stories by Michael Sinanian
Zillow, Redfin, Trulia: all familiar names to anyone who’s looked for a home lately. But where in this digital landscape would you go to look for office space?
Grubwithus, the social-dining startup that helps people meet over meals in real-life, has launched an official iPhone app. The free mobile app is a promising step toward a future service that allows people to spontaneously book meals amongst themselves anytime, anywhere.
The economics of the consumer electronics industry dictate that on a long enough timescale, all products will become low-margin commodities. The companies that make products household names are destined to fade from the public’s memory. Will Apple suffer the same fate as others before it, such as RCA, who revolutionized television sets in a similar fashion but were relegated to the dustbin of history decades later?
The next big thing for the consumer web could actually come from one of its oldest content verticals: lyrics. Services like RapGenius and TuneWiki are spearheading a new way of publishing and making money from song lyrics.
Two lonely entrepreneurs in Chicago, far from their homes in Los Angeles, hacked together a site in 2010 that let people sign up to meet them over lunch or dinner.
This week’s DEMO meetups in Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California were a breath of fresh air across a startup landscape that’s crowded with consumer Web startups. Among the diverse ventures we saw this week was a company called Ecospan, which is aiming to disrupt the packaging space with a proprietary biopolymer-based, biodegradable material.
Books have long stood apart from the rest of the media world, run by an oddball clutch of publishers, distributors and retailers whose practices have little in common with other traditional media formats, let alone new media. But as books head into the cloud, driven by players like Amazon.com and Google, they stand to be transformed by advertising and social networks.
Signaling renewed competition in the e-reading space, Amazon today debuted a web-based extension to their existing Kindle platform with a new product called Kindle for the Web, which is nearly identical to a product Google announced yesterday dubbed Google eBooks, which is also a cloud-based ebookstore and reading webapp that lives within the browser.
I’ve been playing with the recently released iPhone and iPad apps for The Economist magazine in the past week, and I’ve got a stinging critique: not of the app itself (although it falls short in several ways), but of the new media and publishing 2.0 naysayers who incessantly repeat, “those old media farts got it wrong again!”
Samsung announced this morning that its Android-based Galaxy tab sold 600,000 units globally in the first month of its launch. Meanwhile, Apple’s iPad sold over a million units in the same time period (and in even fewer nations than Samsung’s global count). Furthermore, some pundits see consumer anticipation of the “iPad 2″ as weakening the whole tablet market till Q1 of next year when such a product could be announced by Apple.
The increasingly popular bookmarking and offline article-reading service Instapaper has just rolled out a $1/mo. subscription model. The move could open the door to much-needed experiments with online publishing.
There’s been quite an uproar about Twitter acquiring and developing in-house some functions once created by third-party app developers. While the microblogging service may be closing some doors for entrepreneurs in the online world, Twitter’s bad buzz means we risk missing untapped opportunities it offers to real-world businesses. If companies can tap into that potential, then all the hubbub over Twitter’s “hole-filling” becomes mere noise.
We can lower healthcare costs while having fun and playing games. This isn’t an impossible feat — but it requires Washington, D.C. to turn its focus far outside the Beltway and look at what’s happening in the burgeoning industry of social games.
My apologies to all the Google fanboys, but the Super Bowl ad was really about Bing. Google’s now infamous ad spot during the Super Bowl — ostensibly about an American student who studies abroad in Paris only to fall in love with a French woman and eventually marry and raise a child with her — has garnered quite a bit of attention and speculation from the tech community. Explanations have ranged from “it’s a social experiment” to “it’s a PR damage-control stint.” One possibility that isn’t getting enough attention is the simple fact that Microsoft’s Bing service has actually gotten under Google’s skin and the rivalry is starting to really heat up.