Predictions for Google’s 2011

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1. More free storage in Google Docs: at least 20 GB.

2. A new HTML5 interface for Gmail that loads faster, stores email offline and integrates with other Google apps like Google Calendar and Google Docs.

3. An updated Android keyboard that uses Google Scribd data to provide useful suggestions.

4. Google Earth as a WebGL web app and vector-based maps in Google Maps for desktop.

5. A database of things, where you can store important names, book titles, products, concepts and useful information about them.

6. Data sync for Google Chrome extensions.

7. Chrome for Android, with data sync, web apps, session restore, Cloud Print, built-in Flash and smarter address bar.

8. Google’s search engine will answer complex questions using inferences.

9. Google Personal Alerts will notify on your mobile phone if there’s something interesting around (one of your friends, a store that offers a discount for one your favorite products, a museum you wanted to visit, a shop recommended by one of your friends).

10. Google will learn to embrace Facebook and will start using Facebook Connect.

11. Google Online Store: the place where you can download Chrome/Android apps and games, e-books, buy magazine subscriptions, music and movies.

12. Android’s growth will slow down, but it will be the most popular mobile operating system because many companies will use it to create smart media players, digital cameras, TVs, game consoles and even home appliances.

13. Picasa Web Albums will become a Google Docs app and Picnik will switch to HTML5.

14. Google will acquire Disqus to make it easier to manage your comments and to improve Blogger’s commenting system.

15. Google Profiles will no longer be optional: when you create a Google/Gmail account, you’ll also create a profile.

16. Voice search and visual search for desktop.

17. Google will buy LastPass and offer an online password manager.

18. Google Wave will be resurrected, but it will have a simplified interface.

19. An online music player that will let you listen music from the Google Store or Google Docs, podcasts from Google Reader, online radios and more.

20. Google Fast Flip for web search powered by Google Instant Previews.


December 31st 2010 Uncategorized

Eleven 3D Printing Predictions For the Year 2011

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This is a guest post by Joris Peels, the Community Manager of i.materialise, a 3D printing service for designers, inventors and consumers. They are part of Materialise, a company with over 20 years experience in 3D printing and the market leader in 3D printing services and software.

Making predictions is a sure fire path towards getting ridiculed. But, I’ll be brave and go right ahead and make 11 predictions for 3D printing in 2011.

Makerbot will sell more than 10,000 3D printers in 2011.
To put that in perspective, there are approximately 30,000 3D printers in the world today. Makerbot would have to scale to meet this kind of production but given their strong brand and loyal following it should, together with some prime time TV coverage, be possible.

Bre Pettis will appear on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine in 2011.

Bre Pettis is the congenial Maker in Chief of Makerbot. Possibly he will be holding a Makerbot. And for all you Kevin Rose watchers out there, this will not be the beginning of the end.

A designer will have revenues of over one million US dollars with a single 3D printed product in 2011.
An injection molded product does not count, even if it was prototyped using 3D printing. The revenue must come from the sales of the 3D printed products themselves. A label that designs many products will also not count since this has happened before. Several designers have revenues of hundreds of thousands of dollars selling 3D printed items ranging from chairs to jewelry currently. As many designers get more knowledgeable with the 3D printing process and media coverage increases a million dollar hit is only one good design away.

Both Stratasys and Objet will release $5000 desktop 3D printers at Euromold 2011.

$5,000 is the new $20,000. Most entry level desktop 3D printers by companies such as Stratasys & Objet cost around $20,000 now. The Makerbot and Bits From Bytes 3D printers are available for around $1000 in kits and $3000 assembled. 3D printing services are also expanding and disrupting the market for 3D printers. I’m guessing people will read The Innovators Dilemma and reluctantly rush towards offering 3D printers around the $5000 mark. The $5,000 price point is well established by the now defunct Desktop Factory and so would be an illogical but obvious price point for 3D printer manufacturers to work towards. Both Stratasys and Objet’s technology could be stripped down to make a $5000 3D printer.

Zcorp & EOS will be the only major 3D printer manufacturers not to offer a desktop 3D printer in 2011.
In two blog posts Zcorp’s Vice President of R&D expresses strong skepticism about the need for and usefulness of consumer 3D printing. This to me points to Zcorp focusing more on improving its existing technologies and in expanding its technology base by using the Envisontec Ultra technology and improving the materials and process of the Ultra machine. A likely path for Zcorp is making recyclable and biodegradable materials and in then later positioning themselves as the “green 3D printing” player.

EOS on the other hand has made no move whatsoever towards the desktop market. It seems content to make further advances in direct digital manufacturing and its product portfolio and advances indicate this. It would be difficult to make an affordable Selective Laser Sintering system at the moment and even though it could (with some advances and a huge reduction in the cost of lasers) be possible EOS would seem to have huge opportunities in capturing market share in the direct digital production market for medical and industrial manufacturing right now.

3D Systems will launch a 3D printing service for consumers in 2011.

3D Systems has been playing the M&A game quite seriously over the past year acquiring Bits From Bytes and a string of 3D printing services worldwide. Their Marketing Manager is Cathy Lewis who used to be the CEO of consumer facing Desktop Factory. The combination of these assets shows a strong urge to become big in the consumer 3D printing market, and a 3D printing service aimed at consumers would make sense in that light.

At least five 3D printing startups aimed at consumers will launch during 2011.
With all the media & VC attention given to 3D printing many MBA-types will be pining over how they will make their fortune in the 3D printing business. Their thoughts are always towards barriers to entry, scalable etc. Also, web services are something they think they understand so they will come up with “3D printing on Facebook”, “its like i.materialise but for..”, 3D printing for the iPhone, etc.

Adobe will buy Autodesk in 2011.
Adobe understands the network effect and with its Reader software makes (somehow) millions by letting people publish and read documents. With more and more information being held in 3D formats “going 3D” would seem to be a logical step for Adobe. Reading, opening and editing 3D formats is a mess and ripe for consolidation. Autodesk’s stock performance recently has improved but still not reached the highs of the mid-2000’s. Executives have left and the company has experienced a lot of weakness due to its exposure to the AEC (architecture, engineering & construction) market. The company’s are giants in their respective markets and the tie up also somehow feels right.

Microsoft buys Dassault Systemes in 2011.
Dassault Systemes also seems to understand the network effect and its 3DVia software suite is a clear play to become the “Reader of 3D. “ The company is very strong in B2B engineering and 3D modeling software with Solidworks and Catia. It is also a giant in PLM. And product lifecycle management software would seem to be the way in which companies can manage the creation of intellectual property. It’s an illogical but prestigious asset to its defense contractor shareholders and its stock price has surged over the past years due to canny take overs and growth. This would not come cheap, but Microsoft with all its “SAP money” could make the acquisition and become a giant in 3D creation and engineering. Dassault would be a much more logical fit for Microsoft than the Google inspired acquisitions it has made over these past years. French protectionism and complex shareholdings would complicate matters however.

3D modeling software vendors will start to offer “light 3D printing” versions of their products

Both Solidworks and Rhino have experienced immense market growth due to inexpensive Student versions of their software driving demand for later adoption by companies and freelancers. Blender has become a huge by being a vibrant community and free. SketchUp has obtained many paid users because of its free to use versions. But, full versions of many 3D modeling packages cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. There is a huge gap between the free alternatives and the fully paid versions while the “seeding strategy” seems to work well for the industry. An expected influx into 3D modeling by enthusiasts and broader adoption of 3D modeling software should drive growth. However these people are likely to turn to free or inexpensive versions of easy to learn packages first. And despite the industry’s best efforts, no package is easy at the moment. A possible solution would be to offer stripped down inexpensive 3D printing specific light versions of popular 3D modeling applications. These would be easier to master and cheaper to buy.

3D printed products will win at least two Red Dot Design Awards in 2011

Design label .MGX has been winning a host of awards for its 3D printed work lately. Furthermore its works have been added to the permanent collection of the MOMA and the Smithsonian National Design Museum. Objet won a Red Dot for its Connex 3D printer in 2008 and designer Janne Kyttanen won a Red Dot back in 2005 for his LILY.MGX lamp. With many new designers active in the field producing attractive and groundbreaking work two Red Dots might be achievable.


December 31st 2010 Uncategorized

Maybe next year…

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The economy will be going gangbusters

Your knowledge will reach critical mass

Your boss will give you the go ahead (and agree to take the heat if things don’t work out)

Your family situation will be stable

The competition will stop innovating

Someone else will drive the carpool, freeing up a few hours a week

There won’t be any computer viruses to deal with, and

Your neighbor will return the lawnmower.

Then…

You can ship, you can launch your project, you can make the impact you’ve been planning on.

Of course, all of these things won’t happen. Why not ship anyway?

[While others were hiding last year, new products were launched, new subscriptions were sold and new companies came into being. While they were laying low, websites got new traffic, organizations grew, and contracts were signed. While they were stuck, money was being lent, star employees were hired and trust was built.

Most of all, art got created.

That’s okay, though, because it’s all going to happen again in 2011. It’s not too late, just later than it was.]

December 31st 2010 Uncategorized

Wikipedia Still $1M Short Of Fundraising Goal For 2010 (And Why I Donated)

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It’s the last day of the year, according to the Gregorian calendar at least, which prompted me to do some research on how well Wikipedia’s fundraising efforts for 2010 were going. As you may have heard, the Wikimedia Foundation is trying to scrape together $16 million from user and supporter donations to fund its strategic plans for 2011 (PDF).

The contribution campaign, starring Wikipedia founder Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Wales in a prominent role, was kicked off around November 13, 2010, and has so far brought in $15 million according to the banner that appears on top of Wikipedia articles these days.

Or has it?

Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia (and other free knowledge projects), is keeping a nice public Fundraiser Statistics page, which shows the cumulative total raised to date is actually just north of $13 million. We’re not sure where the discrepancy lies, but according to the Wikipedia Twitter account there was $2 million left to raise on December 29, so we suspect the stats tool provides an inaccurate estimate.


(click image for larger version)

Either way, Wikimedia’s fundraising goal hasn’t been reached yet, although we should note that this is by far the most money the organization has ever raised from contributors – they netted just over $6 million in 2009 (according to Wikipedia, ha).

We should also note that the goal wasn’t necessarily to bring in $16 million by the end of the year, but to raise that amount in two months, which means there’s still two weeks left.

So why did I donate?

Quite simply because I love Wikipedia, and frequent the site regularly, both on my desktop computer and from my mobile phone. I realize that I’m hardly the only one visiting Wikipedia and appreciating it for being both exhaustive and free, but what prompted me to donate to keep it gratis is also because I actually enjoy Wikipedia. It’s not only a source of knowledge for me, but also a form of entertainment of some sorts.

I’ve spent countless hours on the site this year clicking from one article to the next, and I genuinely love getting lost in there.

My latest revelation: actor Josh James Brolin (No Country For Old Men, American Gangster, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) was actually the guy who played the older brother character in the 80′s-classic flick The Goonies (whoa – I had no idea).

Is Wikipedia perfect? By all means, no, but that’s not the point. I couldn’t imagine a world without it, and having an answer to the majority of my questions a mere click away.

All that – and, I confess, Wales’ begging eyes – is what made me donate to Wikimedia, and why you should at the very least consider doing it too.


December 31st 2010 Uncategorized

This Is The Best Of Lifehacker 2010

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2010 was a huge year at Lifehacker, and we spent the month looking back at the biggest and best posts of the year. Here’s one last look back at the best of 2010 in case you missed anything along the way. (more…)

December 31st 2010 Uncategorized

Skytap Raises $10 Million For Cloud Automation Solutions

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Skytap, which provides cloud automation solutions for enterprises and software vendors to develop, test and demo cloud applications, has raised $10 million in funding, according to this SEC filing.

This brings the total amount of financing raised by the company to a healthy $23 million.


December 31st 2010 Uncategorized

Stop Dreaming About Killing Your Boss

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Traditionally we think of the hierarchy in the workplace as top down, but if top down is making you tear your hair out, you may benefit from managing from the bottom up—guiding your boss from the trenches. (more…)

December 31st 2010 Uncategorized

WakeMate Warns Users Of Major Safety Issue With Product After One Bursts Into Flames

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It was only days ago that we wrote that after nearly a year of delays, the first WakeMate units were finally shipping to customers. And now there’s some more bad news — really bad. Some of the initial units are apparently bursting into flames because of any issue with the USB charger included.

Repeat: Do not use the USB charger included with the shipping WakeMate units.

The company has just sent out the following notice to customers:

Hello WakeMate Customer,

We have just been alerted to a safety issue with our product. The black USB charger bricks that have been included with the product are defective. Do not use them.

The USB chargers were sourced through a Chinese vendor. We paid to have the proper certification and safety tests performed here in the U.S. for the chargers. However, tonight we were informed by a customer of a safety incident with the black USB chargers. Therefore, effective immediately we are recalling ALL USB charger bricks and informing our customers that it is not safe to use these USB chargers to charge your WakeMate.

We will continue to look into the situation but needed to email you immediately to ensure that you stop using and unplug the included Black USB Power Bricks.

We are extremely sorry that we sent a product containing defective components. However, we also want to stress that this issue is with the chargers only, and not with the WakeMate itself. It is still safe to use the included USB cable to charge the WakeMate, and it is safe to wear the WakeMate while sleeping.

I sincerely apologize for this mishap on our part. We are doing everything we can to prevent any further incidents with the USB charger bricks.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Arun Gupta
CEO, Perfect Third Inc.

While the notice isn’t specific about what the exact problem is, there is at least one report out there of a unit catching on fire. Jason Toff, a Googler, sent out this tweet tonight:

WARNING: my @WakeMate just burnt into flames, nearly catching my bed on fire. Do NOT use. Video of it afterward: http://twitvid.com/UBBWC

As you can see in Toff’s linked video, this looks really bad. He followed up to say he was fine, but that he was lucky he was around or his home would be on fire right now.

Obviously, this is yet more bad news for WakeMate, but they seem to have done the right thing in alerting customers as quickly as possible. It’s not yet clear if this is the only incident or if there have been others. Either way, WakeMate clearly feels this potentially won’t be an isolated problem.

Again, just to be clear, they’re saying the product itself is still safe, it’s just the black USB power adapter that is apparently defective. And if that’s the case, they shouldn’t have to do a full product recall — hopefully they’ll just have to send new USB adapters to all customers. The company says they’re still looking into the situation.

Update: There’s a bit more info in the Hacker News thread on the issue, including the company answering questions (they are Y Combinator-backed). Of note, the company says:

yes the batteries are safe. we believe that the chargers are spitting out a noisy electrical signal, which is causing the battery charger IC on the WakeMate to overheat, thus causing the problem. We have only seen any incidence when the unit is plugged into the black USB charger bricks we shipped with. To date we have logged over 20000 hours of sleep on our system, so we’re certain that sleeping with the Wakemate is safe, and that the batteries on the WakeMates are safe as well. This is in addition to the testing and certification we had done on the unit as well before we began shipping units.

and:

We sent this email tonight within an hour of hearing about the first issue. One of our goals as a company is to increase people’s quality of life — starting with sleep. It was immediately apparent to us we had to tell our customers, especially if their safety was at all at risk.


December 31st 2010 Uncategorized

Comic for December 31, 2010

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December 31st 2010 Uncategorized

Addoway Is Like eBay With A Social Streak

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If you’ve ever gone shopping on eBay, you know how important seller ratings can be — take a stab with someone who has less than a 90-something approval rating, and you’re testing your luck. And even when you’ve found someone with a satisfactory rating, the descriptions left by other buyers tend to be mostly useless (A++++, anyone?), which makes the whole thing feel a little risky regardless. Oh, and sellers can always get scammed by buyers, which makes it even more fun.

Addoway is an e-commerce site that looks to help reduce these feelings of anxiety by using Facebook Connect to help you find sellers that your friends have had good experiences dealing with in the past. The site launched eight months ago, and is currently drawing 90,000 uniques a month.

The premise is simple: when you run a search on Addoway for whatever it is you’re looking to buy (say, an Xbox), the site will let you sort listings by your social connections. If you know someone who has interacted with a certain seller before, then they’ll show up at the top — and you can talk to your friends about their experience with that seller if you’re still hesitant.

Of course, in order for these social connections to be of any use you need to actually know people who are using the site to either buy or sell things. And right now it’s pretty unlikely — even if you have a few hundred friends, the odds that one of them is using Addoway to sell the item you’re looking for is very low.

CEO Fredrick Nijm agrees that it’s unlikely that the social connections will be much help at this point, but he believes that if the site grows in popularity, it will become much more useful. For the nearer-term, Addoway has a back-up plan in place to help make shoppers more comfortable: very transparent seller listings.

The site invites sellers to link up their blogs, Amazon accounts, eBay seller profiles, and YouTube videos, allowing visitors to quickly get a snapshot of who they are. Granted, reading someone’s blog or watching their videos doesn’t necessarily help you determine if they’re a reputable seller, but this kind of transparency can still potentially help instill a greater sense of trust. Maybe.

So far the site has over 400,000 listings, most of which have been sucked in from eBay (Addoway lets sellers connect with their eBay, Etsy, and Bonanza accounts). Nijm declined to say how many active sellers the site has, but says that most of them (including those who have linked their eBay accounts) are still active.

The site makes money by offering a premium account to sellers for $8.95 per month that gives them prominent placement in search results and Addoway’s social media presences. In the future the site will also add transaction fees, though existing users will have a window where they won’t have to pay them.

This is a very difficult market to crack into, especially given how much traction Addoway will need for its social connections to become useful, and Nijm knows it. Still, he says that this is the only service that uses Facebook Connect to help buyers pick out reputable sellers (as opposed to using it for product recommendations, the way Amazon does), and he says that Addoway has seen significant growth over the last several months, going from 60,000 uniques a couple of months ago to 90,000 today.


December 31st 2010 Uncategorized