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from the L.A. Times

Category: SXSW

Apple to open pop-up shop in Austin for SXSW, iPad 2 release

iPad 2

The tech world is descending on Austin, Texas, this weekend for the annual South By Southwest Interactive conference, and Apple is looking to cash in on the action.

SXSW Music Crowd on 6th Street_credit Heather KennedyApple is opening a pop-up shop in Austin on Friday, the first day its much-hyped iPad 2 will go on sale and the first day of South by Southwest -- better known as SXSW or simply, South By.

The move is no doubt being made to get as many iPad 2s in the hands of attendees as possible and alleviates a bit of stress for those tech fiends who both wanted to go to SXSW and get their hands on Apple's next tablet on Day One -- especially since no pre-orders are being offered.

A leasing agent told the Austin American-Statesman, a newspaper and website in Austin, that Apple's pop-up shop will open in the Scarbrough Building on Congress Avenue and West Sixth Street in the city's downtown. Apple officials weren't available for comment on Thursday morning.

Apple is taking over a 5,000-square-foot space in the Scarbrough Building for about two weeks and since about Wednesday, construction has been underway to add Apple's minimalist retail touches in time for Friday, according to the Statesman report.

Lhgazxnc Black vinyl has covered the windows at the store front so far this week, the report said.

Rance Wilemon, a partner at Plat.Form Real Estate, told the Statesman that Apple has been eyeing a downtown Austin location since last summer but officially picked the pop-up shop spot on Monday.

"They came in town on Monday, did a quick tour, found a spot, and they're in there working and will open by Friday," she told the Statesman.

Wilemon also told the Statesman that, as of now, Apple isn't planning on making the temporary store into a permanent location.

The pop-up shop "is not as much to test the market as much as it is to be a part" of SXSW, she told the Statesman. "There's a huge opportunity to get brand recognition to a large audience during" SXSW.

Apple already has two other permanent locations in malls in Austin, but downtown Austin is where the events of SXSW take place, with thousands of visitors attending not only the technology conference, but also a SXSW film and SXSW music conference, all three of which overlap until the events end on March 20.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Top photo: Attendees test out Apple's iPad 2 at an event in San Francisco on March 2. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg.

Middle photo: SXSW 2010 attendees on Downtown Austin's 6th Street. Credit: Heather Kennedy / South By Southwest.

Bottom Photo: The iPad 2 is shown at Apple's March 2 unveiling of the device in San Francisco. Credit:Jeff Chiu/AP Photo.

Foursquare says it grew 3,400% in 2010

Foursquare grew 3,400% last year, the location-based social networking service said of itself on Monday.

The small, but increasingly popular, company made the announcement in a blog post with an infographic, stating: "Honestly, 2010 was just insane. The numbers tell the story better than we can, so we put together this little infographic. (Also, our 6,000,000th user signed up last week!)"

Foursquare-logo According to Foursquare's graphic (which can be seen below), 381,576,305 check-ins took place last year worldwide. The last country to check-in in 2010 was North Korea.

Users can check-in to a location or event on Foursquare, using smart phone apps or online, to earn badges showing where they've been or what they've done. If a user has checked in more times than anyone else over the last two months, that person becomes the "mayor" of that location or event.

Many have questioned what the point of such location-based services might be, while others use it as a way to see what their friends are doing and where, or even meet people who frequent the places they do. Either way, it seems a lot of people took to the service in 2010. As of December 2010, the company had 5,000,000 users.

The largest number of people who used the service to check in to an event was 30,525 Foursquare users at Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Rally to Restore Sanity in D.C. back on Oct. 30. Those who did check in at the event were awarded a special Foursquare badge that shows up online and in a user's Foursquare app user profile.

There was also one check-in from space, from the International Space Station, on Oct. 22.

The most popular categories for check-ins were food, work/office and shops.

The Hollywood Bowl was the second-most checked-in music venue last year, topped only by Terminal 5 in New York City. California was the top state for gym check-ins, with such check-ins accounting for 2.48% of all check-ins in 2010.

And -- displaying a sense of humor -- Foursquare noted that 224 people named Wendy checked into Wendy's restaurants last year and that one was even the mayor of a Wendy's in Madison, Wis.

Foursquare was launched by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas, in March 2009.

Foursquare_2010

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Image: Foursquare 2010 growth infographic. Credit: Foursquare 

Like last year, Foursquare is all the rage at SXSW

Foursquare-sxsw
Ever since Twitter exploded three years ago at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, many venture capitalists and technology commentators look to the annual conference as a forecaster for the next big Web start-up.

Last year, Foursquare was it. The location-centric social network launched in anticipation of SXSW 2009 and made friends instantly.

The project of Dennis Crowley, who sold his last location-based social network called Dodgeball to Google in 2005, and co-founder Naveen Selvadurai earned a second consecutive unofficial title of SXSW prom king.

To make the real-life mobile game more attractive, the New York company created 16 unique badges specifically for SXSW. Players earn badges when checking in to certain locations or a string of places. For example, checking in to barbecue joints unlocks the "porky" badge.

A social component is key for websites looking to gain traction at SXSW. It helped Twitter, a social network that could be utilized with any cellphone, catapult itself into the hearts of techies. The increasing prevalence of smart phones contributes to Foursquare's viability -- something that certainly hindered Dodgeball's growth.

While most of the early adopters who attended the SXSW Interactive conference are back home recovering and detoxing, Foursquare continues to be a prevalent tool at the SXSW music festival, which continues until Sunday. Friends are using it to keep in touch as they hop between concert venues and 6th Street hotdog stands.

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Umair Haque responds to SXSW criticism of his interview with Twitter CEO

"So, how was your week?" asked Umair Haque in his first blog post since his widely panned interview of Twitter CEO Evan Williams at SXSW. "Mine was interesting."

"In short, the Twitterati in the audience thought our hourlong chat was about as interesting as watching a pair of grandmothers play Canasta. I'll be the first to admit to being a bit green as an interviewer, and entirely new to SXSW. Maybe, in hindsight, I should have monitored Twitter on my laptop from the stage so I could have adjusted our conversation ... especially in front of a raucous audience not known for leniency. In any case, I apologize to the SXSW community that our conversation didn't live up to the significant pre-event hype."

The post, which goes on to delve into what Williams had to say during the interview, is getting a lot of re-tweets.

-- Jessica Guynn

SXSW cellphone service scorecard: AT&T big winner, T-Mobile the loser

Att-remote-tower
The South by Southwest Interactive conference draws thousands of geeks every year who converge on Austin, Texas, to discuss technology, the Internet and the next big thing. For attendees, the challenge is to meet interesting people and discover new trends and websites. For cellular carriers, it's keeping their networks alive.

Conference patrons live on the cutting edge. Look around, and you'd have a trying time finding someone whose face isn't buried in a smart phone -- whether "engrossed" in conversation, lounging at a cafe or walking to the next bar.

How are the big four carriers holding up? We took an informal poll of dozens of smart-phone users around downtown Austin and at the festival's epicenter -- the convention center.

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Geeks gang up on on Twitter at SXSW again, dis interviewer of Twitter CEO

The South by Southwest crowd was the source of another public stoning on Monday when Harvard Business Review's Umair Haque, author of the “The Awesomeness Manifesto," was anything but awesome.

HaqueGeeks attending the widely anticipated interview with Twitter CEO and founder Evan Williams protested with their feet and their tweets, departing en masse and digitally broadcasting their growing frustration to their followers on Twitter that Haque spent too much time speaking about himself and asking boring questions.

"Kanye this keynote," tweeted Maya Baratz.

"I think Umair's career as an interviewer is toast," tweeted Chris Sacca.

The standing-room-only event soon half emptied, a worse fate perhaps than befell the Austin festival’s most famous victim. Technology journalist Sarah Lacy was ruthlessly and relentlessly pannedfor the way she interviewed Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2008.

Williams made some interesting points but not enough to sate the appetite of frustrated geeks. So Williams held a second interview during which he promised to answer “tougher questions” about Twitter. One user asked: “What am I thinking right now?” Williams' answer: “Lady Gaga.”

 No post-interview tweets from Haque yet.

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Umair Haque. Credit: psd

Twitter's Evan Williams announces @Anywhere feature at SXSW

Evan Williams Twitter

Twitter Chief Executive Evan Williams at the South by Southwest music festival announced a new feature Monday called @Anywhere to help propagate the popular micro-blogging site even further.

The feature lets sites embed key Twitter features without having to send users off to Twitter's home page. By hovering the cursor on a name, for instance, viewers can see the person's Twitter handle and how many people are following them and click a button to follow that person's Twitter stream -- without having to go to Twitter's site. To see how a pop-up window could look, check out the screen shot on the left. Twitter Anywhere

With 75 million users sending 50 million tweets a day, Twitter has been seeking ways to let users get more out of Twitter without being bombarded by irrelevant tweets. And though the service is well known among the digitally savvy, Twitter has had less traction among the masses.

With @Anywhere, Twitter hopes to solve both problems at once. The idea is by letting users follow people directly on their websites, Twitter gets more users and the users are more likely to find interesting people to follow.

“What we’re doing is lowering the barriers” to using Twitter, Williams said during his keynote at SXSW. “There’s something interesting on Twitter for everybody. But not everybody knows that.”

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

Photo: Evan Williams at SXSW keynote in Austin, Texas. Credit: Alex Pham / Los Angeles Times.

MOG to launch all-you-can-download music subscription service for iPhone, Android

David Hyman MOG

MOG on Monday said it will launch an all-you-can-download music subscription service later this spring for smart phones, including the iPhone and Android devices.

Though music subscription services such as RealNetwork's Rhapsody have been around for years, listeners have been reticent to pony up the $10 or so in monthly fees for music that required an Internet connection. And in the early days, many consumers also complained about not being able to easily take their music with them.

MOG on iPhone "Music has to be portable," said David Hyman, MOG's chief executive, who said a music service without a mobile option is like "being told you can't take a book out of your house to read it."

The latest generation of music services has tried to address many of these issues. MOG, for example, plans to let subscribers download to their smart phones as many songs as they want from the company's catalog of 7 million songs so they can access their music even without a Web connection.

The company launched its MOG All Access subscription service in December. Hyman said that 17% of those who signed up for the three-day free trial ended up subscribing to the $5 a month Web-based service.

MOG's upcoming service, which costs $10 a month, would also let users listen to music on their smart phones, either by streaming the songs or by downloading tunes to their device to listen to later.

The Berkeley-based music company is among a handful of services trying to preempt the imminent U.S. arrival of Spotify, a popular music service available in Europe. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek's Tuesday keynote at South by Southwest is among the more anticipated events at the Austin, Texas, music show.

One potential stumbling block for both MOG and Spotify: Apple. The company, which makes the iPhone and controls which apps are allowed on its iTunes store, could very well nix MOG's iPhone app if the Cupertino, Calif., company felt it conflicted with its iTunes business.

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

Screen shot: MOG's upcoming iPhone application. Credit: MOG.

Photo: David Hyman, CEO and co-founder of MOG. Credit: Alex Pham / Los Angeles Times.

Twitter CEO Evan Williams delivers keynote at SXSW in wake of Twitter's first party

Ev Twitter's first official South by Southwest party was so hard to get into that the tech geeks outside waiting in the queue created a Foursquare check-in for the line. Once inside The Parish bar, the fortunate ones were treated to a full set by rhythm and blues darlings Black Joe Lewis, and a partially open bar.

Mingling through the club was Twitter CEO Evan Williams who had earlier announced the bash via his 140-character wonder.

"You didn't have enough options, so Twitter's having a small party tonight, too: http://bit.ly/c8GYUb 10pm @TheParishATX feat. @blackjoelewis," he tweeted.

The soft spoken entrepreneur had all the reason in the world to gloat due to the fact that three years ago his fledgling start-up was warmly received at SXSW and since then has only spread through the Web at breakneck speed despite occasional technical outages and serious competition from the biggest names on the Internet. In just the last two years none other than Google and Facebook have either introduced a new product to mimic and improve the Twitter style (Google's Buzz) or have changed the way their homepage is viewed (Facebook) to provide an experience faintly similar to Twitter.

Neither attack has affected Twitter's popularity, and when asked how he felt about surviving the challenges, the ever-cool Williams simply said that his company shouldn't rest, which is probably one reason he left behind co-founder Biz Stone back in San Francisco with the majority of the small company. "We still probably brought too many," Williams said, seemingly embarrassed at the extravagance of flying, gasp, 20 people out to the event.

Continue reading »

Digg overhaul expected to lessen coveted traffic spikes to publishers

DiggSay goodbye to the "Digg effect"?

Digg Chief Executive Jay Adelson announced a vastly revised version of its social news website at an event Saturday during the South by Southwest Interactive conference. Users will soon have a personalized news page based on a number of factors.

Digg's changes, which begin rolling out to a group of testers in the next few weeks, are multifaceted.

Users can customize their news page based on who they follow on the site in addition to a practically endless number of topics based on a new tagging system. What stories bubble up for a given user is also determined by what that person has voted on in the past and on what friends on Twitter and Facebook are linking to.

Digg's engine crawls the page, analyzes the content and tags a link automatically. Site users can also add their own set of tags to a link.

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