TWiST News #266 Websites
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TWiST News #266

News stories we're covering for This Week in Startups Episode #266, airing on Friday, June 15th, will be posted here. Vote up the stories you most want to see discussed on the show. If you have suggestions for news topics that aren't listed here, leave them in the comments section below and we can add them! And don't forget to click through to Page 2 for more of the stories we're covering!

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  1. 1

    Game Developers Abandoning Google+

    Though it has been less than a year since Google introduced social gaming on Google+, a number of big name developers already seem to be abandoning the platform. Wooga confirmed that it has taken down its "Monster World" title and that more titles - such as "Bubble Island" and "Diamond Dash" - may soon be unavailable to G+ users. As well, Electronic Arts' PopCap division has confirmed that, on Monday, they will be taking down the mega-hit Bejeweled Blitz. EA and Wooga are the third and fourth-largest social game companies on Facebook.

    Both Wooga and PopCap cited the need to focus all their resources on the far-more-popular Facebook gaming platform, though PopCap added that they still see Google as a valuable gaming partner moving forward.

    Google's platform is only open to selected game developers at this point, and will have only 40 games remaining and active once Wooga and EA remove these initial titles. Most of the big name titles on G+ will remain playable for the foreseeable future, including Rovio's Angry Birds and Zynga's CityVille, Poker and Mafia Wars 2.

    QUESTION: It's been a long time since we reported positive news on Google+. What can Google do to start turning this around? Wasn't games supposed to be the thing that got people hooked on using the system?

    SOURCE: AllThingsD
  2. 2

    Mark Cuban Invests in Condition One

    Condition One is part of the newest class of starts at TechStars NY and was created by photo-journalist and filmmaker Danfung Dennis. The company’s software takes warped, 180 degree footage shot with a fisheye lens, then converts it back into a flat image and allows users on a tablet to explore and move around within the image. (See the video above for a sampling of how it works.) Condition One was also part of the Fall 2011 LAUNCH tablet event.)

    The company has now announced a $500,000 seed round of funding led by billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, not typically known as a seed stage tech investor.

    It's suspected that Condition One may play a role in the rebranding of Cuban's HDNET cable network as AXS TV, which plans to focus heavily on broadcasting live entertainment and music events.

    QUESTION: So you've seen Condition One in action - how revolutionary is this product? What do you think Cuban's interest is, aside from just enjoying the technology?

    SOURCE: The Verge
  3. 3

    Ad-Tracking Lawsuit Against Apple Moves Forward

    A federal judge ruled this week that Apple must defend itself against a lawsuit accusing it of letting advertisers secretly track the activity of millions of mobile device users. (Apple had claimed that its user agreements shielded it from liability in this case, but US District Judge Lucy Koh disagreed, citing "ambiguity" as to what specific information was protected.

    Google, Admob, Flurry and Medialets were also named in the original lawsuit, but changes against them were dismissed. This means that owners of iPhones, iPads and iPod touches can pursue claims against Apple under two different California consumer protection laws. The judge did throw out additional claims against Apple, stating that the company violated customer's privacy rights, as well as other claims concerning computer fraud, wiretaps and records disclosure.

    The lawsuit followed an April 2011 presentation from two computer programmers whose research showed that iPhone users' movements were being tracked via their devices. At the time, Steve Jobs denied in multiple interviews that Apple had ever tracked or would ever track customer movements.

    In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs said Apple designed its devices to let mobile advertising and analytics companies--like Google--collect personal data when free apps are downloaded. They said this was done without permission and was inconsistent with Apple's promise that it would take steps to safeguard personal information against misuse. Among the data gathered were addresses, genders, ages, identifiers assigned to devices, and functions performed on particular apps.

    QUESTION: How much do you figure this will end up costing Apple? Considering their deep pockets, can Apple be compelled to change behavior based on lawsuits like these? Will they change this policy significantly moving forward?

    SOURCE: Reuters
  4. 4

    Microsoft Buys Yammer

    Microsoft has purchased enterprise social networking service Yammer for $1.2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. The rumors of the acquisition started on Wednesday when @SarahTaylor tweeted that she overheard the deal being discussed at San Francisco's Creamery.

    Yammer was launched in 2008 by David Sacks, former COO of Paypal and frequent TWiST guest. Since then, the service has grown significantly, and is now used by more than 200,000 companies, including high profile outlets like Ford and eBay. To date, the company has raised $140 million in funding from Charles River Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Capricorn Ventures, CrunchFund, Ron Conway and others.

    QUESTION: You've been vocal about your high expectations for Yammer. Is this the right time for a big acquisition? Who's getting the better deal here? Couldn't MSFT build their own enterprise-level social network service if they wanted one for a lot less money?

    SOURCE: Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal
  5. 5

    Apple Debuts Next Gen Macbook Pro

    At Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this week, the company introduced the 15.4 inch "next generation" MacBook Pro, which Engadget referred to as essentially a 15 inch MacBook Air.

    It packs a Retina display with a 2880 x 1800 resolution (or 220ppi), and a casing that measures just 0.71-inch thin and weighs 4.46 pounds. In addition to that high resolution, Apple is also promising higher contrast ratios, better viewing angles and reduced glare compared to other laptop displays, and it's updated all of its stock apps (including Aperture and Final Cut Pro) to take advantage of those extra pixels. "Reading your mail is like reading fine print," according to Apple's Phil Schiller.

    As for the other specs, you'll get to 16GB of RAM, NVIDIA Kepler GT 650M graphics, up to a quad-core 2.7GHz Core i7 processor, a maximum 768GB of storage (SSD, naturally), and a promised seven hours of battery life with 30 days standby.

    As anticipated, the optical drive is nomore, replaced by 2 USC 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt sockets, a full-size HDMI socket, an SD card slot and a headphones port. Also on the outs are Ethernet and FireWire 800 ports, which you'll now need an optional Thunderbolt adapter to use.

    Making its debut on the laptop is a new, thinner MagSafe connector, as well as a new fan that's said to be "nearly imperceptible" to the user.

    Pricing starts at $2,199 for a 2.3GHz unit with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The new MBP will begin shipping this week.

    SOURCE: Engadget
  6. 6

    Reddit Blocks "High-Value" Domains

    In an effort they claim is part of an ongoing attempt to limit spam and abuse, Reddit has recently started banning a number of domains, including some high-level, respected news organizations and websites. (These include, The Atlantic, Science Daily and The newly-created r/BannedDomains sub-Reddit follows the banninations - attempting to submit links from these sites will now respond with an error message informing the user that this action is no longer allowed.

    Reddit's statement on the matter reads: "Some domains are not allowed on any part of reddit because they are spammy, malicious, or involved in cheating shenanigans. Attempting to submit a link to one of these domains will now fail with an informative error message." When pressed about whether banning entire domains marks the end of a truly "Democratic" Reddit, where up votes and down votes solely determined which content was featured highly, one moderator opined "You can't have a democracy if someone can rig the ballot box." (This likely refers to the common practice of 'seeding' Reddit posts with votes from either bots or coordinated groups paid to move content up on the service.)

    At this time, it's unclear what impacted domains can to do get back in Reddit's good graces. Perhaps nothing?

    QUESTION: Is this the only way to prevent the further Digg-itization of Reddit? Does it have a chilling impact on true democracy at the site? How important is Reddit for the health and vitality of a contemporary content site on the Internet?

    SOURCE: TheNextWeb

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