MediaFile

Jawbone maker branches out with Jambox speaker

JAMBOX_Black Diamond HandAliph, one of the most successful venture capital-backed consumer electronics start-ups in the U.S., has carved out a lucrative niche for itself making the high-end Jawbone mobile phone headset. But the company is launching a new product that will take it in a new direction, just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The company on Thursday unveiled the $199 Jambox, a Bluetooth wireless portable speaker which does double duty as a speaker phone. Aliph hopes it will become a must-have accessory for owners of iPhones, iPads and billions of other Bluetooth-enabled devices.

“This is the first step into a whole new world beyond headsets,” said Aliph CEO and founder Hosain Rahman.

Rahman thinks the 6-inch, 12-ounce Jambox will be the answer to a modern-day dilemma familiar to iPhone afficionados: how to stream audio from the device without the hassle of a dock, wherever you are. It will play audio from at least 33 feet away, and up to 100 in some cases. As with the Jawbone, Rahman said the quality of Jambox’s sound is what will set it apart from competitors.  The Jambox will be available in Apple stores starting Nov. 16. It will also be available at Best Buy.

San Francisco-based Aliph is backed by more than $40 million in funding from heavyweights Khosla Ventures, Sequoia Capital and others including entreprenuer Marc Andreessen. The company, which has more than 100 employees, won’t comment on its finances, although Andreessen told Reuters last year that “they’re doing more than $100 million in revenue.” And Aliph’s profile has been rising quickly in the enterprise market, after the company struck a partnership with networking giant Cisco earlier this year.

Netflix model spreads to college textbooks

E-textbooks may be the way of the future for college campuses, but some scrappy companies are banking on the here and now by offering a solution to bring low-cost textbooks to students, and in some ways they’re taking a page out of movie rental company Netflix Inc’s playbook.Reader

New college textbooks are a $4.5 billion business for dominant players such as Pearson PLC, privately held Cengage Learning and McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.  But upstart companies such as Chegg and BookRenter.com are gaining momentum by offering used books at a discount on their websites, and shipping them to students, who later ship the books back when they are done with them.

If that sounds a little like Netflix’s business model, it may not be that much of a coincidence. Marc Randolph, who was a co-founder of Netflix, is a board member on the privately-held BookRenter.com.

Microsoft raises bet on motion-sensing tech

MICROSOFT/SPECIAL-REPORTMicrosoft has acquired Canesta, which designs microchips that it says enable computers to see images in three dimensions, according to the privately-held Sunnyvale, California-based company.

The purchase comes as Microsoft prepares to launch its Kinect motion-controller next month, hoping to spark sales of its xBox video game consoles. Buying Canesta, whose technology focuses mainly on consumer applications, suggests Microsoft is already eyeing more and better movement-recognition products down the line for its video game system as well as other applications.

Kinect’s camera-based system, built into cameras, lets players control games with body and hand gestures, letting gamers ditch the hand-held controllers they have been tied to for decades.

Facebook Mobile Event on Nov 3: Is this the secret Facebook Phone?

Here’s something to keep the rumor mills churning through the weekend.FBFone

Facebook has just sent out an invite to the media for a “mobile event” at its Palo Alto, California headquarters on Wednesday November 3.

Could this be the unveiling of the much-speculated about Facebook phone? You may recall that technology blog TechCrunch reported last month that Facebook was secretly developing a special smartphone.

Facebook then issued a carefully-worded response that said the company was not “building” a phone, but that it had projects focused on “deeper integrations with some manufacturers.”

Verizon’s iPad launch: Is this the right party?

It’s become a time-honored tradition: Start selling an Apple gadget and brace for the throngs of eager consumers.VZiPad

For Verizon Wireless, the big day was Thursday, as the nation’s largest wireless carrier for the first time began to sell the sleek iPad tablet PC.

But by the looks of the store in downtown San Francisco that Reuters happened upon on Thursday morning, things were clearly not following the traditional script.

UPDATE: AOL News hires ABCNews.com guy as new leader

AOL_Say_CanvasThere’s been an exodus of reporters and editors leaving AOL News of late but today the company snaggeda new leader. Jonathan Dube has been named senior vice president and general manager of AOL News & Information heading up its news and content division which includes the tech, finance, and sports group.  Dube will report in to David Eun, president of AOL Media & Studios.

Dube was most recently at ABCNews.com where he responsible for, among other things,  editorial content.

“Equal parts journalist and business strategist, Jonathan is adept at building online content partnerships and creating exceptional user experiences,” Eun said in a statement. “I am delighted that he will be taking over the management of our news teams as we continue to innovate and create original content at scale for our users.”

What’s holding up the white Apple iPhone?

APPLE/Apple-philes waiting breathlessly for the white iPhone 4 will need to hang on even longer before they …well, wait in line outside their nearest Apple store to get their hands on one.

The company announced on Tuesday it’s delaying the release of the white model again, this time until next spring. It’s the third such delay since the latest version of the popular smartphone was released in June.

“We’re sorry to disappoint customers waiting for the white iPhone again,” Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Reuters.

Google bolsters local Web content with Places search

Google’s search engine can deliver Web pages from every corner of the world, but the Internet company is increasingly interested in getting you information about the pizza parlor around the corner.

Google introduced a new feature on Wednesday called “Places” that allows users to narrow their search results to include only information about real-world establishments that are nearby.

A search for “bocce,” the Italian outdoor bowling game, for example, can be refined so that results show actual bocce courts in San Francisco (or wherever Google determines the user is located) instead of Web pages about the sport of bocce.GoogPlaces

HP’s Slate tablet: The early reviews

Hewlett-Packard, at long last, has released the tablet computer first glimpsed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last January, and it is a decidedly different take than what we’ve seen so far in the tablet space. Basically a business netbook sans a keyboard. That’s a far cry from Apple’s iPad — and maybe that’s the point.

The initial reviews of the HP Slatslate2e 500 are starting to trickle in and they are something of a mixed bag. There is plenty to debate, to be sure. The device sports Windows 7, Wi-Fi but no 3G, and has no app store link-up. But it features a digital stylus pen, has a relatively fast processor and plenty of room for storage. And then there is the little matter of that hefty $799 price tag, which has surprised more than a few people, given that the iPad starts at $499.

HP is not even pretending to be targeting the same buyers as the iPad. And a more interesting HP vs Apple showdown is likely to come next year, when HP releases the webOS tablet that everyone is curious to get a peek at.

UPDATE: AOL loses key editors; still says it’s home of premium content

AAOL_Say_CanvasOL is losing more key writers and editors, including the head of AOL News. Mike Nizza the editor in chief of AOL News is decamping for News Corp.   World editor James Graff is departing to take the managing editor position at The Week and James Burnett, AOL’s enterprise editor,  left for Rolling Stone.  Daily Finance Senior Writer Sam Gustin is headed to Wired.

It’s a blow to AOL which has boasted  of becoming an online media and entertainment powerhouse known for its premium content.

AOL emailed the following statement:  “We are building a world class organization and are committed to being a leading producer of high quality original content. And we are growing our organization everyday. ”