Архив метки: Israel

Mobile Parking Service Pango Makes Official U.S. Debut With New App, “Smart Garage” In NYC


Anyone who’s ever driven in a city can attest to the fact that it’s an utter pain in the rear to find somewhere to park. New York in particular is a nightmare for skittish drivers (like myself), but mobile parking service Pango is poised to help ease the hassle of city cruising and parking.

After launching in Israel in 2007, their zeal for expansion has prompted Pango to take their first official step into the United States with the launch of their mobile app and their first so-called smart garage in New York City (on 77th and Lexington, to be more precise).

Here’s the onboarding process in a nutshell — after installing the app (available on iOS, Android, or BlackBerry), potential parkers are tasked with creating an account and will need to plug in their license plate number and credit card credentials in order to be properly tracked and charged.

After that process is over, users will be able to search for different Pango locations to park at, but for now users in NYC need only pull into the smart garage and press a button to summon a valet. Once users are done poking around the Guggenheim (or whatever it is people do in the Upper East Side), they can use the app to alert the garage that they’re on en route back to their car, so the vehicle can be prepared to go. The amount owed is charged directly to the card on file — the service doesn’t currently cost anything beyond the garage’s usual fees — so all that’s left is to hop in and speed off.

And this is just the beginning — Pango told TechCrunch that they’re targeting other major metro areas to expand into, as well as bringing their on-street and non-valeted garage parking models live over the next few months. In fact, they’re already made some progress on that front as they soft-launched their on-street mobile parking service in Latrobe, Pennsylvania of all places last month.

It’s a funky concept to be sure, but it’s one that certainly seems to be doing the company well. At last glance, the company has entered into app-friendly partnerships with parking garages in 50 cities across five countries — Israel, Poland, Germany, France, and the U.S. What’s more, the company handles more than 2 million parking transactions monthly, and make their money by splitting revenue with the garage proprietor or the owners of the areas where they plan to set up their Pango parking meters.

Now there’s no shortage of services looking to disrupt the odious process of parking — Panda and Disrupt Battlefield finalist KurbKarma immediately spring to mind — but what makes Pango such a compelling option is the lack of friction involved. Exchanging pleasantries with the valet aside, the entire process essentially consists of a few button presses. At this stage though they’re being outpaced by some of the competition (Panda is currently live in Baltimore and Washington D.C. with two more cities waiting in the wings), and while their momentum has seen them take hold in 50 cities in just under five years, only time will tell if they’re able to replicate that level of success in the States.

Mobile Parking Service Pango Makes Official U.S. Debut With New App, “Smart Garage” In NYC

Google Play Now Accepts Paid Android App Submissions From New Seller Countries


While Google’s top brass were busy dissecting the company’s Q1 earnings on their scheduled conference call, it was business as usual for the rest of the company. Over on the official Android Developers blog, for example, Google announced that developers in the Czech Republic, Mexico, Israel, and Poland can now sell Android apps and in-app additions in the Google Play store (and in their native currencies to boot).

“But wait,” you may say. “Developers from Israel and Mexico have been able to sell their apps for years now!” You’d be absolutely right — the Czech Republic and Poland are the only really new additions, but there was a bit of a catch for the other two.

At the time, developers in Mexico and Israel could only sell their apps through an AdSense merchant account and set prices in U.S. dollars. With this new change in place, Google now supports both countries’ respective currencies. The process for Israeli or Mexican developers to make the transition seems a bit hairy though — Google outlines the whole thing here, and it involves creating a new Google account and re-registering with Google Play.

So what does this mean for you developers? Well, unless you live in one of the aforementioned countries, not a whole lot. While most of the work will have to be done by developers operating out of those locales, Google still suggests that you consider whether or not you want to set a specific price for each of those new markets instead of just letting your default price ride.

Those minor issues aside, Google now officially supports paid application sales from developers in 31 countries. It sounds pretty good until you realize that it’s taken over a year and a half for Google to add these new names to the list of supported countries. I’m sure that developers in those countries will appreciate that Google has finally gotten around to them, but there are still quite a few that haven’t.

A link to the post was shared by the Android Developers’ Google+ account, inspiring a litany of requests from people asking Google to support their countries as well, prompting Android Developer Relations Lead Reto Meier to apologize for the delay. Then again, Google’s always been very upfront about this sort of thing — they note in their list of seller countries that they are “unable to provide any guidance on timelines.”

Google Play Now Accepts Paid Android App Submissions From New Seller Countries

Israeli-American Accelerator UpWest Labs Graduates Its First Batch Of Startups


When it comes to countries with thriving startup ecosystems, Israel ranks among the best. With nearly 5,000 startups currently in business — second only to the U.S. — the country’s pool of entrepreneurial talent has been attracting Western businesses and entrepreneurs for years. But, in January, Gil Ben-Artzy and Shuly Galili launched a startup accelerator that aims to reverse this trend in favor of Israeli entrepreneurs, by bringing the country’s promising founders to Silicon Valley to help them kick start their businesses. And, today, after 10 weeks of mentoring, networking, and iterating, UpWest Labs is revealing the six graduates of its inaugural batch.

As Eric pointed out last month, while Israel has a thriving startup community, challenges remain. The market is small (Israel is roughly the same size as New Jersey), and Israeli venture capital has been making a shift to focusing on late-stage investments. So focusing on early-stage businesses, gathered in small cohorts, is important to UpWest.

Galili also tells us that UpWest is currently the only accelerator in the U.S. focused solely on Israeli startups. Of course, while its entrepreneurs are unique in that sense, UpWest is emulating the litany of accelerators and incubators that have popped up over the last few years, in the sense that it’s bringing entrepreneurs to its offices in Palo Alto, offering them housing in Menlo Park, access to a long list of local mentors, and is providing seed funding in the $15-20,000 range in exchange for up to 8 percent equity.

Though its model may sound familiar, UpWest knows it has to differentiate if it wants to be around for any significant amount of time. So, as opposed to the traditional approach of accelerators, which generally focus on ambitious founders slinging tons of ideas, UpWest is focused on finding entrepreneurs who have already built products that have found some traction, so that they can use their time in Silicon Valley more effectively. UpWest also aims to keep its class size small in order to provide companies with maximum attention.

After officially opening its doors in January, UpWest shortly thereafter welcomed its first class of entrepreneurs to the Valley. As a new generation of consumer-focused startups has emerged in Isreal over the last few years, UpWest is looking to build a valuable resource for this new set of companies tackling the consumer Web.

Last week, the accelerator graduated its first-ever batch of startups, including mobile, social, gaming, and SaaS companies. Six startups are officially being released into the wild, and below we’re offering a glimpse into what makes them tick.

Contapps is a universal contacts platform designed to help you connect, however you want, with the people you care about. The startup is operating under the assumption that the tools and networks we use to communicate all live in apps in our smartphones that are scattered all over our phone, so Contapps has built an app that puts contact info front and center.

The “contacts platform” brings together free SMS, Facebook, Twitter, and more so that you can choose the best medium to reach out to your contacts — all in one place. The startup’s Android app has racked up over 500,000 downloads, and an average 4.4 star rating across 5,500+ reviews.

OffScale is a database version management platform — or, in its own words, Git for databases — aimed at allowing businesses to focus on creating faster product development cycles and releases by taking the hassle out of copying and managing their databases.

OffScale wants to help you organize and manage those snapshots you take of databases, including offering easy rollback, even if your database runs in a third-party cloud, as the software runs the same on your laptop and on the virtual server. The startup is also offering the ability to create and maintain datasets for automatic testing, along with the protection of being able to speedily tag and restore databases. Offscale is currently in beta, and while in beta, the software is free to download.

Tradyo likens its used goods marketplace to a “StumbleUpon for tangible things.” The startup’s iPhone app enables users to buy and sell used goods in your area in realtime. The app uses GPS to reveal the cool stuff available around you, allowing you to sell an item, search your community for cool stuff, and receive push notifications when an item you want gets listed, or when someone wants to buy what you’ve listed.

Like Antengo, Tradyo wants to improve upon the mobile Craigslist model in an attempt to make classifieds safe, easy, and realtime — in other words, leveraging the popularity of the collaborative consumption movement to re-imagine what it means to shop locally.

Senexx is using its patent-pending technology to help enterprise organizations identify and manage expertise via an internal Q&A platform. The startup’s advanced parsing and knowledge-routing algorithms aim to reduce the amount of time it takes for employees to find answers or domain experts with specific knowledge in a particular subject within their company. This is complemented by the ability to catalog past solutions to certain events or situations — the overall goal being to streamline in-house expertise in order to more effectively deal with problems, or opportunities.

The startup’s private, cloud-based service integrates into your company’s exiting enterprise networking platforms to allow it to take advantage of current collaboration systems, whether it be email, instant messaging, or internal social networks, in an effort to improve cross-team collaboration. To find out more about pricing, contact the founders here.

Bfly is a “mobile experience” which enables users to connect to other people, locally and around the world, using a virtual, 3-D butterfly of all things. The startup is currently in private beta, and will be launching its iOS and Android mobile apps in the next few months. But from what we can tell, Bfly is almost like a mobile, virtual chain letter. Each user creates a unique virtual butterfly and passes it to a friend’s mobile device when they cross paths.

According to Bfly, as the butterfly hops from one mobile devices to another, users can track its journey, view stats and photos taken by other users it meets as it goes. The startup is obviously looking to tap into the far-reaching potential of mobile technology to give users a fun, somewhat serendipitous, and quirky way to meet new people.

Invi is currently in stealth mode, so the team isn’t saying much about its product, other than the fact that it is trying to reinvent SMS, and perhaps iMessage along the way, by building a next-gen texting app for mobile devices. If that piques your curiosity, you can sign up for the startup’s beta here.

Israeli-American Accelerator UpWest Labs Graduates Its First Batch Of Startups

China Leads World In New iOS & Android Activations; App Sessions Up 1126% Over Last Year


New data from mobile analytics firm Flurry indicates the incredible growth potential of the Chinese smartphone market. The country, which ranked 11th place at the start of 2011 in terms of iOS and Android activations, has now climbed into the number one spot, beating out the U.S., now number two.

In addition, looking at data from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012, Flurry found that China led in app session growth as well, increasing 1,126% year-over-year. And the growth is especially notable because China was already the world’s 7th largest country by the end of Q1 2011.

In January of last year, the U.S. accounted for 28% of the world’s total iOS and Android activations, while China accounted for just 8%. A little over a year later, those metrics dramatically shifted. By February 2012, China surpassed the U.S., and is now on track to account for 24% of activations by the end of March, while the U.S. drops to 21%. (Note that Flurry is projecting out towards the end of the month here).

The change has been gradual – China’s activations hovered in the single digits for the first part of last year. But as 2012 began, the big shift was soon on the horizon. In January of this year, China reached 18% while the U.S was 26% and in February, China topped the U.S. at last, going neck-and-neck at 23% to 22% (U.S.)

What this data means is that the gap is now closing between the two countries in terms of installed base, and China, already the world’s second largest app economy, may soon overtake the U.S. as the country with the largest number of smartphone users, too. China today is estimated as having twice the size of the next largest smartphone install base, the U.K., notes Flurry.

Another means of measuring China’s growth comes from examining app session growth. Here, China leads the world with the staggering 1,126% jump on this front over last year. Other emerging markets where app session growth has been climbing, include (in order) Argentina, the Philippines, Russia, Belgium, India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Turkey.

Flurry also looked at the numbers of app sessions over the past year. Since Q1 2011, the number of sessions in the U.S. has more than doubled, however, its share of total sessions has declined from 56% to 46%. This is a reflection of the U.S. market’s maturity, to some extent: it’s still growing, but other countries are growing more quickly. When combining the #2 through #10 ranked markets (China, the U.K., South Korea, France, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany and Spain), sessions have collectively increased 3.4 times from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012, and session share has gone from 27% to 30%. The rest of the world combined has gone from 17% to 24% during the same time, or 4x growth.

Flurry had already called out China as one of the world’s largest upcoming addressable markets at year-end 2011, when it examined the shift in installed bases worldwide. China led the way on many metrics here, including apps running across Flurry’s userbase (China was #2) and the number of addressable users from the middle class (those who could afford smartphones) – China was #1 here, behind even the U.S.

Other firms besides Flurry have been tracking China’s potential, too, including mobile analytics site App Annie which stated that the country grew its mobile download numbers by almost 300% in the last year, and research firm Distimo, which reported that over 30% of Apple’s App Store downloads were coming from China by the end of 2011, as opposed to only 18% at the beginning of the year.

China today has over 980 million mobile users, but many of these are feature phone users. As the mobile market matures, developers interested in capturing the interest of new smartphone owners will have to work on localization strategies – not just translation, but true customizations for the market itself and the Chinese culture. Developers may also need to work with local partners, local carriers and distributors to attack the market appropriately.

China is also a critical region for smartphone makers, of course, including Apple, which CEO Tim Cook recently described the country as being “off the charts” in terms of last quarter’s sales. And let’s not forget that in the last two quarters of 2011, China overtook the U.S. in terms of shipments of smartphones, according to IDC.

More importantly, the growth of smartphones in China isn’t just reflective of a shift in the mobile industry, it’s a shift in computing as a whole. Says Flurry:

With smart devices adoption rates more than four times greater than those witnessed during the 1980s PC revolution and twice as great as those seen during the 1990s Internet Boom, no other consumer technology has been more accessible than smart device application software.  It’s literally taking over the world.

China Leads World In New iOS & Android Activations; App Sessions Up 1126% Over Last Year

DigiMo Cracks The Code: Mobile Payments With No Point Of Sale Changes


DigiMo, is a mobile payments platform that actually makes sense to me. When I sat down with CEO Yossi Yarkoni and VP of Marketing Nir Shimony at the Mobile World Congress to hear about their concept, which is piloting in Israel right now, the first thing I thought was “wow, why didn’t somebody think of this before”. It’s a pretty good idea and solves many of the problems that plague mobile, face-to-face payments.

It actually works with existing infrastructure and requires no Point Of Sale hardware changes by merchants. Really. No NFC terminals to buy. No new card readers needed. This is a major sticking point for merchant adoption of new mobile payments platforms.

How does DigiMo’s patented non-NFC reliant payments method work?

First, customers upload their payment credentials and account info to their secure DigiMo account in the cloud.

Next, DigiMo issues bank cards to merchants (instead of individual consumers like regular issuers). This special DigiMo card has a specific bin range. Participating merchants receive a DigiMo card and unique barcode/number for each of their Point Of Sale terminals.

Finally, at the time of a purchase, a customer uses the DigiMo mobile app to scan the barcode at the cash register. They then authenticate the app with pin or other security credentials which connects to their DigiMo account in the cloud. This info is sent to the cloud and lets DigiMo know at which unique cash register the transaction is taking place. The merchant closes the transaction loop by swiping the DigiMo card into the existing POS reader which rides the rest of the transaction on the regular card network and authenticates at DigiMo’s server and debits the customer’s account.

Boom. You’re done!

So that is the description of their face-to-face mobile payments solution but they also have scenarios for remote commerce, peer-to-peer money transfer and coupon/offers. These are all described in the video below.

They are currently trying to raise venture capital to bring their pilot to the U.S.A. I will be curious to see if this is a payments scenario that consumers could latch onto. My guess is that with digital natives this kind of thing will be all the rage.

DigiMo Cracks The Code: Mobile Payments With No Point Of Sale Changes