprint, and Verizon‘s online stores, while ATT lagged behind, and still hadn’t begun offering orders as of this writing.

The iPhone 4S is available in 16, 32 and 64 GB capacities in either white or black, for $199, $299 or $399 respectively on contract when you sign up for a new, two-year agreement in the U.S. It’s also available unlocked direct from Apple in some countries, like Canada, beginning at $649. An unlocked version will be available in the U.S. beginning in November.

The 4S improves on its predecessor with a dual-core A5 processor, dual-core graphics processing, a new dual-mode (GSM and CDMA) antenna that can reach up to 14.4 Mbps on HSDPA networks, and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with improved sensor technology and full, 1080p HD video capture.

Maybe the most significant improvement from an end-user perspective is the addition of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal digital assistant, which can do things like set appointments, compose text messages and check the weather, all in response to natural language queries like “Will I need my raincoat this weekend?” The iPhone 4S also comes with iOS 5 pre-installed, Apple’s latest mobile operating system software, which will be available for other eligible device owners Oct. 12.

Let us know if you decided to pre-order the iPhone 4S, and if so, what you’re looking forward to most about it.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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HiGear raises $1.3M for luxury peer-to-peer car sharing

HiGear, a peer-to-peer car sharing startup that focuses on luxury and sports cars, has raised $1.3 million in a seed round from a group of venture and angel investors, HiGear President Murtaza Hussain told me in an interview. Investors include Battery Ventures, BV Capital, and 500 Startups, and angels like Craig Sherman, a Zipcar angel investor, Thomas Ryan, CEO of Threadless, and Kevin Chou, CEO of Kabam.

HiGear launched just two months ago, and has a network of about 200 cars that are being actively rented out to members of the network who pay prices anywhere between $125 to $600 a day to drive the cars. You can find some real fancy cars like a Dodge Viper ($600 a day, photo to the right), a Mercedes Benz SLK ($245 a day), and a 1965 Ford Thunderbird ($100 per day). HiGear provides up to $1 million in insurance and has stringent conditions for its drivers, like no DUIs in the past five years, no accidents in the past three years, and drivers under 30 can’t rent cars that have more than 300 horse power (bummer for the Valley’s underage wunderkind).

While there are a variety of peer-to-peer car sharing companies trying to build businesses out there, like RelayRides and Getaround, HiGear has taken an alternative — and possibly more lucrative, in the short term — approach. Getaround and RelayRides are focusing on renting out neighborhood cars for rates like $5 to $10 per hour, and many drivers use them to make small trips around town or half day trips out of town on a weekend.

In contrast Hussain tells me that the average HiGear rental is for 3 days, for about $410, and drivers are renting out their cars about twice a month. In essence the cars don’t have to be used all that much to help the car owner make some money, because the rates are higher and are per day (instead of per hour). HiGear’s members are mostly pretty well-off themselves, and include many professionals that already have cars of their own but that want to drive different sports and luxury cars.

HiGear is also different in that the car owner has to meet with the renter (often times in a public place) to exchange keys in person, and to make sure that the renter knows how to drive the car (many of the sports cars are manual). So HighGear doesn’t install the automated locking and unlocking devices in the car like RelayRides does (or Getaround has with a kit). That brings down HiGear’s costs, too, as installing devices in every car in the network can get expensive. Hussain told me HiGear looked into installing the automated devices, but stopped that plan because car owners wanted to meet with the drivers in person to “feel them out.”

Hussain tells me that HiGear will use the newly-raised funds to keep building out its website and bring in more members, including launching in LA in the coming weeks.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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Twitter has downtime for most for over an hour

According to the Twitter status blog, Twitter has been down on and off for over an hour now. For a real-time communication service like Twitter, that’s a long time to have serious issues like this.

As we know, when the news of Steve Jobs’ passing hit, Twitter was under heavy load for hours with tweets. Impressively, the service withstood the load for the most part, with only intermittent outages. It’s important to note, that through these hiccups, the Twitter status blog was never update, so it seems as if this is a serious issue.

As of the original writing (9:59pm PT), the site has been showing errors when trying to tweet, or not loading at all. The Twitter status blog reports that engineers have identified the issue and are working on it. Not even Twitter’s famous “Fail Whale” has been loading.

Twitter Status 2 520x203 Twitter has downtime for most for over an hour

To illustrate the importance of Twitter, I was receiving a few texts a minute in the last half hour asking me if Twitter was up or down and if the issue was on their end.

When I try to tweet now, I get this error:

Twitter   Home 2 1 520x346 Twitter has downtime for most for over an hour

It looks like random tweets are getting through but clearly not consistently.

We’ll update this post as Twitter updates its status.

Update: Twitter seems to be performing as expected as of 10:26pm PT, no word as of yet from Twitter on what the actual issue was/is and whether it is completely fixed.

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