Ridesharing service Lyft has raised $US150 million ($A187 million) in funding from serial investor Carl Icahn. The latest capital injection comes off the back of a $US530 million Series E round in March, bringing the amount of capital raised by the startup this year to more than $800 million. Icahn said in a statement he was very happy to be investing in Lyft because he believed very strongly in its team. “I believe that ridesharing is poised to become a fundamental component of our transportation infrastructure,” he said. “The Company’s revenue growth to date has been extremely compelling, and increasing urbanization over the next five to 10 years should enable the company to maintain that trajectory. Additionally, I’ve been very impressed with Lyft’s founders and management team, and I believe they are well-suited to take advantage of this opportunity and to make Lyft an extremely successful company.” Lyft is a competitor of popular ridesharing service Uber, with an Australian launch in the works according to a partner company. Apple acquires US mapping startup Coherant Navigation Apple has snapped up San Francisco-based GPS startup Coherant Navigation in a bid to improve the company’s mapping technology. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” a spokesperson told The New York Times. The acquisition is the latest in a string of mapping technology startups bought by the company in recent years. Payments startup Clinkle in hot water after employees quit in protest Mobile payments startup Clinkle is in trouble after seven employees walked out on the company due to ongoing frustrations with its 24-year-old chief executive, TechCrunch reports. Clinkle shot into the spotlight in 2013 when it raised $25 million in seed funding from investors such as Peter Thiel and Accel Ventures without a publically available product. The company’s founder and chief executive, Lucas Duplan, has previously fired a string of employees and has reportedly withheld information from employees regarding a potential buyout. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 20.32 points, rising 0.11% to 18,272.56. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 80.4 US cents. Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Australians gamble more on the Melbourne Cup ($200 million, $9 per capita) than the entire venture capital industry invests in startups in a year ($100m, $4.55 per capita). This disparity is especially concerning when we consider that in the US, three companies (Apple, Facebook and Google) contribute $1.3 trillion to GDP, which is higher than the value of our entire ASX. All three of those businesses were once startups with the youngest being Facebook founded a mere 11 years ago. We rightly celebrate the success of Atlassian and REA Group, however, we need to create the conditions to drive a thriving and substantial ecosystem of startups. With this in mind Salesforce is supporting the recommendations of the StartupAUS Crossroads Report 2015, which provides an action plan for how Australia can develop a vibrant tech-startup ecosystem. According to the report, the impact that tech startups could have on the Australian economy, if nurtured and supported, is huge. Two key findings that struck me are: Each new technology-based job created adds five additional jobs in other sectors (3x a new job in manufacturing or extractive industries) 73% of a nation’s future wealth can be predicted by its Economic Complexity Index (ECI) – a measure of a nation’s ability to produce a range of goods varying in complexity from extracting and selling unprocessed natural resources to building and selling complex industrial products/services. Australia has “an amazingly primitive export basket”, according to Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann, which means unless we start driving more innovation, we would predict low future GDP growth. Not only do tech startups positively impact the economy, they also provide the growth of the ecosystem through creating ‘unicorns’ – startups valued at over $US1 billion. The existence of unicorns raises the profile of entrepreneurship and creates a market of experienced and cashed-up employees who create and support new companies, attracting other hopeful entrepreneurs who want to be where the action is. Australia’s tech ecosystem has seen huge progress over the last three years and with just a few tweaks there could be a tremendous wave of growth in the nation’s Silicon Beaches. While all of the eight action items recommended in The Crossroads Report are important, in my opinion, there are two that are most pressing: Increase the number of people with ICT skills Improve access to startup expertise Recent research by PricewaterhouseCoopers indicated that 75% of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills. However, enrolments and completions in university STEM courses have remained flat over the period 2001 to 2013, while non-STEM courses have grown steadily. There is an increasing gap in the skills we need and the type of workforce Australia is producing. If we act now to produce the right work force and build our startup ecosystem, graduates educated in STEM will find many of their future jobs with the unicorns. Key to building up this ecosystem for the workforce of the future is providing the right support to our existing startups. Initiatives like York Butter Factory, Fishburners, and our own Salesforce for Startups program are all aimed at providing the right conditions, expertise and technology to startups as they scale. While the support currently available is valuable, there’s still more work to be done. If we want to build the next generation of unicorns we need both industry and government of all levels to work in concert to provide the right framework and support. Australia is now at a crossroads, it’s time for the nation to foster a viable environment for startups to not only operate in, but to thrive and succeed. Tom Karemacher is the regional vice president for mid-market and SMB at Salesforce APAC.
Guy Kawasaki made his name as Apple’s “chief evangelist” a term he says was coined by the marketing team. He was one of Apple’s first employees and was responsible for marketing the Macintosh computer in 1984 under Steve Jobs. Now he’s the chief evangelist for Australian design business Canva which just announced an extra $6 million in funding. Whoever he’s working for, Kawasaki is passionate about being an evangelist for your business rather than just marketing it. Ahead of his keynote address at the CeBIT conference in Sydney, Kawasaki spoke to SmartCompany about how you can be an evangelist for your business. 1. Ignore the doubters Kawasaki says working with Steve Jobs at Apple taught him if entrepreneurs want to create truly innovative products they need to ignore what everyone else is saying. “Most of those people will tell you they just want better things,” he says. “If Steve Jobs had listened to the advice in the 1980s he would have just made a better Apple 2.” 2. Have the other person’s interests at heart “An evangelist has the other person’s best interest at heart also and, primarily, most sales people are trying to make a quota and commission,” Kawasaki says. “Evangelists want to get people more creative and productive, which is good for them and which is also good for the evangelist.” 3. Trust is essential Kawasaki’s first job after he finished his MBA was working for a small family-owned jewellery manufacturer. “The jewellery business is intensely personal, reputation is everything; it’s hand to hand combat and I really learnt how to sell,” he says. “It’s all about how to get people to trust you.” 3. Be prepared for hand-to-hand combat “When you had a computer like Macintosh and you had no precedent it too was hand-to-hand combat,” Kawasaki says. “We literally met with companies one at a time, like selling a $35,000 ring you had to sell people on creating software for the Mac.” 4. Have an underlying purpose Kawasaki describes his time at Apple as “the best days of my life”. “We were on a mission to prevent worldwide domination by IBM and it got closer to a religion than to a business,” he says. “I believe the essence of what Apple did back then was it democratized computers.” Kawasaki says he finds Canva’s mission equally inspiring. “For me it’s empowering people for design like Macintosh empowered people for computers.” 5. Have a magnificent enemy “I can’t tell you that every product and every service can find as magnificent an enemy as IBM,” Kawasaki says. “There are not that many magnificent enemies and if you are a small business, in particular, it’s harder to define a magnificent enemy.” 6. Use technology Kawasaki says the tools available now make evangelism even easier. “Back in 1983 I had a car, an airplane ticket and a copper-based telephone system,” he says. “Now you have email, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google hangouts on air and Skype.” 7. Remove barriers to entry Canva operates using a freemium model where the basic product is free although the company is getting ready to launch the paid service Canva for Work. Kawasaki says a freemium model makes life easy for him as an evangelist. “The benefits are that it presents a very low barrier to buy something; it’s kind of a land grab,” he says. “You want to give people a very slippery slope.” “Remove all the barriers for adoption and make it as easy as possible to fall in love with your product,” he says. “One barrier many companies make is that you have to download an app.” 8. Eat what you kill “You should eat what you kill,” Kawasaki says. “I have never seen a company die because it couldn’t scale fast enough but I have seen many die because they scaled too quickly.” CeBIT starts today at Sydney Olympic Park. This article originally appeared on SmartCompany. Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
With the Apple Watch having now officially launched in Australia, developers and businesses releasing apps for the platform are describing a number of unique challenges posed by the device, including dealing with a smaller screen, unreliable Bluetooth links and new contexts for apps. The highly publicised launch of Apple’s wearable device will see the number of companies with smartwatch apps explode. The list of companies committing to apps on the platform includes Domain, REA, CBA, Fairfax, Qantas, Woolworths, OzLotteries, Westpac, St George and Zova. They join startups such as Rewardle and Freelancer which are already operating on smartwatches via Google’s Android Wear platform and, in some cases, created apps even before the Apple Watch was officially announced. Klyp mobile lead Tyson Bradford says many more businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach to the platform. “At the moment as a digital agency, we’re not seeing a lot of demand for apps, but there is a lot interest in the business community. A lot of businesses are watching the launch very closely,” Bradford says. Bradford says screen size is one of the major user interface issues developers need to consider when designing an app. “In general, smartwatch keyboards are unusable and on the Apple Watch it’s non-existent. That creates a number of UI challenges. So for example, for an app that relies on communicating between two people, instead of a keyboard, Apple allows you to use predetermined emoji, draw on the screen or call them by voice. That means the whole UI needs to be rethought,” he says. “The other issue is processing power and the necessity of being synced to the iPhone for many of the features. So, for example, the watch can’t access the internet directly, meaning you need to have your phone nearby – in a pocket, a bag or on a desk – when you want to call someone. “That means if you have a fitness app, there’s a good chance the user won’t have their phone in their pocket when they go running – and you won’t be able to get data onto the internet in real time. So you really need to consider the context as well as the UI.” Among the Australian startups preparing to launch an Apple Watch app is mobile ordering and payments platform AirService. Its chief executive and co-founder, Dominic Bressan says it’s important to be mindful of battery life, and that design elements work differently on a smaller screen. “It’s a new platform, a new experience, and you can’t just shrink an iPhone app down to a smaller screen. So you have to pick which elements you bring from the iPhone to the Watch,” Bressan says. “So notifications are something that naturally flows from the phone to the watch. I don’t see the full ordering experience translating to the watch, at least this stage. We will allow users to save a couple of favourite orders, but a full browse of venues with photos will remain on the iPhone. “It has been really tricky developing an app without a device to test on and needing to do everything in a simulator. You have to remember things like the Bluetooth Low Energy connection is prone to drop out on the real device, but always works flawlessly in the simulator. Likewise, Airtasker chief executive and co-founder Tim Fung says notifications are likely to be a key focus for the startups forthcoming Apple Watch app. “For us, the benefits of an Apple Watch app are proximity and immediacy. Most of our Apple Watch app features are worker-centric features. We’re looking at scheduling, alerts and notifications that will allow them to move quickly and respond to an alert,” Fung says. “When it comes to posting tasks, at this stage the interface just isn’t strong enough. That will change over time, thanks to the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Over the long term, we’re looking at things like using voice-to-text for tasks.” Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Customers who have pre-ordered the Apple Watch can expect to see their new gadgets at their doorsteps sooner than expected. Customers in the US who pre-ordered the device were originally told their orders would not ship until May or April. However, many have received an email notification saying their orders are “processing”. “We’re happy to be updating many customers today with the news that their Apple Watch will arrive sooner than expected,” an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on the available supply and the order in which they were received. We know many customers are still facing long lead times and we appreciate their patience.” Professional certification startup Simplilearn raises $US15 million Professional certification startup Simplilearn has raised $US15 million in Series C funding, according to TechCrunch. The startup specialises in online self-learning and corporate training, with analytics, project management, marketing and programming courses proving the most popular among consumers. To date the startup has raised $US27 million and plans to have one million users by the end of 2015. Facebook launches new app to identify unknown callers Facebook has launched a new Android app to identify mystery callers, Re/code reports. Called Hello, the app taps into information publically available on Facebook to identify who’s calling you – even if you aren’t friends with the person calling on Facebook. The application only works if the person calling you has shared their number publicly on the social media platform. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 88.64 points, rising 0.49% to 18,038.27. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 77 US cents. Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A San Francisco startup that delivers medical marijuana to customers on-demand has raised $US10 million in Series A funding in order to launch nation-wide. The capital injection was led by DCM Ventures, with 500 Startups and Fresh VC also participating in the round. Founder and chief executive Keith McCarty said in a statement the funding will allow the company to fill 50 job vacancies across all areas of the business. “We want to thank our early patients and partners in the San Francisco Bay Area who have contributed to our success to date,” he said. “These major milestones are only possible with their support. The new funding enables us to expand rapidly by further developing our technology, building new dispensary partnerships and scaling our team for hyper-growth as we expand nationwide where marijuana is legal.” Apple says no to selfie sticks Apple is banning selfie sticks from this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, according to Apple Insider. “You are not permitted to make audio or audiovisual recordings of WWDC or take professional photographic or video equipment, or wearable recording devices into Moscone West or Yerba Buena Gardens,” the event’s attendance policy reads. “In addition, you may not use selfie sticks or similar monopods within Moscone West or Yerba Buena Gardens.” Pocket raises additional $US7 million in capital Pocket has raised an additional $US7 million in funding in order to expand its team and launch in products, according to Venture Beat. The startup allows users to save content from across the web – including social media platforms such as Twitter – and read it later or keep on-hand for future reference. Pocket has raised $US14.5 million to date. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 59.66 points, rising 0.33% to 18,0365.70. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76.7 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Buy tickets to the 2015 StartupSmart Awards.
Within hours of the pre-order launch, the initial batch of Apple Watches were showing shipping times of two months. Not only had the cheapest Apple Watch Sport at AUD $499 sold out, but so had the Apple Watch Edition with a rose gold case and retailing at AUD $17,000. And all of this for a watch that reviewers have given decidedly mixed reviews. The fact that people are willing to spend that much money on a device that they have no forehand knowledge of is a testament to the power that Apple devices have over their customers. The Apple Watch does nothing that other, far cheaper devices have done for many years. The Pebble watch, available for the past 2 years, covers most of the same functionality as the Apple Watch and retails for just AUD $89. The truth of the matter is that the majority of people don’t actually know the difference. It has been a long standing joke about the number of people asking if the Pebble watch people are wearing is, in fact, an Apple Watch. For those that have worn a Pebble, or Android Wear or other smart watch, the reality of the usefulness, or otherwise, of these devices will have been long apparent. It is a useful thing to get notifications of text messages on your watch, but the novelty of having your wrist buzz every time one of the 200 hundred a day emails arrives, rapidly wears off. Rejecting calls from your watch is also a useful feature, but answering the call and speaking into your watch is as socially acceptable as wearing Google Glass. Switching on the fitness functions on most smart watches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 does a much poorer job of hear rate measurement than a dedicated fitness devices like the Fitbit. The Apple Watch, although aesthetically more attractive perhaps than other devices, is in essence the functional equivalent of an AUD $350 Fitbit Surge. Whether the Apple Watch works as well as the Fitbit in terms of fitness tracking is yet to be seen. According to Finder.com.au, 800,000 Australians, or 4.2% of the adult population, are intending to buy an Apple Watch. This is a similar number to those in the US that are intending to buy a watch, although this number has dropped from the nearly 10% of iPhone users who were intending to buy one back in December 2014. Whilst it is easy to think of people stopping wearing an $89, or even an $300 device, as nearly 40% of wearable owners in the UK have done. It is much more painful to think of someone spending $1,000 doing the same. Once again, we are seeing the enormous power of the psychological and social drivers behind being an Apple fan. Buying one of these watches is not an impulse purchase and it is not necessarily something that those buying these devices can actually afford. In the US in 2013, households were spending 17% of their budget on technology. In Australia, an average family with 2 children spends about $6,000 a year on technology that ranges from telecommunications (mobiles, Internet connection, landlines) to streaming services for music and video. Within this context, it is even harder to justify spending the amount of money Apple is asking people to spend, on a watch that for the most part will simply be used to tell the time. What may determine the success of the Apple Watch is its social acceptance by people who are not Apple Watch owners. Google Glass suffered from a view that a socially unaccepted technology was at the same time made exclusive, and therefore exclusionary, through its price. Although smart watches are less of a social imposition than a pair of glasses with a camera, looking at a watch in the company of others may be considered rude or signifying that the wearer is looking to be somewhere else. These social cues will need to be adapted for the case when people are looking at their wrist to see who is calling or texting and whether it is worth breaking a conversation to respond. Although society may adapt to this behaviour, it will take some time. Whether the sales of the Apple Watch extends beyond the initial wave of early adopters is yet to be seen. It is hard to see how this will be sustained and the more conservative users will wait until at least next year, along with the possibility of price drops in the technology. Until then, the success of the watch will be easy to gauge by the number of people who are compulsively and continually staring at their wrists. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Calendar marketing platform eCal has established US headquarters after receiving a $2 million capital injection from Oxygen Ventures. The startup received the funding as part of a reward for co-winning last year’s Big Pitch competition. eCal founder and chief executive Patrick Barrett told StartupSmart the company had been servicing clients in America for some time but recently decided to set up shop in New York. “We investigated both options – east coast and west coast – and spoke to other Australian companies in the sport entertainment space as well and asked their advice,” he says. “We certainly came to the conclusion that the east coast was better for us. We established around 80% of our targets were located around the east coast – whether that’s New York, Boston, Atlanta… it certainly isn’t easy to travel to but that’s why we have a dedicated office and a dedicated team.” eCal is just one of many Australian startups escaping the herd mentality and shunning San Francisco in favour of the Big Apple. While Silicon Valley is home to tech giants such as Apple and Facebook, New York is close to media and finance companies. “There’s a big move in New York to bring tech companies in, particularly in Midtown,” Barrett says. “We have access to the sports clients, but also importantly a lot of major media companies – the likes of NBC are just around the corner. We’re also close to the advertising media agencies, so when we extend into new verticals beyond sport those relationships are key to give us access to major brands.” Barrett says he would encourage entrepreneurs thinking about setting up overseas operations to have the right people on the ground. “The reality is you get what you pay for, and that’s the biggest piece of advice I give people,” he says. “The other key message I tell people is you need to be there yourself – there’s no two ways about it. That’s why I’m going back to the US on Monday. The ideal case is where you have a co-founder or someone in the business who’s prepared to move over there… I think that’s the ideal scenario.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Buy tickets to the 2015 StartupSmart Awards.
Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has slammed so-called “religious freedom” laws in the US that allow employers to discriminate against their employees on the basis of personal beliefs. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Cook said that America’s business community recognised a long time ago that discrimination in all its forms is not just morally wrong but bad for business. “Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open,” he says. “Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.” Phhhoto now has more than 1 million users Camera app Phhhoto has broken the 1 million user mark. The startup launched an app last year that allows users to record GIFs and upload them to a public feed. Co-founder Omar Elsayed told TechCrunch the next stage for the app is to improve the user experience. “The product has gotten to a point where the Phhhoto media type is something that our users are enthusiastic about, so now it’s about how we can loop that into new ways of communicating, and perhaps even new content types,” he says. To date the startup has raised $US225,000 ($A294m) in seed funding. Drifty announces $US2.6 million capital injection Software startup Drifty has raised $2.6 million in order to fund its product development, TechCrunch reports. The round was led by Chicago-based firm Lightbank with participation from Founder Collective and previous investor Arthur Ventures. Drifty is a graduate of the TechStars Cloud 2013 incubator. Last year the startup raised $1 million in seed funding. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 263.65 points, rising 1.49% to 17,976.31. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
We are living in a “magical time” for entrepreneurs according to Matt Barrie, founder of Freelancer.com, and SmartCompany advisory board member. Speaking at yesterday’s Creative Innovation Conference in Melbourne, Barrie said we are living in a period of “unprecedented growth” powered by the internet. He outlined four global macro trends that he says have led to “a remarkable period of disruption”. 1. Software is eating the world Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, famously said software is eating the world. “Every business is waking up to realise it’s a software business,” Barrie said. He says the world’s biggest book company, Amazon, is a software company, the world’s biggest video service, Netflix, is a software company. 2. Most of the world’s population are yet to use the internet Barrie says there are tremendous opportunities for growth as more and more of the world’s population gets online. “There are 4 billion people not yet online,” Barrie said. “There as twice as many people on the internet in China as the entire population of the United States.” Facebook and Google are working hard to enable more and more people to access the internet while simultaneously, Barrie says, every industry is now being digitised. For digital businesses like Freelancer, this means increasing numbers of clients. “We are in the early stages of replicating a country in software,” he said. “We have a population the size of Belgium”. 3. Distribution is unprecedented Technology adoption speed is increasing as distribution gets faster and faster, according to Barrie. Facebook went from zero to a billion users in eight years, the Apple iPhone got to 40 million units in two years, and the iPad ramped even faster. “Consumers are adopting faster and faster but distribution is also occurring faster and faster,” Barrie said. Technology enables “distribution fire hoses” to reach the potential clients more and more quickly. 4. Stuff is free, stuff is cheap Barrie says it’s cheaper than ever to build a business. “The great thing about this is everything you need to build a business is free … if it’s not free it’s virtually free,” Barrie said. He cites tools such as Google docs, MailChimp and Canva as all providing free or close-to-free business services. “You can start a business off the back of a credit card,” Barrie said. For example, RetailMeNot was built with $30 in one weekend, bootstrapped to $30 million in revenue and then sold to WhaleShark for $90 million five years later. Now, RetailMeNot is listed in the United States and has a market capitalisation of several billion dollars. The original founders were clever enough to retain shares. All these factors mean that businesses can succeed at a quicker pace than ever before, Barrie says. “It took Apple eight years to reach $1 billion in revenue, Google five years, companies are doing this faster and faster,” he says. This article originally appeared at SmartCompany.
Ahead of its launch the Apple Watch has been criticised for its price and upmarket focus, but the product shows how traditional industries are being enhanced by new technologies. In its Watch Craftsmanship videos Apple shows off some of the workmanship that goes into manufacturing the device and the Atomic Delights blog has a deep look at the processes and the design decisions behind the company’s choice of techniques. What Apple’s series shows is that making top end devices is capital intensive and very, very hard. It also puts lie to the idea that raising a few thousand, or even million, dollars on Kickstarter will get a luxury item to market. Greg Koenig, the author of the Atomic Delights blog, gushes about Apple’s attention to detail and high quality manufacturing. I see these videos and I see a process that could only have been created by a team looking to execute on a level far beyond what was necessary or what will be noticed. This isn’t a supply chain; it is a ritual Apple is performing to bring themselves up to the standards necessary to compete against companies with centuries of experience. It’s clear Apple isn’t stepping back or making any compromises in making its mark on the watch industry, even though the entire global market for timepieces is less than one quarter’s income from the iPhone. At the other end of the market the 3D printing revolution continues with Feetz raising $3 million for its customised shoemaking operation. While Feetz is an impressive and quirky business with great promise, it shows the rough-and-ready face of the makers’ movement and the businesses relying on 3D printing services; it’s a world away from the Apple Watch. While both crowdfunding and 3D printing are going to have a massive effect on business and manufacturing, the truth is that other manufacturing methods are still going to be used by deep pocketed companies. Nothing is ever as simple as we think. For business owners and managers, particularly those in manufacturing, concepts like 3D printing and crowdsourcing are worth investigating to see how they can help, rather than disrupt, existing work practices.
Apple’s ability to mesh technology with beautiful design will be put to the test when it finally releases the much-anticipated Apple Watch. The tech giant is taking a super-advanced piece of technology and packaging it as a fashion statement. Although the iPhone-compatible wearable watch is still more than a month from its official release date, the hype is building among Apple enthusiasts and fashionistas alike as they anticipate the first product Apple has designed to be worn. On April 24 this year, the new smartwatch will find its way on to store shelves in a dazzling variety of colours and styles to trump even the options for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. There will be 38 Apple Watch choices with a range of changeable faces – including an animated Mickey Mouse face. Apple says the watch is designed to be “highly customisable for personal expression”, allowing the owner to make a unique statement. The watch is all about personalisation, even more so than previous Apple products, which have sported various colour possibilities plus the option of engraving the iPhone, iPod and iPad, which will also be available for the watch. With six band types and 18 interchangeable colours, you can don the sport band for a gym session and switch effortlessly to the Milanese loop for a night out. Wearable technology But is the world ready for wearable technology? We can hardly forget the moment when fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg put Google Glass on the runway in 2012. But the Google Glass project is currently on hold. This head-mounted optical display was seen as somewhat dorky, giving rise to the opinion that technology belongs on our desks and not on our bodies. So the question remains: will the Apple Watch succeed as a fashion item in a way that Google Glass has not? The emphasis on creating a fashionable product is readily apparent, with Apple leaning heavily on fashion insiders and retail gurus throughout the development phase. Apple is betting big on the success of its watch. Apple’s senior vice president of design, Jony Ive, even introduced the device to iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld and a 12-page spread is reportedly being prepared for Vogue. In case we needed further evidence that Apple is taking the fashion aspect seriously, super model Christy Turlington Burns appeared alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook to spruik the watch. She went so far as to call the Apple Watch a chic fashion accessory at the official launch. The price of design Given the emphasis on luxury, it is perhaps not surprising that the Apple Watch comes with a designer price tag for the 18-karat solid gold edition, which also has a top-of-the-line computer inside it. Apple says prices for these top-of-the-range models start from A$14,000. For those of us who are not prepared to take out a loan on what is essentially a piece of jewellery, the entry-level Apple Watch Sport with its aluminium body and rubber strap starts at A$499 for the 38mm version and A$579 for the 42mm. One step up from there is the Apple Watch, which has a A$799 or A$879 price tag for the 38mm and 42mm versions respectively. Depending on the band you choose, be it classic leather or the Milanese loop, expect to pay up to A$1629. Apple has never been shy of setting premium prices. What can the watch do? Given the hefty price tag, you may well be inclined to ask: what does the Apple Watch actually do (after telling you the time)? Quite simply, the watch aims to get us moving. Like the Fitbit -— an early leader in the fitness tracking market -— the Apple Watch is an activity tracker that counts our steps and measures our heart rate. And let’s not forget, it’s also a timekeeper and rather novel communication device. Despite similar products on the market, Apple is betting that it can do it better, thanks to its ecosystem of hardware, software and services. Coupled with a loyal fan base and the watch’s status as a fashion item, Apple is likely to be on to another winner in terms of sales. But despite its potential to help us achieve our fitness goals and perhaps curb obesity rates in Australia (three in five adults and one in four Aussies children are overweight), will we see Apple move from a well-loved consumer brand to the next big name in fashion? There does seem to be a convergence of technology with fashion. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Apple is donating $US50 million ($A65m) to organisations that strive to improve diversity in the tech sector. Apple’s head of human resources Denise Young Smith has told Fortune the company was partnering with several not-for-profits in order to increase the workplace participation of women, people of colour, and people with diverse sexualities and genders. “We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple,” she said. “There is a tremendous upside to that and we are dogged about the fact that we can’t innovate without being diverse and inclusive.” The news follows Apple’s announcement that the Apple Watch will launch worldwide on April 24. What’s happened to Yik Yak? Anonymous messaging app Yik Yak has quietly disappeared from the Google Play charts. An investigation by TechCrunch found the startup was delisted from Google Play in October 2014, suggesting Google has taken action against the platform. The company has previously come under fire for publishing “demeaning” and “sexually explicit” language and imagery. Yik Yak brought on $US62 million in capital late last year in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital – valuing the startup at between $US300 million and $US400 million. Google’s CFO to retire Google’s chief financial officer Patrick Pichette has announced he is retiring in order to spend more time with his family. In a post on his Google+ page, Pichette said he will hand over the role in the coming months after the company finds a suitable replacement. “Life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade-offs, especially between business/professional endeavours and family/community,” he said. “And thankfully, I feel I’m at a point in my life where I no longer have to make such tough choices anymore. And for that I am truly grateful.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 332.78 points, falling 1.85% overnight to 17,662.94. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76.26 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Australian iOS developers are excited about the upcoming launch of the Apple Watch and say “wearable-first” will soon be the new “mobile-first”. The Apple Watch will launch on April 24, with customers able to pre-order the highly anticipated device 14 days before it is officially released. Apple has also confirmed how much each version of the smartwatch will cost, with the cheaper Apple Watch Sport setting Australian customers back between $499 and $579. Meanwhile, the standard Apple Watch will cost up to $1629, with the premium Apple Watch Edition costing a whopping $14,000. Mark McDonald, the co-founder and chief executive of Appster, was at the Apple Watch presentation in San Francisco and says he is “very excited” about the product. “We saw how Facebook would work and it is really interesting how one must look at building a minimum viable product more than ever before because the amount of functionality built into such a small amount of space is crazy,” he says. “The Apple Watch is almost like Google Glass done right… they realised the user liked larger screens on phones but also want to think about form, function and user experience and how that’s a little different on wearable tech – it needs to be a bit smaller.” McDonald says the Apple Watch design is “very socially acceptable” and developers need to make sure that their apps load in no more than four seconds – the time it takes to reach into your pocket and pull out your phone. “As the apps designed for it have a quick to use core functionality, those are the apps that are going to be very successful,” he says. “We think the Apple Watch is right on the timing… the form and function is right and they have an existing market. Just today we’ve got clients a couple of floors up on our office who are working on developing Apple Watch products already. A lot of people are thinking not just mobile-first, but wearable-first.” Paul Coleman, from Fuse Mobile, told StartupSmart he also thinks Apple has gone “to great lengths” to ensure their smartwatches will be both desirable and fashionable products. “The exciting phase will be when we start seeing killer apps made specifically for wearables from the developer community,” he says. “This is what will make the watch an attractive purchase for consumers and be something truly useful rather than a glorified second screen.” Guy Cooper, the managing director of Wave Digital, says the price point of the Apple Watch could potentially be an issue – but price hasn’t deterred Apple fans in the past. “The Watch is going to be particularly useful to companies in the health and fitness space and may just blow some of the existing wearables in that space out of the market,” he says. Logan Merrick, from app development company Buzinga, says an exciting aspect of the Apple Smartwatch is its ability to simplify the reading of messages, checking notifications and taking directions. “We’ve been pushing a method to support this type of development that we’ve come to call ‘threesixty design’… which is simply designing software for a dynamic experience,” he says. “Human behaviour isn’t linear, it’s dynamic. So we have to think of design in the same fashion.” Danny Gorog, director of app development company Outware, agrees that Apple’s smartwatch range will take wearables “to a new level”. “Outware is already working with our clients to reimagine their apps on Apple Watch and look forward to sharing more when the watch is released.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Apple’s event at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center was widely expected to focus on the release of the Apple Watch. ResearchKit In a move that took everyone by surprise however, Apple also released a new software platform called ResearchKit. Like HealthKit, the platform enables medical researchers to create applications that specifically support the enrolment of subjects in medical trials and the continuous collection of data for research projects. Five sample applications supporting research into Parkinson’s Disease, Cardiovascular Disease and Breast Cancer, were built with partner universities in the US, UK and China for the launch of the kit. Unusually for Apple, the platform will be Open Sourced which means that others can contribute to the core platform. Apple has made it clear that none of the data collected through ResearchKit will be seen by Apple. The benefit of using a software framework of this type is that it standardises the collection and sharing of research data, potentially in real time from research subjects. Data collected in multiple studies could potentially be linked and shared. Apple is not the first company to throw resources into helping researchers use technology in their research. Google and Amazon have both built computing infrastructure to support research involving large amounts of data and high performance computers. With ResearchKit, Apple is facilitating one of the more challenging aspects of research, interfacing with test subjects. HBO Now In more traditional form, Apple also used the event to announce a lowering of price of the Apple TV box by 30% to US $69. It will also be the exclusive platform for the release of a service called HBO Now, that will provide all of HBO’s content via the device. This means that the new episodes of Game of Thrones can be subscribed to directly from HBO for $14.99 rather than through a cable subscription. Disappointingly to the rest of the world, the service will be available only in the US when it launches. 12 inch MacBook Apple has released a new 12 inch MacBook which is not in the “Air” range but is actually thinner and lighter than any of the MacBook Airs and boasts a retina display. Technologically, the laptop will be the first Apple device to support the new USB C cable configuration which resembles Apple’s Lightning cables but replaces the display, charging and data transfer ports. The MacBook Air and MacBook pros get refreshes with faster components across the range. Apple Watch Although the Apple Watch had previously been announced, the final launch of the watch was expected to fill in many of the questions about what would be actually released, and at what price. Most of the introduction by Apple CEO Tim Cook however was a re-run of the previous event. What was new were especially created apps that were available for the release of the watch including apps from Instragram, Uber, Twitter, SPG (hotel check-in and room key functionality), Shazam, and Apple’s own Apple Pay, Passbook and on-watch Notifications. Apple Watch apps will have their own section in the iTunes store. Although the presentation was not completely new, it highlighted how innovative the interface on the watch was. Time will tell whether this overcomes some of the limitations of this type of interface highlighted by Android Wear and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. The Apple Watch Sport in anodised aluminium will come in two sizes (38 mm and 42 mm) and will cost US $349 and $399 for the two sizes. The stainless steel Apple Watch will also come in the same two sizes and cost between US $549 and $1,049 depending on the band. The gold Apple Watch Edition will be released in limited outlets and cost $10,000. The watches will be available for pre-order on April 10th and shipping on April 24th in 9 countries including Australia and the UK. Questions still remain about how the watch will do, how often it will need to be recharged and whether sufficient numbers of Apple customers actually buy the watch. However, as with all Apple events, the speculation is now over and the debate based on experience can begin. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
While all eyes and ears were trained on news of its smartwatch, Apple also used its spring Keynote to introduce changes to Apple TV, revisions to its laptop lineup, and a new service that builds on the health monitoring aspects of smartwatches to perform data collection for medical research. As one digital TV service after another launches many have been left wondering when HBO, whose television dramas are highly sought and widely watched properties, would play its hand. And here it is: a partnership with Apple that makes the entire HBO back catalogue available through the new HBO Go digital streaming service, available exclusively through Apple TV. So while the Apple TV hardware hasn’t been updated for years, the partnership with HBO (and a price drop to £59) is a nice reminder for those who may have overlooked it. Apple has extended its reach into car dashboards with CarPlay, into home automation with HomeKit, and into health monitoring with HealthKit. Apple hopes that ResearchKit, a new open-source API and service, will form the foundation for apps that can collect health data from larger numbers of volunteers, increasing sample sizes and frequency of data collection, making the data more useful for researchers. Five apps have been developed so far, to investigate Parkinson’s Disease, asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease with research groups in leading hospitals. There is an emphasis on privacy, with the user controlling the degree of information that is being shared. The new Macbook – neither Air nor Pro – comes with the latest retina display, a faster, more energy efficient processor, and a trackpad that can supply tactile feedback. In a 12" format that fills out the line between 11" and 13", it is lighter and thinner even than the Air, has a re-engineered keyboard and somewhat controversially rolls many ports into just one: the USB-C standard port, which will handle HDMI video, external hard drives and other USB peripherals. Inevitably this is going to mean buying another set of cables. Watch my watch In any other keynote this reveal would have been the main news item. But of course the main event was the watch. Seven months since Tim Cook first revealed the device, it’s been a long wait for more technical details. Opinion is still split on whether it will be a hard sell. With fewer people wearing watches anyway, the market is split between those who want a fitness tracker and those that want a beautiful luxury object. Is there a need for a device which essentially duplicates the functionality of a smartphone? Apple has to convince us that the watch offers more, in clear terms of where glancing at a watch is preferred to pulling out a phone. Usually reserved to only one or two colours, this time Apple offers 20 different combinations of ways to customise the watch in size, colour, watch and strap material – probably a necessity in order to sell a device that by nature of being frequently visible is more fashion than function. The styling of the watch itself is reminiscent of the first iPhone, with three versions in two different sizes, 38mm or 42mm high: the cheapest Apple Sport at £299 with an aluminium body and plastic straps, the middle tier Apple Watch from £479 in stainless steel and wrist bands in leather, steel or plastic, and the gold Apple Watch Edition, which starts at £8,000 – perhaps more expensive even than the Apple Lisa from 1983, which sold at US$15,000 at the time. Most of the functionality of the watch requires an iPhone within a few metres – maps, messages, Siri and other apps are relayed from the phone using WiFi or mobile data. Apple suggests that the battery will last 18 hours in a typical day. Not first to market, but best? Apple invests heavily in research and development to create new devices and interfaces that differentiate its products, at least, until competitors release their responses. Apple’s watch uses an Ion-X glass or Sapphire crystal screen which is pressure-sensitive to varying degrees. The side-mounted dial, which Apple terms a digital crown, enables scrolling and clicking, and a button below it jumps to frequent contacts. It has a “Taptic” engine which provides vibration feedback for certain apps, for example suggesting directions in Maps. The sensors on watch’s underside detect heartbeat and combine with the accelerometer to measure physical activity, something Apple is pitching as a major selling point. Developers are already creating software that will extend their iPhone apps to interact with and be accessible from the watch, as Apple has with its Apple Pay contactless payment system. Miniature messages appear on the device in what Apple calls Glances, giving the impression of dealing with such messages quickly without the hassle of pulling out a phone. Will it sell? In the past 18 months customers have bought 5m smartwatches or fitness bands, with Samsung flooding the market with many smartwatch devices, but with fitness bands accounting for the majority of sales. Current estimates suggest that Apple could sell more than 8m watches, eight times as many as its largest competitor. While many of its features will appear in competitor’s smartwatches in the subsequent years, for the moment the eponymous watch is best in class. To sound a note of caution: like the first generation iPhone, the second generation device will probably be half as deep and run twice as long. You may be unfazed about the risks of being an early adopter, but if the idea of paying another few hundred pounds for the latest model next year isn’t appealing, it may be sensible to wait. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Apple has confirmed its Apple Watch will launch on April 24, with customers able to pre-order the highly-anticipated device 14 days before it is released. Apple has also confirmed how much each version of the smartwatch will cost, with the cheaper Apple Watch Sport setting Australian customers back between $499 and $579. Meanwhile the standard Apple Watch will cost up to $1629, with the premium Apple Watch Edition costing a whopping $14,000. Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has promised the smartwatch’s battery will last an entire day, according to Fairfax. Twitter acquires video streaming app Twitter has confirmed it has acquired video streaming app Periscope for an undisclosed amount, according to Business Insider. The startup is still in private beta, with a public launch date yet to be announced. The deal follows Twitter’s acquisition of celebrity advertising startup Niche last month, also for an undisclosed amount. The startup helps advertisers partner with celebrities and people with large social media audiences on Vine and other platforms. Facebook will shut down FriendFeed Facebook is officially shutting down FriendFeed, the social network it acquired in 2009 for reportedly $US50 million. In a statement to Re/code, Facebook said it has been maintaining the service for the last five years but usage has been declining steadily. “Given this, we’ve decided that it’s time to start winding things down,” the company said. “Our thanks go out to the FriendFeed community for its many years of support.” FriendFeed will remain active for the next month before being shut down completely. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 138.94 points, rising 0.78% overnight to 17,995.72. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 77.07 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A Queensland startup is hoping to help other fledging tech companies monitor their online profiles in order to maximise digital opportunities and placate dissatisfied customers. Based in Brisbane, myPresences hopes to make it easier for businesses to juggle their online reputation across numerous platforms such as Reddit, Product Hunt, HackerNews, AngelList and even the Apple and Google Play stores. Founder Paul Gordon told StartupSmart the platform was originally designed for small businesses, but after a conversation with a venture capitalist around two months ago he introduced additional features for startups. “Being able to monitor people leaving reviews on the app store or if your business has been posted to Reddit is really important,” he says. “You don’t have the time to be going and checking all those sources. You can also get a really good idea of who is following and unfollowing you and in one simple place be able to see everything that is happening online in terms of your business.” Gordon says startups can also compare their online presence with other companies. “If you want to maybe see your review count on the Google Play store against your competitor, you can do things like that,” he says. “It’s a good metric to get an idea of how your competitors are listed and where they’re getting activity – it might be a good place where you can also get activity.” “There are lots and lots of places out here on the internet where you can promote your business, but if you start putting yourself out there too much you can lose control. You might also have posted your startup a year ago, but the data might be up to date.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
THE NEWS WRAP: Sydney software engineer discovers how to text politicians with simple iMessage trick3:33PM | Monday, 2 March
A Sydney software engineer has discovered a way to text federal MPs and senators without knowing their mobile number. Fairfax reports Justin Simon, a developer from New South Wales, sent a rude message to Attorney-General George Brandis’s iPhone by using his parliamentary email address to send him an iMessage. The prank follows heated debate over the Abbott government’s proposed data retention scheme, which would require Australian phone and internet companies to retain customer data so intelligence agencies can access it without needing a warrant. The plans have raised concerns about press freedom in Australia and the need to protect whistleblowers from government agencies. Apple’s smartwatch will be available in countries outside the US next month Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has told Apple Store employees in Germany that the Apple Watch will be available outside the US next month, according to 9to5Mac. The comments were made in Germany at the company’s flagship store in Berlin, indicating the smartwatch’s rollout could be more aggressive than first thought. More than 300,000 smartwatches were sold in Australia last year, according to Telsyte. The analytics firm estimates Australia’s smartwatch market will exceed $400 million by 2018. Tinder launches Tinder Plus Popular dating app Tinder has released a premium version of its app called Tinder Plus, in a bid to bring in revenue from its millions of users worldwide. The premium service introduces a range of new features including a “rewind” function that allows users to go back in time and review people they had previously dismissed, or “swiped left”. Tinder Plus also allows users to change their location in order to “connect with people anywhere around the world”. “Passport creates real, one-on-one connections with people across the globe,” Tinder said in a statement. “Whether you're planning vacations and business trips or simply expanding your social network, with Passport, you're swiping before you arrive.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 149.60 points, rising 0.83% overnight to 18,282.30. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 77.68 US cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.