I’ve been following Qwiki for a while, ever since it won TechCrunch’s prestigious Disrupt award in 2010. The following year, it got a big funding pot from none other than the co-founders of Facebook and Youtube. I remember fondly playing with it while it was still available as a web-based service. The startup pivoted earlier this year becoming a mobile-only video app. Its core feature is converting pictures into video automatically complete with transitions and background music, similar to Animoto. In a nutshell, dare we say, it is a glorified version of the animated GIF, although its founder and CEO wants it to be a (visual) storytelling app. Too bad, it now has Vine (from Twitter) and Instagram’s latest video service, to compete with. Qwiki’s acquisition comes after Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr in May but I fail to see how Marissa Mayer’s team will manage to integrate it into a coherent business plan. Unless, Yahoo is acting as a proxy for Microsoft and Qwiki will ultimately become a rival to the omnipotent Youtube.
Taking on some of the biggest companies in the world is no small feat and yet this is what the Boston University wants to do. This private research university has more than 4,000 faculty members, nearly 30,000 students and research expenditures reaching up to $553 million. After Amazon, Samsung and Google, Apple and its popular iDevices have been in the limelight after the university claimed Apple infringed on a patent filed by one of its professor 26 years ago. It wants sales of the iPhone, the iPad and the MacBook Air to stop until a licensing scheme is set up with the university taking a cut of each past sale. This is a classic case of patent-trolling, when an entity decides to pounce on a company to siphon using one or more patents, via a legal route.
That’s probably the best option given that you won’t need a PIN to pay for that Greggs’ croissant or your daily cappuccino fix. It will be interesting to see how the service behaves in real life especially as people now tend to carry more than one NFC-enabled products (e.g. oyster, bank card) and more phones integrated wireless charging.
My back-of-an-handkerchief calculation shows that over the last 30 days, Samsung sold more than 330,000 units of its latest flagship, the Galaxy S4, with the Korean manufacturer claiming that it has flogged more than 20 million of them since it launched back in March. That has been helped partly by the fact that the average price of the S4 in the UK at least has been steadily falling. You can get the handset on a two-year contract for as little as £29 per month with unlimited data while the phone itself costs as little as £445, a far cry from the jaw-dropping £600 it commanded when it went on sale.