Jawbone is now selling smart home hubs and other connected goods

Jawbone launched Jawbone Marketplace on Wednesday, a site that lets users purchase devices and services that take advantage of Jawbone’s fitness tracking and data syncing capabilities.

Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman said at Gigaom’s Structure Connect conference last year that he’d like to see Jawbone Up become a platform that other companies can built on top of. Jawbone Marketplace is an obvious step in that direction.

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Jawbone Marketplace will be primarily available through the web. Right now, it looks like a store selling a selection of popular connected products, including SmartThings Kit and Whistle, a dog tracker. It also includes virtual personal training apps from companies like Kiqplan, Fitocracy, and MapMyFitness.

Although you’ll be able to browse the Jawbone Marketplace through Jawbone’s in-app “App Gallery,” you’ll be sent to Jawbone’s website to complete the purchase. The products and services on Jawbone Marketplace are not cheap — Kiqplan’s “Slim and Trim” weight loss assistant is the least expensive at $19.99. Prices go all the way up to $199 for the SmartThings Kit.

Notably, none of these services require an Up device, but according to Jawbone, “the experience is made better if you have one.” Jawbone Marketplace products can work with the free step-tracking Up app. The Jawbone Marketplace includes information on how Up integration benefits these various services and devices, all of which are available on their own.

jawbone marketplace

For instance, Orange Chef, a smart food scale and app, can sync its food logs into the Up app. Whistle, a dog tracker that gained Jawbone integration last year, can connect to the Jawbone app so users can see their dog’s activity next to their own.

Some hardware that integrates with Jawbone are notably absent from Jawbone Marketplace. For instance, Nest works with Jawbone Up24 to set your home’s temperature while you sleep, but you can’t purchase a Nest from Jawbone Marketplace.

The full list of Jawbone Marketplace partners is below:

  • Automatic Accessory
  • LoseIt! Scale
  • Orange Chef Prep Pad
  • SmartThings Kit for Jawbone
  • Whistle Activity Monitor
  • Kiqplan
  • Fitocracy
  • FitStar
  • MapMyFitness MVP Membership
  • Sleepio

Meet the Q&A site where people pay $150 for answers

Forget Quora: Swedish startup Mancx is trying to put a twist on question and answer sites by getting people to pay real money for the information they receive — and it’s just raised another $1.65m to expand.

Redbeacon comes to iPhone to make good help easier to find

Redbeacon, the web marketplace that connects people with professional home service providers such as plumbers, painters, and yard workers, has launched its first native app for the iPhone(s AAPL).
The company, which lets you search for, get bids from, and ultimately book jobs with background-checked and licensed local service providers, has already seen solid growth since it was founded two years ago — but the capabilities in the iPhone app could help Redbeacon take off even more. The biggest new perk of the app is it lets people shoot videos, take photos or record voice memos when requesting home services; this makes it easier for consumers to show potential contractors what specifically they need done, and it saves contractors’ time in assessing job prices.

Redbeacon for iPhone screenshot (click to enlarge)

Mobile move is a ‘game-changer’

Redbeacon has already been testing its users’ appetite for mobile apps in a way, the company’s co-founder and president Yaron Binur said in an interview this week. Two months ago, Redbeacon rolled out a mobile web app strictly for service providers that works on all phone platforms, and since then more than 30 percent of the platform’s project bids have come from a service provider on the mobile app. The company expects to see a similarly strong response with its consumer app.
Binur put it this way: “We think it’s a real game changer for us. It’s hard to explain exactly what your yard looks like, or what your carpet looks like. And for providers, they’d rather not have to waste their time to come on-site to provide an estimate of how much a job should cost. The photo and video changes all that.”
The new consumer app is launching only on iOS because the majority of Redbeacon’s user base has an iPhone, Binur said. Down the line, the company will probably launch an Android (s goog) app as well.

Competition from TaskRabbit? Not quite

The service-oriented online marketplace has heated up in recent months, with companies like TaskRabbit and Zaarly garnering attention and venture backing. Binur says that Redbeacon is different from those kinds of startups since it is focused solely on the licensed service professional market. “They’re creating a brand new category, convincing consumers to contract someone else to do something that they may have done on their own previously,” said Binur. “This is an established market for a certain kind of job for your home. We don’t have to convince people; we just need to provide a better experience.”
It’s a fair point. And so far, Redbeacon’s somewhat narrowly focused strategy has proved fruitful: Redbeacon is now live in eight metro areas in the United States, and is currently seeing month-over-month growth rates of 80 to 85 percent, Binur said. Redbeacon is backed with $7.4 million in venture capital and it makes money by taking a small percentage of each completed service transaction it facilitates. Overall, I think it’s a solid approach because it provides benefits and empowerment to both the consumer and the service provider — and the mobile debut seems to have the right elements to make the process even better.
Here are a few more screenshots of Redbeacon for iPhone (click to enlarge):
      

How 99Designs Bootstrapped Its Way to Profits

99Designs acquired a devoted customer base, logged millions in annual revenue, and achieved profitable operations without taking on a dime of venture capital. I sat down with employee number one and CTO Lachlan Donald to find out how the company bootstrapped its way to profitability.

Crowdsourcing from the Developing World

Last month saw the launch of CrowdFlower, an interesting venture that applies Dolores Labs’ Labor-as-a-Service platform to the non-profit “micro employment” foundation Samasource.

We’ve previously covered web-based labor and outsourcing services — notably Shorttask and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (s amzn) — that match-make workers and tasks, and I’ve been critical of the unsustainable payment levels for most of the tasks on offer, often at compensation levels lower than minimum wage.

CrowdFlower puts a new spin on this concept, by assigning tasks to workers in the developing world and from communities that really need opportunity. Though the level of compensation for a typical task is still below normal levels in the developed world, the payment goes to communities where the money appears to be having a very positive impact.

Drawn from Samasource’s base of impoverished women, young people seeking opportunity and refugees, CrowdFlower’s workers are trained to undertake a wide range of computer-based tasks such as audio transcription, application testing, remote virtual assistance and data entry. Read More about Crowdsourcing from the Developing World

CrossLoop Support Client Now For Mac Users

CrossLoop LogoI’ve long been a fan of the CrossLoop screen-sharing application as it provides an easy way to remotely provide support to clients, friends and family. Its straightforward setup and secure interface make it a great choice in a crowded field. However, its usefulness has been limited somewhat, because it was only available for Windows — a situation being remedied today by the availability of CrossLoop for Mac.

A compelling reason to use CrossLoop is the innovative Marketplace, which is a great place to find and offer tech support services. With thousands of registered support experts, you can get help with just about anything you can think of. The CrossLoop folks facilitate the connection and transaction, and handle the payment processing. The latest figures released show over 5 million sessions have been conducted through CrossLoop. With the Mac version available, support providers can now offer their services to Mac users, or use their Mac to provide  services. As more households are switching to Mac, or going multi-platform, being able to support everyone makes a lot of sense. Obviously, for Mac users needing support, this also makes the full Marketplace of support providers available to you.

In the CrossLoop community, the demand for a Mac version has been loud and strong. With this milestone reached, they can now work to appease the Linux crowd.

The CrossLoop client is a free download for Windows 2000 or later and, now, for Mac OS X 10.4 or later. Costs for using Marketplace services vary, depending on the services required and choice of provider.

Have you used Crossloop for screen sharing? Does the availability of a Mac version make it an option for you?