Saturday, 2 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Social Media Day 2011 Around the World [PHOTOS & VIDEOS]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Social Media Day 2011 Around the World [PHOTOS & VIDEOS]”

Social Media Day 2011 Around the World [PHOTOS & VIDEOS]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 11:50 PM PDT

Thursday’s second annual Social Media Day celebration was a huge success throughout the world. Thousands of people came together offline in their local communities to recognize the technological advancements that enable everyone to connect with real-time information, communicate from miles apart and have their voices be heard.

Participation in the event more than doubled since last year with more than 1,400 Meetups and nearly 11,000 attendees. Seven cities and one U.S. state joined Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. in proclaiming the day official. The state of Arizona and the cities of New York, Toronto, Dublin, Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada and San Jose and San Carlos, California officially marked June 30 as Social Media Day.

Around the world, Social Media Day Meetups took place in 90 countries across six continents. Some of the most well-attended events occurred in places like Sao Paolo, Panama City, Toronto, Detroit and Santa Ana, California.

Nearly 43,000 tweets were sent with hashtag #smday, and 26,000 of those were on Thursday alone. Notable accounts such as Facebook, DKNY, WWE Universe, and the Miami Heat mentioned #smday on Twitter, showing the event’s reach across a wide variety of communities. There are more than a thousand photos on Flickr, Instagram and Facebook as well as hundreds of videos on YouTube with hashtag #smday.

A number of media organizations, including Fox News, CNN Money, The Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times and The Examiner covered the event. Many news stories focused on social media’s growth and how it has affected many of our lives.

A huge thank you to everyone who organized or attended a Social Media Day 2011 Meetup. Without you, this global event wouldn’t be the success that it is.

Who’s ready for next year?!

Social Media Day Photos


An awesome Social Media Day cake was made for #SMDay Cincinnati, the winners of our Most Social City contest. Photo by Christiaan Todd Photography.


Detroit had more than 1,000 people attend their Social Media Day events held at Soundboard in the MotorCity Casino Hotel. Guests were treated to djs, prizes and speakers.

Key West

Mashable Director of Communications Stacy Green and attendees at the Social Media Day celebration in Key West, Florida.


Miami's Social Media Day celebration was hosted by SocialBuzzTV at Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill.

New York City

Mashable celebrated Social Media Day at Brooklyn Bowl, where many attendees took to the lanes. Photo by Stephanie Haberman.

New York City

NYC Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne presented the city's proclamation declaring June 30 Social Media Day to Mashable Publisher Sharon Feder and Community Manager Meghan Peters. Photo by Stephanie Haberman.


Tunisia's capital city held a large Social Media Day celebration at Barista's Cafe.

San Francisco

Mashable staffers Kate Hayden, Louis Dorman, and Jennifer Van Grove celebrate Social Media Day with Mashable fans at House of Air.


More than 100 people met up in Istanbul, Turkey for Social Media Day. The organizers said they even made frozen shot glasses with the #SMDay logo on them.

Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo, Brazil had several Social Media Day Meetups, including one led by Anderson Criativo that had 1,000 attendees. "The most successful part was the engagement of our community," Criativo said.

Social Media Day Videos

Paris’ Social Media Day celebration. Video by James Medd.

San Francisco’s Social Media Day celebration. Video by Danny Skarka.

Thumbnail photo courtesy Flickr, Anthony Quintano.

Mashable community team members Stephanie Haberman, Todd Olmstead and Chelsea Stark contributed to this report.

Find a Mashable Meetup Near You »

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Review Roundup: HP TouchPad Is No iPad Killer, But It Has Potential

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 10:30 PM PDT

The TouchPad, HP’s first webOS-based device for the tablet market, hit U.S. stores Friday.

The dual-core 9.7-inch tablet looks very similar to the iPad — the original iPad anyway — but has specs that are more closely aligned with the iPad 2, Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Motorola Xoom.

The big differentiator for the TouchPad is HP’s webOS operating system. The crown jewel from HP’s acquisition of Palm, webOS has always seemed like the most tablet-friendly mobile OS on the market. HP released videos earlier this month showing off webOS on the TouchPad, and these demos left us impressed.

The first crop of tech reporters and bloggers have had their time with the TouchPad, and early reviews are decidedly mixed. Most reviewers praise webOS and compliment the UI and UX experience, as well as the gesture controls. When it comes to the quality of the native software and features like built-in video chat using Skype, the TouchPad receives rave reviews.

Where the device gets dinged by most reviewers is in its overall speed (something that most reviewers seem to attribute to the software rather than the hardware, which according to the specs should be powerful enough), some niggling bugs with webOS itself, a small third-party app selection and the price. The HP TouchPad is selling for the same price that Apple is selling the iPad 2 ($499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi only model, $599 for a 32GB unit).

HP isn’t the only tablet maker to struggle with competing with Apple on price; Android tablet makers like Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Asus and Toshiba are also struggling with varying levels of success to meet or beat Apple’s price.

Still, the overall impression from most of the major reviews is that HP has some great ideas, that given enough time and developer support, could easily develop into something wonderful. Android tablets are having a hard time gaining traction and RIM has failed to really deliver on its promises for the Playbook, which means that despite a late entry, HP might have a shot at placing in the race.

Check out what some reviewers across the web are saying about the TouchPad:

David Pogue, The New York Times

"In this 1.0 incarnation, the TouchPad doesn't come close to being as complete or mature as the iPad or the best Android tablets; you'd be shortchanging yourself by buying one right now, unless you're some kind of rabid A.B.A. nut (Anything but Apple).

But there are signs of greatness here. H.P. is coming to this battle very late, but it says it intends to stay the course. True, it's tilting at windmills -- but at least it's riding an impressive steed."

Edward Baig, USA Today

"Based on my evaluation, HP has a fighting chance. I actually prefer webOS to early Android tablets and believe it compares favorably to iOS in many respects. It's actually a terrific operating system for tablets. And the TouchPad, which I generally like, has a world of potential."

Mark Spoonauer, Laptop Mag

"This is going to sound like a broken record, but the TouchPad is yet another tablet that feels unfinished. The interface is more elegant and intuitive than what you'll find on Android Honeycomb tablets, and we appreciate the time-saving features such as Just Type. The TouchPad also produces louder audio than any other slate we've tested. Last but not least, HP deserves credit for spicing up the app shopping experience and for leveraging webOS-powered phones to tell a better-together story."

Jason Snell, Macworld

"So what I'm saying is, I'm glad that HP finally shipped the TouchPad. If it can get developers engaged in its platform and iron out all the bugs while also growing webOS as a smartphone operating system, it might really have something here. But that's a story about the future, and about potential. For now, the TouchPad is just another iPad competitor that can't measure up."

Matt Buchanan, Gizmodo

"The TouchPad is so close, closer than anything else, to being good. But it's also very, very far from it. Look, give this thing six months. It could be amazing. If it's not by then, well, I guess that says everything that needs to be said."

Fritz Nelson, *InformationWeek

"A solid entry that's behind on the hardware (let's call it generation 1.5) but advanced on the software (generation 2.5 when HP works out a few significant performance kinks). It's an innovative tablet with some fantastically juicy surprises that will make you want it now, but it carries enough disappointments that you'll probably wait for the next version. It's not enough to make you put down your iPad 2, or its near-equivalent Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but it will make you wish those tablets bestowed the TouchPad's user experience and included its other innovations."

Casey Johnston, Ars Technica

"The HP TouchPad, if it were less expensive, could be an extremely strong, if slightly less polished, alternative to the iPad. But like other recently-released high-profile Android tablets, it's determined to take on the champ. And just like those Android tablets, its hard to recommend over an iPad at the same price. But the competition does creep ever closer, and the TouchPad stands as a solid iPad competitor for those who, err, "think different.""

Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD

"H-P stresses that webOS is a platform and that the TouchPad is just one iteration of it. The company plans to add the operating system to numerous devices, including laptops, and hopes that this scale will attract many more apps. And it pledges continuous updates to fix the current shortcomings.

But, at least for now, I can't recommend the TouchPad over the iPad 2."

Tim Stevens, Engadget

"The shortage of apps is a problem, no doubt, but that will change with time. What won't change is the hardware, and there we're left a little disappointed. Holding this in one hand and either an iPad 2 or a Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the other leaves you wondering why you'd ever be compelled to buy the HP when you could have the thinner, lighter alternative for the same money. Meanwhile, the performance left us occasionally wanting and, well, what is there to say."

Tim Gideon, David Pierce PCMag

"The HP Touchpad reminds me of the Microsoft Zune HD ($219.99, 4.5 stars) in that it is a very solid device, but may be too late to the game. We've already seen two iPads, and the third will likely arrive sometime around the TouchPad's nine-month birthday. Can HP convince developers to make enough meaningful apps for the TouchPad to help the tablet reach its full potential in the following nine months? I hope so."

Joshua Topolsky, This is my next

"Still, the bottom line here is that the stability and smoothness of the user experience is not up to par with the iPad or something like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, even if many of the underlying ideas are actually a lot better and more intuitive than what the competition offers. That, coupled with the minuscule number of quality apps available at launch make this a bit of a hard sell right now. If HP can convince developers to get behind this product, and the company can laser focus on the end-user experience, becoming the number two player in tablets isn't as crazy as it sounds. Really."

Melissa J. Perenson, PC World

"Until then, the TouchPad will be a tough sell in comparison with Apple's dominant iPad 2, and even with the nearest Android rivals. Great-sounding audio output, a clean interface design, and the ability to print will not alone sell the TouchPad."

Derek Kessler, Pre Central

"The result is a fast and capable tablet running a thoroughly modern operating system. There's a good and growing selection of apps for the TouchPad, but there are some glaring omissions on the device and in the App Catalog. Despite the areas where the TouchPad is lacking, it's still perfectly capable and full of potential. So much so that this entire review was composed on a TouchPad."

Donald Bell, CNET

"It's important for HP, and important for consumers to have another option out there beyond what Apple and Google are offering. At the end of the day, though, the TouchPad feels like a well-orchestrated competitor to the original iPad and not the forward-thinking alternative we had hoped for."

More About: hp touchpad, iOS, iPad 2, meta-review, tables, Touchpad, webOS

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Remix & Record Your Way to Stardom in Online Game

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 08:36 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: BreakoutBand

Quick Pitch: Hone your musical skills and compete against others for prizes and virtual fame.

Genius Idea: A music-based social game that require skill — but not too much skill.

Music-oriented games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have allowed everyone and their mother to have a rock star moment. Online social game BreakoutBand kicks that experience up a notch, letting users create, record and share songs, as well as compete against other users for fame and glory.

“Guitar Hero and Rock Band were awesome, but it seemed that the natural evolution was to enable players to actually become the artist and make their own songs,” says founder David Moricca. Moricca has more than 10 years experience working in youth media and entertainment; he previously worked as director of online learning services at Scholastic.

There are a ton of platforms out there for musicians that allow bands to share music and enter remix competitions. BreakoutBand is like training wheels for services of that ilk. Users can join for free to create their band profiles, after which they can start making music. All jams are created via the site’s beat maker, where users can choose a song kit, complete with all the instruments one requires to compose a tune. One can then go into the vocal booth to warble away.

Naturally, users have to pay for said song kits. The site has a virtual currency called Breakout Bucks that you can purchase or earn by achieving certain milestones as an artist.

Once a song is completed, users can release their song, which will then be posted to their profiles and played on the site’s radio station. They can also share songs to Facebook and Twitter. One can even download a song for later listening. Naturally, the goal is to record palatable tunes, so as to accrue fans — and Bucks.

The site also hosts competitions, adding tangible prizes into the mix. In the past, BreakoutBand has partnered with Old Navy and Pepsi Max on branded song competitions, but recently it added a new competitive element featuring up-and-coming musicians. Users will be able to check out new artists via the site, as well as remix their songs in order to win prizes, such as video responses from the artist, VIP passes to shows, chances to meet the artists in person and merchandise.

The first artist on the digital block is rapper Kellee Maize, but BreakoutBand plans to feature a new band every five days.

When it comes to rights, all original songs created on the platform are owned by BreakoutBand, and remixed songs are owned by the artists. Still, Moricca says this state of affairs could change in the future.

“We will continue to evaluate the appropriate rights approach as the company progresses,” he says. “We have actually been blown away by the creativity of our artists and the quality of their songs, and our goal is to work with all of the different constituents to promote them. Hopefully, a superstar will emerge on the site and we can help them get discovered.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr, southerntabitha

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

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Google+: The Pros & Cons

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 08:04 PM PDT

The web is still talking about Google+, the search giant’s new social initiative and answer to Facebook. Now that it has been out in the wild for a few days, people have had some time to assess Google’s social network, especially where it hits a home run and where it strikes out.

We’ve already written a review about Google+, but we were curious about what early Google+ users thought about it. So we decided to ask a circle on Google+ about what they believe is good and bad about Google+. And they delivered: we got more than 100 responses about the pros and cons of Google’s new social layer.

SEE ALSO: REVIEW | PHOTOS | VIDEOS | POLL: What do you think of Google+?

Let’s be clear: Google+ is in its infancy, and many of the things they mentioned are part of future releases or bugs that Google intends to fix. Still, the conversation we’ll provide a look into where Google’s social networking is succeeding and where it comes up short against its competitors.

Here are some of the pros and cons of Google+, according to its users:

Pro: Gorgeous UI

Many Google+ users commented on the sleekness of its user interface. It’s clean, it’s easy-to-use and its not cluttered. A big reason for this is Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original designers of the Apple Macintosh GUI. Google gave him free reign in designing the Google+ UI.

Here is what some Google+ said about the UI:

“The UI is definitely top notch. It seems Google has finally gotten it right. The selective sharing seems to work much more intuitively.” ~ Cheryl Allin

“This is a shiny awesome toy with a kickass UI and amazing bonus features like Sparks and Huddle.” ~ Cassius Wright

“Excellent UI that is simply but powerful.” ~ Will Hucks

“I love it for its clean UI and how it seamlessly integrates into rest of Google. Finding stream notification from gmail is really cool.” ~ Sudha Jamthe

“It’s extremely clean and devoid of advertising or spam, something that has been slowly creeping into Facebook making it more of a cluttered mess.” ~ Aaron Clark

Our Take: The UI is better than most Google products. It’s not only clean and easy to understand, but it has character and flavor (you’ll notice it when adding or removing people from circles). Their bet on Hertzfeld paid off.

Con: Noise in the Stream

Google+ is designed to minimize noise in the stream through the use of circles, but it’s still too noisy for most users. The big issue is that posts are pushed to the top whenever there’s a new comment, something that most users think is unnecessary. There are also still issues with collapsing posts with long comment threads.

Here are some users’ thoughts on the noise level in Google+:

“Feed shows recently updated regardless of original post time rather than posts in a chronological order.” ~ Steven Crader

“Timeline needs to be customizable especially when following high-profile people.” ~ Spencer Scott

“There should be choices on how to view a stream feed. > (1) newest post, (2) newest comment, (3) censored by google+ (oops, I mean relevance)” ~ Phil Staudt

“I don’t like that I don’t have the option to choose whether I want my feed to come up as items jumping to the top when there’s a new comment or when something new is just added to my feed. I don’t think I’ll be reading every single comment people leave.” ~ Kelly Ryder

“Posts aren’t in chronological order. I keep seeing the same things I’ve seen since yesterday because they have a lot of +1′s and new content is occasionally interspersed throughout the stream.” ~ Zac Witte

“Noisy threads like this one that keep popping to the top of my stream!” ~ Hillel Fuld

Our Take: Google+ needs to stop bumping posts to the top of the stream anytime there’s a comment, and this change needs to be implemented as soon as possible. There needs to be a way to see “top stories” from your stream. Yes, it’s a Facebook feature, but it’s a really good Facebook feature.

Pro: Circles Is Slick

User reaction to Circles, Google+’s friend list feature, has been very positive overall. Users have commented that it’s the easiest system on the market for putting friends into groups, making it easier to share posts with just your business colleagues or your family.

Here are some of their thoughts on Google Circles:

“Selective content pushing and intake with groups is awesome.” ~ Kayvan Farzeneh

“Circles are huge. They solve the reason I don’t use Facebook.” ~ Chris Heald

“I love that Circles makes it so much less creepy for me to befriend random people online.” ~ Jonathan Davis

“The ability to quickly and easily group people (across multiple circles) means that the communications you have with others will be more relevant when choosing to share a message with a specific circle. I imagine this will be extremely helpful in minimizing the noise.” ~ Jodi Echakowitz

Our Take: Google+ Circles is well designed and far superior to Facebook friend lists or Twitter Lists. However, we’re in the camp that people don’t want to organize their friends, no matter how gorgeous the UI. It’s just a tedious task no matter how you approach it.

Con: Doesn’t Work With Google Apps

During a Google+ Hangout session I had with Google VP of Product Management Bradley Horowitz, I learned that the biggest piece of feedback so far is that users want to use Google+ with their Google Apps accounts. It makes sense — people are attached to their email addresses, and many people (like us) primarily use email addresses linked to Google Apps accounts.

Most of the comments we saw about this problem looked like this:

“I cannot use it with my Google Apps account.” ~ Stefan Sarzio

“I cannot use with Google Apps. :(” ~ Aakar Anil

Our Take: Google should make this a top priority.

Pro: Google+ Hangouts

The one feature that has stood out above all the other Google+ features is Hangouts. Hangouts, which lets up to 10 users simultaneously video chat with each other, has been a hit with the early Google+ beta testers.

Instead of creating a group video chat system where you reach to your friends to chat, users instead create “hangouts” that pop up on their feeds. Users can then join those hangouts. That small change in how group video chat is done has proven to be a winner:

“The actual design of the interface is slick, and Hangouts are cool as a get-out.” ~ Christopher Carfi

“Hangouts. ‘Nuff said.” ~ PaulDavid Shrader

“You can make circles of just people you are working with; do a 10 person video chat with them, group mobile messaging, google chat, etc. So far very useful for collaboration and with a few tweeks could be near perfect.” ~ Dillon Rhodes

Our Take: Hangouts is Google+’s killer feature. With a few tweaks, it could be an amazing video platform.

Con: Lack of Search

Google is known for search, so why doesn’t it have a search engine for finding content your friends are sharing? That’s the question a lot of users are asking:

“I have to say that for the King Kong of search to release a social service that is presently not searchable – strikes me as a little odd and noteworthy.” ~ Wayne Schulz

“Leaves a little to be desired when filling out profile information, would be nice to see cohesive search tools.” ~ Carl V. Lewis

“Searching for people in the top field opens a new tab instead of displaying results in the stream.” ~ Lenny Neslin

Our Take: It’s not a big deal now that Google+ doesn’t have Stream search, but Google had better put it on the list of things to implement in the next two months if it hasn’t done so already.

Pro (and Con): Google+ Is Everywhere

Google SVP of Social Vic Gundotra told Mashable that the company named its social platform Google+ because it’s designed to be an extension of Google. The plus sign is just a small addition to the Google logo because the search giant wants people to think of Google+ as just Google.

As part of that initiative, Google+ is on every Google product. Google+ notifications appear in Gmail, Google Docs and almost every Google products. We wouldn’t be surprised to see it pop up on YouTube sometime in the future, either.

Most people seem to like that Google+ is accessible no matter where they are, but some have expressed their reservations about it. Some people don’t want their email and their search to be social in any way. The result is that the ubiquity of Google+ has created a sharp divide:

“It’s everywhere. Checking mail, G+ is there, Addind calendar entries, G+ is there.” ~ Patrik Björklund

“G+ is nearly ubiquitous. It’s present across all the google tabs I keep open anyway.” ~ Rob Michael

“I work in Google. I don’t need an annoying thing at the top of the page telling me that I need to go do something. If I wanted that, I would head over to and see.” ~ David Aronchick

“I use Gmail and Google Reader a lot and with Google+ I get notifications, can comment and interact with my circles, without leaving the Google tool I use at this time. I call this efficient!” ~ Jan Firsching

“Cons: Integrates with the Google ecosystem.” ~ Ciro Villa

Our Take: Google is smart to integrate Google+ into every part of its empire — it creates engagement and reinforces that Google intends to be social. It needs to provide assurances that private emails and private search remain private, though. How to do that may be one of its toughest challenges.

More About: Google, Google Hangouts, google search, trending

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Zynga’s Journey From Founding to IPO [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 05:50 PM PDT

In Zynga‘s IPO filing, which was announced Friday, we found out a lot about the company.

During the day, the company released some of its own stats about its userbase and user behaviors.

However, some of the most interesting numbers came from the SEC filing itself, which showed flat growth in number of users but skyrocketing revenue figures.

From the startup’s founding in 2007 through its first rounds of funding and $3 billion valuation in 2009, here’s a look at the company’s history, including a string of acquisitions over the past two years that’s placed some of the best talent in web games squarely in Zynga’s game dev studios.

Check out this IPO infographic from real-time conversation startup Namesake, and let us know what you think in the comments.

Click image to see full-size version.

[source: Namesake blog]

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Our Favorite YouTube Videos This Week: The Fourth of July Edition

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 04:40 PM PDT

The Fourth of July is just around the corner — hope you have your neck pillows primed for all that firework-induced craning.

In honor of the upcoming Independence Day, we’re bringing you lively selection of Independence Day-themed videos — and Katy Perry only crops up twice!

"4th of July," Soundgarden

Stan Schroeder: Grunge is not dead.

The Real George Washington

Emily Banks: Learn about the man behind the myth: George Washington, brought to you by National Geographic.

"Firework," Katy Perry (Boyce Avenue cover ft. David Choi on violin)

Brian Anthony Hernandez: "Just own the night like the Fourth of July." Yeah! The boys of Boyce Avenue bring us this badass cover (violin included) of Katy Perry's smash hit "Firework."

"4th of July," Mount Rushmore Singers

Ben Parr: Creepy. Just plain creepy.

Statue of Liberty Deconstructed

Erica Swallow: Did you know that France offered the Statue of Liberty to the United States on July 4, 1886? Yep. Check out this video by The History Channel that offers up a ton of facts about the statue. Also, check out the July 4 Wikipedia page for a lot more facts about international history on this day.

"Firework," Katy Perry

Ben Parr: You can't celebrate 4th of July without Katy Perry.

Independence Day

Ada Ospina: I would have to agree, a BBQ on July 4th is 1000x better than dragging an alien through the desert.

Firework POV

Brenna Ehrlich: Someone sent me this on Twitter today (@jeremiahjw). Way more exciting than normal fireworks.

Fireworks Fail

Stephanie Haberman: Don't try this at home.

Image courtesy of Flickr, bayasaa

More About: july-4th, our-favorite-youtube-videos, video, youtube

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Toyota Scion iQ Electric Car Coming in 2012 [PICS]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 03:08 PM PDT

Toyota’s been teasing us with its Scion iQ electric car for more than a year. Now the company has officially announced the iQ will be sold in the United States in 2012.

If you’re looking for a cute car, this micro-subcompact fits the bill nicely. But if you have a long commute, you might want to wait until battery technology improves. Toyota says the Scion iQ can only go 50 miles on a charge. That means this car will be hard-pressed to compete against the similar Nissan Leaf, whose battery can propel it about twice as far until it needs charging.

It’s great news that this car has gone beyond the concept stage and will be sold in the U.S., but its price will be the determining factor in its success. Toyota just teamed up with Tesla Motors, but we’re wondering if one of the obvious benefits of that partnership — the exchange of battery technology — will bear fruit in the Scion iQ.

That 50-mile range suggests it’s not using the full complement of batteries inside the Tesla Roadster. Perhaps that’s a good thing, because the Roadster’s lithium-ion batteries are one of the items that pushes its price up to well into the six figures.

We’ve contacted Toyota to find out when this electric rollerskate will be available and at what price. The automaker hasn’t shared that information with anyone yet, so we’re not holding our collective breath.

As you’ll notice in our gallery below, the iQ is scarcely larger than a golf cart:

Scion iQ

Scion iQ

Scion iQ

Scion iQ

Scion iQ

Scion iQ

Scion iQ

[via Autoblog]

More About: cars, Electric Car, Toyota Scion iQ, Vehicles

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HOW TO: Leverage Location for Better Ad Campaigns

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 02:54 PM PDT

David Staas is senior vice president of marketing at JiWire, overseeing the marketing and product management of JiWire's location-based media channel that reaches the on-the-go mobile audience. He has more than 13 years of marketing and product management experience in the mobile and advertising industries.

Location isn't new to advertising. Take the billboard on the highway — there because that brand knows its target audience will see it. Merchants have been placing signs in places where their target audience will see them since the beginning of commerce. Today more than $130 billion is spent in the U.S. each year on locally targeted advertising. Most of that spending isn't digital, but rather, more traditional formats like billboards and newspapers — places where marketers are accustomed to advertising. So while location advertising may not be new, marketers can now digitally localize their ads. The question is, how do brands win in this new world of location media?

Build for Scale

One of the most exciting aspects of location is the explosion of new content and services. There are now tens of thousands of location-based mobile apps, and even more that have made location a key feature. Many of these apps provide great platforms to test location ideas. However, they don't provide the audience size to roll out an impactful campaign or concept on a regional or national scale.

The key is finding balance. Advertisers must first develop campaign concepts that allow flexibility. Ask these questions: Can I scale this concept easily to all of my locations? Can I incorporate locations other than my own? Can I expand my target zone? Am I able to go beyond the immediate vicinity to engage consumers one mile, five miles, even ten miles away? If you can meet these qualifications, and reach an audience in the tens of millions, your location scale is justified.

“Locationize” Your Brand

Advertisers are used to evolving. They've "digitized" their brands using the Internet, "socialized" their brands with social media and now are learning how to "locationize" with the mass market adoption of location media. I use the term "locationize" because success requires more than just using location as a targeting attribute. Sure, you can deliver a standard, national ad to a variety of targeted zip codes or DMAs, but you'll be missing out on the full opportunity. Add location relevancy to the creative and to the messaging itself.

There are three ways brands have experimented with this concept:

  • Local messaging: Use different creative messages in different locations directly in the ad. In a national campaign, for example, a brand incorporated the Statue of Liberty into New York ads, and the Santa Monica pier into Los Angeles ads in order to incorporate a local element. My company found that this kind of campaign typically sees a 40% increase in consumer engagement compared to non-location-based ads.
  • Include a local call to action: Highlight the address of the nearest store in order to drive foot traffic. We calculated that these campaigns average 100 to 120% increase in consumer engagement.
  • Let consumers engage with a specific location: Mobile services like Foursquare or Gowalla provide the platform for people to check in to a location or a brand. Shopkick's retail partners let you browse merchandise and earn points for visiting their store. At my company, we’ve created brand campaigns that identify all the stores near a consumer, provide walking and driving directions to that location and even allow customers to set appointments in each store. We’ve seen that the addition of location averages a 200% increase in consumer engagement. The more location-relevant an ad is, the greater consumers are likely to respond.

Consider Proximity

Not surprisingly, most consumers don't spend all of their time in the immediate vicinity of your brand. Sometimes they may be in your store, and other times within the neighborhood or even miles away. Each distance presents an opportunity.

In recent research of more than 5,000 mobile consumers, 31% said that they most typically research something on their mobile device before purchasing it physically in the store. Mobile and location drive real world revenues. In a similar study done by my company, consumers shared how far they were willing to travel to get a good deal. When posed with discounts off of a $100 item, 55% said they would travel up to 15 minutes for a 10% discount. However, 45% said they would travel 30 minutes for a 25% discount, and another 40% were willing to travel an hour for a 50% discount.

This fascinating demand curve shows how consumers react via a distance-to-discount ratio. In practical terms, this means marketers can engage customers miles away with great results. By considering proximity, marketers can develop strategies beyond the checkin to generate new customers and to engage existing customers well beyond the neighborhood.

Redefine the Metrics

Every new form of media creates its own unique metrics, like the click-through rate created by digital advertising. Location gives us entirely new ways to measure advertising and thereby gain new insights around a brand's business. Consider evolving the click-through rate. If we apply location and proximity, we can begin to look at click-through rates based on proximity to a brand's location. How many people check in when they are in a store? What is the engagement rate of a campaign when people are within a mile of a store? Five miles? This insight helps brands understand how far people are willing to travel for their service or products.

Better yet, these metrics can surface potential insights around a brand's distribution channel. What retail partners generate the most engagement? Are there pockets of high engagement where a brand doesn't currently have a store? Considering the consumer data on distance-to-discount ratios, these metrics begin to inform the marketing mix.

For example, a consumer around the corner from a store can easily stop in as a result of a location-based ad. If the product is unavailable, it’s not a major imposition on the consumer's time. However, the person willing to drive an hour for that 50% discount is another story — that customer's ability to check on product availability beforehand takes on greater value. Different information has value at different proximities.

The combination of mobile and location advertising is already transforming media, content, services and commerce. Location media is achieving mass market adoption, and raising consumer awareness around the value of location services and advertising. There will be a lot of experimentation and innovation along the way, but these best practices will help advertisers achieve success earlier and more often as they explore how to "locationize their brand," and ultimately have a scalable impact on their business.

Image courtesy of Flickr, william couch.

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The Voice Behind @JFKTurtles Shares Twitter Lessons

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 02:21 PM PDT

As about 150 turtles crossed JFK airport’s runways on Wednesday and delayed several flights, a Twitter account emerged to crack jokes from the turtles’ perspective. The account, agreed publications from the L.A. Times to the Huffington Post, was worth a good laugh.

Its creator, 26-year-old digital media director Noah Chestnut (right) tells Mashable that it was also a good case study for creating engagement on Twitter.

"This was an opportunity to really see the viral moment and direct it to an extent, as well as just learn about how people engage with it," says Chestnut. In his work at a public affairs and communications firm Hamilton Place Strategies, he typically handles less viral topics.

Throughout the past two days, he tweeted as @JFKTurtles and earned Twitter attention from the giant followings of Josh Groban, Katie Couric and ABC World News. Project Runway judge Nina Garcia made a runway joke too.

Eventually #JFKTurtles started to become a hashtag for the incident, with major news organizations like the Wall Street Journal and NBC using the handle in headlines that they posted to Twitter. And all sorts of media began referring to the “JFK Turtles” when discussing the story.

About 80% of the 8,000 or so people who followed the account were women, Chestnut says. And 60% of them were between the ages of 22 and 33. He has not lost many followers despite tweeting frequently. “Engagement is good and constant tweeting isn’t bad,” he says.

He also found the oft-cited optimal time for tweeting, between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., to hold true for the turtles. During that time accounts like Audi, Microsoft and tweeted at him.

But the biggest lesson, he said, might be that creating an amusing or beneficial account premise is more worthwhile than nitpicking specific social media messages.

“People weren’t as amused by what I was writing as they were with the idea that the turtles were tweeting,” he said.

More About: JFKTurtles, twitter, twitter tips

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What Facebook/Skype Video Chat Might Look Like [MOCKUP]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 02:05 PM PDT

We’ve confirmed with our sources that Facebook will indeed launch a video chat service next week, powered by Skype. But what will it look like, and how will it work?

We haven’t seen screenshots of Skype-powered video chat on Facebook (yet), but we have some thoughts on how we think it will look. So we asked our crack team of design-savvy alpacas to create a mockup of video chat on Facebook. We think we’ve got a good idea of what video chat on Facebook will look like.

Check out our mockup (it’s me talking with Mashable‘s Charlie White), and let us know if you think we’re on the money or off the mark in the comments.

More About: facebook, facebook chat, mockup, Skype

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Online Petition Calls for State Dept. To Condemn Saudi Women’s Arrests

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 01:48 PM PDT

Saudi Arrests

Women’s rights activists, in support of those fighting a ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia, are petitioning the U.S. State Department to condemn the detention of Saudi women who were arrested and held for driving earlier this week.

Support Saudi Women, a U.S.-based group that sympathizes with a movement pushing to overturn a ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia, has launched a petition calling on the State Department to condemn the arrests. The petition was launched after Mark C. Toner, a department spokesperson, refused an opportunity to criticize the detentions, saying that they were an internal Saudi issue.

During the State Department’s Thursday press briefing, a reporter asked if the department could confirm that women had been arrested for driving around the coastal city of Jeddah on Tuesday.

“These women were detained but not ever charged, and later released,” Toner said. “This is something that was done by the Saudi religious police and not the regular or national police force.”

While reiterating that it was an internal matter for Saudi Arabia, Toner said the department expressed solidarity with the driving campaign, adding that “the Secretary's [Hillary Clinton] expressed solidarity with these women who are standing up for their rights.”

He was later asked if he thought it was a good thing that Saudi religious police were taking women out of their cars while they were driving and arresting them.

“It’s important to note that this is not about the U.S. or the West imposing their values on Saudi Arabia,” Toner responded. “This is about Saudi Arabian women … standing up for their rights, asking to be heard.”

“This isn’t necessarily going to be an easy process,” he added. “We’re supportive of this. But this is essentially a Saudi process.”

Toner’s remarks come just a little more than a week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly announced support for the Women2Drive campaign, a largely social media-based movement, which called for Saudi women to drive their own cars on June 17. Though there are no written laws preventing women from driving in Saudi Arabia, religious rulings by clerics — often enforced by religious police — have kept Saudi and foreign women from driving within the kingdom.

Clinton’s comments emphasized that the campaign was something Saudi women were carrying out on their own, without interference from the U.S. However, she also called their efforts brave, saying she was moved by the campaign. Clinton made her public statements shortly after being criticized for carrying out "quiet diplomacy" with Saudi Arabia, which is one of the United States’s allies.

As the U.S. State Department website puts it, “Saudi Arabia’s unique role in the Arab and Islamic worlds, its possession of the world’s largest reserves of oil, and its strategic location make its friendship important to the United States.” The U.S. is the kingdom’s largest trading partner, and Saudi Arabia also happens to be the largest U.S. export market in the Middle East, which likely explains why the U.S. State Department has been cautious when issuing statements about the driving campaign.

Still, members of Support Saudi Women want the department to condemn the detentions — the first reported arrests to take place since June 17 — that occurred earlier this week.

“Does it make sense to anyone that the representatives of the United States to the outside world have nothing to say when asked if arresting women for driving is wrong?” their petition overview asks. “This is an embarrassment to our country and an offense to women. It needs to be corrected immediately.”

Image via

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Sony Camcorder Has a Projector on Board [PICS]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 01:35 PM PDT

Now that projectors have gotten so small, Sony‘s decided to shoehorn one into a camcorder. At first glance, the Sony HDR-PJ50 Handycam looks like an ordinary camcorder, but the outside of that viewscreen holds a special secret: a tiny projector Sony says can throw a 60-inch image on a wall or ceiling.

Why would you want to do that? If you use a camcorder frequently, you’re probably aware that people like to see the footage you’ve shot right then and there. Instead of huddling around a miniscule viewscreen, you can create your own mini-cinema for all to see.

But what about the audio? Sony says it’s got that covered. The device is adorned with “Clear Phase” stereo speakers with a digital amplifier pumping out “true-to-life sound.”

Sony’s not the first company to offer a camera/projector combo. Nikon was first in 2009 with its Coolpix S1000 PJ, followed by the 3M Shoot ‘n Share and ViewSonic’s DVP5 projector camcorder. All those camcorders looked more like still cameras, though. This Sony shooter sticks with the traditional camcorder form factor.

Can its quality measure up, and most importantly, is its projector watchable? Sony had better be bringing some quality to the game, especially since Sony Asia Pacific is selling this product for a steep $1,350, first in India. That pricing could be dicey, because although micro-projectors have come a long way since they first appeared on the scene a few years ago, even the most powerful models are still best watched in the dark.

Even so, a projecting camcorder could be fun for you and fellow partiers. And you can understand Sony’s strategy of adding value to the mature camcorder market, as it looks for ways to keep video hobbyists from quitting camcorders altogether — abandoning them in favor of smartphones.

A smartphone camcorder has an advantage: It’s usually in your possession, proving that old photographer’s adage that I’ll paraphrase here: “The best camcorder in the world is the one you have with you.”

Sony HDR-PJ50 Handycam

Sony HDR-PJ50 Side View

Sony HDR-PJ50 Handycam Rear View

Sony HDR-PJ50 Handycam Controls

Sony HDR-PJ50 Handycam Front View

More About: camcorders, micro projector, projector, Projector Camcorder, sony, Sony HDR-PJ50 Handycam

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6 Tips for Providing Better Online Customer Support

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 01:12 PM PDT

customer support image

Mariusz Cieply has been with LiveChat since its founding in 2002, first as software developer, later as project manager and now as its CEO. For more info on LiveChat, follow @livechat.

Customer satisfaction has long been the Holy Grail for retailers. Social media now brings a whole new significance to customer satisfaction. Rants and raves reach friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends at an unprecedented scale. It's word-of-mouth on steroids.

The social web has also made customer support a collaborative effort, offering new online community tools that empower customers to find their own answers and help one another. While self-help and community forums can be an integral part of the total support package, online merchants should never overlook the power of direct engagement when it comes to happy and loyal customers.

Here are some of the key ways an online store can look to increase satisfaction levels through customer support.

1. Be Helpful

This first tip might seem obvious, but can be easily forgotten in customer service today. It's important to realize that being available does not equal being helpful. It's not enough to simply have a person on hand to answer a live chat or phone call.

The quality of each interaction counts. Modern consumers are busy, not to mention able to choose from thousands of other shopping alternatives. Customer support representatives should be driven to help customers, answer questions and solve problems, not merely focus on metrics such as wait time and turnover rate.

It's also a great policy to proactively engage those customers who appear in need of assistance. For example, if someone is resting at the same checkout page longer than average, or a visitor keeps jumping across three product pages, savvy online sellers can initiate a conversation to help a customer when he needs it most.

2. Be Honest

Transparency is the calling card of the social web. Each customer support representative should strive to be open and honest in every conversation. If a mistake is made, customer support should feel comfortable admitting the error. If an answer isn't readily available, it's okay to say “I don't know” and create a well-defined action plan to find the answer. It's also okay to say no, for example, to a customer who has an unrealistic expectation about a shipping time. Over-promising will just result in disappointment, frustration and anger down the road.

3. Over-Deliver

Customer service representatives should look to offer more than just a reply. Consider surprising your customers with an additional gift, a free shipping upgrade, insider discount, etc. A simple offer can go a long way toward resolving a customer issue and mending a damaged relationship. Of course, bonus gifts shouldn't just be reserved for unhappy customers. Surprise new and loyal customers with unexpected treats and they'll be more likely to spread the word about their great experience.

4. Be an Expert

Each customer support interaction is a chance for a company to be a friendly guide and advisor to its customers. If a customer walks into a brick and mortar shop, he can instantly discern the difference between a knowledgeable and an uninformed sales associate. This interaction often shapes the quality of the entire shopping experience. The same holds true in virtual storefronts. Each person tasked with answering the phone or live chatting for an online store should be current on the latest products and services. Each service representative should serve as an essential resource for customers.

5. Keep it Simple

All aspects of your website and shopping process should be constructed around customer need. The less user-friendly your site, the less satisfied your customers will be. Make critical information like pricing, shipping and return policies easy to find. And above all, keep your website up-to-date to reflect exactly what the customer is about to receive.

6. Offer Easy Returns

According to StellaService, a company that monitors online customer experience, companies committed to an easy return policy got high marks from customers. Furthermore, a customer-friendly return policy enhances brand image without necessarily leading to an increased number of returns.

Online sellers can certainly boost customer satisfaction levels by easing the return process. Additionally, offering better pre-sales support (in the form of live chat and helpful product pages) can be instrumental to reducing the need for returns in the first place.

While customer support has typically been viewed as a cost of doing business, a great customer experience strengthens the customer-brand bond and encourages repeat sales. Each satisfied customer and positive experience will ripple throughout the social web in the form of online reviews, happy tweets and excellent word-of-mouth referrals.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Goldmund

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Flat Growth, Booming Revenue: 11 Facts From The Zynga IPO Filing

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 12:57 PM PDT

Above: Zynga’s S1 filing in word cloud form

Zynga has filed for a $1 billion IPO. If all goes according to plan, the social gaming juggernaut could be worth more than $15 billion.

Zynga’s impressive stats are part of the reason for its sky-high valuation. With 232 million monthly active users and $597 million in revenue last year alone, it’s no surprise that so many people are interested in getting a piece of the action.

SEE ALSO: PHOTOS: Zynga Files for IPO | INFOGRAPHIC: Users & Revenue

But when we dug into Zynga’s nearly 200-page S-1 filing, we found a more complicated picture. Zynga’s user base hasn’t grown in the last year, for example, but its revenue has skyrocketed.

Here are 11 more interesting stats we found from Zynga’s IPO filing:

1. Zynga’s generated a lot of money in its history. “We have launched the most successful social games in the industry in each of the last three years and have generated over $1.5 billion in cumulative bookings since our inception in 2007,” the company said in its S1 filing.

2. Zynga has been profitable since 2010. In 2009, the social gaming company lost $52.8 million on $121.5 million in revenue. But the company earned $90.6 million in profit on $597.5 million in revenue last year.

3. Zynga’s revenues are skyrocketing. In Q1 2011, Zynga earned $235.4 million in revenue. That’s up from just $100.9 million in Q4 2010, meaning the company’s revenue more than doubled in just three months.

4. CEO Mark Pincus has absolute control over Zynga. While he only owns 16% of the company’s Class B shares, he also has 100% of Zynga’s class C shares. That means he has absolute voting control and will retain it even after the IPO.

5. We waste lots of time in Zynga games. 38,000 virtual items are created every second. More importantly, Zynga’s players spend a total of 2 billion minutes on the service every day.

6. Zynga boasts 416 million interactions between its users every day. “Historically, our players have created over 4 billion neighbor connections,” the company said in its filing.” We’re not sure what constitutes a neighbor connection, but fostering billions of connections per week is impressive.

7. Zynga makes almost all of its money through virtual goods. In 2008, online games and virtual good sales brought in $5.3 million in revenue while advertising generated $14.1 million. In 2010, those numbers flipped: Zynga made $574.6 million from virtual goods and its online games and just $22.8 million from advertising. The online game revenue likely includes partnerships (such as GagaVille) but it’s still one of the few online companies not dependent on online advertising.

8. Zynga has a lot of employees. As of May 31, 2011, Zynga has 2,268 full-time employees. To support them, Zynga has leased a 345,000 square foot facility in San Francisco.

9. Owen Van Natta is well compensated. Zynga’s EVP, the former CEO of MySpace and the former COO of Facebook, earned $43.2 million in 2010, mostly in the form of stock options and awards. David Wehner (CFO) earned $18 million, while Steven Chiang (co-president of Games) took home $28.9 million. Pincus earned just $520,000 in 2010, but given his giant stake in the company, he doesn’t need too much cash.

10. Zynga is still dependent on Facebook. Zynga gives 30% of its game revenue to Facebook, the same percentage Apple requires for inclusion on the app store. In fact, the word “Facebook” appears more than 200 times in the S1 filing. We’ve even created a word cloud (above) from the S1 to show that Facebook is, by far, the most mentioned company in Zynga’s S-1.

11. Zynga’s user base hasn’t grown in the last year. This is the stat that will worry investors. The company had 236 million monthly active users in Q1 2010, the exact same mount it had in Q1 2011. It actually had more daily active users in Q1 2010 than Q1 2011. We suspect that it’s due to the rapid rise of FarmVille. It’s difficult to consistently create hit games at that level.

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Facebook To Unveil Skype-Powered Video Chat Next Week [CONFIRMED]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 12:32 PM PDT

Facebook’s “awesome” announcement next week has been spoiled. The social network will reportedly be unveiling a Skype-powered video chat platform.

Facebook’s Seattle team was behind the new feature, according to TechCrunch. Skype and Facebook already have a serious partnership that integrated Facebook social data directly into the Skype client. Now it looks like Skype will be coming to Facebook.

This isn’t even the first time we’ve heard about Skype-powered video chat on Facebook. Rumors surfaced last year about such a product, but it never materialized.

The report is sparse on details about how it will work. Will it require a software download? Will it support group video chats? Undoubtedly it will be a major addition to the Facebook platform. Google+, the search giant’s answer to Facebook, launched with a group video chat feature, Google+ Hangouts. Google is seeing a lot of traction with the feature, but if Facebook can release a video chat product next week, Google+ Hangouts may not seem as revolutionary.

We’ve reached out to Facebook and Skype for comment.

Update: While Facebook and Skype aren’t saying anything officially, our sources confirm that Skype-powered video chat on Facebook will indeed be launching next week.

More About: facebook, facebook chat, Skype, trending

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Guardian & Observer To Shut Down International Editions

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 12:04 PM PDT

The international print editions of The Guardian and The Observer are among the earliest casualties of the Guardian News & Media’s (GNM) evolving “digital first” strategy.

International copies, printed in New York, Frankfurt, Madrid, Malta and Cyprus, will cease printing October 1, GNM announced Friday.

The international audience of both publications is significant: According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, 7.3% (19,097) and 6.0% (17,716) of The Guardian‘s and The Observer‘s respective copies were purchased by readers outside of the UK and Ireland in May.

GNM’s executive director Adam Freeman cited “reasons of demand and cost” for the cut. The company has been steadily reducing the number of foreign copies it produces since last year.

"This is one of a number of steps that will allow us to focus our efforts and resources on digital platforms and subscription-based products, including our forthcoming launches on Kindle and iPad, that will deliver growth among our UK and international audiences," he added.

Neither paper has yet finalized launch dates for its much-belated editions on the iPad and Kindle, but early October now appears to be a tentative deadline, according to PaidContent.

Those adamantly opposed to getting their news digitally need not despair, however: The Guardian Weekly, a print digest of highlights from The Guardian, The Observer, Le Monde and The Washington Post, will be broadening its international circulation to match an expected increase in demand.

Image courtesy of Flickr, gigijin

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Now You Can Comment on & Share Hulu Video Moments on Facebook

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 11:51 AM PDT

Hulu has given users the ability to comment on specific moments of videos and share those moments on Facebook.

This is hardly Hulu’s first integration with Facebook — the video site launched Hulu: Watch Now Fall Premieres apps in 2009. But now Hulu is actually asking users to sign in with Facebook Connect to make TV viewing more social. (If you sign in, you’ll also get one free month of Hulu Plus, courtesy of Bing.)

When you log in, you will be able to comment on a specific moment in a video and share those comments — and the video moment — on Facebook. We couldn’t manage to sign into Hulu via Facebook at this time (growing pains, we gather) so we weren’t able to test out this feature.

So far, we’ve seen this kind of in-the-moment commenting used on social video apps, like BlipSnips, and sound-sharing apps, like Soundcloud, but this level of social sharing when applied to a service like Hulu is novel.

The deeper integration with Facebook will also let you check out your friends’ favorite shows and chat with other users about programs you follow.

More About: facebook, hulu, social media, television

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Future Design: Could This Be the Perfect Multitool? [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 11:38 AM PDT

The age-old screwdriver has met its match with this design concept called Coral Tools. The multicolored multi-tools look like tripods, but each leg is actually a cover that conceals a flat head screwdriver, a Phillips-head screwdriver, a nail-steadying device to hold a nail while you hammer it (instead of hammering your thumb), and a corkscrew with which to reward yourself after a job well done.

In addition to its quad-gadget coolness, when you’re using one of the tools, its other three legs make themselves useful by giving you much-needed leverage, offering additional torque for screwdrivers and corkscrew.

This is precisely what good industrial design is supposed to do: improve usability with an aesthetic flair. Coral Tools takes an ordinary screwdriver and makes it easier to use and more versatile.

Created by Jinyoung Studio, a Korean design shop led by Jinyoung Choi with designers Junpyo Kim, Hyungwoo Uhm, Joonhyoung Seo and Kijo Son, Coral Tools might be a welcome sight for those who’ve nursed a black-and-blue thumb back to health, or suffered from sore wrists after struggling with old-fashioned screwdrivers. We hope this idea might show up in a hardware store in the real world sometime soon.

Coral Tools: screwdriver, Phillips-head, corkscrew, nail holder

No more black and blue thumbs

Coral Tools diagram

[via Yanko Design]

More About: Coral tools, Design Concepts, gadgets, gallery, Industrial design, multitool, tools, video

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Happy Birthday Sony Walkman: 10 Retro Accessories for Cassette Connoisseurs [PICS]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 11:23 AM PDT

On this day in 1979, the TPS-L2 went on sale in Japan. It was a notable milestone for music and gadget lovers everywhere as the first affordable portable audio cassette player — Sony’s first Walkman.

Years after the “Walkman” name was as synonymous with personal music players as “iPod” is today, a lot of nostalgic affection still exists toward the brand — especially among those of a certain age.

To mark the Sony Walkman’s birthday, we’ve found 10 great accessories that let the Walkman live on. Have a look through our photo gallery and let us know in the comments which vintage-themed tee or piece of art takes your fancy.

1. Sounds Like Summer Walkman Tee

Love the '80s? Then you'll adore this retro ladies' tee.

Cost: Approx $40

2. Don't Forget Your Walkman Poster

We're fans of this bold graphic. It would look great framed and hung in your hallway for a back-in-time nod as you leave the house.

Cost: $18

3. Radios Tee

Alongside a variety of retro-tastic radios, this tee pictures a you-know-what too.

Cost: From $10

4. Leather Walkman iPhone Case

This leather sleeve for your iPhone screams vintage. It's available in a few colors, but vibrant orange is our fave.

Cost: $32

5. Lunchman

We can't think of a better way to transport your sammies to work than the "Lunchman."

Cost: Approx $10

6. Sony Walkman iPhone 4 Skin

Turn your cutting-edge iPhone 4 into an '80s icon with this cool decal.

Cost: $6

7. Sony Walkman Tee

Show your love for the Walkman with this great tee.

Cost: Approx $16

8. Sony Walkman 1979 Illustration

In addition to this Sony Walkman illustration, Paul Chung's Etsy shop features many more retro tributes.

Cost: $20

9. Walkman Angel Tee

VH1 sends the Walkman to heaven with this cool ladies' tee.

Cost: $19.99

10. Vintage Walkman

Of course, you could just cut through the nostalgia and nab yourself an original Walkman while they're still around. Etsy and eBay are good places to look. The lovely example shown is offered on Etsy for $100 - but they can be found much cheaper.

Cost: Varies, Walkman pictured $100

More About: accessories, design, galleries, gallery, List, Lists, retro, sony, vintage, walkman

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Google in Preliminary Talks To Buy Hulu [REPORT]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 11:09 AM PDT

Google already owns the most-viewed online video site, YouTube. Now it might be picking up the video site with the most ad views as well.

The company is in preliminary talks to buy television streaming site Hulu, the L.A. Times reports.

According to the newspaper’s sources, Hulu has been meeting with potential buyers that include Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Hulu holds the rights to stream popular current TV shows like Glee and Modern Family that make it appealing to advertisers and thus potential buyers. It also launched a subscription service last year that offers extended archives.

Earlier this year, CEO Jason Kilar said that the site is on track to hit $500 million in revenue in 2011 and had 50% more advertisers in the first quarter of 2011 than during same period in 2010.

Hulu was reportedly preparing for a $2 billion IPO last year, but it pulled back due to concerns about its deals with the networks.

Since then, the company has renegotiated deals with some of its licensing partners and expanded its original programming. But some analysts still see the uncertain long-term future of the network relationships — that make the site valuable — as something that could deter a buyer.

“If you had those deals for 10 years, OK, you have time to build a business," Arash Amel, research director for digital media for IHS Screen Digest, told the L.A. Times. "But look at what they are trying to do to Netflix. They help you until you are successful then they want most of what you make or they try to kill you."

More About: acquisition, Google, hulu

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15 Fun Products to Geek Up Your 4th of July BBQ [PICS]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 10:48 AM PDT

If you’re planning on some BBQ action this Fourth of July weekend (and let’s face it — it’s basically unpatriotic not to), then we have a host of super-fun accessories to bring some geeky goodness to your gathering.

From prep to grilling, right through to condiments and serving gadgetry, we’ve got some party peripherals that should put a smile on your guests’ faces.

If you enjoy witty product design that doesn’t take itself too seriously, then take a look through our photo gallery and let us know in the comments which items you’d like to see gracing your garden this Independence Day.

1. Picnic Table Condiment Set

Condiments don't get much cuter than this sweet set, complete with retro-style containers.

Cost: $18

2. The Shredder Cheese Grater

Grate cheese like a rockstar with the Shredder!

Cost: $10

3. Chillbot Ice Cube Tray

With so many amusing ice cube tray options, the only people that serve old-school cubes are squares. The Chillbots are our most recent ice crush.

Cost: $9.99

4. OCD Chopping Board

If you like your crudités chopped just so, there's a chopping board for you. There's also therapy.

Cost: $25

5. Uni-Corn Corn Holders

Uni-Corns, geddit?

Cost: $7.99 for four pairs

6. Art Lebedev Ctrl+O Bottle Opener

"O" is for "Open." It's also for "Oh-my-goodness-I-want-one-of-those."

Cost: $18

7. Twiggy Basting Brush

Even a mundane cooking task like basting can be fun with a witty accessory.

Cost: $9.99

8. Dress for Dinner Napkins

Bring some ironic formality to your day-off dinner with these nifty napkins.

Cost: A pack of 20 is $5.99

9. Pound Party Picks

Man up your martinis and make your finger food more masculine with these fun food sticks.

Cost: $8.95

10. Sing Along Tongs

Karaoke your guests with these microphone-shaped salad servers. "You are the tamarind beneath my chicken wings...."

Cost: $11.99

11. Condiment Gun

Make steak, not war, with the Condiment Gun.

Cost: $25

12. Prime Cuts of Unicorn Apron

Of course, we don't really advocate eating unicorns. They're endangered, you know...

Cost: $19.99

13. Rabbit Ears Salad Servers

Salad is for rabbits, right?

Cost: $11.95

14. Custom BBQ Branding Iron

With this set and its 52 swappable characters you can make messages on your meat. Whether you create holiday greetings, use it as a label for those medium-rare special orders, just to brand good-natured abuse on your friend's steak, you know you'll have some fun.

Cost: $19.99

15. BBQ Sword

Add some swash and a bit of buckle to your BBQ with this sword set. Mask optional, but may come in handy if you burn the burgers.

Cost: $27.99

BONUS: Salty Pixels

Seasoning doesn't get much geekier than this pixellated salt pot. Sadly, it's coming soon, so you won't be able to snatch one up for this weekend, but we're getting in a pre-order.

Cost: TBD

More About: accessories, bbq, bbqs barbeque, design, Food And Drink, foodie, gadgets, galleries, gallery, Holidays, kitchen accessories, kitchen gadgets, List, Lists, tech, trending

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Come Listen & Spin in the Mashable Room

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 10:29 AM PDT

A good number of us over at Mashable have become thoroughly obsessed with new startup Therefore, we have decided to spread that obsession by launching our very own room, where you can join us in some Friday spinning.

If you’re unfamiliar with — well, then get ready for a litany of bouncing avatars to start haunting your very dreams. The startup, which is still in beta, comes from the Stickybits team and is basically like (musical) AOL chatrooms of old — a series of user-created browser-based chatroom/listening rooms where "DJs" (a.k.a. you and others) can play songs, vote on how "lame" or "awesome" those songs are, score points for picking good tunes, and chat with others in a sidebar. You can choose songs from a MediaNet-powered library or upload your own. Sadly, the site is no longer open to anyone outside the U.S. because of Turntable’s efforts to stay DMCA compliant.

Now that you have all the details, drop by the Mashable room where myself (Brenna Ehrlich), copy editor Brian Anthony Hernandez, community assistant Stephanie Haberman, community intern Chelsea Stark and other Mashable staff will be spinning. Try your hand at DJing, if you wish, or just crank up the jams and sweat out the rest of your Friday.

Click here to join the fun.

More About: music, startup,

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Adobe Offers Final Cut Users 50% Discount on Premiere Pro CS5.5

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 10:23 AM PDT

Adobe Offers Final Cut Users 50% Discount on Premiere Pro CS5.5

Adobe is responding to the backlash against Apple’s new Final Cut Pro X by offering Final Cut customers 50% off Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5.

Between July 1 and September 30, video professionals that have purchased any version of Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer can save 50% off the full version of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 or Adobe Creative Suite CS5.5 Production Premium. Adobe says that eligible Adobe suite and point product customers will also qualify for the discount.

Adobe is actively taking advantage of the public response to Final Cut Pro X. Rebuilt from the ground up, the new version of the software has been derided by many video professionals as being “unusable” in their current workflows. Conan O’Brien even mocked the new app on his show.

In an effort to subdue critics and reassure customers, Apple uncharacteristically released a Final Cut Pro X FAQ earlier this week to address many of the chief questions and complaints about the new product.

Apple is already promising to bring better multicamera editing to the next major version of Final Cut Pro X and is also promising to release APIs to allow for XML export in the next few weeks. Still, the most pressing issue for many editors — the inability to import Final Cut Pro 7 projects into Final Cut Pro X — is not something that can resolved.

Adobe is touting its ability to import Final Cut Pro and Avid projects into Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5. Like Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro CS5, the latest version of Adobe Premiere is a 64-bit application. It also features enhanced meta-data support, an optimized real-time playback engine and native support for 4K and higher resolution formats.

Although I am not a video professional, I do have extensive experience with both Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Studio. My time with Final Cut Pro X is more limited, and I like many of the new features. Having said that, I have often thought that Premiere Pro CS5 and now Premiere Pro CS5.5 were in many ways, the true successors to Final Cut Pro 7.

Since Premiere Pro CS5 was released in 2010, I have moved to using Adobe as my default editing platform. As a Final Cut user since late 1999/early 2000, that’s a significant shift. For many professionals, the myriad of new features in Final Cut Pro X may eventually be worth the growing pains.

Until then, however, Adobe is actively promoting its 64-bit solution. A 50% savings could go a long way to court smaller shops.

Have you used the new Final Cut Pro? What do you think of Adobe’s marketing tactics? Let us know.

More About: adobe, adobe premiere, adobe premiere cs5.5, apple, Final Cut Pro X, video editing

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Zynga: 232 Million Monthly Players, $597 Million in Revenue [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 10:12 AM PDT

In Zynga’s S-1 filing for its $1 billion potential IPO, the company opened its briefing with a visual representation of some of its most compelling statistics.

SEE ALSO: PHOTOS: Zynga Files for IPO | 11 Interesting Facts From Zynga’s Filing

The infographic highlights the enormity of Zynga’s reach, as well as its astronomical revenue growth over the course of just three years. At the end of fiscal year 2010, Zynga reported $597 million in GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) revenue and $839 million in booked revenue. The company also boasts 232 million active monthly players.

Source Zynga S1 SEC Filing, Page 6

More About: ipo, social games, social gaming, Zynga

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Facebook Set To Announce “Something Awesome”

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 09:39 AM PDT

Mark Zuckerberg told reporters who were visiting Facebook’s Seattle office on Wednesday that the company plans to announce “something awesome” next week.

Now it looks like the company is following through with its plans. Mashable received an invitation on Friday to attend an event at its campus in Palo Alto next Wednesday, and we’ll provide updates as we get them.

More About: Announcement, facebook

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BREAKING: Zynga Files for IPO

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 09:26 AM PDT

After months of speculation, social gaming juggernaut Zynga has finally filed for an IPO that could raise $1 billion.

Zynga’s S1 filing, which we are going through now, reveals that the company has 60 million daily active users, 232 million monthly active users and a 2010 revenue of $597 million. Zynga is the company behind hit social games like FarmVille and CityVille.

Zynga’s stock has skyrocketed in recent years as social gaming has become a mainstream phenomenon. The company was worth $4 billion in May 2010, but its value more than doubled to $10 billion in February 2011. The IPO could value Zynga as a $20 billion company.

SEE ALSO: 11 Interesting Facts From Zynga’s Filing | INFOGRAPHIC: Users & Revenue

Part of the reason for Zynga’s growing valuation is its growing user base. In Q3 2009, the company had 24 million daily active users and 99 million monthly active users, according to Zynga’s S1 filing. In Q1 2011, though, Zynga had 62 million daily active users and 236 million monthly active users. Investors may be troubled to see that Zynga had nearly the same amount of users a year ago, which could indicate that Zynga’s growth has stalled.

Despite the stalled growth in users, Zynga is a profitable company. In Q1 2011, the social gaming giant generated $235 million in revenue against $206 million in costs. After taxes, the company earned a net income of $11.8 million in Q1 2011. Zynga was also profitable in 2010, earning $90.6 million on $597 million in revenue.

As for ownership, CEO Mark Pincus is the largest shareholder with 16% of Class B shares and 100% of Class C shares. Kleiner Perkins, Institutional Venture Partners, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Venture Capital, Avalon Ventures and Digital Sky Technologies are the other shareholders with more than a 5% ownership stake in the company.

Below you can view some of the images and charts from the filing.

Mafia Wars

Empires & Allies



zBar Navigational Tool


Zynga Poker

Zynga Stats

Zynga Revenue

Zynga Core Values

Zynga Popular Games

Hanging with Friends

Hanging with Friends

Hanging with Friends

Words with Friends

Empires & Allies

Zynga Message Center

More About: cityville, farmville, ipo, social gaming, Zynga

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Watch the iTunes Festival Across All Apple Devices

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 09:08 AM PDT

The fifth annual iTunes Festival kicks off on July 1 in London, but you can watch it from anywhere via iTunes on your computer, or on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with the app.

The festival runs from July 1 through July 31 and will feature more than 60 bands, including Paul Simon, Adele and Coldplay. Interested parties can watch the action live or on-demand on iTunes, or by downloading the free official iOS app.

Live streaming concerts and festivals is becoming the norm, with Vevo streaming Bonnaroo live, and YouTube presenting Coachella.

Here’s hoping someone gets on a live streaming partnership for Pitchfork’s newly announced Paris fest tout de suite.

More About: ipad, iphone, ipod, iPod Touch, itunes, itunes-festival-2011

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25 Most-Shared Mashable Stories in June

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 08:49 AM PDT

Top 25 Most Shared Stories in June

Discussions about Google+ dominated the online discourse on social sites as June came to a close, but a flurry of other hot topics got their fair share of attention throughout the month, including the Les Paul Google doodle, the Pope’s first tweet and a social media campaign against a ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia.

Based on figures from Mashable Follow‘s M Share button, the following 25 stories got the most love, with all of them garnering about 250,000 combined shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Google Buzz.

To keep track of the most-shared stories at anytime, log into Mashable Follow and click on “Top Stories” next to the Mashable logo. You’ll have the option to view the top stories of the day, week, month or year.

Thanks for reading and sharing our content. We look forward to seeing which stories you share in July.

Which stories will you remember the most as the year progresses? Let us know in the comments.

More About: apple, business, facebook, features, foursquare, Google, Google Plus, iOS, linkedin, News, Opinion, security, social media, twitter

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Twitter Facing Antitrust Inquiry from FTC [REPORT]

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 08:36 AM PDT

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Twitter and at least one company that builds applications using its data, according to multiple reports.

Why Twitter is under investigation is not yet clear, although the FTC’s antitrust arm appears to be the one making the inquiries. Steve Chadima, chief marketing officer of Ubermedia, a company that owns and operates third-party Twitter clients including Echofon, has confirmed that it has been contacted by the FTC and intends to comply fully with its request for information.

A spokesperson for the FTC declined to comment.

Twitter has come head-to-head with developers of third-party Twitter applications lately, blocking some third-party services and acquiring others. The company’s motive is simple: It doesn’t want third parties making money — namely, coming into direct competition by selling ads — off its service, and thus depriving Twitter of potential revenue.

Nistan Hargil, director of research at GreenCrest Capital, a private equity firm that publishes research on late-stage private companies including Twitter, says it’s unlikely that the investigation will result in anything but a warning to Twitter to behave more sensitively to developer partners in the future.

“We don’t expect any official censure to ensue,” Hargil wrote in an email to Mashable.

Last year, the FTC concluded its first known investigation of Twitter, which resulted in the alteration of several of its security practices.

[via Business Insider, WSJ]

More About: FTC, twitter, UberMedia

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Grooveshark Gives Indie Artists a Marketing Boost

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 08:00 AM PDT

Music subscription service Grooveshark has really started to rally for indie artists of late. First, it launched a channel for emerging artists with Indaba, and now it’s partnering with label services company Rocket Science to help up-and-coming artists get ahead.

The idea is to help unsigned musicians build out their careers to an alternative fashion — outside the confines of the traditional label system. Grooveshark and Rocket Science are kicking off the program with Austin band, Quiet Company, who came to the music subscription service’s attention due to their growing popularity on the platform.

The band is debuting a new single and video this week (see above), and announcing a new album, We Are All Where We Belong, so the time is right for this kind of marketing push. Rocket Science will be helping the band with career intricacies like touring, licensing and promotion, but the band will retain all rights to its music and neither Grooveshark nor Rocket Science will have a monetary stake in the music.

“We had a label for our first record, and this last time that we talked to a label, we realized that we’re never going to fit on any label,” says the band’s lead signer, Taylor Muse. “We just don’t have the lifestyle for it. But this is perfect for us. It gives us the things that the label would give us, without all the needless stuff that comes with a label. I don’t see the need for one.”

“From Rocket Science’s perspective, we feel that every artist should be utilizing a unique strategy to identify their audience and monetize their art,” says Ben Watson, Rocket Science’s marketing coordinator. “We want to prove that these new tools and platforms are enabling artists to create their own path to success without relying on the industry’s usual strategy.”

As of yet, Grooveshark and Rocket Science don’t know when or how the next band will be chosen, but they plan on continuing the project after Quiet Company.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, João Pedro, uai!

More About: grooveshark, MARKETING, music, rocket-science

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