Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Mashable to sell for $200 million?

TV makers missing the boat on apps?
The NY Times has a nice, short pierce on how other forms of streaming video are increasingly sidelining television viewing and that they need to add a greater degree of connectivity to compete with developments such as Apple TV and even smartphones. It asks some of the questions that likely be the basis of this conversation going forward.

How is Twitter’s Finances?
Gawker has come forth saying that the micro blogger’s revenue and profits are poor, based on leaked information that that site has received. Twitter has been pronouncing that it has seen an uptick in its performance but Gawker says otherwise.

It claims that in 2010 Twitter had total revenue of $28.5 million, a pretty good number for a startup until the fact that it had to spend three times that to earn the revenue and that for the year it reported a net loss of $67.8 million.

The company, which has 100 million active users, does not appear to have a comprehensive plan to maintain steady revenue, according to the article, which claims that it could be the greatest tech bust ever.

March Madness is here- so are the apps (for iPhones)
Appolicious has taken the time to track down and do a nice short write up on 5 apps that can help you track the tournament and follow your teams. They are both free and paid apps and cover just scores to ones that include analysis, news updates and bracket creators and tracking information.

Generation C?
Labeling generations seems to be an art, although I have always wondered why the first I had heard of was Generation X. I mean why start at the bottom of the alphabet? Well the good folks at Nielsen have come up with another, Generation C.

At least this one makes sense as the C stands for connected and its members are Americans in the 18-34 age group, or 23% of the overall population. Gen C make up 27% of online video viewers, 27% of those that visit social networking sites, represent 33% that own a tablet and 39% of the smartphone owners.

Mashable on the block?
Reuters is reporting that CNN is in talks to purchase social media news site Mashable for more than $200 million. Mashable covers a range of areas in the tech and social media sector including startup news and issues related to major players. CNN declined to comment.

One interesting aftereffect of the big Apple iPad announcement is that it seems to have unleashed a wave of rumors about pending rival products. While there is always talk about company A planning to do such and such with its next generation platform, it seems much more pronounce these days. Of course it could be that I am just now paying more attention, anyway here are a few of the more interesting ones.

Google and Asus to team on 7-inch Tablet?
DigiTimes is reporting that Google and Asus are teaming to deliver a 7-inch Android tablet that will be shipping in May. Targeted directly at the e-reader space that is currently dominated by two players, Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook the tablet is reported to be in the $199-$249 price range.

Padfone to ship in April?
It looks like Asus will be delivering its Padfone convertible next month, at least in select markets. I have to say that this is the device that I am very interested in getting my hands on. The reason is that the phone snaps into the tablet and the phones processor powers the entire device. This way a user can get a tablet with 3/4G without a separate contract, a major drawback on connecting tablets to digital networks.

The Padfone is a three piece product with the first being 4.3-inch smartphone designed for the Android 4.0 operating system powered by a Qualcomm 1.5GHz dual core processor. That can be inserted into the top of a 10.1-inch tablet, and there is a keyboard dock as well

This and that

Instagram looks to Android
Instagram is coming real soon to the Android. Founder Kevin Systrom showed, but did not give a full demo of the app at SXSW. The company said that it currently has 27 million users.

Some iPads will be late

Apple’s recently introduced iPad, set for delivery this Friday, will be missing in some areas due to an overwhelming demand for the product. The company said that it has sold out and that some buyers will have to wait as long as three weeks to get their orders.

Nvidia vs Apple Rd 1
Nvidia disputes Apple’s claim that the iPad is 2x faster than nVidia’s Tegra 3 processor. Its response can be boiled down to simply- let’s see the data. Wonder if this is the first shot in a benchmark war a la Intel/AMD from a decade ago?

Path now syncs with Nike +
For users of the iPhone app that makes a journal of your life for your friends it now enables you to share your workout stats using Nike’s Nike + technology, with more forthcoming when Nike releases the Nike + Fuelband product.

Friday Grab Bag: ESPN3 and Facebook Team for Hoops Tournaments

Facebook and ESPN Team on Conference Tournaments
For much of the next two weeks ESPN3 and Facebook will combine to show coverage of all of the myriad college conference basketball games in both the men’s and women’s brackets. This means that users will have access to all 225 live broadcasts.

ESPN3 has indicated that while this is its first partnering with Facebook it will not be its last as it seeks to leverage the huge audience that the social media giant commands. As ESPN3 vice president Damon Phillips said “We see this as a big opportunity. You fish where the fish are.”

However in keeping with the mantra that there is no such thing as a free lunch not all users will be able to access the games from Facebook. If you have a cable TC carrier or a broadband hookup from a carrier that broadcasts ESPN3, then you get the games for. If not, you are on the outside looking in with no games.

Siri now more insufferable?
I actually like Siri and have found the voice to be very helpful when I have used someone’s iPhone that has the technology, it is just the people showing me how many tricks that they can make it do that really annoys me.

Well now they have a new venue as Mercedes-Benz has integrated the Siri into it’s a-Class cars. The Drive Kit Plus will integrate the iPhone with the cars’ electronic platform. This will allow the Mercedes-Benz’ Digital DriveStyle App to display iPhone apps on the infotainment system screen, according to Cnet.

It will be at Mercedes-Benz’ discretion as to which apps the user can add and control but there will be some such as Twitter, Facebook and Aupeo Personal Radio will be available.

Yahoo joins in the patent fun!
Yahoo has been meeting with Facebook to resolve issues regarding a group of Yahoo patents that it asserts are being used by Facebook in a variety of applications including ads, privacy controls, news feeds, and messaging services.

The exact number of patents is not clear and has been reported as being between 10-20, now is the dollar value that Yahoo is placing on these patents. Yahoo has not taken the step of filing suit and the move is being widely viewed as an attempt to paint a positive picture of Yahoo’s overall patent portfolio as a positioning move in case the company can find a suitor to buy it.

Apps can steal your photos?
It is starting to seem that every new day brings a new manner in which data can ‘leak’ from your smartphone. The latest, courtesy of the New York Times, is that there is a group of apps that can copy a user’s entire photo library with no alert.

The problem is, at least so far, confined to iOS devices such as the iPad and the iPhone and appears to ask a user for location information and if that is approved it not only gathers that information but also downloads photos as well to a remote server. I hope it gets mine in focus, I never can

Mozilla helps you track who is tracking you
In a case of turning the tables on data trackers, Mozilla has created a Firefox add-on called Collusion, an experimental program that is designed to enable you to see who is tracking your activity across the web.

The program uses a simple, easy to understand format. As you browse the web a graph is produced showing sites represented as dots. Red for ones that are known trackers, gray for ones that might track you. You can hover your cursor over a dot for more information. It is interesting to see the interplay between sites and how fast sites that you do not visit are now tracking you. The program also allows you to turn off tracking.

Intel Capital Launches Connected Car Fund
Intel Capital has launched a $100 million fund that is dedicated to developing new technologies in automobiles. The Connected Car Fund will invest across the board in hardware, software and service companies that are developing technologies for cars.

The range of areas is large with the company expecting to invest in areas such as information and entertainment systems, wireless connectivity, mobile devices and driver assist technologies. The global fund will seek to invest in all stage companies over the next three to five years.

Major Apps Designed to Data Harvest Apple iOS Users

Is there a mole in your iPhone?

Are iPhone apps stealing data off your smartphone?
In a general sense it looks like the answer is yes, even if you as an individual are unaffected. A series of studies has shown that it looks like the market as a whole has not been immune to this problem but it is running rampart and is lead by some of the leading app developers.

While to some it might seem that harvesting data such as contacts is a minor issue consider that may use their smartphones for both work and personal use and there could be a good deal of proprietary information on the phone.

While the current list of offenders comes from the world of corporate app developers the next generation destined to exploit this issue will no doubt be hackers, something that could pose a major issue to all concerned.

A study by VentureBeat comes after a developer called Path was caught in the act harvesting names, numbers and e-mail addresses and storing that information on its servers. Venture Beat found that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that it is very likely that an iPhone user has one or more of the apps involved.

VentureBeat used a program called mitmproxy that is a traffic monitoring utility to observe data traffic and found that a host of applications were uploading personal data from the iPhones, in some cases unencrypted.

A list of some of the players is a who’s who of apps, much over shadowing the much smaller and less popular Path. Included in this list is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Yelp, and Gowalla. They do not all do exactly the same thing but it is an interesting read over at the VentureBeat site.

At the same time it appears that Google has developed work around for safeguards in Apple’s Safari browser that enable Google to place tracking cookies that circumvent Apple’s default privacy settings. The workaround affected not just iPhones but Mac computers, iPads, and iPod Touch.

Google has said that it has disabled the code that enabled the actions and said that it was unintentional. However a complaint has been filed against the company with the FTC.

Apps for the iOS platform from Apple are in violation of Apple’s guidelines, which prohibits the app from sending information about a user without their permission. The company said that it is working to tighten this up in the future, according to Enterprise Mobility Today.

However it is not just iOS apps that are an issue here. The Federal Trade Commission has just issued a warning that smartphone apps can invade a child’s privacy and advocates are calling for greater safeguards. I wonder if this market segment, largely left to its own devices will start to see the advent of more, and increasingly tougher regulations due to the actions of a few developers.

Restructuring Management at RIM, Corporate Restructure Next?

Co-CEOs step down, New CEO Named

The top management picture of wireless developer Research in Motion (RIM) has been completely redrawn this week with its cofounders surrendering the position of CEO and the board implementing a new top executive.

Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the co-chief executives and co-chairmen of the company announced that they were stepping down and submitted a succession plan to the company’s Board of Directors that included promoting one of the company’s two Chief Operating Officers, Thorston Heins, as the new CEO and president.

Lazaridis was the company’s founder and he has worked very closely with Balsillie as it grew to a $20 bn player and developer of the first popular smartphone, the BlackBerry.

However both Balsillie and Lazaridis will remain with the company in prominent roles. Lazaridis was named vice chairman of the board while Balsillie will remain as a director. Barbara Stymiest, who formerly served as a member of Royal Bank of Canada’s Group Executive and has been a member of RIM’s Board since 2007, has been named the independent Board Chair. John Richardson, formerly Lead Director, will remain on the Board. Prem Watsa, Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Financial Holdings, also was named to the Board, expanding it to 11 members.

Declining Market Cap, Revenue and Market Share

The move comes as the once high flying developer of the BlackBerry is facing losses that are expected to extend across the current fiscal year and possibly beyond as demand for its technology continues to wane and the current generation of smartphones and tablets siphon away business.

It suffered a very bad 2011. Its market share has been plummeting in the smartphone segment, dropping from an estimated 30.4% to 16.6% as Android and to a lesser extent Apple iPhones have both expanded the overall market and at the same time eroded RIMs position in it.

The decline in market share has been accompanies by an even greater stock price decline, with a 75% decline in its stock value over the course of the year. It reported a 71% decline in earnings in its 3rd Quarter, it’s most recent. It has been hurt also by a delay in its next generation phones, the BlackBerry 10, now due late this year, and the fact that its tablet, the Playbook, has been a non-starter.

There have been increasingly growing demand from shareholders for vigorous action by the company, up to and including breaking it up or selling it in the last months. The promotion of Heins has not been met with universal approval by shareholders and analysts and is likely to fuel even more negative comments as Heins tries to turn around the company.

Fortune called Heins the wrong choice for CEO. Investopedia wonders if his appointment is simply ‘old wine in a new bottle’ and The New York Times led off with the headline ‘Markets Are Not Convinced by a New Leader at RIM’.

Yet he does have a number of assets in his favor- the company has new generation phones and tablets in the pipeline, it has $1.5bn in cash in the bank and a loyal core of customers that still claim it has the best tools for business. So while Heins has a tough road ahead of him, he has some props to help him along the way.