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  • Windows 7 improved Games Explorer, Internet games

    Windows 7 improved Games Explorer, Internet games

    Get used to it. Many of the features and OS additions that debuted in Vista are returning to Windows 7, with the little difference that this time Microsoft has taken the time to pay more attention to detail and improve actual usage through those features. In all fairness it's easier said than done when you have a more established platform to work with, just like Apple has been able to tweak and optimize their OS X platform for many years now.

    The Windows Blog team recently disclosed some of their planned improvements for Windows 7's Games Explorer. While on Vista this merely acted as a container for your installed games with some eye candy here and there, in the new OS (including the recent beta) there will be more functionality added. For every new game you install, a game provider icon will appear that will give you one-click access to more information from the publisher, and news about other releases on the window's right pane. If done properly, by adding information gamers would actually be interested in, this may work a lot like the Xbox's Live promotional content or Valve's Steam client.

    Perhaps an even better feature will be information on games patches and updates using the same right pane when clicking on a game's shortcut. This will need third-party publisher full support to work as well, but what Microsoft is planning sounds great, making game updating a one-click affair from the Games Explorer window.

    Windows 7 will also ship (including the current beta) with three new online games: Backgammon, Checkers and Spades. And just like Vista's built-in games, these have received a graphics revamp with a scaling UI. via techspot
  • DSiWare lets owners download new software from the Internet a la the iPhone's App Store, with prices starting at 200 Nintendo points ($2)

    DSiWare lets owners download new software from the Internet a la the iPhone's App Store, with prices starting at 200 Nintendo points ($2)

    [UPDATE] Dual-camera-enabled third revision of handheld arrives stateside in less than two months alongside Rhythm Heaven; Nintendo plans to continue sales of DS Lite.

    Since the DSi was first announced in October 2008, Nintendo has remained coy about its US release date. After saying only that the handheld would arrive in North America "well into 2009," the company announced last month that it would launch stateside "before summer."

    Finally, this morning Nintendo announced that the DSi will arrive in the US on April 5 at a $169.99 price point. The handheld, which has been on sale in Japan since November 2008, will be available in black (pictured) and an all-new blue hue. Unfortunately, when contacted by GameSpot UK for a European announcement, Nintendo Europe declined to comment on the DSi's release in Europe, its final major territory.

    Today's announcement also confirmed that the game Rhythm Heaven will make its American debut on April 5. The rhythm action game has proved to be incredibly popular in Japan, where it has sold 1.6 million copies after earlier versions proved popular in arcades and on the Game Boy Advance. GameSpot recently previewed the US version of the minigame collection.

    Last but not least, Nintendo also announced that the DSiWare application will also be making its way to the US. The application lets owners of the portable download new software from the Internet a la the iPhone's App Store, with prices starting at 200 Nintendo points ($2). Nintendo declined to reveal any release-date information about DSiWare.

    [UPDATE] Speaking with GameSpot, Nintendo said that it plans to continue to make and sell the DS Lite at its $129.99 price point in the US. "The DS Lite will continue to be supported at retail alongside the DSi," said a Nintendo of America rep. "The DSi is not meant to replace the other systems. There has been no news in terms of a price drop."

    To find out more about the DSi, be sure to check out GameSpot's hands-on with the Japanese edition of the handheld.

  • Valve founder Steams up D.I.C.E. with "Entertainment as a Service"

    Valve founder Steams up D.I.C.E. with "Entertainment as a Service"

    Gabe Newell keynote discusses the company's service-oriented approach, reveals Team Fortress 2 comic being made by the developers.

    LAS VEGAS--Each year, the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' D.I.C.E. Summit serves as a more exclusive, more posh brother to the standard stable of gaming conferences. Held at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas since last year, the confab's stated goal is to give industry movers and shakers a chance to exchange ideas and examine the latest business trends. It also provides an atmosphere more conducive to schmooze and network than the ones afforded by the Game Developers Conference and Electronic Entertainment Expo.

    This year, D.I.C.E. kicked off with an opening keynote on "Entertainment as a Service" delivered by Valve Software founder and managing director Gabe Newell. Although Newell's company is highly regarded by gamers for a lineup of hits including Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Half-Life 2, Portal, The Orange Box, and most recently Left 4 Dead, its most significant contribution to the gaming industry has arguably been Steam, the PC digital distribution service. For nearly an hour, Newell spoke to the assembled crowd of industry insiders and media about the sea change Steam--and some of its competitors--is making in the way people buy and sell games.

    As an example of providing entertainment as a service, Newell pointed to one of Valve's own online shooters, Team Fortress 2. Newell said the company treated the launch of the product as just the beginning of a long-term service, one that includes not just bug fixes but also extra content for gamers, new achievements, and other perks. Since the game launched in October of 2007, Newell said it has been updated 63 times.

    Part of the reason for its success, Newell said, was in the way the game's community has played a key role in shaping the product. Even though those updates were free for PC gamers, the designer said that Valve has still seen them translate directly to revenue in sales spikes to sales that accompany each significant update. Beyond that, Newell asserted players have provided invaluable intelligent feedback to help shape the game, and have served as evangelists to create new customers out of their friends.

    Indeed, Newell said the best way Valve has found to draw new customers to games is by creating a comprehensive entertainment service approach for existing customers. For example, Valve doles out guest passes to players of games like Team Fortress 2, which they can then give to friends that will allow them to download and play the same game for a week. In such a promotion, it's the original customer's interest that his or her friend enjoys the game that helps spark new sales.

    When asked by an audience member if he expects console makers to stand in the way of such direct interactions between game makers and consumers, Newell scoffed. That would be as bad an idea as limiting the console to just 2D graphics, Newell said, adding that he cares more about seeing the next generation systems incorporate the sort of real-time feedback that Steam provides instead of better graphics.

    Valve is also taking some business cues from its customers. Just as the customer base told the company what they wanted from Steam when the service launched in 2004, they're helping change the company's direction beyond games today. Newell said the customers want an entertainment company--not a games company--and that Valve has already started taking its first steps down that road with the Team Fortress 2 short videos released to promote the game's different character classes.

    There's even a Team Fortress 2 comic in the works, and Newell insisted it will be made by the game's original creators. The Valve founder seemed less-than-thrilled with previous game-to-comic adaptations, saying this one won't be farmed out "to some third-party hoping to make a quick buck and take advantage of some opening weekend marketing push."

    Returning to the subject of Steam, Newell pointed out it gives Valve nearly instant feedback on who's playing their games, what hardware they're using, how many copies were sold through the service, and how many were purchased in stores. That allows Valve to experiment with its pricing and test out different approaches with great frequency, something the traditional retail system doesn't allow for.

    To prove his point, Newell talked about last weekend's Steam sale, which saw Left 4 Dead available for $25, half its suggested retail value. Sales of the game through Steam were better over the weekend then they were during a holiday sales promotion--or even during the game's launch week. In fact, Left 4 Dead sales were up 3,000 percent for the weekend, while new Steam users jumped 1,600 percent over the company's baseline. Anticipating a retort that sales like that undermine Valve's retail partners, Newell then showed graphs of the average Left 4 Dead weekend sales (as tracked through Steam, which is included in every copy at retail as well) and last weekend's, noting both were about the same.

    The switch from simply creating entertainment products to providing an entertainment service is a massive transition, Newell said, akin to the movie industry going from VHS to DVD to Netflix, or music jumping from vinyl records to CDs to iTunes downloads. And making the change promises to make companies more money with lower risk.

    "We've been through this before, and we're going to go through it again," Newell said, "and I think it's going to be enormously beneficial to everyone in this room."

  • Dell has launched an online retail store offering software, games and music.

    Dell has launched an online retail store offering software, games and music.

    Dell has today opened up its Download Store in Europe, offering consumers access to downloadable software packages, PC games and music albums and individual tracks.

    Announcing the launch, Dell said that it was making it easier for consumers to download the latest media through a one-stop, convenient to use interface. Dell explained that the site is powered by digital content distributor Nexway, and is full of the customer service that Dell prides itself on, such as "heritage of value and direct customer relationships."

    "Consumers are very accustomed to downloading music and movies online, but many are still buying shrink-wrapped software," said David Clifton, director of consumer marketing at Dell Europe. "We're now offering customers the choice to purchase the music and software they want, and download it direct to their PC from one convenient location."

    Software providers that have signed up to be part of the service include Kaspersky, Nero and Lavasoft, while the games industry is well represented by Codemasters and Sega. Music fans should be pleased to hear that albums from major artists are available without DRM restrictions, while new titles are added on a weekly basis.

    Initially available in the UK, France and Germany, the site will and roll out across Europe over the coming months.via itpro.co.uk

  • Cry me a Digital River - Not all companies are reporting disappointing earnings.

    Cry me a Digital River - Not all companies are reporting disappointing earnings.

    Not all companies are reporting disappointing earnings. Recently shares of Digital River Inc. (NASDAQ: DRIV) soared as the company posted better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the fourth quarter.

    The e-commerce software service provider said it earned 48 cents per share in the quarter, excluding amortization and stock-based compensation charges, beating analysts' expectations of 44 cents per share according to Thomson Reuters.

    Sales fell slightly from a year ago, to $95.9 million, but also beat the Street's forecast of $94.9 million. The company also said it expects results for the current quarter to come in between 48 to 53 cents per share with revenue of $96 million to $100 million, within the range analysts were expecting.

    Minneapolis-based Digital River, which builds and manages online businesses for software publishers, consumer technology manufacturers, distributors, online retailers and affiliates, said it continued to make progress during the quarter growing its client base and deepening its client relationships in its core markets. Chief Executive Joel Ronning believes several factors are contributing to the company's success.

    First, the bad economy is driving companies to Digital River and away from the complex e-commerce demand that they don't understand, he said. Much like what happened in early 2000, Ronning says companies are moving away from high fixed-cost and large infrastructure investments.

    Second, he says ongoing changes in the retail channel are causing more companies to go direct to consumer. Some retailers are declaring bankruptcy and others are selling more private-label brands, he says, and companies aren't as concerned with channel conflict as they are with opening new revenue streams.

    Last, Ronning says Digital River's clients are more motivated than ever in acquiring and retaining customers and generating more revenue from their products. And helping companies successfully manage through these market forces is where Digital River excels and has demonstrated industry leadership. The company's continued success in the consumer electronics segment is evidenced by winning new opportunities or launching stores for including Samsung, Seagate, Phillips and Hewlett-Packard among others.

    The online retail world is booming as evidenced by Amazon, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN)'s fourth-quarter performance. During a difficult economic environment, AMZN beat estimates. This bodes well for the future of DRIV.

    The half a billion dollars in cash on DRIV's balance sheet is also comforting, as is its low debt level.
    Louis Navellier's PortfolioGrader Pro, which rates Wall Street stocks, rates DRIV a B or Buy.
    via bloggingstocks
  • Nokia Unveils Online Apps Store, Takes on Apple

    Nokia Unveils Online Apps Store, Takes on Apple

    World-leading mobile phone maker Nokia today unveiled its new online software and media store, hoping to follow the runaway success of Apple's App Store.

    The Finnish company said it would open the online 'Ovi' store in nine countries in May and that 70 percent of revenues from the store would go to software developers.

    Its first model to ship with access to the store would be its Nokia N97 flagship phone.

    Since Apple and Google entered the mobile arena the focus of the cell phone market has been shifting to software development.

    Apple's App Store has proved to be popular with iPhone users, and helped spawn an entire industry of entrepreneurs who design programs that can then be downloaded by consumers.

    Apple said last month a total of 15,000 applications are available and downloads have hit 500 million in six months.

    Microsoft is also planning an online marketplace for applications running on its Windows Mobile operating system. BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion said last year it plans to launch its app store early this year.

    via mobiledia
  • Microsoft Hits Back at Apple with Online App Store

    Microsoft Hits Back at Apple with Online App Store

    Software giant Microsoft today announced the launch of a new virtual store for mobile phone applications.

    The Cupertino, Calif.-based consumer electronics group Apple launched its App Store last July that allowed users of its high-end iPhone to download applications for their devices, with games, travel info or news services on offer.

    The company, which allows other developers to provide applications for the phones, claimed it had its 500,000th download at the end of January.

    On Monday at the Mobile World Congress industry event, Microsoft hit back with its version of the App Store, which is to be called Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

    Windows Marketplace for Mobile will be "an integrated marketplace for searching, browsing and purchasing mobile applications," the company said, adding that developers would have "unrestricted ability to offer applications."

    Apple demonstrated the benefits of opening up its iPhone to outside developers, who have created new applications to add functionality to the devices.

    Windows does not make smartphones itself, but it plans to establish its operating system for mobile phones as the industry standard -- much same way as it had dominated the market for computers.

    It has therefore decided to open up to outside developers to allow them to improve the core Windows product and encourage mobile phone makers to use Windows over rival operating systems.

    Nokia, the world's largest maker of mobile phones, also announced a similar service today, aiming to launch its Ovi Store for applications and content in May. via mobiledia

  • Stardock on Steams digital distribution dominance

    Stardock on Steams digital distribution dominance

    Stardock boss Brad Wardell discusses Steam

    I admire Valve on two levels. First, I admire their excellence in what they make. I like companies that strive for the highest quality possible in what they produce. Second, I admire Valve’s business practices. They are incredibly effective, competent, and adaptive. In short, Valve is a fantastic company.

    But I’ve also been around long enough to know that you don’t want one player calling all the shots. The companies we love today may not be so loved later on. Steam is doing phenomenally well. It has fans that actively wish that competition would just go away in the name of “standards” (whatever that means).

    And yet, even though Impulse is just an up-and-comer, the competition has already helped consumers. Before the “Impulse Weekend Buys” it was relatively rare to see regular organized major sales on Steam. Now we get them every weekend. I would like to think that we’ve had some impact on people’s awareness that you don’t need nasty DRM to be successful. I think Impulse’s focus on trying to encourage one price, worldwide in local currency right out of the gate has made some impact too.

    Steam’s most successful venture yet, Steamworks, has helped Steam get an increasingly firmer hold on the market. In my opinion, Steamworks is 90% copy protection, 10% game-related features. I know that publishers are looking at Steamworks as a replacement to SecuROM for protecting games.

    The problem is that Steamworks requires the user to have a Steam account and Steam installed to use it – even if you buy it at retail or through a third party like Direct2Drive. I think that’s the basic strategy for Steamworks -- give developers a bunch of “free” features that they used to have to pay for (copy protection, DRM, GameSpy type stuff) with the only catch is that the user has to become a Steam user and have Steam installed. As a result, something like Dawn of War 2, for instance, won’t be on Impulse.

    Even with the case of Steamworks, competition has helped here too though, since Stardock is producing Impulse Reactor to compete with Steamworks. Impulse Reactor doesn’t require Impulse (the client) to even be installed to work. Steamworks, obviously, has a head start and publishers have been following THQ’s lead by setting up with Steamworks even when it means they’re distributing a third party store with their game. After all, right now, Steam has the numbers.

    Based on the #s I hear from publishers, Impulse, which has only been out for 6 months, has already become #2 in terms of actual units sold on a given title. But Steam still has a massive lead. Obviously, if we can’t even carry certain big name titles because they’ve hooked in Steamworks, the competitive trend will reverse.

    Competition is good for consumers. It’s also good for companies. I’m a Steam user. I enjoy watching it evolve and improve over time. But I am also thankful that there are still alternatives to it. Because as much as people love Valve today, I still remember how much everyone loved EA and Microsoft in their day too. Competition keeps companies dynamic and consumer friendly.

    I like Stardock, but honestly I would prefer to get all of my PC games on Steam. I hate having 5 different downloaders, its insane. via gamefocus.ca
  • CEO of Michigan-based Stardock Systems defends Impulse digital distribution system as viable alternative to Steam

    CEO of Michigan-based Stardock Systems defends Impulse digital distribution system as viable alternative to Steam

    Stardock Systems, whose Michigan expansion Jennifer Granholm cited in last week's State of the State address, is at the forefront of digital software distribution and is giving Steam, Valve's online distribution platform, a run for its money.

    In fact, only six months after it's launch, Stardock's CEO Bradwardell says Impulse is fast approaching 1 million users. By comparison, Steam, the industry titan, boasted 16 million users as of October 2008.

    But some in the PC community aren't too happy about the competition in distribution platforms, wishing to instead have all their needs met in one handy location.

    What's a digital distribution system anyways? Find out with this Impulse explanation video

    Wardell, writing under the online moniker Frog Boy, recently addressed those concerns — and trumpeted the virtues of open competition — on his blog with a post titled "Do you really want Steam to be your only option? Are you sure?"

    Skinning the Frog, Feb 9: But I've also been around long enough to know that you don't want one player calling all the shots. The companies we love today may not be so loved later on (referring to EA and Microsoft).

    Today, the pattern repeats itself. Steam is doing phenomenally well. It has fans that actively wish that competition would just go away in the name of "standards" (whatever that means).

    Wardell went on to discuss some of Impulse's features, and what they mean to digital distribution in the context of competition, most notably the platform's lack of crippling digital rights management (DRM).

    And yet, even though Impulse is just an up-and-comer, the competition has already helped consumers. Before the "Impulse Weekend Buys" it was relatively rare to see regular organized major sales on Steam. Now we get them every weekend.

    I would like to think that we've had some impact on people's awareness that you don't need nasty DRM to be successful.

    I think Impulse's focus on trying to encourage one price, worldwide in local currency right out of the gate has made some impact too.

    I think Impulse's very fast download speeds have helped encourage competing services to keep increasing their bandwidth capacity.

    Steam's most successful venture yet, Steamworks, has helped Steam get an increasingly firmer hold on the market. In my opinion, Steamworks is 90% copy protection, 10% game-related features. I know that publishers are looking at Steamworks as a replacement to SecuROM for protecting games.

    The problem is that Steamworks requires the user to have a Steam account and Steam installed to use it — even if you buy it at retail or through a third party like Direct2Drive. I think that's the basic strategy for Steamworks — give developers a bunch of "free" features that they used to have to pay for (copy protection, DRM, GameSpy type stuff) with the only catch is that the user has to become a Steam user and have Steam installed. As a result, something like Dawn of War 2, for instance, won't be on Impulse.

    I'm not much of a PC gamer, but I've used Steam and found it frustrating. From the sounds of things, Stardock seems to improve on the digital distribution formula. via mlive

  • Amazon Flexes Online Distribution Muscle

    Amazon Flexes Online Distribution Muscle

    Did you hear the big cheers this week? It was the sound of Amazon fanboys (and girls) rejoicing for never having to leave the site now that Amazon has released over 600 casual games for purchase.

    I asked an Amazon enthusiast what he thought of the latest venture for the online sales giant and his response was, "Great! I already buy everything on there so now I can even get my casual games." With Amazon's purchase of the portal Reflexive Entertainment last year, speculation in the game industry has mounted over Amazon's plans for games. This past week, the industry learned of Amazon's initial plans and realized that a formidable competitor has entered the ring.

    Once you get past all the excitement, there are a number of good and bad things associated with this new offering. More importantly, there are some interesting opportunities.

    For online marketers, Amazon's move shows the power of casual games. If some of the opportunities outlined below materialize, online marketers would be able to potentially leverage Amazon for online banners, sell products and branded games, and forge partnerships to cover costs of games, and more. It could make for interesting marketing packages given the resources Amazon would hold.

    The Good

    • To quickly acquaint consumers with the games download service, Amazon initially offered the full version of three games for free download: "Jewel Quest II," "Build-a-Lot," and "The Scruffs." As any gamer will tell you, the only thing better than games is free games. There's no better way to kick off a new service than to garner a little gamer goodwill.

    • The introduction of the game download department seems to be a perfect fit for the Amazon consumer. Having a familiar process already used in its MP3 download department and providing easy-to-play, addictive casual games seem to be a formula for success. As my focus group of one Amazon enthusiast agreed, the new addition gives consumers one more reason to stick around Amazon.

    • The games are moderately priced for casual games. Every game is under $10 with two sub-groupings of game at the $9.99 and $6.99 price points. Each game comes with the free trial option, providing the gamer with a limited amount of time with the game before making the final purchase decision. The process and price point are similar to those of comparable gaming sites such as Yahoo Games, which has proved to work for most casual gaming sites.

    The Bad

    • A quick glance at the games library reveals that no games from leading casual game provider PopCap are available. When asked about Amazon's leap into the casual game business, Garth Chouteau, spokesman for Seattle-based PopCap Games, told Ars Technica: "It makes sense for them to make game available to the millions of people who visit their site." He also added, "It seems quite likely that we will be able to count them as an online distribution partner, in the way we do a Yahoo games or a Real Arcade." Popular PopCap titles, including "Bejeweled" and "Zuma," may be available on Amazon in the future. Unfortunately they weren't included at launch.

    • Amazon's initial focus is on download and play games. It doesn't offer any online, in-browser games for trial or even pay-to-play. While the size of the download is rather small, some consumers remain hesitant about downloading software to their machines for various reasons (e.g., shared computers, security concerns, etc.). By no means will this crush the service's potential, but it would've been an appealing additional feature to have in-browser games available in the library at launch.

    • The beta service is only available for PC users. Mac loyalists will have to wait for a subsequent release before getting their hands on Amazon's games.

    The Opportunity

    • Amazon's effort signifies a major step in the movement to digital distribution in the games industry. The online sales merchant has made significant revenue from the gaming industry's traditional software sales, but the addition of a content distribution service signals the importance of this approach. While Valve's steam is considered the gold standard in digital distribution for games, the reach and influence of Amazon could be quickly raise the importance of digital distribution for all game developers.

    • With the core game sales and casual game download service now becoming neighbors on Amazon, it's only a matter of time before the two join forces, allowing all gamers to receive their game of choice through the Amazon pipes. With examples such as other download distribution approaches -- such as Amazon's Kindle book service and the partnership of Netflix and Xbox -- it appears the next step could be an alliance between leading console providers and online retailers such as Amazon, bringing innovative purchase opportunities to consumers.

    • Building on its established audience, Amazon could become the go-to destination for game downloads with the right mixture of exclusive games. Major casual game portals are definitely taking note of Amazon's entry into the business.

    Time will reveal whether Amazon's new casual game service becomes a success. The games industry will be watching whether Amazon can leverage the opportunities and access what impact it has on the larger games landscape. I'm sure it's only one click away. via ClickZ

  • InstallAnywhere 2009 Looks to Smooth Java App Installs

    InstallAnywhere 2009 Looks to Smooth Java App Installs

    Software installations are notoriously fickle. Incompatible runtimes, missing drivers, non-existent libraries, and other common situations conspire to reject new programs on a fairly regular basis, causing time and productivity loss for the customer and a backlash against the software developer. Acresso, the software startup that owns the InstallShield franchise, last week unveiled a new release of the multiplatform version of the product, called InstallAnywhere 2009, that aims to thwart installation imps, particularly in Java environments.

    Acresso was formed on April 1, 2008, following the acquisition of the business software unit of Macrovision by Thoma Cressey Bravo, the private equity firm that has driven many acquisitions in the IT industry over the last several years. Macrovision, in turn, had acquired the original InstallShield company, which was based in Schaumburg, Illinois, back in 2004.

    The InstallShield products are designed to streamline the software installation process and reduce the risk of corruption during the software de-installation process. Previously, InstallShield was offered in a regular edition that ran on Windows, and a MultiPlatform edition (which was originally called InstallShield for Java) that supported OS/400, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, Linux, Mac OS, and Windows operating systems.

    Macrovision changed that lineup with the introduction of InstallAnywhere, the follow-on product for InstallShileld MultiPlatform customers. Today, InstallShield targets only Windows, while the cross-platform InstallAnywhere product works with OS/400 and other platforms.

    InstallAnywhere offer benefits to software developers and end users. For developers, the product eliminates the process of writing, testing, and maintaining installers for each platform's specialized packaging process, saving time and money. The software also helps users by providing a familiar graphical user interface and a standard sequence of events, eliminating a potentially confusing manual process using shells, command lines, and other techniques.

    Acresso has added a number of new benefits with the 2009 version of InstallAnywhere. For starters, the software improves the installation of Java software by automatically searching and detecting existing Java runtime environments. Customers run the risk of destabilizing a machine or application by loading a new Java runtime when an older Java runtime has already been installed.

    The release also introduces new APIs aimed at improving the automation and the capability to customize instillations for software developers. The APIs allow developers to programmatically manage important aspects of working with InstallAnywhere, including creating, editing, and building installation projects. They also let developers build more flexibility into the actual installation process.

    Roger Bottum, senior vice president of marketing for Acresso Software, which is still based in Schaumburg, says the new version builds on nearly 30 years of experience at InstallShield, Macrovision, and now Acresso.

    "In this tough economic climate, as software producers are looking to reduce their costs and those translated to their customers, InstallAnywhere 2009 can help not only decrease development time, but can create higher quality installations," he says. "With 35 percent of support calls related to installation-related issues, by improving installation reliability, InstallAnywhere can help reduce technical support costs and improve customer satisfaction."

    InstallAnywhere is available in standard and enterprise editions. The enterprise edition is designed for developers requiring advanced tooling to create customized installations across a large number of diverse operating platforms and languages (it supports 31 languages), while the standard edition (which supports nine languages) is designed for developers facing less complex environments. via itjungle

  • Amazon casual game download service lacks Mac support

    Amazon casual game download service lacks Mac support

    Amazon.com has quietly launched a new Game Downloads Web site, where users can purchase and download more than 600 casual video games priced at $9.99 or less. For the moment, though, Mac users are excluded from the fun.

    It’s the latest effort from Amazon.com to offer more digital content for download. The company has seen success with its MP3 store, where users can download music without any DRM restrictions for Macs and PCs, iPods and other portable media players; Amazon also offers e-books compatible with its Kindle reader and other content.

    The Game Downloads site is described as a beta version, specifically. As such, it is “a project or process that is being tested,” according to Amazon, which said that it will be testing different features and gathering input from users about how to develop the new service.

    The Game Downloads section sports hundreds of popular casual games available for download from other casual game portals, and in some cases also available for sale in brick and mortar retail stores.

    Unlike Amazon.com’s MP3 files, which eschew any sort of digital rights management technology, the games available for download from the Game Downloads service do require activation, through the use of a product key. A Windows-based “Amazon Games & Software Downloader” is also required to download and install the software; it’s compatible with Windows XP and Vista.

    In a FAQ posted to the Amazon.com Web site, the company indicates that it is “currently working on adding software titles to the Games & Software Downloads store and developing a version of the Amazon Games & Software Downloader that will be compatible with Mac OS. The exact date for when Mac OS compatible products will be available is unknown at this time”
    via macworld
  • Amazon.com Launches PC Digital Download Service

    Amazon.com Launches PC Digital Download Service

    Online retailer Amazon.com today launched its Game Downloads service, officially expanding its offerings to include digital downloads of PC games.

    The store offers a number of casual games priced between $9.99 and $6.99, with would-be buyers able to sample a trial version of a title for 30 minutes. Three games--Jewel Quest II, Build-a-lot, The Scruffs--are free "for a limited time."

    Though the offerings don't presently include major PC games priced above $10, Amazon VP of video games and software Greg Hart suggested that those may eventually follow. "We always want to offer the widest selection possible, just like we've done with our boxed games over the past two years," he told Kotaku.

    To receive a game, patrons must download and install the 3MB Amazon Games & Software Downloader. The move to digital distribution follows Amazon's acquisition of casual games developer and distributor Reflexive Entertainment last fall.

    As with other digital distribution platforms, such as Valve's Steam, Amazon.com allows buyers to download a purchased game multiple times from a variety of computers. via shacknews
  • Online Retail Growing Despite Economic Woes

    Online Retail Growing Despite Economic Woes

    According to a report from Forrester Research, Internet retail sales will likely rise in 2009 despite the economic recession.

    Online retail sales are projected to climb 11 percent in 2009 to $156 billion, excluding money from online travel sales.

    Although the mark continues to grow, the projection shows a slowdown in the overall growth rate which was 13 percent in 2008.

    The projection is also smaller than the 15 percent increase Forrester projected last January.

    "The reason is obvious: falling consumer confidence due to the recession," wrote Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

    According to Mulpuru, the majority of 2009 growth will come at the expense of brick and mortar stores.

    She believes online revenue will continue to make ground on physical stores because of the ease to compare prices and to find products.

    "Even as companies continue to struggle, the important take-away is that the Web is continuing to grow," Mulpuru told Reuters News. "It's taking wallet share away from the rest of the retail world."

    In 2009, online sales are expected to make up 7 percent of the overall retail revenue. The number is a 1 percent increase over 2008, despite a slowing economy.

    According to Mulpuru, Web-based retailers like Amazon.com are primed to capitalize on the trend, while other big retailers, such as Macy’s and Best Buy, could capture a disproportionate share of online consumers due to their brand recognition.

    "That's pretty standard that the web divisions of all of these companies are faring much better than the rest of the business. Those are the ones grabbing disproportionate market share," Mulpuru said. "A lot of that is happening at the expense of smaller players who are not as branded or not as trustworthy or not as easy to find online."

    The numbers are part of a larger set of projections by Forrester due to be released on Monday.

    Forrester gathers mail and online surveys that question consumers on shopping and spending habits to calculate its projections.
    via redorbite
  • Channel Intelligence’s SellPath® Exchange Library Serves as First Central Repository for Manufacturer Product Content

    Channel Intelligence’s SellPath® Exchange Library Serves as First Central Repository for Manufacturer Product Content

    Manufacturers Can Now Exchange Product Content and Merchandising Data with Retailers and other Partners through First-of-its-Kind Portal.

    Orlando, FL, January 31, 2009 --(PR.com)-- Channel Intelligence, Inc. (CI), the leader in Internet marketing commerce solutions for manufacturers, retailers and publishers, today announced its official release of the SellPath® Exchange Library. The first central repository for manufacturer-authorized product content, SellPath® Exchange Library provides manufacturers with a quick, easy way to manage and disseminate their official content to retailers and other partners through a secure portal.

    Manufacturers often struggle with the management and dissemination of product-related content. Online merchandising is fraught with high costs, and ensuring that all the necessary partners and retail channels have access to the latest materials and information can be near impossible. When product information is hard to find, the resulting inaccurate specs and images lead to brand dilution throughout the manufacturer’s channel and exorbitantly high costs to merchandise product pages for retailers. CI developed SellPath® Exchange Library to solve these and other content-related problems using its existing expertise as one of the largest collectors and disseminators of product content in the data feed industry.

    Vik Murty, Vice President and General Manager of SellPath®, commented, “Because CI has extensive knowledge about product data, it just made sense for us to take on this challenge to help our current and future manufacturer and retailer customers. In an environment of cost scrutiny, SellPath® Exchange Library serves to create cost-effective solutions to make basic product data, images, and rich media available and simple to use. This helps lower the cost of both information acquisition and online merchandising while speeding time to market. We’re confident that our data relationships with hundreds of retailers will make our product offering an essential merchandising tool in the retail industry.”

    One of the many unique features of the SellPath® Exchange Library is the SellPath® web portal, where manufacturers manage and control their product content and assign their content to distribution channels. They can define their products, publish new content, add or delete content, preview or review content, update versioning, rollback to previous versions, lock content, or move and delete content. This makes it easier to ensure partners will be accessing only the latest, complete product content. Content reports also provide an audit trail for manufacturers so they can follow the usage of all published content. Within the portal, manufacturers can provide authorization to partners to access product content and see all partner activity, making it easy to manage the entire lifecycle of each product.

    To learn more about SellPath® Exchange Library, manufacturers are encouraged to visit http://wwww.channelintelligence.com/sellpath/exchange_library.html. Inquiries can also be sent to sellpath@channelintelligence.com.

    About Channel Intelligence, Inc. (CI):

    CI is a product data technology and marketing company focused on helping retailers and manufacturers make their products easier for consumers to find and buy on the Internet and in local retail stores. The CI product database is capable of storing, managing, optimizing and analyzing hundreds of millions of products every day. This database powers product data for leading manufacturers and retailers in Computing, Hardware, Home Improvement, Appliances, Consumer Electronics, Toys and other Consumer Product industries such as Apparel, Cosmetics and Jewelry. CI offers innovative suites of services for hundreds of the world’s best known manufacturers, retailers and publishers and provides distribution of product data to over 50 destination websites, including the proprietary CI Ad Network. Cultivating partnerships with some of the best solution providers in the eCommerce arena, CI is a partner company of Internet Capital Group (Nasdaq: ICGE) and Aweida Capital Management. CI was founded in 1999 by CEO Robert Wight and EVP Alan Fulmer and is headquartered in Orlando, Fla., with offices in Geneva, Switzerland and London, England. Learn more at www.channelintelligence.com.
    via PR.com

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