MediaFile

UPDATE-PayPal tries to lure retailers to mobile app

(Updates to explain “secure element” issue. Changes in bold in paragraphs 10, 11)

Online payments firm PayPal is so keen to get mobile payments off the ground it has taken the unusual step of opening a Manhattan dummy store that demos how the app can be used (pictured at right).

It’s  idea is to demonstrate the application to merchants at the “store” between now and February.

PayPal’s head of mobile payments, Laura Chambers, said merchants have given a “very enthusiastic” response to PayPal’s plans for the wallet launch next year. The eBay unit  promises to reveal a pilot merchant partner by year end.  But Chambers was not ready to name any merchants or even any retail sectors that are interested in supporting the app in an interview at the downtown showcase.

In the meantime it will finally launch a PayPal app for Android phones that lets users tap their phones together to exchange money. The app, which the company already showed off as early as June this year, uses a peer-to-peer version of Near Field Communication, a short range wireless technology.

In the Larry Page era, wither the splashy Google product launch?

Remember the days when Google had big splashy product launches?

It almost seems like a bygone era, with the Web search giant now appearing to favor a more muted approach to product unveilings.

The change in style may reflect the change at the top, with Larry Page, Google’s famously laconic co-founder, taking the CEO reins in April.

Consider Friday’s unveiling of the revamped Google TV service. All the key media outlets were pre-briefed on the news ahead of time, resulting in the usual blanket of press coverage. But there was none of the fanfare that accompanied the rollout of the first version of Google TV, during which CEOs from partners such as Intel, Sony and other companies took the stage at Google’s developer conference last year.

How to generate media value: Fire your CEO

Some outfit called General Sentiment has set about the task of evaluating the media value of top global brands and then ranking those companies accordingly. Some brands made their way up the list because they ousted their head honcho.

To compile the rankings General Sentiment monitors the news, blogs, tweets and other social media for a brand’s “buzz” — negative or positive — to calculate the estimated cost to generate the same media exposure through traditional advertising.

For the latest list, Google claims the spot as the “top brand” with $917 million worth of media value during the third quarter ahead of Apple

Does Sony Ericsson fate provide Googorola clues?

While Google made no secret of the fact that it is buying Motorola Mobility for its patents, the remaining unanswered question is what it does with the handset business. Now that Sony  is planning to take full ownership of its mobile joint venture with Ericsson, its behavior may provide some clues as to what “Googorola” should do.

The idea seems to be that Sony will make its smartphones work more closely with other devices such as game consoles, tablets, computers and TVs.  Imagine watching a movie on the train home and then transferring it seamlessly to the big TV when you reach the living room? It’s a nice idea and coming closer to reality with the Sony Ericsson deal according to Evercore analyst Alkesh Shah

“I think there’s a major change happening in terms of how media and communications will be delivered to and from smartphones and to other devices in your home including your set-top boxes and TVs” said Shah.

Sergey’s secret Google projects, and the challenge of 1,000 blooming flowers

What’s Sergey Brin been up to since his pal Larry Page took the reins as CEO of Google, the Internet search company that the pair co-founded 13 years ago?

Brin, who spoke at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, discussed his new role at Google, which he said is focused on advanced research projects like Google’s famous self-driving cars, as well as some “infrastructure” projects.

Brin said he was optimistic that Google’s so-called “autonomous cars” would eventually make it to market – though he noted that the vehicles still required a good deal of research and development before being ready for prime time.

Google+ to Facebook: TMI!

Vic Gundotra, Google’s head of social, doesn’t care about every song his friends are listening to and every article they’ve read.

“We do not believe in over-sharing,” he said at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Gundotra may not have said “Facebook,” but his comments were aimed directly at the world’s No.1 social networking service, which recently introduced a so-called “frictionless sharing” feature in which a user can elect to have all their online activities – such as the names of the videos they’re watching and the songs they’re listening to – automatically broadcast to their friends.

Tech wrap: Samsung, Google scream for Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung and Google unveiled the first smartphone running on Google’s latest version of the Android operating system, dubbed “Ice Cream Sandwich”, which combines software used in tablets and smartphones, as they step up competition against Apple. The high-end model Galaxy Nexus was unveiled at an event in Hong Kong, after being delayed last week as a tribute to the late Steve Jobs.  “This will be our strategic product for year-end holiday season, as (Apple’s) iPhone 4S just came into the market,” Samsung’s JK Shin said.

The Galaxy Nexus features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, super AMOLED HD 4.65-inch display, face recognition to unlock its screen,the ability to share content by tapping another phones equipped with a Near Field Communication chip, a camera boasting no shutter lag, and even a barometer. The global launch kicks off in November.

Twitter is looking for a director to bolster its board’s business credentials and diversity, and candidates include a former Google executive, a person familiar with the matter said. The search is in its early stages. But some names that have come up include Mariam Naficy, chief executive officer of paper goods company Minted.com, and Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, chief executive officer at fashion retail site Joyus and the former president of Google’s Asia-Pacific and Latin American operations, the person told Reuters.

What’s in store for Dropbox after receiving a big pile of cash

Dropbox, one of the most watched companies in Silicon Valley, officially announced on Monday that it raised an astounding $250 million in a Series B round led by Index Ventures, reportedly valuing the virtual file cabinet company at a whopping $4 billion.  This massive round stands in contrast to the first bit of money raised — about  $7 million –  from early investors including Sequoia Partners, Accel Partners, and Hadi and Ali Partovi.*

Founded in 2007, Dropbox is virtual storage that allows consumers to access documents, photos and videos from several devices.  So if you happen to snap a picture on your Android operated phone and store it to your Dropbox, you can pull that same photo on your iPad or laptop, for example. It eliminates the need for thumb drives or even email as long as you download a storage box on each device.

The company has about 45 million users. Dropbox provides a certain amount of storage for free before charging people for extra capacity. People can also get more storage by referring friends. Dropbox won’t reveal revenue or profit figures.

Motorola bets on recycled Razr brand

Razr is back. After  being criticized for depending on the four letter brand for too long,  Motorola is hoping to draw some more blood from the stone with the new Droid Razr in the U.S. market. It will be called plain old Razr in the rest of the world.

Analysts are already predicting that the new phones won’t reach the 130 million unit sales that Motorola boasts for Razr over several years. But the jury is still out on whether using the old brand that came to symbolize the company’s downfall will help sales of the latest phone, which it is touting as the world’s thinnest smartphone.

“We tend to see it more in the auto industry where Dodge brought back the Charger and Volkswagen brought back the Beetle. Volkswagen did well,” said NPD analyst Ross Rubin. But the modern Beetle is an updated model that is recognizable as a descendent of an old car that dates back to pre-war Germany. The Droid Razr is a tablet-like device with a 4.3 inch display that looks nothing like the original flip-phone Razr.

Apple iPhone 4S: Believe the hype?

As Apple reports quarterly earnings based largely on the number of iPhones it sold, the honeymoon continues for the lucky millions able to get their hands on the newest 4S model, which was initially criticized for not being new enough. Apple went on to sell 4 million of them in 3 days.

So, after the initial sales storm, is Apple’s iPhone 4S living up to the hype?

First, here’s a graphic on how the baby compares to its older sibling:

Corrected: The graphic, above falsely stated that the iPhone 4S had 1GB of memory. As Ben Pingel pointed out, it actually has 512MB.