Archive for August, 2008

Android Developer Challenge winners appear polished, ready for sale

It looks like Google may have made the right move with the Android Developer Challenge after all.

The winners of the first developer challenge, announced this evening, appear polished, well thought out, and ready for the first Android-powered phones to hit the streets in the not-too-distant future.

The Android Developer Challenge provides yet another contrast to Apple and its iPhone. Apple announced a software developers kit (SDK) for the iPhone this spring and a few months later the first iPhone/iPod touch applications went on sale at the App Store July 11.

While many of the iPhone applications performed flawlessly, many felt rushed and suffered from buggy behavior. Subsequent releases worked out the kinks.

Google certainly has had its share of problems with the Android SDK and cranky developers, but these Android apps seem tight, well developed, and ready for sale. Of course, final judgment cannot be levied until we actually have working Android phones in our hands and these applications running.

Of the 50 applicants that emerged from Round 1 of the ADC, 10 were awarded $275,000 each for their efforts, with another 10 receiving $100,000 each. A complete listing of winners and entrants is here.

The $275,000 winners include:

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What's in a name? Google's announces the Android Market, not the Android Store

The choice of name says it all: Android Market, not Android Store.

By design, Google is preparing the equivalent of an open-air marketplace for applications that will run on Android-powered smartphones. Google, which announced the Market late this afternoon through its Android developer blog, believes that developers should have an “open and unobstructed environment to make their content available.”

It’s a stark contrast to Apple’s App Store, where developers must submit applications for approval before release. The process has miffed many developers because their iPhone and iPod touch programs may take days, or weeks, before they show up for sale in the App Store.

Like a market or bazaar, Android developers can show up, set up shop, and sell their wares hassle free. Developers can submit applications to the Market using three steps: register as a merchant, upload and describe the content, and publish it.

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Hofstetter proves digital distribution works for indie comedians; lands spot on late-night TV

When we last left Steve Hofstetter, last100’s favorite digital comedian, Steve had offered up his latest album using the pay-what-you-want-model.

So how did that work out for him?

Not bad. Not bad at all.

In addition to making more “take-home” money on this album than the previous two, Hofstetter has landed a spot on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” his first late-night appearance. Hofstetter’s segment, taped at the end of July, will air the night of Sept. 3 (check local listings for airtime).

Hofstetter’s recent success doesn’t end there. Hofstetter, a small, independent artist far from the superstar status of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, embraced digital distribution and alternative business models, and they’ve embraced him.

Just last month, iTunes picked Hofstetter’s second album, “Cure for the Cable Guy,” as a staff pick and one of its top 15 favorite comedy albums of the past five years. “And it’s not even my favorite,” Hofstetter says.

Hofstetter continues to prove that indie artists of all sorts can build impressive careers using alternative distribution methods and business models, social media, and social networks like MySpace and Facebook. In addition to “The Late Late Show” and iTunes, Hofstetter has two scripts in the works — one for a sitcom, the other for a sports comedy show — that are getting attention.

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Warner Brothers to turn on; watch Veronica and Buffy for free on the Web

No matter what the shortcomings of are, it’s always nice to see more free, legal TV on the Web.

Warner Brothers announced it was resurrecting its defunct WB television brand as back in April. It will be available for all to see Wednesday after an extensive beta period.

At the time we liked the fact that a TV exec, Bruce Rosenblum, got the whole TV-on-the-Web thing. “We can’t stick out head in the sand and not acknowledge that there’s an evolution taking place,” he said in April. is rich on content if you like older programs such as “Friends,” “The OC,” “Veronica Mars,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Angel.” It even has full shows of “Friends,” “Gilmore Girls,” and “Veronica Mars” that cannot be found on Hulu, the joint-venture online video site from the NBC and Fox networks that will compete with for viewer attention.

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Kindle 2.0 is looking more like Kindle 1.5

Peter Burrows of BusinessWeek today wrote an even-handed post about the coming of Kindle 2.0, the much anticipated update to Amazon’s much ballyhooed eBook reader. And while he feels the Kindle revolution is “awfully evolutionary,” he also questions just how evolutionary it really is.

Burrows says he can confirm that McAdams Wright Ragen analyst Tim Bueneman [via Seattle Post-Intelligencer] has been saying recently: Amazon will unveil a larger-screen Kindle aimed at college students in the coming months. Burrows also says there will be an upgrade to the Kindle base model, which will be thinner, with a better screen, more stylish, and will include fixes to some of the user interface quirks from Kindle 1.0.

Burrows quotes a source who has seen Kindle 2.0 as saying it is a big leap from its predecessor as the iPod mini was from the first iPod. “They’ve jumped from Generation One to Generation Four or Five,” the source said. “It just looks better, and feels better.”

Wow. Kindle 2.0 must be one heck of a device.

But I, like Burrows, wonder.

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Hmm. ESPN developing "interactive television programming" around baseball content

ESPN and Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced today that they have extended their new-media rights deal, allowing ESPN to stream live games on the Internet and add baseball content onto a number of platforms and devices.

But that news didn’t catch my eye. Buried deep was a little tidbit about ESPN also developing interactive television programming around baseball content.

Ding! Ding! Ding! What the heck does that mean?

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Yahoo, Intel attempt to solve Web content on television with "Widget Channel"

Yahoo and Intel today announced they are working together to bring dynamic Web content to your television set through the use of widgets. It’s an interesting idea.

As many pundits have noted, companies large and small have attempted to bring Web content to the TV for years. All the efforts have failed for a variety of reasons: navigation issues, trying to replicate an entire Web page on the TV during programming, the introduction of the browser, keyboard, and mouse in the living room, and so on.

Yahoo thinks it may have the answer with the Widget Channel, which will allow developers to create small mini-programs (or widgets) that will be displayed on the bottom of a TV screen. These widgets offer on-screen access to everything from your pictures on Flickr, to interactions with friends on Twitter or Facebook, real-time sports scores, weather updates, stock prices, online movie rentals, and so on.

Not a bad idea.

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GigaOm's Mobilize conference 08 (last100 readers get 10% off)

Our friends over at GigaOm are putting on what’s shaping up to be a very interesting looking conference on the Mobile Web (Disclaimer: last100 is an official media sponsor). Here are the details:

MOBILIZE presented by GigaOM
“Embrace Opportunities in Mobile Web”
September 18, 2008
Mission Bay Conference Center
San Francisco, CA
Conference web site –

MOBILIZE will explore the advancements driving growth of the mobile web and what they mean for entrepreneurs and their investors. Despite big plans and visions, the promise of the mobile web and a truly untethered Internet hasn’t been realized yet. Now, developments in design, user experience, handset technology, location and wireless network technology are changing everything. The mobile web is about to take off like a rocket.”

Note that last100 readers qualify for a 10% discount off the entry price to Mobilize by using the discount code ‘LASTONE’ at

Mobilize LaunchPad deadline is today!

If you’re a startup or budding developer in the mobile space you have just one day left to get your submission in for the Mobile Startup Launchpad. The details:

“We are looking for the 12 most promising mobile web startups to strut their stuff at the MOBILIZE Startup Launchpad. This dynamic dozen will focus on the emerging technologies that are the foundation of the mobile web era. Think your startup has the right stuff? Deadline for submission is today, August 20th. We will announce the winners on August 25th. Get in touch with us here.”

Remember that last100 readers can get a 10% discount off the entry price to Mobilize by using the discount code ‘LASTONE’ at

Moving to No. 8, Hulu continues to impress and gain viewers

There were many skeptics, myself included, when Hulu first launched in March. But since then, the online video site owned by Fox and NBC has continued to impress and gain viewers.

According to new stats from Nielsen [via paidContent], Hulu now ranks No. 8 among the Top 10 online video sites, generating more than 105 million streams to more than 3.2 million unique viewers during July.

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Taking next step: NBA wants its teams to stream live local games

There’s an old adage in basketball that says you can’t be afraid to mix it up with the big boys under the basket. Clearly, the NBA is ready for a showdown with cable operators and regional sports networks.

In a first for any major U.S. sports league, the NBA wants to stream live games on the Internet in local markets. Yes, you read that right: local markets.

The NBA is hoping to secure deals with the league’s 30 teams and cable operators to broadcast local games live on the Web in time for the 2008-2009 season, which will be starting soon [via Sports Business Journal].

“We hope to have a model in place this season,” NBA general counsel Bill Koenig said. “We believe that if we can draw more people to the interactive features, it will help bring in new [fans] and keep [fans] for a longer period of time.”

Currently no major U.S. sports leagues streams live local games. Major League Baseball offers a streaming package for out-of-market games, and the National Football League will be streaming games broadcast by NBC this season.

Streaming live games, especially ones targeted at a local market, is one of the most volatile issues leagues face as teams are trying to broaden their reach and broadcasters want to protect the rights to some of their most expensive programming.

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