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
Because waiting for the check stinks. Tabbedout, a startup backed by $5.75 million from NEA and others, has been developing a platform that allows bar and restaurant customers to pay for their tab using their smartphone. Today, the company is announcing a partnership with Point-of-Sale (POS) system maker Harbortouch which will allow it to sizably increase its footprint in the space.
The two companies have joined forces to deliver an integrated solution that’s being installed on all the new Harbortouch Hospitality POS deployments in the future, as well as integrated into existing terminals. The vendor has a presence in over 10,000 locations across the U.S.
Though to the consumer, it may seem like it should be simple enough to just start paying for things in the offline world with your phone, there’s a reason why no entity has yet to establish itself as a leading mobile wallet application yet. The reality is that moving payment processing from credit cards to apps and/or chipsets is actually fairly challenging, and that situation is not helped by the fragmented ecosystems of handheld devices and their various mobile operating system versions.
And then there’s all those point-of-sale systems to think of. To reach TabbedOut’s target market, it’s a tough path. There are a number of POS systems in use today, and they’re often legacy technology. In order to reach these customers, TabbedOut has had to focus on integrations. It has both partnered and integrated with Micros, Aloha, Future, Focus, Dinerware, Digital Dining, and Jumpware over the past couple of years.
TabbedOut has also had to take a careful approach to security, given it’s dealing with customers’ payment information. Though arguably technology-based solutions tend to be more secure than physically handing over your credit card to the poor college student taking your order, that’s not how the average American perceives the situation.
Personal and financial data within TabbedOut’s mobile apps is securely encrypted on device, as opposed to the company’s servers, and is locked under passphrase protection. Restaurant patrons give their server a code the app displays, then they order normally. Because of the POS integrations, when customers are ready to leave, they simply have to launch the app and pay their bill. The app also makes it easy to split a check among friends, and allows the restaurant to target its customers with personalized offers.
When TabbedOut completed its Series A in May 2011, it had 200 restaurants in 90 cities. Prior to the agreement with Harbortouch, it had 1,100 merchants on the platform, and now it will have 10,000. However, TabbedOut today declined to provide details as to how broadly deployed its technology is today, in terms of customers using the system, or to what extent its prior partnerships have allowed it to expand its footprint.
Profile pages for the social television application display which shows users are watching, booking and discussing. The app has also received updated cast and crew lists.
Zeebox for Android also got a minor refresh on Friday with support for its new live feed feature, an adjustment to the way tweets are displayed, and bug fixes and tweaks.
With over 3.7 million downloads, the service has been coming on strong, regularly adding new partners and features. Last month, it launched SpotSynch, an advertising platform for syncing up ads in Zeebox to commercials on TV. It recently integrated with Sky to allow activation of remote recording on the network’s Sky+ HD Box. The company also added support for Comcast’s XFINITY remote settings late last year.
Image credit: iStockphoto
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Mary Meeker explains in her oft-cited report that the world’s 1.1 billion smartphone users still comprise only 17 percent of mobile subscribers. Yet, these users have tripled mobile Internet access over the last two years. This points to enormous continued growth in the mobile space over the coming years, and countless droves of mobile-focused startups are emerging to reap the rewards.
But not all mobile startup opportunities are created equal. Entrepreneurs should consider the odds of disrupting a given market before they spend their time chasing just any opportunity. Some markets are overly saturated with powerful incumbents. Others are simply too nascent to yield significant results.
While reviewing hundreds of startup applicants to our mobile accelerator fund over the last quarter, I noticed patterns begin to emerge in the businesses they were pursuing and dropped them into a few mental “buckets.” Innovative entrepreneurs will create exceptions within each of these buckets, but I still wanted to offer my thoughts as we enter 2013 looking to find the next big thing in mobile.
Location-based social networking. The idea of finding your friends anytime, anywhere through a single app has been exhausted by independent platforms like Foursquare and integrated into existing social media platforms like Facebook. Even apps like Twist made an attempt by providing friends your ETA via email, but it has yet to find success. In the end, there’s still no better mobile meet-up tool than a text message. Additionally, even if a new service can build an audience, it’s unclear if revenues will follow. Just ask Foursquare.
Photo-sharing. The clear winner when it comes to photo-sharing is Instagram (and by default Facebook), and more recently Snapchat has exploded. But in this space, there are hundreds of apps for every single one that “makes it.” In addition, monetization remains elusive in this category, giving newbies next to no chance of survival other than an acquihire.
Workplace collaboration. It’s a challenge to attribute any kind of value to a service that requires multiple people, using it at the same time, for growth – just ask Huddle or Double Dutch. With players such as Google and Dropbox (and now Dropbox Mobile) well entrenched in our work lives, that challenge has become even greater. Even though most of the existing services have glaring weaknesses, this mobile niche is an incredibly tough row to hoe.
In-car-based apps and services. I love that auto companies are pouring money into startups, but there’s no reason for startups to individually build for them – yet. The most popular mobile apps will be integrated into these cars automatically, like Aha and Pandora have. Once auto2app integration becomes more standard (in the next couple of years), fledging startups can then focus on the car versus just expanding to it.
Mobile wallets. The mobile wallet is an idea waiting to be perfected, with valiant efforts by Google and Apple’s Passbook, as well as initiatives by everyone from Visa to a carrier-based conglomerate called Isis. But with all the hype there still is no clear winner. Is the public not yet ready to surrender the monetary security blanket that is their physical wallet? Or maybe they just don’t see the point. Fortunes will be made in this category, but very few startups have the time and money to crack this market.
Integrated TV apps. Though integrated TV apps show great potential for second screen opportunities, the behavior of watching TV is still locked into its respective screen. Mobile-only viewing will grow with the help of more partnerships like Hulu Plus and BuddyTV. And when it’s ready, the opportunity will be huge – especially if you believe in Steve Jobs’ “Interactive TV” dream.
Everyday apps. Evernote transformed the way people take mobile notes, and the company continues to update and refine their platform. And it’s only getting better. CloudOn became one of the fastest-growing business apps of all time by bringing Microsoft Office to all popular smartphones and tablets before Microsoft itself did, again focusing on everyday consumer pain points of accessing and editing important documents. It can be quite powerful to transform the experience around applications that people use every day by leveraging device features, integrating social networks and offering enhanced user interfaces. Mobile calendar and contact organization will be next in line for disruptive redesign.
Mobile developer platforms.Developers are looking for new ways to boost their retention and monetization. Companies like Urban Airship, Kiip and ChartBoost are stepping in to help in their own ways. 2013 holds strong possibility for startups that want to take developers beyond ads and analytics and focus on engagement.
Rich messaging and SMS marketing. So much is done around e-mail despite its decline, and the companies on the growing SMS side still seem to just be scratching the surface. Will retailers opt-in for SMS marketing and leave e-blasts behind? A recent study by SnapGiant sure thinks it would be wise, given their market research shows 50 percent of those surveyed transacted from a text alert. CallFire also sees promise in SMS marketing, but cautions the thoughtful timing and strategy needed to make it successful. It’s time to brainstorm what more can be done with this popular, personal and instantaneous method of mobile communication.
There are a dozen more mobile markets within each of these buckets in which startups and VCs belong. Which ones do you consider too crowded, nascent or just right?
[Image via Flickr]
Follow this link: A Whole New World Of Mobile Markets: Cars, Photos, TVs, Wallets And More
Those who dreaded the ‘Silicon Valley’ reality TV series that aired this past year on Bravo did not have much to worry about after all. The show received mostly negative reviews and had a lackluster performance in the ratings department, and it doesn’t seem likely to return — at least not to chronicle the tech scene here in California.
But today we got word of a new TV show also dubbed ‘Silicon Valley’ that seems like it should be really worth watching. The PBS history series American Experience has made a new documentary focused on what fueled the fire for Silicon Valley and the modern tech industry’s earliest days — the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 by the then 29-year-old Robert Noyce, an icon in Silicon Valley who a young Steve Jobs later counted as a key mentor.
The ‘traitorous eight’ who founded Fairchild Semiconductor. From left: Gordon Moore, Sheldon Roberts, Eugene Kleiner, Robert Noyce, Victor Grinich, Julius Blank, Jean Hoerni and Jay Last.
We’ll have to wait until February 19th to see the whole thing, which seems really far away but will actually be here before we know it (can you believe it’s already late December, time flies, I’ll be 90 before I know it, etc.)
But in the meantime, embedded above is a short trailer, and below is the plot synopsis the show’s publicity arm is sending around. It all looks pretty fascinating, and should be a great way for us relatively wet behind the ears Silicon Valley newbies to learn the real history of the early industry mavericks who paved the way to today.
“In 1957, before Apple and Google, before stock-option millionaires and billionaire venture capitalists, a group of eight brilliant young scientists defected from the Shockley Semiconductor Company — the first company to work in the field of silicon semiconductors — in order to start their own transistor company. The “Traitorous Eight,” as they were dubbed, created Fairchild Semiconductor, a company whose radical innovations helped make the United States a leader in both space exploration and the personal computer revolution, transforming the way the world works, plays and communicates. Their leader was 29-year-old Robert Noyce, a physicist with a brilliant mind and the affability of a born salesman. Over the next decade, Noyce ran the new company and co-invented the integrated circuit, which would become an essential component of modern electronics including computers, motor vehicles, cell phones, and household appliances. Told through the story of Noyce, who went on to found Intel, Silicon Valley is a vibrant examination of the rough-and-tumble early days of the high tech industry and the thrilling interplay of cutting-edge science and high-stakes business that defines the unique culture of Silicon Valley. Directed by Randall MacLowry, Silicon Valley premieres on American Experience on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).
On October 4, 1957, the young founders of the newly minted start-up heard some startling news: the Soviet Union had just launched the first artificial satellite into orbit around the earth. With the United States scrambling to catch up, the timing couldn’t have been better for the upstarts at Fairchild. Eisenhower quickly launched NASA and the nation’s new obsession with technology provided the opportunity of a lifetime. In less than two years, Noyce would co-create a groundbreaking invention that would help put men on the moon. But Noyce’s innovation — the integrated circuit — would have an impact far beyond the Apollo program. The integrated circuit, also known as the microchip, would re-shape the future, making possible the invention of smart phones and digital video recorders, pacemakers and microwaves possible, and launching the world into the Information Age.
Not only did Noyce’s invention transform the world, his management style launched the unique business culture for which Silicon Valley would come to be known — openness over hierarchy, risk over stability, jeans over suits. This revolutionary new style continued at Noyce’s next venture, Intel, which in 1971, introduced the world’s first microprocessor, the driving force of every digital product we use today, and the heart of a 100-billion-dollar industry.
An eye-opening look at the birthplace of the modern technological era told by the people who shaped it, Silicon Valley is a fascinating reminder of how a few brilliant iconoclasts transformed a rural farmland into one of the most exciting, innovative and influential places on earth.”
Photo via The Computer History Museum
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