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Archive for the ‘Applications’ Category

Here’s Josh(business2.0 founder) writing on what seems to be a tough situation for the two Indian entrepreneurs who launched their facebook app (Scrabulous) last year and are now sitting on a web property that gets 70 Mill page views a month

Hasbro, the owner of the game scrabble, is gunning to bring down the facebook app and has reportedly summoned Facebook to bring it down….

Just wait and watch… will update here on what happens next

By Josh QuittnerI can’t tell if Hasbro (HAS), the maker of Scrabble, is the smartest company in the world or the dumbest. Over 100 million sets of the game have been sold in 121 countries, in 29 different languages, according to everyone’s favorite source. What a cash cow.So, why in the world didn’t it create a free online version? Could it have something to do with the digital rights being in flux, thanks to a recent licensing deal that assigned online Scrabble rights to EA (ERTS). If so, why oh why would it let someone else do it, and reap the rewards? But that’s just what happened when two guys from Calcutta, Jayant Agarwalla, 21, and his brother, Rajat, 26, created a knockoff called Scrabulous.

Their site launched in 2006 and quickly signed up 600,000 registered users. Not too shabby for a year’s worth of work. So the brothers launched a Facebook application in June, 2007 and the results were stunning: 2.3 million active users as of today. For those of you keeping score, the application generated 270 70 million pageviews in the past month. Not a bad deal for a two-man operation.

But all good things must come to an end, which is bad news for Scrabulous fans, and even worse for the Agarwalla Bros.: Hasbro’s trying to shut the site down. “They sent a notice to Facebook about two weeks ago,” Jayant confirmed to me. “The lawyers are working on it.”

As a recovering Scrabulous addict (actually, I have since moved on to Facebook’s harder stuff, Texas Hold ‘em), I’m devastated. But as a tech writer and life-long student of what passes for Internet economics, I’m baffled. Is Hasbro just a stupid Potato Head? Or is this a brilliant game of Stratego?

My calls to the company have so far gone unanswered. A spokesman for Facebook, who said she was unaware of what was in the works with Hasbro or Scrabulous, said, “we don’t typically comment on legal matters.”

If I were an evil genius running a board games company whose product line spanned everything from Monopoly to Clue, I might do this: Wait until someone comes up with an excellent implementation of my games and does the hard work of coding and debugging the thing and signing up the masses. Then, once it got to scale, I’d sweep in and take it over. Let the best pirate site win! If I were compassionate, I’d even cut in the guys who did all the work for a percentage point or two to keep the site running.

Perhaps that’s what will happen since both the Scrabulous site and Facebook app are still up and running. Indeed, Jayant told me that he was hopeful they’d find an 11th Hour solution. “We’re trying to work out some kind of deal,” he said. I hope so, too.

Jayant said that he didn’t exactly understand what all the fuss was about. Its ability to generate insane numbers of pageviews notwithstanding—he said some players play as many as 170 games at a time on Facebook—the application isn’t throwing off that much money. He declined to say exactly how much, pegging revenues at “over $25,000 a month.” Hmmmmm.

The brothers got the idea for Scrabulous after becoming Scrabble freaks a few years ago and playing at another free site, Quadplex. After it started charging users, however, they decided to build their own “without thinking through the legal aspect at the time.”

Jayant pointed out that there are a number of other Scrabble knockoffs online. “I’m not sure why Hasbro actually picked on this,” he added. Because, dude, you’re the best.

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letsprovelogo.pngA 23-year old programmer in Thailand has launched a Twitter-like service that lets users add location-based information to their Facebook profile, website, or blog.

The Thailand-based service is called LetsProveWhere, and Peerapong Pulpitpatnan (aka “Pete”) developed it almost single-handedly in just three months. After a few days, he’s reporting about 100 registered users.

letsprovephoto2.pngPete says he got the idea for the service from films like Deja Vu and Minority Report, because technology in those movies was able to record people’s movements automatically. He sought to create a program that would let users to do just that, especially from their mobile phones.

Right now, but for a couple of features (uploading pictures from mobile to LetsProveWhere as well as entering a location), Twitter may not have anything to worry about, because it enjoys plenty of momentum with its service, launched earlier and used by more people. But Pete has big plans: He envisions a real-time travel log service that lets you update text, pictures, video, and voice from mobile or computer — all formatted into embeddable maps. He says that people’s travel/location logs will be the new way to find travel information, potentially pitting him against the likes of Dopplr and ImThere.

Pete started work on LetsProve in November 2006, and his first creation was a project management tool, which he quickly left due to the product’s lack of differentiation from its competitors. After that, he launched LetsProveTV, a Thai-language video-sharing site after only three months of development. The site, which according to Pete receives 3,000 to 4,000 unique visitors a day, was a response to slow bandwidth in Thailand that cripples access to foreign sites as well as a government censorship that blocks most foreign video sites.

letsprovescreen2.pngThailand is still stuck in web 1.0, he says. And the few start-ups that are entering web 2.0 are, for the most part, Thai-language clones of foreign web apps. His LetsProveTV service falls into this category. But he has other directions for LetsProveWhere; his main focus is the U.S. and European markets (his servers are located in the U.S.), yet he’s partnering with a Thai telecommunications company to co-promote a package with lower rates for sending text messages.

Pete invested $3,000 of his own money in LetsProveWhere, money raised from a profitable investment in a document outsourcing company. He also generates revenue through AdSense on LetsProveTV.

For now he’s counting on viral growth spurred by tech blogs and friends sharing with friends, but he’s looking for $1 million funding to build a team and further develop his ideas to expand the service. If funded, he plans to move to the U.S.

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As reported on one of the blogs

CondeNet is remaking its teen-focused community site Flip.com into an app that will live on other social nets. The first to get the new Flip app is Facebook, with others to follow, CondeNet announced a few minutes ago. The company will continue to operate Flip’s website. However, moving forward, Flip’s continued development and marketing focus will involve social net apps only, as CondeNet tries to find a way to build its audience from its current 300,000 users. The Flip app will be ready by the end of this month.

Update: Flip debuted last February. Aimed at teen girls, the site’s main proposition was that it gave its users control. Flip members were able to design and post “flipbooks” containing text, images, audio and video for channels related to art, celebrities, travel, sports, friends, romance, school and careers. I spoke this afternoon with Sarah Chubb, president of CondéNet, about the reasons behind change: — Flip gets flipped: Since launching last year, a number of changes have occurred in the social net space. One of the bigger ones was the growth of Facebook, thanks in large part to its decision to open itself up to independent developers. With most of Flip’s users on Facebook, which has about 58 million members, CondeNet realized that Flip would never get that kind of traction. But as an application, it could easily tap into Facebook’s success. Chubb: “Flip’s demographic is perfectly aligned with FacebookWe’ve made 300,000 girls incredibly happy, but there’s millions of them on Facebook. And we know they’re interested the same kinds of tools that are available there. It would be a whole lot harder to build from 300,000 to the serious numbers like 1 or 2 million, which is the sweet spot for us. So this seemed like the best way to go.”

Why Facebook?: As one of the FacebookAds 12 launch partners, CondeNet has generally been pleased with results of the three-month old program. And so, when it was decided that Flip would have value for advertisers and for its users as an app, it started with Facebook. While Flip is starting there, it will be available on other social nets, though there are no plans for any extensions yet. The timing seems right: at the same time the Flip app goes live, Google’s (NSDQ: GOOG) OpenSocial, MySpace and the other community sites that have formed Google OpenSocial platform, which is expected to go live by the end of this month.

No layoffs: As the resources shift from Flip’s website to the app, Chubb said some staffers may be reassigned, but there will be no job cuts as a result. “We have a lot going on this year and we’ll need the people who helped build Flip for other projects.”

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