Posts with tag startup
Great artists steal
Would-be-succesful entrepreneurs, take note – if you want to launch a brand capable of raising $1.1 billion in a single investment round and dream of someday being valued at, oh, let’s say $45 billion, you only need to do just one thing; you need to make beautiful products, and they need to look a whole lot like the sort of stuff you’d find at an Apple Store.
That’s the sort of Xiaomi, a venture-backed Chinese based mobile phone manufacturer that has today announced that they’ve raised $1.1 billion in new capital, bringing their total valuations up to $45 billion. It really is a fairy tale; in 2012, Xiaomi was worth just $4 billion.
President Bin Lin said in a statement today that the company will use this money to “strive to continue bringing innovation to everyone, with a goal of producing high-quality, high-performance devices with great user experience.” Of course, innovation is a funny word – just a cursory look at the company’s product portfolio reveals that the company’s various innovations just happen to look a whole lot like the ones that come out of Apple’s front door in Cupertino.
Xiaomi takes all of that in stride, of course, with Vice President Hugo Barra previously pointing out that Apple’s own designs aren’t exactly always original. “I think it’s great that Apple took existing ideas that were very good and added their design twist on top… that’s what they do. That’s what we do.”
And he’s got a point, of course. Apple’s designs have never been shy about revealing their inspiration from designer Dieter Rams, and the work he did for Braun. In 2012, Cult of Mac put together a handy guide that compares popular Apple product designs with their Braun originals.
Xiaomi President Bin Lin also used today’s announcement to trump up hype for the company’s next generation flagship smartphone in January, likely on the CES 2015 show floor.
Will make you feel bad about that Cola
In the future, your spork will tell you how fast you’re chowing down on that Chicken Alfredo, warning you when you’re overeating – a wristband will tell you just about exactly how many steps you’ve taken in a day – and your cup will be able determine when you’ve had one too many caloric almost-juice drinks. That was the dream (ok, it was a dream), but no longer. The food sensing silverware is here, and those wrist bands made their debut some time ago. It’s taken a little bit longer, but now one startup thinks they’ve finally gotten the final piece of the puzzle just right with a new smart cup (yes, I just said smart cup) called Vessyl, and it’s absolutely amazing.
Vessyl may look like any other cup, but if it does even half of what the team behind it claims its will, it’s something closer to magic than your average cup. Brought to you by the folks at Mark One, Vessyl will “automatically know and track what you’re drinking in real time.” Having a glass of water? How many glasses of water have you had today? Vessyl knows, and it’ll keep track of it for you, syncing with the associated smartphone application over Bluetooth.
What’s even more amazing than its tracking capabilities is its ability to recognize and analyze exactly what’s in the cup. Mark One promises the recognition technology is good enough to recognize that Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino you’re drinking, and tell you how much sugar, protein, caffeine, and more are in it. That could be absolutely huge for people with specific dietary needs. Sensitive to caffeine? Vessyl will let you know when you’ve gone over your daily limit.
A feature called “Pryme” lets you know when you’ve had just the right amount of your daily needs, while the associated iOS or Android application allows you to keep track of individualized goals. Better yet, it automatically works with various existing fitness trackers already on the market.
If that didn’t wow you, well, I’m honestly not quite sure if anything will. Vessyl is slated to go on sale in “early 2015” for a regular price of $199, though if you pre-order now you can pick it up for $99. If Mark One can deliver on Vessyl’s lofty promises, the future was once written only in fiction, but now that it’s here. And I couldn’t be any more excited.
A nice chunk of change
Google has acquire Nest, creators of home improvement technology such as the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Protect Smoke Detector, highly considered one of the most impressive startups of the last couple of years. The deal, which went down for $3.2 billion, will see Nest continue to operate as a separate entity from Google – not dissimilar from the Google-Motorola deal.
Nest has seen lots of investment from Google already – Google Ventures, an entrepreneurial investment group created by Google for the sole purpose of finding impressive new startups, had already invested millions upon millions of dollars in Nest. Nest CEO Tony Fadell wrote that Google “will help us fully realize our vision of the conscious home and allow us to change the world faster than we ever could if we continued to go it alone.” Clearly Fadell has no intention on quitting his big dreams of changing all the homes in America just yet.
Google CEO Larry Page had the following to say on the acquisition:
Nest’s founders, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, have built a tremendous team that we are excited to welcome into the Google family. They’re already delivering amazing products you can buy right now–thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe. We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!
Nest will continue to operate as expected into the foreseeable future as the Google/Nest deal still has to earn regulatory approval.
Bumping heads with Google now
Bump, the service that awe-spired iPhone users everywhere when they launched their first iOS application not long after Apple launched the App Store in 2008, has been acquired by Google. The news comes from Bump’s own official blog, where CEO David Lieb said the following:
Our mission at Bump has always been to build the simplest tools for sharing the information you care about with other people and devices. We strive to create experiences that feel like magic, enabled behind the scene with innovations in math, data processing, and algorithms. So we couldn’t be more thrilled to join Google, a company that shares our belief that the application of computing to difficult problems can fundamentally change the way that we interact with one another and the world.
Bump also confirmed that the service will continue to operate as normal, and will even be pushing out new updates in the near future. However given Google’s habit of eating up and then killing fan favorite services and applications, I would start assessing your options, Bump users. You’re in for a bumpy ride.
The little console that could
I’m a big fan of the OUYA, or at least the concept of the device – a $99 crowdfunded and open console running a customized version of Android on a Tegra 3 SoC consisting of a quad core 1.7 GHz CPU, an nVidia GPU, 1GB of RAM, and all the usual array of ports all in a box that’s merely 300 g heavy that promises to release console gaming from the hands of the likes of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. It’s a grand vision, one with universal appeal, harkening back to the stories of David versus Goliath. When OUYA announced that they were bringing their console onto store shelves at Best Buy, Amazon, GameStop, Target, and GAME, I was ecstatic albeit a little nervous. For OUYA to try their hand at mass market appeal is a little daunting – will there be demand? Will people “get it”? Will anybody outside the “geek” fandom want it?
We now know the answer – yes. In the less than 24 hours that OUYA has been available around the world, OUYA devices have already sold out at both Amazon and GameStop, suggesting at least considerable initial demand for a product that’s trying to do something different. Of course, there’s no saying how many units were actually available for these retailers to sell – they could have sold out of just 100 devices for all we know – but the fact that demand is outstripping currently supply is nothing but a good sign for the startup.
Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft – you best be worried.
Dismisses one of the most important cloud services ever
Steve Ballmer has never been one to mince words, famously laughing at the Apple iPhone back in 2007 just as Microsoft’s own Windows Mobile 6 line of products was about to take a nosedive into irrelevance. It appears Mr. Ballmer hasn’t learnt from his past mistakes, as he shrugged off Dropbox and called it “a little startup” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Dropbox, of course, is one of the most important and functional cloud services to have ever existed.
In fact, one could argue that the entirety of Skydrive, one of Microsoft’s own cloud products, would not exist in its current implementation if it weren’t for the success of Dropbox. Still, Ballmer claimed that Dropbox’s 100 million users accounted for a “pretty small number” when compared to users of Microsoft’s own Office product.
Still, the fact remains that – in my experience – when you’re having casual conversation with people on the streets, you’re much more likely to find that they use Dropbox than Skydrive. So perhaps Ballmer should learn not to throw stones while living in his house made of very, very thin glass.