Get ready for a whole lot more Pebble. The smartwatch company just announced several software enhancements for the Pebble and a $15M Series A led by Charles River Ventures. Pebble is not going to sit around, scared of iWatch rumors. They’re plowing forward on their own accord and committed to providing the best platform possible for developers and consumers.
“We are pledging to support the developers hacking on Pebble,” stated Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky told me in an interview. “We want to make the Pebble the go-to place for developers.” And with that the company released its first SDK last month and is following it up today with several big improvements.
The cash injection will be used to increase the company’s software engineering team’s headcount and allow the company to scale to meet still-growing customer demand. CVS’ Partner George Zachery is joining Pebble’s board of directors, a move that excites Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky.
“George is the one that shared our vision of wearable computing,” Eric told me in a chat this morning. Several angels also participated in the round, but Eric indicated that Charles River Ventures funded the majority of the Series A. This round of funding joins the $375k the company previously received from four angel investors, including Paul Buchheit, a partner at Y Combinator, and Tim Draper of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson. And don’t forget about the $10.3M Pebble raised on Kickstarter.
“The tremendous response we received from Kickstarter backers validated our belief in the value of a smartwatch as a wearable computer, but also in the value an open platform brings to truly personalizing the watch to their daily activities”, said Migicovsky, Pebble’s founder in a released statement today. “This new investment will help us build out the Pebble development ecosystem and deliver on Pebble’s extraordinary potential.”
Pebble is still working on fulfilling the 85,000 orders placed on Kickstater. To date 70,000 have reached early supporters. “It’s pretty crazy thinking there are 70,000 Pebbles out there,” Eric told me proudly. “Tens of thousands” of additional orders have been placed, Eric said.
The company is aiming for retail availability in four to six months.
Pebble also announced several software enhancements for its smartwatch today. The SDK, which the company appropriately calls the PebbleKit, enables third party apps to send and receive data from the smartwatch.
This two-way communication is a huge step forward for the smartwatch, allowing the watch to display a large variety of information including weather and sports scores or even act as a remote control for the phone itself. Until now, apps were limited to basic functions like just display a watch face or displaying a simple game of snake.
Pebble also released the Pebble Sports API, enabling developers to build GPS-enabled smartwatch apps similar to the RunKeeper app announced a couple of weeks back.
Since releasing its initial SDK back in April, Pebble states the kit was downloaded over 8,000 times, resulting in over 5,000 unique watchapps with 300,000 installs during the last month. Owners are clearly hungry for more Pebble features.
The Pebble was supposed to usher in a new era of productivity by strapping a communication device to our wrist, but the initial feature set was limited even with the first SDK release. However, Pebble is keeping at it and today’s funding announcement and software development release should result in a big harvest of fresh apps.
“Everyone is talking about wearable devices,” Eric explained. “We’re very happy that Pebble is a platform people can build on today.”
Wearables is the next big thing. There’s no denying that. Even if Apple skips the iWatch device, Google Glass and others are pushing forward the thought of wearable computing. But the Pebble is here today and developers have latched onto the platform, outing custom watch faces, games, and apps. With the Pebble, the future is here now.
Microsoft on Tuesday announced Windows Blue will be officially called Windows 8.1. Furthermore, the new version will arrive as a free Windows 8 update via the Windows Store.
The news was revealed at the JP Morgan Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Boston, by Tami Reller, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Windows. Microsoft also noted there are more than 70,000 apps in the Windows Store, a noteworthy number but still a far cry from Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone.
On the Blogging Windows blog, Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft’s Communications Manager for Windows, detailed where the company is coming from with its Windows 8.1 vision:
During her remarks today, Tami reiterated our goal of delivering continual updates to create a richer experience for Windows customers. Windows 8.1 is part of that and continues the journey we first began with Windows 8 last fall. Windows 8.1 will help us to deliver the next generation of PCs and tablets with our OEM partners and to deliver the experiences customers— both consumers and businesses alike —need and will just expect moving forward.
That doesn’t say much, now does it? LeBlanc says Microsoft plans to share more about Windows 8.1 “in the coming weeks.”
A public preview of Windows 8.1, for both Windows 8 and Windows RT, will be available starting on June 26. This is timed with the first day of Microsoft’s Build 2013 developer conference in San Francisco, where the first major details about the operating system update will be released.
Rumor has it that Windows 8.1 will also launch along with multiple devices featuring smaller screen sizes. All of this will likely be slated for the 2013 holiday season.
Top Image Credit: Dell Inc.
OpenKit, an open-source social platform for mobile games, is now open to all developers, according to co-founder Peter Relan. The service, first announced in December, has been in private beta since earlier this year. There are apparently 1,500 developers already testing the service.
Relan previously told me that he started OpenKit in response to the shutdown of OpenFeint, the GREE-acquired social platform for mobile games that he co-founded. Developers still need something like this, Relan said, and he wants to build it in a way that’s both “good business and developer friendly.”
OpenKit’s current features include cloud storage (allowing a player to save their game on one device and load it on another), leaderboards and achievements, user authentication (for Facebook, Google+ and Twitter), and plug-ins that connect games with the Unity engine. Plus, it works on both iOS and Android, and it’s being developed as an open-source project, so developers can always take their data elsewhere or use the code to build their own backend service.
OpenKit isn’t live for players yet. Relan told me today that that’s coming in a couple of months. There are more social features planned, but he said he’s specifically waiting to integrate with the Google Games service that’s rumored for the Google I/O conference next week.
Here is the original post: Mobile Gaming Backend OpenKit Now Available To All Developers
Today, at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, Tumblr founder David Karp and Sequoia partner (and Tumblr investor) Roelof Botha took the stage to talk to TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington about how the blogging platform’s plans to take over the world. After a conversation about the merits of building a startup in New York City versus Silicon Valley, the talk turned to how Tumblr plans to monetize their platform.
What’s going to differentiate Tumblr’s advertising over the big honchos of online advertising? Karp says that, unlike the bigs, Tumblr is going after the “top of the funnel,” in other words, advertising that actually inspires you to go out and buy. That’s all well and good, but is it actually working? “Ten out of ten Hollywood studios are buying advertising space on Tumblr,” Karp says. Tumblr is seeing high six-figures per campaign, and “budgets are starting to ramp up.”
In fact, Tumblr really began its monetization push back in May of last year, when it first launched ads on its network. “We’ve had great early traction on our network,” Karp told Arrington, “because our story stands apart from the other big ad networks out there.”
When Mike asked just what it was that made Tumblr stand out, Karp said that he thinks most of the big networks are really focused on bottom-of-the-funnel intent — that is to say, harvesting intent by hitting viewers with blasts of those little blue links that take them to the website of the “right asbestos attorney.”
New media platforms building ad networks are using intent from demographic targeting, timeliness and other roughshod ways of serving the right ad to users, but really they just end up being a group of little blue links designed to convert. In other words, Karp isn’t exactly a fan of search advertising. Sorry, Google.
Instead, Karp wants Tumblr to offer advertisers their own canvas and the space they need to create ads that will actually win awards, he says, the kind of content that one would find in traditional advertising. “We want to give them the space to do anything, a four-second loop, an hour and a half video, a high-res panorama, whatever they need to help them build amazing, interactive ads.”
The problem is that creative brand advertising hasn’t had anywhere to live on the Web, the Tumblr founder says, and the startup wants to build tools to do that — and to build ad space that’s a comfortable fit for social advertising.
See the original post: David Karp: Ten Out Of Ten Of The Biggest Hollywood Studios Now Advertise On Tumblr
If, say, a company uses both Sharepoint and Salesforce inside a mobile app, to get that data into one app they need multiple levels of API integration. Because of the enormous boom in mobile and tablet apps, so-called ‘back-end as a service’ (BaaS) platforms like FeedHenry – which solve these problems – are hugely expanding. Thus, today FeedHenry has secured $9M (€7M) in a funding round led by Intel Capital, alongside a “seven figure” investment from existing investor Kernel Capital.
Other existing investors VMware Inc., Enterprise Ireland and private investors also participated and were joined by new investment from ACT Venture Capital. The funds will be used on an international roll out.
FeedHenry’s mobile application platform – built between Ireland and the U.S. – helps businesses build mobile apps that integrate securely to their business through the cloud. This is a competitive market that includes StackMob, Usergrid, Appcelerator, Sencha.io, Applicasa ,Parse, CloudMine , CloudyRec , iKnode, yorAPI, Buddy and ScottyApp.
Read the original here: FeedHenry Secures $9M Funding Led By Intel Capital To Feed Boom in Mobile Enterprise