2012: The year of the App-ocalypse?

In the past week, two high-profile mobile apps were effectively shut down and acquired -- Hipster by Aol and Oink by Google. Both had big PR buildups, rave reviews from the tech press, and strong usage from the digerati.

What they did not get was traction beyond that, and the teams went on to be acqui-hired. Even apps that seemed to define new categories, such as GroupMe for group chat and Foursquare for check-in, have failed to gain popularity with the general public. GroupMe sold to Skype and Foursquare is shifting from the check-in model to the reviews/discovery space … Read more

Digg, Milk founder Kevin Rose said to have joined Google

Serial entrepreneur Kevin Rose, whose past project list includes the social news site Digg and the now-defunct microblogging service Pownce, is now said to be a Google employee.

According to "sources close to the situation" AllThingsD reports that Rose, along with a number of his employees from his startup incubator Milk have been hired by Google.

Google declined to comment, and Rose did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the initial report.

Rose jumped into tech stardom at an early age, appearing on TechTV and later a number of online shows through Revision3. His breakout … Read more

Oink shuts down

Kevin Rose's startup mill, Milk, is shuttering its first product, the item review app Oink. The app was only live for three months.

Oink was well-reviewed here and elsewhere. Users who became attached to the app (or, like me, who reviewed it seriously) may not have been fully aware that Rose himself wasn't committed to it. As the shut-down notice on the Oink.com page says.

We started Milk Inc. to rapidly build and test out new ideas. Oink was our first test and, in preparing to move onto the next project, we've decided to shut it … Read more

The 404 940: Where we go down on Siri (podcast)

Don't forget to update your Facebook status update for the last time before Anonymous nukes the whole site tomorrow. Remember, remember the fifth of November. Leaked from today's 404 Podcast episode: Siri goes down, Google does a barrel roll, Kevin Rose goes Oink, and who are the 35 million people still using AOL dial-up?… Read more

The world without major labels

Rob Sheridan, a designer who's worked in the music industry, has posted a 6,000-word diatribe bemoaning the shutdown of file-trading network Oink and predicting (and encouraging) the death of the major-label system. It's an entertaining read, and should be required for Guy Hands and anybody else in the executive offices of the major labels. And he's not the only one who's predicting the death of the label system.

I'm currently reading a fascinating book, The World Without Us, which imagines what the world would be like if humans suddenly disappeared. So here's my thought experiment: what if we woke up tomorrow to headlines that all four majors had decided to get out of the music business and had freed the artists from their contracts? What would the business of music look like?… Read more

Imeem music service doesn't quite rock

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article about Imeem, pegged to the news that this fledgling site has signed a third major label, EMI, leaving only Universal in the "not yet" column. The service is getting credit for trying to pioneer a new business model for digital music distribution: users can select songs and stream them for free, as long as they're willing to sit through the occasional advertisement.

I registered and fired the service up, and while I'm not ready to call ad-supported music DOA, Imeem isn't about to unseat the current digital music leaders. The main problem: I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing on the site. … Read more

Cheapo phone strap is just $250

OK, so you think $842,000 is a wee pricey for a cell phone strap (tightwad). All you bargain hunters out there may be pleased to know that you can get a cheapo alternative for chump change-- just $250--that features a 24k gold charm as seen on Tokyomango to commemorate the "Year of the Boar" (or pig, if that seems more appropriate for this bit of conspicuous consumption). If you're so inclined, you can even get a set of genuine gold and silver USB keys as the perfect accessory. And at this level of decorative wastfulness, it'… Read more