Grand Cru has made into the finals of the Amazon AWS Challenge, and out of the 12 finalists in 4 different categories, they're the only ones from Northern Europe to make the list. At ArcticStartup we normally don't cover a lot of company-sponsored competitions for the PR flurry that they are, but it gives us an excuse to talk about the fairly secretive Helsinki-based Grand Cru and their upcoming title, Supernauts.
For those of you who haven't seen our past coverage, Supernauts is sort of a sandbox game populated by Superhero-styled worldbuilders. Thorbjörn Warin, their Marketing and Business Development Director says that the easiest (but not the most accurate) way to describe the game is "Minecraftville". "We've had a lot of Minecraft players test the game, and they really like the touch interface for example. You can see small parts of it in the video, you just take your finger and drag and all the sudden stuff happens."
One of the least-fun things about traveling are the data roaming costs, just because it breaks you out of your old habits. In many places it can be impossible to find Wi-Fi, and I know too little about what my data costs are abroad to consider using maps, check email, or definitely not any video streaming. Consumers don't like paying for roaming, and companies are sick of looking at inflated cellphone bills whenever their employees go abroad.
Oulu, Finland's Uros Ltd believes they have solved this problem with Goodspeed, a smartphone-sized device to enable mobile hotspots. Goodspeed offers 10 SIM card slots for different destination countries, and allows five devices to simultaneously connect, making it a nice solution for work teams or families abroad.
Amazon has joined the Android app race with their own store in the US, according All Things Digital. The store isn't available at least in Finland and an attempt to access it simply redirects one to the Amazon front page. Amazon is claiming that since it's a retailer already, it can do a better job in selling apps than Google itself. For developers, it adds fragmentation as there are now at least three sites one has to be present in if you want to reach the masses, The Google Android Market, Amazon App Store and the Baltics originated GetJar.