AOL to Launch Mobile Development Platform

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Developers can add another mobile open-application development platform to the mix, this time from AOL.

AOL announced on Monday that in the middle of the year it hopes to release a platform that developers can use to create applications that can run on any mobile phone. The platform will be open, so that developers can improve it as they like, said Jai Jaisimha, vice president of mobile product and technology development at AOL.

The AOL Open Mobile Platform is based on technology that AOL acquired from a company called Airmedia last year. It requires an application on the mobile phone. The program, which is so small it’s comparable in size to an average graphic, works in conjunction with back-end servers that take care of converting the application to the format the device requires.

Currently, developers who want to write applications for mobile devices face a daunting task because they must customize their application for the various popular phone operating systems. “So what this platform does is eliminate the need to learn all those different platforms because you can use a device agnostic markup language,” said Jaisimha. The platform uses an XML-based markup language.

Even phones that run the same operating system often have different requirements, however. The phone application from AOL already works on more than 150 handsets, and since the application is open, developers will be able to tweak it to work on any additional handsets, Jaisimha said.

CNN launches Web site for citizen journalists

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Since CNN embraced the citizen journalist movement in August 2006 with the launch of its iReport initiative, the news organization has received nearly 100,000 news-related photos and videos from viewers.

Yet fewer than 10% of those submissions have appeared on CNN.com or the cable channel.

That’s all about to change. CNN this week will enter YouTube territory with iReport.com, a new site built entirely on user-produced news. And unlike CNN’s own properties — where only iReport submissions that have been handpicked by editors and checked for accuracy ever make it online or on air — the new site will be wide open, allowing users to post whatever content they choose, CNN said.

The new site looks and feels much like YouTube and other video-centric destinations. Aspiring Anderson Coopers can upload videos, photos and audio files through an easy-to-use interface. Visitors to the site can search for specific clips or sift through various news categories, such as politics or weather. Users also can rate and share clips and even embed them on their own sites.

Yahoo buys Maven Networks for $160 million

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Yahoo Inc said it bought online video platform provider Maven Networks Inc for about $160 million.

Yahoo said the deal will help it expand consumer video and advertising on Yahoo.com and Yahoo’s network of video publishers on the Internet.

Starbucks Switches to Free AT&T Wi-Fi

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Starbucks Corp. and AT&T Inc. will start offering a mix of free and paid wireless Internet service in most of the global coffee retailer’s U.S. shops, beginning this spring.

The move announced Monday ends a six-year Starbucks partnership with T-Mobile, which did not include free Wi-Fi and charged higher fees than AT&T will.

Starbucks said it will give customers who use a Starbucks purchase card two hours of free wireless access per day. More time than that will cost $3.99 for a two-hour session. Monthly memberships will cost $19.99 and include access to any of AT&T’s 70,000 hot spots worldwide.

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