Next2News wins TheNextWeb Startup Rally

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 links couriers to online shopping for faster delivery

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.

English Attack teaches English via entertainment

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

Afraid the clothes you buy online won't fit? Get help from a robotic mannequin

Clothing is currently the largest single online retail sector, estimated to be worth $26 billion a year in the US alone; yet only 7% of clothing is bought online. The fact that consumers cannot try on clothes before buying also results in a very high rate of returned merchandise (over 40% for some types of fitted clothing) and associated costs for retailers. Fits.me aims to reduce returns and increase sales by allowing buyers to see clothes on a mannequin with the exact dimensions of the buyer’s body. It does this by using robotic mannequins with artificial muscles that can simulate the shape and size of any body.

Build a Web shop in 5 minutes with Ecwid

Russian startup Ecwid says it can let you add a shop to your own website, blog, or Facebook page. The company, whose name is short for “e-commerce widgets,” has been making shopping-cart software for some years and, based on that experience, founder Ruslan Fazlyev is convinced that software like Ecwid is the future of shopping software for small-scale sellers. Such “sellsumers” have a growing presence online as the success of sites like Etsy can attest.

"Print" your own glass objects with Shapeways

Dutch startup Shapeways, which lets you design and print your own 3D objects, now lets you print in glass. Previously Shapeways offered printing in steel, plastic and a high performance composite (a powdery, sand-like substance) that hardens like a cement to produce full-color objects as we reported in January.

Friendticker location app lets you reward customers for checking-in

Berlin-based Friendticker, which helps brands create location-based loyalty programs, just went into public beta with its iPhone application (currently only available in France, Spain, Germany, Austria and Switzerland). The app lets businesses reward users with virtual “items” when they check-in at a particular location (a restaurant or retail location, for example). And users can then trade in these rewards for real goods or services.

Visualize your business plan with Plan Cruncher

A good business plan is like the trailer for a movie; it should be eye-catching enough to make an investor want to see more. After wading through too many long-winded business plans, Dutch investment firm Lunatech Ventures has built a web tool called Plan Cruncher that creates a one-page, visual summary of your plan.

Future phones will have touch control on screen, back and sides

Touchscreens may have completely changed the mobile phone interface, but tomorrow’s phones will go even further, responding to grip, squeezing and other input on the sides and back of the device. This, at least, is the vision of  Swedish interface designers TAT (The Astonishing Tribe), which recently demoed a concept phone called Fuse at the Mobile World Congress.

Mobile barcode breakthrough means we may soon see them everywhere

Mobile barcodes seem to be about to go mainstream, with Nokia and Sony Ericsson pre-installing barcode readers on many of their handsets. Barcodes in mobile are generally used to retrieve web content. For example a barcode on a poster can be scanned and used to retrieve a web page where the user can win a prize. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this week, Virginia-based Neustar announced the first clearinghouse for barcodes, which allows barcodes from any advertiser or brand to be linked to web content independently of the barcode reader or service provider being used.

2 startups say they can keep your phone charged wherever you are

In the glamorous world of mobile technology, battery charging is a bit of a Cinderella. This is in spite of the fact that power is a major issue for most users of mobile technology, especially as phones get more sophisticated and power-hungry. Mobile carriers are also effected, since users conserve the battery by using the phone less. At the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona this week, two startups showed off products that address the dead battery problem.

Mobile-health apps emerge at Mobile World Congress 2010

M-health is the use of mobile technology to improve medical services. It’s a new business in mobile tech that requires an uneasy alliance between the notoriously conservative health care industry and the technology-driven mobile world. Applications include collecting health data from patients, delivering healthcare information and direct provision of care. There is a plethora of m-health companies at Mobile World Congress 2010. Here are just a couple of examples:

Augmented reality: the next generation

Mobile augmented reality (AR) was a favorite of the tech press in 2009, a year that saw the unveiling of mobile AR browsers from Wikitude, Layar and Metaio. Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look at the current state of the technology and where it will go from here.

iVdopia introduces social ads to iPhone ad network

iVdopia, a video-based mobile ad network for the iPhone, has just added social features to mobile ads. Its new Talk2Me ads can be shared via Facebook and Twitter and offer various methods of response (call, SMS, email) and interaction. Ads like this that are specifically designed to be shared, in line with how we share Youtube videos or articles, are a pretty recent development.

Will 2010 be mobile advertising's big year?

Google’s acquisition of AdMob last November pulled the mobile advertising industry into the spotlight. Until then it had mostly been seen as the poor relation of Internet advertising in terms of revenue, if not of hype. Yet mobile offers advertisers many attractive possibilities. No other device is as personal, interactive and constantly within reach as a cell phone. And cell phones let advertisers target whole new parameters, such as location and context. So will 2010 be the breakout year for the mobile advertising business?