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The PC May Be Dying, But Computing Lives Everywhere

Photo: Eddie Codel/Flickr

 

The walloping the PC industry received in the first quarter of this year, down 14 percent according to IDC and the biggest decline since the research firm began tracking PC sales in 1994, was no fluke. IDC is now forecasting 2013 to be the second year in a row that overall PC sales will decline, by about 8 percent versus the 4 percent slide posted in 2012.

So the PC is doomed, but classic PC companies may not be.

In the place of the notebook in particular has arrived the tablet, which for the first time since Apple (or Microsoft if you are stickler for these things) launched the computing device to the masses will overtake the notebook computer in units shipped this year. IDC pegs the number of tablets that will ship in 2013 at just over 229 million. That compares to the 201 million “portable PCs” the firm expects to see ship this year. By 2015 IDC forecasts tablet shipments to outpace the entire PC market (portables and desktops combined), so somewhere north of 330 million machines shipped. “What started as a sign of tough economic times has quickly shifted to a change in the global computing paradigm with mobile being the primary benefactor,” says Ryan Reith, Program Manager for IDC’s Mobility Trackers.

Oh the horror, if you are Hewlett Packard, Dell, or Intel, those PC-reliant former tech stars, right?

Wrong. The decline of the PC is no different than the sun setting on mainframe computers when the microcomputer came along, or the end of the microcomputer when the PC ate its lunch. Yes, some companies like Burroughs, Univac, DEC and Wang failed to make their generation’s computing transition. But on the day that the death of the PC was all but declared, the share price of HP was up 2 percent. Intel was up 1 percent. Dell was basically flat.

The reason Wall Street is unimpressed by the end of the PC era is that the smart companies that ruled the PC-era have already moved on. HP and Dell don’t get much credit from Wall Street for their PC businesses already, it’s all about software and services in the cloud. Intel is running as fast as it can toward mobile (AMD too). So is Microsoft. Certainly all the companies mentioned have suffered mightily from their longstanding attachment to the PC, and there is plenty of work to be done if they are to regain any of their former stature, but they are already moving where computing is headed. The only pure-play PC companies left, like Acer, Asus and Lenovo, are either playing the commodity game or hiring software engineers as fast as they can to get into other parts of the food chain.

“We should look at tablets as part of the continuum of compute,” says Patrick Moorehead, a consultant and longtime industry analyst who runs Moor Insights & Strategy. “Compute is going on your wrist, in your phone, in your tablets, on your wall, in your car and in some cases inside your body,” Moorehead says. “It has been slowly spreading out and decentralizing for the last 50 years.”

 

As processors keep the computing muscle of smartphones and tablets alike growing, even as the battery power they require shrinks, so-called tablets connected to cloud-based services will blur the line between a high-powered PC and a dumbed-down touchscreen. If the next generation of tablets can connect to a keyboard and act like a laptop, snap into a dock and act like a desktop, or link up with a massive screen, and perform all the tasks a PC can, are they still just tablets? It sounds a lot like a PC, what’s different is that the value in these machines (Apple’s products an exception for now) has moved increasingly away from hardware into software and services.

“The way I look at this shift to tablets isn’t so much what companies control the form-factor,” Moorehead says. “What’s most important is whether or not you are racing to attach yourself to two ends of the compute spectrum: a thinner client (like Android and iOS) or the cloud that powers it. If you aren’t, you are in a very, very bad spot right now.”

From Moorehead’s perspective, it’s not classic PC companies like HP and Dell who are missing the boat, but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip makers like Marvell and Broadcom that could be in trouble without a broader mobile portfolio. He also points to IBM and Oracle as vulnerable to the shift that the tablet embodies. “IBM is as far behind in the shift to cloud as one can be in the enterprise,” Moorehead says, “Oracle just found religion on cloud last year.”

So what company is best positioned to ride herd on the next phase of computing? Google, Moorehead says. “It could end up being the big winner here,” Moorehead says. “They own 75 percent of the smartphone platform, and they have the most experience in the cloud with consumers. Put an enterprise frame around the Google cloud offerings and they would do some serious damage.”

 


Everything that Apple announced yesterday at WWDC

Today at the WWDC event Apple released a slew of announcements, covering a wide range of products. This post is a compendium of what they released, and promised to release today. For convenience, the order of this post mirrors the order of Apple’s event.

The event was packed, as always, filling the 6,230-person capacity room. Media was mixed with a strong developer contingent. It was a classic Apple event. Now, to the news:

WWDC

Apple reported that over 1,000 of its engineers are at the event. This was the 23rd WWDC, selling out in 1 hour and 43 minutes. People from 60 countries made the trek to the venue. Apple stated that it shut down in anticipation of the conference.

App Store

There are now 400 million user accounts, each with a credit card attached. In the store there are more than 650,000 apps, of which 225,000 are designed for the iPad. Customers have downloaded some 30,000,000,000 apps in total, a staggering figure.

That has led Apple to pay out over $5,000,000,000 to developers. The App Store is now in some 120 countries, with 32 more being added by the end of the month. That will put Apple’s store live in over 150 countries. Apple said 155, but we’re not sure how the math adds up there.

Apple CEO Tim Cook made the following comment about the company’s work:

“What we do together is much more important than any set of numbers could reflect. Our goal has always been to do great work and make a difference in other people’s lives.”

 Notebooks

Apple announced a number of changes to its notebook line, with its own Phil Schiller taking to the stage to explain the updates. Both the MacBook Air and MacBook pro received performance bumps.

The MacBook Air line will be receiving Ivy Bridge-class processors from Intel, something that is hardly surprising. They run up to 3.2 gigahertz. Graphics performance will improve up to 60%. Also in the new MacBook Air: solid state drives of up to 512 gigabytes. The MacBook Air line is also receiving USB 3.0, which is 10 times as fast as USB 2.0.

Here is the pricing scheme for the units:

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Those prices are $100 less than before. The 13″ MacBook Air will also cost $100 less than before. They began shipping today.

The MacBook Pro line is also making the shift to Ivy Bridge processors, as you probably assumed. They will sport processors up to a quad-core 2.7 gigagertz Intel i7. The 15″ MacBook Pro is having its integrated graphics performance improved. The new Pros can use GeForce 650M Keppler architecture cards.

Here’s the pricing data:

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As with the MacBook Air line, the new MacBook pros are shipping today.

The New MacBook Pro

Apple announced a new MacBook pro today, one that is shockingly thin from the side. Phil Schiller joked that “it’s thinner than [his] finger.” The new unit, which looks like a MacBook Air in some respects, is only 0.71 inches thick.

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Apple simply stated that it is thin as an Air. It sports a Retina display, and weighs 4.6 pounds. This device, mark my words, is going to be popular. That Apple put a Retina display in the computer was expected.

The screen is 15.4″ across, at a 2880×1800 resolution, for a total of 5,184,000 pixels. That should work out to about 220 DPI, if our sums are correct. Apple claims that this is the highest resolution notebook display in the world. The company also claimed that it has managed to reduce glare and reflection by 75%.

OS X Lion has been updated to take advantage of the new display. Other applications will have to be updated by their respective developers to support the new available pixel density. Adobe, of course, is working on a Retina-enabled version of Photoshop. Oh, and for the gamers, Diablo 3 is going to support the new display as well, which is beyond neat.

The new laptop is far more than a screen swap, according to Apple “everything inside this new MacBook Pro has been updated.” Apple showed a picture of its guts, which were, as expected, mostly battery. You will be able to configure the new MacBook Pro with a quad-core i7, up to 16 gigabytes of RAM, and a graphics card with 1 gigabyte of its own memory. A 768 gigabyte SSD will be available. The computer has a claimed battery life of 7 hours.

Here’s its port situation:

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This is the first Apple laptop to have HDMI built-in. Also included are two Thunderbolt ports, and, as with the new MacBook Airs, USB 3.0 support. To save space, the Thunderbolt ports will provide Ethernet and FireWire 800 capability. In the tidbits section, the new MacBook Pro will contain Bluetooth 4.0, Facetime HD, and dual microphones. It does not appear to have an audio-in jack, oddly.

For fun, here’s the computer’s innards:

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To cool the device, Apple employs fans with asymmetrical blades that distribute the sound across ‘multiple spectrums,’ making it quieter. Yes, your inner nerd just jumped. The computer will cost $2,199, in its basic configuration. That’s this:

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Reaction to that price has been positive. The computer ships today.

OS X

There are now some 66,000,000 Mac users, roughly three times as many as there were 5 years ago. Apple’s growth has been impressive, it’s impossible to deny. 26,000,000 copies of OS X Lion have shipped. Some 40% of OS X users are on the operating system.

Apple officially announced the next version of OS X, Mountain Lion. Three new OS X will be present: Messages, Reminders, and Notes. There is a new file interface that will show your cloud documents, as well as local documents. More support for the cloud has been added for Keynote, Preview, TextEdit, and Pages. There are now some 125 million iCloud users, something that Apple is tremendously proud of.

According to our own Matthew Panzarino, Apple failed to mention “how iffy” Messages’ performance is. Apple’s attention to detail, however, hasn’t waned. With the new Notification Center, once a projector is attached to the computer, it will be muted automatically. Also baked into Mountain Lion is support for universal login to Twitter.

New in Mountain Lion is the ability to dictate. Anywhere you can type, you can dictate. It looks like this:

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Also announced today was a new build of Safari, featuring a new ‘omnibar,’ which will allow for searches and URLs to be typed into the same area, much like with Chrome. It looks like this:

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In the new Safari, tabs can be synced across your devices using the new ‘iCloud Tabs’ feature. This will keep your iPad in sync with your MacBook Pro, and so forth. Safari will now better support Chinese users, including a Chinese dictionary, and Baidu support. Also included is something called ‘tab view’ that allows for navigation through tabs with gestures. Pinching, for example, will open a new tab. The new view looks like this:

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Share buttons have been integrated into Mountain Lion, providing access to both Twitter and Facebook. A  new feature called ‘Power Nap’ that, in the words of Apple, “keeps your Mac up to date while it sleeps.” Essentially, the tool will  grab your email, photo stream and more while it’s asleep. It will also back up to Time Capsule and install system and App Store updates automatically. You have to have a ‘recent’ MacBook Air to use it, however, so anyone holding onto a first generation Air is out of luck.

AirPlay Mirroring was demoed as well. The tool allows you to mirror your Mac, in 1080p, to any connected TV or projector. AirPlay Mirroring also supports the Apple TV device.

Game Center is being released for Mac. Interplay between iOS and OS X will be supported for both head-to-head and turn-based games. Essentially, your Game Center account is the same on the go and at your desk. Developers gave this a warm reception, which was no surprise at all.

There are 1700 new APIs in Mountain Lion. The software will be out next month, and will cost $19.99. That’s cheaper than Lion was, as you have surely noted. Apple will allow users to upgrade all of their Macs to Mountain Lion with a single purchase. If you purchase one of the new Macs before Mountain Lion comes out, the upgrade will be free. Developers were given a ‘near final’ preview of Mountain Lion today.

iOS

Through March 30th, there were some 365,000,000 iOS devices. More than 80% of Apple’s customers have made the jump to iOS 5, a massive percentage. Of course, Apple compared that to Android, noting that only 7% of Android customers are on the most recent version. According to Apple, some 7,000,000,000 push notifications are sent everyday, adding to the 1.5 trillion already sent.

There are 140,000,000 users of iMessage now, who have sent 150,000,000,000 messages thus far, and another billion a day. Twitter has seen ’3x growth’ on iOS, with some 10,000,000,000 tweets having been sent from iOS 5. A huge 47% of photos shared on Twitter are sent from iOS 5 devices. That’s massive. Game Center has some 130,000,000 users.

However, all that is old hat compared to what Apple had for today: iOS 6. iOS 6 will contain some 200 new features, including additions to Siri, which are something that has been needed for some time. Sports capabilities have been added, as have new abilities to handle restaurant related queries and movies. Siri will also support more languages in its coming version, including Mandarin, two forms of Cantonese, French, German for Switzerland, and Korean.

You can now tweet by talking to your phone. The Apple-Twitter love fest continues. In a fun twist, Apple is working with car manufacturers to install Siri buttons in their vehicles. This will roll out in the next 12 months. GM, Mercedes, Honda, BMW, and other companies are joining into the program.

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Siri will be coming to the new iPad, a welcome and expected move.

Facebook integration is a key component of iOS 6, with Apple stating that it has ‘worked very closely with Facebook’ to build the proper features. Single sign on will be supported. You will be able to use Facebook to share apps, movies, shows, photos, and other content. It is integrated with the Notification Center. The Facebook integration is a public API, a move likely made to avoid antitrust complaints.

Facebook integration is also coming to both the App Store, and iTunes. Facebook events are integrated into iOS’s calendar. All new Facebook integration is coming to the Mac as well.

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In iOS 6, Apple has revamped the phone app itself, adding Message and Remind Me Later capabilities that should ease the pain of phone calls a bit. You can even have the phone send a text for you, to the caller:

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Apple is bringing Do Not Disturb, to iOS. Do Not Disturb will collect notifications, but not ping your screen. You won’t lose anything, and you won’t be bothered. Given how noisy a modern smartphone can be, this is a smart move. You can, of course, decide which calls, if any, make it through. Settings will even allow for a repeated call to make it through, in case it’s an emergency.

Facetime will now run over 3G and 4G cellular connections. Apple is unifying your phone number and Apple ID. You can answer Facetime calls from either Mac, or an iPad now. Your phone number is also being integrated into iMessage.

Mobile Safari, of course, supports the new iCloud tabs. You can now upload photos to websites from Mobile Safari. That’s going to be popular.

Photo Stream is also picking up a few new features, including the ability to share photo albums with friends. These shared albums are synced to all devices.

Mail in iOS 6 is set to improve, with the inclusion of ‘Flagged’ and ‘VIP’ mailboxes, sorting your mail. Mail will now allow users to insert photos and videos into mail on the phone. Pull to refresh will work in Mail.

A new app is being added, called Passbook. It will collect and store all a person’s boarding passes, and other cards, in one place. You can’t lose an app! Well, I guess you can lose a phone.

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Obviously, this will be best suited for the airport, and the movie theater. What’s neat is that the cards can update, changing your Starbucks balance, for example, or flight gate. Apple has thought this through.

Also in iOS 6 is Guided Access, which allows for the disabling of individual elements of an application. You can use this to disable the home button, for example.

Apple has redesigned the App Store and iTunes in iOS 6, which will also sport better privacy controls and the ability to put your phone into ‘lost mode.’ In that mode, the phone can display a number, allowing whomever finds it to reach you.

The beta of iOS 6 goes out today. It can be used by the iPhone 3GS, but not the first generation iPad.

Mapping

As expected, Apple announced its mapping solution today. The company is now doing all its cartography itself, a massive blow to Google, who had previously provided Apple’s maps tools.

The interface is new. The new Maps contains local search data, custom mapping tiles. Some 100,000,000 business listings are integrated. Yelp, and others, provided a bulk of data.

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Apple’s new Maps will crowdsource traffic data, anonymously, of course. Turn by Turn navigation is included. The new tool is smart enough that it will route your around traffic, to avoid delays. Of course, it’s integrated with Siri.

Apple flew over a number of metro areas and shot pictures, allowing for it to build 3D images of big cities. Just like what Google announced last week. Our first thought: Amazing.

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You can move the camera angle yourself, creating a very dynamic experience. It appears that Apple didn’t need Google after all. Then again, Apple still hasn’t dipped its toes into search. So that remains a tie.

Of course, this is a feature of iOS 6.

11TH JUNE 2012 by 


Official Google Blog: We’ve acquired Motorola Mobility

The phones in our pockets have become supercomputers that are changing the way we live. It’s now possible to do things we used to think were magic, or only possible on Star Trek—like get directions right from where we are standing; watch a video on YouTube; or take a picture and share the moment instantly with friends.

It’s why I’m excited to announce today that our Motorola Mobility deal has closed. Motorola is a great American tech company that has driven the mobile revolution, with a track record of over 80 years of innovation, including the creation of the first cell phone. We all remember Motorola’s StarTAC, which at the time seemed tiny and showed the real potential of these devices. And as a company who made a big, early bet on Android, Motorola has become an incredibly valuable partner to Google.

Sanjay Jha, who was responsible for building the company and placing that big bet on Android, has stepped down as CEO. I would like to thank him for his efforts and am tremendously pleased that he will be working to ensure a smooth transition as long-time Googler Dennis Woodside takes over as CEO of Motorola Mobility.

I’ve known Dennis for nearly a decade, and he’s been phenomenal at building teams and delivering on some of Google’s biggest bets. One of his first jobs at Google was to put on his backpack and build our businesses across the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia. More recently he helped increase our revenue in the U.S. from $10.8 billion to $17.5 billion in under three years as President of the Americas region. Dennis has always been a committed partner to our customers and I know he will be an outstanding leader of Motorola. As an Ironman triathlete, he’s got plenty of energy for the journey ahead—and he’s already off to great start with some very strong new hires for the Motorola team.

It’s a well known fact that people tend to overestimate the impact technology will have in the short term, but underestimate its significance in the longer term. Many users coming online today may never use a desktop machine, and the impact of that transition will be profound—as will the ability to just tap and pay with your phone. That’s why it’s a great time to be in the mobile business, and why I’m confident Dennis and the team at Motorola will be creating the next generation of mobile devices that will improve lives for years to come.

Posted by Larry Page, CEO


GameStop to offer Android tablet and smartphone trade-ins, give you another excuse to upgrade

By Sean Buckley  posted Apr 29th 2012 4:46AM

GameStop to offer Android slab trade-ins, give you another excuse to upgrade

If you’ve been looking for a reason to replace your aging device with something a tad more contemporary, your local pawnshop GameStop is happy to oblige. According to Gadget Experts, the games retailer is looking to bolster its Android offerings with Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Nexus S and Samsung Infuse 4Gtrade-ins at select GameStops this summer, expanding to all locations by the end of the year. Have a device that’s not on this short list? Don’t worry, Gadget Experts says the firm plans to fill out itstouchable trade-in inventory with more devices in the future. So, what’s a Galaxy Tab worth to gaming’s favorite pawn star? We’ll let you know when GameStop drops the official details.


Instagram’s Small Workforce Legitimizes Other Small Start-Ups

Just about every month I get asked, “How many people work full-time for your company?” Part of me wants to brag about how lean we run Hitched, while another part of me doesn’t want to say because of the reactions I’ve received in the past. “Just two,” I reply, and nine times out of 10 I hear the voice of the inquisitor trail off as if their interest got caught in the wind and swept away.

So when I heard that Facebook had snatched up Instagram—the free photo sharing mobile app that allows users to take photos and apply filters—and their 13 employees for $1 billion I about spit my coffee, then I began to feel reassured that running a small company is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, in 2009 (the latest government data available) there were 27.5 million small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy (small business is defined as less than 500 employees—a ridiculous measuring stick in my opinion and perhaps a topic for another column). But more importantly, 21.4 million of those companies were without employees in 2008, roughly 3.5 million had up to four employees, just over a million had five to nine employees, and just over 400,000 had 10-14 employees. That means over 26 million of the 27.5 million “small businesses” in the United States are the size of Instagram or smaller.

Today’s businesses that work primarily in a virtual world, whether creating apps, content, offering services, etc., don’t need a huge workforce to have an impact or to reach a mass market. I’m not saying businesses shouldn’t look to hire when necessary, but having fewer than 100 employees is not a sign of weakness.

Here are five reasons you should be proud to be small:

1. It Forces You to Focus on What’s Important. When you don’t have extra hands to help out around the office (or garage turned office—52 percent of small businesses are home-based), you can’t waste time flipping through a catalog analyzing the different folder options for your filing cabinet. When you’re lean, if you don’t put your head down and make progress nothing will get done. Being really small means you don’t have the luxury of redundancy.

2. It Gives You A Better Understanding of the Whole. When we work in large corporate environments, we are typically confined to department silos. We may have a vague understanding of what’s going on across the office building, but we don’t really have a firm grasp on the entire picture. When it’s just you and a business partner or a few employees, everyone stays in the loop. When there’s no room for redundancy, everyone becomes a Jack of all trades.

3. You Can Put Emphasis on the Numbers that Matter. Instagram only had 13 employees, but they had over 30 million users when they were acquired by Facebook and had received nearly $60 million in total investment, securing a Series B round just days before the acquisition. When you’re small, results are what matter, whether that means generating web traffic, app downloads or customers. If that takes 50 people to achieve, fine. If it only takes six, don’t waste time or resources bringing in 44 extra people that will require their own attention.

4. Everyone Involved is Invested. Not everyone associated with the company may have an ownership stake, but they all have an investment in the success. An employee who aligns with a small company likely takes great pride in their responsibilities, understanding the concentrated impact their work has. Being small creates a familial atmosphere where everyone is rooting and depending on each person.

5. Freedom. When you’re small, you can turn on a dime. If you have an idea or need to recalibrate, there’s no multi-level bureaucracy standing in your way—it’s more like a single conversation to hash out the best way to move forward. Big companies pay millions trying to achieve that level of efficiency.

I realize there are a thousand articles and blogs out there arguing over whether or not Instagram is worth $1 billion. I’m not here to make such an argument since Facebook has made that price real. From here forward there’s no such thing as being too small to matter. Instagram has set forth the path where small is the new big, as in $1 billion big.

Via: Forbes.com


Exclusive: Facebook Deal Nets Instagram CEO $400 Million

By Mike Isaac
Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

Facebook’s acquisition of the immensely popular photo-sharing service Instagram for $1 billion is far and away the largest acquisition in the history of the world’s largest social network. But for CEO Kevin Systrom and company, it’s a windfall payday like none other.

CEO Systrom owns 40 percent of Instagram, according to a source close to the company, who provided Wired with figures from 2011. That will net Systrom $400 million to take home as a result of the deal. Co-founder Mike Krieger holds about a 10 percent stake, and will net around $100 million. Benchmark Capital, the venture capital firm which led Instagram’s Series A funding round in 2011, has about an 18 percent stake, netting roughly $180 million from the deal. Andreessen Horowitz and Baseline Ventures, two investment firms backing Instagram, each have about a 10 percent stake, netting just under $100 million apiece.

The rest of the company’s 13 full-time employees will each get a portion of a nearly $100 million pool, with specific amounts awarded by how long the employee has worked at Instagram.

Announced early Monday, Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook is a huge win for a small, young company with a massive user base. In the two years since Systrom and Krieger founded Instagram, the photo-sharing app has exploded to a user base of over 30 million on iOS alone. Last week, the app finally became available to Android users for the first time, prompting over 1 million new user signups in the first 12 hours of release.

“This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his own Facebook page. “But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.”

Facebook was also quick to insist that it would not just make Instagram an appendage of Facebook, anticipating the consternation of the photo-sharing service’s legions of fans. “[W]e’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

Instagram echoed the message: “It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away.”

It’s an unprecedented acquisition for Facebook, and one that Zuckerberg says likely won’t happen again. “We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all,” the CEO wrote in his Facebook status update. Though Facebook is certainly not shy to talent acquisitions; among others, Facebook purchased Gowalla late last year, as well as social service Hot Potato in 2010. However, Facebook only had to spend in the tens of millions on both acquisitions — nothing like the cool billion it dropped on Instagram.

Facebook users have long complained that the company’s mobile application for the iPhone, Android and other mobile OSes was terrible, and popular speculation suggested that the company would one day acquire a more polished mobile app. Many assumed that Path — the social app created by former Facebooker Dave Morin — would be the app Facebook would acquire, as it encompassed photo sharing, social discovery and check-ins in a well-designed mobile interface. Morin even turned down a$100 million dollar acquisition offer from Google at one point, reportedly because of unfavorable terms in the deal as requested by Google.


Facebook Buys Instagram For $1 Billion, Turns Budding Rival Into Its Standalone Photo App

Instagram_logoFacebook has just finished a deal to acquire mobile photo sharing app Instagram for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock. Instagram will remain an independently branded standalone app that’s separate from Facebook, but the services will increase their ties to each other. The transaction should go through this quarter pending some standard closing procedures

Last year, documents for a standalone Facebook mobile photo sharing app were attained by TechCrunch. Now it seems Facebook would rather buy Instagram which comes with a built-in community of photographers and photo lovers, while simultaneously squashing a threat to its dominance in photo sharing.

At 27 million registered users on iOS alone, Instagram was increasingly positioning itself as a social network in its own right — not just a photo-sharing app. And it was clear that some users were doing more of the daily sharing actvities on Instagram rather than Facebook’s all-in-one mobile apps, which had to be cluttered with nearly every feature of the desktop site.

With the Instagram for Android launch last week, Instagram was going to get to 50 million registered users in a heartbeat after racking up more than 1 million in the first 24 hours. And with that kind of momentum, Facebook felt like it had to move — fast. After all, photo sharing and tagging are arguably what *made* Facebook.

Whatever you think of the price given the fact that Instagram had no revenues, the reality is it was going to be worth whatever Mark Zuckerberg felt like paying for it. Both Google and Facebook had approached Instagram several times over the past 18 months, but the talks clearly didn’t result in a deal. So Facebook was going to have to offer a huge premium over the last valuation for Systrom and the board to take any deal seriously.

[Instagram’s founders from left, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom. Portrait by Cody Pickens]

With the deal, Instagram will gain massive design and engineering resources by joining forces with Facebook, a big change after running as a famously lean company with just a handful of employees. Still, the deal seems to let Instagram stay somewhat independent and maintain some of its company culture. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom writes in a blog post, “It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away.”

This is a really big departure from the way Zuckerberg has historically run Facebook as asingle product. He has always been insistent that everything feed back into Facebook itself. Keeping Instagram as a separate product and brand is reminiscent of what Google has done with keeping YouTube and Android as separate fiefdoms within the company following their acquisitions.

Instagram’s investors included Benchmark Capital, Greylock Capital, Thrive Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, along with angel investors including Quora’s Adam D’Angelo, Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca and Square and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey.

The early investors must be thrilled with the price. From our understanding, the later investors, who put capital into the company at a $500 million valuation, seem happy with basically getting a 2X in a few days after the money was wired last Thursday.

Congratulations to Instagram’s founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom. You opened the world’s eyes to seeing art in everyday life, and now Facebook has opened its doors to you.

Via TechCrunch


Instagram for Android: The good, the bad, the ugly

by Jaymar Cabebe

To longtime Android users such as myself, the name Instagram might not mean much. Sure, we see the vignetted photos invading our Facebook and Twitter streams, and we notice the instagr.am links all over the place, but other than that, we don’t really get it. I mean, what is it, exactly? Is it just a bunch of camera filters? Is it a Tumblr-like social network? Well, now that everyone’s favorite hipster photo app is available, let’s take a close look at how the Android version (download) of this uberpopular app works.

(Credit: Instagram)

First thing I need to mention is that Instagram is a lot more than just a free photo enhancement app for your phone. It connects its users to a photo-based social network that’s more than 30 million users strong. With this powerful social functionality, the app makes it incredibly easy to not just polish and share photos, but also to keep tabs on friends through the built-in Instagram photo stream. So it looks like the answer is yes, Instagram’s got a bit of Tumblr blood in it, and that’s good.

Start by signing up for Instagram with an e-mail address, username, and password. From there, you can link your account to your Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and Tumblr accounts. But don’t worry, whenever you snap a picture, Instagram will still ask you which account(s) you want to share with. Linking just makes it so you don’t have to log in every time. If you choose not to share with any linked accounts, then your photo will simply live on your Instagram profile, and will be pushed out to your followers’ Instagram feeds.

Once you’re all connected, you can start snapping photos with the Instagram camera, which comes with simple flash controls and a camera-switch button to go from front-facing to rear-facing in a single tap. Beyond that, though, there’s not much else to the basic shooter. There’s no spot focusing, and no cropping or zooming once a shot is taken. Interestingly, though, you can crop and zoom in on photos imported from other apps into Instagram. What’s up with that?

After you snap your photo, Instagram gives you the option to use any of its 18 photo filters, each of which adds a slightly different look to your work. While each of the filters is uniquely interesting, what I noticed is that all of them evoke a similar retro/vintage feel. This isn’t necessarily bad (unless you think vintage is ugly), but it is worth noting. At this point in the workflow, you also get the option to rotate your photo, add a border, or enhance its brightness.

Even though the Instagram camera is solid and performs well as is, I would love to see a few additions in the next update. For one, this Android app absolutely needs Live Preview. As it is now, you can’t preview filters before snapping, the way iPhone Instagrammers can, and that’s bad. Also, it would be nice to get the Tilt Shift/Blur feature that iPhone users use to achieve the popular Toy Camera effect. Lucky for Android users, the folks behind Instagram assure us that they intend to bridge these differences in future updates.

With a decidedly basic camera and solid, but not groundbreaking, filters, the most attractive part of the Instagram app is definitely its user community. Once signed up, you can follow other Instagram users on the Feed page and have them follow you back. You can Like photos, make comments, and even browse trending photos through the Popular on Instagram tab. From the looks of it, the community is bustling with activity and is vibrant enough for someone with just the right photography aesthetic to gain a mass following. And this, I think, is the key to Instagram’s power: the ease with which it allows its community to share and interact with each others’ photos. So, even if you don’t plan on using the built-in camera, this vibrant community alone is a good enough reason to download the app. And in any case, you can always pretty up your pics in another app and share them through Instagram.

So, if you’re hungry for followers, and you love sharing your photos with as large an audience as possible, then the reality is that downloading Instagram is a must. It has a huge network in tow, and it makes it dead simple to share and interact with your friends’ photos. On the other hand, if you’re mainly looking for a high-end photo enhancement app to really make your pics shine, then this is probably not the right option.

 

 

 


Analyst sets $1,001 price target on Apple shares

NEW YORK (AP) —

A Wall Street analyst is setting the highest price target yet for Apple shares, valuing them at $1,001 each, or 63 percent more than their current price.

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White says the Cupertino, Calif., company’s current stock pricedoes not reflect its rapid growth in the last years, nor its future growth prospects.

He’s basing his price target on his estimate for Apple’s calendar-year 2013 earnings, multiplied by 17. He notes that Apple shares carried a multiple in the mid-20s from 2006 to 2010.

Wall Street analysts called the company undervalued for much of last year, but the stock has risen to match some earlier estimates. It’s up 79 percent over the past 12 months.

Apple Inc. shares added 3 percent to $617.03 in afternoon trading.


Angry Birds Space Now Available for Download

by Stan Schroeder

Fans of the Angry Birds franchise, take notice: the disgruntled feathery creatures have conquered space, and they’re out to show those dastardly pigs a lesson.

The latest installment of this megapopular game, Angry Birds Space, is now available for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android devices, as well as the Mac and PC.

The new version brings several important changes, most importantly gravity, which will allow players to use nearby planets to perform trick shots on unsuspecting pigs.

The game has 60 levels, with more content available through in-app purchases (only in the iOS version for now). The game includes hidden goodies and secret levels, and Rovio promises regular free updates for the future.

Owners of Apple’s new iPad will be glad to know that the game supports the new Retina display as well.

You can get the iPhone version here. The iPad version is available here, and the Android version is available over at Google Play.

Finally, the Mac version is available in the Mac App Store, while the PC version is available directly from Rovi.

Angry Birds Intro

The Angry Birds, with all new characters, are blasting off in pursuit of their piggy foe.


Pig Planet

The first planet you have to tackle, Pig Bang, looks like the pig home world.


Cold Cuts

Each new section takes form of a planet. This one reminds us a little of Hoth, and is probably where the new Ice Cube bird will come into play.


Launching Into Orbit

The birds’ slingshot is hardly in a fixed position in this game. Each puzzle varies on what angles you can attack it from.


Use Gravity

Even if these planets are small, they still enact some forces of gravity on your birds. Players have to think about the best way to launch each one.


Piggie Destruction

And boom goes the dynamite!


Two Worlds

Sometimes you’ll have to chain gravities together to slingshot around.


Breaking Atmosphere

Some of the challenges will require you to break out of the planets orbit in order to destroy pigs. But be careful, without any gravity, what goes up does not come down.


Going Backward to Go Forward

The slingshot element is common in puzzles, as you are able to shoot your birds in any direction to take advantage of planets orbit.


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