There are a lot of Twitter clients out there for smartphones, some better than others. A lot of them give you some nice eye candy but after a while you find their UI can actually get in the way of information and context. Finnish UX specialty company, Fluid Interaction, seeks to redesign information and present it in useful, visually appealing way. Originally created for the Ovi store, Different Tack presents tweets in an interactive sector diagram that lets you quickly scroll along a wheel of tweets and find information about the traction they're getting from retweets and more, as shown by the more central blue bar. The Twitter client is currently being updated and ported to the iPhone and Android platforms, with the iPhone app expected to drop in April.
FXI Technologies, the Norwegian creator of the "any screen computer," Cotton Candy, has announced a new partnership with Polkast and is accepting pre-orders on the device for developers. The mini computer is about the size of a USB stick and packs a lot of power for its size. The device is a complete computer platform that will allow users a single, secure point of access to all personal cloud services and apps through their favorite operating system installed on the device, while delivering a consistent experience on any screen through its USB and HDMI connections.
The device can serve as a portable, secure thin client on PCs, Macs and notebooks as well as a set top box, gaming system, cloud computer, and more. In some sense it unifies computers, dumb screens, and smartphones and looks like a useful device to have in your pocket.
iZettle has announced that they will begin their Nordic launch tomorrow, and will be releasing 5000 devices in Denmark, Norway, and Finland, each, for beta testing. If you haven't seen our previous coverage, iZettle’s iPhone and iPad app lets anyone take credit or debit card payments on the go, with or without iZettle’s chip-card reader.
The company offers a service similar to the US-based competitor, Square, although Square is built for magnetic strip cards and plugs into the headphone jack. The device has already been beta testing in Sweden since November, a month after the company raised €8.2M in venture funding. We've already gotten our hands on the device, and will be releasing a more detailed review later this week.
Sometimes you just don't want to send that email right away, but at the same time you don't want to forget about sending it the next morning. Or maybe sometimes you wish you could schedule an email to be sent to yourself so you won't forget something coming up. Luckily for Gmail users, a Swedish company has provided a browser extension that does exactly that. Right Inbox provides a simple plugin for Chrome or Firefox that schedules emails to be sent later- and its all seamlessly integrated into Gmail.
Pingdom, the website uptime and monitoring company, has just become a Local Internet Registry (LIR), meaning it has been assigned a block of IP addresses. They join 468 other registries in Sweden, of which the largest are Internet Service Providers, academic institutions, and other enterprises that assign most of its block of IP addresses to its customers. Becoming a LIR fits into Pingdom's plans of updating and replacing all of its infrastructure in 2012.
Online advertising spending surpassed print advertising for the first time in 2011, the Russian Association of Communication Agencies (AKAR) annnouced in its annual report, published this week.
According to the report, the Russian online advertising market reached $1.4 billion, up 56% from 2010, demonstrating the fastest growth among the different segments of the market. In 2010, online advertising spending had grown by 42%.
Print advertising represented $1.36 billion in 2011, up 6% from 2010, while TV advertising grew by 18% to $4.4 billion. Total advertising spending increased by 21% to $8.85 billion, an impressive growth rate despite a slowdown in Q4.
Lithuania-originated GetJar claims to be the world's largest free app store with over 2 billion downloads to date. The company distributes more than 350,000 mobile applications for Android and today the company has released a virtual currency that rewards Android users for downloading any app, and allows them to spend that currency on premium apps and in-app purchases.
A new Estonian company to watch is Pult.io. In a nutshell, the service provides users an easy way to control any internet enabled screen through a smartphone without any cryptic setup issues. The company has recently gotten some hype at the TechCrunch Baltics event in Riga, and also joined Seedcamp earlier this month.
The most refreshing thing about Pult happens even before you start streaming anything. Rather than setting up an account and waiting for a confirmation email, Pult skips all of that nonsense; just by going to Pult.io on your TV or computer's browser generates a random four letter code. You then go to Pult.io in your smartphone's browser and then plug in the code. Just by doing that the two devices are linked, even if they're not on the same network, and the webapp gives you control to several streaming and content services.
ThingLink has released Tabs For Facebook, which allows marketers or anyone else to embed ThingLinked images on Facebook Pages. The service provides a non-intrusive way to integrate rich media into static images on a mouseover, turning any picture into a platform to highlight and embed content. An example of the embedded link on Facebook is featured on the David Lynch Foundation Music Facebook page.
The Finnish Arvopaperi magazine has announced the ownership structure of Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds. The information has not come up in any IPO filing, but through public information in the Finnish governmental registry. The biggest chunk of the Rovio is owned by Trema Holdings International BV, the holding company of Kaj Hed. Kaj Hed is Mikael's father and Mikael is Niklas' cousin. It seems that Accel and Atomico, who together invested $42 million into the company last year, own around 20% of the company.
Presentation technology is ripe for disruption. Current presentation tools are barely a step above the overhead projectors seen in classrooms since the beginning of time. Slides move on and off the page, and sometimes you make your text "appear" or "wipe right" if you're feeling adventurous. We've got a lot of connectivity in our laps and in our pockets, and a Finnish startup, Screen.io, seeks to take advantage of it.
With Screen.io software presenters can collect, analyse and present audience feedback. Through one application, users can set up interactive presentations that include slides imported from Keynote or PowerPoint, videos, images, polls and live results, and a controlled discussion channel. Screen.io's website talks about 3 way communication between you and your audience, your audience and you, and audience to audience. It makes a lot of sense in the digital age, and seems a lot better than the fragmented discussions taken place using a Twitter hashtag.
In our seventh episode of Unfair Advantage we talk to Christoph Thur of Ovelin. Ovelin has created a game called Wildchords that has attracted a lot of interest both from consumers, but also from investors. Recently they closed a €1.1 million investment from True Ventures. We talked to Christoph to understand how Ovelin went about creating Wildchords, but also how the game has been distributed and what were the steps leading up to the closing of the investment from one of the top-tier investors in the US.
Our sponsor for this week is Gapps.fi - a Helsinki-based company that brings the Google productivity tools to your workplace. They've got a special offer for all those who ping them and say they came from ArcticStartup. Big thanks to Gapps for supporting the show.
Editor's note: This post is part of a series of posts sponsored by Microsoft Finland. You can read the other posts over here.
Last week saw Mobile Acceleration Week (MAW) take place in the Aalto Venture Garage, where a group of mobile developers gathered to create applications for the Windows Phone platform. The series of events under MAW take place in many different parts of the world Moscow, Shanghai, London and Berlin to name a few. In Helsinki, 16 team participated in the program. On Thursday, the teams finalised their work and came on stage to present their results.
The winner of the competition was Entetrainer, which had by far the most impressive app, even in our opinion. We'll outline in the list below all the different apps and what they set out to do. The runner up was Star Arcade, which enables gaming to hundreds of thousands of people.
If you run your own business, you've probably got an old Excel file somewhere that tries to keep track of employees' days off. It works, but it could be so much easier if it were more self-managed and actually a calendar. A team from Riga (but now working out of the UK) is trying to make HR functions for SMEs easier with Cake.HR. The service is currently in private beta, but they are giving free accounts to companies until they turn on payments sometime in early March. The team also tells us they're giving free-for-life accounts in return for feedback on the service.
Wikipedia has become a staple of internet life, and has risen to the top due to its aim of giving readers the impartial truth. Wikipedia serves its purpose well, but it also misses out on the color of human experience that cannot be verified by a third party source. A new service out of Sweden, Empedia, launched today and builds off of the Wikipedia API to allow anyone to add their personal experiences or stories to world events, companies, places, and everything else. Empedia calls itself a social encyclopedia.
There seems to be at least one daily deal aggregator in each country, and it's interesting to get their take on the local daily deals from their vantage point above the market. According to the daily deals aggregator, Dealfins, the daily deals business in Finland is different from other North European countries. It lacks the niche sites that sell specific deals, and the market is almost completely dominated by Groupon – Citydeal, which holds 89% market share. Dealfins has also noticed that business is also very much concentrated in the Greater Helsinki area.
Anyone who's had to dig for a serious dataset knows it's not always easy to find what you're looking for, even if you know it's out there and is offered for free. DataMarket out of Iceland offers 100 million time series from wide range of public and private data providers, including the United Nations, the World Bank, Eurostat, and the Economist Intelligence Unit. The portal allows all this data to be searched, visualized, compared, and downloaded in a single place in a standard, unified manner. I'm looking at this from the perspective of a university student, but DataMarket is also geared towards business users to find and efficiently publish their data and reach new audiences.
A Lithuanian company has created a Microsoft Kinect-based login system for secure online banking, with the added benefit of minority-report style arm waving to pay your bills. In total it looks like ETRONIKA has built a concise security system. You begin by using a Kinect plugged into a PC, where the sensor's motion-based software will use your face and voice as login information. On top of that they use a phone-based pin code for an extra layer of security when you actually move money aroud. If you were ever to step out of the Kinect sensor's range, the system would log you off automatically to protect your information.
Last friday Qubulus, the mobile indoor positioning out of Sweden, announced it has completed a funding round led by angel investor Jean Pierre Payat followed by the Swedish government backed investment fund, Innovationsbron. The existing shareholders have also joined the round, including IT consultancy company Jayway, retail re-development company Reteam, as well as Qubulus' management. The size of the investment was undisclosed.
Aside from the funding news, today Qubulus is announcing a new partnership with Crunchfish to add accurate Indoor Positioning support their Hearway app. Together their app basically provides your car's spoken GPS, but for your smartphone.
Last weekend, Mojang spent some 2,5 days developing games at their offices for the good of charity. The worked together with the HumbleBundle folks through an event titled Mojam and raised money for four charities; Child's Play, Electronic Frontier Foundation, charity: water and the American Red Cross. During the weekend, they raised over $450 000 from over 81 000 people.
People were able to donate money and in doing so receive the games the Minecraft developers were building over the weekend. The average purchase thus was $5,62. Raising over $450 000 during a couple of days is phenomenal and just shows the amount of visibility and interest Mojang is able to attract.