SOA Software has launched an application programming interface (API) gateway today that allows businesses to expose their API’s with a built-in cloud based developer community, helping to grow their services and make it quicker for them to get up and running.
The firm’s CTO Alistair Farquharson said the API Gateway is unique due to it being a new concept in API and SOA management, aiming to “deliver new advantages in the application-level security space”.
“The new API Gateway provides monitory, security, and more uniquely, a developer community as well, so kind of a turnkey approach to an API gateway where a customer can buy that product, get it up and running, expose their API and expose the developer community to the outside world,” Farquharson said.
“[It will] support and manage the porting of mobile applications or web apps or B2B partnerships.”
Farquharson explained that there are three main components within the Gateway, which SOA Software has termed a “unified services gateway”, including a runtime component, a policy manager, and a developer community.
The runtime component handles the message traffic, whereas the policy manager component is capable of managing a range of different policies, such as threat protection, authentication, authorisation, anti-virus, monitorin, auditing, logging, for example.
“The whole objective here is to get a customer up and running with API’s as quickly as possible to meet some kind of a business need that they have, whether that’s mobile an application initiative or a web application, integration or syndication,” Farquharson added.
The third component is the API’s cloud-based “developer community”, which exposes an organisation to the outside world so developers can come take a look at its API, read its documentation, and see what APIs it has to figure out how to interact with them.
It’s this component that sets SOA Software’s Gateway apart form other firms doing similar appliances on the market, claims Farquharson.
“It essentially becomes the developer site for your organisation, with it all running on a single appliance which is rather unique,” he added.
“The interesting thing about the gateway is that it does API’s as well as services [that are] needed for mobile devices so you have old and the new encapsulated in the single appliance, which is very important to our customers.”
The developer community is offered through the API as a service, “like the Salesforce of APIs”, Farquharson said.
“Developers can go there and build their community and it provides them with high level service and availability and saglobla infrastructure and leverage the strength of their community to get themselves going.”
Nobody expected Zynga’s results for this quarter to be great, so nobody was exactly surprised when the company announced a decline in almost every number that matters. It turned a small profit, but that’s a bright spot in an otherwise deeply unimpressive set of results. The really important figures – the number of people playing and, crucially, the number of people paying – are all down. Zynga’s business may not be hemorrhaging money, but it’s losing audience, and in a business so heavily focused on scale, that’s a really bad thing.
The company likes to present itself as being on the cusp of a turnaround, or perhaps already embarked upon a slow but steady turn. If so, it’s the oddest turnaround imaginable. The firm’s MAUs – Monthly Active Users – dropped from 292 million to 253 million year on year, so nearly 40 million people have simply stopped logging in to a Zynga game even once a month. Worse still, though, is the disproportionate fall in the number of Monthly Unique Payers – those who make at least one transaction during a month-long period. This number fell from 3.5 million to 2.5 million, a precipitous year-on-year drop of almost 30%.
It bears emphasising just how bad that actually is. For a social gaming business, MUPs are the real customers. There is huge value to having a large audience (MAUs), of course, and companies need to be very careful about not trying to force players into becoming paying customers before they’re good and ready – but ultimately, non-paying users are like footfall in a store. They’re not customers, in a strict business sense. Zynga’s not-quite-so-bad loss of 13% of its players (MAUs) is a side-show compared to the fact that it’s lost 30% of its paying customers (MUPs). Imagine, by comparison, a shop loudly announcing that the number of people walking past its window had fallen 13%, distracting from the fact that the number who came in and bought something had fallen 30%.
Of course, the two figures are related, and the disproportionately large drop in MUPs figures into that relationship to some degree. The process of encouraging players of a social game to spend money is focused around a number of principles, but the key temptation lies in buying items or currency that will give you the ability to match or overtake your friends’ progress, or to create a fantastic character, farm, castle or whatever which will “impress” the many friends who are also playing the same game.
For that psychology to work, of course, you actually need to have lots of friends playing the game. Most social games, as the name suggests, don’t work terribly well if you don’t have friends active in the game. “Active” is a key aspect here too – if you see that your friends are losing interest, logging in less often or spending less time tending to their farm, castle, town or whatever, then you also tend to lose interest rapidly. Hence, a game that gives the impression of being “in decline” – with players losing interest in some visible manner – will likely experience a precipitous decline in revenue, because even though lots of people are still playing, the sense of decline removes the key psychological drive to spend money on the game. (It doesn’t help, of course, that social game operators have established a pattern of shutting down unsuccessful games rapidly, which creates a feedback loop in which players are unwilling to spend money on a game they think might be in commercial trouble.)
The psychology of what Zynga is experiencing is clear enough, then, but the figures on the bottom line are still pretty dreadful. Whatever the reasons or the mechanism, the company is losing paying customers, and that kind of damage is extremely hard to recover from.
A stark contrast to Zynga’s woes can be found on the other side of the Pacific, where mobile developer GungHo this week topped a $9 billion valuation on the Osaka Stock Exchange, making it into a larger mobile gaming company than even fellow Japanese giants GREE and DeNA. GungHo’s valuation is ridiculous, a bubble that will inevitably pop in relatively short order, but there’s a genuine success driving the excitement – a single game, Puzzle and Dragons, which is the most successful mobile game in Japan (and is launching in other territories as well). Puzzle and Dragons reportedly makes about $2 million a day; it certainly makes enough to justify prime-time adverts in evening slots on Japanese TV.
GungHo is an extreme example of a phenomenon which is completely unavoidable in the social and casual game sphere. Mobile utterly dominates this sphere. Facebook, it turns out, was a flash in the pan in gaming terms. Smartphones, and to some extent tablets (though they’re arguably more “midcore”), are the social gaming platforms of today. Zynga, for all its cash (the company still has plenty of liquid assets), its clout and its former dominance, still hasn’t made a successful transition to being a mobile-first company. Clinging to the wreckage of the Facebook social gaming model which it so successful exploited (in doing so, perhaps hastening the downfall), Zynga is being overtaken time and again by smaller companies who have mobile gaming in their DNA from the outset. With this week’s results came a fresh claim that the company will be focusing more heavily on mobile, but a good, nimble firm would have accomplished that focus shift 12 months ago, at least. Zynga right now feels like it’s plodding along in everyone else’s wake.
The other great white hope for the company, of course, is gambling. It has cautiously launched gambling services – what it calls “real money gaming” – in the UK, and wants to expand into other territories. Plenty of pundits like to tap their noses sagely and suggest that Zynga will become a gambling giant down the line – although in doing so, they’re just following in the well-worn footsteps of a large number of video games industry pundits, executives and even developers who have regarded the gambling industry with something like the avaricious wonder of wannabe prospectors hearing about a new gold rush.
I don’t see any gold rush for Zynga in “real money gaming”. Investors and executives consistently overstate the allure and possibilities of this kind of gaming, because by dint of being investors and executives, they tend to be exactly the sort of person who is very attracted to gambling risks (you wouldn’t have an investment, or a career, anywhere within spitting distance of tech stocks otherwise). Moreover, by moving into the online gambling arena, Zynga is entering a market that’s already incredibly crowded with companies who are deeply, deeply expert in this field – not just in the customer-facing psychology of the casino, but also in the legal and regulatory minefield of operating a gambling enterprise online. Many major markets simply aren’t open to this kind of business; most others require you to jump through all manner of hoops simply in order to set up shop. The notion of Zynga having an open goal in “real money gaming” is born either from complete naivety or utter desperation – it could make money in the gambling business, but it has its work cut out for it.
It’s worth highlighting, all the same, that Zynga did make a small profit this quarter – it may only be one bright spot, but it’s bright all the same. The company’s scale still also arguably works in its favour, allowing it to buy talent and IP that smaller firms could never afford. Yet after several grim quarters, it’s also worth highlighting that talk of a “turnaround” is optimistic at best. Something about Zynga – its culture, its leadership or a combination of both – is blocking this company from moving in the agile, intelligent way a firm in its position desperately needs. Inventing fairy stories about the magical potential of gambling games or constantly reassuring the world that a pivot to mobile is definitely happening any day now won’t cover up the cracks for much longer. If Zynga wants the world to buy the “turnaround” story, it needs to start showing evidence; if not, it needs to start making big changes, starting right at the top.
The subscription-based GoToWebcast allows users to broadcast unlimited audio and video presentations to live and on-demand audiences that can access them using mobile devices such as Apple’s iPhones and iPads, or Android-based smartphones and tablets.
To simplify administration, GoToWebcast has a five-step wizard that walks users through setting up their event. Users are first asked to schedule the event, including deciding audience size and if the web cast should be available on-demand or live with an archive. Users are then asked to select registration alternatives, multimedia options, choose what content to upload and finally decide on security and email settings.
In addition to audio and video, users can upload presentation documents, chat with attendees, conduct polls and link to social media channels. Citrix didn’t announce any pricing for the new service, only saying that users pay a fixed monthly fee.
The company also released a beta version of GoToWebinar with HDFaces for the 500- and 1,000-attendee plans. HDFaces is a video conferencing technology that lets up to six presenters lead interactive Q&A sessions, host panel discussions, or do demonstrations in high-definition.
The announcement comes after the recently announced availability of HDFaces for up to 100 participants in GoToWebinar and GoToTraining sessions, as Citrix adds high-definition video across its GoTo portfolio.
Microsoft is developing designs for a touch-enabled smart watch, joining a number of other large competitors like Samsung Electronics and Apple who are said to be working on similar devices, according to a recent report.
Executives at suppliers to Microsoft told The Wall Street Journal that the company was sourcing components for the prototype of what could potentially be a “watch-style device.”
Microsoft has, for example, requested 1.5-inch displays from component makers for the prototype, an executive at a component supplier told the newspaper. It is unclear whether the company will decide to go ahead with the watch, the newspaper added.
Microsoft could not be immediately reached for comment.
A large number of vendors are looking at new product categories beyond smartphones and tablets.
This isn’t the first time, however, that Microsoft may be looking at watches as a product. It launched a smart wrist watch around a concept called Smart Personal Object Technology it unveiled in 2002, but withdrew it after a lackluster performance.
The Redmond, Wash., company is seeing its key PC market under threat from smartphones and tablets, and the failure of its new Windows 8 operating system to boost sales significantly. IDC said last week that first quarter PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units, down 13.9% compared to the same quarter last year. (The decline was worse than the 7.7% previously forecast by the analyst firm, and the market could be headed into further contraction, the research firm added.
Verizon Wireless reportedly has offered $1 billion to $1.5 billion to acquire some of Clearwire’s spectrum leases, possibly complicating Sprint Nextel’s attempt to buy out the company in conjunction with its acquisition by Softbank.
Clearwire is struggling financially but owns broad swaths of spectrum, the lifeblood of wireless networks. The April 8 bid from “Party J,” which Clearwire disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday, is the latest in a series of offers for its spectrum licenses. Unnamed people familiar with the matter identified “Party J” as Verizon Wireless, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Clearwire is a key part of a complicated set of possible transactions that could make a much stronger competitor out of Sprint, the country’s third-largest mobile operator. Sprint already owns roughly half of Clearwire and is bidding about $2.2 billion to buy the rest of its stock. That deal depends on Softbank’s planned $20.1 billion offer for 70% of Sprint, which is still undergoing regulatory review.
Clearwire holds 150MHz of spectrum or more in most major markets of the U.S. Verizon would buy only a portion of that spectrum. “Party J offered to acquire Clearwire spectrum leases generally located in large markets,” Clearwire said in the Friday filing, a proxy statement to shareholders on the Sprint buyout bid. The proposed gross price of $1 billion to $1.5 billion would be reduced by what Clearwire pays for the leases, which could be substantial, according to Clearwire’s filing. The company said it would discuss the offer with “Party J” and Sprint.
The new transistors would be made from strongly correlated materials, such as metal oxides, which researchers say can be used to build more powerful — but less power-hungry — computation circuitry.
“The scaling of conventional-based transistors is nearing an end, after a fantastic run of 50 years,” said Stuart Parkin, an IBM fellow at IBM Research. “We need to consider alternative devices and materials that operate entirely differently.”
Researchers have been trying to find ways of changing conductivity states in strongly correlated materials for years. Parkin’s team is the first to convert metal oxides from an insulated to conductive state by applying oxygen ions to the material. The team recently published details of the work in the journal Science.
In theory, such transistors could mimic how the human brain operates in that “liquids and currents of ions [would be used] to change materials,” Parkin said, noting that “brains can carry out computing operations a million times more efficiently than silicon-based computers.”
Streaming television service Aereo does not infringe the copyrights of over-the-air TV stations, and a request from several stations to shutter the New York-based service isn’t warranted, an appeals court has ruled.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was right to deny a request for a preliminary injunction from Fox, ABC, WNET and other TV stations, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Monday.
The TV stations had argued Aereo, a service that allows subscribers to record and play over-the-air TV programs on Internet-connected devices, violated their so-called public performance right, their exclusive right in U.S. copyright law to “to perform the copyrighted work publicly.”
But Judge Christopher Droney, writing for the appeals court majority, noted that Aereo makes use of technology already found by courts to be legal. The service combines Aereo-designed mini TV antennas, DVRs, and a Slingbox-like streaming service, he noted.
Aereo users, by making personal copies of TV programs for their own use, were not creating public performances, Droney added.
The TV stations “have not demonstrated that they are likely to prevail on the merits on this claim in their copyright infringement action,” Droney wrote in rejecting the request for an injunction against the service. “Nor have they demonstrated serious questions as to the merits and a balance of hardships that tips decidedly in their favor.”
Aereo praised the decision. The decision “again validates that Aereo’s technology falls squarely within the law, and that’s a great thing for consumers who want more choice and flexibility in how, when and where they can watch television,” Chet Kanojia, Aereo’s CEO and founder, said in a statement.
Lawyers for the TV stations weren’t immediately available for comment.
Digital rights group Public Knowledge cheered the ruling, saying it is a “victory for consumer choice and video innovation.”
LinkedIn has re-tooled its search engine with changes designed to make it easier for members to find information on the business networking site, whose volume of content has increased and grown more diverse in recent years.
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn initially focused on giving professionals a place to feature their resumes and career bios, as well as connect with peers and colleagues, but the site has progressively become more interactive and houses a much larger repository of data beyond individual profiles.
For example, almost 3 million companies have set up corporate pages, more than 1.5 million groups have been created, the site features a jobs section, and individuals and publishers are able to post and share comments and links to articles.
So it’s not surprising for LinkedIn to focus on improving its search engine, which fielded 5.7 billion queries last year.
LinkedIn members have until now had to run separate queries for groups, companies, jobs and other professionals, but that’s changing with the upgraded search engine.
“Now, all you need to do is type what you’re looking for into the search box and you’ll see a comprehensive page of results that pulls content from all across LinkedIn including people, jobs, groups and companies,” Johnathan Podemsky, a LinkedIn product manager, wrote in a blog post on Monday.
Users can still segment results, so as to see only job results, for example.
The LinkedIn search engine is also gaining auto-complete and suggested-searches functionalities to help people fine-tune query terms. In addition, the search engine will log members’ search queries and “learn” from them in order to deliver more relevant results.
It will also be possible for users to save search queries and be alerted about new or changed search results. The advanced search option has also gained more search filters, including location, company and school.
However, the search engine still doesn’t include content from the company’s SlideShare site, which about 60 million monthly visitors use to upload, share, rate and comment on primarily slide presentations, but also documents, videos and webinars.
Also, the search improvements are being applied to the main site, not to the mobile apps, although doing so is something the company is looking into, according to a spokeswoman.
LinkedIn started to roll out the new search features on Monday, and expects to finish delivering them to every member worldwide in the coming weeks.
As of the end of 2012, LinkedIn had topped 200 million registered members located in more than 200 countries.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet will be offered for sale Europe in the second quarter priced approximately at $1,170, while a local telco is now reselling the latest editions of its Office 365 hosted productivity suite, the company announced ahead of the Cebit trade show on Monday.
Microsoft Germany’s CEO Christian Illek didn’t give the Surface Pro’s exact price in euros, but the number will be around the same as the U.S. price in dollars, he said in a news conference at the company’s booth on the show floor in Hanover.
While an $1170 price tag appears significantly higher that the Surface Pro’s U.S. price of $899, a 30% mark-up is not unusual for electronics devices in Europe, where prices are typically displayed inclusive of value-added tax at around 20%. U.S. prices typically exclude local sales taxes. When setting international prices, vendors also tend to allow an additional margin in case exchange rates shift unfavorably.
In addition to Germany, Surface Pro will also go on sale in Australia, China, France, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the U.K. in the coming months, Microsoft said.
Illek also announced a new sales channel for two recent editions of Office 365: Deutsche Telekom.
Office 365 Small Business Premium and Office 365 Midsize Business are now on sale through Deutsche Telekom’s Business Marketplace online app store, said the German telecommunications operator’s head of marketing, Michael Hagspihl.
The Small Business Premium edition, with 25GB of storage, shared calendars, Office Web Apps, Office Professional Plus Desktop Version and support from Deutsche Telekom will sell for $14.90 per user per month for up to 25 users.
LG has agreed to acquire the source code, webOS engineering team and other assets from HP, in a deal announced on Monday. LG will also license HP patents related to webOS and cloud technology, the companies said.
Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
HP acquired the mobile operating system, along with device maker Palm, in February 2010. HP used the OS on its short-lived TouchPad device, which debuted in mid-2011 then disappeared weeks later.
HP announced a new tablet, the US$169 Slate 7, on Sunday. The Slate 7 will run the Android operating system.
LG will lead the Open webOS and Enyo open-source projects as part of the deal, the company said. HP will retain ownership of all of Palm’s cloud computing assets, including source code, talent, infrastructure and contracts.
HP said it will also continue to support Palm users.
LG will use the technology to expand the Web capabilities of its smart TVs, said Sam Chang, LG vice president and general manager of innovation and Smart TV, in an interview.
LG bought the webOS assets in part for the engineering team, which includes user experience engineers, he said. The webOS engineers who remained at HP — the companies aren’t saying how many there are — are to join LG’s Silicon Valley labs.