Palm’s new hire; DowJones+IAC; XTract funded; Umbria builds Tribe Analysis; Netvibes UWA

Palm: The mobile handset old guard is finally waking up to reality in face of intense competition from all around including Apple, Google, RIM to name just a few. Earlier today Palm announced that it has hired Paul Mercer a former Apple employee who founded Pixo in 1996. Pixo developed tools used for the iPod operating system. Pixo was acquired by Sun in 2003. Paul has been working on Iventor, another company he started in 2000, which specializes in building user interfaces for high-volume mobile devices. However Iventor is not part of the deal. With all kinds of rumors about Palm going around in the market, including possible acquisition offers from Moto or Nokia, it is difficult to predict the strategy Palm is aiming for. Bringing in a mobile guru does indicate the Palm would be looking to speed up its product development cycle.[via]

DowJones+IAC: WSJ’s parent company DowJones today announced that it is partnering with IAC/InteractiveCorp to build a consumer facing personal-finance website/toolset. Dave Kansas, an editor at The Wall Street Journal and former editor-in-chief of TheStreet.com, was named president of the new venture. From the initial details disclosed I don’t expect a Intuit like tool based web offering, but rather a content mashup similar to what Yahoo has been doing lately. Plans are to pull in finance content from various DowJones publishings including WSJ, MarketWatch, Newswires and IAC’s Lending Tree et al. Personally I think web-based personal finance space is still wide open for innovation. Till date I have come across very few startups, except for Wesabe, Zopa, Prosper, and ChipIn, making some kind of headway.

XTract: Finland based mobile, social networking, and community analytics startup XTract has raised € 2 million in the first round of funding. Eqvitec Technology Fund III led the investment round. XTract site talks a lot about mobile customer analytics and signing up international operators for its analytics service. Doesn’t sound like a competitor to M:Metrics.

Umbria: Umbria, the Colorado based blog analytics company, announced the private beta of its new product “Tribe Analysis” that will enable marketers understand online consumer discussions to drive highly targeted marketing programs. Umbria gives lot of talk around being able to gain insights into customers by analyzing blog, forum, social networking data and use the data to come up with co-marketing   plans. Tribe Analysis will be launched in public in second half of 2007. Buzzlogic, Monitor110, Magpie, Nielsen Buzzmetrics, Cymfony, Brandintel, MarketClusters are just some of variations in this space.

Netvibes UWA: The widgety homepage service provider has launched its Universal Widget API. Any widgets implemented will run on Netvibes as well as Google IG and Apple Dashboard. Yourminis is also planning a similar release soon.

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