Архив за месяц: Ноябрь 2011

Proximiant Launches “Tap And Go” Digital Receipts For Retailers


Proximiant just launched a new service that provides digital receipts to customers of brick-and-mortar merchants. Like Square, the service involves the use of a low-cost hardware dongle that’s given away for free. But unlike Square, Proximiant leverages NFC (near field communication) to send the receipt from the cash register to the mobile phone.

NFC is a newer technology that ships in many modern mobile phones allowing for data exchanges over short distances. In Android 4.0, for example, NFC has been re-branded “Android Beam,” allowing users to share contacts, links, maps and more through a simple tap.

In Proximiant’s case, the service uses NFC to send out digital copies of a store’s receipts to a customer’s phone, also with a tap. For non-NFC devices, like the iPhone, an NFC tag (a keychain tag) is provided instead. Merchants give these tags away for free to customers who then pair them with their own mobile phone.

The Proximiant transceiver, a phone-sized device that plugs into a store’s computerized cash register via the USB port, will sit at the merchant’s checkout counter. The setup process take two minutes, the company claims. However, the device doesn’t integrate with POS systems. That’s by design, says Proximiant – it’s meant to support any software the merchant is using. Instead, the transceiver grabs the receipt data from the PC when a receipt is printed and sends it over a secure connection to the customer’s phone (upon tapping) as a digital image. A scannable barcode on the receipt allows the merchant to scan the phone itself in the event of a customer return or refund request, and the accompanying mobile app on the customer’s phone provides an archive of their transactions.

For merchants, adoption is relatively painless. There’s no upfront service cost, the system is plug-and-play and the hardware is free. However, merchants are charged on a pay-by-sales model for results Proximiant achieves. The retailers can choose to leverage the system to market to their customers via the digital receipts. (Yep, no good mobile commerce app would be any good these days without offers, right?)

Proximiant supports various marketing efforts, promotions, referral programs and loyalty programs, without requiring customers to hand over personal info like their email address or phone number. Merchants manage the programs via an online interface. Meanwhile, customers can save coupons phones within the Proximiant mobile app (Android/iPhone), redeem coupons at checkout by showing a barcode, share the coupons via email, SMS and social networks, configure reminders based on time or location, and access their receipts via the Web or phone.

The company is led by Fang Cheng (CEO), who previously co-founded Touchco, Inc., which was later acquired by a Fortune 100 company. Edwin Evans, who serves as VP of Engineering, co-found Quinly, a mobile app development shop, and worked on Motorola’s Android project and at Good Technology. Thomas Ahn previously worked for a network and data compression software startup, ViaSat. Rich Geruson, CEO of Phoenix Technologies and former SVP at Nokia, and Chung-Man Tam, now the entrepreneur-in-residence at Sequoia and formerly with Google, are serving as advisors.

Proximiant is certainly an interesting idea – from a consumer’s standpoint, I’d love to have digital receipts without having to snap photos of them with apps like Lemon, Expensify, Shoeboxed, and others or provide inbox access as with Slice and OneReceipt. However, Proximiant’s real competition doesn’t come from other receipt organizers – it comes from services like Square, which is already well on its way to building a viable m-commerce platform without having to workaround the fact that not all phones have NFC. Having to use a keychain tag, as all iPhone users will need to do with Proximiant (unless Apple decides to join the NFC bandwagon with the iPhone 5), isn’t as simple as tapping your phone. Keychain tags fall off, keys get buried in purses and bags, and frankly, some people just hate the keychain clutter they cause. Meanwhile, a phone is almost always in a pocket or hand, easily accessible.

Proximiant is fully self-funded and is currently running beta trials in a dozen stores in the San Francisco Bay area and Palo Alto.

Proximiant Launches “Tap And Go” Digital Receipts For Retailers

First BBX-Powered BlackBerry To Be Called The Surfboard?


We’ve gotten a few discreet glances as what could be RIM’s first next-generation BlackBerry in the past, and now we may have a name to go with it. Originally code-named “London,” BlackBerryOS reports that the BBX-powered device will henceforth be known as the “Surfboard.”

Erm, yeah. I”m not thrilled either.

As odd as the name may be, it doesn’t come completely out of the blue. RIM filed for the BlackBerry Surfboard trademark in the Canadian Intellectual Property Office in July 2010, and has been sitting on it ever since. It seemed for a while like one of those names RIM would never get around to using, but they subsequently filed for an extension of time this past May — it’s possible that RIM has chosen to dust off a name from the archives to use for their latest smartphone.

Then again, the BlackBerry PlayBook was rumored to be called the “SurfBook” for a while thanks to another trademark also filed in 2010, and we all know how that one turned out. I sort of doubt that the London/Surfboard will make it all the way to its reported June 2012 launch date without a few more tweaks to the branding, but then again that’s really the least of their problems. Older specs aside, RIM needs to make absolutely sure that their new-fangled OS is up to snuff before people will even consider choosing it over every other compelling smartphone option under the sun.

First BBX-Powered BlackBerry To Be Called The Surfboard?

With 30K U.S. Doctors Now On Board, Doximity Is Fast Becoming The LinkedIn For Physicians


As we reported yesterday, the market for mobile health apps is forecasted to quadruple to $400 million by 2016. The health tech space at large, too, is poised for serious growth over the next year, as medical devices and sensors get smarter, connect to the cloud, and now give us easy ways to track our health, fitness, and interact in realtime with providers.

Thankfully, the Web and digital technology are now playing an increasingly important role in the development of healthcare services (and the industry as a whole), so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the professional networking model that has worked so well for LinkedIn is proving just as effective when applied to the sizable network of American physicians.

Earlier this year, Jeff Tangney, Co-founder and Former President of NASDAQ-listed mobile health software applications maker, Epocrates, launched a new venture called Doximity. Taking a page out of LinkedIn’s book, Doximity gives physicians a private network through which to connect and collaborate on patient treatment or identify experts for patient referrals.

Doximity enables MD professional networking on iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and the Web in an effort to connect physicians from just about anywhere. Why? Well, even though the cost of medical care is high, realtime communication between healthcare providers/physicians and patients just hasn’t existed at scale. Patients have their in-office time, are lucky if they can grab practitioners over the phone, but that’s about it.

That’s why startups like Jiff have found great reception in the healthtech community. Avado, too, is tackling this problem, developing a solution for healthcare providers to better manage their relationship with patients.

And other than conferences, physicians don’t have a scaled, easy-to-use platform to connect with each other, network, find referrals, and provide faster, more effective treatments to their patients. Doctors are also, by and large, on the go — from the clinic to the lab, from the lab to the hospital, etc. That’s why a mobile (and Web) network like Doximity, which lets them connect via a private, secure platform is finding plenty of eager adopters.

The startup announced today that over 30,000 physicians are now using its platform to collaborate, which translates to 5 percent of physicians in the U.S., says Tagney. For reference, that’s double the number of physicians using LinkedIn.

The HIPAA-secure professional communication platform reached 30K physicians in just seven months (since it launched its network in beta), a feat that took LinkedIn more than three years to accomplish.

Of course, Doximity is not the only player in the space; there are a number of anonymous physician chat services out there, like the sizable Sermo, which claims to be the largest online network exclusive to physicians.

It looks like Doximity may be poised to give Sermo a run for its money, especially as the platform is professional — in other words, it’s not anonymous — or accessible to the general public. Unlike the anonymous networks, physicians, general practitioners, specialists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants all use their real names and verified credentials on Doximity in order to establish and share their professional expertise.

Doximity also features a HIPAA-compliant SMS messaging system as well as the ability for physicians to securely fax directly from their mobile phone or computer to any physician in or ourside of the Doximity network.

The service is free to use, and is quick to set up. The platform creates a basic profile using data from public databases, which physicians can then add by uploading their CVs, etc., and then suggests connections based on location, work history, and educational background.

The startup raised $10.8 million in series A funding back in March.

For more, check Doximity out at home here.

With 30K U.S. Doctors Now On Board, Doximity Is Fast Becoming The LinkedIn For Physicians

Even After Withdrawing Its Application, AT&T Hits Another Huge Hurdle In T-Mo Deal


In the wake of withdrawing its application to acquire T-Mobile, AT&T has hit yet another obstacle otherwise known as the FCC. See, before AT&T pulled its application, the FCC had big plans to put the deal before an administrative law judge, effectively prolonging the process and magnifying the details of the merger. As part of those big plans, the FCC had compiled an 109-page report with their findings during the review process. AT&T had expected this massive report to stay under the rug since it had withdrawn its application, but the FCC feels it “furthers transparency.”

And what, might you ask, is in this staff report?

Really, really bad news for AT&T. From the FCC’s official release:

The draft hearing designation order concluded, based on the staff’s analysis, that the record overall does not support a finding that the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger would serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity and that the record presents a number of substantial and material questions of fact.

But wait, there’s more:

In the report, the staff finds that the transaction, which would result in the top two wireless providers having a market share of approximately 75 percent, would substantially lessen competition and its accompanying innovation, investment, and consumer price and service benefits, thus undermining key goals of the Communications Act. Indeed, the staff notes that the unprecedented increase in market concentration that would result from this merger triggers the Commission’s screening tests for possible anti-competitive effects in a large number of local wireless markets.

In other words, the report stands behind the claim that this deal will cause a very real duopoly, or at the very least, force the FCC to investigate. But the blue carrier still has a few tricks up its sleeve, right? Two of AT&T’s biggest talking points during this persuasion have been job creation and the acquisition of much-needed spectrum. The FCC staff report had this to say on the matter:

The staff also explains that the economic and engineering models on which the Applicants (AT&T/DT AG/T-Mobile) rely to show consumer benefits are, in the staff’s assessment, unreliable and, at a minimum, raise substantial and material questions of fact. The staff additionally identifies internal AT&T documents and consistent historical practices that contradict AT&T’s claim that merging with T-Mobile is essential for AT&T to build out its LTE network to 97 percent of Americans. The staff finds the Applicants’ assertions that the transaction would create jobs in the United States to be inconsistent with AT&T’s internal analyses and record statements concerning cost reductions from the merger. The staff also finds that there are serious questions whether the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile would cause other public harms that are not offset by the claimed benefits.

Sentence by sentence, the FCC has whittled AT&T’s argument down to a tooth pick. And it seems like releasing this report falls into a bit of a grey area (now that AT&T’s withdrawn its application), which is even more unfortunate for AT&T. The FCC gives some justification for releasing the report, stating that it would be “unfair to the parties and participants” who’ve been working on this deal, and noting that AT&T is still planning on moving forward with this merger, according to its own statement.

AT&T had no idea that the FCC would release this report, and has said the following:

The FCC has recognized that it is required by its own rules to dismiss our merger application. This makes all the more troubling their decision to nonetheless release a preliminary staff report on the merger. This report is not an order of the FCC and has never been voted on. It is simply a staff draft that raises questions of fact that were to be addressed in an administrative hearing, a hearing which will not now take place. It has no force or effect under law, which raises questions as to why the FCC would choose to release it. The draft report has also not been made available to AT&T prior to today, so we have had no opportunity to address or rebut its claims, which makes its release all the more improper.

Even After Withdrawing Its Application, AT&T Hits Another Huge Hurdle In T-Mo Deal

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