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Deadpool Watch: After Raising $10M, Social TV Startup BeeTV Falters

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 04:47 AM PST


Back in early 2009, I wrote about an Italian startup called BeeTV, which showcased some impressive TV recommendation technology. The goal was to sell that technology to telcos and cable operators, but this proved to be a very difficult task for a small, scrappy upstart. This led to BeeTV changing course and trying its hand at making consumer-focused products, like an iPad app for watching and sharing TV experiences with friends. They also secured more funding, bringing its total raised to over $10 million.

Alas, this morning CEO Yaniv Solnik informed me that they’ve failed to gain significant traction with the new strategy, and that they’ve subsequently ran out of cash.

The company will be ceasing operations soon.

Solnik also says BeeTV’s main co-founder unexpectedly passed away last year, and that his death was -understandably – a huge shock to everyone at the company.

BeeTV will be shut down, but the company has put its assets up for sale; including a patented recommendation engine for TV and a consumer-focused social TV service that encompasses iPad, iPhone and Web clients. So maybe this isn’t the definitive end of the road for BeeTV.

I told Solnik that this ‘failure’ means he can now move on to the next startup, and he quickly responded to me, saying that he can’t help it and that he will keep trying. Good.

Amazon: Kindles Are Flying Off The Shelves (But We’re Still Not Sharing Numbers)

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 03:16 AM PST


Amazon this morning pounded itself on the chest once more for selling Kinde devices as if they were hotcakes, particularly during last (Black) Friday. According to the company, it was the “best Black Friday ever” for the Kindle family, with Kindle sales “increasing 4x over last year”. As usual, don’t expect Amazon to share hard sales numbers, because they never do.

We’ll have to do with analyst estimates, which I’m sure will be rolling in during the course of this week (today is Cyber Monday and will likely result in another sales spike for Kindle devices). The number does run in the millions, of course, and Dave Limp, Kindle VP, is quoted as follows:

"Even before the busy holiday shopping weekend, we'd already sold millions of the new Kindle family.”

Amazon also reiterated, again, that its tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, is its bestselling product on In fact, they say this has been the case for the past 8 weeks now, since the device was introduced on September 28.

Related: Black Friday E-Commerce Spending Up 26 Percent To A Record $816M; Amazon Most Visited Retailer

Russian Search Giant Yandex Acquires Mobile Software Developer SPB For $38 Million

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 02:03 AM PST


Last week, Yandex, one of biggest search and advertising companies in Russia, announced that it would be teaming up with Microsoft, Nokia, HTC and Samsung to become the default search engine on both new and upcoming Windows Phones in Russia. This followed the news last month that Yandex is also set to become the search provider for bada-powered smartphones in Russia and the CIS. It’s been a good last few months for Yandex, as Robin pointed out last week, the company has steadily grown its share of the Russian search market to a point where it now owns 62.7 percent of the market in Q3 2011 — ahead of Google.

Today, the Russian search giant has announced another strategic move in its mobile strategy, as it has acquired SPB Software, a developer of mobile software that makes its home in Russia, Taiwan, and Thailand. As for the price, sources close to the deal say that it was set at approximately $38 million.

SPB was founded in 1999 and was originally focused on making applications and software for Android and Windows mobile devices, from games to productivity apps, but has since become cross-platform, and today offers a more robust suite of mobile solutions. These products include a mobile wallet, data traffic analytics, games, web TV integration, a mobile UI builder, etc.

But, according to Yandex Spokesman Ochir Mandzhikov, what was particularly of interest was the company’s new mobile UI engine for both smartphones and tablets, especially SPB’s “Shell 3D” product, which will be used to integrate Yandex’s cloud services and technologies. This is an important play for Yandex because it allows the company to integrate their search and ad services into a UI which can then be distributed across a multitude of mobile platforms. What’s more, using SPB’s mobile UI builder and toolset, OEMS and brands can customize skins, layout, widgets and 3D animation.

For more on SPB, visit them at home, and for more on SPB Shell 3D, check out the video below:

Panasonic To Start Selling Android Phones In Europe (And Possibly The US)

Posted: 28 Nov 2011 02:03 AM PST


In the post-iPhone era, a lot of things changed in Japan, once the most admired country in the mobile world. The number of cell phone manufacturers, for example, has fallen from 13 to five after massive consolidation and re-organization, and all of the remaining players fight with a shrinking and rapidly greying domestic market.

That’s one of the reasons why Nippon’s cell phone makers have been talking about going international for a long time (years after basically all of them gave up on the world market), but now Panasonic seems to be ready to get serious.

Japan’s biggest business publication, The Nikkei, is reporting that the company is currently trying to strike a deal with a major telco in Europe to bring smartphones (Android handsets) to the continent. Apparently, Panasonic is thinking about whether to build the phones in one its own plants in South East Asia or outsource production to another company.

If all goes well, Panasonic also plans to eventually offer Android handsets in Asia and North America. The company has sold 4.4 million phones last year, but it wants to sell 7.5 million units internationally (per year) by 2015.

The picture above shows the Panasonic LUMIX Phone 101P that’s currently on sale in Japan and features Android 2.3, a 4-inch QHD LCD screen with 960×540 resolution, a 13.2MP CMOS Lumix sensor, a waterproof body (IPX5/7), Wi-fi, infrared connection, e-wallet function, and a digital TV tuner.

“Promising Unlock” For The iPhone 4S Discovered

Posted: 27 Nov 2011 12:54 PM PST

4s unlock

Most folks spent their Thanksgiving weekend ensuring that every inch of their intestinal track was thoroughly covered in gravy. Others spent it trying to get just drunk enough that their relative’s worst habits were bearable.

A select few, however, spent the weekend doing something pretty much only they can do: hacking the heck out of the iPhone. As a result, everyone waitin’ and wishin’ for an iPhone 4S carrier unlock has something to be thankful for.

It’s not quite a done deal just yet, but iPhone Dev-Team star MuscleNerd tweeted out that a “promising 4S unlock” had been discovered after a bit of Turkey-fueled hacking.

Oddly, his tweet goes on to confirm that this unlock works only with the 4S (and not the iPhone 4), suggesting that it relies on a hardware-level exploit that went overlooked during the 4S’ creation. While such exploits are increasingly rare, they’re also considerably more challenging for Apple to patch post-manufacturing.