bile game maker SGN renamed itself Jam City last week, seeking to inject more fun into its brand.
For a start-up that makes colorful matching and bubble-bursting games including Juice Jam and Panda Pop, SGN — short for Social Gaming Network — came off as a stodgy and dull, the Culver City company said.
“Put another way, we were a company with memorable products but a forgettable name,” Chris DeWolfe, the Myspace co-founder who runs Jam City, said in a blog post. He and consultants considered 500 names over a year before deciding on Jam City.
The company says it has nearly 50 million monthly players and five titles among the 100 highest revenue-generating mobile games in the U.S. Sales, derived from purchases of extra features within the apps, are likely to climb as the company explores placing ads in games. Revenue is expected to top $400 million over the next year.
Jam City also has a developed a close relationship with 20th Century Fox. It has made games tied to the media properties “Book of Life” and “Family Guy,” with plans to work on a “Peanuts” title next, the company announced.
Foursquare opens sales office in Playa Vista
Local search company Foursquare is calling Los Angeles home for the first time as it tries to cut advertising and data deals with auto, consumer products and entertainment companies.
A sales and marketing team led by three new employees in Playa Vista will focus on teaching those industries about Foursquare’s ability to profile people’s physical movement and spot trends based on foot traffic, said Steven Rosenblatt, president of the New York City start-up.
The company has amassed a map of places, including restaurants, parks and shops, by allowing users to share their location with friends. It has recorded more than 10 billion digital check-ins at locations in about eight years.
The resulting data gets used not only in Yelp-like apps from Foursquare, but also thousands of other apps including Twitter, Uber and WeChat.
But Foursquare wants to help companies use much of the same data for advertising purposes or market research. The company says it can reach about 150 million devices on behalf of advertisers.
“We can target people based on historical profiles,” Rosenblatt said. “Do we see their phones in movie theaters often? Did we serve them an ad for a movie and did they go to a movie theater? We can prove we can drive awareness.”
The new offerings are selling well, but Foursquare faces competition from Facebook, Los Angeles’ Factual and others.
Workplace app Branch Messenger expands to Minneapolis
After a few weeks this summer working closely with Target executives and other mentors at a start-up boot camp in Minneapolis, workplace chat app Branch Messenger has no plans to leave the city.
The company will continue to be based out of the Idealab business incubation firm in Pasadena. But the decision to expand to Minneapolis demonstrates how the corporate programs for start-ups that have launched in recent years are starting to find their groove.
Branch Chief Executive Atif Siddiqi said the program at Target, run in tandem with the investment group Techstars, helped him focus in on a plan to target big customers.
In Minneapolis, Branch gets closer access to companies like Target, General Mills and Best Buy. And that’s essential for a start-up whose software enables employees within a retail location to swap shifts, plan schedules and talk to co-workers. Employees can use the app for free, but companies can purchase access to manage scheduling and identify trends.
Siddiqi said he hasn’t decided whether the company will raise venture capital funding or rely on sales to fund its expansion.
“We’re looking at all our options,” he said.
Tinder invests in social media app for women
Tinder has tried to push the idea that it’s an app for meeting new people — and not just people you want to date.
Although the app’s attachment to dating could be hard to shake off, Tinder the company is shaping up to be more.
Last week, the West Hollywood subsidiary of dating giant Match Group announced an investment in Vina, a social media service aimed at helping women find female friends. Tinder also launched Stacks, an app that brings the swiping gesture it popularized to polling friends about any topic.
Tinder said it plans to mentor Vina as the start-up expands worldwide and tries to keep up with fast user growth.
Partnering with a start-up co-founded by two women could polish’s Tinder public image, which was tarnished by a sexual harassment lawsuit from a former female employee that was later settled. People also complain about how Tinder’s emphasis on people’s looks objectifies women.
Samsung to invest $115 billion in its foundry business by 2030
Samsung is earmarking $9.5 billion a year for Samsung LSI and Samsung Foundry.
Samsung Electronics is one of the largest semiconductor players around, and the manufacturer is investing $115 billion (133 trillion won) over the next 12 years to take on Qualcomm and Intel. Samsung says its goal is to become the world leader in semiconductors and logic chips, and the company will invest $9.5 billion a year from now through 2030.
Samsung will invest $63.4 billion (73 trillion won) toward domestic R&D — where it is looking to add 15,000 jobs to “bolster its technological prowess” — and spend $52 billion (60 trillion won) toward production facilities that will make the logic chips. Samsung has long been the dominant player in the memory business, but with that market shrinking the South Korean manufacturer will be looking to diversify.
While the $115 billion seems like a staggering amount at first, it’s in line with what Samsung has been spending in recent years. Just last year alone Samsung invested over $15 billion in R&D, and Intel also spent over $10 billion toward developing new products.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G launch in South Korea delayed
The delay is due to LG wanting to further optimize the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and Qualcomm X50 5G modem inside of the V50. LG also said it’s working with Qualcomm and South Korean carriers to improve 5G service and phone interoperability.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G price & release date: What we know so far (it’s not much)
LG didn’t say when the V50 will be available in South Korea. Android Authority reached out to LG for comment on a new release date and whether the delayed launch in South Korea will affect the U.S. launch, but did not receive a response by press time.
The delay comes at a bad time for LG, which saw rival Samsung launch its first 5G smartphone April 5 in South Korea. LG likely had hoped to use the Galaxy S10 5G’s launch momentum for its own 5G smartphone, but now we don’t know when the V50 will debut.
That said, LG might have dodged a very big bullet by delaying the V50’s launch. Business Koreareported last week that Galaxy S10 5G owners have struggled with poor 5G connectivity and an inability to switch to 4G LTE. Samsung pushed out an update that supposedly addressed the issues, but the update didn’t help much.
Samsung snubs Apple on 5G modem supply, leaving few good options for the 2020 iPhones
Thanks to the patent war with Qualcomm reaching a crescendo mode, last year Apple’s iPhones shipped exclusively with “Intel inside” as far as cellular connectivity is concerned. That, however, is not an ideal solution for Apple, as Intel’s modems are behind the curve when it comes to features, so it has been shopping around for other options.
Apple could go with Samsung, Huawei or MediaTek’s 5G modems, but each of those choices comes with severe drawbacks. Samsung will likely charge an arm and a leg for its 5G brainchild, America’s homeland security institutions would balk at Huawei’s involvement due to geopolitical considerations, while MediaTek simply isn’t up to par yet.
SAMSUNG’S 5G MODEM OPTION IS OUT FOR APPLE, BUT WHOSE IS IN?
Surprise, surprise, even those unpalatable options have now become harder to pick from, as Korean media is reporting today that Samsung has declined Apple’s advances for its Exynos 5100 5G modem. Not only does the company need its production for the Galaxy S10 5G that will be shipping tomorrow in Korea but it could very well need it for the Note 10, too.
Samsung, it turns out, is simply unable to churn out 5G modems in the quality and quantity that Apple would demand, or so it claims. According to one “electronics industry official” there:
Apple inquired about the supply of 5G modem chip from Samsung Electronics System LSI division. However, we know that Samsung Electronics System LSI answered that the supply volume of its smartphone 5G modem chip is insufficient.
There you have it – unless Apple resolves the bad blood between the companies, Qualcomm is likely to sit its 5G push out, so the last remaining option is for Apple to go it alone, either by acquiring Intel’s wireless modem assets or starting from scratch (highly unlikely). All of these options mean either a lot of extra expenses for Apple in order to deliver a 5G iPhone in 2020, or falling behind the competition by launching one that is a cycle or two behind.
Last summer, insiders claimed that they have seen internal Intel communication regarding a memo that Apple sent Chipzilla. In it, Apple warns that it might no longer need Intel’s wireless modem designs, including the 5G ones, starting with the 2020 iPhone crop. Intel reportedly halted research in this area and might disband the whole 5G modem undertaking, as Apple was its largest and perhaps sole customer.
5G gets going and Apple’s 2020 iPhones can’t go FOMO
South Korea just launched its nationwide 5G network, with the Galaxy S10 5G being its poster child. Upon the phone’s release there tomorrow, Korea will have all of its largest networks offering 5G plans. In fact, Korea Telecom announced three 5G price tiers. Among those, there is a “Super Plan” that offers truly unlimited 5G data without speed caps, and this one will go for the equivalent of $70, a pretty good price no matter how you slice it. In fact, the Super 5G Plan is somewhat cheaper than the current unlimited 4G LTE plans in Korea, so the 5G future seems bright, and we are expecting more and more 5G handsets to enter the fray this year, especially towards the tail end of 2019.
A true nationwide shift to 5G networks is not happening this year in the US anyway, so iPhone users won’t be missing all that much until then. Next year, however, most of the flagship phones of the spring season will probably have some sort of 5G connectivity support, be it with a Qualcomm, Samsung or Huawei modem, and Apple could feel the pinch in that regard. If in the fall of 2020 Apple hasn’t solved its 5G modem supply options, however, there might be image and perception consequences. As virtually all of Apple’s 5G avenues have dried up and will incur extra expenses, patching thing up with Qualcomm would be a smart solution so we’ll keep our eyes on the patent lawsuit as it moves through the court system.
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