SodaHead grows from polls to conversations

You may know SodaHead for the embeddable polling widgets it has offered for years, but the company has been steadily turning itself into a destination site where people can ask questions and discuss issues of the day. The result has been a sharp increase in traffic over the last year, from some 166,000 users in December of 2007 to nearly 2.3 million users in December of last year, according to comScore.

Webalo brings real-time box office data to smartphones

A Los Angeles startup called Webalo is bringing its mobile service to a new market: Hollywood movie studios. Webalo, which makes it easier to navigate spreadsheets and other business data on mobile devices, just announced a partnership with Lionsgate that gives the studio’s executives access to the most up-to-date box office numbers on their smartphones.

iTunes, we have a storage problem (and a potential fix)

Late last year I bought an Apple TV. It’s a great device for playing digital content in the living room, but it has some limitations. Some of those I laid out recently in explaining why Apple TV is at a crossroads, but the single biggest problem going forward for such a device, and Apple’s expansion into video content overall, is storage. Now, a solution for that problem may be near.

Ginx, an easier way to see what people are sharing on Twitter

Ginx describes itself as a tool for sharing news through Twitter. But it’s not just that, it’s also a better interface for using core Twitter features than Twitter itself. I’ve been playing around with the service, which is still in private testing mode — already, it’s helping me to better see what’s worth reading on Twitter, and who might be interesting to follow.

20,000 apps under the App Store?

It was only about two months ago that Apple hit 10,000 applications available in the App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch devices. Then, last month it confirmed that the number had surged to 15,000 with 500 million downloads. Today, the number of apps has hit another milestone, 20,000, according to Apptism, a site that tracks iPhone apps.

I'm not in the office, just check my Gmail signature

I’m currently on vacation in Florida. Well okay, “vacation” is a relative term. For me, it means mixing one hour of family stuff into a day’s work. And because I’m still working, I don’t want to set up a default vacation message, but would still like for people to know that I’m not on my usual schedule back in San Francisco. Google has just launched a feature that makes this possible in Gmail Labs.

Android's tipping point: Paid apps launch this week?

Buried in a Wall Street Journal article about Microsoft’s mobile strategy, is an arguably more important nugget: That Google’s Android Market is opening its doors to paid applications this week for the first time — this according to “people familiar with the matter.” The report is in line with earlier rumors of the impending launch and Google’s stated goal of an “early Q1″ release.

Former Windows chief wants to be a rock star. Really.

Iconic tech gurus are often dubbed “rock stars” for their stellar performance — as in, “you know that guy Neil in product? He’s a friggin’ rock star.” But if you entertain the metaphor in the literal sense, you get the stuff mediocre Saturday Night Live (SNL) skits are made of — which is why I have to hand it to longtime former Microsoft Windows chief Jim Allchin for the courage it must have taken him to pursue this ironic concept in his next career move.

Note to analysts: If you remove all the features from the iPhone, it can almost be free!

The rumor of the $99 iPhone is back. And yes, again it’s from an analyst. This time, it’s RBC’s Mike Abramsky, who says that his checks indicate that Apple will remove features from the current iPhone 3G to sell it for $99 after a subsidy, while at the same time adding features to a higher-end iPhone that will continue to sell at $199. Unfortunately, as I love to point out, analysts are almost always wrong when it comes to Apple.

It will be good for the web, Google, when Feedburner finally works right

Google likes to talk about how it promotes technology that benefits the entire web — open standards for social networking and the availability of white-space spectrum, for example. Which is why it’s really frustrating that one of its very own technologies — a service that numerous blogs and web sites depend on — is proving unreliable. The service, feed distributor Feedburner, keeps having problems — despite efforts to become more reliable.

This Valentine's Day, live-stream your love with Qik and Boingo

Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but on Valentine’s Day, it can just suck. Luckily, these days we have technology to help bridge those distances. Of the technologies that help, live streaming video may be the best, and thanks to services like Qik, people can do it from just about anywhere on their mobile phones. Now Qik is hoping to make the connection a bit better in time for the romantic holiday.

Winklevoss twins made $65 million on Facebook "copycat" settlement

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss may have had some serious evidence showing that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole ideas like “profile pages” back when he worked at their social-networking startup, ConnectU. Facebook recently paid the brothers (and presumably other ConnectU stockholders) a cool $65 million to settle long-running lawsuits they brought against him after he left their company to start his rival site.

Hobby turning serious? Apple TV gets a survey, Valentine's promotion

Much is made about Apple’s seemingly nonchalant attitude when it comes to the Apple TV. Several times, the company has dismissed the service as a mere “hobby” rather than a core businesses like the Mac, the iPod and the iPhone. But a new survey Apple put out this week, and a new Valentine’s Day themed promotion suggests the company is looking at the device with a more serious eye now.

I'm sorry Dave: HAL 9000 finally comes to the iPhone

By far my favorite application on my Chumby personal widget device is the HAL 9000 app. It takes one of the truly great movie villains of all time from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and puts its glowing red eye on a screen while it talks to me in that terrifyingly monotone voice. It freaks out guests in my apartment — I love it. That’s why I’m shocked that it’s taken this long to come to the iPhone.

Facebook's redesign continues to be a hit with U.S. users

The average U.S. social network user apparently wants to read feeds of photos, links, status updates, videos and comments on Facebook, according to the latest statistics from Compete. The firm’s newly-released study of U.S. web traffic to social networks in January is the latest vindication for the feed-focused redesign that Facebook finished rolling out last fall. The average user had 11 sessions on Facebook when the company started rolling out the redesign last summer, but that number has increased to 17 as of January, Compete shows. There was also an uptick in the number of minutes per session on the site U.S. Recent company data released by Facebook itself points to similar growth. Rival MySpace introduced feeds last year, but not in key areas like profile pages, and it has hovered around 14 sessions in recent months, the study says..

Google brings cloud syncing to the iPhone and Windows Mobile

As more companies come out with smartphones, more of them are launching their own ways to sync data between computers and their devices wirelessly. Apple has its own such service (Mobile Me) and Microsoft is about to launch a new set of applications for such a task (Me Phone). But I have a problem with these applications: I use Google applications to store and sync all my data in the cloud already. But today, Google is expanding the Internet sync services that it already has with the BlackBerry and a few other devices to the iPhone and Windows Mobile devices as well.

Lunarr's Elements is a Twitter-like image-sharing tool to stoke the imagination

The downstream influence of social messaging service Twitter, which lets you message friends or hangers-on about what you’re doing or thinking at any given moment, is beginning to result in some interesting applications. One of those, Lunarr’s Elements, is kind of a visual Twitter, allowing users to share what they’re looking at with others.

Facebook and Twitter: There's blood everywhere, but no one's dying

Here we go again. Over the course of the last several months, we’ve heard that FriendFeed was going to kill Twitter. Then Twitter was going to kill FriendFeed. Then Facebook was going to kill FriendFeed. Now Facebook is going to kill Twitter. But something odd is happening. Instead of any of them dying, they’re all thriving, each gaining traffic and users — and they’ll continue to. So what gives?

Facebook opens status, notes, links and videos to apps and the web

Facebook has just opened central features of its site to developers, creating more ways for user data on the social network to be used within third-party applications and on other web sites. Features include access to status updates (like what Twitter does), notes (a simple blogging tool within Facebook), links to other web sites (formerly known as “posted items”), and Facebook videos.

ZunePhones: If you build it, Microsoft will come

Rumors picked up again yesterday that Microsoft was going to launch its own smartphone when two Broadpoint.AmTech analysts said sources told them as much. Not true, according All About Microsoft’s Mary-Jo Foley, who claims that her own sources say Microsoft is developing reference implementations for some phones, but not the phones themselves. Not yet anyway.