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After spotting it on video and briefly playing with it at CES, Canonical’s mobile-friendly version of Ubuntu will soon be available for the truly curious to muck around with. Starting on February 21, developers will be able to load the build onto their Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 4 — on the off-chance that you’re attending MWC like we are, Canonical will be on hand to flash your compatible hardware for you.
As you’d expect, the release is intended to familiarize enthusiasts with Ubuntu mobile, but Canonical has also released templates, a preview SDK and an app design guide to give us all a better understanding of the development process involved.
Curiously, developers looking to make their mark in a relatively new mobile environment may end up working with a slightly different distribution process at first. Canonical confirmed early on that Ubuntu for phones would launch without a centralized app store in tow. As Canonical product manager Richard Collins put it in an interview with Engadget, the company is going after a market segment “where users are primarily interested in being able to use a core set of applications” rather than a picking and choosing pre-loaded storefront full of them.
It may seem like a crazy omission for a platform that’s being pegged with potential in markets as varying as enterprise and developing economies, and that’s at least partially because of how these Ubuntu apps are meant to work. You see, the sorts of applications that will ultimately run on an Ubuntu-powered phone will also run on Ubuntu PCs, televisions, and tablets in addition to just smartphones The onus on developers then is to craft the sort of all-encompassing experiences that work across these different devices, a task that’s no small feat even for experienced designers and programmers.
Naturally, that extra work can yield some big gains in terms of stickiness too — this sort of one-app-fits-all mentality may mean that the apps developers do wind up creating for Ubuntu phones can follow them as users bound from device to device, a compelling argument for adopting the Ubuntu platform as a whole. Sure it’ll take plenty of work to make sure these experiences are actually worth using, but at least Canonical is giving the app development world at large a bit of lead time.
The one-command automation tool promises that a developer can be hacking on GitHub within 30 minutes.
The tool follows a trend to offer developer-ready laptops. Dell has developed a laptop built specifically for developers called Project Sputnik. The laptop is now commercially available.
GitHub posted on its blog today that Boxen started nearly a year ago as a project called “The Setup,” which they describe as a pipe dream to let anyone at GitHub run GitHub.com on their development machine with a single command. That pipe dream is now giving new developers an added treat when unboxing their Macs (oh the joy).
I see this a lot. Startups need their own tools to do the work they do. So they create their own. Boxen is a great example of this trend. It is designed with the GitHub developer in mind. According to the blog, it automatically updates itself every run and opens and closes GitHub issues as problems arise and get fixed.
In a post on its blog, GitHub said:
With Boxen, we treat our development environments with the same care we give production: we test our code and rely on Continuous Integration to deploy changes.
Pretty cool trend unfolding as more Internet-scale businesses invent the software and increasingly the hardware to get work done that they can’t do with off the shelf products.
NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s leading mobile operator, has announced that it will invest in 500 Startups as it prepares to launch a 10 billion JPY ($109 million USD) venture fund in late February. The accelerator program will focus on the development of new businesses for smartphones and tablets.
DoCoMo’s investment in 500 Startups is part of the Tokyo-based company’s plan for its new incubation program and will be carried out by DoCoMo Capital, its international VC arm which was stakes in startups including Evernote, Fab and Cooliris.
NTT DoCoMo said back in October that it planned to create a fund to support early-stage tech and mobile startups by March of this year. This should be welcome news to entrepreneurs in Japan, where the startup industry is relatively low profile and early-stage funding is difficult to secure. The Next Web notes, however, that there have been some high-profile exits in the country, including Yahoo Japan’s October acquisition of app-maker Community Factor for $12.8 million.
In a statement, DoCoMo said it “aims to strengthen cooperation with venture companies through initiatives such as investments, primarily in Japan, to help upgrade services and technologies for smart devices in existing fields of business” on behalf of its parent company NTT Group.
The new venture fund also seeks to:
”accelerate development of business models, services and technologies in eight new strategic fields: media/content, finance/payments, commerce, medical/healthcare, machine-to-machine (M2M), aggregation/platforms, environment/ecology and security/safety. Such efforts are expected to rapidly expand DoCoMo’s involvement with integrated services centered on mobility.”
DoCoMo is looking for companies “developing mobile-related services that have the potential to become global standards.” The application period for the incubation program is until March 11. Startups and venture companies selected for the program will receive mentoring, get the use of office space, and up to 2 million JPY ($23,000 USD) seed funding in convertible notes. DoCoMo and 500 Startups will also help participants learn how to enter markets in North America and other regions.
Evernote, the popular personal information and productivity app, is taking another step today in building out its premium service offerings: its enterprise app, Evernote Business, which formally launched in seven markets in December 2012, has now been switched on throughout the European Union, Norway and Iceland, with Australia and New Zealand coming online next week. In keeping with the company’s growth, it has also now appointed its very first chief operating officer, Ken Gullicksen, who will head up Evernote Business, on top of other roles.
From today, the full list of countries that will be supported by Evernote for its Business services are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the U.S. Australia and New Zealand get turned on February 12, bringing the total number of countries to 26 and aiming for 50 by the middle of this year, with the next targets territories in Latin America and Asia.
It also follows on from Evernote releasing a major update on another one of its apps, Evernote Hello, last week.
Expanding Evernote Business into new markets is the company’s way of tapping into its existing user base to build up revenues: some 70% of the company’s 50 million current subscribers are outside the U.S., and Evernote says that two-thirds of them are already, less formally, using their free apps to increase work productivity.
The idea is to look to them first as a natural audience for the paid, premium product, which is charged starting on a $10 per user, per month basis, and gives them a number of features on top of those that are included in the free product.
These extras include access to a Business Library, an information repository that can be controlled by an administrator; Business Notebooks, which are distinct from personal notebooks and can be shared with co-workers or posted to a group’s Business Library; expanded sharing capabilities; an automatic Related Notes feature with semantic search capabilities; administrator privileges; and increased upload allowances of up to 2GB each month for personal notebooks, and 2GB more for Business Notebooks.
CEO Phil Libin has in the past described the development of Evernote Business as a product designed for companies like Evernote itself — up to 300 people — and fulfilling functions for information management that both its existing customers and own employees were demanding.
This is a strategy that Evernote Business will continue under Gullicksen: “We learn from our business customers every day and continue to enhance the product to meet their needs,” he noted.
With Evernote Business’ international expansion also comes platform expansion: most of the premium app had already been available for Mac, iOS, Android and Windows Desktop; from today, Evernote’s also extending Related Notes to work on the Mac client, as well as Evernote Clearly for Chrome and Firefox and Evernote Web Clipper for Chrome.
Since formally launching Evernote Business in December, the company says that 2,000 businesses — primarily small and medium enterprises, or groups within larger companies — have signed up to use the service, with 40% of them coming from outside the U.S.
A company spokesperson declined to comment on how many individuals that translates to paying for the product. But part of the idea of appointing Gullicksen as COO is that now he will be the main person overseeing how that product develops and gets commercially deployed as it widens its international reach.
Gullicksen is an internal appointment, and he had already played an important role in how Evernote has developed. As VP of corporate development, he has led on Evernote’s five acquisitions and its launch of its service in China, Yinxiang Biji. And before taking that role, he was a general partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, where he led on Evernote’s first venture round and was a part of its board of directors. (Evernote has raised a whopping $251 million since 2006.)
In addition to Evernote Business, he will also oversee investor relations and corporate development, the company says.
“As COO, Ken will be instrumental in continuing to foster strategic initiatives, building on the momentum we’re seeing with Evernote Business and developing efficient services to support our entire global operation,” CEO Phil Libin noted in a statement.