Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Playing For Change Debuts “Higher Ground” Cover on Mashable [VIDEO]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Playing For Change Debuts “Higher Ground” Cover on Mashable [VIDEO]”

Playing For Change Debuts “Higher Ground” Cover on Mashable [VIDEO]

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 04:59 AM PDT

The Playing For Change Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to bringing music and arts education to underprivileged children around the world, is debuting its cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Change” on Mashable, in honor of the first Playing For Change Day on Sept. 17.

The video blends the vocals of the Netherlands’s Clarence Bekker with percussionists from Mali, Senegal, Brazil, Colombia and Jamaica, as well as electric guitars, bass and a kora, a 21-string West African bridge-harp.

On Playing For Change Day, musicians will perform in cafes, sidewalks, town squares and stages to raise money to bring music into the lives of young people. Performances are planned in more than 25 countries in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. The events range from day-long festivals to personal celebrations such as weddings.

This year’s theme, Power to the People, draws inspiration from John Lennon and is supported by Yoko Ono. The goal is to raise $250,000 to support the organization’s programming for one year. Proceeds will be split between the Playing For Change Foundation and Theatre Within, a non-profit performing arts center.

Playing For Change’s first release, “Stand by Me,” in 2008 has been viewed more than 34 million times on YouTube. The video’s popularity transformed Playing For Change from a small group to a global movement.

You can check out other Playing For Change videos we’ve shared on Mashable below.

"Redemption Song"

"Gimme Shelter"

More About: music, News, Social Good, video

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Motorola Droid Bionic Now Available on Verizon

Posted: 08 Sep 2011 01:43 AM PDT

The time has come: Motorola’s long-expected Droid Bionic is now available in Verizon stores.

The latest 4G Android smartphone to come from Motorola’s workshop was originally slated to hit the market in Q2 2011, but alas, it was not to be. It has a 1 GHz dual-core CPU, 1 GB of RAM, a 4.3-inch 960×540 pixel screen, and an 8-megapixel camera as well as a 2-megapixel front cam for video chats.

The device costs $299.99 with a two-year contract or $589.99 if you’re not the contract-signing type.

More About: droid bionic, Motorola, Motorola Droid Bionic, smartphone, verizon

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Facebook App 9/11 Memorial Lets You Dedicate Status Updates to Victims

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 09:08 PM PDT

Facebook, in collaboration with The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, will ask members to update their profile photos or dedicate their statuses in remembrance of the victims who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

The 9/11 Memorial application, built by Facebook app maker Involver, was released Wednesday, just days ahead of the tenth anniversary of the tragic attacks.

“The goal of the application is to honor and remember victims of this devastating attack on America, 10 years later,” explains Involver‘s Senior Vice President of Marketing Jascha Kaykas-Wolff.

Facebook users can choose to dedicate their status or update their profile photo, and tell their family and friends how they're remembering and honoring victims.

When a user selects to donate his or her status, the application selects from the 3,000 victims — which include victims of the World Trade Center bombing, the attack on the Pentagon, the passengers of Flight 93 and the six people killed in the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing — and dedicates each status to a single victim. App users also have the option to choose to dedicate an update to a specific individual.

Coordinated with its launch, the application will be featured on a number of prominent Facebook Pages including the Pages of members of Congress, presidential candidates, federal agencies, non-profits and celebrities. Facebook and Involver will also feature the application on their own Pages.

The social media memorial and tribute is bound to reverberate throughout the social network, especially considering Facebook’s more than 750 million members and the smattering of partners featuring the 9/11 Memorial application on their Pages.

More About: 911, facebook, involver, Social Media

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EXCLUSIVE: Old Spice’s New Campaign Has Multiple Spokesmen [VIDEO]

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 08:00 PM PDT

Old Spice is taking a new direction with its latest campaign, by featuring multiple spokesmen — none of which are Isaiah Mustafa.

The effort, promoting the Red Zone Swagger sub-brand, however, does not mean that Mustafa will no longer star in ads for the brand, says a rep. “We will still work with Isaiah,” says Mike Norton.

The ad above, which will run during Thursday night’s Green Bay Packers-New Orleans Saints NFL kickoff game, is one of three new ads that will play on the theme of how ordinary guys can be transformed by the brand’s scents.

The campaign, from Wieden + Kennedy, the agency behind 2010′s hit “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, aims for the same zany, deadpan humor as previous campaigns. “I’m not a well-decorated sea captain who battles monsters on a large nautical vessel,” says the new spokesman, who is actually dressed to look like a well-decorated sea captain and has a fake monster on his shoulder. “But thanks to Old Spice, I smell like I am,” he says. As the ad continues, he outlines how he doesn’t have “14 well-oiled abs” or “endless gold treasures pouring from my pants,” although that clearly seems to be the case.

SEE ALSO: Lessons Learned From The Old Spice Campaign & Its Imitators

Another ad, this one breaking Sept. 17, features a jet pilot/billionaire delivering a flawless presentation in a boardroom. A print ad, “Rocker,” shows a guy going from the library to the stage.

This isn’t the first time since the 2010 campaign that Old Spice tried out different spokesmen. Ex-NFL player/actor Terry Crews also starred in some Old Spice ads and the brand used an unflappable spokesman in foreign market ads.

Old Spice also ran a campaign this summer that pitted Mustafa against Fabio in “Mano a Mano en El Baño,” a YouTube effort that drew more than 22 million views, though it’s not clear if it boosted sales, according to Advertising Age. Norton says the data cited in Ad Age‘s report isn’t indicative of any effect from the campaign. “It depends what data point you look at,” Norton says. “We were very pleased with it overall.”

More About: advertising, MARKETING, old spice

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New iPad Rental Service Targets Travelers

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 07:00 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: Flying Connected

Quick Pitch: iPad, smartphone, GPS and mobile broadband rentals for individuals.

Genius Idea: Catering to travelers by delivering to airports or hotels.

The Internet makes it easy to rent books, movies, high fashion, kid stuff and pretty much anything. But most iPad rental services don’t rent to individuals. Unless you own a business, it’s still easier to rent a speedboat than an iPad.

Flying Connected, an electronics rental site that launched in New York City last month, aims to make it easy for individuals to rent electronic companions for their trips.

Rental prices on the site vary depending on the renters’ choice of insurance package, accessories and pre-loaded media. The company’s most popular item, the iPad 2, can be rented for $18 to $28 per day. For a small fee, it will deliver a device to an airport or hotel in New York City.

Founder Zalmy Raskin says that he’s targeting travelers for a couple of reasons. First, traveling with mobile electronics that require a data plan, like a smartphone or an iPad when it’s not connected to the Internet, is a pain.

“Even if you have it with you, there's always the frustration of when you turn it on you can't using without roaming charges,” says Raskin, who moved to New York from London a few years ago. “You're on payphones. It's frustrating.”

Raskin thinks that domestic travelers might also find use for his service — whether they’d like to take a new device for a trial whirl, avoid lugging a laptop on a business trip, or view movies and other media on the plane.

The just-launched startup’s clientele is still small in both the national and international travel departments, but it hopes to partner with car rental companies and smaller hotel chains to grow its user base by offering a discount to their customers.

If the concept takes off, building a customer base through these partners could prove less of an issue than keeping up with one. Maintaining an inventory of expensive electronics won’t be cheap, and the startup is bootstrapping its efforts.

Raskin has devised a plan that he hopes will help it keep up. Anyone who agrees to lend their device to the company for a period can keep a percentage from rentals and keep their device after the deal ends.

Is that a deal that you would take? Would you ever rent an iPad or another electronic device for a trip? Let us know in the comments.

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: Flying Connected, iPad rental, travel

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Why Launching a Startup Is More Expensive Than You Think

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 06:28 PM PDT

Dave Rosenberg is the CEO of Nodeable, which offers a social platform for systems data.

One of the things we hear a lot about in Silicon Valley is how cheap and easy it is to launch a startup these days. After all, high-quality open source software is free, the cloud makes computer power far less expensive, and anyone with an Internet connection can learn Ruby and CSS. Throw in a few YouTube videos and a Twitter account, and you're golden — or so we are led to believe.

While all of these factors are true to an extent, the truth of the matter is that the reduced costs of hardware and software are easily offset by the expense of engineers and experienced business people. And no matter what the latest trends indicate, you will eventually have to spend money on PR and marketing.

I'm now in my second founder/CEO role, having raised more than $18.5 million in venture financing. In the last 10 years, I've been through three other venture-backed startups (two were IPO'd and one was acquired), and if one thing has become clear, it's that no matter how inexpensively you think you can build a business, your calculations will be off — usually by a lot.

"The trick is determining the exact amount of money you'll need in the first place, and figuring out where to spend the money to extract the most impact.”

No doubt early-stage companies can be started on a shoestring by low-paid entrepreneurs, but when financing a scalable, sustainable product, a free application server won't make much of a difference. Nearly all of your costs will be headcount, primarily in the engineering department. And in case you haven't heard, engineers are in short supply and get paid a lot these days, especially in the valley.

This is not to suggest that you can't succeed on a budget with a skeleton team. The trick is determining the exact amount of money you'll need in the first place, and figuring out where to spend the money to extract the most impact. For example, my company decided early on to hire a UI designer, which has helped tremendously with our product development.

We also soon decided that we wanted to outsource as much of our operations to hosted services as we possibly could. Then we allocated the saved money into hiring the highest quality developers available — especially those who have experience working with a distributed team.

SEE ALSO: 8 Crucial Elements of Startup Success

Many first-time entrepreneurs envision getting in the door with the right venture capitalists (VCs), financial deities who will nurture their ideas and lavish cash upon them. Sometimes this is true, but generally speaking, you will hold two to four meetings with a venture firm — even when you already have amiable contacts there. And that still doesn't guarantee they're going to fund your vision.

Getting funded is hardly the end-all. In fact, it's barely even the beginning for most companies in their seed stage financings. That said, to secure funding, it's vital to craft a coherent pitch, especially if you don't already have a prototype or working product.

Early-stage seed and angel investors all realize that a business will encounter a huge range of flux very rapidly. What they're evaluating is the quality and compatibility of the team, the overall market size and the feasibility that you and your crew can make something big happen. That doesn't mean you'll receive a blank check. Venture firms put their money into your company with the expectation (not just the hope) that you'll create a substantial return.

None of this advice is meant as a scare tactic, or a suggestion that you can't or shouldn't start a company. In fact, I encourage everyone — even my own employees — to target a business passion that will make them happy and wealthy.

The availability of low-cost technology is just one piece of the puzzle. The path from seed idea to successful business is a long and arduous process — one that is simultaneously painful and hugely rewarding.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: business, finance, startup

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Find a Job in Social Media, Communications or Design

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 05:25 PM 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.

Editorial Assistant at Mashable in New York, NY.

Mashable Job Board Listings

Multi-Channel Merchandising Assistant at The National 4-H Council in Chevy Chase, MD.

Social Media Manager at LivingSocial in Washington, D.C.

Interactive Producer/ Daring Truth Seeker at SANBORN MEDIA FACTORY in New York, NY.

Digital Marketing Designer/Editor at xMatters, Inc. in Dublin, CA.

SEO Manager at Leading Online News Destination in Los Angeles, CA.

Senior Web Developer (Ruby on Rails) at Memory Reel in Dallas, TX.

Director, Product Marketing at New Relic in San Francisco, CA.

Jr. Interactive Digital Artist at CP+B in Boulder, CO.

Social Media Officer at Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington, D.C.

ColdFusion Application Developer at Fusionapps in Secaucus, NJ.

Associate SEO Strategist at Morpheus Media in New York, NY.

Interactive Savvy Graphic Designer/Art Director at Bill Young Productions Inc. in Houston, TX.

Paid Online Innovation Internships with MoveOn Labs at in Berkeley, CA.

Developer Advocate at Atlassian in San Francisco, CA.

Online Communications Manager – South Asia Region at The World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Email Marketing Manager at Inman News in Alameda, CA.

Content and Community Development Manager at Loehmann’s in Bronx, NY.

Product Manager – Local Business Products at Yelp Inc. in San Francisco, CA.

Associate Digital Producer (emphasis on social media and gaming) at roundhouse in Seattle, WA.

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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Klout Calculates Its 100 Millionth Score

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 04:19 PM PDT

Klout, the startup tracking social media users’ influence across 10 different networks, has calculated scores for more than 100 million people, the company announced Wednesday.

“One hundred million people with Klout Scores means that there are 100 million voices effectively leveraging the social web to share their opinions, hopes and dreams and shaping the decisions of the billions of people now listening to them,” Klout co-founder and CEO Joe Fernandez says of the milestone.

To be clear, Klout has yet to sign up 100 million service users. Instead the startup measures the influence of its users and their social network friends by association, as pulled in via social graphs on Twitter, Facebook and recently added networks such as Instagram, Foursquare and LinkedIn.

Still, now that Klout is tracking the scores of more than 100 million people on the web, the startup can solidify its place as the de facto measurement tool for influence online and appeal to even more brands and marketers looking to locate and leverage their most socially persuasive fans and customers.

Fernandez says Klout will begin to incorporate additional networks in the months ahead — the startup has already expressed interest in assessing users’ influence on Google+. “We intend to find influence wherever it exists,” Fernandez says.

More About: influence, klout, startup

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Watch Live: GOP Presidential Debate

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 03:45 PM PDT

Eight Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to face off in a debate at the Reagan Library at 8 p.m. ET.

For the first time, newcomer to the race Texas Gov. Rick Perry will join the debates. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be absent, having dropped from running for the GOP nomination last month.

Tonight’s debate will include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, businessman Herman Cain and former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman.

Politico‘s John F. Harris and Brian Williams will moderate. You can also view it on here.

This is already the fourth debate overall and the first of three scheduled for this month.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, zentilia

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, presidential debates

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How Do We Get More Students Interested in Math, Science & Tech Careers? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 02:51 PM PDT

In the next seven years, more than a million jobs will open up that require specialized technology skills, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there won’t be enough qualified college graduates to fill them. Are we doing enough to get kids interested in math and science?

Harris Interactive conducted two surveys on behalf of Microsoft to understand the shortage of students entering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields. One survey focused on parents of K-12 students and the other surveyed college students pursuing STEM degrees.

Why do students choose to pursue math or science? The answer appears to vary by gender. Forty-nine percent of female STEM students say it was to make a difference, and 61% of male students said that games or toys in their childhoods sparked their interest. For 68% of the female respondents, a teacher or class got them interested in science, math, engineering or technology.

Many of the students surveyed said they majored in STEM for work reasons — 68% mentioned good salary and 66% mentioned job potential; 68% of those same students also said they majored in STEM because they found it stimulating and challenging.

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

Harris Interactive asked parents about their perception of STEM education in K-12. It found that 93% of parents believe that STEM education should be a priority in the U.S., but only 49% believe it is treated as a priority. And while 50% of parents want to see their children pursue careers in STEM, only 24% said they were willing to spend extra money to make their children successful in math and science classes.

For more information from the Microsoft-Harris Interactive surveys, you can check out the results or the infographic below.

More About: education, inforgraphic, microsoft, Tech, trending

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Lil Wayne Sets iTunes Sales Record

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 02:18 PM PDT

Lil Wayne’s 10th studio album, The Carter IV, has broken iTunes sales records — with 348,000 digital albums sold in just four days.

Nielsen Soundscan figures indicate that The Carter IV moved a total of 964,000 records in its first week of release. It’s telling that more than a third of those purchases were digital, and came in the first four days.

iTunes has been the number one music retailer since 2008, when Apple announced it had eclipsed brick-and-mortar stores. But The Carter IV’s success just reaffirms the strength of this model.

Weezy’s latest jam became available on iTunes immediately after his performance at the 2011 VMAs; it hit the top spot immediately. The Deluxe Edition, which contains more tracks and retails for $14.99 on iTunes, $3.99 more than the standard edition, accounted for 95% of digital sales and 70% of physical sales. In the age of Spotify and $0.99 album release sales, it’s rare that a $15 special edition can move so many copies.

SEE ALSO: Interact with Lil Wayne’s New Video with Your iPhone [VIDEO]

In 2011, moving nearly a million copies of an album in the first week of release is an achievement in itself. A decade ago, it was common for anticipated releases from major artists to move that many units — but as the industry has contracted, such impressive first-week figures are no longer commonplace. Lady Gaga moved more than 1.15 million copies of Born this Way in its first week of release, but even that figure — the biggest debut since ‘NSYNC’s Celebrity in 2001 — was aided by a one-day sale on Amazon. The online retailer offered Born This Way for 99 cents as part of a bid to promote its cloud storage service.

Like Gaga, Lil Wayne has an extensive following on social media. In February, the rapper famously took down Oreo’s record for most Facebook Likes in 24 hours.

At the time of writing, the 10th anniversary digital re-release of The Beatles’ 1 is now atop the iTunes album charts. It’s hard for anyone, even Weezy, to compete with the Fab Four.

More About: itunes, lil wayne, music

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Happy Birthday, Television: 26 Essential Connected TV Resources

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 02:09 PM PDT

The high-definition Super Bowl replays and 3D animated films of today wouldn’t be possible without the genius of Philo Farnsworth, inventor of the electric television.

On Sept. 7, 1927 Farnsworth transmitted the first image via television — a simple, straight line. His image dissector camera tube created an electron image which, in turn, generated an on-screen representation recognizable by the human eye. Two years later, Farnsworth had tweaked his invention enough to transmit the first live images to television, one of which was a 3.5-inch portrait of his wife, who sat squinting into the bright light then necessary to transmit a picture.

Since television’s inception, the world has witnessed its impact on advertising principles, news distribution, the music industry, technological innovation, political coverage and, well, reality. In recognition of the first electronic television developed 84 years ago, we’ve compiled a roundup of resources that cover the latest in TV tech — today’s web-enabled platforms and the social viewing experience.

Connect at a Mashable Meetup on Social Good Day

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 01:17 PM PDT

Can social media be used to make the world a better place?

At Mashable we see individuals around the world use social media to benefit their communities through fundraising drives, viral videos telling moving stories and awareness campaigns.

Mashable would like to invite our community to join the social good movement by taking part in a Mashable Meetup on Social Good Day, Sept. 21, coinciding with the Social Good Summit. At these meetups, we hope, our community of like-minded individuals will discover fresh and innovative ways to use social media to create awareness and solutions.

Mashable Meetups for Social Good can take just about any shape you'd like depending on what best suits your social community. For planning tips, check out our how-to guide or join the Mashable Meetup Organizers Facebook Group.

Social Good Day Ideas

Here are a few suggestions for planning a Mashable Meetup event:

  • Brainstorming Sessions: Connect with peers in your community while devising ways to make the world a better place.
  • Livestream Viewing Parties: Not everyone can make it to Manhattan to attend the Social Good Summit, so Mashable has made the entire event available for free online. RSVP for the Social Good Summit Livestream here!
  • Do Some Good!: Can you challenge your community to make a change for good in one day? It would be an ambitious endeavor, but we’d love to see it happen!
  • Invite Speakers: Is there someone in your area who is prominent in the social space and a champion of social good? Invite them to teach others about their best practices.
  • Find a Mashable Meetup community in your area:

On Sept. 12-22, Mashable, 92Y and the UN Foundation are holding the second annual Social Good Summit at 92Y in New York City. Held during UN Week, the Social Good Summit is where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions. The Summit includes a dynamic lineup of speakers who are redefining the social good space. They include Ted Turner, Lance Armstrong, Elie Wiesel, and Christy Turlington.

Event Details

Date: Monday, September 19, 2011, through Thursday, September 22, 2011
Time: 1:00-5:00 p.m. ET
Location: 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., New York, NY
Tickets: $30 per day or $100 for 4-day pass.

Register for Social Good Summit 2011 - Presented by Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation - September 19 - 22, 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

Livestream: Unable to join us in person? RSVP for the Livestream to join us online.

Register for RSVP for Social Good Summit 2011 LIVESTREAM - Presented by Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation - September 19-22, 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

Sponsored by Ericsson

For over a century, Ericsson has seen communications as a fundamental human right. Today, it is the leading provider of technology and services to network operators. Its networks connect 2 billion people and almost half of the world’s 5.5 billion mobile subscriptions. Now, Ericsson intends to do for broadband what it did for the telephone; make it mobile, available and affordable for all. Ericsson's vision is to be the prime driver of an all-communicating world, where Information and Communications technologies (ICT) come together to create a Networked Society. A Networked Society will bring many opportunities and challenges. As Ericsson works in the world, it aims to apply innovative solutions together with partners to make a real difference to peoples' lives, to business and to the economy, enabling change towards a more sustainable world. We call this Technology for Good.

More About: community, meetup, Social Good, social good summit

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How and Why Consumers Choose a Smartphone

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 01:07 PM PDT

The Consumer Trends Series is supported by CBS Interactive, which helps you find the perfect audience with a network of #1 sites like CNET,, CBS Sports and GameSpot. For more, visit

It’s no secret that smartphone usage and adoption is exploding, not only in the United States, but across the world.

Mobile phones continue to be one of the biggest drivers for innovation in technology. Moreover, technology like NFC and mobile apps are fundamentally changing the way content is distributed, consumed and created.

In fact, the market has finally evolved beyond the point of whether or not a consumer will buy a smartphone. Instead, the question becomes, why do consumers choose one phone over another and how are they making those decisions? Research firm Mintel released a report that takes a high-level look at the various factors that influence smartphone adoption and consumer purchases.

Most Upgrade-Worthy Features

Mintel puts adult smartphone consumers into two categories: Smartphone upgraders and replacement buyers. Because smartphones cost roughly four times as much as feature phones, users that upgrade to a smartphone are having a big impact on the mobile phone sales market as a whole.

What differentiates the mobile phone market from other consumer electronics and personal computer segments, however, is the speed at which users replace these devices. In Mintel’s consumer survey, 24% of respondents who own a mobile phone say they replace their phone at least every other year.

So what features drive users to upgrade their device?

  • 4G — It’s hard to overstate the promise and potential of 4G. While blanket network adoption is still a few years away, 4G is already proving to be an alluring opportunity, especially for smartphone users in major cities. According to Mintel, 16% of cellphone owners said that the next phone they purchase will support 4G.
  • Video Calling — Video calling might finally go mainstream, thanks to the smartphone. While 15% of Mintel respondents said that they were interested in making video calls, only 10% said they would change phones to get that feature. Fortunately, front-facing cameras have become the de facto smartphone standard, and services like Skype are expanding their slate of supported devices.
  • Large Screens — Bucking the trend of nano-sized electronics, smartphone screens keep getting bigger and bigger. In fact, 27% of Mintel respondents wished their phone screens were larger. The 4″ smartphone screen is quickly becoming standard — and case leaks suggest that Apple might even be increasing its screen size with the upcoming iPhone 5.
  • GPSLocation based services like Foursquare might not be fully mainstream, but 52% of smartphone users used their phone’s GPS feature to get directions in the last 30 days.

Where Are Consumers Buying Phones

Now that we know why consumers are buying or upgrading their phones, where are these purchases being made? As with other types of commerce, cellphones are increasingly purchased online. Between 2009 and 2010, the share of phone purchases made via the Internet increased 4.6 points.

The reason that more consumers are turning to the Internet is twofold. First, the best promotions for phones are found online. Rather than trying to barter with the commission phone rep at Costco to get a better plan or phone price, users can just log in to and shop. Second, buying online is a lot more convenient in many cases than waiting to be helped at the local carrier shop.

Still, what’s interesting about the growth trend for online phone sales is that major retail chains like Best Buy and Walmart are also experiencing increased activity on their websites. Carriers themselves are also getting in on the online action.

Google famously tried to launch its Nexus One smartphone without any retail presence. This strategy failed, and with the Nexus S, Google took a more traditional approach to retailing, partnering with Best Buy, as well as offering phones online.

Comparing Brands and Users

Unsurprisingly, Google and Apple are the biggest names in the smartphone space. With Android, Google has leapfrogged the competition in terms of market share, but Apple continues to be the most popular device maker.

When it comes what types of users flock to different platforms, consumers aged 18 to 24 are more likely to own an Android device, whereas consumer 25-34 are more likely to own an iPhone. Consumer over 35 are more likely to own a BlackBerry. When it comes to desire, however, nearly every age bracket most desired an iPhone. The one exception? Consumers 55 and up. They want Android. The BlackBerry might not be the most desirable phone on the block, but it maintains a big lead in households with at least one child.

Are We Mainstream Yet?

Smartphone adoption is increasing, but there are still some factors that prevent the sector from taking over cellphone ownership as a whole. As we’ve reported in the past, not everyone owns a smartphone.

Older consumers, particularly those in the Baby Boomer generation, are more likely to be uninterested in owning a smartphone. For many individuals, the value add and need just isn’t there. Mintel sees this as a huge opportunity for marketers, and we agree.

Still, as technology becomes more affordable, connectivity becomes more ubiquitous and ownership becomes more expected, smartphone ownership will make its way into the mainstream.

Series Supported by CBS Interactive

The Consumer Trends Series is supported by CBS Interactive, which helps you find the perfect audience with a network of sites starting with CNET,, CBS Sports and GameSpot – to name a few. To see how our exclusive content, video and mobile can help you engage with your ideal target, visit

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, franckreporter

More About: Consumer Trends Series, smartphone

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How Social Media Is Adding More Value to Fashion’s Night Out

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 12:57 PM PDT

Macala Wright is the publisher of FashionablyMarketing.Me, one of the leading fashion and retail industry business websites. She is a retail consultant and business strategist who specializes in marketing consulting for fashion, luxury and lifestyle brands. You can follower her on Twitter at @InsideFMM or @Macala.

Just two years after its inception, Fashion’s Night Out — a night of shopping and celebration that takes place across the globe on Thursday — has made a controversial impact on the fashion industry and the consumer retail world. Although it continues to attract greater retail participation, many wonder if the event has real value for the industry, or if it’s just an excuse for one big party.

The History of Fashion’s Night Out: 2009 – 2011

Image courtesy of Flickr, Patricia Oliveira

Fashion's Night Out was created in 2009 by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenburg, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), in the deepest part of the recession. The industry icons met in Paris and developed the idea of bringing consumers' favorite designers to them in person, taking the B2B, trade-only model and giving it a consumer focus.

The goal was to motivate consumers to spend again by creating excitement around a community-style shopping event that gave everyone who participated access to the designers and celebrities they loved. Wintour and von Furstenburg then approached New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and all editors of Vogue internationally to execute the event.

The event was pitched as a strategic way to end the cycle of deep, almost fanatical retail discounting that was commonplace in 2009. Event participants promised they wouldn't launch sales that evening, though that didn’t stop them from trotting out sale racks with items that were already marked down.

In terms of participation, it was a measurable success. Eleven countries and 700 stores in the U.S. took part in the evening’s festivities in 2009. Participating retailers saw a 3.4% increase in store traffic nationwide, and a 48% increase in New York City alone, according to estimates from ShopperTrak. A NYC & Co. survey of 1,300 shoppers found 71% of them visited a store they had never been to before and 61% ventured out of their comfort zones, going to neighborhoods outside of their work and living areas.

2011 promises to be even bigger. 18 countries (including Greece, UK, Japan, China, Brazil, France and South Korea), more than 250 U.S. cities and 1,178 retailers in New York City will participate in Fashion’s Night Out. Two hundred online retailers have also signed on for the event this year.

A Strategic Marketing Initiative?

Image courtesy of Flickr, find eric

Although the event attracts a great deal of notice, fashion industry professionals still have mixed feelings about the true benefits of Fashion's Night Out.

In a recent New York Times blog post, veteran style critic Cathy Horyn writes, "Fashion's Night Out was a good idea when it began, back in the depths of the recession when stores were virtually empty. But now it's become a party, an institutionalized kickoff to Fashion Week, and though it apparently raises money for some causes, I have to believe that the costs of security, crowd control and entertainment, not to mention the traffic headaches, outweigh the actual benefits.”

The problem comes down to sales. Although the same NYC & Co. survey found that 75% of shoppers said they made a purchase during Fashion’s Night Out in 2009, retailers told Forbes that recession-conscious consumers were really there to see celebrities rather than shop — something I witnessed in both 2009 and 2010 first-hand.

Although most retailers have refused to disclose numbers, Barney's New York creative director Simon Doonan said that the 2009 impact was minimal in terms of sales.

So why aren’t consumers shopping? According to Wendy Bendoni, professor of fashion marketing at Woodbury University, "Most consumers still are wondering why there aren't any promotion sales and don't see the need to go out in the crowd. They have not been properly educated of what this night means to the fashion industry as a whole."

Bendoni says that retailers need to look at Fashion’s Night Out as an opportunity to connect with their customers, “not selling out their collections.” She believes that a stellar FNO event can create customer loyalty. "The consumer will remember where they first met the designer or influential personality they idolize that helped them pull their fall 'must-have' items during the event. That connection is the start of the relationships that can last decades,” she says.

Can Digital Save Fashion's Night Out?

While guest DJs and celebrity appearances might not move merchandise in stores on Fashion’s Night Out, there’s still an opportunity to utilize the event as a marketing and customer engagement opportunity — largely, I believe, through digital.

This year, participating retailers large and small are coming up with creative ways to incorporate social media and digital technology into their in-store and online events. The most successful of these are building off followings they’ve already built through social networks and mobile apps, using these platforms to develop a new form of social customer relationship management (sCRM) that converts social audiences into shoppers over time.

DKNY, for instance, will be deepening the relationship its built with customers through its DKNY PR Girl brand on Twitter and Tumblr. At DKNY’s London flagship, shoppers are invited to explore an in-store set that realizes DKNY PR Girl’s fantasy apartment — including, of course, her closet. She will also be interacting with fans across the pond via a Twitter feed that will be projected onto a giant BlackBerry in the store.

Coach and Mattel are similarly building off of online relationships for Fashion’s Night Out. Coach will be bringing bloggers who participated in designer collaborations to its flagship store to meet shoppers, while Mattel will be leveraging Barbie’s its Twitter following for a fun, engaging QR code-enabled scavenger hunt throughout the city that non-New Yorkers can follow at

These aren’t just one-off events: These are promotions that will develop relationships with consumers old and new alike. Sure, these brands may not see off-the-charts sales on Fashion’s Night Out, but they can hope to develop relationships that convert these social audiences into shoppers over time.

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Facebook Adds Clinton’s Former Chief of Staff to Board

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 12:17 PM PDT

Facebook has announced that former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles has been added to its board of directors.

Bowles served as President Bill Clinton's head of the Small Business Administration in 1993 before becoming deputy White House chief of staff in 1994 and chief of staff in 1996. Before that, Bowles founded his own investment bank and co-founded venture capital firm Kitty Hawk Capital and private equity firm Carousel Capital.

Bowles is also the president emeritus of the University of North Carolina system and is currently co-chair of President Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

“Erskine has held important roles in government, academia and business which have given him insight into how to build organizations and navigate complex issues,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “Along with his experience founding companies, this will be very valuable as we continue building new things to help make the world more open and connected.”

Bowles will join an all-star board of directors that includes Peter Tiel (PayPal, Founders Fund, Clarium Capital), Reed Hastings (Netflix), Donald Graham (Washington Post), Jim Breyer (Accel Partners), Marc Andreessen (Andreessen Horowitz, Netscape) and Zuckerberg. Hastings joined the board in June to guide the company as it prepares for its highly-anticipated IPO.

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YouTube Game Offers Galaxy Tabs, With Help from Dogs & Queen Latifah

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 11:58 AM PDT

An unlikely social media advertiser — Zyrtec — has unleashed a YouTube game featuring dogs, Queen Latifah and hidden Samsung Galaxy Tabs as prizes.

The game, called Parks Unleashed, challenges users to find tablets that dogs have buried in the park. To play, you follow prompts from people and talking dogs. For instance, when a hot dog vendor asks “What can I do you for?” the onscreen choices include “Seen a pug?” “Hot dog, please” and “Diamonds??” In true Choose Your Own Adventure fashion, each choice will set you on a different path.

Though the game uses video, it owes its origin to early computer text-based games like Zork. Tim Nolan, creative director at ad agency JWT, says he looked at games from the early 1980s when he was working on Parks Unleashed.

The game, which can take up to 15 minutes to play, also evokes the outdoors, which ties in to the product — antihistamines. As allergy season hits, Zyrtec is aiming to be top of mind. Like most pharma brands, Zyrtec lacks both a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, likely because of government restrictions on drug marketing via social media. (Zyrtec reps could not be reached for comment.)

The YouTube game, which lets users broadcast some of their in-game triumphs to their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, is one way around that.

As a method of social media outreach, Parks Unleashed has racked up some impressive stats. Launched on Sept. 5, the YouTube channel already has more than 1 million views. The game will run until mid-October.

Zyrtec hopes to get more attention in two weeks when Queen Latifah is added to the game. The movie star plays a coach who guides you through the game, and offers a customizable badge for completing it.

During the game period, Zyrtec will give out more than 200 Galaxy Tabs to winners.

Zyrtec’s not the only marketer of late to experiment with a YouTube game: Pepto Bismol launched a Cinco de Mayo-themed YouTube game in April.

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Facebook Doubles Revenues in the First Half of 2011 to $1.6 Billion [REPORT]

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 11:38 AM PDT

Facebook‘s revenues doubled in the first half of the year to $1.6 billion, according to a report.

Reuters says Facebook’s net income for the period hit $500 million, citing “a source with knowledge of [Facebook's] financials.”

As a private company, Facebook doesn’t publicly report its financials, but eMarketer estimated that the company posted $1.86 billion in revenues for 2010. EMarketer predicts Facebook will hit $4.05 billion in global revenues for 2011. An eMarketer rep says the figure Reuters reported is “on track with our estimates,” especially since the third and fourth quarters tend to bring in more money than the first and second quarters.

The report comes as Facebook’s reported valuation has reached as high as $100 billion before an expected IPO in 2012. That valuation, however, came before the stock market cooled off this summer, prompting Zynga and Groupon to reportedly delay their IPOs.

Facebook reps could not be reached for comment on the report.

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iPhone 5 Sushi Snap? Apple Engineer’s Lunch Photo Fuels Speculation

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 11:31 AM PDT

Evidence is mounting that a photo of a plate of sushi — of all things — may have been taken by Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

The photo would be one of the first iPhone 5 photos to reach the public as the device’s launch approaches.

The photo, titled “lunch” and discovered by PocketNow, was found on the Flickr account of Apple software engineer Anton D’Auria. While the photo looks like a simple plate of sushi, its EXIF data reveals that there is more to this photo than meets the eye.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 5 Rumor Roundup [INFOGRAPHIC]

The EXIF data says the photo was taken with an iPhone 4, but several things don’t fit with what we know about that version of the iPhone. First, the original picture was taken with a 3264×2448 pixel resolution (approximately 8 megapixels) and cropped to 2235×2291 (approximately 5 megapixels). The iPhone 4 is a 5 megapixel device, so it wouldn’t be capable of taking a 3264×2448 photo.

The second piece of evidence is that the photo was taken with a 4.3mm f/2.4 lens. The iPhone 4 has a 3.85mm f/2.8 lens.

The photo was also likely taken at Apple HQ. Its GPS data pinpoints the photo’s origin to 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, CA — which, as every geek knows, happens to be the address of Apple headquarters.

D’Auria’s Flickr account has since been made private, but the image is already widely available online. While it’s possible the image is a fake (EXIF data can be altered rather easily), we doubt an Apple engineer would make so many EXIF changes to an iPhone 4 picture. If the photo is indeed from an iPhone 5, expect an 8MP camera with the quality of a point-and-shoot on iPhones in the next month or so.

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Free Music on Facebook: How Can It Fail?

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 10:52 AM PDT

Facebook will launch a music service later this month, we reported last week. Facebook is partnering with top music services Spotify, MOG and Rdio to let users stream music on

For the uninitiated: Spotify is a service that lets you listen to virtually any song for free on your desktop, with an occasional (but infrequent) ad. Users can pay a small fee to remove the ads or use the service on their phones.

That’s right — Facebook may be about to unleash unlimited free music to all its users.

Providing free music to more than 750 million people (assuming Facebook Music launches globally) seems like a no-brainer: Why wouldn’t everyone in the world want to listen to and share free music with friends? This is the web equivalent of giving away free ice cream.

How could Facebook Music fail?

That’s the topic of my CNN column this week.

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Back to School: 10 Privacy Tips for the Connected Student

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 10:27 AM PDT

Fran Maier is the president and executive chair of TRUSTe, the leading online privacy solutions provider. She speaks widely on issues of online privacy and trust and is active in mentoring women in technology. She serves on a number of Internet and trust-related boards, including the Online Trust Alliance.

With each new school year, students have even more reason to spend academic time online. My nephews cheerily informed me that they won't be needing paper planners this year; instead, they'll track assignments, grades and events using their school's new online system. My son in high school is prepping for the SATs using online tutorials, and my college-age son will begin an internship programming mobile apps.

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

We share and transmit a lot of personal information online. This is especially true for students, who not only use academic online tools that require personal information, but who are also incredibly active social network users. Whether a ninth grader, college senior or parent, these privacy tips can help you and your family stay safe this school year.

1. Password-Protect Your Computer/Smartphone/Tablet

You store a lot of personal data (like photos) on these devices, which may also save automatic logins to your email and social networking accounts. Someone could easily abuse this information if you leave your device unattended — an important consideration outside of the classroom as well. A solid password contains a mix of letters, numbers and symbols and does not contain common words. In other words, rethink your "1234" iPhone passcode.

2. Consider Theft-Recovery Applications

These applications can geo-locate your lost device and/or allow you to remotely login. Electronics theft on college and high school campuses is a real problem. Installing such an application on your computer, smartphone or tablet could mean the difference between recovering your device and losing it forever.

If you’re an iPhone user, check out Apple’s free Find My Phone app, which will track your device remotely in case of loss or theft.

3. Review Your Social Networking Privacy Settings

This tip is especially important for high school seniors who've submitted college applications, and for new grads applying for their first jobs. According to a 2010 Kaplan survey, 80% of college admissions officers use social media to evaluate prospective students. And my company conducted a survey that determined 68% of teens have at some time accepted "friend" requests from people they didn't know.

4. Protect Your Online Reputation

Social networks may not be the only component of your online identity. Blogs, personal websites, discussion forums and photo accounts also reflect online activity. With little effort, people can piece together your various online accounts and activity — even accounts under fake names that you thought were anonymous. With every piece of content that you share, ask yourself: Would I want my parents, teachers and future employers to discover this? Once you post something on the Internet, it can very difficult, if not impossible, to remove it.

5. If You're a Minor, Lock Down Your Location

Many social networks and mobile applications allow you to tag your current geographic location. For your physical safety as a minor, the visibility of your location should only be available to your closest friends — if at all. Parents should talk to their kids about online predators and ensure they’re not sharing their location with strangers.

6. Do Your Back-to-School Shopping Securely

Some of the best back-to-school shopping deals can be found online, but not all shopping websites are created equal. At minimum, you'll disclose your name, home address, phone number and credit card information to complete a purchase, so make sure that each website is secure. Look for privacy and reputation seals on the website. The URL of checkout webpages that require your personal information should begin with "HTTPS," indicating that the website encrypts your personal information during transmission.

7. Avoid Online Gossip

While school-age gossip and bullying seem unavoidable, remember that the effects can be magnified online, be it through email, chat or social networks. Inappropriate photos of or comments about someone else can go viral in a matter of minutes — within a few hours your entire school could potentially see what you've written or shared. Viral gossip is almost always permanent, and can only come back to haunt you.

8. Don't Share Passwords With Friends

It might be tempting to share your passwords with friends, but it's better to keep them to yourself. For instance, your password to a gaming account might be similar or identical to your password for another, more sensitive account, like email. Moreover, sharing your passwords may put other friends or family members at risk, especially if your accounts include their personal information.

9. Beware of Identity Theft

College students especially are targets for identity theft. Beware of the signs: If you receive notices about accounts you didn't open, or if you see unexplained charges on your credit card statements, be suspicious and follow up. Federal law entitles you to three free credit reports every year through, so check periodically to make sure that nothing is amiss. College students aren't the only ones at risk: In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission found that child ID theft is a growing problem, with over 140,000 cases reported annually.

10. Get a Lock For Your Locker/Desk/Closet

This tip is as old as school itself, but it's especially important in our digital age. Chances are your locker or desk doesn't just hold your books, jacket and lunch – it may also store your smartphone, computer or tablet devices which are typically loaded with personal information. If you're in a high-traffic dorm room, consider investing in a laptop padlock that secures the device to your desk.

Stay safe and study hard!

Image courtesy of Flickr, tinkerbrad, david roessli

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Catchafire Matches Professionals & Organizations for Virtual Pro Bono Work

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 10:09 AM PDT

Professionals no longer need to live in New York City to use Catchafire, a volunteer matching service that helps users donate their skills for a cause.

Catchafire, a 2-year-old startup with a name inspired by a Bob Marley album, announced Wednesday that it has activated a “virtual pro bono” aspect of its website. While 90% of the projects listed on the site can already be completed digitally, the platform had restricted its volunteers to New York City up until this point.

Earlier this week, the skills its volunteers have donated surpassed $3 million in value.

The startup has carved out a niche among online volunteering sites by targeting professionals who want to take on meaningful pro bono projects. Volunteers fill out profiles that detail their interests and skills, and Catchafire makes personal recommendations for projects — usually about 30 to 80 hours worth of work that can be completed by one person in three months — that might be a good match.

All Catchafire projects will continue being based in New York even as the site extends volunteer opportunities nationally. This, explains community manager Ruti Wajnberg, is partly because the company hasn’t set up the infrastructure to develop the same type of relationships as it has with its organizations in New York City.

Eventually the startup does hope to expand project sites, as well as the classes and events that it provides in New York City, to elsewhere in the country.

“I can’t be specific about locations,” Wajnberg says, “but we are planning on extending the organizational side to other cities.”

Image courtesy of istockphoto, BirdofPrey

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StumbleUpon Helps Coordinate a Marriage Proposal

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 09:31 AM PDT

Many women have been surprised by a marriage proposal, but Marquita Arguello is the first woman to StumbleUpon one.

Arguello, a 23-year-old dental hygiene student, and her boyfriend, Tyrel Hartman, don’t own a television, so they often Stumble through the web together for entertainment. While killing time before a date last Friday, the recommendation engine became more personalized than expected when Arguello stumbled upon a photo of Hartman.

Scrolling down the page, she read signs that he was holding in each of 11 photos. Together the signs said:

“To my best friend … Whom I love, you are so amazing, and so smart, even more beautiful. So on this day, I want to ask you: Will you marry me?”

StumbleUpon might “take you to great stuff based on your interests,” but its algorithms are still unlikely to pinpoint the Tumblr blog that your boyfriend created. Needless to say, there was some scheming involved.

SEE ALSO: Google Engineer Proposes Using Google Maps [PICS]

Hartman, 26, had the idea for the proposal in August. In what he assumed was a long shot, he sent an email to the StumbleUpon Support Team: “I’m exploring ways to propose to my beautiful girlfriend and I think I have finally thought of something worth while,” he wrote.

StumbleUpon surprised him by agreeing to rig his girlfriend’s account so that it would recommend his proposal site at an exact time. Hartman picked pages that he wanted Arguello to find leading up to the proposal, like a series of zombie wedding photos, a video of a dog saying “I love you” and a graphic with the words “Say yes!”

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Geekiest Marriage Proposals

Technical difficulties delayed the proposal for about half an hour, but Hartman — nervously checking his phone — managed to keep them both Stumbling until it finally showed up. Arguello accepted, and they’ve since spent a lot of time explaining the elaborate setup.

“We live in Wyoming, and nobody knows what StumbleUpon is,” Hartman says. “The first thing we did was post it on Facebook so that we wouldn’t have to sit there for 20 minutes and explain what it was.”

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Netflix Isn’t Limiting Your Concurrent Streams

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 09:03 AM PDT

Outrage over Netflix‘s apparent decision to limit concurrent content streams to one per customer may have been for naught. The company has responded, claiming that stream limitation messages were displayed in error.

First reported by Stop the Cap and later confirmed in Mashable‘s own tests, it looked like Netflix was finally enforcing its concurrent streaming policy, which according to its terms of service, limits streaming-only customers to one stream at a time. Additional streams are available to users that pay more per month.

Netflix’s spokesman Steve Swasey responded to Time via email, noting that “no Netflix member is limited to less than two concurrent streams. A few Netflix members have heard differently from us, which is an error that we are correcting.”

When Mashable‘s Ben Parr was researching the issue yesterday, he found that while movie streams were limited to one per account, he was successfully able to concurrently stream more than one TV show at once. That gives credence to Netflix’s claim that this was just an unexpected glitch.

My Netflix plan allows me to stream on two devices at once, but in my own rudimentary tests, I was able to successfully stream content on my MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone and via a Roku player simultaneously.

Crisis averted — for now. Netflix has had a rough few months. Last week, one of the company’s premier content partners, Starz, announced that it had ended renewal discussions with the subscription streaming giant. To compound issues, this news came the same day that Netflix’s price increases went into effect. Meanwhile, reports indicate that Dish Network is planning to launch its own Netflix competitor in October.

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Google Offers Goes Live in Five More Cities

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 08:20 AM PDT

Google Offers, the search giant’s daily deals competitor to Groupon, is going live in Austin, Texas; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Denver; and Seattle on Wednesday, bringing the total number of markets for the service to eight.

In Austin, Google is offering $5 for $10 worth of food and drink at Juan in a Million, a Mexican restaurant. In Boston, there’s a similar deal for $10 worth of gourmet ice cream at Toscanini’s Ice Cream in Cambridge. The full list of deals is outlined on Google’s Commerce Blog.

SEE ALSO: Are We Approaching the End of the Daily Deals Era?

Google unveiled Google Offers in January. Since that time, others have jumped into the space, including Amazon, which is also a major investor in LivingSocial. However, the segment seems to have cooled off some, with both Facebook and Yelp shuttering their daily deals offerings. Even Groupon, the pioneer in daily deals, may be feeling the strain; the company is reportedly delaying its IPO until market conditions improve.

Image courtesy of Flickr, joi

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Beyond BAC: How the Breathalyzer Is Poised to Revolutionize Medical Diagnostics

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 08:00 AM PDT

The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

We all know about the Breathalyzer, a handheld device used by police officers to determine one’s blood alcohol level on the spot. But recent research has discovered some other interesting applications for the digital tool.

Breath alcohol testing devices were first developed in the 1940s, and in 1954, Dr. Robert Borkenstein of the Indiana State Police invented the patented Breathalyzer.

Since then, researchers have advanced the science behind breathalyzers to make the tool even more useful — it can indicate the presence of disease, according to Professor Perena Gouma, director of Stony Brook University’s Center for Nanomaterials and Sensor Development. Gouma and several other research teams around the world are making great strides in breath analysis and have high hopes for the application of the technology, since you can “monitor breath content for disease or metabolic malfunction.”

“I think breath analysis is the new frontier and the future of medical testing,” says Dr. Raed Dweik, professor of medicine and director of the breath analysis program at the Cleveland Clinic. Gouma concurs, citing it as a “disruptive technology” that could change the way people think about diagnostics.

Medical Testing

We breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide — but there’s much more in our breath than that. Science has advanced, and Dweik says we can detect byproducts of lots of things in one breath — our own metabolism, metabolisms of diseases that we have, and gases that entered us from the outside environment. “There's a rich matrix of compounds that can tell a lot about the state of our health and what diseases we're suffering from,” he says.

Breathalyzers are able to measure these gases and compounds even in very low concentrations — in the parts per million or even billion. Since all of our blood circulates through our lungs and the air we exhale comes from the lungs, one single breath contains a lot of information about what’s going on in our blood and in our bodies, helping doctors diagnose and monitor certain conditions.

Dr. Gouma’s team’s nanosensors utilize resistive semiconducting technology — they make for a scientific yet economic tool (roughly $20 per breathalyzer) that allow her to test for particular chemicals. “We have over 300 different gases in our breath, and we know some of them to be markers of disease,” says Gouma. For example, acetone is a marker that indicates blood sugar levels, so you can monitor diabetes with an exhale and avoid having to draw blood, and still know whether you should take medication. The possibility of exhaling instead of having to prick oneself to take blood samples every day could lead to improved compliance for blood sugar monitoring, and lead to an overall improvement in a diabetic patient’s quality of life.

The advantage of breath analysis is two-fold: It’s non-invasive and non-intrusive. A blood test and even urine tests are somewhat intrusive, but a breath test can be conducted almost anywhere, anytime. It can also be done repeatedly without adverse effects, unlike X-rays, which can lead to damage from radiation exposure.

The key to identifying disease is to develop a sensor for a gas that is only present in the breath of those who are infected. Once researchers can detect more gases and determine that a certain gas is exclusive to a disease, breath analysis will have even more applications for other ailments.


In addition to testing for the presence and levels of certain gases, there’s also breathprint analysis — examining the big picture of the thousands of gases in the breath and seeing how one’s breathprint is different from another’s. This could be useful to compare the breath of someone with the flu and someone without it, and the same goes for kidney or liver disease and eventually, many other diseases.

Dweik’s research has shown that breathprints can be quite different between lung cancer patients. Dweik uses an “electronic nose” with 32 sensors — each sensor reacts differently to different compounds in your breath. “When you breathe over these sensors, they change in different ways and create a smellprint that is quite distinct between people who have cancer and people who do not, with 85% accuracy.” Of course, medicine isn’t perfect, and the drawback to the electronic nose is that Dweik’s team doesn't yet know what compounds in breath give that smell signature — they could say if there is lung cancer or not, but can't currently indicate why or which gas indicates cancer. Dweik admits that the smellprint shows proof of concept, but is lacking the link to the biology of the cancer. It’s a promising field, and smellprints and breathalyzer sensors will need to be used symbiotically to help doctors develop the technology even further. Breathprints should help doctors figure out what gases and compounds are indicative of what diseases, and then attune sensors to detect those compounds.

For now, the lung cancer smellprint is a big step. Lung cancer typically presents itself late — a patient might cough up blood, then have a biopsy done, but by that point, the cancer has advanced. Unlike breast cancer, which can be detected and treated early with annual mammograms, there isn’t a screening test for lung cancer, which means that this breath analysis technology could go a long way toward saving lives.

Implications for the Future

“This is going to change medical diagnosis work,” says Gouma. An inexpensive, portable handheld breathalyzer can empower individuals to take care of their health. “And that means a lot of better health and welfare, for employers, for insurance, for physicians … I think it’s going to have a great impact, and very soon.”

Dweik says the diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes, lung cancer, and kidney and liver disease are the “low-hanging fruit” in this field, and that researchers are looking to get more sensitive sensors to broaden the scope of what a Breathalyzer can detect, including asthma, heart failure and hypertension. “Now the search is on for the next molecule — we're in the process of discovery, trying to sift through and see which of those compounds are useful and which can be used in medical tests.”

“Almost any disease could be detected 40 years down the line,” Dweik says. “This is really a whole new field that has huge potential to revolutionize the way we do medical testing and monitoring.” And it has profound potential for global health.

Series Supported by BMW i

The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles; it delivers smart mobility services within and beyond the car. Visit or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Are you an innovative entrepreneur? Submit your pitch to BMW i Ventures, a mobility and tech venture capital company.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, powerofforever

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Twitter to Launch Ads in the UK in October [REPORT]

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 07:50 AM PDT

Twitter is finalizing deals with partners and is on course to launch ads in the UK in October, according to a recent report.

Twitter has been talking with brands for several months, Marketing Magazine says, citing agency sources. O2, Vodafone, Sky and Sony will be the first to take advantage of Twitter’s promoted tweets, trends and accounts.

While the details of the deals are unknown, one source claims Twitter is currently selling ad bundles and asking for six figure investments.

According to another source, Twitter may also sell regional ads in addition to country-specific promotions.

Twitter started offering ads in the U.S. in April 2010 and has been slowly expanding the program ever since.

This summer, Twitter started showing promoted tweets in users’ streams, but only to users who actually follow the brand sending the tweets. Last week, AllThingsD said Twitter plans to expand that idea by showing ads based on users’ interests, regardless of whether they follow a certain brand.

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How Fashion Bloggers Gain Access to NY Fashion Week

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 07:46 AM PDT

Yuli Ziv is the founder & CEO of Style Coalition, a network of top fashion and beauty bloggers in partnership with Elle. Her first self-published book in the Fashion 2.0 series Blogging Your Way to The Front Row: The Insider’s Guide to Turning Your Fashion Blog into a Profitable Business and Launching a New Career is now available on Follow her on Twitter @yuliz.

New York Fashion Week is not only the most glamorous semi-annual event in the fashion industry, it’s also a mega-networking opportunity for everyone, especially bloggers. It’s the best opportunity for bloggers to deepen their connections with PR companies and brands, and ultimately to advance their careers.

So how do bloggers gain access to this major industry event? There are two main ways to get invited to the runway shows and presentations: 1) by registering as a press member via the official website, and 2) by asking individual designers for invitations to their shows.

Registration is the best way to start. If accepted — and only a small, albeit growing percentage of bloggers are welcomed each year — you’ll get a press pass and access to all relevant press releases and contacts.

SEE ALSO: HOW TO: Follow New York Fashion Week Online

A pass gives you the freedom to roam Lincoln Center during all open hours, the ability to wait in line for standing room at shows for which you didn’t secure an invitation, and the guaranteed admission to a few smaller shows. For the rest of the shows, however, you’ll still need to secure an invite by contacting each designer or brand directly.

"Start with less-requested shows — those during the early morning or late at night," suggests Lauren Dimet-Waters, the Second City Style blogger who has been covering Fashion Week in New York for 11 seasons now. She adds, “Try off-site shows which are generally easier to get in to. Once you have some coverage under the belt, it’s easier to get into the larger and more coveted shows.”

6 Tips for Requesting Show Invites

When requesting invites from designers or brands, make sure to follow these tips, regardless of whether you have a press pass:

1. Find the right brand contact.

If you have credentials, you will be receiving the contact list from the Fashion Week organizers. Some designers handle their invites internally, so you will need to email the PR manager or director, but most hire an agency to handle their press lists. Some of these agencies handle one show, while others, such as BPCM, People's Revolution, KCD and HL Group, handle multiple clients.

2. Include all relevant information.

If you are requesting an invite directly from a PR representative via email, make sure to include detailed information about yourself and your blog.

Dina Fierro, managing director of social media at HL Group, recommends answering the following five questions in your request: Who are you? What’s your blog? Do you contribute to other outlets? What do you generally cover? What are your stats? (Not just traffic, she says, but also average comments per post, Facebook shares, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, etc.)

Fierro also recommends sharing examples of prior Fashion Week coverage, as well as coverage you’ve given the designer in the past.

When it comes to invite request etiquette, there are also plenty of don’ts. Don’t drop names, and don’t request a +1 or exaggerate traffic stats, Fierro warns. Lastly, never request a front-row seat. “If you have to request a front-row seat, you’re not deserving of one!"

3. RSVP in a timely manner.

Understand that most shows' seating charts are completed far in advance, so ideally request the invite a few weeks in advance, and RSVP as soon as you receive it.

4. Be persistent.

If you do get your credentials, but don't receive an invite to a show you were itching to cover, don't give up. Arrive before the show starts and ask the PR representative in charge of check-ins for a standing room ticket. You won’t have the best views, but if you can develop nice coverage out of the experience, you might just land a seat next season. Your in-person meeting will also prove that you’re professional and committed to your craft.

The tactic worked for Karen Blanchard, the blogger behind the popular personal style blog Where Did U Get That . "Before I was invited to any shows, I would try at Bryant Park by asking if I could get standing room only," shares Blanchard. "It worked 50% of the time, which was enough for me to get to experience shows live."

5. Be grateful.

Remember that blogger relations are still relatively new territory for many fashion brands. While some put bloggers in their front rows, others are still trying to determine which bloggers deserve those precious seats.

Jessica Quirk of popular Tumblr blog What I Wore advises would-be attendees to express a grateful attitude during Fashion Week.

“I always post the very best coverage I can, as quickly as possible,” she says. “I tweet up a storm before and during the show, and always send a follow-up thank you. When the next season rolls around, I let the PR folks handling the shows know I will be in New York, and if they have the space, I’d be very grateful to attend again. Great relationships are everything!"

6. Establish connections early.

If you build your relationship with a brand throughout the year, when it's time to send out invites, your name will be on the right list.

Patti Cohen, EVP of global marketing and communications for Donna Karan International, seconds this approach. “We invite bloggers to our shows that we have formed relationships with organically through our public relations efforts and social media engagement,” she explains. (Perhaps following @dkny on Twitter or Tumblr is a good place to start.)

"Bloggers that we have strong working relationships with throughout the year take precedence when it comes to invitations to our client’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week shows," Fierro adds. "Every designer is different, and for each show, we may have a different number of invitations allocated to online media. We generally show preference to bloggers that have covered Fashion Week extensively in the past, and of course, those who have covered our clients. However, if your content is stellar, we’ll absolutely consider extending an invitation to a new or new-to-us blogger as well."

Lastly, even if scoring a Fashion Week invite proved to be mission impossible this season, you can still get your digital front row seat by watching livestreams of the show online, many of which will be hosted by YouTube.

Images courtesy of Flickr, Swamibu, Markus Bollingmo

More About: bloggers, fashion, fashion bloggers, fashion week, new york fashion week, nyfw

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Zara Launches Ecommerce in the U.S.

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 07:36 AM PDT

Zara launched full ecommerce functionality in the U.S. Wednesday, beating rival H&M to the punch by half a year.

Consumers can now shop the fast-fashion retailer’s full catalogue of fashion goods at Free standard shipping is available for all 50 states. Items can also be picked up in-store for free, or delivered in a 24 to 48-hour timeframe for $9.95.

Returns and exchanges can be made through Zara stores or FedEx within 30 days at no additional cost.

This is the Spanish company’s first foray into online retail in the U.S. after launching ecommerce in 16 European countries last year. Online sales in Europe amounted to 22.2 million euros ($31.1 million) in 2010, according to Internet Retailer‘s estimates.

[via Fashion Etc.]

More About: ecommerce, fashion, zara

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Keep Your Online Friends in Line With Social Media Citations

Posted: 07 Sep 2011 07:25 AM PDT

We all have friends or friends of friends in our social networks who just don’t know the rules. Now there’s a way to gently educate them and bolster your self-regard at the same time.

A company called Knock Knock is offering Social Media Citations, modeled off the ones cops distribute in real life. The citations include social media faux pas such as “poking,” ”’Liking’ your own status,” “lurking” and “oversharing.”

For $4.50, you can get a pack of 50 note pad style citations. Interestingly, there’s no online version so it’s unclear how you’re supposed to give them out. (Snail mail? Leave them on a colleague’s desk?)

Of course, social media etiquette is still a work in progress. But if you want to single out those egregious offenders — like the FarmVille addict or friend who posts inspirational quotes on a daily basis — these might do the trick.

[Via All Things D]

More About: etiquette, facebook, Social Media

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