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Apple Rumor Roundup

By | gear | No Comments

Apple’s October 22 event is almost upon us, and rumors are swirling as to what products will be revealed.

Held at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple’s October product reveals have become an annual event in recent years. Previous October events have seen the announcement of the iPad Mini, The iPhone 4S, and the Macbook Air.

apple_oct_inviteThe teaser tagline for Apple’s 2013 event is “We still have a lot to cover.” While this may be a direct reference to a smart cover for a new slim iPad 5, it may also simply refer to the breadth of product announcements that are expected at this year’s event.

Whatever the case may be, the iPad 5 will almost certainly be the centerpiece of the show. Analysts feel the iPad’s camera is overdue for an upgrade, and an improvement from 5MP to 8MP on the rear camera is almost certain. A larger aperture is also expected, with lens ASP to increase 10 to 20%. This would bring the camera comparably in line with the one on the new iPhone 5s.

Apple also has strong impetus to add a retina display to the mini due to competition from the Nexus 7 and similar entry-level tablets, though analysts are conflicted on whether this move is yet possible from a supply standpoint. Both the iPad Mini and iPad 5 should see a boost in processing power, with Apple expected to add an A7 chip to the iPad 5 and a an A6X to the iPad Mini. Both models are also expected to go slimmer as well, though the addition of a retina display could actually force the Mini to become slightly larger and heavier. The iPad 5 is also in line for an infusion of color similar to the range available with the iPhone 5s. Space grey has all but been confirmed thanks to leaked pictures, but silver and gold are still speculative at this point. There is a possibility that the iPad 5 will see a Touch ID fingerprint sensor for one-touch unlocking of the device, but there is an equally strong possibility that Apple will want this to remain an exclusive feature of the iPhone 5s.

The New Mac Pro

Though attention will largely be fixed on the iPad, the Mac will not go without an appearance… something I am personally more excited about than the incremental iPad updates. I have been waiting for the new mac pro to ship since it was previewed earlier this year. There are multiple Mac Pros in our office (including my own) that are in desperate need of an update. I will be purchasing at least three new Mac Pros as soon as they are available.

Improvements to the Macbook Pro are also anticipated – a better Facetime camera, 802.11ac WiFi, and increased battery life.

On the software front, the official release of OS X 10.9 (Maverick) is expected to be announced. It is also possible that a new version of iWork will be revealed. There is an outside possibility that some revamp of Apple TV will also be announced.

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3 Cool IoT Devices

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A famous New Yorker cartoon said that “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” Soon, however, most Internet users may not even be alive. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about the Zombie Apocalypse. I’m talking about the Internet of Things (IoT), which will make it possible for physical objects to communicate directly with one another–no humans required.

Right now our computers are clueless when it comes to the physical world. But thanks to cheap embedded sensors and ubiquitous low-power Internet connections, machines will soon be able to do much more – from warning patients of an impending heart attack to automatically reordering office supplies when they start to run low.

While these ideas may sound like science fiction, some innovative companies are already helping to build the Internet of Things. Here are three interesting examples:

meet_tod_339tod Smart Beacon
Pronounced “toad,” the tod is a tiny Bluetooth device that notifies you when it enters or leaves a specified area. You could have it send you a text message when your child comes home from school, or trigger an alert if your dog get out of the back yard. Check it out here.

Nest Thermostat
When you think of sexy hardware, your thermostat is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Nest hopes to change that and I have two of them installed at my house. The company is headed by Tony Fadell, who played a lead role in developing the iPod, and the Apple DNA shows in the Nest’s minimalist design. But the Nest is smart as well as beautiful. It saves energy by learning your schedule, and connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can adjust the temperature even when you’re away from home. Nest recently released a smoke and carbon monoxide detector as well.

Scout Alarm
Scout is using technology to shake up the stodgy home security market. The base station connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and it also has a 3G cellular modem for back-up protection. Instead of relying on an old-fashioned keypad to disarm your security system, Scout lets you use your smartphone. Naturally, you can also control the system remotely from your smartphone, tablet or computer.

As motion sensors, Bluetooth transceivers and other relevant technologies become continuously smaller and cheaper, the market for Internet-connected devices is set to explode.

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The $12.5 Billion Tweet

By | entrepreneurs, social media | No Comments

How much is a tweet worth?

Can a tweet actually impact a business? As CEO of IZEA I get asked these questions everyday. My job is to match companies with influential people and pay them to tweet, post and otherwise endorse their products and services through social media. It is not unusual for a celeb to get tens of thousands of dollars for a single tweet, and that can stretch into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the A-Listers. Yes, that may sounds like a lot of money – but when you combine the right person with the right brand it can be well worth it.

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Today Carl Icahn tweeted about Apple, a company that he has taken a large equity position in. He has a mere 39,957 followers, but those followers are the right followers. They are truly influenced by Icahn, not just by clicking or retweeting, but by buying. Within 100 minutes Apple stock jumped as high as $494.66, to close nearly 5% higher, at $489.57 per share – a six-month high. Icahn’s tweet added nearly $12.5 billion to Apple’s market cap. AMAZING. While the size of his stake has not been disclosed, it is safe to assume that he just made himself tens of millions of dollars.

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How much is a tweet worth? You tell me.

Disclosure : I own Apple stock.

 

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Dogfish Head Brewery

By | business, entrepreneurs, life | No Comments

Great Beer

I love beer. It is delicious and apparently good for you (or at least that is what I tell myself). Nothing is better than drinking an ice cold beer on my dock at the end of a long week. Perhaps my favorite microbrewery right now is Sam Calagione’s Dogfish Head Brewery. Dogfish Head grabbed my attention when I tasted their eccentric 60 minute IPA years ago, but they earned my faithful dedication when I had the rare 120 minute IPA. With 18% alcohol by volume, one bottle of 120 minute and you are….”relaxed”.

dogfish_head_sam_calagioneGreat Entreprenuer

The microbrewery’s humble origins can be traced back to 1995, when Calagione founded the company in Milton, Delaware. Calagione entered the brewing industry after imbibing the craft beers he was serving at a bar in New York City. The richly nuanced flavors inspired him to pursue his own microbrewery. The company’s line-up featured seasonal varieties, including Punkin Ale, a sweet brown ale with hints of pumpkin, and Chicory Stout, which is an amalgam of Mexican cocoa, licorice, St. John’s Wort and finely roasted chicory.

Calagione’s innovative mind has remained the backbone of thecompany. He refuses to monitor the actions of Dogfish Head’s brewing rivals; instead, all brews are personally concocted, and Calagione forces the competition to constantly catch up with their clever blends. He spends his time “roaming” in industries outside of beer to get inspiration. His company seeks artistic overlap, and forges collaborations with anyone who shares their creative interests. They have formed an alliance with The Grateful Dead, which subsequently culminated in a themed beer known as American Beauty. Like most of their beer, this pale ale also packs a vicious punch.

The company earned widespread notoriety with the inception of their India Pale Ale line in 2001. The first beer introduced in this series was Dogfish’s 90 Minute IPA. Outside of the 120 Minute IPA, it delivers one of the most full-bodied experiences you will find. The name of the product refers to the length of time it is boiled for hops infusion. A lighter variety appeared in 2003, known as the 60 Minute IPA, which was my first introduction to Dogfish.

The success of these beers facilitated a national expansion for the brand. As a result, their manufacturing output increased by massive proportions. From a dream… to a micro brewing powerhouse. They now brew 75,000 barrels of beer annually with a loyal following of craft beer lovers.

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Startup Profile : Silvercar Wants to Take the Suckiness out of Car Rental

By | startups, travel | No Comments

silvercar_logoEver rented a car from the airport and waited forever in a long line only to get the cheap leftovers? Yeah, we’ve all been there and said some things we shouldn’t have to the poor attendant at the car rental counter.

After repeatedly experiencing this same frustration, Todd Belveal and Bill Diffenderffer were inspired to create a hassle-free, customer-centric alternative. Together, with a small group of industry and technology experts, they launched Silvercar in March 2012 and never looked back. Disruption is the name of the game, and Silvercar is leading innovation in the airport car rental industry, harnessing technology to simplify the process and abolish the “take-what’s-left” notion for good.

A4 Awesomeness

From reservation to return, Silvercar has re-imagined the airport car rental process to ensure the best customer experience. Take their fleet of premium cars, for instance, made up of only one make and model – a silver Audi A4. This is very smart because it benefits both the company and customers, simplifying the process of stocking inventory and preventing the variations typically found in rental pricing and features.

Not completely won over yet? Don’t worry, you will be. To rent a Silvercar, all you have to do is download their app (available for iPhone and Android devices), create a reservation, update your profile and walk to your car. Think about it, you could do the first three tasks while sitting in the airplane on the tarmac, waiting for the disembark announcement. There’s no counter or lines so, once you’ve retrieved your baggage, just walk out the door and drive off in style. Best of all, everything is wireless and paperless because your smartphone does all of the legwork – from unlocking and assessing your Silvercar to receiving your electronic receipt.

And since Silvercar is all about the customer, they made sure not to skimp on complementary features. When you rent a Silvercar, you can expect the following luxuries to come standard:

  • Navigation system

  • SiriusXM satellite radio

  • Wi-fi hotspot

  • Bluetooth pairing

  • Audi quattro all-wheel drive

  • Leather seats

  • Roadside safety assistance

  • Toll tracking – Silvercar remotely searches for toll fees associated with your Audi A4 and bills them to your account.

Gone are the days of having to scramble to fill up your rental’s tank before you drop it off or pay double to have the rental company take care of fueling. As soon as your Silvercar enters the return area, they use fuel sensors to calculate the exact amount of gas in your tank. The company only charges customers for the fuel used during the rental period. Not only that, but they calculate their fuel charge at the local premium fuel rate, plus a flat $5 fill-up fee.

silvercar_foundersBorn in Texas

Based in Austin, Texas and under CEO Luke Schneider’s leadership, Silvercar has four Texas airport locations at Austin Bergstrom International, Dallas/Fort Worth International, Dallas Love Field and, its newest addition, William P. Hobby in Houston. After selling out of their inventory during SXSW, the company decided to keep a large Texas presence; however, they are expecting to be in seven different markets by the end of 2013. So far, no details have been released regarding what those seven markets are, but, I would love to see them expand to SFO or LAX (I’m itching to try Silvercar out during my business trips).

Backing

The privately held startup has grown immensely thanks to funding from some of the world’s most influential investors, led by Austin Ventures. As of July 2013, the startup has amassed $16.5M in total funding, which will help fund the company’s rapid expansion during the remainder of the year.

Silvercar has great potential. Although, those looking for a larger vehicle might not be willing to sacrifice space for simplicity and unbeatable features, so it’s definitely a program tailored for a specific type of traveler. However, as soon as the company expands outside of Texas and more people learn of its streamlined benefits, it will only be a matter of time before travelers come to expect it at every airport – hell, I’m ready for it to be at every airport! Stay tuned and make sure to follow Silvercar on Twitter @silvercar to receive updates on location announcements and promotional codes for discounted rentals.