Apple to unveil a new iPhone. At least, we think that's what's going to happen today, as Apple throws its annual party for software developers in San Francisco. The company is expected to launch some kind of new iPhone at the event, but the real suspense surrounds the possible return of founder Steve Jobs. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Jobs was "on track to return from medical leave this month," citing anonymous sources. That fact--and Jobs's penchant for showmanship--has led to speculation that he may make his return on stage. Whether or not that happens, a new iPhone is good news for the entrepreneurial ecosystem that has sprung up around building cell phone applications. As GigaOm notes, competition is heating up and there are several ambitious launches planned over the next few months. "[W]e are standing on the cusp of what will be the summer of the superphone," Om Malik writes.
The 800-lb. gorilla in the boardroom. Call it a lesson in evolutionary entrepreneurship. Today's Boston Globe has an interesting look at a team of Harvard scientists who are attempting to study the origins of human economic behavior by teaching a pair of gorillas basic economic concepts. So far so good. Little Joe and Okie, two of the gorillas in the study from Boston's Franklin Park Zoo, have managed to grasp the concept of money through cashing in different colored dowels in exchange for different treats. No word yet on how they are dealing with the recession.
If a Twitterer posts a tweet, but has no followers...We all know that when it comes to new technologies, the majority of users are passive ones. And it seems the same goes for everyone's favorite microblogging site, Twitter. Purewire, a web security firm, provided TechCrunch with an analysis of seven million Twitter accounts in which it found that 80 percent of the accounts had 10 or fewer followers. A two-way dialogue it seems Twitter is not (at least not often). Now if you have one of the accounts with 10 or more followers (and we trust you do), you can start offering paid content to your followers through a new service called Super Chirp, TechCrunch Reports. You set the monthly price for followers ($0.99 to $9.99) and keep 70 percent of the sales. The question is: How long before Twitter starts offering a similar service itself?
Are local advertisers ditching search? A new study from Borrell Associates found that about 50 percent of businesses that buy search ads from Google and the like don't buy again the following year. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the study also shows that the churn rate for companies that purchase search ads on behalf of local advertisers is about 60 percent. Although some are hyping estimates from the same study that show that the market for locally placed search ads will grow to $5.3 billion by 2013, the Journal points out that spending from local advertisers is still a fraction of the market, partly because of affiliates pumping up the search ad prices to increase their commissions.
Mighty, mighty ducks. In a story that cries out for avian puns, one San Francisco tour vehicle company, Ride the Ducks, sued its competitor, Bay Quackers, to stop them from using "quacking devices" on its tours. Apparently Bay Quackers's yellow, bill-shaped kazoo-like instruments, used by tourists to attract attention from locals, make an almost identical sound to those of Ride the Ducks. It's an issue of "sound mark," which the New York Times describes as the auditory equivalent of a trademark. The tale ironically comes just a few days after the Times reported on a new series of movie theater commercials cautioning Americans against filing frivolous lawsuits.
Patience and perseverance. Five start-up beverage brands tell their stories of success to Advertising Age. Bottled beverages can be one of the most competitive markets to break into, AdAge reports, but with the right drive, these five have proved themselves in an especially tough economic climate. Each of the companies shares its "secret to standing out," which range from holding out in order to develop a small cult-following to aggressively cold calling until you've got a partner. Strategy aside, most of the young companies agreed taste was the essential ingredient in launching a drink company.
How Y Combinator does it. Our June cover story is on Paul Graham, the man behind Y Combinator, a new kind of venture capital funding that is changing the way people think about start-ups. Graham is one of the most interesting people to talk to about starting a company, and this blog links to Graham's excellent essays a lot. Here's one of our favorites, on how to keep your company from dying.