Microsoft secretly participated in a recent $25 million funding round for Israel-based navigation solutions provider Waze, Israeli tech site TheMarker reported last week. Microsoft makes very few investments each year according to TheMarker’s source, but the tech giant apparently took quite an interest in Waze’s unique brand of navigation apps. “Waze is a social mobile application providing free turn-by-turn navigation based on the live conditions of the road. 100% powered by users, the more you drive, the better it gets,” the company’s website states. The company’s apps provide free voice-guided navigation to users, and also provide real-time data such as traffic conditions and speed trap alerts based on both automatic and manual feedback from each of Waze’s 4.5 million users around the world. While the terms of Microsoft’s investment were not revealed, the move is an interesting one — Microsoft is now in bed with Nokia, owner of navigation giant Navteq, and it will supply the OS for Nokia’s smartphones moving forward. Microsoft has already announced that it will use Navteq to power future navigation solutions in its Windows Phone OS, but it looks like a unique version of Waze for Windows Phone is in the works as well. More →
AT&T on Monday announced pre-order availability of its first “Facebook Phone,” the HTC Status. Social butterflies on the nation’s No. 2 wireless carrier can pre-order the sleek smartphone for $49.99 on contract beginning immediately, and the phone will arrive in stores this Sunday, July 17th. Aimed squarely at young Facebook fanatics, the HTC Status features Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread, a QWERTY keypad, a 5-megapixel camera and a dedicated Facebook sharing button. “We can’t wait to put the HTC Status in the hands of our young customers who will waste no time tapping into Facebook to update their friends,” said AT&T Senior VP of Devices, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets Jeff Bradley in a statement. “We’re also really pleased to offer the hottest new smartphone at an affordable price to this important, socially savvy youth market.” Also of note, Best Buy will be the exclusive purveyor of the HTC Status in a special limited edition mauve color when the phone launches next week. AT&T’s full press release follows below. More →
When we last heard from social media listening firm Mashwork, we learned that future smartphone buyers were much more interested in purchasing the Samsung Galaxy S II than the 4G-friendly Motorola DROID BIONIC. Mashwork is back on Monday with some more interesting findings: according to the firm’s latest research, 45% more people prefer Netflix over Hulu Plus than vice versa. Pulling data from 10,283 relevant tweets between June 28th and July 6th, 2011, 29% of all users prefer Netflix over Hulu Plus for streaming movies and TV shows, while 20% prefer Hulu Plus over Netflix. Also of note, 51% of those accounted for in Mashwork’s study use both services and are hoping to cut the cord with their cable or satellite TV providers. Hulu certainly would like to have been positioned better in the study; Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed at a recent Allen & Co conference that Hulu owners NBCUniversal, News Corp and Disney/ABC Television Group are currently trying to sell the company. Mashwork’s full infographic follows below. More →
We’ve just been sent a shot of AT&T’s upcoming Facebook-centric device, the AT&T HTC Status. The device looks pretty identical to the European HTC ChaCha, save for the obvious AT&T branding. We exclusively reported the HTC Status would be the official name of the device here in the U.S., and now that it’s confirmed, we have to say, it’s one of the most logical names for a device we can think of in recent memory. One more shot of the Facebook phone that’s not a Facebook phone, after the break.
Google on Tuesday finally took the wraps off of its answer to the social steamroller that is Facebook, and it’s called Google+. While Google has launched numerous social products in the past, Google+ is the Internet giant’s most comprehensive offering to date. It is largely an effort to play catch-up, of course — since Google has a lot of catching up to do — but the service also offers some nifty innovative elements that could appeal to users who navigate away from Facebook long enough to check it out. Key features include Circles, which allow you to group contacts together in various social circles and share things only with the particular circles you chose; Sparks, which are topics similar to Twitter hashtags; and Hangouts, which are video chat rooms. There is also a mobile element to Google+, and for the time being it focuses on text updates, photo and video sharing, and… you guessed it… location. Google+ is currently in private beta. A handful of videos covering the key elements of Google’s new service can be viewed below. More →
There are countless methods research firms use in an attempt to amass useful data for their analyses, and perhaps one of the most underutilized sources of sentiment at this point in time is social chatter. Several progressive firms have emerged recently, however, and they see the value in scouring the social web for freely-available data, and that data can be extremely valuable to researchers and businesses alike. Case in point: using online social mentions and opinion between April 1st and June 21st as a gauge, social media listening firm Mashwork has determined that the Samsung Galaxy S II is the more highly anticipated upcoming Android superphone compared to the Motorola DROID BIONIC. Data from 14,838 users across Facebook, Twitter and other social networking services shows that 68% of prospective buyers are interested in purchasing the Galaxy S II while 32% are interested in the DROID BIONIC. More specifically, 39% of of the unsolicited opinions gathered stated that they will purchase the Galaxy S II and 29% expressed interest in buying the phone. Meanwhile, 19% said they would be purchasing the DROID BIONIC and 13% simply expressed interest. In terms of trends, interest in the Galaxy S II is on the rise leading up to the smartphone’s launch while interest in the DROID BIONIC has decreased over the past two months. Mashwork’s infographic detailing social opinions on the two phones follows below. More →
BGR has exclusively confirmed with a trusted source that HTC’s ChaCha, the company’s first device with dedicated Facebook button and deep Facebook integration, will be launching on AT&T in the coming weeks. According to our source, the launch could take place as soon as one week from now. Following some troubles HTC has had with the device’s name, the QWERTY-equipped Facebook phone will land on AT&T as the HTC Status. Truth be told, anything would sound better than ChaCha to us. Additionally, we have separately confirmed with HTC that despite earlier reports to the contrary, the other handset with dedicated Facebook button — HTC’s Salsa — won’t be hitting AT&T in the near future, if at all.
As Research In Motion continues on its quest to recapture consumers’ hearts, minds and wallets, the Canadian BlackBerry maker on Tuesday announced its acquisition of Scoreloop. California-based Scoreloop is a self-professed pioneer in mobile social gaming. According to a post on RIM’s Inside BlackBerry developer blog, the team at Scoreloop is “bringing their expertise in creating social and collaborative gaming toolkits for mobile developers to the BlackBerry platform.” Scoreloop had previously developed tools that supported cross-platform social gaming, and the company says it will continue to support cross-platform solutions following the its transition to RIM, though it will focus mainly on RIM’s QNX-based operating system. More →
Facebook continues to be an overwhelmingly dominant force in the social space and according to Facebook stat tracker Socialbreaker, the massive social network is rapidly approaching 700,000,000 users worldwide. Emerging markets are showing the most growth by far, lead by Brazil, which grew by 11.4% in May of this year alone as it added nearly 2 million users. Indonesia added 1.5 million users, the Philippines added 1.3 million and Mexico and Argentina closed out the top-5, adding 1.1 million users each. The U.S. is still the top country in terms of volume of Facebook users with a staggering 149.4 million users, and Indonesia sits at a distant second with 37.9 million according to Socialbreaker. Turkey, the U.K. and India round out the top-5 with 28.9 million, 28.6 million and 26.6 million users, respectively. More →
Barnes & Noble on Tuesday unveiled its all new NOOK eBook reader, and to say it’s an improvement over the previous-generation model is an understatement. This new version replaces the older greyscale model, not the still-young NOOK color, and it features a major improvement we probably all saw coming… a touchscreen. The eReader sports an on-screen keyboard and it also allows readers to look up words or take notes with simple taps on the beautiful E Ink display. The new NOOK features just one button compared to the Kindle’s 38, which obviously simplifies the user experience significantly. More importantly, the new NOOK can last up to two months on a single charge — double the battery life of Amazon’s Kindle. Other nifty features include a new proprietary dissolve transition that takes readers from one page to the next, and social media integration that allows users to share recommendations via Twitter, Facebook and more. Of course the new eReader also features Wi-Fi connectivity and owners can enjoy free hotspot access at all Barnes & Noble stores as well as every AT&T hotspot across the country. The new NOOK will retail for $139.99 when it becomes available on June 10th from Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and more. Pre-orders are available immediately.
If you’re addicted to your PlayBook and a certain social network, listen up. Research In Motion has announced a new Facebook application for its 7-inch, QNX-based tablet due out in “May.” The new app will allow users to view and add friends and photos, utilize Facebook’s chat feature, and interact with the News Feed. “There are over 30 million users of our Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones app who are staying in touch with their social network while on the go,” said Tom Goguen, RIM’s VP of Collaboration and Social Networking. “Now with Facebook for BlackBerry PlayBook we can also offer customers highly engaging social experiences optimized for the PlayBook including the ability to share FaceBook pictures and videos with friends and family on an HDTV.” RIM plans to provide a more in-depth look at the application later this week. The full press release is after the break. More →
Twitter’s vice president of international strategy, Katie Stanton, recently confirmed that the social network now has more than 200 million users. With 70% of those users are tweeting from outside of the United States. Japan is home to the Emperors’ share of tweets with more than 25% of posts originating from there. Twitter, which launched in July of 2006, adds a whopping 500,000 new users per day.