Voice over Internet protocol, or VOIP, just keeps getting bigger. The Nimbuzz mobile application integrates voice, chat and messaging from multiple providers like Skype, Microsoft and Google. The company just announced that it surpassed 3.65 billion mobile voice minutes in the last year. About half of these minutes were paid calls via Nimbuzz Out whereas the the rest were free calls between Nimbuzz users. Nimbuzz is consistently in the top 5 downloads on Getjar, an app store which serves multiple mobile platforms, and Nokia’s Ovi store.
stories by Ciara Byrne
Shapeways allows users to design and print objects using a 3D printer. The company just added silver to its range of materials. Objects could previously be printed in glass, steel, plastic and a high-performance composite that hardens like a cement to produce full-color objects. To print an object, users either use 3D modeling software and upload a model to the site or customize a pre-designed object. The model is then printed and shipped.
A new study on the behavior of Facebook users claims that users influence each other when it comes to installing applications, but only once an application has exceeded a certain level of popularity. Under that level, the effect of social influence is negligible.
UK startup Light Blue Optics, which makes miniature projector systems, just raised $13 million in a funding round led by DFJ Esprit. The company’s latest product, Light Touch, turns any flat surface into a touch screen. Light Touch uses Holographic Laser Projection (HLP) to create the projected image, and it uses infrared sensors to detect motion so that the user can interact with the image.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton just launched the GSMA‘s ambitious, new campaign to bring mobile access to 150 million women in low and middle-income countries within the next 3 years. The GSMA is the trade organization for the world’s mobile carriers and 20 carriers operating in 115 developing markets, including AT&T and Vodafone, have signed up for the campaign. Nokia has also committed to the program.
Production of biomaterials will grow faster than biofuels and increasing biofuel capacity is highly reliant on technology from innovative startups. These are some of the conclusions in a report just issued by Lux Research on the biofuel and biomaterial markets.
The VC market may be shrinking in the U.S. but there are still opportunities in Europe. So says Fergal Mullen, a General Partner in Highland Capital Partners, which is a mid-sized VC firm with $3 billion of committed capital in more than 200 companies. Mullen heads up Highland’s activities in Europe. I talked to Mullen about why the fund is expanding in Europe (Highland just added a new partner to bolster its Geneva office) and the special issues VCs face there.
Tonchidot, a mobile augmented reality (AR) platform provider, just landed $12 million in second round funding. Several Japanese companies and venture capitalists participated in the round, including mobile operator KDDI Corporation, media conglomerate Recruit Co. Ltd., and mobile advertising company SPiRE.
Snooth just launched an iPhone application which uses image recognition to do something genuinely useful (as least to me). If you take a picture of a wine label, Snooth finds the stores closest to you that stock that wine and the prices in each store. You can also read reviews of the wine and find similar bottles by winery, region or varietal.
A new report from the World Resources Institute and partners claims that the market for clean energy products among India’s rural poor is potentially worth $2.11 billion per year. $2.04 billion of this market is for decentralized renewable energy such as that produced by biomass kilns or small-scale hydro-electricity plants. The clean energy enterprises surveyed in the report have also seen annual gross revenue grow by an average of 36 percent per year since 2004.
App developers want approvals by the big mobile players who manage app stores to happen much faster and more transparently, a new study set to be released this week found.
The Vodafone Mobile Clicks competition is the biggest mobile app competition in the world according to the organizers. From 160 entries, one finalist was chosen from each of the Netherlands, the UK, Spain and Portugal. The winner of the first prize of 100,000 EU ($134,746) was Portugal’s Cardmobili. Roulette Cricket from the UK was the runner up.
The Postcode Lottery Green Challenge award is a startup competition run by the Dutch Postcode Lottery with 500,000 EU ($666,200) up for grabs for the winner and 200,000 EU ($260,500) for the runner-up. All entries must have the potential to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in a measurable fashion. From an impressive field of young entrepreneurs, the jury chose 25-year old Scot Frank of One Earth Designs as the winner for his company’s SolSource solar oven.
Dutch startup Shapeways, which lets you design and print your own 3D objects, just raised $5 million. The company will also move its headquarters to New York from its current home base of Eindhoven in The Netherlands. The majority of Shapeways users are currently in the U.S.
uShip is a transport marketplace for people who need to move large items; from boats to horses, heavy machinery to household items. Users list items they want to move, and transport companies with spare capacity offer quotes at up to 50% discount on the normal shipping rates. Today, uShip launched its first mobile application for iPhone, Android and WebOS smartphones.
Seedcamp is most easily described as Europe’s Y Combinator. It provides seed investment of up to €50.000 in exchange for 8 to 10 percent of the startup in question. Seedcamp stages events all over Europe which culminate in 20 or so companies being selected to participate in Seedcamp week in London.
LG electronics may be one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of TVs and phones but it looks like the company is not content to rely on its traditional electronics base. LG just announced its intention to enter the water-treatment business and to generate $7 billion in revenue from this area by 2020.
Autodesk, which makes 3D design software for the engineering and entertainment industries, has just launched a new product called Flame Premium. Flame lets you create 3D visual effects and handle editorial finishing in television, film and commercial post-production. An earlier version of the product was used in the Philip’s Carousel commercial shown below.
Independa is one of 70 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2010 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.
BDNA is one of 70 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2010 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.
EME International is one of 70 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2010 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.
The Foundry makes digital visual effects software which has been used in motion pictures like Avatar (see left), District 9, Harry Potter and many others. The company just launched a new product called Storm at IBC, the International Broadcast Conference in Amsterdam.
Brightcove, maker of an online video platform, and TubeMogul, an online video analytics and advertising startup, just published a report on online video usage in the second quarter of 2010.
Belgacom, which has 870,000 digital TV customers in Belgium, will invest $2 million EU in video recommendation service Jinni as part of a strategic partnership.
Sociologist Clifford Nass, who’s just published the book “The Man Who Lied to his Laptop“, says we’re treating our machines as if they were human.
Plex is media center software, from a startup of the same name, which integrates video content from local and online sources. Thus far, Plex has only been available for Mac OS X and iOS (for iPad, iPhone, iPod). But today LG announced that in 2011 it will integrate Plex into its range of Netcast-enabled HDTVs and Blu-ray devices, making Plex a video solution for mobile, PC and TV.
Debates about women in technology are like merry-go-rounds: There’s a lot of movement and excitement but you always end up back in the same place.
Think you can give Steve Jobs a run for his money in product design? Ponoko, which let’s you manufacture your own products from materials like timber, plastic and metal, has just announced a partnership with open-source electronics supplier SparkFun. Effectively this means that you can manufacture any item which consists of electronics inside a casing — lamps, music players, robots, and more.
Enerkem, a Montreal-based company which specializes in converting garbage into biofuel, just broke ground on a new plant in Edmonton, Canada. According to the company, this is the world’s first plant of industrial size to use non-recyclable municipal waste, which would otherwise end up in landfill, to produce advanced biofuels.
Shiply calls itself an eBay for haulage companies. Essentially, it’s a marketplace where users list items they want to move and haulage companies with spare capacity offer quotes. Shiply just launched in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and France. The company already had a presence in Germany as well as in its home base of the UK. In contrast to another UK delivery company we covered lately, Shutl, Shiply specializes in longer journeys within and between European countries. So if you have, for example, a piano you want to move from Manchester to Amsterdam it’s a good bet. 15% of shipments on Shiply already cross national borders.
Following the ban on Blackberry services by the Saudi Arabian government (due to go into force today), Dutch startup Nimbuzz said new registrations from that country have increased dramatically — from 200 a day before the announcement of the ban to 35,000 per day today and Thursday.
Mini is about to become the first mass production car with built-in streaming music, courtesy of German startup Aupeo. Aupeo bills itself as “Pandora for the rest of the world”, providing curated radio stations and a personal station based on recommendations. The company has quietly pursued a strategy of making deals with hardware vendors to pre-install Aupeo on various devices including Acer mobile phones, Asus netbooks and Philips TVs.
Waiting on deliveries has always been one of the downsides of online shopping. UK retail giant Argos has just added a novel delivery option in the London area via a startup called Shutl. Shutl dynamically matches local, business-to-business courier companies with retailers in order to offer faster and more flexible deliveries.
We’ve all been there. Your mobile phone or laptop runs out of battery at the most inconvenient moment. Finnish startup PowerKiss wants to solve this problem by building wireless chargers into furniture. The company just launched a new set of products: a small receiver that plugs into handheld devices (the Ring) and an electrical transmitter built into a piece of furniture like a table (the Heart). You place your device on the table and it charges wirelessly.
Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Umeox just introduced one of its latest models, the V206, with little fanfare at the MEDPI tradeshow in Monaco. But the V206 is no ordinary phone; it’s a low-cost, ruggedized and waterproof handset powered entirely by sunlight.
Augmented Reality (AR) experts Metaio and image-recognition company Kooaba have teamed up to deliver an AR experience for music fans. The new Android version of Metaio’s Junaio mobile AR browser lets users point a phone camera at any CD cover and see related information, such as band-related merchandise on eBay, affiliates or customer ratings and nearby events related to the artist.
Jinni, a content discovery system for movies and TV shows, was recently named one of the first partners for Google TV. To find out more about the features that will come out of that partnership, we contacted the Israeli startup for details.
Over 20 startups presented at TheNextWeb startup rally in Amsterdam this week, and the overall winner was Next2News, a Dutch startup launched this month that allows advertisers to target specific articles on which they want to display their ads.
UK startup Shutl, which just came out of private beta, aims to shake up one of the most static parts of the e-commerce sector; delivery. A Royal Mail survey from 2009 measured the reasons buyers abandon an online shopping transaction, and two thirds of those surveyed cited delivery convenience or cost. Shutl addresses both of those problems by linking local couriers to retailers to speed up delivery.
French startup English Attack,which just went into beta, is offering free English language lessons tailored specifically to the young adult market. The company is one of the 20 products pitched by (mainly European) startups in TheNextWeb conference startup rally in Amsterdam this week