ecoATM Raises $14.4M for eCycling Kiosks

Will kiosks in stores finally convince us all to recycle our gadgets and cell phones? Startup ecoATM and its investors think so — on Wednesday, ecoATM announced it’s raised a Series A round of $14.4 million in funding from Coinstar and Claremont Creek Ventures.

Announcing Our Green:Net Launchpad 10 Winners

One of my favorite parts of last year’s Green:Net event was the launchpad section, where 10 companies that are using information technology to fight climate change launch themselves or new products. So I’m excited to announce this year’s 10 winners of the Green:Net2010 Launchpad.

Cash for Trash: ecoATM Lands Funding for Recycling Kiosks

Cash for high-tech trash. That’s the basic concept for the recycling kiosk from ecoATM. You drop off old electronics at one of these machines, it calculates their value, then pays you on the spot, in cash or coupons. Think it’ll work? Apparently some venture capitalists do, because ecoATM announced Wednesday its first round of venture funding, led by Tao Venture partners.

ecoATM’s secret sauce is its kiosks’ ability to automatically estimate — using electronic and visual techniques — a price of the unwanted items that will give consumers an “immediate financial incentive” to recycle at the station, Mark Bowles, ecoATM’s chief marketing officer, told us today. The company has built a network of 50 buyers around the globe that will take used consumer electronics devices that ecoATM collects from its kiosks (currently just mobile phones but soon expanding to iPods, MP3 players and game cartridges) and recycle the components. ecoATM finds the best price for the devices and then passes a portion of that revenue onto its customers.
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Acer Plans Chrome OS Netbook, But I Hope They Mean Smartbook

When Google (s goog) recently shared its progress and plans for the Chrome OS, one tidbit left out was the names of hardware partners. We now know one of them, and it’s no surprise to me that Acer has stepped forward. The company told DigiTimes that it plans to offer the first Chrome OS netbook in the second half of 2010. Why isn’t this shocking? Early this year, Acer was the first top-tier hardware company to adopt an Android strategy with netbooks. That effort was an on-again, off-again affair, but in the end, Acer did bring a product to the table. The netbook changed from an Android-only device into a basic XP netbook that first boots into Android, but the objective was met. I didn’t see much merit in it at the time, and I’m not hearing about any sales records for the device, either. But now I’m at a crossroads for where Google fits in the netbook space, even if Acer isn’t.

Chrome OS is a browser for web apps. There won’t be any application installs within the operating system. Android, on the other hand, offers apps and the web. It’s geared for a smaller screen with touch. While Chrome OS will run on x86 devices, it will also support ARM-powered units. Now Acer hasn’t announced what hardware platform its Chrome OS netbook will run on, but when it says “netbook,” I immediately think of x86, which might be overkill for nothing but a browser. My hope is that by “netbook,” Acer means an ARM-powered smartbook in a clamshell form-factor with a touch-type keyboard. If instead, it means a traditional x86 netbook costing around $300, it’s going to be a tough sell when the same money buys you both a browser and application experience, no?