Friday, 26 August 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google TV Coming to the UK in 6 Months [REPORT]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google TV Coming to the UK in 6 Months [REPORT]”

Google TV Coming to the UK in 6 Months [REPORT]

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 05:00 AM PDT

Google TV, which enables the use of various web services through a set-top box connected to a TV, is set to come to the UK within the next 6 months, according to a report.

The news should officially be announced later Friday by Google’s Eric Schmidt who is giving a lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival.

Google TV hasn’t been very successful so far, according to Logitech‘s Q4 2011 fiscal year earnings. The company was one of Google’s partners for the service, but its sales of Google TV-related products fell short of expectations.

Google’s expansion of the service to the UK, however, shows that the company is far from giving up on this project.

Google TV in the UK will let users search the Internet (voice search will be enabled, too), easily switch between TV and Internet content, use smartphones as remotes and access a special YouTube channel in high definition. It will also let users watch content from two UK online video on-demand services, BBC’s iPlayer and ITV Player.

[via Telegraph]

More About: Google, google tv, Smart TV, tv, uk

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

Mozilla on Rapid Release of New Firefox Versions: “There Is No Free Lunch”

Posted: 26 Aug 2011 01:55 AM PDT

If you’re a Firefox user, you probably noticed that the browser, once painfully slow to reach a major new version, has grown from version 4 to 6 in less than half a year.

This is due to the “rapid release process” that Firefox maker Mozilla has recently implemented, meaning a new version of Firefox is out every 6 weeks. This has raised concerns about add-on compatibility, and frequent interface changes which confuse many users.

Enterprise use is an even bigger issue, as businesses have to make sure browser upgrades don’t break other crucial applications. Furthermore, upgrading software on one computer is one thing – upgrading it on several thousand or more is another.

Now, Mozilla’s chairman Mitchell Baker responds to the criticism in a blog post. He starts by acknowledging the problem: “There is work to be done to make the rapid release process smoother and hopefully more useful to more of our userbase”, he writes.

However, due to the rapidly changing nature of the Internet, Baker thinks it’s necessary for the browser to follow this breakneck pace. “If we want the browser to be the interface for the Internet, we need to make it more like the Internet. That means delivering capabilities when they are ready. That means a rapid release process. If we don't do something like this the browser becomes a limiting factor in what the Internet can do”, he writes.

Baker’s end thoughts don’t leave much hope that the rapid release process will change in the near future. “There is no free lunch (…) I know that's not a perfect answer, and it's not a promise that we can meet everyone's needs perfectly. Despite this, I believe the rapid release process is the right direction”, Baker writes.

What do you think? Do you find Firefox’s rapid release process disconcerting? Have you had issues with add-on compatibility? How will enterprises cope with this problem? Please, share your opinions in the comments.

More About: browser, Firefox, Mitchell Baker, mozilla, web

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

Career of Steve Jobs, Compressed Into a 2-Minute Animation [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 10:54 PM PDT

Here’s a condensed view of the illustrious career of Steve Jobs, with a healthy dose of humorous commentary and Star Wars goofiness sprinkled in just for fun.

This sweeping saga takes you from the early days of hippie Jobs all the way up to the present day, where he’s passed the baton along to newly minted CEO Tim Cook, who will now have to find a way to scare off those green Android hoards.

SEE ALSO: Tim Cook Named Apple CEO | Apple Stock Falls | Share Your Steve Jobs Moments

Created by Taiwanese company Next Media Animation, it’s a great way to get caught up with the Jobs life story, especially if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades.

If that’s not enough, take a look at ten of the most iconic moments in the career of Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs demos Apple Macintosh, 1984

Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh to the world. Computing would never be the same.

1984 Apple's Macintosh Commercial

Ridley Scott's famous "1984" commercial for the original Macintosh continues to find imitators, even today. In 2011, Motorola attempted to spoof the classic ad in a promotional spot for its Xoom tablet.

Steve Jobs and Microsoft at Macworld Boston 1997

When Bill Gates appeared on-screen at Macworld Boston in 1997, the audience reacted with boos and hisses. Still, the decision to partner with Microsoft and have Microsoft commit to producing software for the Macintosh was one of the most shrewd -- and likely one of the most intelligent -- decisions that Jobs made upon his return to Apple.

Although many incorrectly believe that Microsoft "bought" Apple in 1997, the reality is, without Microsoft's investment and commitment to developing Macintosh software, the company may have had a more difficult time getting its next line of products to the market.

The First iMac Introduction

The iMac helped set the standard for the modern Apple even as we know it today. Designed by Jonathan Ive, the iMac was sleek, modern and affordable. This was not the Macintosh of the early to mid 1990s, it was something new.

With the iMac, Apple became cool. We can vividly remember looking at the egg-shaped all-in-one design with the hockey puck mouse and famous lack of a floppy drive and being transfixed. The iMac marked the beginning of Apple 2.0.

The First iPod Keynote (2001)

Nearly 10 years ago, Apple debuted the iPod. Famously ridiculed and dismissed by Slashdot, it would be several years before the device would become iconic, and in the process, change Apple fundamentally as a company.

The premise behind the iPod was simple: 1,000 songs in your pocket. Its the execution that set the device apart from everyone else.

In 2003, Apple flipped the switch again, with the launch of the iTunes Music Store. In a post-Napster industry, most were skeptical that iTunes could drive music sales. Eight years later, iTunes is the number one music retailer by a large margin.

Ten years on, the iPod is getting long in the tooth, but it still remains the leader in its product category.

Steve Jobs presents the iTunes Phone

After the iPod started to achieve massive success in 2003 and 2004, the rumors of an iPod phone started to swirl.

The first attempt to bring a product like that to the market was in the form of Motorola's Rokr. The Rokr tried to capitalize on the success of the Razr, while also adding compatibility with iTunes.

Still, the device was a dud. You can see Steve Jobs's frustration with the device in this demonstration. The Rokr was an example that only Apple could build an Apple product.

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

Steve Jobs's commencement speech at Stanford University in 2006 is one of our favorite Jobs moments. It's riveting, inspirational and every bit as good as any Apple product keynote.

Introducing the new iPhone PART 1

All hail the Jesus Phone. The iPhone changed the mobile industry. Full stop. The mobile world and ecosystem that we know today would not exist in the same way that it does now without the iPhone.

The iPhone also changed Apple as a company and helped further cement Jobs's place in history.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Together: Part 1

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are two of the most powerful and influential men of our times. Seeing them together at D5, just ahead of the iPhone's U.S. launch, was amazing.

Apple iPad: Steve Jobs Keynote Jan. 27 2010 Part 1

In January 2010, Apple changed the game again with the iPad. Like the iPod and iPhone, the critics dismissed it and predicted its failure. Its success has outpaced nearly every other technology product launch in history and is having a seismic impact on education, publishing, media consumption and computing in general.

The PC era might not be over, but I'm willing to bet that the computer I use every day in 10 years will have a lot more in common with the iPad than the MacBook Pro.

[via Gizmodo]

More About: animation, humor, steve jobs, trending

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

Forkly App Matches Your Tastes To Nearby Restaurants & Bars

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 09:57 PM PDT

Where should I go to eat? What should I order? Those two basic yet complex questions plague diners the world over. Forkly, a startup from veteran entrepreneurs Martin May and Brady Becker, may have the answers.

Forkly for iPhone [iTunes link], released on the App Store Tuesday, seeks to understand your taste buds and the taste graph — how your tastes match up against the tastes of others — of the world in aggregate.

“We want to give you personalized recommendations — to customize menus,” Becker says.

The taste graph, as Forkly defines it, is comprised of the collection of food and beverage reviews — the app refers to reviews as “tastes” — from users, and how those reviews are connected. Substitute tastes for relationships in Facebook’s social graph equation, and you’ll begin to see how the startup hopes to map out taste buds and help its users better discover new places and dishes.

On Forkly, add a “taste” to say what you’re eating or drinking and what you think about it. The app presents you with simple “Loved It,” “Liked It,” “It’s OK” and “Not for Me” emoticon options. You can choose to add a photo or note, and share the bite-sized review with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Your tastes are posted to the activity feed. Other users can follow along and indicate that they want to try your tastes. The action will trigger reminders when they’re near the place in question, and also net you influence points in the process.

You can use the Discover tab in the application to find out what’s popular at nearby places, as determined by other Forkly users’ tastes. “The discover tab,” says Becker, “will make recommendations based on the general consensus until it starts understand who you are. As [the app] gets familiar with your tastes, it will show you things that are more tailored to you.”

Forkly is Becker’s and May’s second attempt at solving location-specific problems. With Brightkite — a marginally successful location-based application that gave rise to the place checkin — the pair aimed to connect people around location. With Forkly, the co-founders hope to solve a more pressing problem: matching your specific tastes with the food and restaurants around you.

Where Forkly succeeds is in making location secondary to discovery. You share food and drinks you love (or hate), you happen upon dishes you might want to try and you become aware of the hidden palatable gems in your immediate vicinity. Location is merely a means to end in Forkly — it’s the stitching that pieces together users’ taste profiles for personalized menu recommendations.

The future of Forkly, says Becker, will be to push its API as a Facebook Connect for tastes. Restaurant and review sites could then “Forkly-enable” a site and show you the dishes and drinks you’re most inclined to like.

Restaurants can already partner with the startup to learn about their most influential customers. Menu items, dish images and official descriptions can also be integrated into the Forkly application experience. Plus, restaurants can embed Forkly reviews into their online menus.

In the end, though, Forkly is all about turning tastes into place discovery, and to do so in a way that delights application users. “We want to make a compelling product that people will want to use,” Becker says.

Taste Feed


Add a Taste

User Taste Profile

Want It

More About: brightkite, Forkly, startup, Taste Graph

For more Mobile coverage:

Google Kills “Slide” in Favor of Google+

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 09:06 PM PDT

Google has thrown in the towel on its $182 million acquisition of Slide as it shifts its social networking efforts to Google+.

The social apps company will be dissolved, according to AllThingsD. Slide founder and Google VP Max Levchin will be leaving the company as a result.

"Max has decided to leave Slide and Google to pursue other opportunities, and we wish him the best,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “Most of the team from Slide will remain at Google to work on other opportunities." Google has decided to discontinue most of Slide products except for social contest site

Slide was founded in 2005 by Levchin after he sold his last company, PayPal, to eBay. At its peak, Slide was a leader in social networking with apps such as FunWall, Fortune Cookie and SuperPoke. Unfortunately, companies such as Zynga stole its thunder and weakened its influence. In August 2008, the company was acquired by Google (see gallery below) as part of its efforts to catch up with Facebook.

Since then, Slide has operated as an independent entity, releasing apps such as group-texting app Disco and None of them have gained mainstream traction though, and with Larry Page streamlining operations and betting the farm on Google+, there was no need for Slide.

It seems Page isn’t afraid to admit defeat and cut unsuccessful projects before they become a drag on the company. It will be interesting to see what Levchin does next.

BONUS: Google’s top ten priciest purchases, arranged from lowest price to highest, with Slide the third-lowest-priced:

1. dMarc Broadcasting

In January 2006, Google acquired advertising company dMarc Broadcasting for $102 million. Google integrated dMarc into its AdSense app.

2. On2 Technologies

After negotiations between the two companies, Google acquired video compression company On2 in February 2010 for $133 million in Google stock. On2 designed video codec technology which Google used to optimize its WebM video format.


Google bought web 2.0 company in August 2010 for $182 million. Originally founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin was known as the largest third-party developer of Facebook applications until Google purchased it to "make Google services socially aware."

4. Admeld

Google purchased Admeld. in June 2011 for $400 million. The company specialized in optimizing online ad yield by simplifying ad display. Google integrated Admeld with its additional DoubleClick and Invite Media acquisitions.

5. Postini

In July 2007 Google acquired web security and archiving company Postini for $625 million. It provides the cloud computing services and spam filters that Google soon integrated into Gmail.

6. ITA Software

Google purchaed travel industry software company ITA Software for $700 million in July 2010. Google uses ITA's software to optimize its travel and flight search.

7. AdMob

In November 2009 Google acquired mobile ad company AdMob for $750 million. The company helped Google improve its mobile advertising solutions.

8. YouTube

Long ago in October 2006 Google bought YouTube for a shocking $1.65 billion. Although the company wasn't absorbed by Google Video, YouTube continues to function as a Google subsidiary.

9. DoubleClick

Google purchased DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in April 2007. The Google subsidiary provides ad service and support to AdSense.

10. Motorola Mobility

Google's most recent and expensive acquisition to date occurred August 15, 2011 with its purchase of Motorola Mobility. Motorola is one of 39 manufacturers of Android handsets. By purchasing the mobile hardware manufacturer, Google hopes "to supercharge the Android ecosystem."

More About: Google, max levchin, slide, Social Media, social networking, trending

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

Medify Simplifies Medical Research

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 08:14 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.

stethoscope imageName: Medify

Quick Pitch: Medify mines data from millions of studies to make assessing medical experts and treatments easier.

Genius Idea: Visually explaining how medical conditions and their treatments have been studied.

A 2010 study by the Pew Internet Project found that searching for health information online was the third most popular online pursuit. But what you find when you search is not necessarily what you need if you’re managing a disease.

Searching “autism,” for instance, brings up a Wikipedia page, a fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health and an overview from MayoClinic. If I get more specific with my search, and type in “Risperdal,” a drug that is sometimes used to treat autism symptoms, I get a result titled “What Risperdal did to me” and another for a dense 2002 study by the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Derek Streat, Medify’s co-founder and CEO, didn’t find these sorts of search results helpful when his daughter was diagnosed with a rare and threatening illness.

“If you spend any decent amount of time with a doctor,” he says, “you will surpass what a WebMD will tell you within a half hour conversation.”

Meanwhile, sifting through troves of studies intended for medical professionals was frustrating.

Medify attempts to find a productive compromise between these two extremes of online health information. It aggregates published research from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Medline, a database that contains more than 18 million references to journal articles going back to 1946. Then it scrapes data points like the number of patients studied, their treatments, symptoms and side effects to generate insights about medical treatments and experts.

It arranges these datapoints in easy-to-read graphs. At a glance, it’s easy to see what treatments are being studied the most and where most of the research is coming from.

A “strength of evidence” graph, for instance, uses an algorithm that bases rankings of treatments for a given medical condition on factors such as how far the drug has gotten in clinical trials, how often it has been studied, how many people it has been studied on and how quickly that treatment is evolving. Users can personalize the search by selecting their demographic information or symptoms to see studies that involved only people like themselves or their loved ones.

Ranking treatments this way might make doctors and researchers — whose papers include pages of caveats for a reason — squirm in their lab coats.

“Every patient is different, but if you get a big enough signal, that matters,” Streat argues.

He says that the platform intends to make it easier to have informed conversations with doctors rather than deliver a verdict on one treatment or another.

“At the end of the day, there's no drug that you're going to be able to look at on Medify that you can go buy yourself. It's not going to spit out a pill.”

If nothing else, Medify helps narrow down relevant studies that might be hard to extract from Medline’s database without assistance. Each customized graph the site creates cites the long version of the studies from which it has pulled data.

Medify is still in beta and without a revenue stream. It is considering either offering premium research services or opt-in marketing services in the future, and Streat says that unexpected attention from the medical community might make a version for doctors another viable source of income.

For now, the company is operating on $1.8 million of funding from Voyager Capital and several angel investors.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, peepo

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, health, medify, startups

For more Startups coverage:

Sims on Facebook is World’s Fastest-Growing Social Game

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 06:38 PM PDT

Heads up, Zynga: looks like you have some serious competition in the Facebook game space at last.

The Sims Social, a reboot of Electronic Arts’ bestselling $4 billion games franchise, has only been out of beta since last Thursday — but it already has 4.6 million people playing it daily, according to AppData, a traffic tracking service from Inside Network.

That makes The Sims Social the number 10 app on Facebook overall, and the number 6 game behind Zynga hits CityVille, FarmVille, Empires & Allies, Texas Hold ‘Em, and Pioneer Trail. Not bad for a week’s work. At this rate, The Sims Social should overtake Facebook game leader CityVille (which has 14 million daily players) sometime in September.

If The Sims doesn’t ring any bells, or even if it does remind you of many hours of addictive domestic gameplay, you may want to stay far away from this app for the sake of your productivity. As in its PC-based predecessors, which sold more than 140 million copies, The Sims Social starts with you creating an avatar, your Sim, who is then dropped into a dollhouse-like environment. You can extend and upgrade the home by earning Simoleans, and you must manage your Sim’s needs by feeding them, sending them to bed or the bathroom, and having them interact with other Sims.

So far so ordinary. But here’s where The Sims Social differs from its predecessors: those other Sims belong to your Facebook friends. You’re not actually interacting with your friends in real time, but you can view a video replay of what happened when their Sims came over to your Sim’s house. If their Sim is mean and wants to become an official enemy of yours — or is flirtatious enough to take the relationship to the next level — you have to approve it first.

Veteran players may be disappointed by a few features, or lack therof. You can’t control a whole family of Sims and found a dynasty that will last for generations. Sadistic Sims fans will be saddened by the fact they can no longer kill off their creations. And then there’s the in-game advertising — The Sims Social has debuted with Dunkin’ Donuts products incorporated into gameplay, although my Sim hasn’t run into a single donut yet.

But overall, it’s a fun and friendly twist on The Sims franchise that seems sure to attract millions more new players — and knock Zynga off a pedestal where it has been sitting comfortably for far too long.

More About: casual games, electronic arts, facebook, games, trending, Zynga

For more Social Media coverage:

HOW TO: Customize the Photo Gallery on Your Twitter Profile [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 05:21 PM PDT

You may have noticed a change on your web-based Twitter profile. The service recently rolled out an image gallery feature that displays recent photos that you’ve shared or retweeted from other users.

It got us thinking that this profile real estate could be put to some creative use. As luck would have it, our pal Jeremiah Warren whipped up a great step-by-step video (above) on how to slice and dice your Twitter slides, Photoshop style. He’s even provided a template file, which you can download here to get started. (A PNG file is also available for those not using Photoshop).

SEE ALSO: 10 Creative Uses of the New Facebook Profile [PICS]

This solution is still very much a hack — you’ll have to annoy your followers with four to six image tweets in a row. And if you share or retweet any subsequent image links (TwitPic, Instagram, etc.) you’ll muck up your precarious masterpiece. But that certainly shouldn’t stop you from dabbling. We expect to see some fantastic creations in the coming weeks.

Video HOW-TO compliments of Jeremiah Warren.

Created or Seen Any Excellent Twitter Gallery Hacks?

Upload screenshots or links of your favorites below, and we’ll feature them in a subsequent post on Mashable.

More About: Photos, Social Media, twitter, video

For more Social Media coverage:

Twitter Reaction to Earthquake Comes to Life on Animated Map [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 04:22 PM PDT

Eric Fischer created this fascinating animation, showing what an earthquake looks like through the lens of Twitter. It’s a tweetquake!

Key: Green dots are tweets about the earthquake, and gray dots are tweets about anything else. The video covers 12 minutes with each frame of the video representing one second in real time.

Fisher says in his Flickr comments that he only included tweets with geotags, so this represents just a fraction of the earthquake-related tweets sent on Tuesday (August 23) when the quake shook up the eastern seaboard.

Let’s hope Fisher fires up his Twitter animation routine for the looming Hurricane Irene, which is sure to light up the map, whether it makes landfall or not.

[Video courtesy Flickr/Eric Fischer, via Boing Boing]

More About: animation, Earthquake, trending, tweetquake, twitter

For more Social Media coverage:

Movie Trailers Released Exclusively Via QR Code for The First Time [PICS]

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 03:24 PM PDT

Fox Searchlight is shunning traditional promotional opportunities like releasing teasers and trailers for its upcoming film Martha Marcy May Marlene. Instead, the studio is rolling out an elaborate QR code campaign for the movie, which hits theaters on October 21.

The studio put QR codes on ad materials such as posters, theater standees and coasters in New York City and Los Angeles. There are two separate trailers for the film embedded within the QR codes. According to Fox Searchlight, this is the first time a studio has exclusively released trailers via QR code.

If you don’t see the QR codes for the marketing materials in person, you can access them online via a website that is designed to emulate the theater standees.

Martha Marcy May Marlene stars Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) and Academy Award nominee John Hawkes. The film is about a young woman who struggles to reconnect with her family after fleeing a cult. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where director Sean Durkin won the U.S. Directing Award in the Dramatic category.

Steven Zeitchik wrote about the film for the L.A. Times back in January, noting that “nearly every choice Durkin makes seems driven by artistry instead of commerciality … this makes for a cinephile’s dream — and a marketer’s, well, something else.”

The marketing team at Searchlight seems to understand the challenge of promoting this type of film, which is why we think that the decision to use QR codes is spot-on.

In addition to the QR campaign, Fox Searchlight also has an experimental website,

We’re excited to see more marketers embracing QR codes, especially in the film business. Let us know your thoughts on this project and campaign in the comments.

One Sheet Poster

John Hawkes Teaser

Elizabeth Olsen Teaser

More About: fox searchlight, Movies, QR Codes

For more Media coverage:

Why the Future of TV Is All About Personalization

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 02:56 PM PDT

John Clancy is the president and CEO at Azuki Systems, where he is leading this charge to deliver video content to the mobile devices of millions of consumers worldwide. You can catch up on Azuki news or check out the company's blog.

Fueled by the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets, video viewing habits have forever changed. It’s no surprise that consumers, who have been quick to embrace video services like HBO GO, Netflix and Hulu, are now expecting a more personal, interactive and seamless viewing experience across their traditional TV, laptops, gaming consoles, and connected TVs, as well as on smartphones and tablets.

Here, we’ll discuss the current state of personalized mobile video and what consumers can expect in the future.

The Personalized Mobile Video Experience: What’s Available Today?

Consumers are changing their viewing habits in favor of “TV Everywhere.” They no longer make “appointments” to sit down and view content, and are no longer limited by TV programming schedules. They want content whenever and wherever they are.

But what does this new trend mean for cable providers? In competing with industry giants like Netflix and Hulu who provide their viewers with content on-the-go, cable companies are now being compelled to offer video service alternatives. According to an article by iTVEDIA, "HBO’s success might embolden more premium cable [channels] to develop streaming apps, as more viewers are enjoying their favorite shows on their iPads than their television screens. The apps could help retain customers and sweeten expensive cable packages for those who might otherwise switch to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu." With TV Everywhere options creeping into households, content creators and service providers are making a mad dash to get screen time on mobile and other connected devices.

Though consumers have multiple options for acquiring and accessing video content via mobile — including models like authentication, subscription, rental and pay-per-view — their experience doing so is not seamless across different devices.  That's because most TV Everywhere solutions on the market today are not yet mature enough to provide a consistent user experience across different devices, and they lack a key ingredient for success — personalization.

What's Coming Next?

Unlike content served via traditional TVs, video on a mobile device can offer a more personalized user experience. However, the implementation and adoption of personalized services are still in their infancy.

For example, today, while meaningful (targeted) ads can be delivered and viewed when watching a video on mobile devices, most companies are still trying to figure out how to measure exposure and capitalize on it.  That's because most TV Everywhere solutions on the market today don't have the technical capability to collect real-time analytical information across many mobile devices. The next phase of mobile video will allow for a truly personalized experience with targeted ads that are relevant to the consumer based on location, device, user history, content preferences and other criteria. This can be done by capturing and correlating real-time data just as it’s done with website analytics today.

Users will also be able to share the viewing experience within social networks in the form of live chats or tweets, seamlessly connecting their friends to the content as well. The next generation of TV Everywhere will offer interfaces with major social media APIs, recommendation and analytical engines, as well as EPGs (Entertainment Program Guides). With these capabilities in place, consumers will be able to give and receive recommendations from their network (e.g. "If you like Show A, you should also check out Show B") based on their viewing history.

The Pursuit of Personalization: We’re Almost There

TV Everywhere powered by Over-the-Top (OTT) video is the new reality for the industry. Consumers want a consistent experience across any device, and service providers will have to deliver it to stay ahead of the game.

However, this is not about "cable/TV video service providers" vs "OTT video service providers" — it's about the consumers. With all of the competition and growing capabilities, it will be the personalization features that set some providers above others. Right now, critical limitations are mostly coming from behind the scenes; content rights negotiations need to progress before these advanced personalized services become available to consumers. But once the industry can overcome this hurdle, the opportunities will be endless.

More About: cable, Mobile 2.0, tv everywhere

For more Media coverage:

Mentos Facebook App Offers Help for “Boring & Vain” Friends

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 02:42 PM PDT

Are any of your Facebook friends boring or vain or in need of a love-life makeover? Well, help is on the way from Mentos.

The candy brand has rolled out an app on its Facebook Page that features Life Guidance videos from the brand’s guru-like spokesman Dragee. The videos automatically integrate information from the recipient’s Facebook Page. For instance, in the “Vain” video, Dragee notes how many times the person uses “I” or “me” in his or her status updates and includes some recent examples.

The videos, which evoke the 70s and 80s Dharma Initiative movies on Lost, with their skips and cheesy sound quality, are also cleverly designed to camouflage their customizability. For instance, Dragee walks behind a column when he says the person’s name, so you can’t see his lips move. Dragee’s assistant, Rick, also holds up blank pieces of paper, on which information from the Facebook profiles are projected.

Mentos introduced the Dragee character in February with some equally wacky videos. But the app, created by The Martin Agency and Ted Perez + Associates, has more viral potential. After all, who doesn’t have a vain, boring or lovelorn friend?

What do you think of the Mentos app? Let us know in the comments.

More About: advertising, facebook, MARKETING, Martin Agency, Mentos

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

Ness Is a Personalized Search Engine for the Mobile World

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 02:09 PM PDT

Say hello to Ness, a mobile app that can figure out which restaurants you’ll enjoy the most, based on your personal tastes.

The app, now available in the iOS App Store (U.S.-only), takes a different approach to restaurant recommendations than Yelp, UrbanSpoon and the regular tools people usually use to choose where they will dine. And Ness Computing, the company behind the app, hopes that its unique approach can also change how we shop, discover music and more.

Ness, at its core, is a recommendation engine. Users open the iOS app and quickly rate different restaurants nearby on a scale of one to five stars. After ten ratings, the app has enough data to deliver a set of nearby restaurants it believes you will like, based on your personal tastes and preferences.

The technology behind Ness is the key to the app’s functionality. Ness is powered by a proprietary technology called the Likeness Engine. It takes in information from a variety of sources, including Facebook, Foursquare, friend recommendations, restaurant popularity and personal tastes preferences to figure out whether you’re going to be interested in a restaurant on a scale of 0-100%.

Ness was developed over several years by a team backed by Khosla Ventures, Alsop Louie Partners, TomorrowVentures, Bullpen Capital and one of Palantir’s co-founders. The team utilized machine learning and natural language processing technology to create a recommendation engine that could cut through the noise of sifting through search results.

The app has come a long way since its previous incarnation (an app called Trumpet). We’ve played around with this app, and we’ve been impressed by the results so far. We’ve also heard stories of the technology being able to figure out your musical tastes just by looking at information in your Facebook profile.

If Ness can nail down restaurant recommendations, it has the opportunity to become a new type of mobile search engine that can be used for almost any decision.

More About: iOS app, Likeness, Ness, startup

For more Startups coverage:

PostSecret App Lets You Reveal Your Hidden Thoughts [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 01:21 PM PDT

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

The concept behind the deliciously dishy PostSecret books and blog will soon make its way to your mobile device.

Since 2004, PostSecret has received more than 300,000 secrets via postcards from anonymous contributors. But now, the forthcoming PostSecret App, which the above video touts, will allow contributors to digitally share secrets, discover other users’ hush-hush thoughts and react to their submissions.

“For the first time, like-minded secret sharers will easily be able to make a connection, show their support or reach out to someone whose secret touches them, makes them wonder, laugh or cry,” PostSecret said.

PostSecret has built a hefty following, one that will likely help this app succeed: more than 1 million Facebook fans, 420,000 Twitter followers, 500,000 email subscribers and 4.1 million unique visitors to the PostSecret blog.

iPhone users can get their hands on the app in September for $1.99, and Android folks will have access to the app sometime after that.

What do you think of the secrets shared in the video? Will you use this app?

More About: apps, Mobile 2.0, postsecret, viral-video-of-day, youtube

For more Video coverage:

Cloud Computing: The Layperson’s Guide to Distributed Networks

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 12:59 PM PDT

The Buzzword Breakdown Series is supported by The Network, Cisco’s technology news site. The Network features technology news, trends and information on video, collaboration, core networks, mobility, security, data, Cisco culture and social media.

As buzzwords go, few have conjured up as much debate and discussion as cloud computing.

The idea behind cloud computing is that software, services and information can be provided to users over a network connection and through a web browser, rather than running locally on a computer or a local network server.

Popular cloud applications like Google Docs and offer users robust ways to manage and access content, and the beauty of the cloud is that the content is accessible from any web browser or connected device.

Major Cloud Providers and Companies

Amazon Web Services: In 2006, Amazon launched its cloud computing platform, Amazon Web Services. AWS is comprised of a number of different products that allows businesses and application developers to build their own cloud-enabled applications. These tools include Amazon S3 storage service and the Amazon EC2 cloud computing platform.

Amazon is a huge player in the cloud platform space, with major web companies like Groupon and Foursquare using various parts of Amazon’s cloud infrastructure to power their products. Because so many businesses — big and small — have come to rely on AWS, system outages can cause problems for those companies. When it comes to the enterprise cloud, is a huge player. Beyond its flagship CRM system, also allows enterprises and businesses to build their own tools on its platform.

Since acquiring the popular Ruby cloud platform Heroku in December, Salesforce has pushed its cloud application offerings into even higher gear.

Google: Although Google offers its own infrastructure product by way of its Google App Engine, the search giant’s bigger cloud ambitions are still emerging. Right now, most of Google’s cloud offerings are accessible in the form of consumer- and enterprise-focused services, such as Google Apps and Google Docs.

Still, Google maintains its own cloud infrastructure and has helped define the idea of the modern cloud-based web application.

Perhaps its most ambitious cloud offering is ChromeOS and the new Chromebook line of computers. With ChromeOS, the operating system is in essence, the web browser. Every app and every action is built around the idea of cloud services and applications. It’s a fascinating concept and could prove to be very disruptive for businesses that have their employees primarily interacting through web applications anyway.

Microsoft: Microsoft’s Azure platform lets users build, host and scale their web applications using Microsoft’s data centers.

Last summer, Microsoft launched its platform appliance aimed at allowing large customers like eBay, HP and Dell to offer their own cloud services using Microsoft’s technology, but in their own data centers.

IBM: IBM has been working on various cloud initiatives for the last several years. In April, it launched its more robust set of offerings by way of the IBM SmartCloud and IBM SmartCloud Enterprise brands.

Consumer Cloud Services

Google Apps: Google Apps, which includes Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs, is one of the best known consumer cloud applications. Google Docs is tremendously popular with startups, businesses and individuals. When it comes to collaboration, document management and storage, is consistently one of most innovative players in the cloud computing space. The company started off as a more consumer-focused cloud storage company, but has pivoted quite successfully into a leading collaboration services offering that’s geared toward small businesses and larger corporations.

What makes unique is that it has robust APIs and application support not just for other web apps, but for mobile and tablet apps as well.

Dropbox: Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud and file storage solutions because it makes sharing files with other users or across computers dead simple. The service is focused on consumers, but many businesses use it, too. Dropbox has an API and is supported by a multitude of web and mobile applications.

OnLive: The cloud is about more than just documents and file storage — it can also be used to deliver video games. Startup OnLive has really pushed the envelope in terms of what we can expect from cloud gaming in the future.

The idea of being able to play games from the cloud — no disc or download required — is something that is likely to catch on, big time, in the next few years.

iCloud: Later this fall, Apple will formally roll out its iCloud offering, and the general consensus is that this will be what brings the idea of cloud to the mainstream.

Already, Apple has made its iTunes in the Cloud music service available to users, and iCloud will be deeply integrated into both iOS5 and Mac OS X Lion.

Cloud to the Future

Cloud computing is poised to take off in very real ways in the ensuing months and years.

Major technology companies, as well as small businesses and consumers, are seeing the benefits of the cloud and those benefits are only going to increase as products that heavily use cloud infrastructures and technologies integrate themselves into our lives.

Let us know how you or your business utilizes cloud services in the comments.

Series Supported by Cisco

The Buzzword Breakdown Series is supported by The Network, Cisco’s technology news site. The Network features technology news, trends and information on video, collaboration, core networks, mobility, security, data, Cisco culture and social media. To subscribe to The Network, click here. You can also submit your story ideas here.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia and Flickr user karindalziel.

More About: amazon web services, azure,, Buzzword Breakdown Series, cloud computing, google docs, icloud,

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

Why Social Marketers Must Rethink the Paid, Earned & Owned Media Framework [OPINION]

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 12:48 PM PDT

This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

media imageJohn Manoogian III is founder and CTO of 140 Proof, where he created the company brand and co-led development of its API and ad-targeting architecture. He codes and tweets as @jm3 and advises startups like Huddl, Gumshoe and Tixelated.

POEM, or Paid vs. Owned vs. Earned Media, is a strategy framework that ad buyers and planners use to segment campaigns and channels. Paid/owned/earned gave us a common working language to organize our conversations and separate the big buys from the experimental backwaters. However, in 2011, the concepts behind paid/owned/earned will break the back of your media team and send money leaking out of your strategy. The world has changed and a new media framework is needed.

Paid/owned/earned is both a classification system for media types and a relational model describing how those media types affect each other. Originally, paid/owned/earned were envisioned as discrete entities: Either you bought massive reach in a channel you controlled (paid), or you had the intern send out some tweets to your followers (earned). Now, thinking of paid and earned as two unrelated initiatives will get you in some real trouble, strategically.

The new ad formats found on Facebook and Twitter often blend paid and earned media opportunities, creating new ways to spend money. This also destroys the question of "is it paid or earned?"

Is a Facebook Sponsored Story from Nike featuring my friend who recently bought shoes considered paid or earned? How about a social stream ad with a funny tagline that I retweet to my friends? Or a rich media banner with a viral video and a share button? Paid/owned/earned distinctions don't make room for these new ad experiences.

A New Framework

It’s clear that the POEM model is obsolete in the social media age. It's time for digital advertisers to create media classifications and relational models that can account for new hybrids. Creating a new vocabulary for this stuff will enable more productive conversations about the value of social advertising channels and help sort the wheat from the chaff.

Here is my framework for our new hybrid universe. It's an updated set of guidelines I've dubbed "MASS," (Measurable, Authentic, Scalable, Social) and it just might help us hold new hybrid paid/earned platforms accountable to a higher set of standards.

  • Measurable: Can you track activity and engagement in the channel using trusted third-party verified tools?
  • Authentic: Does the message rest comfortably in the customer's world, representing a clear and valuable position the brand stands for?
  • Scalable: Can this channel deliver massive reach without sacrificing targeting specificity?
  • Social: The web has become social. Ad solutions without social actions don’t account for the social nature of the web.

Is MASS perfect? Hardly. Does it shine a bright light into the most relevant bits of the most innovative ad formats on the market today? We are beginning to think it does.

Image courtesy of Flickr, teganyeah

More About: business, MARKETING, media, Opinion, Social Media

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

Apple’s Stock Price Stabilizes [CHARTS]

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 12:27 PM PDT

Investors seem to have shrugged off Apple‘s bombshell announcement on Wednesday that Steve Jobs was resigning as CEO.

The company’s stock price, which had fallen as much as 7% in after-hours trading, was down less than 1% by mid-afternoon Thursday. But the market itself was down by the same amount.

The stability of the stock reflected both investors’ confidence in the succession plan Jobs put in place with former Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook as CEO and what has been years of preparation. Jobs took a health-related leave of absence in January 2009 and another one in January of this year. During both of those times, Cook served as interim CEO.

When Jobs took his first leave of absence in 2009, Apple stock tumbled to below $80 per share. Today, they are trading at around $374 and Apple is vying with ExxonMobil to be the largest company in the world, by market capitalization.

As the charts below show, despite Apple’s news, the stock has fared better than Microsoft’s, Google’s and the S&P 500 over the last few days.

Apple Price Stock Chart

Apple Price Stock Chart by YCharts

Apple Price Stock Chart

Apple Price Stock Chart by YCharts

More About: apple, steve jobs

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

Flipboard Set to Focus on TV & Film

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 12:21 PM PDT

If you think Flipboard‘s ambitions begin and end with getting news and magazine publishers on its iPad app, think again. The so-called “social newsreading magazine” is setting its sights on TV and film.

In an interview with Reuters, CEO Mike McCue suggested that the company will begin working to bring video to the app by the end of the year, something investor Ashton Kutcher no doubt has a hand in.

Whether McCue means video will appear in the app by the end of the year or that he will spend the next five months formalizing contracts with studio partners is unclear.

McCue also said he hopes to work with publishers to sell ebooks through Flipboard, although a spokesperson said the company doesn’t have “any concrete plans” to get books onto Flipboard at this time.

“We get asked about various kinds of content in Flipboard all the time, and our answer is that we can envision all types of content becoming viewable via Flipboard over time, especially as all content becomes more social,” says Christel van der Boom, who handles communications at Flipboard. “It’s our vision for the future.”

McCue also said that he hopes to launch an iPhone version in a few weeks — and that the company could make an operating profit next year but will likely reinvest the money instead.

For now, the Palo Alto-based startup will continue to work with news and magazine publishers to bring their content onto the app. Last month, Flipboard began displaying ads for the first time as part of a shared revenue deal with magazine publisher Conde Nast.

More About: Film, Flipboard, ipad, media, tv

For more Media coverage:

New Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Message to Employees

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 11:01 AM PDT

With Steve Jobs no longer at the helm of Apple, it’s up to new CEO Tim Cook to lead the company and its employees to greater heights.

Cook, whose career at Apple has spanned more than 13 years, sent a message to the company to assure the troops that “Apple is not going to change” and that Jobs will continue to be involved as chairman of the company. Cook has been running the day-to-day operations of Apple since Jobs took a medical leave of absence in January; yesterday’s announcement just makes it official.

We have decided to post Cook’s four-paragraph email in its entirety below. Check it out, and let us know what you think of Cook’s message to the troops in the comments:

Tim Cook’s Email


I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of serving as CEO of the most innovative company in the world. Joining Apple was the best decision I’ve ever made and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to work for Apple and Steve for over 13 years. I share Steve’s optimism for Apple’s bright future.

Steve has been an incredible leader and mentor to me, as well as to the entire executive team and our amazing employees. We are really looking forward to Steve’s ongoing guidance and inspiration as our Chairman.

I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.

I love Apple and I am looking forward to diving into my new role. All of the incredible support from the Board, the executive team and many of you has been inspiring. I am confident our best years lie ahead of us and that together we will continue to make Apple the magical place that it is.


More About: apple, steve jobs, tim cook

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

One Week Left To Join Mashable’s Real-Life Facebook Wall

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 10:35 AM PDT

We’re decorating our new office with the world’s largest real-life Facebook wall, and you have one week left to be included!

Now that we’re settled into our new digs, we’re just about ready to go to print. We want as many community members as possible to join.

The final deadline to opt in to have your photo on our wall is one week from today: Thursday, Sept. 1. To participate, click the “connect” button below. Follow the prompts through the end to ensure your photo is included in the opt-in list. Then Social Printshop will print a giant poster of you and your fellow Mashable readers’ Facebook avatars.

A big thanks to all our fans who have already participated!

Connect To Participate

We appreciate your readership, community and support, and this is a small way of saying thank you. Here’s a rendering of what the wall might look like.

More About: community, Facebook wall

For more Social Media coverage:

BlackBerry Adds Social Music Service to BBM

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 10:05 AM PDT

Research in Motion is looking to take on competitors Google, Amazon and Apple with its new BBM Music service that will let BlackBerry users share and discover new tunes with their friends through BlackBerry Messenger.

Here’s how the service will work:

  • Each BBM user can build a personal music profile with 50 of his or her favorites songs. Twenty-five songs can be swapped out and refreshed each month.
  • Your music profile is then accessible with all of your friends on BBM that join BBM Music.
  • Users can access all the music from their friends’ profiles too. That means that if someone has 30 friends on BBM Music and each of those friends is sharing 50 tracks, the user’s total BBM Music library will have 1,550 tracks.
  • Users can create playlists based on the music they have as well as the music in their friends’ profiles.
  • Users have access to full tracks and can listen to music offline.

Major music labels Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Brothers Music Group and EMI are all supporting BBM Music.

The service goes into private beta today in Canada, the U.S. and the UK. BBM Music will be available to customers across the globe later this year for $4.99 a month.

We’re intrigued by the idea behind BBM Music. This is a viral, community building way to share tracks with friends and discover music from others. Plus, it builds on an idea of offering users more music just by opening up and enhancing their music community.

It it succeeds, BBM Music could be one of the first services to really address mobile music discovery in a global way. We’re not sure if this is enough to compete with all-you-can-eat music services like Spotify, MOG and Rdio, but from a mobile and connected network perspective, we’re intrigued.

Let us know your thoughts about BBM Music in the comments.

More About: bbm music, blackberry, blackberry messenger, music subscription services, social music

For more Mobile coverage:

f8 Returns: Facebook Developer Conference Set for Sept. 22

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 09:23 AM PDT

After months of speculation, Facebook has finally announced the date of its annual developer conference, f8.

The fourth edition of the conference will take place Sept. 22 in San Francisco. “This all day event with Facebook engineers and product teams will feature keynotes and session tracks that highlight our new tools along with best practices for developers and partners building the next generation of social experiences,” the company said in its email invitation.

The all-day conference is where Facebook typically launches its biggest products and initiatives. It launched the Facebook Platform at its first f8 in 2007, unveiled Facebook Connect in 2008 and launched the Like button and the Facebook Open Graph in 2010.

What will Facebook announce at this year’s f8? Mashable will be there to cover the major news from the world’s largest social network.

More About: f8, f8 2011, facebook, facebook platform

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Women Own the Majority of Ereaders [STATS]

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 09:04 AM PDT

After being initially embraced by young adult males in the U.S., ereaders and tablets are increasingly making their ways into the hands of women and older users.

Women are particularly taking to ereaders, according to data from Nielsen. Sixty-one percent of ereaders are now owned by women, compared to 46% in the third quarter of 2010. This largely why many women’s magazines are reporting better sales on the Nook than the iPad.

The data also shows that smartphone use is now divided 50/50 between men and women, a 3% shift from the third quarter of last year. Tablet ownership is still dominated by men (67%), although less so than it was last year, when men owned 71% of all tablets.

The biggest shift in tablet ownership demographics is in age. In Q3 2010, 62% of tablet owners were under the age of 34 and a mere tenth were older than 55. Now,only 46% of tablet owners are younger than 34 and 29% are older than 55.

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

“Tweet” & “Social Media” Added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 08:33 AM PDT

In further confirmation of social media’s penetration into the language, Merriam-Webster has added both “tweet” and “social media” to its Collegiate Dictionary.

M-W, which announced the move Thursday, is a bit late to the game. The Oxford English Dictionary just added “tweet” and “retweet,” not to mention “sext,” last week. Collins English Dictionary added “Twitter” as a verb and a noun in 2009.

M-W’s Collegiate Dictionary, the country’s best-selling dictionary, added 150 words, just a few of which are tech-related. Others include “m-commerce” and “crowdsourcing.” Among the other new additions are “fist bump,” “bromance,” “cougar” (in reference to middle-aged women on the prowl) and “helicopter parent.”

This was the first time M-W added new terms since 2009. Back then, the dictionary added “vlog,” “webisode,” “flash mob” and “pdf.”

Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for the dictionary, says the new terms are decided upon in an informal manner. “It’s just a process of seeing a word used frequently and in many different sources,” he says, noting that inclusion in outlets like The New York Times is a big consideration.

Sokolowski says there are a few words on his short list for likely inclusion next time around including “man cave,” “millennials” and “mashup.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Blueberry4Park

More About: Dictionary, merriam-webster, twitter

For more Social Media coverage:

Google+ Brand Accounts: What Social Media Managers Want to See

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 08:19 AM PDT

google plus

As Google+ continues to grow, most recently by adding games and verification badges, one much-talked-about feature remains in question: brand accounts.

We know it’s on Google‘s radar. About a week after the service launched, the company told businesses not to set up accounts on Google+. Christian Oestlien, the platform’s product manager, confirmed his team is working on the feature. "The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses," he said in a post.

Oestlien cited AdWords integration and analytics as brand account features to expect. Still, he left us mostly in the dark about what we’ll see.

SEE ALSO: Google+: The Complete Guide

So, what should Google+ brand accounts include? We spoke to a few social media managers to create the ultimate feature wish list.

Revamped Circles

Arguably the most novel concept of Google+ is grouping contacts in circles. People are learning to embrace and optimize their circles for better curation and privacy.

Businesses are seeing a lot of potential for circles too. Baochi Nguyen, community manager for Boingo Wireless, said she’d like brand profiles to display circles it has created, and for followers to be able to follow that feed. “Similar to private and public Twitter lists,” she added.

Twitter lists are advantageous for brands because they save time, help recognize community members, and increase visibility and credibility. Being able to use Google+ circles in the same way would be a win for businesses and fans alike.

In addition, Nguyen would like her brand’s followers to be able to add themselves to community circles on the page. Members would then be able to post to that circle, much like a forum. The circles would be created by the page so as to align with topics relevant to the brand. For example, Nguyen said Boingo’s page might include a mobile devices group, wireless hotspots by geographic region and customer service or troubleshooting tips.

She also envisions these circles having a brand-to-customer live chat interface and a search function that would allow users to find articles Boingo has +1′d by topic. This would introduce a new layer of social customer service for brands. Though allowing community members to post to these circles freely could mean a high volume of spam, it would be useful for brands to reach fans based on specific interest and to get feedback from user-to-user and user-to-company interactions. If the brand page manager +1′d help articles and FAQs from the company site, it could make for a simpler troubleshooting experience via Google+.

Modified Hangouts

Google+ users have been getting creative about how they’re using Hangouts, the platform’s group video chat service. Businesses could also take advantage it — given Google makes a few tweaks for the brand version.

One example is hosting scheduled Hangouts with high-level employees like CEOs and CTOs to talk about company and industry developments. Hangouts could also be useful for product managers looking for user feedback about apps, sites and hardware they’re developing. This could be challenging with Hangouts in their current form, as they’re open for the first 10 people who jump in.

“Ideally, we could specify the number of folks we want in the Hangout,” Nguyen said. “Access would be restricted to those with a special code, so brands could have contests to win entry into different Hangouts.”

Now that Hangouts can be initiated from YouTube , the feature could also help brands to spark real-time discussion around videos they’ve posted or those from partners and industry influencers.

Robust API

While optimizing current Google+ features for brands is clearly important, giving them the freedom to build their own communication tools could really set the platform apart. Dan Patterson, digital platform manager for ABC News Radio, envisions “a robust API, adoption of messaging and stream protocols and open formats like XML-export.”

Patterson referred to Twitter’s early days, when it functioned “far more like a protocol.” Even before releasing an API in September 2006, developers were putting together tweet maps. After the release, they took full advantage, making location-based tweet apps and more. Twitter gave users the tools to be able to make the service work best for them — which is what Patterson is hoping Google will do.

“I’d like to see Google+ function like Legos — allow us to decentralize the service and build things,” he said.

Historically, Google has taken an open-source approach to its code, meaning software developers could freely use it to customize new products. The biggest downside to this method? Lack of quality control. As a company grows and its consumers become more demanding, shutting those open doors on developers becomes inevitable.

Going back to the Twitter comparison, the service stifled app growth with its API rate limit in early 2009. Google did the same with Android in March of this year. It’s likely the company would eventually take similar action with Google+ — should it choose to grant Patterson’s wish for the platform.

Google Analytics & Places Integration

Though Oestlien said deep analytics would be a part of Google+ business profiles, he didn’t mention whether these metrics would mesh with what social media managers are already measuring on Google Analytics. Businesses place a great deal of importance on establishing and tracking social media ROI, and many already use Google Analytics to track referrals from social media sites. It seems like it would be a natural next step to integrate the tool into Google+.

What data will social media managers want to dig into? For starters:

  • Engagement and reach of each post: Comments, +1′s, shares per post, shares per post with comments and impressions
  • Engagement and reach of +1′s on the brand’s site: Total +1′s, +1′s with comments and impressions
  • Engagement and reach of each Hangout: Comments, +1′s, shares and views
  • Circle follower growth over time
  • Follower demographics: Breakdown by age, gender, geography and affiliation (occupation, industry, interests, etc.)
  • Site referral traffic: How users are getting to the brand site through Google+ and what actions they take while there
  • Account referral traffic: How users get to the brand profile and what actions they take while there
  • Mobile referral traffic: How users are interacting with the brand page on the Google+ mobile app
  • Another existing service social media managers would like to see integrated into Google+ is Google Places. Rather than letting the services stand alone and then integrating them (much like Facebook did with the fan page and Facebook places merge) it would be ideal to have venue information, such as maps and ratings, available on the brand’s Google+ profile page. This would allow community members to read, write and share reviews straight from Google+.


    Google, we hope you’re listening.

    The Google+ project: A quick look

    Google provides an overview of the entire Google+ project.

    The Google+ project: Explore Circles

    Google+ Circles is Google's take on the friend list or the Twitter list.

    The Google+ project: Explore Settings

    In this video, Google explores the different settings available on Google+.

    The Google+ project: Explore Mobile

    Google+ will launch with an Android app. In this video, Google explores the app's features.

    The Google+ project: Explore Hangouts

    Google+ comes with a group video chat feature called Hangouts. This video explains how it works.

    The Google+ project: Explore Sparks

    In an attempt to get users to share more content, Google+ includes a feature called Sparks. It provides recommended content based on keywords or topics.

    The Google+ project: Circles

    In this video, Google talks about the impact of friends and social groups.

    The Google+ project: Hangouts

    Google talks about spontaneous hangouts in this video.

    The Google+ project: Huddle

    Google introduces Huddle, the company's group-texting feature.

    The Google+ project: Instant Upload

    Google+ for mobile includes an instant upload feature for photos and videos. They're uploaded to a private album where they can then be shared from the desktop.

    The Google+ project: Sparks

    Google talks about exploring interests through Sparks in this video.

    More About: brands, community management, Google, Google Plus

    For more Social Media coverage:

Qik Premium for Android Now Live

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 07:38 AM PDT

Qik has rolled out its premium live video-streaming product to all Android users.

Qik Premium builds on the free Qik video service by adding a few extra features: unlimited video downloads and storage, sending and receiving video mail anytime, automatic video syncing with your computer through Qik Desktop, HD as well as 3D video recording on devices that support it, and priority customer support via a dedicated email.

Qik Premium is free for the first 30 days and $4.99 per month thereafter. The new app is available in the Android Market, and it’s also available for the iPhone [iTunes link].

Qik was acquired in January 2011 by Skype for north of $100 million.

More About: Mobile 2.0, qik, Qik Premium, video, video streaming

For more Mobile coverage:

New York Giants Go Long on Twitter Integration

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 07:10 AM PDT

Fans watching the New York Giants play the Jets this weekend on TV will notice something new: their tweets.

The Giants will integrate live tweets from fans into the broadcast on NBC 4 in New York during Saturday’s preseason game and during the September 1 game against the New England Patriots. The remarks from fans will appear on the lower third of the screen during big plays. The Twitter feeds will run just during those two final preseason games. But the Twitter integration will also be integrated into MetLife Stadium throughout the season. Game attendees will see the tweets on the stadium’s video boards and other channels.

The team’s Twitter integration will also include a voting system that will let fans pick the player of the game using hashtags. The Giants are working with social curation firm Mass Relevance to tabulate the results in real time and feature them on a dedicated microsite. The player with the most votes will have his merchandise discounted that week in the Giants’ online store. During the season, one player will also be available every home game for a Twitter chat with fans.

SEE ALSO: How Social Media Is Changing the NFL

A rep for the Giants says the team is the first in the NFL to embrace Twitter to this magnitude. In fact, the NFL has taken a hard line against Twitter in some cases. In 2009, the league banned players from in-game tweeting. That, however, hasn’t stopped players from taking to Twitter when they’re off the field. Many players tweeted their thoughts after hammering out a new labor contract in late July.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, spxChrome

More About: New York Giants, nfl, twitter

For more Social Media coverage:

How Dell’s Social Suggestion Box Empowered Fans & Improved the Company

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 07:00 AM PDT

The Social Brands Series is supported by Spredfast, a social media management platform provider helping organizations unlock social business potential. Start driving social business with the Social Media Pocket Guide.

"Good ideas are common — what's uncommon are people who'll work hard enough to bring them about," said Ashleigh Brilliant, an English writer and cartoonist. No doubt, many executives at Dell would agree.

Though using online media to cast about for ideas is now fairly commonplace, it wasn't when Dell launched IdeaStorm in 2007. Since then, the company has fetched 16,000 ideas and implemented close to 500 of them, which averages to about 10 per month. If Dell was hoping to spur social media discussion, it’s done that as well — so far, there have been more than 92,000 comments on the IdeaStorm website.

As Brilliant's quote suggests, though, the ideas themselves usually weren't groundbreaking. When asked to recall some of the top ideas generated by the program, Bill Johnston, director of global online community at Dell, cites a partnership with (RED), the charity brand. Another top idea was hiring Cy Jervis, formerly a gadfly in the IdeaStorm community, as community manager for IdeaStorm in February.

In other words, Dell's online experiment might be likened to its prosaic analog counterpart: the suggestion box. Richard Binhammer, a senior manager at Dell — also known as "Richard at Dell” — says there's nothing wrong with that. "A suggestion box works," he says. "We're all about listening to the customer."

True enough. Since Jeff Jarvis showed how a blogger can besmirch a corporate giant's reputation with his famed "Dell Hell" campaign in 2005, Dell has often been cited as a model social media marketing brand. But is IdeaStorm more about mollifying social media critics than soliciting ideas? Is it more a PR exercise than anything else?

After all, ideas, even good ones, are a dime a dozen. “Ideas aren’t precious,” says Duane Bray, a partner with Ideo in New York. “It’s what you do with them is what matters.” Nevertheless, Bray is a fan of crowdsourcing: “It’s good to inject smart ideas from outside the organization.”

Binhammer dismisses the notion about IdeaStorm being more about PR than generating ideas, though he admits the social media goodwill could be a "by-product" of the effort. Whatever the case, it's clear the program has both acted as a suggestion box and an effective social media campaign. At the moment, the changing media landscape requires that Dell add more social media hooks into IdeaStorm to ensure its continued success. Dell is busy doing just that.

When IdeaStorm launched, it was consciously modeled on Digg and was described as “a combination between a message board and” on Dell’s blog. The site asked users to submit ideas on any topic — products and features, policy changes, you name it. Users were then invited to vote on the site, Digg-style.

At the time, Dell was one of the few companies putting itself out into social media that way. In previous years, there had been a craze for intranets, which solicited ideas and feedback from within a company. But here, consumers were being asked to weigh in as well. And Dell wasn’t the only brand taking the approach. A day before IdeaStorm launched, Yahoo rolled out Yahoo Suggestion Board, which sought to do pretty much the same thing, also while tapping the Digg model.

A few years later, there’s been a fairly widespread adoption of the IdeaStorm idea. For example, Starbucks has a thriving program called My Starbucks Idea that’s netted tends of thousands of ideas, some of which were implemented, such as free birthday beverages. President Obama also ushered in his own version of IdeaStorm, called Citizen’s Briefing Book,” in January 2009.

Since the concept of soliciting ideas online is now somewhat passe, Dell is evolving it. Last fall, the company made an effort to bring IdeaStorm into its phase two: complete social media integration. There is now an IdeaStorm Twitter feed with around 4,500 followers. There’s also Facebook integration on IdeaStorm that lets users post their ideas on their Facebook Pages, and other updates are on the way. Binhammer says the company is working on a one-time login for all of Dell’s social media-enabled websites.

The social media hooks will no doubt spur more idea generation. How does Dell keep on top of it? Binhammer says that monitoring the ideas is part of everyone’s job at Dell. “There’s no ‘Idea Politburo’ here evaluating ideas,” he says. Dell’s fans also play a big role, not just in “promoting” or “demoting” those ideas with the Digg-like interface, but by commenting on ideas that need refinement. If the ideas produce something great for Dell, that’s a major win, but having consumers feel like they’re part of the process may be the biggest benefit of all.

Series supported by Spredfast

The Social Brands Series is supported by Spredfast, which provides an enterprise-class social media management platform helping organizations unlock their social business potential. The Spredfast platform provides a unified system for managing, monitoring and measuring social media programs for better business results. Discover best practices & proven tactics for using social for business with the Social Media Pocket Guide.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, aluxum

More About: dell, Social Brands Series, Social Media

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

47 Days After Independence, South Sudan Still Absent From Online Maps

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 06:35 AM PDT

John Tanza Mabusu is from Maridi, a town in South Sudan. But if you ask Google Maps, Bing, Mapquest or Yahoo Maps, Maridi is in Sudan.

After decades of civil war and violence, South Sudan declared its Independence on July 9. The U.S. government and the United Nations have recognized South Sudan as an independent nation, but the overwhelming majority of Internet cartography has not.

Mabusu, a broadcast journalist who fled Sudan in 1991 and now lives in Washington, D.C., says he checks Google Maps every day to see whether it has recognized his country. Last week, he started a petition that he hopes will pressure Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and National Geographic to change their maps.

“Most people [from South Sudan] feel like they have no home and they have no sense of belonging. And so for them to have a new country … it is this huge, huge sense of celebration,” Mabusu says. “I thought that it is high time to put South Sudan on the map so that people know that this is a distinct nation. A nation with its own people.”

As early as July 14, Google spokespeople have been saying the company is in the process of making the update. The company updated Google Earth within a month and has held “mapping events” that encourage locals to participate in creating accurate maps of South Sudan.

“That’s nice,” Mabusu says. “But I would still argue that it’s too late to start talking about that because since the 9th of July, if they were serious, we would have seen the signs of their work.”

It is easy to question the delay when, within hours of a report that rebel forces in Tripoli had taken control from Muammar al-Gaddafi, Google changed the name of the city’s Green Square to “Martyr’s Square” on its maps.

A Google spokesperson said nobody was available to discuss the South Sudan update over the phone, and spokespeople from Yahoo and Mapquest referred Mashable to their map supplier NAVTEQ, which also provides data for Bing’s maps.

NAVTEQ referred back to its customers. “NAVTEQ bases decisions to add a new country to our database on the needs of our customers to whom we license our data, as well as considering the overall business requirements at a given point in time,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“Specifically regarding South Sudan – we are aware of this recent change and are currently assessing plans. It is also important to understand that once NAVTEQ makes a determination as to how our database update will be handled, our customers — who receive access to updated data on a quarterly basis — then determine if and when to make data available to their users.

“We pride ourselves on the quality of our map and make over 2 million changes to our database every day. NAVTEQ believes that our dedication to detailed planning before additions of this nature to our database ensures that we maintain our quality vision and best serve our customers, and ultimately the consumer.”

Violence between Sudan and South Sudan continues, and there are still a number of issues that could make drawing a definitive border difficult, including a contested region of the border called Abyei.

For other contested borders of the world, online maps have made due with dotted lines or other indications. The border between Egypt and Sudan, for instance, contains a dotted portion to indicate the disputed border triangle Halayeb on both Google’s and NAVTEQ’s maps. Google Earth uses a red line to show Abyei instead of the yellow lines that denote other borders.

What bothers Mabusu and other South Sudanese is that as of now, for reasons that haven’t been spelled out publicly, there is no indication of their country whatsoever on most Internet maps.

“As it is now, it is very, very confusing,” Mabusu says. “You would not know the difference. It looks like nothing happened.”

More About: Google Maps, South Sudan

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

Back to School: 15 Classroom Accessories for Geeks

Posted: 25 Aug 2011 06:06 AM PDT

For kids, back-to-school season is an exciting time of shiny pencil cases, brand new erasers, as-yet undented lunch boxes and freshly sharpened crayons.

Although grown-ups don’t always get to enjoy such treats, we say it’s alright to spoil yourself and spice up your September with a geek-themed back-to-school accessory or two.

Take a look through our gallery of great geeky stationery and cool classroom-themed trifles. Let us know in the comments which ones you might be tempted to spend your pocket money on.

1. Icon Notebooks

These gorgeously simple notebooks offer you 80 blank pages of icon-themed potential.

Cost: From $11.76

2. Nom Nom Nom Lunchbag

What noise does a geek make eating their lunch? You guessed it -- "nom, nom, nom." This meme-tastic food transportation device will warn lunchroom colleagues of your imminent snacking.

Cost: $12.99

3. Deletus

This giant eraser shaped like your keyboard's "delete" key is pretty witty. Now all we need is a real-life "mute" button.

Cost: $14

4. Building Block Calculators

These cute calculators are shaped like our favorite building blocks. They're perfect for adding some childhood chic to your desktop.

Cost: $26.99

5. Space Invaders Pencil Case

We love this Space Invaders pencil case with its awesome arcade-y design.

Cost: $16

6. NotPad

The 9.7-inch "NotPad" can be used in both landscape and portrait orientation and is compatible with pens, pencils and crayons.

Cost: $18

7. LEGO Lunchbox

Modelled on the classic eight-stud brick and available in black, pink and red, we can't think of a cooler way to transport our PB-n-J sandwiches than this official LEGO lunchbox.

Cost: $16

8. Floppy Disk Sticky Notes

These sticky pads (which look just like 3.5-inch floppies of years gone by) offer a great geeky alternative to your traditional Post-It.

Cost: $11.99 for a pack of three

9. Re/Cover iPhone Case

If you can't justify the purchase of a new standalone calculator, this vinyl skin will give your iPhone 4 a retro-calc look at half the price.

Cost: $15

10. Ink of Me Stamp Set

This ink stamp is a great way to personalize your hard copy communications.

Cost: $19.99

11. iColor Stylus

Your inner child can enjoy this fun silicone stylus which works with any capacitive touchscreen.

Cost: $9.99

12. Paper Tweet Notepad

When you can't get online to tweet, this analog -- and entirely wireless -- solution will help you get your message out.

Cost: $4.99

13. Geek Statement Socks

Designed to ape the vintage tube socks we all used to wear for gym class, this geek-themed footwear range should put a smile on your face as the weather gets colder.

Cost: $10.99 each

14. Space Intruders Eraser Set

These Space Intruder erasers are so fun you might find yourself purposely making mistakes just so you can use them.

Cost: $2.50

15. Ring Binder Boogie Board

You can enjoy some high-tech doodling with the Boogie Board, a type of Etch-a-Sketch for your ring binder.

Cost: $82

BONUS: Report Cards for Real Life

No-one's too old to receive a report card. These authentic-looking tear-out cards will let you assess your colleagues' conduct. Must try harder!

Cost: $14.99

More About: accessories, back to school, gallery, geek, Lists, trending

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

Back to the top