Product News

xbox one youtube app

An update from the weird world of Microsoft-Google relations: Microsoft and Google relations remain weird.

The specifics: Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s gaming group have created a new YouTube app for Xbox One, Microsoft’s new console. That isn’t surprising, since YouTube and Microsoft had collaborated on an app for Xbox One’s predecessor, Xbox 360.

The only reason it’s worth noting at all – Microsoft has a lot of people making apps for the Xbox One – is that Microsoft and Google still haven’t figured out a way to get a YouTube app on Microsoft’s Windows Phones.

The companies have had an ongoing dispute which doesn’t make any sense to anyone outside of Redmond and Mountain View, and baffles many people who do work at those places.

The short version is that Google has shut down Microsoft’s attempt to build its own mobile YouTube app twice this year, and right now the Windows Phones remain app-less, though Windows Phone users can still watch YouTube via their Web browsers.

So to sum up: Microsoft and Google are perfectly capable of working together. Except when they can’t.

The company behind mobile event app Applauze has raised $7.2 million from investors including True Ventures, m8 Capital and StubHub co-founder Jeff Fluhr, on the back of quick growth from selling tickets through its app, which launched in March of this year.


“The early wave of apps were really hard to monetize,” said True Ventures partner Jon Callaghan, who led the round. “But we’re seeing a new generation of app commerce, led by Uber and eBay and Amazon.”

Though there are many mobile ticketing apps, Callaghan said he was betting on Applauze for the team’s “great product sense” – they have previously built a bunch of well-received apps – and their early numbers that show one of the highest rates of conversion from browsing customer to paying customer that he has ever seen.

(Of course, Applauze founder Kiran Bellubbi declined to provide those numbers, so we’ll have to take their word for it. But early stats are likely unsustainably high, anyway, given that the app has only been out six months.)

The Applauze app, which is only available for iOS, has a nifty accordion-style interface for browsing sports, music and theater tickets, as well as free community events. In some cases, it offers VIP perks associated with tickets, but in general, the attraction is ease of use and upfront pricing, rather than discounts.

Applauze now has tickets for events in 41 U.S. cities and five in Canada, which Bellubbi noted is substantially more than competitors such as YPlan and WillCall, which are both only in two cities.

“This is hard,” Bellubbi said. “There’s no API you can just tie into, or a universal programming language for events that everyone understands.” Lists of tickets are drawn from multiple sources, both the primary sellers and secondary markets like StubHub, and they are purchasable directly in the app.

Applauze is the new direction for a Mountain View, Calif.-based company known as 955 Dreams, which had repeated success with publishing slickly made app titles such as History of Jazz. The company’s biggest hit, Band of the Day, has been downloaded 5.1 million times, and started the push away from publishing.

But Applauze is where Bellubbi and the investors are placing their bets, in the hope that early trends in in-app spending and mobile commerce will continue.

Ultimately, Bellubbi wants Applauze to be less of a ticketing app and more of a “lifestyle and luxury” app, he said. For instance, he wants to add the ability to purchase prix fixe restaurant menus.

To that end, Bellubbi’s team has given much thought to what he called “reducing anxiety around big purchases.” Applauze creates group chat threads for friends attending an event together that combine their comments with alerts about their Applauze ticket purchase information. And, with only 16 people on the team, Applauze is already setting up a call center for customer service in Nashville.

955 Dreams had previously raised a $4.2 million seed round from investors including 500 Startups, m8 Capital and Kapor Capital.

Exploded View

As the first smartphone to be completely designed since Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, there are a lot of expectations riding on the Moto X.

The phone, now considered the flagship of the Motorola lineup, is getting noticed for being different. For one thing, customers can customize the phone with colored casings to suit their tastes. It is also fairly advanced, designed to constantly listen for voice commands and change its behavior in different situations, like when the user is driving in a car.

And while it might seem to have a lot of the latest and greatest technology under the hood, it doesn’t. A teardown analysis by market research firm IHS has found that Moto X uses an applications processor from Qualcomm that is about a year old, combined with two chips from Texas Instruments, to provide some of its most important features.

And unlike most other phones, this one is assembled by Motorola at a plant in Texas, not in China or Taiwan. This boosts the manufacturing costs somewhat, but also allows for the custom colored shells.

“What Google and Motorola are trying to do is not play the game of ‘bigger is better’ that everyone else is playing,” said IHS analyst Wayne Lam. “They are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the pack and push the user experience in a new direction.”

IHS estimates that the components used to build the phone cost $209. Manufacturing costs add another $12 per unit, which is about $4 or $5 higher than the cost to manufacture most phones in Asia. “Motorola is paying a premium for a made-in-America phone, but it’s also giving them the ability to do the customization work easily.”

Kristine Mulford, a Motorola spokeswoman, declined to comment on IHS’s findings.

The phone is selling directly from Motorola for $579 without a contract, or $199 from most wireless carriers in the U.S. with a two-year contract.

The main chip inside the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, which IHS estimates costs $28. That chip has been combined with two chips from Texas Instruments that handle gestures and listen for spoken commands from the user, which cost between $4 and $5 together. “Motorola has put together a novel combination of electronics and software, and has done it in a very power-efficient way,” Lam said. Motorola refers to the combination of chips as its Motorola X8.

South Korea’s Samsung made the 4.65-inch display, which, between the display and the chips to run it, added about $62.50 to the component cost. Qualcomm provided at least three different chips to handle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and connections to the wireless phone networks. It also provided power management and audio chips. Out of the $209 in component costs, nearly $43, or more than 20 percent, is sourced to Qualcomm, according to IHS.

Other chip suppliers include Omnivision, which provided a camera chip; Skyworks, which provided a wireless chip; STMicroelectronics, which made the accelerometer and gyroscope; and Wolfson Microelectronics, which made the microphones.

The teardown unit of IHS – which used to be known as iSuppli – digs into phones and other electronics to give its clients a competitive look at the components being used. It also estimates what those components cost in order to come up with what’s known in the industry as a “bill of materials” estimate. In recent months the firm has conducted teardown studies of a low-end phone from Nokia, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and a handful of tablets, including Apple’s iPad mini and Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

In interviews with AllThingsD, Dennis Woodside, the head of Motorola, has said that the Moto X indicates the direction that Google would like to take its hardware division going forward.

In recent years, mobile devices have come a long way in being able to pull off the kind of computing feats once reserved for desktops and laptops.

Nvidia Project Logan-feature

Further evidence will come on Wednesday as Nvidia starts showing off Project Logan, the company’s first mobile chips that use the same graphics engine the chipmaker has used on the PC.

Nvidia said the effort, still in its early stages, will reach the product stage in the first half of next year as part of the company’s next-generation Tegra chip.

“We’ve been working on this for years to get the convergence,” Nvidia senior VP Dan Vivoli said in an interview. The company just got back the initial test chips running the new engine, and decided to show off a prototype at the graphics industry’s Siggraph convention, which takes place this week.

Nvidia said the new mobile graphics engine is powerful enough to do one of the company’s most intensive demos – real-time rendering of a detailed human face. The company previously showed a demo of “Ira” using its high-end workstation graphics chip.

Now it has done an updated version of Ira, using some of the early silicon for Project Logan. It’s not quite the same demo, with the mobile version offering somewhat slower frame rate, with a lower resolution.

“Ira is the most impressive graphics I’ve ever seen in real time,” Vivoli said. “The fact we can do a version of Ira that runs on a mobile platform blows me away.”


That was fast!

Within hours of Twitter launching its Vine video-sharing application on Thursday, Facebook has cut off access to Vine’s “find people” feature, which lets used to let Vine users find their Facebook friends using the Vine application.

What does that mean? It’s basically an annoyance, a hindrance on an easy way to connect with all your existing friends using the service. It would have been a good way to jump into a new product, rather than manually trying to find all of your friends using the app.

No comment from Twitter beyond the error message we’re seeing pop up when we try to use the Facebook friend finding feature in the app, and no immediate response from Facebook as of yet.

But the cutoff isn’t exactly surprising, given Instagram recently snipping Twitter cards integration, and Twitter cutting off access to Instagram’s “Find your Friends” feature. Welcome to the new, competitive landscape of social tech companies.

The loser in all of this? Sorry, user, but it’s you.