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Now you see iPorn, now you don't, but maybe you will

By Michelle Megna   |    June 25, 2009

It appears the "Hottest Girls" are not. But maybe they are.

Earlier today the "Hottest Girls" app was being touted as the first iTunes/iPhone app approved by Apple to show full nudity, promising there'd be a lot more skin seen on iPhone screens.

But by mid-day on the East Coast, it seemed the app had simply slipped past the Apple censors, and it was removed from the App store.

By late afternoon, however, the developer Allen Leung, said in a [blog post]( that the app was just temporarily unavailable due to demand. "The server usage is extremely high because of the popularity of this app. Thus, by not distributing the app, we can prevent our servers from crashing. Those who already have the app will still be able to use our app. To answer the question on everyone's mind: Yes, the topless images will still be there when it is sold again."

With Apple not responding to invitations to comment, we're left to speculate on the veracity of Leung's claims as well as what happened at the App Store approval office today.

The "Hottest Girls" app at issue was already on sale at the Apple App Store and offered photos of women in lingerie. But with an update, "Hottest Girls" showed pictures of topless and naked women.

When Leung told the Macenstein blog he uploaded naked pictures in an update to the app today, most industry watchers believed the move was authorized by Apple in a nod to its recent parental controls built into the iPhone SDK 3.0.

But by mid-day, "Hottest Girls" was already removed from the App store, according to blog posts and other reports. This left industry watchers wondering whether Apple had inadvertently let the update go through and then banned it, or, as Leung says, authorized it but removed it temporarily at his request.

The brouhaha over the bare-chested babes at the app store isn't surprising given that controversy had erupted over Apple's iPhone app approval process, which critics charged was inconsistent, confusing and based on arbitrary criteria. At issue, basically, was the fact that some content deemed 'mature' was already available for iTunes, and the iPhone could access that material through its Web browser.

Display ads still engaging, study says

By Michelle Megna   |    June 22, 2009

Yahoo and Google's new advertising moves -- [which we reported about today](/ec-news/article.php/3826331/Yahoo+Google+Rev+Up+New+Ad+Products.htm) -- come as online display advertising is suffering due to declining demand as more marketers turn to performance-based advertising, or those in which advertisers only pay for measurable results, as budgets get squeezed due to the recession.

Still, a new [comScore-Online Publishers Association study ]( this week says display ads still work in terms of consumer engagement and online shopping. For instance, the report says one in five consumers who view display ads searched on the advertised brand, and one-third visited the advertiser's site.

Furthermore, the OPA report said online shoppers exposed to display ads spent over 50 percent more time than the average visitors had at these sites and viewed more pages. It also says users spent 10 percent more money online overall, and more on product categories related to the advertised brands.

"In order to understand the value of the audiences that display advertising attracts, our study helps marketers think about real behavioral measures designed to move the needle," OPA President Pam Horan said in a statement.

The OPA study echoes a separate comScore report that reached similar conclusions -- that click-throughs alone are inadequate to evaluate display ad performance.

As search companies continue to roll out new ad platforms, the online advertising industry is also seeing a [resurgence in ad networks](/ec-news/article.php/3821651/Growing+Ad+Networks+Shaking+Up+Online+Ad+Spend.htm), which offer an affordable and targeted alternative to other types of paid promotions.

The networks are generally comprised of lots of smaller, lesser-known sites and, as a result, advertisers can reach audiences as big as those at the super-sized Web sites, but at a fraction of the cost. As a result, the ad networks are grabbing more online ad dollars -- and according to comScore, growing by double-digit percentages.

Android Update: Samsung's Bigfoot, Dell's smartphone

By Michelle Megna   |    June 15, 2009


Android speculation is running rampant in the blogosphere today with Dell, T-Mobile and Samsung leading the way in terms of release rumors.

First, we're seeing what may be an early look at Dell's first Android handset, courtesy of [Brighthand](, boasting a Dell logo. And second, the Boy Genius is showing a glimpse of what may be T-Mobile's second Anroid release ��� rumored to be Samsung's "Bigfoot," rather than HTC's G1 update.

Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell, confirmed Dell's smartphone plans a few months ago, though naturally, no other details on pricing, carriers or release dates are available right now.

"Well, if [Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo] says that the telephone is the future of computing, then, you know, we're in the computer business, so I guess we must be in the phone business," according to Dell, in an interview with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, at a luncheon hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council in February.

It is still not known exactly when Dell plans on delivering its new smartphones.

Back in March, an analyst reported that Dell's smartphone plans hit a snag. According to Shaw Wu, a research analyst at Kaufman Bros., both Windows Mobile and Android-run smartphone prototypes failed to wow carriers, as [we reported at the time](/hardware/article.php/3811746).

Meanwhile, [The Boy Genius blog]( is saying it received an anonymous photo of the next T-Mobile Android smartphone -- claiming it is Samsung's Bigfoot and that it���s launching 'really, really soon' this summer.

(photo: courtesy of Brighthand)

How do mobile cloud sync services stack up?

By Michelle Megna   |    June 10, 2009


Wireless operator sync services are more limited than other options, namely those from smartphone makers and portals, and few mobile sync solutions integrate with social networks, according to a study out yesterday that evaluated 12 mobile cloud sync offerings.

Mobile cloud sync consists of syncing data and content on a mobile phone with a server and portal in the Internet cloud. Data and content can also be synced with e-mail systems, desktop apps, social networks and more. While a variety of companies offer basic mobile cloud sync services, the ease of use, cost and variety of features differs widely from service to service.

The study, conducted by open source mobile cloud sync firm [Funambol](, compares the syncing of mobile data and content, such as contacts, calendars, e-mail, photos and files, against 10 different categories, including cost, usability and performance, wireless desktop integration and social network sync.

It evaluated offerings from Apple MobileMe, AT&T Mobile Backup, BlackBerry IS, Funambol, Google Sync, Microsoft My Phone, Nokia Ovi Sync, Palm Synergy, T-Mobile Mobile Backup, Verizon Wireless Backup Assistant, Vodafone Zyb and Yahoo! Mobile.

(Naturally, it's not surprising Funambol won the top spot in the study, though upon closer inspection the report still offers some insight on the mobile sync space. It's also worth noting that the company didn't evaluate enterprise server solutions such as Blackberry Enterprise Server or Exchange Server, but rather Microsoft My Phone and Blackberry Internet Service.)

"As more solutions come to market, it's opening up mobile cloud sync as a significant new category in terms of mobile services for mobile operators, portals and the device makers. That's why we did the report, to compare the solutions and identify the big areas of opportunities moving forward," Hal Steger, vice president of marketing for Funambol, told

The mobile cloud sync evaluation showed that solutions from mobile operators are often more limited than sync solutions from device manufacturers and portals. It also found that major areas of opportunity include wireless desktop integration, social network sync and solution openness.

Each feature was given a score of between 1 and 4. Everything was tallied up and ranked. The best score a service could get was 40. Here's how they rated: Funambol, 38; Nokia Ovi, 28; Apple MobileMe, 27; Palm Synergy, 27; MS My Phone, 26; Vodafone Zyb, 26; Google Sync, 23; Yahoo Mobile, 21; AT&T, 19; T-Mobile, 19; and Verizon, 19.

"Mobile carriers are the worst because mobile cloud sync is relatively new for them. They own the relationship with the customer, they're like the incumbent, so they're not as compelled to be innovative," said Steger. "But if the carriers aren't careful, people will have loyalty to the device overall, so if they like a BlackBerry or an iPhone, they'll use those services and the carrier becomes a dumb pipe."

Other key findings of the report show that 75 percent of the solutions are free, though MobileMe costs $99 a year, 17 percent support one or two devices while 42 percent support a series of devices and close to half only sync a single data type, for instance just contacts, e-mail or photos.

Also noteworthy is that 75 percent do not support wireless desktop integration.

Another area for improvement is in social network integration, with a third syncing data with multiple sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, while 16 percent only support one social network and half do not sync at all with social media.