NVIDIA brought its new Shield handheld gaming system to Google I/O this year and showed off a near-production device. The Shield made its debut at CES this year, surprising most since it’s a consumer handheld device from a company that generally makes internal components. But it has some neat tricks up its sleeve, including a Tegra 4 chipset, 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch 720p display and 16GB of internal storage.
The Shield units available at I/O this week were all running Android and showing off Android games with hardware controller support, and none were demoing the PC game streaming that NVIDIA said would be coming to Shield as a beta when it comes to retail in June.
My experience with the NVIDIA was limited to just a few games, including the Epic Citadel demo that always gets trotted out to demonstrate amazing graphics capabilities on mobile devices. There were also a couple of playable cart racers in action, and all of the above performed well and really showed that the hardware is capable of rendering high-quality video smoothly and without any apparent effort. For a device that’s essentially a smartphone without the actual phone powers, but with more physical buttons for $349, that’s an important achievement to be able to claim.
Shield does its Android job well, and the hardware feels great to these gamers’ hands. Buttons are slightly clicky and the ergonomics are solid, and the thing doesn’t take up too much more space than an Xbox controller when the screen is folded down and it’s in travel mode. There’s mini-HDMI, which was outputting gameplay to a small HD television, and a micro-USB slot for charging. The onboard screen boasts “retinal” quality 294 PPI pixel density, which means video and games look silky smooth.
Maybe the best part is that NVIDIA has gone for a pretty near stock Android Jelly Bean experience, which a rep from the company told me was a conscious choice they made after first trying a more involved widget overlay that ended up making for a much less pleasant experience. Navigating the stock Android with hardware controls (you can also always use the touchscreen) is also surprisingly intuitive.
All that said, this is a strange device with a market that’s probably going to be pretty niche. Really, it almost seems like a reference device designed to show off the power of Tegra, but NVIDIA is actually shipping the thing, so those of us like me who actually have a hankering for this kind of hardware will really be able to buy it even if it doesn’t become a runaway success.
Continue reading here: NVIDIA’s Shield Mobile Gaming System Feels Like The Way Android Games Should Be Played
Despite rising costs and increasing competition from rivals like Tencent, Chinese Internet giant Sina narrowed its first-quarter net loss to $13.2 million from $13.7 million a year earlier, the company reported today. Sina’s net revenue increased 19 percent year-over-year to $126 million, strengthened by stronger-than-expected non-advertising revenue.
The company’s Sina Weibo is China’s largest microblogging service, with over 46 million daily users. Last month, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group bought a 18 percent stake in Sina Weibo for $586 million, a deal that valued the site at over $3 billion.
Sina hopes that the Alibaba deal will allow it to strengthen advertising revenue despite the slowdown in ad sales that has hit all major Chinese Internet companies, including Baidu and Tencent. Sina’s ad sales dropped 15 percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter to $94.3 million.
Adjusted non-advertising revenue, which includes revenue share from Web games and membership fees on Sina Weibo, increased 17 percent to $27 million, more than the range of $21 million to $23 million range forecast by the company.
“As we start 2013, we are making good progress in transitioning from a PC-centric to a mobile-centric Internet company with new product launches and improved monetization,” said Sina chairman and CEO Charles Chao in the earnings release. “In April, we formed a strategic alliance with Alibaba Group to catapult us into social commerce. By partnering with Alibaba, Weibo is well positioned to play a key role in the future of e-commerce, particularly in mobile commerce as we explore ways to search, share and buy the goods and services of the millions of merchants on Taobao and Tmall.”
Read the original post: Sina Narrows Its 1Q Loss As It Counts On Weibo-Alibaba Deal To Bolster Ad Revenue
One year to the day of the troubled Facebook IPO, the climate for tech IPOs in the public markets is significantly less stormy, especially for companies in the enterprise space. Today, not one but two, Tableau Software and Marketo, are debuting on New York stock exchanges. Business intelligence provider Tableau Software, trading as “DATA”, is one of the more highly anticipated tech IPOs of the year, and so far it has not disappointed. It priced its IPO at $31 per share, and it has popped 58% and is at nearly $49/share in early trading on the NYSE.
Meanwhile, Marketo, a cloud-based marketing services company, priced its IPO at $13 per share. It will be trading as MKTO on the NASDAQ exchange,
but has yet to trade at the time of writing. It went up by more than 50% in early activity and then continued to creep up: it’s now 68% above the IPO pricing and trading at $21.48. (We’ll keep updating these numbers for both stocks.)
Taken together, the two are strong endorsements for the market for enterprise services and some of the still-emerging trends within it.
Tableau Software, as its stock ticker unsubtly hints, is aimed more at a big-data play, offering visualization and analytics that it says are easy enough for non-technical people to use. Up to now, it still offers the majority of its services as downloadable, on-premises software rather than as cloud-based apps.
Marketo is positioned as a software-as-a-service, and like a Salesforce for the marketing department, offers its various services — inbound marketing, lead management, social marketing, event management, instant CRM integration, sales dashboards, and marketing ROI reporting and analytics — all in a one-stop-in-the-cloud-shop.
Tableau Software raised some $254.2 million at the $31/share price, after raising that IPO from an initial range of $23-26; this gives it a valuation of $2 billion. Marketo, meanwhile, is raising just under $85 million at a $550 million valuation.
(Incidentally, Facebook’s shares have lost some 30% of their value in the last year, and are at around $26.45/share at the moment.)
How does Tableau’s IPO compare to other high-profile enterprise listings? The money raised is just shy of the $260 million that enterprise security company Palo Alto Networks raised in July 2012. It is still a ways behind HR specialist Workday’s IPO in October 2012, which raised $637 million.
Tableau Software’s multi-billion IPO sets the stage for other multi-billion tech IPOs from the likes of Box and Twitter. Tableau had raised less than $40 million prior to this from NEA and Meritech (Crunchbase puts the total at only $15 million, but Geekwire says that NEA’s total investment in the company has been $29 million).
In contrast, Marketo has raised $108 million in six rounds, from investors that include Institutional Venture Partners, InterWest Partners, Mayfield Fund, Storm Ventures and Battery Ventures.
There’s a change at the top at Facebook….in Japan, where the company has hired former McDonalds and Boston Consulting Group marketing exec Atsushi Iwashita as its new Managing Director.
The news is reported in Markezine — via Asiajin – although Iwashita, who was most recently CEO at brand consultancy firm Interbrand Japan, is still to update his LinkedIn profile to reflect his new role. The move comes at an interesting time for social networks in the country, as the top sites are refocusing their management to capture young audiences and double-down on mobile.
Local rival Mixi replaced its founder with a new (and notably very young) CEO on Monday. Now 30-year-old Yusuke Asakura will lead the company, becoming only the second CEO in Mixi’s 9-year history.
That change to inject more youth and appeal comes in response to Mixi’s continued decline and Facebook’s growth in Japan. Last September, Facebook overtook Mixi as it hit 15 million monthly active users in the country. That was a significant moment since Japan had been one of the few remaining markets where Facebook was not the dominant network.
Asiajin speculates that the two are near neck-and-neck right now, so there’s still all to play for in the lucrative market, where Twitter is actually the most popular social service (thanks to its simple and efficient mobile experience).
Locally developed messaging app Line has shown the kinds of revenues that social services can make in the country. A whopping 80 percent of the $58 million revenue it made in Q1 2013 came via Japan, and Mixi and Facebook will be aiming to grow their user base and presence on mobile in pursuit of a piece of that pie.
You can also add private social network Path to that list too.
The company launched its Asia-inspired Path 3.0 service, featuring stickers and virtual content popular in the continent, in March having appointed a general manager for Japan/Asia last year. Path has long said that Asia is its fastest growing region, with Japan and Korea two of its key markets.
Headline image via laughingsquid / Flickr
Dhingana is stepping up its efforts to monetize its streaming service for Indian music after it introduced video-roll advertising, initially for its iOS app only.
The company — which has offices in Pune, India, and Sunnyvale, California – launched its advertising platform in August 2012 and it also offer a paid-for subscription for those who prefer an ad-free experience. The company says that its new ‘Premium Video Advertising’ feature is targeted at brands looking to reach its music-loving users with “TV quality commercials”.
Companies are now able to run 10-30 second pre- or post-roll clips that are integrated into the app, taking the place of album cover art or anything else that is on-screen. Since Dhingana provides only audio, the ads are displayed when there is a pause in a user’s activity, meaning that they are likely to come into contact with the device’s screen.
That is designed to keep the listening experience unaffected, CEO Rohit Bhatia explains:
Video is one of the best forms of advertising, delivering two-to-four times higher performance over regular display banner ads on mobile devices. Our video ads are carefully integrated to be shown when the user is already engaged with our music for several minutes to maximize the impact for the advertising brand without compromising the listening experience.
Launching for iOS — both iPhone and iPad — the ads will come to the Android app soon, but, already, Dhingana has recruited a major name, Coke, to kick things off (update: Dhingana tells us that although Coca Cola is an advertiser, it hasn’t specifically agreed to video ads at this time).
The move to introduce more interactive advertising comes three months after the hiring of Bhatia, and the company is likely to have solicited the opinion and feedback of Gokul Rajaram, Facebook’s product director for advertising, who joined its advisory board last year.
Bhatia has a number of ambitious goals and, in his first interview as CEO, he told TNW that he wants to make the service compelling enough for its users to listen for 2 hours each day. That’s roughly 60 hours per month, and would some way ahead of Spotify, which logs an average of 15-20 hours per month per user.
“I’d like Dhingana users to wake up and go to bed with Dhingana music, using it all through the day,” he said.
Founded in 2007 by twin brothers Swapnil and Snehal Shinde, Dhingana offers more than 500,000 songs across 35 languages and claims a monthly active user base of more than 15 million. The service is available for iOS, Blackberry, Android, Symbian Windows Phone and via a Web-based player.
Headline image via scubabrett22 / Flickr