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Survey: Company apps thwarted by mobile device diversity

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Monday 30 September 2013 6:58 pm

Appcelerators survey of 804 businesses found that the biggest obstacle to writing mobile apps was the number of platforms programmers had to cope with.

Appcelerator’s survey of 804 businesses found that the biggest obstacle to writing mobile apps was the number of platforms programmers had to cope with.


What’s standing in the way of your bank, employer, or favorite museum creating that app you want on your mobile device? The fact that there are so many devices, according to a quarterly survey by Appcelerator.

“The survey’s top reported obstacle to mobile app delivery is building for multiple devices and platforms,” Appcelerator said Tuesday after surveying IT executives, development directors, programmers, and others at 804 companies in August. Fanboys can quibble about how bad fragmentation really is within the realms of
Android or iOS, but a higher level, it’s definitely a concern.

Of the respondents, 34 percent write apps that support three operating systems, 23 percent support one OS, 20 percent support four OSes, 11 percent support two OSes, and 8 percent support five or more OSes.

That’s good news for Appcelerator, which makes a business out of cross-platform programming tools, but bad news for anyone venturing farther away from mainstream devices like iPhones, Samsung’s Galaxy Android phones, or Wintel laptops.

What systems did survey respondents say they were “very interested” in writing software for? Apple’s iPhone and
iPad topped the list, with 80 percent of respondents showing high interest. Android phones garnered 71 percent, Web apps for mobile devices 60 percent,
Android tablets 59 percent.

Windows phones were much farther down, at 26 percent, and Windows tablets at 25 percent. That was still ahead of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets at 15 percent, BlackBerry phones at 12 percent, and BlackBerry tablets at 6 percent.

Apples devices topped the interest levels among the 804 companies that Appcelerator surveyed in August.

Apple’s devices topped the interest levels among the 804 companies that Appcelerator surveyed in August.


Fedora Linux 20 Set to Integrate Hadoop

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Monday 30 September 2013 6:54 am

One of the key additions set to land in Fedora 20 is a set of Apache Hadoop application packages. Hadoop is an open source collection of projects that has become synonymous with the term “Big Data” in recent years. Fedora Project Leader Robyn Bergeron told ServerWatch that Fedora 20 will include “all” the different Hadoop projects.

“I have looked into this and my recollection is that no other Linux distribution has Apache Hadoop packaged,” Bergeron said. “There are lots of packages that you can import into your own distro, but this is all packaged properly into Fedora itself.”

The integration of Hadoop into Fedora 20 is all part of the Fedora project’s natural evolution to continue to engage with users and bring them the technologies they want to run.

Read the full story at ServerWatch:
Fedora Linux 20 Gears Up to Be a Big Data Server

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Do Teenage Entrepreneurs Even Need To Go To College?

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Sunday 29 September 2013 12:31 pm

This post is part of Hire Education, an ongoing series in which ReadWrite examines technological innovation in education and how it’s reshaping the approaches of universities and students as they adapt to a transforming economy.

The democratization of technology wrought by the mobile Web and a proliferation of app stores has made it easier than ever to succeed as an entrepreneur—and at an earlier age than ever before. Which poses a tough question for some high-school students who’ve managed to strike it rich with a hit app: Do they really need to go to college at all?

That’s the conundrum facing Ryan Orbuch—a self-described “techie kid” who built a task management app called Finish with a friend when they wanted a way to organize their studies for high school final exams. 

Finish sells for 99 cents in Apple’s App Store. To date, users have downloaded it nearly 40,000 times. That’s not a bad haul for a couple of kids who just wanted a way to fight procrastination when it came to their coursework. (Yes, so they then went on to build an app instead of hitting the books.) Orbuch has also started an umbrella company called Basil for other projects he is working on.

The cherry on top? Finish won an Apple iOS Design Award this year at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference. Orbuch his partner have updated the app for iOS 7 and are planning on expanding it in the coming months. 

So now Orbuch has a company, some early success and entrepreneurial street cred. If they wanted to, it’s conceivable that they could go find some venture capital funding and take their business to the next level. At the same time, well, Orbuch is a now senior in high school. Their parents expect them to go to college.

“It’s something that I’ve thought a ton about, especially considering that I’m applying to college this fall,” Orbuch told me in an interview. “It’s scary. If the future was that black and white, if it were option one—go to school or option two—build stuff, with nothing in between, I’d unquestionably go try to build stuff. I don’t think that’s how it is, though. I think that it’s becoming less and less mutually exclusive, a trend I hope continues.”

The Myth—And Reality—Of The Wunderkind

Ryan OrbuchRyan Orbuch

The history of tech is replete with successful entrepreneurs who didn’t go to college—or who went to college, but dropped out to follow their visions. Steve Jobs is perhaps the most famous in the modern era, but Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the current poster child for the Billion Dollar Babies Club, since he dropped out of Harvard to build the world’s biggest social network. 

Zuckerberg’s example has inspired legions of teenagers and young adults to follow in his footsteps. And venture capitalists want to find the next money train built on the backs of naïve visionaries.

Billionaire Peter Thiel is the most prominent example. He made his money as part of the “PayPal Mafia” and was one of the first investors in Facebook after Zuckerberg decamped for Silicon Valley. In 2010, Thiel set up a program to turn out mini-Zuckerbergs. His Thiel Fellowship promised young entrepreneurs $100,000 if they skipped college to build the companies of the future.

Three years later, the Thiel Fellows don’t have a lot to show for that effort. So far, the only product from a Thiel Fellow that’s gained any real traction is a Binaca-like caffeine spray. GigLocator, a company that aggregated information about music artist and venues, made a small exit when it was acquired. Dale Stephens is fairly well-known as a Thiel Fellow, though that’s mostly because he’s spent a lot of time talking about how he dropped out of school to become a Thiel Fellow—along the way, picking up a book deal for a tome that will elaborate on how he dropped out of school to become a Thiel Fellow and get a book deal.

The problem the Thiel Fellows faced has nothing to do with the entrepreneurs’ smarts or drive, which are assuredly considerable. It has to do with the myth of the wunderkind and what it takes to create a successful, visionary product. 

The pantheon of modern innovators—Jobs, Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, and so on—have had great timing and a certain amount of luck. They all also had highly skilled companions to help them along the way. Jobs had Steve Wozniak, effectively the father of the modern personal computer. Zuckerberg had Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitz to help him build Facebook. Gates had Paul Allen along to write code and cut deals that turned Microsoft into a giant company.

Vision, drive and natural talent only can bring a would-be entrepreneur so far. Meeting the right people, having the right pedigree and creating your own luck are also extremely important. Such relationships often start in college. (Though not always; Jobs and Wozniak met in high school; Gates and Allen were childhood friends.)

Reuters recently published a survey on “Series A” funding for startup companies in the Silicon Valley sphere over the last three years. Of 88 companies, 70 were founded by people that were once an executive at a large tech company or a well-connected small company or graduated from Harvard, MIT or Stanford. Pedigree matters.

The lesson? The wunderkinds do best when they partner with other wunderkinds that have experience and connections.

Education Of A Would-Be Entrepreneur

Smit PatelSmit Patel

Smit Patel is a hustler. He came to the United States in 8th grade from Ahmedabad, India. That’s when he got his first computer and fell in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur.

As a teenager, he wanted to start his own company, so he dove into the Boston startup ecosystem head first. If you’ve spent any time around Boston startups in the last couple of years, there’s a chance that you’ve met Patel and learned of his burning desire to found a company or be part of a hot startup.

Patel isn’t a developer or an engineer. His primary focus has been on communications and marketing. His quest to build a startup company was thwarted time and again by the inability to find a technical cofounder that could help build the product. He wanted to start a Twitter stock market game called Cashtag. It never materialized. Patel needed a Wozniak … and couldn’t find one.

Patel has gone back and forth several times over the idea of going to university, getting an internship or starting his own company. He even finally founded a startup to help other would-be entrepreneurs find cofounders called FounderMatchup.

“Instead of working on FounderMatchup, which was making money, I was focused on finding the next big idea,” Patel said. “I sucked at knowing the people I should be listening to, how to build relationships and realizing the importance of finding mentors. Essentially these were all lessons that students learn after college graduation and their first job, but [that] I learned that first semester of college.”

Patel eventually realized that even though he was smart, driven and crafty, he’d never be the next Zuckerberg. Instead, he’s realized that the best option for future success is a more standard American route: go to college, find an internship and build a network. He’s criss-crossed the country a couple of times between Boston and San Francisco, looking to catch on as an intern at a startup. At 20 years old, he’s actually ahead of the curve. Many young people don’t figure these things out until their mid-20s, if ever. 

Patel is now a junior at Suffolk University in Boston and has worked recently with inbound marketing firm HubSpot.

Pay Or Play

Orbuch and his partner at Finish are a bit of a different story. They already have a product in Finish that is well regarded and making a bit of money. But they face the same question as Patel did in his late teens: Work on building a company or go to college?

“That is something I am going to be thinking about over the next few months as I think of college and stuff. So, there are a lot of roads there,” Orbuch said in an interview with ReadWrite earlier this year. “I’d love to go to Stanford, that would be cool. Just to get in … college applications are really terrifying. But, I think it is just such an interesting environment. Even if just for a short amount of time, just getting to meet the people and the social component, it is really hard to replicate outside.”

To Orbuch, his choices are fairly clear. He can attempt the college route or continue to build Basil with Finish as the keystone concept. Being a Thiel Fellow could be interesting, he said. It would add credibility and give him access to mentors if he were chosen for the program. 

“Whether colleges in general want to accept it or not, they are no longer the end-all be-all of ‘future success,’ particularly in the arena of entrepreneurship. There’s more flexibility now than there was when my parents went to school, and I think that’s easy for them to ignore,” Orbuch said.

Lead image via Shutterstock.com

Ruckus Powers the Wireless Networking Tech Behind Oracle Team USA’s America’s Cup Victory

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Sunday 29 September 2013 6:27 am

The America’s Cup winning team used Wi-Fi technology from Ruckus Wireless, providing important data about the status of the ship and the environment in which it was sailing. Wi-Fi displays then made that data available to crew members.

David Callisch, VP of marketing at Ruckus Wireless, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that his company has been working with Oracle Team USA for over a year and a half. He added that his company has no commercial partnership with Oracle. It’s strictly a customer/tech supplier relationship.

“Previously they used Cisco, but had three basic problems: Coverage, speed and reliability of the mesh connection to the boat,” Callisch said. “The hanger on the pier where they work on the race boats is huge and is full of RF-unfriendly obstacles and electromagnetic interference that previously caused them a lot of pain.”

Read the full story at Enterprise Networking Planet:
The Wi-Fi Tech Behind Oracle Team USA’s America’s Cup Win

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Executive infighting reportedly led to BlackBerry’s downfall

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Sunday 29 September 2013 6:26 am

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins didn’t always see eye to eye with other executives over company strategy.

Sarah Tew/CNET)

In the end, BlackBerry’s leadership may have been its own worst enemy.

The struggling handset maker suffered from infighting at its executive level that hobbled its ability to compete in the mobile market and led to its eventual downfall, according to an investigation conducted by the The Globe and Mail newspaper.

The company, which plans to cut roughly 40 percent of its staff and sell itself to an investment group, announced Friday that it lost $965 million last year. The biggest reason for the dramatic loss was the $934 million write-down the company took on inventory of the
BlackBerry Z10, which apparently did not sell well.

The Z10 was a departure from the company’s famous keyboard-equipped mobile phone and BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins’ best weapon to compete with the glass touch-screen handsets sold by Apple and Samsung. While the Z10 was designed to showcase the next-generation
BlackBerry 10 operating system, it had one major detractor, according to sources interviewed by the newspaper: company co-founder Michael Lazardis.

During a meeting last year with the company’s board to review plans to launch the new device, a frustrated Lazardis voiced concerns that the company’s new direction was an abandonment of his vision that made BlackBerry handsets popular with corporate customers.

“I get this,” Lazardis said, pointing to one of the company’s signature devices. “It’s clearly differentiated.” Then he pointed to a touch-screen phone. “I don’t get this.”

Once the preferred handset maker among the corporate elite, BlackBerry was hurt by its inability to move past the legacy operating system that got it into the smartphone game and quickly fell behind Apple’s iPhone and Google’s
Android operating system. After hitting a high of nearly $145 in 2008, the company’s stock lost a staggering 94 percent of its value. On Monday the company announced that it had entered into a deal to sell itself a consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings that valued the company at $4.7 billion.

Months before the boardroom confrontation between Heins and Lazardis, the pair was in another showdown, this time with Jim Balsillie, who was co-CEO of BlackBerry when it was still known as Research In Motion. Balsille championed a strategy to license the company’s BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instant messaging platform to competitors.

Getting BBM onto millions of non-BlackBerry handsets was expected to generate a handsome profit for the company, but the plan ran into stiff opposition from senior executives. Not long after being appointed chief executive of RIM last year, Heins decided to ditch plans to license BBM — with Lazardis’ support, according to the newspaper.

As a result, Balsille resigned from the board and severed his ties to the company, he confirmed to the newspaper.

“My reason for leaving the RIM board in March, 2012, was due to the company’s decision to cancel the BBM cross-platform strategy,” Balsillie said in a brief statement to The Globe and Mail.

CNET has contacted BlackBerry for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

Say What? Top 5 IT Quotes of the Week

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Saturday 28 September 2013 5:43 am

“Through this effort, we show our commitment to the open source community”

Tomas Ulin, vice president for MySQL Engineering at Oracle, talking about the new MySQL 5.7 milestone release (DatabaseJournal)

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend. They have been creating enemies and we have been making friends.”

Brocade CEO Lloyd Carney talking about Cisco (EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet)

“We need to think about how we’re actually making the sausage”

Red Hat Fedora Linux Project Manager Robyn Bergeron (eWEEK)

“We can process data at ungodly speeds”

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison unveiling his companies new in-memory database capabilities (ServerWatch)

“As enterprises are looking to deploy new workloads, obviously, the choice is Windows or Linux now, and we believe we’re winning a lot larger share of those”

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst (Datamation)

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

The Whoa Factor: Slow Motion On The iPhone 5S Put To The Test

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Friday 27 September 2013 11:20 pm

If you want to get all bullet time with your smartphone, the iPhone 5S hands you the red pill at 120 frames per second. Slow motion video capture never ceases to captivate, but not all of us can pony up a few thousand bucks for a Phantom—the gold standard camera for mind-bendingly good slo-mo. Happily, the new iPhone delivers on that front now, and casually so. 

The iPhone 5S offers a regular video mode capable of shooting 1080p HD. But swipe to the left in iOS 7’s impressive new camera interface, and you’ll be met with the “slo-mo” option, which can capture moving pictures at 120 frames per second. It’s easy to accidentally shoot in regular video mode when you think you’re in slo-mo, but a handy note that the shooter is in 120 fps mode on the bottom right below the shutter button helps differentiate the two modes.

In slo-mo, the iPhone 5S’s video quality drops down to 720p. But if you’re like us, on the small screen you won’t notice—you’ll be too busy going whoaaaa. By default, in playback mode, videos captured in slo-mo begin replaying at normal speed, switch into slo-mo and then switch back to normal speed. You can also edit the part of the video that appears in slow motion—two cool tricks that amplify the whoa effect.

Below are video embeds of our sample images (in portrait, forgive us), all shot with an iPhone 5S on a sunny day at the beach. The undulations of dune grass, the ebb and flow of the tide and the sand itself were perfect testing grounds for some impressive slow-motion action. 

The iPhone 5S isn’t the first smartphone to offer slow-motion capture by any means, but Apple’s iteration, like all of its recent forays into photo and video, proves very refined. Still, on the software side, we do have some complaints. It’s impossible to share a slow-motion video on Instagram (or any other app not present in the iOS 7 pop-up share screen) without exporting the video first to another iDevice or emailing it to yourself.

This issue could be remedied in a future software push from Apple, but if we’re going to bother with shooting video for the whoa factor, we’d like to be able to share them on any app of our choosing. Still, as you can see, slo-mo in the 5S is impressive. It’s not a killer feature per se, but at the very least, it’s a lot of fun to play around with. 

Aereo delays Chicago launch due to ‘issues’ on testing site

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Friday 27 September 2013 4:51 pm

Aereo antennea

Aereo’s little antenna has led to a big brouhaha with television networks.


Cloud-based TV service Aereo has delayed its rollout in Chicago, which would have been its next biggest market after its hometown of New York, the company announced Friday.

Aereo was testing its service in the Chicago area when it “encountered issues” with its testing site earlier this month, according to a blog post from the company.

“We know you’ve been disappointed about the delay. We’re disappointed too. We are working our fastest to find a solution that works. And, until we’ve found the right solution, we ask for your patience,” the post reads.

CNET has contacted Aereo for more information and will update if we hear back.

The service provides an extremely small antenna that enables customers to access over-the-air programming and has a cloud-based DVR (digital video recorder) that lets users record programming, much to the annoyance of traditional broadcasters. Networks like NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS (the parent of CNET) are all in legal battles with Aereo, claiming that the service violates their copyrights.

The company promised an aggressive expansion this year, with plans to expand to more than 22 cities across the US. It added Cincinnati, San Antonio, Indianapolis, and Columbus, Ohio, to its target list earlier this week. It currently operates in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Miami, Houston, and Dallas.

Red Hat Delivers Updated Software, Developer Toolset

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Friday 27 September 2013 4:47 am

Linux vendor Red Hat aims to balance the need for enterprise stability and an updated software release with new software collections.

Enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat is now providing its users with an optional way to run newer versions of software applications on its stable operating system platform. The new Red Hat Software Collections and Red Hat Developer Toolset 1.0 releases provide updated versions of applications for users of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 operating system.

Read the full story at eWeek:
Red Hat Delivers Updated Software, Developer Toolset

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Square’s Next Move: Jump On A Platform

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Thursday 26 September 2013 10:37 am

Square's Next Move: Jump On A Platform

PayPal just bought Braintree. But the payments giant wasn’t the only company having conversations with Braintree, a Chicago-based startup known for its appeal to app developers.

Square, a mobile-payments company focused on elegant design and smaller merchants, appears to have been interested in Braintree, too.

And that suggests that Square is rethinking what it is and how it should play in the vast, convoluted world where money moves.

Three People At A Square Table

ReadWrite recently heard of a meeting between Braintree CEO Bill Ready, Square CEO Jack Dorsey, and Square CFO Sarah Friar. When we asked Ready about the meeting, he didn’t deny it happened—far from it.

“I know Jack and Sarah from the industry and have a lot of respect for them for Square,” Ready recently told ReadWrite. “I’ve had a lot of conversations in the past, like I’ve had with a lot of players.”

It’s not clear what they discussed, but there’s a lot to talk about. (An exceptionally polite and pleasant Square spokesperson declined to comment.)

It first helps to understand what the companies do: While they both nominally offer payments-related services, their products and customers have almost no overlap.

Square offers a physical credit-card swiper for use with smartphones and tablets and a more integrated cash-register substitute built around Apple’s iPad, the Square Stand. Along with that hardware, it offers a flat-fee payments service.

For the consumer, very little changes—they still swipe a credit card, though Square can send receipts by email or text message instead of printing them on paper. Merchants—typically small stores, service providers, and small chains with less than 10 locations—get a simplified fee structure. Though Square has just recently expanded into e-commerce with its Square Market, it primarily helps sell goods and services delivered person-to-person, in the real world.

Braintree, by contrast, is a back-end payments processor; its brand is all but invisible to consumers. It started out as an e-commerce alternative to PayPal and other services that let retailers charge credit cards online, but more recently, it’s found a lucrative, fast-growing niche in providing credit-card processing to mobile-app developers.

Last year, it bought Venmo, a person-to-person payments-app maker, which gave it a consumer-facing brand. Before PayPal announced its acquisition, Braintree was in the process of turning Venmo into a mobile wallet that let users enter a credit card once into a Braintree-powered app, and then use that card with other Braintree clients without having to reenter it in every app.

Touching In Person

Where Square and Braintree begin to overlap is in the world of services. The same magical idea that lets you order a coffee at Blue Bottle and pay for it by saying your name also lets you pay for an Uber ride by opening up a car door and walking out. In both cases, a charge is made to a stored credit-card number kept securely in an account stored on a server.

“We want to carry every transaction,” Square’s Dorsey recently told the San Francisco Chronicle.

That ambition can’t be fulfilled if Square merely serves small “micromerchants” in physical environments. It must also tackle the virtual opportunity.

A Square Opening

There are signs that Square is thinking bigger. The Braintree conversation is one—though an acquisition would have strained Square’s resources and challenged its identity.

Another sign is Square’s recent hire of Gokul Rajaram to run its product engineering. Rajaram is an expert in software platforms from his years at Google and Facebook.

“Platform” is a term often loosely thrown around in technology. Many companies claim to run platforms; few actually do. A true platform provides a system for exchanging value based on a kind of technological codependence. The platform operator provides the underpinnings for other software developers to create useful applications on top of it. Those applications, in turn, build the value of the platform.

Today, Square stands almost completely alone. It builds a beautifully integrated system of hardware, software, and services, which lets it move swiftly and decisively when it sees opportunities to improve its product. But it has little interaction with other software makers, which seems like a lonely way to do business.

It has begun to loosen its grip. Last year, Square launched a much-publicized partnership with Starbucks, though the actual implementation to date has been disappointing, a kludgy affair involving poorly trained baristas and confusing barcodes. More recently, it announced that its customers could port data from Square’s proprietary Register software to Intuit’s QuickBooks.

Those are tentative measures—perhaps tests as much internal as external, to see if Square can learn to play well with others.

But eventually, Square must open up.

How Square Can Round Itself Out

Upstarts like Square cannot count on incumbents like PayPal ineptly missing new opportunities—like the emerging businesses of smartphone and mobile-app payments that let Square and Braintree spring up in the first place. While Square now processes more than $15 billion a year in payments, it’s less than a tenth of PayPal’s size.

One obvious product to lead with is its distinctive “pay with name” feature, which it now calls Auto Check In. This could be the basis of a service it offers to other app makers—one that might benefit from Square’s distinctive and trusted consumer brand, which unlike, say, “Braintree” or “Venmo,” many people now recognize as a means of payment. A familiar Square icon would signal to smartphone users a simple message: You don’t have to reenter your credit card here.

Square may never have a completely open API, since it trades in people’s finances and merchants’ business data. But it may offer tiers of access, or a system of invitations to select developers who complement Square’s commerce-focused offerings—and who could then build out Square-compatible systems for merchant’s own websites.

Courting those developers, a constituency Square has historically ignored, will be a trickier matter. It may need to do an acquisition of its own—perhaps Stripe, another San Francisco-based payments startup with which it shares principles of elegant design, not to mention some prominent investors.

Stripe CEO Patrick Collison’s famous devotion to customer service and his intellectual rigor would make for a good cultural fit with Square. The prospective combination of Stripe’s Collison and Square’s Rajaram ought to strike fear into the hearts of PayPal CEO David Marcus and Braintree chief Bill Ready, if they have any sense.

Can Square add another side to its business—adding services for app developers to its elegant hardware, software, and payments? Without it, Square seems to be missing a leg.

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