Archive for November, 2006

OnTour widget — Automate your concert search

November 30, 2006


OnTour
recently launched their widget for Mac and PC users that automatically searches your computer’s music library to get your favorite artist and display relevant concerts near your location. OnTour is developed by PassAlong Networks which is a privately held company based out of Franklin, Tennessee.

To get started, PC users need to get the Yahoo Widget Engine and than drop the OnTour widget into the widget folder. After that OnTour widget automatically keeps scanning your iTunes and other music folders to get the artist information and refreshes the widget screen when it receives information about new concerts for those artists. If you don’t already have songs from any of the artists you like, you can always manually add the artist name in the widget settings. Apart from these results you can always search in the widget by your location or by the artist name you are interested in. OnTour widget links each result with your default music store to enable each download/purchase of the song. You can associate the widget using the OnTour website with any of the major music stores including iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and PassAlong. To get more details about the venue of the concert and purchase tickets you can hit the ‘Tickets’ links next to each result in the widget, which brings you to the OnTour website. Concert location is mapped onto Google Maps and OnTour provides you links to search tickets at Ticketmaster and perform remote search for tickets on eBay.

In my talk with OnTour Product Manager Stuart Young, he mentioned that they are also working aggressively on developing mobile and web versions of the widget. Soon MySpace users will be able to display concert results for their favorite artists on their profile pages using the web OnTour widget.

As for monetizing the service, OnTour team is building their advertising network which will show artist and album ads on the widget itself.

OnTour widget has received a good response from the Mac users and was the top download widget for 3 days. Also today PassAlong Networks announced that OnTour product has been awarded “Best Use of Technology by an Artist” award at the 3rd Annual Billboard Digital Entertainment Conference and Awards.

Personally I like the idea of getting concert results automatically instead of trying to remember doing the same every few days or end up missing the concert that happens ever so often with me.

Links:
OnTour
PassAlong Networks

 

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SocialMail takes email communication to a new level

November 30, 2006

SocialMail has an interesting proposition of integrating email and discussion groups at one place to provide an collaborative platform that can cut down the number of emails we send and receive. SocialMail launched its beta couple of weeks back and is developed by AppMail which is lead by Ankesh Kumar based out of Palo Alto, CA, and has Rajiv Dutta, President of Skype, on its advisory board. SocialMail branches out of the enterprise products being offered by AppMail for the past few years including DASH, CARE, Recruit.

Using SocialMail users can easily and effectively manage their events and information at a central location instead of getting buried down under hundreds of email anytime you organize an event. Consider a case where you want to get feedback from your users regarding addition of new features to your product. Using SocialMail you can easily create your Feedback message, add questions you want to ask, and send out the email either to groups created by you or individual people. SocialMail provides exhaustive set of options to create a targeted message before you email it out. You can either pickup a template with it’s associated questions or add your own questions as part of the email. You can also set at what time the Feedback email gets sent out, set reminders for people who haven’t replied, set the repeat status for the Feedback email, let the group member see answers to your questions, create discussion board for the topic, attach files, and set how many and how often you want to get the replies in your email for the topic sent by you.

Users receiving the Feedback email don’t need to register at SocialMail in order to reply to your message. They can just click to reply when they receive your message and they will be taken to a form where they can respond, post, and chat with others. All responses from your users keep getting updated at the topic page on your SocialMail account. SocialMail also enables you to continue further discussion with select users which will not be visible to others. From the topic page you can easily add and remove recipients, modify group list settings/reminder date,  export the messages to a excel file, and get RSS feed for the messages in the topic. One of really nice features I found at SocialMail is that besides exchanging messages for a topic, you can also have discussions for each topic, which makes your communication and collaboration much more effective. Another  good  feature is that you can run a report to get the initial message, aggregated responses, and discussion details, all on one page. As for adding users to your SocialMail account, you can either create new contacts, or upload contacts from their Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL accounts address books or simply upload using a CSV file.

What I really like about SocialMail though is number of situations it can be used and be really helpful. You can easily create surveys, feedback forms, organize events, discuss topics, and perform similar things which are not easily possible using regular email. Actually SocialMail encompasses several applications in once place which in my opinion include Email+ Event Organizer + Discussion Board +  Newsletter Service +  Mailman like email delivery settings. I think SocialMail would definitely get a good user response when it launches officially at the start of next year.

Links:
SocialMail
AppMail

And now Revver videos on Verizon Wireless

November 29, 2006

Verizon has done second video deal in 2 days. As part of a new deal with Revver. Starting early next month, Verizon VCast users will be able to access video content from Revver site on their mobile phones.

Unlike Youtube, Revver does a 50-50 sharing of revenues generated from its videos. The 50-50 sharing of revenues will continue in case of videos viewed by Verizon Wireless users.

As in the case of Youtube Revver has signed an exclusive agreement, which in this case is for 12 months. Once again mobile customers will be subjected to editor profiling of videos. Revver channel at VCast will include Editor’s Picks, Viral Video Classics, Laughs, Animation and Cute Overdose.

Suddenly Verizon does sound serious about it’s mobile video plans. Still $15/month for video on phone is too much. Personally I am already spending $400+/month(mobile + voip + international calling + data plan + dsl + aircard + landline +…) on communication per month as compared to $14/month for a landline 7 years back. Time to cut back guys, not spend more.

Related:
Youtube and Verizon deal DOA?

Links:
Revver

Nokia & Gizmo Project team up to provide cheap international calls

November 29, 2006

                

Nokia and Gizmo Project combined to provide Gizmo Project VoIP client on Nokia N80 phones. N80, which has WiFi capabilities, will enable users to make cheap calls to landlines and other mobile phone users.

Nokia N80 customers will have to download, install, and configure the Gizmo Project plugin to start making calls. Gizmo site gives a very detailed explanation of the steps needed to get started. Once you are able to connect to the service using your Gizmo account, you will have complete access to your Gizmo contacts from your mobile phone. From there on you either make calls to landlines and mobile phones based on rates for the location you are calling or make free calls to SIP phone number and other Gizmo users.

I think if 2 users on either end having Gizmo client on their mobiles should be able to make calls for free. I will still try to confirm whether this is possible or not.

However unlike Fring, which uses mobile data network to enable free calling, Nokia N80 works on WiFi connection. So anytime you want to make cheap international calls, grab a cup of starbucks coffee or get back to your home quickly.

Gizmo Project had earlier partnered with Nokia to offer its service to Nokia 770 users about which I had written before.

Related:
Fring enables free mobile calls
Gizmo Project on Nokia 770

Links:
Gizmo VoIP
Nokia N80

Yahoo Mail and IM on Nokia phones

November 29, 2006

Yahoo and Nokia have entered into partnership to provide Yahoo Mail and Messenger service to Nokia users. Besides the email and IM capabilities, customers having Nokia phones based on the Series 40 platform will also be able to synchronize their Yahoo contacts, tasks and calendar on the PC and phone. Nokia phones that will initially support these Yahoo services include Nokia 6300, 5300 XpressMusic and 5200.

I think the email part of the service will operate in a similar manner to Blackberry messaging platform where new messages are stored locally on the  device to enable offline access to messages.

Yahoo has been pretty active in the mobile area lately setting up partnerships and launching products to gain early ground. Among other deals, Yahoo had recently launched it’s advertising platform to deliver ads on Yahoo Mobile and signed agreement with DoCoMo to provide search capabilities to it’s mobile customers.

 

Google Answers to be shut down

November 29, 2006

 Google today announced that they are planning to shutdown their 4+ year old service Google Answers soon. Sometime later this week users will not longer be able to ask question from the Google Answers researchers. Also researchers will not be able to answer existing questions by the end of the year.

Any question asked by a user at Google Answers used to cost $2.50. Obviously the financial motivation, price per question, and quality of answer would never be able provide a sustainable ecosystem. Variable pricing model of Amazon Mechanical Turk or free answers from Yahoo Answers seem to be a better solution, although we are still not sure about the success status of Amazon service.

From Google’s perspective, shutdown of Answers will save few of it’s smart engineers from maintaining an application that did not scale well in terms of revenues.

Links:
Google Answers

 

Newsgator launches mobile client for J2ME handsets

November 29, 2006

For sometime I thought that Newsgator team has put J2ME mobile phones on its ignore list. Apparently that is not the case. Yesterday Newsgator introduced Newsgator Go! for J2ME based phones. The mobile beta client is available for download at the Newsgator site and supports Blackberry, Palm, Sony Erricson, Nokia, Samsung, LG or any other java phone.

I installed the client on my Blackberry and was easily able to access feeds associated with my Newsgator ID. The mobile clients shows only the unread posts and syncs the post information with your Newsgator account after you read newer articles from your mobile. The mobile client provides most of the basic features required including marking all feed items read in a folder, viewing post in fullscreen mode, and modifying number of default settings like associated Newsgator account, cache, display and few more options. Amazing part is the speed at which you can read your feed posts. Even at the crawling speeds offered by Verizon, I was able to quickly view posts on my blackberry.

With the launch of this client, my planned upgrade to BlackBerry 8700 again seems like a better choice as compared to Windows mobile devices.  Keep up the excellent works guys.

Links:
Newsgator Go! for J2ME

 

Youtube and Verizon deal DOA?

November 28, 2006

The update for Youtube on Verizon Wireless deal is one of the worst you could have expected from Youtube. Starting next month Verizon Wireless customers will be able to access Youtube videos for a $15/month through the Verizon Vcast service. Customers will have access to select video clips which are chosen and approved Youtube and Verizon editors. Also it seems that Youtube had done exclusive contract for a short period with Verizon Wireless.

I think this is a major mistake on the part of Youtube to tag along Verizon which has a history of fleecing it’s customers with high data charges. Paying $15 per month for videos selected by someone else just shows the limits to which Verizon can go to control and overcharge its customers. People flock to Youtube ’cause it is free and gives them freedom to upload and view content they like. If this was not the case, likes of NBCs and CBSs would have still ruled.

[News Report]

Related:
YouTube in talks with Verizon for mobile videos

Mojopages mixes Social Networking with YellowPages

November 27, 2006

Launching early next year, Mojopages is looking to add a refreshing social networking outlook to plain-old YellowPages. Mojopages is founded by Jon Carder who earlier this year sold his mortgage lead providing startup Clientshop.com to InternetBrands.com that owns number of other major internet properties including CarsDirect.com and Autos.com. In the ensuing 9 months after the sale, Jon with his team of 12 people has been building an interactive platform to enable users to extract the right information based upon real business contact data. 

  Personally I tend to get lost in the huge number of results we get in return any local business search. Unlike news articles where you can get Slashdot or Digg kind of effect to review and promote the right news articles to the top, it is a difficult task to get people around to reviewing and rating businesses. Even if you can find the reviews there is no guarantee of the reviews being genuine.

Mojopages team is working to eliminate these issues and provide just the right kind of network to foster user collaboration, easier reviewing-rating of businesses, and establish user trust. It will be an interesting to see how Mojopages rolls out its strategy to capture reviews for more than 15 million businesses. For those of you who had thought that they have seen last of the startups in local search with the rise of Yelp and CitySearch should watchout for Mojopages.

Links:
Mojopages

 

TAKKLE – Sports social networking site gets funding

November 27, 2006

TAKKLE, social network for sports enthusiast, today announced that it has closed series A round of funding. Investors in the funding round include WMG Investments, Greycroft Partners, IJ Smith Enterprises, and Jack Schneider, Managing Director at Allen & Company, Inc.

TAKKLE targeted mainly towards amateur athletes helps bring together amateur athletes, coaches and fans in a webby environment. Site enables uses to keep track of their favorite teams and players. TAKKLE currently provides most of the basic features including ability to join groups, invite friends, upload photos, view other users profiles, message box,…..TAKKLE team is working on building its its own video network, and provide other interactive features like ability to check out the top athletes by sport, and league.

Being a niche site is a great idea but at the same time implies access to a smaller user base. Given the intake of cash, TAKKLE should provide a much more comprehensive data on the sports events, enable users to track team/player activity and analyze performance data and videos using web-based tools to attract a broader set of users.

Links:
TAKKLE