eBay Introduces Bargain-Hunting Deals App for the iPhone

The biggest shopping day of the year for Americans is this Friday, the dreaded Black Friday, and people are in a consuming mood. At the same time, economic pressures have folks watching what they spend. eBay today introduced a new app that capitalizes on both those impulses, called Deals.

Deals shares a lot of the functionality of the more full featured eBay mobile app, but it specifically targets eBay’s daily deals, and any zero bid items that have less than four hours remaining in their auction times, with no reserve price and free or fixed rate shipping, and a total price that includes shipping costs. In other words, with the deals the app presents, you pay exactly the price listed. Read More about eBay Introduces Bargain-Hunting Deals App for the iPhone

Box.net Will Refocus on Business Users

new-box-uiHaving followed the online storage business for quite a few years, I have become increasingly convinced that many of the startups will have to retweak their focus and find new opportunities to stay relevant and stay in business.

Aaron Levie, CEO and founder of Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup Box.net, agrees. He has decided to pivot his company away from the consumer and instead focus on business users. “We are going to be less about storing music and photos and more about focusing on storage for collaboration,” he said in an interview. As we had pointed out earlier, an ad-supported online storage model isn’t for the faint of the heart. Several, including AOL’s XDrive and Yahoo’s (s YHOO) Briefcase, have shutdown. Read More about Box.net Will Refocus on Business Users

Reach Your Broadband Cap With Comcast Backup Service

The nation’s largest cable provider is taking a page from Verizon (s VZ) and offering an online backup drive and limited file-sharing, according to DSL Reports. According to the report, the Comcast (s CMCSA) backup service will offer several storage options: 10GB worth for $4.99 a month, or $49.99 per year; 50GB for $9.99 a month or $99.99 year; or 200GB for $19.99 a month. That’s cheaper than Verizon’s offering and other online backup and sharing options such as those from IBackup, but still expensive when compared with pure-play online backup companies such as Mozy and Carbonite, which charge less than $5 a month.

It’s also costly because the data sent and received as part of this service will factor into Comcast’s 250GB monthly broadband cap, meaning anyone signing up for the high-end plan better keep their other data consumption low. That may be a concession to net neutrality — an issue that has riled up the FCC on behalf of P2P providers and now VoIP companies. But it also conveniently leaves less bandwidth available for folks to download movies, which could cut into Comcast’s video business.

Carbonite CEO: Online Backups Sell

My post, How to standout in a sea of storage startups resulted in a spirited conversation, including some really insightful comments here and else where on the web. Raghu Kulkarni, CEO of Pro Softnet, a Woodland Hills, Calif.-based company said not only he is selling his IDrive and IBackup offerings, he is making a hefty profit. Apparently he isn’t the only one seeing brisk sales of online back-up services.

David Friend, CEO of Carbonite emailed to let us know that his Boston-based company is doing well. “We’ve enjoyed 26 consecutive months of double-digit month-over-month revenue growth,” he wrote in an email. He claimed “hundreds of thousands people paying about $50 every year in subscription fees. Theoretically, at 100,000 subscribers, the company could bring in an estimated $5 million a year.

Read More about Carbonite CEO: Online Backups Sell

One Online Storage Startup Backs Up Profits

Last week in my analysis of online storage sector, How to standout in the sea of storage startups, I pointed out that many startups were having a tough time convincing folks to upgrade from free to paying services. That post got many reactions, including a comment from Raghu Kulkarni, founder and CEO of Pro Softnet, a Woodland Hills Calif.-based company.

His company runs two online storage services, IDrive and IBackup. While IDrive is a more consumer-focused backup service, while IBackup caters to the enterprise crowd, because of its additional capabilities. Think of them as Mozy and Mozy pro, says Kulkarni, who claims that his self-funded (bootstrapped) outfit is growing almost 50 percent every year.

Revenues for 2008 are projected to be $12 million, up from $8.3 million in 2007 and $5.4 million in 2006. The company has been profitable for three years now, but Kulkarni declined to share profits data. At present, the revenues are split 70/30 in favor of IBackup, but he is betting this is going to change soon. “The conversion rate for free to paid for IDrive is about 15%,” he wrote to me in a subsequent email exchange. “Early 2007, we had to create a version of IBackup to compete in the low priced segment, hence the IDrive product offering.” The company has about 250,000 users and stores many petabytes of data, Kulkarni says.