Thursday, 18 August 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Apple Passes Lenovo in Greater China Sales”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Apple Passes Lenovo in Greater China Sales”

Apple Passes Lenovo in Greater China Sales

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 04:51 AM PDT

Apple‘s sales in greater China passed those of Lenovo for the first time in the second quarter of 2011.

Demand for Apple’s products — including iPhones, iPads and Mac computers — in China drove sales in the second quarter, putting the company’s sales in at $3.8 billion, a sixfold increase from last year.

While Lenovo has been the fastest growing company in the PC industry for the past seven quarters and even experienced a growth rate of 23.4% in China from a year ago, its sales only amounted to $2.8 billion in Q2 in greater China — which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan — putting it behind Apple.

While Bloomberg analysts speculated on Apple having surpassed Lenovo in late July, it wasn’t until Thursday that results from the two companies confirmed the report.

Apple China has been making headlines left and right this year. In June, China became the second largest market for downloads in Apple's App Store, according to an independent study. And in May, the high demand for the iPad 2, caused it to sell out in 4 hours after arriving in Beijing.

The company has been facing intellectual property issues in China, as well. The high demand for Apple products has led to a massive presence of fake Apple stores. Recognizing Apple’s copyrights, the Chinese government has been cracking down on a number of fake Apple stores as of late.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Bo1982

[via: Financial Times]

More About: apple, china, lenovo, sales

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Why Your App Must Comply With Child Privacy Regulations

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 01:58 AM PDT

Alysa Z. Hutnik is a partner in the Advertising & Marketing and Privacy & Information Security practices at Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP. Her co-author, Matthew P. Sullivan, is an advertising and privacy associate at Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP. Read more on Kelley Drye's advertising law blog Ad Law Access, or keep up with the group on Facebook and Twitter.

Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a settlement with mobile app developer W3 Innovations, LLC. (W3) and its president, Justin Maples, over alleged children's privacy violations. The FTC action was intended to send a message to the mobile app market that it will be closely monitoring the industry for business practices that violate consumer protection law, including privacy restrictions.

While the case marks the FTC's first enforcement action against a mobile app developer, it won't be the last. Earlier this year, Jessica Rich, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection testified to Congress that the agency has "a number of active investigations into privacy issues associated with mobile devices, including children's privacy.”

If you're in the business, and your mobile app fails to identify and comply with laws regarding privacy and disclosure requirements, your company might find itself defending an investigation by the FTC. Not only does that situation involve heavy cost, but an investigation will put your business and its reputation at risk.

Furthermore, if your app either intentionally targets or is attractive to kids, the FTC is even more likely to scrutinize. A recent report finds that games and social networking activities — both hugely popular with kids — comprise two of the three most popular mobile app categories. The market is expected to reach $3.8 billion by the end of 2011. As more developers position their apps to capture a piece of the pie, the settlement with W3 warns that a casual approach to legal compliance can mean downfall.

FTC Takes Issue With W3 App's Collection of Children's Information

Better known as Broken Thumbs Apps, W3 creates and sells the popular "Emily Apps," including Emily's Girl World and Emily's Runway High Fashion. Both were available through the "Games-Kids" section of Apple's App Store. The apps encouraged children to send emails to "Emily" that included shout-outs to friends, pet photographs and requests for advice. According to the FTC, the emails were then posted as public entries to "Emily's blog," accessible through all of the Emily App sites. Children also could submit responses to the blog entries using a standardized comment form that required them to release their names and email addresses.

The FTC alleged that the Emily Apps features violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) because the personal information of children under age 13 was collected without parental consent. The rule has two key requirements:

  • Don't Overlook the Privacy Policy: You must prominently post a privacy policy on your homepage, as well as anywhere on your site or app where you collect information from kids. The privacy policy must clearly explain the type of information, how it's collected, how it's used, whether the information is disclosed to third parties, and the procedures parents can take to refuse, review or remove their children's information from the site.
  • Parental Consent is Key: You must notify parents and get their consent before you collect, use or disclose a child's personal information.

Fair warning: even if you don't think your app targets kids, the FTC may still determine a general audience app is subject to these requirements if the app is used by a significant number of children.

App Developer Enters 20-Year FTC Settlement

The FTC has a range of tools to address and remedy practices that violate privacy and other consumer protection laws. In the 20-year settlement with W3 and its president, the FTC requires the company to take the following actions:

  • Delete all personal information that W3 obtained through the Emily Apps
  • Pay a civil penalty of $50,000
  • Avoid future violations of the privacy rule

For years, the FTC will monitor the app developer and its president, Justin Maples, to confirm they are complying with the settlement. The company will also have to submit records and compliance reports to the FTC for multiple years going forward. If they violate the settlement at any point over the next 20 years, the company could incur additional monetary penalties of up to $16,000 for each violation of a settlement provision.

W3 is the latest in a growing list of companies in the mobile app space (including Apple, Google and Pandora) to attract unwanted scrutiny over its handling of consumer information. This latest case shows that the issue is escalating, and the failure to address it can be very costly.

Given the FTC's interest, companies seeking to enter the mobile app market or to engage a younger audience via games, for example, should be aware of the key considerations and best practices to help reduce the risk of legal and regulatory scrutiny.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, WILLSIE

More About: Children, FTC, legal, Mobile 2.0, privacy

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Find a Job in Social Media, Communications or Design

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 12:09 AM PDT

If you’re seeking a job in social media, we’d like to help out. For starters, Mashable‘s Job Lists section gathers together all of our resource lists, how-tos and expert guides to help you get hired. In particular, you might want to see our articles on How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success and How to Find a Job on Twitter.

But we’d like to help in a more direct way, too. Mashable‘s job boards are a place for socially savvy companies to find people like you. This week and every week, Mashable features its coveted job board listings for a variety of positions in the web, social media space and beyond. Have a look at what's good and new on our job boards:

Mashable Job Postings

Community Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.

Graphic Design Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.

Editorial Intern at Mashable in New York, NY.

Tech Reporter at Mashable in San Francisco, CA.

Mashable Job Board Listings

Manager, Public Relations – News Group at Time, Inc. in New York, NY.

SEO Manager at TIG Global in Chevy Chase, MD.

Social Media Specialist at Overdrive Interactive in MA.

Customer Support Manager at Farmigo in New York, NY.

Ad Operations Analyst at TBG Digital in San Francisco, CA.

Application Support Engineer at Atlassian in San Francisco, CA.

VP Marketing at Startup in New York, NY.

Content Operations Coordinator at Dailymotion in New York, NY.

Advertising/Media Trade PR Manager at Startup in New York, NY.

Social Media Manager at Smith Brothers Agency in Pittsburgh, PA.

Web Developer at Dailey LA in West Hollywood, CA.

Communications Manager at RedRover in Sacramento, CA.

Social Media Manager at I Love Rewards in San Francisco, CA.

Director, Social Media Marketing at The College Board in New York, NY.

Senior Editor at Dailymotion in New York, NY.

Social Application & Game Producer at The Cimarron Group in Los Angeles, CA.

Digital Director at Grupo Gallegos in Huntington Beach, CA.

Senior Online Web Product Manager at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Junior Online Media Buyer at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Membership Coordinator at WOMMA in Chicago, IL.

Online Marketing Manager at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Front End Web Developer at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Web Designer at Acquinity Interactive in Deerfield Beach, FL.

Exchange / Digital Media Manager at LendingTree in San Mateo, CA.

Social Media Marketing & Community Manager at Microsoft Online Audience Business Group in Bellevue, WA.

UX Designer at in New York, NY.

Website Analyst at Simplexity in Reston, VA.

PHP/MYSQL Developer at Now Live, LLC in Los Angeles, CA.

Web Content Producer at in New York, NY.

UI/UX Designer at in New York, NY.

IOS Developer at BRAVENEWTALENT in London, United Kingdom.

WEB DEVELOPER, KIPLINGER.COM at Kiplinger Washington Editors in Washington, D.C.

Social Media Metrics Specialist at Imagination Publishing in Chicago, IL.

Web Analytics Strategist at Imagination Publishing in Chicago, IL.

Senior Digital Strategist (Account Director) at APCO Worldwide in San Francisco, CA.

Content/Community Manager at 360 Public Relations LLC in Boston, MA.

Developer Evangelist, Serve Product at American Express in New York, NY.

Serve Community Manager at American Express in New York, NY.

PHP/MySQL/MAGENTO DEVELOPER at Cinder Block in Oakland, CA.

Community Manager (Freelance/Part-time) at 72andSunny in Los Angeles, CA.

Freelance Sports TV Producer at Bloomberg in New York, NY.

Technical Development Lead/Wed – Digital at Ketchum in New York, NY.

Group Manager, Project Manager at Buddy Media in New York, NY.

Interactive Developer at GAPRC Group in Stone Mountain, GA.

Community Development Apprentice at Meetup in New York, NY.

Digital and Social Media Account Manager at Coyne PR in Parsippany, NJ.

Senior Engineer- Video Asset Manager at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Director of Technical Operations at Synacor in Buffalo, NY.

Tech Community Leader/Writer at WonderHowTo in Santa Monica, CA.

Web Developer at 8thBridge in Minneapolis, MI.

Digital/Mobile Ad Sales Executive at Bloomberg LP in New York, NY.

Intranet Communications Manager at American Civil Liberties Union in New York, NY.

Director of Marketing at Studio One Networks in New York, NY.

Mashable‘s Job Board has a variety of web 2.0, application development, business development and social networking job opportunities available. Check them out here.

Find a Web 2.0 Job with Mashable

Got a job posting to share with our readers? Post a job to Mashable today ($99 for a 30 day listing) and get it highlighted every week on (in addition to exposure all day every day in the Mashable marketplace).

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, YinYang

More About: COMMUNICATIONS, design, jobs, List, social media

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Space Vacation: Orbiting Hotel Ready For Guests by 2016 [PICS]

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 11:05 PM PDT

The age of space tourism might be closer than you think. In fact, if you have an extra $1 million lying around, five years from now you could be one of the first off-world adventurers to stay for five days in this orbiting hotel built by Russian company Orbital Technologies.

You’ll get there via a Russian Soyuz rocket, taking you about a day to reach the Commercial Space Station 217 miles above the earth. Once you catch up to the orbiting abode, you’ll settle in with your comrades — up to six other space tourists (or researchers) — for an unparalleled adventure, residing in four cabins aboard the space station.

While you’re traveling at 17,500 miles per hour in low earth orbit, you’ll be pampered with all the spacely amenities you can imagine, such as plenty of gourmet foods, a specially designed sealed shower, your choice of a vertical or horizontal bed (does it really matter in the microgravity of space?), and you might even get to sip some Tang spiked with your favorite vodka (okay, we made that last one up — unfortunately, alcohol will not be available).

Perhaps the best feature of the Commercial Space Station will be its large portholes, which will probably occupy most of your time as you gaze out into the cosmos and down at the earth below.

We’re just wondering if this trip can really be done for $1 million apiece, when Russia and the U.S. agreed in 2009 on a $51 million price for each Soyuz round trip. No matter what, it’s not going to be cheap. We can only hope there will be many private space ventures in operation during the next decade or two (so far, we’ve counted 9 private sector companies ready to take off into space), creating a competitive environment for such spectacular vacations that could bring the price down to mere stratospheric levels.

[via International Business Times and DVICE]

Interior View

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Interior View

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Cutaway View

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Cutaway View 2

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Cutaway View 3

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Docking

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Docking

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Docking

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Docking

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Docking

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Single Docking

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

Commercial Space Station, Docking

Graphics courtesy Orbital Technologies

More About: Commercial Space Station, Orbital Technologies, Space Vacation, tourism, trending

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Here’s How To Reveal a Secret Facebook List of People You’ve Been Stalking

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 10:07 PM PDT

Install a little bookmarklet in your browser, and soon you’ll be presented with a list of people you search for most often on Facebook. This reveals the data that gives Facebook some of its magic, where it’s able to predict who you’re searching for when you type names into the search field. And, it could be a bit embarrassing.

It’s perfectly safe, and it’s also easy to install — as long as you’re not using Facebook with “https”. Go to TheKeesh, drag the image (or drag this text link, the image wouldn’t work for me) provided on that site to your bookmarks bar, go to Facebook, and click on the bookmark you’ve installed.

Suddenly, you’ll see a long list of people’s names, each with a corresponding number. You’ll notice that the names at the top are those whom you search and interact with most often. It’s mildly shocking to see a list, right there in your face, of those you stalk the most. And no, I won’t show you my list.

How is this list ordered? According to Jeremy, purveyor of TheKeesh and the guy who discovered this capability and created the JavaScript to view it, “I can only guess, but it seems like they order it based on who you interact with, whose profile you look at and who you have recently become friends with.” He adds, “Basically, you will find a list which is mostly who Facebook thinks you are Facebook stalking.”

Find out more about how this secret link was discovered and other interesting parts of the info about you that can be perused with this little piece of code by visiting TheKeesh. Two caveats: One, it might not be long until Facebook makes it so you can’t see this information, and two, we’re not sure if Jeremy’s TheKeesh site can handle the boatloads of users who are about to go there to try this out.

More About: facebook, Secret Code, stalking, trending

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Facebook Begins Rolling Out New Left-Hand Navigation

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 08:43 PM PDT

Facebook has begun rolling out a restructured left-hand navigation that includes revamped bookmarks and notifications for Pages, Groups and Apps.

The changes, originally announced last week, are part of the company’s efforts to make Facebook Apps more engaging.

The new version of the navigation is divided into four groups: Favorites, Pages, Groups and Apps. Favorites includes direct links to popular Facebook features such as News Feed or Events. The Pages and Groups sections each list the two most popular Pages and Groups you use, along with a notifications number to the right-hand side. Game Requests and App Requests look almost identical to the previous version of the navigation menu.

The “More” menu item has also moved. Originally you could see a full list of your Groups by clicking the “More” button at the bottom of each menu set. The new version hides the “More” button until you hover over the left-hand navigation. Clicking it takes you to a new page where you can add different Pages and Groups to your “Favorites” section for quick and easy access.

The previous navigation design was implemented during a major Facebook redesign in February 2010. Game and App requests got an additional overhaul a few months later.

What do you think of the restructured Facebook navigation menu? Let us know in the comments.

More About: facebook, Facebook news feed, Facebook Redesign, trending

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HotelTonight: Impulsively Book a Hotel Room, Save Up To 70%

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 08:12 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: HotelTonight

Quick Pitch: Same-day hotel booking application for last-minute deals.

Genius Idea: Book hotel rooms spontaneously via iPhone or Android.

After getting hotel deals startup DealBase to profitability one year ago, serial travel-focused entrepreneur Sam Shank started thinking about how to approach hotel deals with more of a mobile focus. “What does mobile do better than a computer?,” he pondered. The answer, says Shank, is that mobile is better for “last, last minute” buys.

Shank and co-founders Jared Simon and Chris Bailey then set out to create HotelTonight, an entirely mobile way to book last-minute, same-night hotel stays.

The startup has applications for iPhone and Android. At 12 p.m. local time each day, interested bookers can fire up the application to find the three best hotel deals in a city. The app shows three, and only three, hotel options per city, per day — one option for each of three hotel categories: “hip,” “elegant” or “basic.”

“It’s a way to spontaneously book a hotel,” Shank describes. “So, the spontaneity of I’m at dinner and things are going well. I’m having a good night, and I don’t want to go home.”

To that end, HotelTonight users can book up until 2 a.m. local time for a same-day stay. Shank refers to the 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. booking window as akin to a 14-hour flash sale.

HotelTonight works directly with more than 300 hotels in 18 different cities to generate its selection of same-night hotel offers. Shank insists that rates are 20 to 40% lower than other hotel sites, and are up to 70% off regular rates. “We work hard to ensure pricing is the best pricing you’re going to find anywhere,” he says.

The application intentionally serves up just three hotel options to keep the mobile experience simple for everyone. “We provide a curated list of three hotels, which represent the best deals,” he says. “On the mobile-form factor, it makes it easier to make a booking at the last minute.”

The approach is also intended to get hotels to compete for your last-minute business. On any given night, there are 30 to 40 hotels per city competing for shelf space, he says.

So far, mobile consumers have taken an interest in the application, responding nicely to the convenience of last-minute booking options. Since January, the application has been downloaded more than 650,000 times across iPhone and Android.

Hotel Tonight has raised $3.5 million in funding. The startup takes an industry-standard cut of room sales, Shank says.

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.

More About: bizspark, hotel deals, HotelTonight, spark-of-genius

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iPhone Alarm Clock Donates Your Snooze to Charity

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 07:05 PM PDT

snooze image

Need just another 10 minutes before stumbling out of bed? A new iOS app is turning those precious minutes into a chance to donate to charity.

Snooze is an alarm clock app for your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad that pledges $0.25 of your own money to charity every time you hit the snooze button. Users set a desired charity and the app will calculate how many times you hit snooze. There will be two opportunities every month to donate.

The app was built by LetGive, a company that combines mobile technology with charitable giving.

While the app is unlikely to raise huge sums of money, it’s a harmless way of doing good and (hopefully) hauling your body to work on time. At the very least, you can tell your boss you were late to work because you were too busy sleeping your way to a better tomorrow.

What do you think of Snooze? Brilliant or bothersome? Let us know in the comments.

snooze app image

Image courtesy of Flickr, sean dreilinger

More About: App, iOS, iphone, Mobile 2.0, social good, trending

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Madonna Resurfaces in Smirnoff Social Media Promotion

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 05:52 PM PDT

Smirnoff will help Madonna pick a dancer for her next tour in a new promotion that will try to get 10 million people in 50 countries to swap their nightlife stories via social media.

The promotion, called the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project, asks fans from around the world to share their nightlife experiences on the brand’s Facebook Page. The campaign, created by ad agency JWT, will include an event on November 12 in which 50 parties will happen simultaneously.

Madonna will be attending one of the parties where dancers will compete in front of her. The winner of that dance-off may be chosen as a dancer for Madonna’s next tour. Smirnoff will take submissions for that contest from August 17 through October 10. To enter, dancers have to submit a 60-second video of themselves. Details are available at

Madonna has close to 6 million fans on Facebook, but aside from that, she’s kept a relatively low profile in social media. She’s not on Twitter yet and hasn’t released an album since 2008′s Hard Candy. Madonna’s manager, Guy Oseary, however, tweeted in June that Madonna was planning to start work on a new album.

More About: facebook, madonna, Smirnoff, twitter

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Back to School: 15 Essential iOS Apps for Students

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 05:06 PM PDT

back to school

Forget Sharpies and highlighters, the new back to school essentials this fall are apps for your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. While cellphones used to be classroom contraband, the burgeoning market of educational apps means iOS devices are as welcome as loose leaf and pencils.

This school year, free iOS apps can replace your pricey graphing calculator and clunky dictionary. Inexpensive planners will organize your homework, grades and finances.

SEE ALSO: Back to School: 42 Digital Resources for Students & Parents

We’ve rounded up the essentials for the season, so you won’t go back to school unprepared. These 15 apps will keep your academic and extracurricular life on track.

1. Amazon Student

Cost: Free

Supported devices: iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: No one likes to waste money on textbooks -- especially after putting your John Hancock on an increasingly fat tuition check. Amazon Student is here so you can avoid overpaying for your pile of books. Use the app to scan barcodes in the bookstore and compare your campus hub to's prices. Likewise, at the end of the term, exchange your used books, games, movies or gadgets for credit by scanning their barcodes. The icing on the cake? Free two-day shipping for college students.

2. AroundMe

Cost: Free

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch (with limited functions)

Why you need it: If you're headed to a new town to study, AroundMe is a great tool to help you get the lay of the land. The app finds the nearest banks, hospitals, bars, gas stations, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, taxi companies, theaters and supermarkets. With AroundMe on your iOS device, you'll limit the perpetual U-turns and mistaken directions that come standard with learning a new city.

3. Dictionary & Thesaurus

Cost: $2.99

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Don't consider buying a dictionary for your dorm room with this app on the market. Without an Internet connection, this mobile dictionary and thesaurus gives you access to nearly 2,000,000 words. Turn on the popular Word of the Day notifications to improve your vocabulary.

4. Documents To Go

Cost: $9.99

Supported devices: iPad and iPhone

Why you need it: Create, edit and share Word (.doc, .docx), PowerPoint and PDF files from your iOS device with Documents To Go. Add last minute edits to your papers or takes notes on presentations without lugging around your laptop. The mobile app now includes intricate formatting options, so even work done from your iPhone can look polished.

5. Free Graphing Calculator

Cost: Free

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Don't think about dropping $100 on a ti83 now that this app in on the market. This free calculator includes your standard arithmetic and exponential functions, and can graph up to four color-coded equations at once. An added bonus is a bank of equations stored in its reference section. The only downside is we can't guarantee your professors will let you have your mobile device out during an exam.

6. Grades 2

Cost: Free

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Are you the type that likes to know exactly where your grade-to-date stands? Grades 2 is designed to compute those pesky calculations for you, assuring you know what scores you'll need on each assignment to achieve your sought after A. You can personalize the app with each of your courses' syllabi. The app also works as a personal organizer, reminding you about deadlines and upcoming exams.

7. iHomework

Cost: $1.99

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Before you invest in a leather-bound planner, vowing to religiously log all your to-dos, consider iHomework instead. The app will keep your schedule and workflow streamlined, alerting you with all your deadlines and assignments. If a friend sleeps though class (the app alerts you for class so you'll never be the one sleeping late) you can share missed assignments though email. Log your grades so you know what your report card will look like in advance.

8. iStudiez Pro

Cost: $2.99

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Organize even the most complicated course schedule with iStudiez. Visualize your classes, activities and assignments on this well designed color-coded calendar. Like many of the other organization apps, you can set reminders for major events and track your grades and GPA.

9. Personal Finance

Cost: Free

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Many students are first-timers when it comes to money management. This app helps you establish and stick to a budget, factoring expenses from bar tabs to laundry change. The app can house your checking, credit, savings and retirement account information. Worried about what could happen to your personal finance information should you lose your phone? The app gives you a four-digit pin code to access the website and block access to your app should something happen to your device.

10. Papers

Cost: $14.99

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: You'll never need to do a mass printout again with Papers, the app that digitizes your academic library. The PDF viewer is designed for easy reading, especially on the iPad. Papers comes with eight academic search engines -- ACM, NASA-ADS, arXiv, Google Scholar, IEEE Xplore, JSTOR, Pubmed and Web of Science -- so you have many resources for finding articles.

11. Penultimate

Cost: $1.99

Supported devices: iPad

Why you need it: If you are a die-hard believer in writing notes by hand, try Penultimate, a notebook simulator allowing you scribble notes into your iPad. This app is great if you're a science or math student, using symbols that are difficult to input into a word processor. Some of Penultimate's fancy features include different colored gel pen style tips, importable paper styles and a true to life eraser. You can organize your notes into different notebooks, making your iPad a seamless replacement to paper note taking.

12. Snoozerr

Cost: $0.99

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Even the sharpest students' minds can wander during a lecture. With Snoozerr you can record your lectures to revisit points of a class you missed the first time around. The app includes a time-stamped photo function, so you can take pictures of a graph or diagram on the board which corresponds to class notes.

13. Stanza

Cost: Free

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Book lovers and literature students alike should make room for Stanza on their iOS devices. The app includes 50,000 free classic titles as well as another 50,000 contemporary titles from partner stores. Add your favorite books to personalize your digital library. If you're someone who rapidly breezes through books, hopefully Stanza's vast collection will satiate your reading bug for a while.

14. USB Disk

Cost: Free

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Eliminate your tiny, easily misplaced USB drive with the USB Disk app. Store and view all your documents and PDFs from your mobile device. USB Disk is also a great way to back up photos and videos from your computer, so you can always have your essential files at your fingertips.

15. VocabPlus Lite

Cost: Free

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch

Why you need it: If you're preparing for a dreaded standardized test this year, use VocabPlus Lite to integrate new words into your vocabulary. The app teaches 1,500 words through digital flashcards. Once you've mastered a word, the app removes the card from your regular drills, so you an focus on new information.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, skodonnell

More About: education, iOS apps, ipad apps, iphone apps

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Hackers Post BART Police Names & Addresses Online

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 04:04 PM PDT

Two days ago, hacker group Anonymous attacked San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) website in reprisal for BART shutting down its cellphone and wifi service during a protest over a police shooting. Now unknown hackers have taken action so extreme that Anonymous won’t sanction it: They’ve broken into the website for the BART police union, and posted database details online.

That means the names, home addresses, email addresses and passwords of BART police officers have been made available, according to CNET. More than 100 officers had their personal details listed, says Sophos.

“These people are criminals and we’re going to forward this information to the FBI,” BART’s union president Jesse Sekhon told the San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday.

Anonymous denied responsibility. “The leak today of BART officer data could be the work sanctioned by those who truly support Anonymous, or agent provocateurs,” said a recent tweet from the hacker collective’s Twitter account. “Stay skeptical.”

A separate post from the group pointed out that Anonymous isn’t a single coherent group of hackers. However, it added this note of self-justification: “If the media paid more attention to peaceful protests and general social unrest, hackers would be far less inclined to do things such as leaking data just to get the attention of the press.”

For the authorities, it was a fresh reminder that all kinds of official websites with sensitive information need to be better defended. “Nothing is protected in the electronic age,” added Sekhon. “Lesson learned.”

More About: anonymous, BART, hackers

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NFL Sunday Ticket Coming to PS3, No Dish Required

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 03:24 PM PDT

DirecTV is partnering with Sony to bring its NFL Sunday Ticket subscription package to the PS3. This means that even if you don’t have DirecTV, you can watch every out-of-market Sunday NFL game.

NFL Sunday Ticket is a sports package that has been exclusive to DirecTV customers until now. Subscribers get access to up to 14 NFL games each Sunday. You can view games in full HD and access DirecTV’s Red Zone Channel for replays and recaps.

PS3 owners who don’t have DirecTV can subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket for $339.95. The price might sound steep, but it’s only $5 more than what DirecTV charges for the package. Plus PS3 owners don’t have to worry about setting up a dish, which is great for NFL fans who live in houses without a good line of sight to the southwestern sky, or whose buildings or neighborhoods have rules against dish ownership.

Existing DirecTV Sunday Ticket subscribers can get the package on their PS3s for $50 — in essence, turning their PS3 into an additional football receiver. That means you could watch one game on the PS3 in the den, say, and another on the DirecTV box in the living room.

The NFL joins MLB.TV and NHL GameCenter as sports options on the PS3. Major sports leagues are moving away from cable or satellite subscription packages and expanding their digital offerings to devices like the PS3, Xbox 360 and boxes like Roku and Apple TV at an increasing rate. If NBA League Pass shows up on the PS3 for the 2011-2012 season, the console could conceivably replace the cable box for fans of live sports.

What do you think of the ability to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket without paying for DirecTV? Let us know in the comments.

More About: directv, nfl, nil sunday ticket, PS3, sports, subscription streaming, trending

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Beware of The Traffic Ticket Trojan [WARNING]

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 03:19 PM PDT

Got a suspicious looking email that claims you need to pay a speeding ticket in New York? Whatever you do, don’t open it — and definitely don’t open the attachment it says you need to print out in order to pay.

The email, uncovered by security firm Sophos, claims to come from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The attached file, contains “a malicious Trojan horse,” writes Sophos’ senior consultant and highly influential Twitter user Graham Cluley, “designed to download further malicious code onto your computer and compromise your security.”

The email, previously sent to Yahoo accounts, is now being spread far and wide across different email providers.

We’re not sure how many email users will fall for this trick. It is extremely unusual to receive a traffic ticket via email, let alone from New York’s overworked DMV. The body of the email gets very specific, claiming that you were speeding in a 55 mph zone at 7:25 a.m. on July 5 — further reducing the number of recipients who are likely to think this applies to them. And perhaps the biggest giveaway is the instruction “to plead, print out ticket and send it to Town Court, Chatam Hall [sic], PO Box 117.” Chances are this Trojan’s creator doesn’t hail from the U.S. There is a Chatham Hall, but that’s in Virgina.

Still, the threat is serious enough for New York State Police to issue a warning of their own. After all, if you start to mistrust the accuracy of a traffic ticket, you may be less likely to pay when the real thing lands on your doormat.

More About: email, security, spam

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YouTube Gives Music Publishers Ads on Fan-Made Videos

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 02:55 PM PDT

Thanks to a new deal between YouTube and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), as well as its subsidiary Harry Fox Agency (HFA), music publishers and songwriters will start garnering money when their tunes are used in fan-made videos.

According to a blog post by YouTube, all 46,000 of HFA’s music publishers will now be able to license their music for use by YouTubers. Every time a videomaker adds a song to their work (such as a fan video professing undying love for Justin Bieber), an ad will play alongside the vid, scoring the publishers and songwriters money.

YouTube’s Content ID system — which allows the video-sharing site to identify songs in videos — will be used to locate applicable content.

Previously, YouTube only ran ads next to videos featuring music when copyright holders for both the sound recording and the composition allowed the site to do so. Now, more artists will be able to reap the benefits.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, shulz

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PayPal Co-Founder to Fund Offshore Libertarian Utopia

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 02:33 PM PDT

Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and one of Facebook’s earliest financial backers, is investing in a project a little farther west than Silicon Valley: The 43-year-old libertarian has pledged $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, which is looking to establish sovereign nations on movable platforms in international waters.

The investment was outlined in an in-depth profile of Thiel, published in the September issue of Details magazine.

The islands, writes Jonathan Miles in Details, would experiment with new — ie. libertarian — ideas of government, “free from the regulation, laws, and moral suasion of any landlocked country. They’d be small city-states at first, although the aim is to have tens of millions of seasteading residents by 2050.”

The islands themselves would be “movable, diesel-powered, 12,000-ton structure[s] with room for 270 residents, with the idea that dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of these could be linked together.”

Project lead Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer and the grandson of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, hopes to launch “a flotilla of offices” off the coast of San Francisco as early as next year.

As odd as they sound, such micronations are nothing new. Among the better-known entities that have failed to be formally recognized by any other country is the Principality of Sealand, founded in 1967 off the coast of Suffolk, England. Sealand issues its own currency, postage stamps, passports and certificates of nobility. Its current population: 3.

Will Thiel’s venture be more successful? Check out the full story in Details.

More About: facebook, peter thiel, seasteading institute, trending

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InStyle Puts Pop-Up Shop In Shopkick App

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 02:18 PM PDT

InStyle has teamed with mobile shopping startup Shopkick to release the InStyle “Shop By Color” Pop-Up Store. The goal is to extend the fashion publication’s content to mobile audiences and shoppers using Shopkick’s apps for iPhone and Android.

Shopkick users can browse the InStyle “Shop By Color” store to discover styles featured in the magazine, get style tips and receive product recommendations.

“This innovative partnership extends the InStyle brand to new audiences and new platforms, and makes the latest trends from the magazine immediately available to active shoppers,” an InStyle representative tells Mashable.

InStyle, a more social media and mobile-attuned brand of late, is Shopkick’s first media partner.

One-year-old Shopkick — which now has more than 2 million users — is celebrating its birthday with a newly minted pilot program, set to launch in the fall, at 100 Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

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Anne Hathaway Attacks “Dark Knight” Paparazzi with Rap [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 02:02 PM PDT

While promoting her latest film, One Day, actress Anne Hathaway showed off one of her hidden talents to Conan O’Brien: rapping.

Inspired by photographers’ obsession with The Dark Knight Rises, currently in production, Hathaway performed a rap called “Paparazzi” in what she called “the style of Lil’ Wayne.”

Perhaps the most surprising part: Hathaway isn’t a bad rapper.

Christopher Nolan’s third (and presumably final) Batman film stars Hathaway as Catwoman, and is slated to hit theaters next summer. In May, fans went to great lengths to crack the first viral campaign behind the film’s website and the first teaser trailer for the film was a massive success.

As the film finishes up shooting scenes in Pittsburgh, photos from the set have been finding their way onto the web at a frenetic pace. Earlier this month, the first production still of Hathaway dressed as Catwoman hit the web. This photo was immediately analyzed by movie fan sites and blogs.

What do you think of Hathaway’s rapping ability and the Dark Knight hype? Let us know in the comments.

More About: anne hathaway, batman, conan o'brien, lil wayne, The Dark Knight Rises, trending

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Skype App Lets You Pay for Wi-Fi by The Minute at 1 Million Hotspots

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 01:39 PM PDT

You can now use Skype credit to pay for Wi-Fi access on your iPhone or iPad. The Internet phone giant launched “Skype WiFi” in the Apple store Wednesday, an app that allows you to connect to more than 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world — and only pay for the minutes you use.

Unlike hotspot services such as Boingo (which powers Skype’s mobile Wi-Fi service), which require a day pass or a monthly subscription, Skype Wifi [iTunes link] charges Wi-Fi users by the minute. Access rates start at $0.06 per minute, but may be more depending on the provider. The service has previously been available for laptops under the label “Skype Access.”

Why would anyone want to pay for Internet if they have a mobile phone with a data plan? In a blog post about the new feature, Skype suggests it might be useful for avoiding data roaming charges abroad. We might add that it’s extremely helpful when your iPhone’s 3G signal is weak, and you just want to download that one vital email.

If you find mobile access to pay-per-minute Wi-Fi tempting, you can try the app for free this weekend — August 20 and 21 — for 60 minutes.

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Redbox Tests Price Increases in Some Markets

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 01:21 PM PDT

Update: Redbox has just contacted us with this update, “As we've done in the past, Redbox is currently testing alternative daily rental prices in a few local markets. We have not made plans to expand the test or to permanently change our pricing.”

Movie rental kiosk company Redbox has raised DVD rental rates in Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon by as much as 20% per night.

In these markets, DVD movie rentals are now $1.15 or $1.20 per night, versus the standard $1 per night in most regions. This increase comes a month after Netflix separated its streaming and rental subscriptions, raising prices by 60% in the process.

As Variety notes, Redbox has already been testing price increases in other markets, including Miami, San Diego and Modesto, California. Still, increasing prices in more areas seems to imply that these sorts of moves will soon be permanent. Updated to add: Redbox reached out and told us that they have no plans to make the price increases permanent.

Blu-ray and video games prices have not changed, though its unclear if those disc types will be immune from future price increases. Even at $1.20 per night, Redbox is still significantly cheaper than video-on-demand, iTunes rentals or Blockbuster.

A January study from the NPD Group estimated that Redbox accounted for 31% of the movie rental market.

Redbox is continuing to grow, with revenue up 34% in its most recent quarter. The company has also expanded its video game rental business, offering PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii games at 27,000 out of its 33,000 rental kiosks.

In spite of testing price hikes in some markets, Redbox is still offering customers discounts via Foursquare checkins until August 24.

Will an extra $0.20 put you off Redbox, or is it still cheap enough to keep using? Let us know in the comments.

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Google Releases iPhone App for Community Photo-Sharing

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 01:05 PM PDT

Photovine, a photo-sharing application for iPhone from Google, landed on the App Store Wednesday. The application offers mobile users a way to share photos in public threads called “vines.”

The photo-sharing experience on Photovine [iTunes link] is centered on community storytelling through mobile photos, as explained in the app’s tagline: “Plant a photo, watch it grow.” This makes the app distinct from popular photo-sharing applications for iPhone like Instagram that proffer quick and easy ways to stylize and share photos.

Users are encouraged to participate in vines — public photo threads with themes like “Fireworks” or “Cutest Dog” as determined by the original creator — by adding their own photos and engaging with the photos of others. Users can add comments, like photos and see vines in either a single, one-swipe-at-a-time fashion or a grid view.

Photovine offers users three options to sift through vines: Fresh, Popular and Watching. The Watching tab highlights activity in the vines that the user has previously posted photos to or selected to watch.

Users can also find and follow address books as well as Facebook and Twitter contacts. New photo-related activity from friends appear in the “Activity” tab, which adds a personalized touch to an otherwise big and broad community experience — anyone can post to vines and view photos.

The application also takes a few steps to acclimate new users to its somewhat peculiar experience. Users are greeted with a step-by-step tutorial on launch.

Photovine appears to have been created and released by the folks on the Slide team. Google acquired Slide about a year ago. The application has no direct ties to any of Google’s other social products such as Google+.

Popular Vines

Watching Vines

Vine: Grid View

Vine: Grid View

Vine: Single Photo View

Add Photo

Added Photo


User Profile

Find Friends

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HOW TO: Determine the Right Price For Your Mobile App

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 01:04 PM PDT

The Mobile App Trends Series is supported by Sourcebits, a leading product developer for mobile platforms. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iOS, Android, Mobile and Web platforms. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter for recent news and updates.

Figuring out how much to charge for an app is not easy. It's all about finding the right balance between what it costs to produce and maintain the application, and how much users are willing to pay for it. Other factors to take into account are revenue from in-app purchases and in-app advertising.

The average selling price for applications — across all platforms — continues to decline. Some of that decrease has to do with increased competition. But another big part of the decrease in app retail prices is the availability of alternative revenue streams for developers. Rather than charge a flat, up-front fee for an application, app creators are beginning to spread revenue generation across the entire app experience, particularly in-app purchases and in-app advertising.

So what should you charge for your app? Here’s a rundown of three options.

1. Freemium or Lite

Freemium is the concept of giving away free version of a product or service while charging for a more advanced version with increased functionality (hence the portmanteau of "free" and "premium"). The idea is that users will love the free version so much, they'll be more than willing to pony up for an even better, paid version.

But that's not always how it works out. The popular Instapaper app famously dropped its free version earlier this year. When Marco Arment removed the free version of Instapaper from the app store, he found that sales of the paid version actually increased. The free app has other drawbacks, too. It might create an "image problem" whereby users don't even realize that the app they're using is limited compared to the full version.

It's easier to build a strong case for freemium when it comes to gaming. Users start out at a very basic level and then evolve and grow their game skills from there. It makes sense that they'd start with the early free version, and then graduate on to the paid version once they're ready to. The use case for gamers is more linear, and the paid version is just another step in the game's path.

According to a study by app marketing consultant Distimo, the average selling price of games in major app stores declined 28% over the last year, while the revenue generated by the most successful freemium (or "lite") games increased tenfold during this period in the Apple App Store for iPhone.

2. In-App Purchases

During this same period, Distimo found that in-app purchases within games have exploded. Last year, 8% of top-grossing games relied on in-app purchases. But this year, the number has skyrocketed to a whopping 52% of top-grossing apps using in-app purchases as a significant part of their revenue model. That helped propel top-grossing games to a 79% increase in total revenue.

3. Advertising

In-app advertising is a great way to generate ongoing revenue for your application. You'll only get paid once for an app download, but you can continue getting paid through in-app advertising. There is a huge range of advertising opportunities — everything from small banners to intrusive pop-overs. The key is to find a balance and manage user expectations for how annoying and invasive the ads will be. Users generally realize and expect that free versions of paid apps will have more intense ads.

The Great Debate: Free vs. Paid

Charging upfront for an app is clearly not the only way to generate revenue. Many applications are free because they promote or support some other paid service (e.g. Netflix's app). But there are still plenty of apps that are directly aimed at generating revenue but are free. The idea is that giving an app away for free but loading it up with advertising can generate more revenue than a paid app because many more users will download the free app.

One easy way for developers to get attention is to temporarily reduce the price of their app to free. It's not unheard of for apps to drop from $9.99 to free for a "limited time only." When an app goes from paid to free, the blogosphere usually pays attention. People love getting things for free, and apps are no exception. When users realize they need to act fast to get the app for free, it can create a small whirlwind of buzz. There are even a number of websites that specialize in tracking app price drops, such as 148Apps and AppShopper.

The upside for developers is that their apps get attention and expand their userbase. The downside is that they aren't making much money from it. One hope is that by giving the app away for free for a short time, the “sale” will still draw users to the app even after the price returns to normal. Another reason for dropping the price and attempting to attract a rush of new users is the hope of an app making its way onto bestseller lists. However, data from one researcher shows that the correlation between making an app free and breaking into bestseller lists is dubious at best.

What To Charge?

There are a number of factors that should help you determine what to charge for your app. The first step in determining your app's price is to do some competitive analysis. What's the going rate for similar apps, and what are prices of apps in similar categories? Undercutting competitors on price is an easy way to gain traction and attention, but if your app is significantly more complex or advanced, you should still be able to charge more for your superior offering.

The key to app pricing is setting user expectations. Users expect simple apps to be either free or 99 cents. More complex utilities often sell for between $2.99 and $4.99. Apps in the $4.99+ range need to have an expansive feature set and lots of polish. That is, they need to look good and provide a great deal of value for the user. While users won't know if they got their money's worth until they install the app, users will be quick to leave negative feedback if they feel they've been ripped off, which will likely turn off future customers.

The highest app price allowed in the Apple app store is $999.99, and at least one app — BarMax CA, a prep course for the California bar exam — is currently listed at that price.


App prices aren't fixed. Leverage the ease with which prices can be changed to experiment with various price points. Try releasing the app with a slightly higher price and then lowering it over time. Keep in mind, however, that initial release is the best time to attract attention for your app, so don't squander the good will you build with the blogosphere by charging an outrageous price.

Where Do Your Users Live?

App developers must take into account their target audience and market. For example, that same study by Distimo found that users in Asia are significantly less inclined to download paid apps than their Western counterparts. In-app purchases also tend to be less robust in the Asian market. Thus, developers often rely on in-app advertising as a primary revenue source in that region.

Commissions & Refunds

One last thing to remember is that some app stores will take a cut of app sales and in-app purchases. Apple, for example, famously takes a 30% commission on app sales and in-app purchases. (You can read John Gruber's rant about the "Dirty Percent," as he calls it.) When calculating your app's price, make sure you include the app store's cut, including any processing fees.

One last thing to remember is the app store return policy. Pricing your app too high might result in a lot of returns once users see the quality and basic functionality. The Android Marketplace allows users to return apps within 15 minutes of purchase. The Apple App Store allows Taiwanese customers seven days to return apps. While Apple's refund policy in Taiwan is such to comply with local law, it's possible that Apple will eventually expand a similar trial and/or refund process to their App Stores in other countries.


The key to pricing your app is finding a balance between functionality and what users will find reasonable. If they aren't happy, they'll tell make it known via comments and ratings. Experiment with different price ranges, and most importantly, don't rely on the app's initial sale price to drive revenue. Rather, think of the app's price as part of a wider revenue mix of in-app purchases and advertising.

Series Supported by Sourcebits

The Mobile App Trends Series is sponsored by Sourcebits, a leading developer of applications and games for all major mobile platforms. Sourcebits has engineered over 200 apps to date, with plenty more to come. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iPhone, Android and more. Please feel free to get in touch with us to find out how we can help your app stand apart in a crowded marketplace. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter and Facebook for recent news and updates.

More Mobile Resources from Mashable:

- 5 Innovative Mobile Marketing Campaigns to Learn From
- Native App vs. Web App: Which Is Better for Mobile Commerce?
- The 3 Most Effective Approaches to In-App Advertising
- 5 Mobile App Trends You Can’t Ignore
- How HTML5 Is Aiding in Cross-Platform Development

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Facebook & Google Spar Over Google+ Invites [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 12:55 PM PDT

Facebook and Google are engaged in a war of words over claims that Facebook is limiting the spread of Google+ invites on its social network.

The controversy erupted Tuesday after Google spokesperson Randall Safara posted a video on Google+ that appeared to show how Facebook was limiting the spread of Google+ invites. In the video, Safara posts a Google+ invite on his Facebook page, then demonstrates that the post with the invite did not appear in his friends’ News Feeds — even though other posts went through with no problem.

Google Senior Vice President of Social Vic Gundotra thenreposted the video. “We are getting reports of Google+ invite links not showing up on Facebook news feeds anymore,” he said. “I wonder how widespread this problem is?”

But replicating the results of the video haven’t been easy. Most Google+ users say they can share Google+ invites on their Facebook pages just fine. Our own testing shows that Google+ invites are not being blocked by Facebook.

For its part, Facebook denies that it’s doing anything underhanded. "We have seen the video but have been unable to replicate the experience it shows," the company said in a statement. It also explained that the News feed is an algorithmic product that takes hundreds of factors into account. Links or posts may not show up in friends’ feeds for any number of reasons.

Google said yesterday that it hadn’t contacted Facebook directly about the issue; the company evidently decided to take it to the public first.

This is just the latest episode in the drama between Facebook and Google. In May, a plot by a PR firm representing Facebook to plant anti-Google stories in the press was exposed, igniting a firestorm of controversy.

Have you had Google+ invites blocked on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.

More About: facebook, Google, Google Plus

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Android Press Release Generator Paints Google Partners as Robots

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 12:19 PM PDT

Hey, Android partners, did you miss out on giving your two cents about Google’s proposed takeover of Motorola Mobility? Well, now here’s your chance.

Someone has created an Android Press Release Generator that funnels your thoughts into a blandly positive template. The one-sentence statement offers several variables on word choices, but they’re all synonyms. The punchline is that the real quotes actually seem to be based on the generator.

Point made, some anonymous prankster. The only thing you left out was that other press release quote mainstay: “We’re really excited.”

More About: android, Google, Motorola

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Exclusive: What Electronic Textbook Provider Has The Biggest Library? [STUDY]

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 11:21 AM PDT

Just about every electronic textbook company declares that it has the most books available for download.

Coursesmart calls itself “the world’s largest digital course materials provider.” Sellers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon return absurdly high numbers for searches in their etextbooks sections that include novels and other general books used in classes. boasts the “biggest selection of used & new college textbooks.” And a Kno executive recently told Mashable that Kno has the biggest etextbook offering on the Internet.

Up until this point, there’s really been no good way to objectively compare each company’s offerings.

Campusbooks, a 12-year-old textbook price comparison site, recently gained this ability when it expanded its database of texts across seven different etextbook makers — thus receiving access to their catalogs.

The site worked with partner booksellers to come up with a list of the 1,000 most popular textbooks for fall 2011 to use as its metric. It takes into account data that professors share with bookstores in order to help them determine demand, including which books they have selected for their upcoming classes and how many students are signed up for them. Past data is also used as part of the calculation.

“It is a relative number but overall represents the most popular books,” Campusbooks CEO Jeff Cohen says.

Here’s what percentage of the most popular 1,000 books each of these seven etextbook retailers had on hand:

  • CourseSmart: 82%
  • Barnes & Noble: 46.6%
  • Kno: 43.6%
  • 24.2%
  • Cengage Brain: 23.1%
  • Amazon Kindle (ebook purchases, not rental): 14.9%
  • 0.2%

The data doesn’t reflect the quality of the etextbooks or their relative prices, but it’s a good indication of where digital book makers stack up when it comes to offering books that are actually used in classes — a factor that many consider key in the healthy competition among etextbook providers.

Photo courtesy of istockphoto, dlewis33

More About: books, education, etextbooks, textbooks

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5 Tips for Crowdsourcing Your Next Marketing Campaign

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 11:04 AM PDT

The Behind the Social Media Campaign Series is supported by Oneupweb, an award-winning agency specializing in search marketing, social media and design for mid-to-enterprise level brands. Download Oneupweb's free whitepaper, "Measuring Social Media's Contribution to the Bottom Line: 5 Tactics."

Those who came of age during the social media revolution may take it for granted that you, the consumer, are often called upon to be an active participant in your favorite brand’s marketing.

But it wasn’t always this way. Until very recently, marketing was a one-way conversation. That’s how advertising always worked. Can you picture Don Draper saying, “Let’s just have consumers come up with the next campaign”?

Of course, a lot has changed since 1965. Technology now lets you do your job from home or wherever you happen to be. Clients, aware that ad agencies can now cut their overhead, are pushing the shops to do more with less. “The old full-time, employee-based model is going away,” says John Winsor, the CEO of Victors & Spoils, a crowdsourcing agency. “The incentive when you’re full-time is to take longer and put more people on the work.”

Victors & Spoils employs 17 people full time, but has relationships with 6,500 people who are on call for advertising work of one kind or another. It’s a unique model for the ad industry, but one that shows how far you can take the idea of crowdsourcing. The term itself refers to an umbrella of activity. There’s crowdsourcing that consumers don’t see, like the work Victors & Spoils does on behalf of clients like Harley-Davidson, and then there are campaigns that are partially crowdsourced, like PepsiCo’s “Crash the Super Bowl” contest in which consumers see the participation.

Those who carry out crowdsourcing campaigns, though, don’t draw a great distinction. Guidelines remain constant. Here are a few basic rules they offer to those considering crowdsourcing campaigns:

1. Be Very Clear in Your Brief

Whether you’re doing behind-the-scenes crowdsourcing or asking consumers to pick the next flavor of your soft drink, you need to be very specific about what you’re asking them to do. “Write a super-tight brief,” says Winsor. “Be super-clear about what you want.” Wil Merritt, the CEO of Zooppa, a crowdsourcing agency in Seattle, agrees. “You’ve got to get it right,” he says. “Once it’s out in the community, it’s all systems go.” That doesn’t just mean clear writing, though. It’s also important to keep things pretty simple.

Merritt says that a brief that asks consumers to mention too many features will often result in work that can look like a PowerPoint presentation. “Keep it high-level and aspirational,” he says. “And it doesn’t have to be funny.”

Setting clear guidelines in a brief will also help you avoid a disastrous situation in which consumers are trashing your brand. That’s what happened when Chevy ran a crowdsourced program in 2006 asking consumers to make videos for its Tahoe SUV. Consumers seized the chance to criticize the vehicle for its environmental unfriendliness with lines like “It’s Global Warming Time.” (See above.)

2. Offer Good Incentives

When it comes to crowdsourcing, cash is king, says Mike Burlin, marketing manager for Zooppa. If you want high production values, you have to open up your wallet a bit. Don’t dangle a trip as a prize since consumers may not be able to take it for one reason or another. The magic number for prize money seems to be $5,000. Any less than that and you won’t get serious submissions.

The other thing to consider are second prizes. “Is there just one?” Burlin asks. “People look at the odds.” A decent second- and third- place prize may be worth the money just because it convinces serious candidates to give it their best shot.

3. Don’t Overwhelm the Consumer

Ad agency JWT tapped the online community of its client Smirnoff as a source of ideas, but it didn’t go so far as to ask them to create ads. “People are busy enough as it is,” says Matt MacDonald, executive creative director, JWT New York. “The last thing they want to do is to work out your marketing campaign for you.”

The Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project, detailed in the video below, is less about getting consumers to do the vodka brand’s marketing and more about participating in it. That’s a fine distinction.

4. Prepare to be Overwhelmed by Ideas

The difficulty in crowdsourcing a campaign often is not getting the ideas, but keeping track of them all. Ignacio Oreamuno, president of Giant Hydra, a “mass collaboration” agency (he abhors the word “crowdsourcing”) says that on any given campaign, he gets 10 times more ideas than a standard ad agency would.

Victors & Spoils is taking its own approach to wading through the ideas — the agency plans to introduce a software product in August that simplifies the process, though it currently uses software programs including Crowdspring and PopTent to execute campaigns.

5. Remember: Crowdsourcing Doesn’t Equal “Unprofessional”

Winsor rates his 6,500 freelance employees using a “reputation algorithm,” which he calls a “new kind of meritocracy” for the industry. Oreamuno stresses that his employees may not be full-time, but they are held up to a high standard.”The creatives that work in Giant Hydra have all been pre-selected and they are all being paid for their time,” he says. “Most of the Hydra Heads that work in Giant Hydra projects do it on a constant basis. One day, we’ll have the world’s largest creative department working at all hours of the day across the world.”

Of course, “professional” is a term that has been sorely tested in recent years, thanks to crowdsourcing. There are industries, like medicine and engineering, where it would be unthinkable to have a stranger come in off the street and do the job you’ve been working at for 20 years better than you, but advertising isn’t one of them.

As Winsor notes, those Pepsi Super Bowl ads routinely show up in USA Today’s AdTrack as consumers’ favorites. “The professionals say they’re not as good,” says Winsor, “but consumers like them better, so who’s right?”

Series Supported by Oneupweb

The Behind the Social Media Campaign Series is supported by Oneupweb, an award-winning agency specializing in search marketing, social media and design for mid-to-enterprise level brands. Download the Oneupweb sponsored Marketing Sherpa free study, "Measuring Social Media's Contribution to the Bottom Line: 5 Tactics" to learn how to cut through the clutter and be sure to catch up with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AndreasKermann

Image courtesy of Flickr, Tony Peters

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Social Media Will Kill Your Relationship [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 10:37 AM PDT

Each day, Mashable highlights one noteworthy YouTube video. Check out all our viral video picks.

Ever dated a guy/girl who was more apt to stare into his/her iPhone than into your piercing eyes? Well, have we got a song for you.

The above video, set to the tune of “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” comes courtesy of Break Media and stars Elliott Yamin (from American Idol on vocals), Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) and her boyfriend, actor Matt Prokop (High School Musical 3).

Make sure to share it with your significant other — preferably on Facebook.

More About: humor, music, pop culture, social media, trending, video, viral video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Nintendo To Release Slimmer & Cheaper Wii in Europe, Not in the U.S.

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 10:16 AM PDT

Nintendo will launch a redesigned Wii gaming console in Europe by the end of 2011.

The updated console will be part of a new Wii bundle, which will include “the newly configured Wii console in white, a Wii Remote Plus controller, Nunchuk, and copies of Wii Sports and Wii Party,” the company announced Wednesday.

The device will be cheaper and slimmer than the original Wii. Nintendo did not announce the bundle’s price or release pictures of the new Wii. The console also will be designed to stand horizontally rather than vertically like the current Wii. Additionally, the new Wii will not be backward compatible with Gamecube games.

While Nintendo didn’t say anything about releasing the console outside of Europe, the video game maker told CNET that it has no plans to release the slimmed-down console in the U.S.

Perhaps Nintendo thinks the current Wii bundle is already cheap enough (it dropped the price for a Wii & Mario Kart Wii to $150 in May), but we suspect a slimmed-down console would sell well stateside.

In June, the company unveiled the Wii U, its next-generation gaming console. The console includes an innovative 6.2-inch touchscreen controller, HD graphics and compatibility with Wii controllers and games. The device is expected to launch in 2012. You can check out our initial review for more details.

More About: gaming, Nintendo, nintendo wii, Wii

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Kenneth Cole Campaign Asks Your Thoughts on Abortion, Gay Rights & Gun Control [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 09:45 AM PDT

Kenneth Cole, who seemed to shy away from social media after a well-publicized Twitter flap earlier this year, is courting controversy anew with a website that asks consumers to weigh in on abortion, gun control and gay rights.

The new site — — is divided in two. “What You Stand In” features information and advice about clothing for men and women. “What You Stand For,” meanwhile, asks consumers to post their thoughts about those hot-button topics and posts links to relevant Twitter feeds under the heading “Feeding the Debate.” Those conversations also continue on the brand’s Facebook Page.

The site also maintains the brand’s edgy — some would say tasteless — method of conflating serious topics with sales pitches. A video under the heading “Should the government have the right to choose?” shows a woman who seems to be agonizing over a decision, which turns out to be which handbag to purchase. “Shouldn’t it be a woman’s right to choose?” a message on the wall behind her reads, “…if she’s the one who’s carrying it? — Kenneth Cole.”

Cole raised public ire on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 by noting, “Important moments like this are time to reflect. To remind us, sometimes, that it’s not only important what you wear, but it’s also important to be aware.”

In the video gallery below, Cole explains the reasoning behind the outreach, which is to use his brand platform to “raise awareness about important social issues.”

What do you think? Is this clever marketing or exploitation? Let us know in the comments.

Antisocial Media

Kenneth Cole explains his rationale for the new web site, to use his brand platform to ""raise awareness about important social issues."


A woman is shown agonizing over a decision, which turns out to be which handbag to buy. Shouldn't it be a woman's right to choose?" a message on the wall behind her reads, "...if she's the one who's carrying it?"


Two guys face off in what looks like a gunfight, but they're actually just making gun shapes with their fingers. "Is the person most at risk the one with the gun?" asks some writing on the wall behind them.

Gay Rights

A man and a woman begin kissing. Then a jump cut shows two women kissing. Then two men. A message on the wall reads, "Those against same-sex marriage aren't thinking straight (or are they)?"


A man and a woman are screaming in protest. Then the screaming stops, the woman leaves and the man is left by himself. "In war, is it who's right or who's left?" a message reads.

More About: facebook, kenneth-cole, MARKETING, twitter

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HOW TO: Build Your Brand on Tumblr

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 09:03 AM PDT

The Social Media 101 Series is sponsored by Global Strategic Management Institute. GSMI’s Social Media Strategies Series are the leading educational events for organizations looking to advance their online capabilities. Learn more.

As Tumblr‘s reach continues to grow, more brands — particularly those in the fashion and media industries — are adding the blogging platform to their online marketing mixes.

But, you might wonder, is Tumblr right for me and my business? Who uses the platform, and how do I engage the users who are there? What can I expect to achieve?

Let’s take a look.

Is Tumblr Right for My Business?

Tumblr has two big advantages over other blogging platforms. First, it has built-in tagging and sharing capabilities that makes your content easily discoverable and spreadable among Tumblr’s existing community. Secondly, it’s quick and easy to set up.

Tumblr also has some considerable disadvantages. Those used to WordPress and custom-built websites might be disappointed to find that their Tumblr pages offer less flexibility in terms of formatting and features. As Mashable has pointed out previously, Tumblr themes can be enhanced with widgets and sidebars and the structure of the newsfeed can be altered, but it can’t be completely reworked to the extent that more full-featured blogging services such as WordPress can.

You also can’t host your Tumblr, meaning that if Tumblr’s servers go down — as they do all-too-often — so does your Tumblr. You can, however, give your Tumblr a custom URL, and/or embed it on your existing site.

For these reasons — and because certain kinds of content (read: images) tend to perform better on Tumblr than other kinds of blogs — many businesses decide to have a Tumblr in addition to their existing blogs.

Bergdorf Goodman is a good example. The fashion retailer has a self-hosted WordPress blog at, dubbed 5th/58th, and a Tumblr called The Bergdorf Goodman Swipe. Although both blogs are full of images, the former tends to feature long articles alongside said images, and has a more curated, magazine-like tone. The Tumblr is far more informal, brimming with quick inspiration and behind-the-scenes shots, many cross-posted from Instagram.

“While our blog, 5th/58th, is more editorial, providing detailed insight about what’s happening in the store, the fashion world and New York, The Swipe gives a very private glimpse into the most imaginative and creative minds of Bergdorf Goodman,” explains Cannon Hodge, Bergdorf Goodman’s manager of social media. The content on each blog is tailored to accommodate “what we feel those audiences are more interested in… [and] the technical capabilities custom to each platform,” she adds.

In terms of demographics, Tumblr, like many a burgeoning social network, is particularly popular among younger Internet users, according to Quantcast. In the U.S., the bulk (55%) of users are under 34 years old, and another 30% are aged between 35 and 49.

Users tend to be slightly less affluent than the web average, with roughly a quarter earning less than $30,000 per year in the U.S. The platform has also proven to be particularly popular among Hispanics (12%) and Asians (6%) compared to other sites measured by Quantcast.

Much of Tumblr’s audience is international; of the estimated 9.7 million people who visit each day, 5.4 million come from outside of the U.S.

If you’re a small business owner serving an older (50+) demographic solely in your area, Tumblr might not be right for you. It might be better instead to pour more resources into Facebook, where you’ll have much better success finding potential customers with Facebook’s targeting capabilities. But if you’re looking to target young, geographically diverse consumers with your goods and services, Tumblr might very well be worth the time investment.

Getting Started

Setting up a Tumblr is easy — in fact, it’s one of the most-touted advantages of the service and has undoubtedly played a role in the platform’s growth.

To sign up, head over to and fill out your email, password and desired URL (

Before you set up your own Tumblr, you’ll want to have a look around. Find Tumblrs in the categories you’re interested in by selecting the “Explore” button on the right-hand side of your dashboard and follow them. What do you like about them? What kinds of posts are getting the most engagement (by which we mean likes and reblogs)? What are your competitors doing on Tumblr? This is your time to study the community and set up your own Tumblr newsfeed.

Once you’re ready to set up your own Tumblr blog, you’ll want to click the settings icon from the dashboard and select “Customize your blog.” Here, you can name your Tumblr and furnish a brief description, toggle with a variety of free and premium themes, and add pages and custom CSS. You can also opt to use custom HTML, and at the very least, you should use the function to add Google Analytics code. When you’re finished, click “Save + Close.”

You’re now ready to begin posting.

What & When To Post

Tumblr hosts a wide variety of content, but certain kinds perform better than others.

"In my experience, photo-based posts, whether it's something Photoshopped, straight-up photography, an animated GIF, [an] infographic or something else, get the most reblogs/notes," says Mark Coatney, Tumblr’s media evangelist, adding that half of Tumblr’s daily posts are image-based.

Looking at Tumblr’s list of popular tags, one can surmise that humor, art, photography and fashion and are popular topics, as well as crafts, food, news and sports. Of the top 1,000 Tumblr blogs, 180 are fashion-related, says CEO David Karp.

For someone who owns an online vintage clothing shop, this is great. For those whose goods are services are less photo-worthy or concrete, this can present a greater — but certainly not insurmountable — challenge.

“Any brand that can create thematically interesting visual content can potentially do well on the platform.,” says Raman Kia, director of digital and social media at Starworks Group. “We’ve found that compelling images with a small amount of descriptive text work best on this platform. However, it is the editorial marriage of the images with a theme that acts as the strong connective tissue between all the images that creates something really compelling,” he adds.

Although fans will often complain if brands post more than once per day on Facebook, that is not the case with Tumblr, where post frequency is much higher. Of the brands we studied, some posted as much as 10 or 15 times per day, although most hovered in the one to five range.

Setting Expectations

Although businesses often feel pressured to jump onto every new social network, it’s important to be strategic in resource allocation and goal-setting. After all, you have a lot more choices now. If you’re spending half of your time on Facebook and half of your time on Tumblr and getting three times the engagement from the latter, you might want to consider revising your marketing plans.

As with other social networks, ROI with Tumblr shouldn’t be measured in terms of sales, says Kia, although he recommends companies use tracking URLs to measure traffic that leads to an online point-of-sale. Tumblr is better used to create awareness of a brand amongst a community that may not already be paying attention (or at least not on this platform), as well as develop engagement, which can translate into “a tremendous amount of social currency and earned media,” he says.

Series Supported by Global Strategic Management Institute

The Social Media 101 Series is sponsored by Global Strategic Management Institute, a leading source of knowledge for today’s leaders. Learn more by visiting GSMI’s website, liking it on Facebook and following it on Twitter.

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Facebook Co-Founder’s Social Network for Non-Profits Jumo Acquired by GOOD

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 08:42 AM PDT

chris hughes image

GOOD, a social innovation website and the publisher of GOOD magazine, has just bought Jumo — the Chris Hughes-helmed social network built around philanthropy.

While the amount and exact terms are unknown, Hughes will be joining GOOD as a senior adviser while keeping Jumo close to its charitable roots. “ will be the home for our open source code base, so that nonprofits and developers can use it,” Hughes told Fast Company. The goal is to enable other social entrepreneurs to use Jumo’s own progress to further global projects.

Hughes, who helped create Facebook, continued to rise through the social media ranks as part of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He started Jumo as a non-profit social network to help people find ways to help the world.

The sale to GOOD marries Jumo’s network of activists and nearly 15,000 socially driven organizations with GOOD’s own community of 3 million monthly users, according to Jumo’s official announcement.

This story is ongoing and will be updated throughout the day.

Image courtesy of Flickr, USV

More About: chris hughes, Good, social good, social media, social network

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