On Thursday, Groupon — the popular location-based coupon service — filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The start-up, which alerts 83 million email subscribers in 43 different countries of local deals that range from restaurant discounts to sailing lessons, hopes to raise $750 million in its IPO. “Expect us to make ambitious bets on our future that distract us from our current business,” Andrew Mason, Groupon’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Some bets we’ll get right, and others we’ll get wrong, but we think it’s the only way to continuously build disruptive products,” Mason added. Groupon launched in November, 2007, has more than 7,000 employees, and reported $645 million in revenues during Q1 2011. Hit the break for a letter from Mason that was included with the company’s filing. More →
On Wednesday Delivery.com — the popular food delivery service — launched a dedicated iPhone application. It offers a bunch of useful features, including a “nearby” feature to find restaurants that deliver nearby, automatic sync with your account, the ability to filter for cuisine, distance, or rating, and more. Users can check out using a debit card, gift card, or credit card, although we suspect that cash-on-delivery is still an option, too. The application is free in case you’re ever looking for McDonald’s delivery in NYC — yes, we’ve done that. More →
Wirefly this month unveiled a new service option for its popular mobile backup service. Mobile Backup PRO, which is compatible with the Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile 6.5 devices, affords subscribers a host of functionality not available with the standard free service. For starters, PRO subscribers get either 10GB or unlimited storage for music, photos, videos, and any other data backed up using the service, depending on the subscription option they choose. Free subscribers only get 2GB of storage. For added value, PRO subscribers can also use the service to locate their phone remotely using the device’s GPS, lock and unlock their phone remotely, display a message on the phone’s display, sound an alarm on the phone, and completely erase the phone’s memory remotely. Wirefly’s full-featured backup and remote security solution costs $2.99 per month or $30 annually for one phone and one computer with up to 10GB of storage. $5.99 or $60 annually grants users unlimited storage for up to five phones and one computer. Both plans feature a free 30-day trial for users who enter the code “WMBPRO.” More →
A new series of emails were made public on Monday as a result of Skyhook Wireless’ lawsuit claiming Google interfered with a contract the LBS company had in place with cell phone maker Motorola Mobility. The emails, which were sent to and from numerous top executives at Google including CEO Larry Page and SVP of Mobile Andy Rubin, detail the company’s shock at losing out to Skyhook. The internal emails also reveal Google’s admission that Skyhook’s location product is better and more accurate than its solutions, and scratch the tip of the iceberg regarding how Google seemingly used its muscle to squash Motorola’s deal with Skyhook. Hit the break for screen shots of a few of the emails, and hit read link for a collection of what may be the most interesting emails of the bunch. More →
The “is Android open?” question is one that constantly fades in and out of focus on blogs and in the tech media. The latest snippet that will undoubtedly reinvigorate the argument was revealed this past weekend, and this time it’s not a pretty one for Google. As part of Skyhook Wireless’ lawsuit against Google, which alleges that the company interfered with a contract that placed its services on Android phones sold by Motorola, several internal emails have been made public by a Massachusetts state court. Collectively, the emails provide various insights into the business strategies employed by Google’s Android team. One email in particular, however, is attracting a great deal of attention. In it, Android Open-Source & Compatibility Program Manager Dan Morrill writes, “we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want.” In other words, we’re brought right back to the earlier revelation that Android partners can do whatever they want with the platform, but only those that play ball with Google’s compatibility requirements get preferential treatment, such as early access to new Android builds. Of course this time, the sentiment comes straight from the horse’s mouth in a relatively gruff manner, which doesn’t exactly do a service to Google’s repeated “open” claims. More →
AT&T on Monday announced ShopAlerts, a new mobile advertising service that will introduce location-based ads to the AT&T wireless network. The service, developed by AT&T Advanced Ad Solutions and Placecast, will serve advertisements and special offers to subscribers’ cell phones when they are in the vicinity of a participating retailer. Initially, the service is only being offered in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. “We are proud to take mobile marketing into the future with this unique offering that is being embraced by consumers and brands alike,” said Greg McCastle, senior vice president of AT&T Advanced Ad Solutions, in a statement. “ShopAlerts by AT&T enables brands/advertisers to help link consumer engagement with activation and ultimately to the point of sale.” The ShopAlerts service will be opt-in, meaning AT&T subscribers must elect to receive ShopAlerts ads before any related advertisements or deals will be delivered to their devices. AT&T’s full press release can be found after the break. More →
Yobongo, if you haven’t heard, is a new iPhone app that meshes location-aware messaging with a chatroom-like environment, and it’s kind of amazing. By using a custom algorhytm and different variables including your location, people you have chatted with previously, or even people you know, Yobongo connects you with up to around 10 people in a single “room” and well, from there it’s one big conversation. I’ve been using Yobongo for around a week, and while the beta test didn’t use our location to work (there was most likely no one nearby since the service hasn’t launched yet), it’s a pretty incredible experience. For starters, the UI is beautiful, well thought out and extremely polished, and it’s minimalistic enough without being bare. Using the app is very straight forward — you just open it and you’re instantly placed into a room using the aforementioned data points. Messaging is very fast, almost real-time, and that’s something co-founder Caleb Eston aimed to achieve; Yobongo’s big vision is that it’s a communication system that leverages location in such a way that hasn’t been done before, we don’t believe. The iPhone app launches for free in early March in the App Store, though you can sign up now to be put on the wait list on Yobongo’s website. Hit the break for a video of the app in action. More →
Apple released its first developer build of iOS 4.3 on Wednesday and needless to say, developers have been on a treasure hunt ever since. We compiled a list of new iOS features last night, but an interesting one popped up early this morning. The forthcoming addition, found buried in the iOS code, is called “Find My Friends.” The purpose of the service is unknown for the time being, but the code suggests that it is tied to MobileMe. The name of the forthcoming feature obviously leads us to believe that Apple plans to add location sharing to MobileMe, likely in line with Google Latitude, which allows users to broadcast their locations to friends. More details will surely follow as new iOS 4.3 beta builds are released. More →
Navteq, a mapping and navigation solutions company owned by Nokia, has acquired California-based Trapster according to a Reuters report. The somewhat controversial move suggests that future navigation solutions from Nokia might integrate Trapster’s product. Trapster provides a location-based service that alerts motorists equipped with its iOS or Android app when they approach known police speed traps. The company’s speed trap location data is completely user-generated, and the service claims to currently have 9.4 million users. The purpose of the service, in a nutshell, is to help users disobey traffic laws without getting caught. It then further endangers users along with the pedestrians and motorists around them by encouraging people to divert their attention from the road to manually report speed traps they pass during their travels. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 9,479 fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2009 involving speeding, resulting in 10,591 deaths. More →
Remember Google Latitude — Google’s location-based social network that allows users to easily share their locations with friends? Yeah, neither did we… at least not until Google’s new iOS app popped up over the weekend. Google Latitude is half-baked at best, though we imagine once Google launches a social network that doesn’t flop, Latitude will probably be folded in to add the LBS element. For the time being, all the service really does is share your location with friends (and Google’s data bank). No added value, no special features — just location sharing. The app supports background updating as well, so if you’d like to trade battery life for the ability to be stalked with alarming accuracy, Latitude is good for that as well. Google Latitude for iOS is available immediately in the App Store, and is compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad and iPod touch (third and fourth generations). More →
Facebook today announced the introduction of its mobile platform. The purpose of the project is to provide a social environment for mobile devices that will eventually mirror the company’s dominant Web-based platform. The initial mobile platform involves a number of projects across a variety of mobile operating systems — including iOS, Android and BlackBerry — and it will allow developers to more easily expand their Facebook products beyond the desktop environment.
Platform announcements made today include:
•Single Sign-On — quick easy log-ins from mobile apps on mobile devices
•Location APIs — allows any mobile app to access Facebook location services
•Deals Platform — location-based platform for local businesses to offer deals to nearby Facebook users
Facebook is updating its Android product immediately to include support for Single Sign-On and other new features, and its iOS offering will be updated next week.
Could there possibly be a better way to introduce the world to an app that locates sex offenders? Antoine Dodson, who inadvertently earned a place in the Web video hall of fame as a result of the Internet phenomenon Bed Intruder Song, does his best to keep America’s children safe by introducing the world to Sex Offender Tracker. The mobile app makes users aware of local sex offenders using a nifty augmented reality interface that… Seriously, just hit the jump for the video and let Antoine tell you how it works. More →
Google has introduced new location-aware advertising for iPhone and Android handsets. Advertisers will now have the ability to select a “location extension for display” option that will serve up their ads based upon a user’s GPS coordinates. Ads will appear within mobile applications and mobile browsers and will allow users to get mapping and contact information for businesses that are within the immediate area. This feature is pretty cool once you get over the creepiness of Google sending ads to you based upon your device, the context of your mobile usage, and now your location.