The Summly deal makes no sense – Vibhu Norby

The Summly deal makes no sense – Vibhu Norby

The story about Summly’s 17-year old founder cashing out his company for $30,000,000 is fascinating because it makes no sense. I hate to be a curmudgeon, but I think Yahoo shareholders deserve an explanation. It’s not clear at all to me that they are getting their money’s worth. Let’s walk through the story together.

I really like Summly, but I’m in the same boat. Yes, Yahoo is on the rebound and Marissa Mayer is doing some great things, but that still doesn’t explain how Summly fits in or will help the bottom line. If the app stays intact and becomes Summly by Yahoo! (exclamation included for parody, not propriety), my guess is that in a few months, maybe a year or two, you’ll see an ad pop up for a bit, then they’ll kill it.

Engadget: Ubuntu for tablets revealed with split screen multi-tasking, preview for Nexus slates coming this week

Engadget: Ubuntu for tablets revealed with split screen multi-tasking, preview for Nexus slates coming this week
Typical users don’t multitask on their traditional Macs and PCs, which have been obsessively built and tuned for multitasking for the last three decades. Go people watching in any coffee shop or board room and tell me I’m wrong.

I can’t imagine they care about multitasking on their tablet.

eBay’s mobile VP on contextual, on-demand everything

We live in a increasingly contextual, on-demand world, and this interview Robert Scoble did with Steve Yankovich, eBay’s VP of mobile, is an eye opener. I know, it’s Robert Scoble, but he does better work than most give him credit for, and I think this one’s a good example if you’re willing to give it a listen.

To start, there’s some great tidbits here, like people buy 9,000 cars every week not just through eBay, but using eBay’s mobile (primarily iOS) apps. Can you imagine buying a car from your phone? In the bigger picture, eBay’s mobile apps overall now do $10 billion in transactions per year.

The main conversation, though, centered around how eBay is merging contextual and on-demand services with eBay Now. Think: Über meets Amazon Prime.

Yankovich tossed out a good example: you can be sitting on a park bench (or at work, or out somewhere on a project), and want gadget X, but don’t have time to get it. Fire up eBay Now and a courier will get it from, say, Best Buy, then bring it to you while you’re still on that bench. Geofencing allows eBay Now to know when the courier is at the store where your gadget is, which triggers PayPal to pull funds from your account. Of course, the courier can also see where you are and bring the package straight to you.

Anything you want from the stores around you, delivered today, anywhere you are. Hot damn.

DRM Strikes Again: Amazon account closed, Kindle books erased with no explanation

Martin Bekkelund outlines a story from his friend Linn, who found that Amazon closed her account and wiped her extensive Kindle library, then offered only boilerplate text snippets for an explanation of why.
I’ve been looking all morning for a story of Barnes & Noble breaking into someone’s home and taking back all their books, but sadly I’m not finding much.

How to opt-out of Verizon pulling a Google on your personal information and habits

Verizon has begun packaging and selling everything you do on your smartphone and where you do it, right down to your app usage, web browsing, and whether you own a pet.

While it will probably take months, if not years, for any sort of legal battle to stop this bullshit, Verizon customers can take matters into their own hands and opt out now. Be sure to go over the entire page, it is unsurprisingly bureaucratic.

Business Insider: Why The Google Era May Be Over

Yes, it’s BI, but one research firm has found that overall search volume experienced a meanginful year-over-year decline last month for the first time in the six years it’s been tracking such statistics.

You likely won’t see Google comment on this unless to refute it or misdirect with an alternative stat. It’s also not a foregone conclusion that apps, largely powered by social media, are indeed the cause. But they’re certainly one of, if not the, most likely candidates. It would certainly help explain Google’s mad dash with things like Google+ and Google+ Local.

New York Times: Long Live Paper

Justin B. Hollander:

Such [e-reader and multimedia web site] technologies certainly have their place. But Secretary Duncan is threatening to light a bonfire to a tried-and-true technology — good old paper — that has been the foundation for one of the great educational systems on the planet. And while e-readers and multimedia may seem appealing, the idea of replacing an effective learning platform with a widely hyped but still unproven one is extremely dangerous.

The rest of the piece goes on to list “mixed” results from studies on the effectiveness of multimedia learning, as well as solutions to the heavy backpack problem like “just get a rolling backpack.” Not kidding.

The New York Times seems to be taking one step forward into the digital age with things like its digital subscription apps and iPad-only website, then two steps back with pieces like this that simply refuse to let go of a dying medium.

Some Website: Whitman Says HP Has to Do a Smartphone Again

In 2010, HP’s Mark Hurd spent $1.2 billion to buy Palm, an early pioneer of the portable device market. His disgraceful replacement, Leo Apotheker, miraculously fumbles Palm’s webOS revival, rage-quits the project, gets away with far too many other asinine decisions, and destroys 45 percent of the company’s stock value in just 11 months before getting kicked out of the company with a $25 million consolation prize.

Meg Whitman, Apotheker’s replacement and current CEO, began scuttling what’s left of Palm’s personnel in fall 2011 and damned the once-great webOS to the open source community.

Now Whitman says HP has to build its own brand new mobile OS and get back into the smartphone market. I am not making this up, but I kinda wish I was.

New York Times: Starbucks and Square to Team Up

This is a big deal. Square’s done great on its own so far, scoring deals like powering New York’s taxi service back in March and a significant investment from Visa in April 2011.

But 7,000 high-traffic coffee shops across the entire US is taking it to a whole new level of service and exposure. Come this fall, it’ll be pretty hard for the general public to not have heard of Square.