Snowboarding is probably one of the most insane winter sports you can find. Just think about boarding, you barrel down a hill at insane speeds as you dodge people and trees, which is insane — but those three things are why I love it. As the winter months have come to an end I’m looking for other ways to fill the void. Thanks to a new PlayBook developer Golden Hammer Software I now have something. Today we’re taking a close look at a new game for the BlackBerry PlayBook called Big Mountain Snowboarding, a game that provides you with the thrill of snowboarding on your PlayBook.
- 12 slopes to challenge your boarding skills
- 1,000-foot cliffs
- 3D environments
- Addictive gameplay
- Accelerometer support
While the game has some good graphics and utilizes the power of the tablet we all love, the story about the developers is equally interesting. The 2-man development team of Big Mountain Snowboarding are no stranger to mobile gaming world. They first started developing with Android and iOS, where this game reached a staggering download number of 1.5 million. Quite impressive, and there’s even better news. These guys are truly excited to be on the BlackBerry platform and are looking forward to bringing more of their games onto the PlayBook, and one would assume BlackBerry 10. Big Mountain Snowboarding is available in BlackBerry App World and is currently set at 3.99, well worth it I might add.
CustomMade , an online marketplace that connects shoppers with artisans to make customized goods, has raised $4 million in funding co-led by Google Ventures and Schooner Capital. Existing investors Launch Capital, Nextview Ventures, Andrew McCollum and First Round Capital all participated in the round. This brings CustomMade’s total funding to $8 million.
CustomMade allows customers who want to make custom products like jewelry and furniture post project proposals. The startup has built a community of makers that can browse through customer project requests and assign themselves to ones they are suited to. Makers can sign up for and build profiles on the site, which allows customers to browse through their portfolios.
Currently, the site has over 3,000 artisans and is seeing $500,000 worth of project requests per week. An average project receives three bids and is completed for $1,000. And transaction volume is growing at 50 percent each month.
The site aims to differentiate itself from artisan marketplace for homemade goods, Etsy, by focusing exclusively on items that are customized or personalized. For example, you could have a piece of jewelry replicated, or a piece of furniture custom designed and created. And CustomMade’s price point is higher than Etsy.
Co-founder Seth Rosen explains that the site been around since 1996, but he and co-founder Mike Salguero bought CustomMade in 2009, and for the first two years, focused on adding high-quality makers and artisans to the platform.
“CustomMade as a platform is creating a fundamentally different retail paradigm,” said Google Ventures partner Rich Miner. “The model of giving consumers the ability to access, select and create custom work as an affordable and fun alternative to shopping at a retail store is a large opportunity and one that we are excited about as we continue to work with CustomMade.”
The new funding will be used to expand the site’s technology infrastructure.
CustomMade is a marketplace for the world’s professional craftsmen and creators. Here, you can custom make or customize anything you are looking for – from a unique bed to a one-of-a-kind wedding ring. Browse, discover, and request anything you might want custom made. Need something built on demand or simply want something unique? Connect with our craftsmen, describe your ideas, and bring your creation to life. Get exactly what you want, the way you…
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Getting a new laptop or buying a new license for an operating system is often cheaper in the U.S. than in most other countries. Europeans, for example, are used to paying a hefty premium for Apple products and the situation is similar in Australia, where the cheapest MacBook Air currently costs about 15% more than in the United States. Now, however, the Australian government is starting a parliamentary inquiry into these pricing schemes. According to Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, the politicians behind this inquiry hope that calling these companies out publicly will result in prices dropping.
The final details of this inquiry are still being finalized, says the Sydney Morning Herald, but the committee that will oversee the proceedings plans to invite “all the big computer and software companies including Apple and Microsoft.” The committee will also look at the price differences in eBooks and games in different markets.
Ed Husic, a member of the Australian Parliament and a member of the committee that has been asking for this investigation for the last year or so, argues that “small to medium-sized businesses might pay over $10,000 more on software compared to overseas counterparts.”
The standard argument for higher prices in these markets is that local taxes and the cost of setting up overseas operations increase cost, which are then passed on to local consumers. According to a report by Australia’s Productivity Commission, however, “these excuses, in most cases are not persuasive, especially in the case of downloaded music, software and videos, for example, where the costs of delivery to the customer are practically zero and uniform around the world.”
[Image credit: Sydney Morning Herald]
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Microsoft really wants to make sure it can compete against Amazon and Apple in the e-books space — and it’s putting its money where its mouth is. In addition to the $300 million Microsoft is investing for a 17.6 percent stake in Newco, the un-named subsidiary that will now house BN’s Nook and other digital businesses, it looks like it is putting other money towards the venture, according to the 8-K form filed by Barnes Noble earlier today.
A section called “Commercial Agreement” notes that Microsoft will be paying the Barnes Noble subsidiary $180 million in connection with revenue sharing on the Nook app that BN will make for the Windows 8 platform. This is nonrefundable, the filing notes. Microsoft is also paying $125 million (equal to $25 million over five years) “for purposes of assisting NewCo in acquiring local digital reading content and technology development.” This, too, looks to be nonrefundable.
The 8-K form appears to note that this is on top of the $300 million investment, and it will only become effective once the investment deal is closed. It also notes that it can only be terminated by Microsoft in case of bankruptcy or insolvency of Newco; a material default at Newco; or by Newco for a similar material default by Microsoft. The exact terms of the revenue share are not included in the filing.
The 8-K form was filed after the two companies came together for a joint call with analysts. That, too, gave a little more insight into what the deal will entail.
Andy Lees, president of Microsoft, is leading on the deal for his team, and he made it clear that while today there was no news on devices or any “product roadmap,” this was about more than just a book app for Microsoft’s next OS: “The option here is to define the future of reading,” he said. “We’re more than just the platform provider.” His take today was to turn that into a wider conversation about experience and discovery, but what people really want to know was whether that means a Windows Nook.
Today, no direct answer on that but no denial, either. “We’ve been working with hardware manufacturers to provide [the minimum requirements]” for them to make Windows 8 tablets with the lowest-costing processors and other equipment, he said. He also claimed that Microsoft has “not yet done teardown of the Nook,” to determine whether it would run Windows 8 as it is today.
Similar to the lack of specifics on hardware there was also little detail from the BN end on Windows 8, but again no flat-denial: “We have no plans to sell Windows software right now…but this partnership opens up a whole host of opportunities going forward,” noted BN’s CEO William Lynch.
And while BN has taken only small steps in looking at how it would roll out a Nook in Europe, today BN’s Lynch made a much more forward commitment to the idea: “We think the opportunity is through this partnership internationally,” he said in answer to a question of whether it was more of a domestic or international play. This will also throw into question whether BN is going, after all, to do anything with Waterstones in the UK, as many have thought it would.
Another thing that didn’t come up much in today’s call: Android. “Microsoft is the ideal partner for the Nook,” noted Lynch. “Few companies own more screens than Microsoft.” So it’s clear that BN can use Microsoft’s platform as an outbound route to getting more traction on its Nook platform. The question is whether Microsoft can use Nook’s platform to its own advantage.
That’s a question that some have already started to weigh up:
“My 1st reaction: MS just invested $300M in further insuring Android fragmentation. BN will now have resources to eat with a fork,” quipped Charlie Kindel, the ex-Windows Phone boss who is now an angel investor and entrepreneur.
That wasn’t his only thought. The other underscores a challenge Microsoft has to try to make this work when its other attempts have gone nowhere: “Today, I feel for the members of the old Microsoft Reader team (and Bill Hill). So typical of MS to ignore its visionaries,” he noted, referring to the exec who left Microsoft in 2009 — ironically before Amazon launched its first Kindle e-reader.
My 1st reaction: MS just invested $300M in further insuring Android fragmentation. BN will now have resources to eat with a fork.
Charlie Kindel (@ckindel) April 30, 2012
Today, I feel for the members of the old Microsoft Reader team (and Bill Hill). So typical of MS to ignore it’s visionaries.
Charlie Kindel (@ckindel) April 30, 2012
- BARNES NOBLE
Barnes Noble, Inc. is a bookseller. Its principal business is the sale of trade books (generally hardcover and paperback consumer titles, excluding educational textbooks and specialized religious titles), mass-market paperbacks (such as mystery, romance, science fiction and other fiction), children’s books, bargain books, magazines, gift, cafe products and services, music and movies direct to customers. As of January 31, 2009, the Company operated 778 bookstores and a Website. Of the 778 bookstores, 726 operate under the Barnes …
The nook is an electronic book reader produced by Barnes Noble and runs on the Android platform. The nook will compete with the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, and other readers. It is said to include Wi-Fi and ATT 3G wireless connectivity, a six inch E Ink display, and a separate, smaller color touchscreen that serves as the primary input device. The device will also have a MicroSD slot for extra storage. The nook has a user replaceable battery…
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According to Akamai‘s latest State of the Internet report, the average Internet connection speed around the world was 2.3 Mbps by the end of 2011. That’s down about 14% from the previous quarter. In the U.S., which ranks thirteenth in this report, the average connection speed in the last quarter of 2011 dropped 5.3% to 5.8 Mbps. In total, eight out of the top 10 countries in Akamai’s report saw their average connection speed decline compared to Q3 2011. Worldwide, speeds declined in 93 of the countries included in this report and only increased in 41 countries.
It’s not clear what is driving these numbers down. My first theory was that the growth in mobile Internet access could be responsible for this. Mobile connections, after all, tend to be slower than wired connections. Akamai, however, says that it has removed mobile network data from this data set. Akamai itself also doesn’t offer any explanation and there is nothing else in the report that would explain this slowdown either.
It’s worth noting, though, that the long-term trends look significantly better. Compared to a year ago, the average global connection speed increased by 19%. Year-over-year, most countries made significant strides. In the U.S. the average connection speed was up 14% compared to Q4 2010 and the average speed in North Korea, which was already leading the pack, increasing by another 28% to 17.5 Mbps.
Another good piece of news from this report is that the number of slow connections under 256 kbps continues to decline. Globally, only about 2.5% of all connections to Akamai’s network are below 256 kbps. That’s down 1.2% compared to last quarter and down 37% compared to the Q4 2010.
As usual, things still don’t look great for the U.S. No U.S. city ranked within Akamai’s top 50. Instead, the list is dominated by cities in South Korea and Japan. The Boston Metro area, with an average connection speed of 8.4 Mbps, ranked fifty-first.
You can download the full report, which also includes a detailed look at the current state of Internet security and the state of the mobile Internet, here.
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