Friday, 30 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “The Next iPhone Embodied in a Super-Thin Prototype [VIDEO]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “The Next iPhone Embodied in a Super-Thin Prototype [VIDEO]”

The Next iPhone Embodied in a Super-Thin Prototype [VIDEO]

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 03:08 AM PDT

Everyone wants to know what the next iPhone will look like, but the folks at took it a step further and created an actual prototype based on rumors and credible hints – and it looks great.

Its teardrop design makes it only 6.86 mm thick at the top and only 5.33 mm at the bottom, and it’s a bit wider than iPhone 4 – 59.94 mm vs 58.6 mm, to be exact – to accommodate for the bigger, 4-inch screen.

Also, the mechanical round button on the front of the device has been changed to an oval-shaped capacitive one.

No one can say whether the new iPhone will look anything like this one – for all we know, it might be just an improved version of the iPhone 4, but it’s a good as guess as any, and we certainly wouldn’t mind if Apple’s designers had taken the device in a similar direction.

Check out the video below (in German, with English subtitles) for a “walkthrough” of the prototype and the full gallery over at

Finally, check out our gallery of other possible designs for the next iPhone below.

iPhone Evolution

Polish students designed this beauty, going with the curved back look. Found on VeteranGeek.

iPhone News Blog

This early mockup extrapolates from the current iPhone 4 design. It's a clean design -- one we'd be happy to slip into a pocket. Found on the German iPhone News Blog.

Nowhere Else

Those talented French artists at Nowhere Else envision the iPhone 5 having a rounded back, and accompanied this attractive illustration with an entire infographic full of iPhone 5 rumors and speculation.


On the left is allegedly the iPhone 5 in the hands of someone testing it on a train, and the white phone is allegedly the iPhone 4S, all found by 9-to-5 Mac.


MacRumors' mockup created by CiccareseDesign shows a slim cross section.

Antonello Falcon

Called the "Size Zero iPhone 5," Antonello Falcon's flight of fancy has a 4.6-inch screen, curved glass edges, a thin 8.4mm cross-section and a soft-touch Home button. Perhaps this is more akin to an iPhone 6. Found on VeteranGeek.

This is My Next

This mockup from ThisIsMyNext has been floating around for a while, but it latched on early to the teardrop-shaped cross-section and larger screen.

Roman Sima

Called the "Glossy iPhone 5," this ultra-lightweight design features a plastic cover. Here's Roman's website.


From MacRumors, this design echos the iPhone 4, but thinner.

Piotr Spalek

When iDeals China leaked a shot of a 4-inch screen that was alleged to belong to an iPhone 5, Polish designer Piotr Spalek put together a mockup that matched up with the screen.

More About: apple, iphone, iPhone 5, prototype, smartphone

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Amazon Looking to Buy Palm [REPORT]

Posted: 30 Sep 2011 12:51 AM PDT

Amazon wants to buy Palm and its smartphone/tablet platform WebOS, VentureBeat reports citing a well-placed source.

There are other interested parties, but Amazon is nearest to completing the deal, the same source claims.

After HP gave up on the tablet business, rumors started swirling about possible buyers for Palm and WebOS – a platform which showed a lot of promise even in its early days, but was never given a chance to shine as Palm changed hands.

Recent reports that Samsung was interested in acquiring Palm were quickly shot down by the company CEO Choi Gee Sung. HTC, on the other hand, carefully let the world know that it wouldn’t mind having a spare mobile OS on its hands, although CEO Cher Wang was careful not to go into specifics.

Now Amazon rises as the next likely contender. The company recently shook the world of tablets by introducing a cheap 7-inch device, Kindle Fire, which has something in common with the tablets from HTC and Samsung – it’s Android-based.

After Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility, focusing one’s entire tablet/smartphone strategy on Android quickly became a lot less attractive, so it seems as if it’s just a matter of time until someone takes Palm off HP’s hands – probably at a big discount.

If Amazon really does acquire Palm and WebOS, it would probably have to completely switch future Kindle Fire products from Android to WebOS, as it doesn’t make much sense for a company whose hardware devices are just a front to offer users content to develop tablets on two operating systems at the same time. But Amazon has shown a lot of commitment and patience with its e-reader and tablet products, and we’re quite sure it could integrate WebOS into its long-term tablet strategy.

[via VentureBeat]

More About: amazon, palm, webOS

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7 Common Questions About Startup Employee Stock Options

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 09:37 PM PDT

Jim Wulforst is president of E*TRADE Financial Corporate Services, which provides employee stock plan administration solutions to both private and public companies, including 22% of the S&P 500.

Perhaps you've heard about the Google millionaires: 1,000 of the company's early employees (including the company masseuse) who earned their wealth through company stock options. A terrific story, but unfortunately, not all stock options have as happy an ending. and Webvan, for example, went bankrupt after high-profile Initial Public Offerings left their stock grants worthless.

Stock options can be a nice benefit, but the value behind the offer can vary significantly. There are simply no guarantees. So, whether you're considering a job offer that includes a stock grant, or you hold stock as part of your current compensation, it's crucial to understand the basics.

  • What types of stock plans are out there, and how do they work?
  • How do I know when to exercise, hold or sell?
  • What are the tax implications?
  • How should I think about stock or equity compensation relative to my total compensation and any other savings and investments I might have?

1. What are the most common types of employee stock offerings?

Two of the most common employee stock offerings are stock options and restricted stock.

Employee stock options are the most common among startup companies. The options give you the opportunity to purchase shares of your company's stock at a specified price, typically referred to as the "strike" price. Your right to purchase – or "exercise" – stock options is subject to a vesting schedule, which defines when you can exercise the options.

Let's take an example. Say you're granted 300 options with a strike price of $10 each that vest equally over a three-year period. At the end of the first year, you would have the right to exercise 100 shares of stock for $10 per share. If, at that time, the company's share price had risen to $15 per share, you have the opportunity to purchase the stock for $5 below the market price, which, if you exercise and sell concurrently, represents a $500 pre-tax profit.

At the end of the second year, 100 more shares will vest. Now, in our example, let's say the company's stock price has declined to $8 per share. In this scenario, you would not exercise your options, as you'd be paying $10 for something you could purchase for $8 in the open market. You may hear this referred to as options being "out of the money" or "under water." The good news is that the loss is on paper, as you have not invested actual cash. You retain the right to exercise the shares and can keep an eye on the company's stock price. Later, you may choose to take action if the market price goes higher than the strike price – or when it is back "in the money."

At the end of the third year, the final 100 shares would vest, and you'd have the right to exercise those shares. Your decision to do so would depend on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the stock's market price. Once you've exercised vested options, you can either sell the shares right away or hold onto them as part of your stock portfolio.

Restricted stock grants (which may include either Awards or Units) provide employees with a right to receive shares at little or no cost. As with stock options, restricted stock grants are subject to a vesting schedule, typically tied to either passage of time or achievement of a specific goal. This means that you'll either have to wait a certain period of time and/or meet certain goals before you earn the right to receive the shares. Keep in mind that the vesting of restricted stock grants is a taxable event. This means that taxes will have to be paid based on the value of the shares at the time they vest. Your employer decides which tax payment options are available to you – these may include paying cash, selling some of the vested shares, or having your employer withhold some of the shares.

2. What's the difference between "incentive" and "non-qualified" stock options?

This is a fairly complex area related to the current tax code. Therefore, you should consult your tax advisor to better understand your personal situation. The difference primarily lies in how the two are taxed. Incentive stock options qualify for special tax treatment by the IRS, meaning taxes generally don't have to be paid when these options are exercised. And resulting gain or loss may qualify as long-term capital gains or loss if held more than a year.

Non-qualified options, on the other hand, can result in ordinary taxable income when exercised. Tax is based on the difference between the exercise price and fair market value at the time of exercise. Subsequent sales may result in capital gain or loss – short or long term, depending on duration held.

3. What about taxes?

Tax treatment for each transaction will depend on the type of stock option you own and other variables related to your individual situation. Before you exercise your options and/or sell shares, you'll want to carefully consider the consequences of the transaction. For specific advice, you should consult a tax advisor or accountant.

4. How do I know whether to hold or sell after I exercise?

When it comes to employee stock options and shares, the decision to hold or sell boils down to the basics of long term investing. Ask yourself: how much risk am I willing to take? Is my portfolio well-diversified based on my current needs and goals? How does this investment fit in with my overall financial strategy? Your decision to exercise, hold or sell some or all of your shares should consider these questions.

Many people choose what is referred to as a same-day sale or cashless exercise in which you exercise your vested options and simultaneously sell the shares. This provides immediate access to your actual proceeds (profit, less associated commissions, fees and taxes). Many firms make tools available that help plan a participant’s model in advance and estimate proceeds from a particular transaction. In all cases, you should consult a tax advisor or financial planner for advice on your personal financial situation.

5. I believe in my company's future. How much of its stock should I own?

It is great to have confidence in your employer, but you should consider your total portfolio and overall diversification strategy when thinking about any investment – including one in company stock. In general, it's best not to have a portfolio that is overly dependent on any one investment.

6. I work for a privately-held startup. If this company never goes public or is purchased by another company before going public, what happens to the stock?

There is no single answer to this. The answer is often defined in the terms of the company's stock plan and/or the transaction terms. If a company remains private, there may be limited opportunities to sell vested or unrestricted shares, but it will vary by the plan and the company.

For instance, a private company may allow employees to sell their vested option rights on secondary or other marketplaces. In the case of an acquisition, some buyers will accelerate the vesting schedule and pay all options holders the difference between the strike price and the acquisition share price, while other buyers might convert unvested stock to a stock plan in the acquiring company. Again, this will vary by plan and transaction.

7. I still have a lot of questions. How can I learn more?

Your manager or someone in your company's HR department can likely provide more details about your company's plan – and the benefits you qualify for under the plan. You should also consult your financial planner or tax advisor to ensure you understand how stock grants, vesting events, exercising and selling affect your personal tax situation.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59, Flickr, Vicki’s Pics

More About: contributor, features, investment, startup, stock

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Facebook, It’s Time To Kill the Poke

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 08:55 PM PDT

Facebook has gone a half step to putting the Poke out of its misery — but I don’t see why they don’t kill it off completely. Would we really miss it?

Last week, when launching the new Facebook subscribe button, the social network hid the much-maligned “Poke” button behind a settings menu, making it pretty unlikely that visitors to your profile page will see it.

Guess what: Facebook users didn’t notice.

While there was a minor backlash about the new real-time “Ticker” at the top of the site, not to mention the “Top News” section at the top of your news feed, only a handful of eagle-eyed bloggers noticed that the Poke button had virtually been retired. This from a community that balks at the slightest change.

What’s more, Facebook’s huge upcoming redesign (“Facebook Timeline“) keeps the Poke button behind this same dropdown menu — there are no plans to make it visible again.

Here’s my problem with the poke: What the heck does it mean?

I originally assumed that Poking was merely flirting: A subtle way to get the attention of another Facebook user. And yet just under half of my Pokes are from males — most of them seemingly straight (or are they?). So again: What does a Poke mean? And should we take a Poke to be flirtatious when it could, in my case, just as easily mean “Hey, I just sent you a press release about my new app”?

Facebook doesn’t even know what a Poke means, with the Help page reading: “The poke feature can be used for a variety of things on Facebook. For instance, you can poke your friends to say hello.” Ah, so they’re either saying hello, or flirting, or pestering … or something completely different.

If you’re going to Poke someone, isn’t there a better way to get your message across? Perhaps send them a Facebook Message? Like or comment on one of their updates? And isn’t it the case that a good percentage of Pokes are intended as ironic?

Or perhaps I’m wrong: Is there a huge group of Facebook Poke fans out there? Do I just need to be college-aged to understand the wonder of the Poke? Perhaps we all love to complain about the Poke but secretly love it? Let me know in the comments.

READ THIS NEXT: Facebook Users Beware: Facebook's New Feature Could Embarrass You

Facebook Poke Art

Image credit: Someecards

Facebook Poke Art

Image credit: Someecards

Facebook Poke Art

Image credit: Someecards

Facebook Poke Art

Image credit: Someecards

Facebook Poke Art

Image credit: Someecards

Facebook Poke Art

Image credit: Someecards

Facebook Poke Art

Image credit: Someecards

Facebook Poke Art

Image credit: Someecards

More About: Facebook, facebook poke, poke

Trippy Lets Your Friends Help You Plan Your Trips

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 08:22 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: Trippy

Quick Pitch: Trippy lets your friends plan your trip, helping you more closely tailor your travel plans to your wants and desires.

Genius Idea: Harnessing your social graph to get your friends’ recommendations for places to visit and things to do.

What do you do first when you first start planning a trip? You probably go to Google and search about the location you’re visiting. Or perhaps you visit Priceline, Expedia or Tripadvisor to look up hotels. There’s a lot of information, though, and it isn’t always accurate. Most of all, it comes from strangers, so you can’t assess how knowledgable they are about the beaches of Costa Rica or the pubs of Dublin.

Trippy believes there is a better approach to planning trips, and it revolves around friend recommendations and the social graph. So the startup, like so many other companies these days, has bet the farm on Facebook.

Once you log into Trippy with your Facebook account (there is no other way to sign up), you can start planning a trip with your Facebook friends. You then choose the type of trip you’re taking (business or pleasure?) and the locations you know you want to visit, and asks you to write a brief description of what you want to accomplish.

Once done, Trippy’s Facebook integration takes care of the rest. The system provides a list of Facebook friends that likely have knowledge of the city you’re visiting. Perhaps they lived there for a short time or maybe they studied at a university there. Trippy prompts you to send them a message to those friends, asking for their help. In addition, any friends on Trippy will see that you recently created a trip and are looking for help.

Trippy founder and CEO J.R. Johnson says that the company’s big advantage is its harnessing of the social graph. He believes a restaurant or hotel recommendation from a good friend trumps the information you might find on Tripadvisor or Yelp. TripAdvisor is notorious for its wonky ranking system, one that can be gamed and often doesn’t provide the best recommendations.

Johnson knows the travel space like the back of his hand. He founded VirtualTourist in 2000 and in 2004 (both acquired by TripAdvisor). He is also the founder of review website

I decided to test out Trippy by asking my friends to help me plan my upcoming trip to London. Creating the trip was easy (though the system thought I was visiting London, Canada initially), but I didn’t get the instant responses I’m used to seeing from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. You will have to wait a few hours or more until your friends check their Facebook inboxes, get on Trippy and provide you with their advice. The positive, of course, is that you can trust this advice because it comes from somebody you know.

Trippy is still missing some key features (e.g. the ability to plan multi-city trips), but it provides a nice hub for planning trips. Sending a message to just a few friends can seed it with interesting content and help you get your trips off the ground. And syncing with Facebook makes it simple to find the friends you need to make your trip a success.

What do you think of Trippy? How do you plan your trips online? 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: Lunch, spark-of-genius, startup, Trippy

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USA’s “Psych” Social TV Campaign Scores With Fans

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 07:46 PM PDT

USA Network launched a fun new interactive social media mystery game tie-in for its hit TV show Psych.

The game is called #HashTagKiller and it takes place on the Web using Facebook’s Open Graph API. The game launched on Wednesday and will unfold online over the next seven weeks. The game uses video created with the cast specifically for the game, as well as puzzles, clues and Facebook messages between series leads Shawn and Gus.

Users can visit to get started and sign up using Facebook. We had a chance to talk to Jesse Redniss, VP of digital about the campaign, Psych and the state of social TV.

Psych has a very active social media following with more than 2 million fans on Facebook. In December, USA was also one of the first networks to release a second-screen app for the show. Redniss attended SXSW Interactive this year, along with Psych creator Steve Franks and star Dule Hill. I had a chance to interview all three at the Mashable SXSWi House that we setup with Facebook Live.

It turns out, SXSW was the catalyst for the #HashTagKiller online game. After SXSW was over, Hill became active on social media, frequently engaging with fans from Twitter and Facebook. This set in motion the idea of creating a special case, accessible online for the fans of the show.

After the idea was hatched, Psych writers got to work on a script. In addition to the online elements of the game, stars James Roday and Dule Hill also star in video clips that will roll out as part of the game each week. The clips are designed to mimic the look and feel of the show. During the week, players can log into to get more clues and messages and continue to try to track down the killer and solve the case.

The result is a fully integrated social TV experience. What we like about this approach is that the producers, writers and cast were involved from the offset and social media were part of the narrative structure — not simply an add-on after the fact.

Early Results Are Promising

Redniss shared with Mashable some of the early numbers from the game. In the first 12 hours of being online, more than 13,000 unique visitors visited Of those visitors, 10,000 signed up for the game. At its peak Wednesday afternoon, the website was fielding over 6,000 requests a minute.

Even more impressive than the early sign-up figures — which took place entirely from social network-based promotion — is the average time users spent on the site. Redniss tells us that the average user spent more than 12 and a half minutes on the site. Additionally, 22% of visitors returned at least once within the first 12 hours.

These early figures show just how well this sort of campaign works with its audience. USA understands its audience and is looking to actively include it in various social initiatives.

For instance, next week, the network will be holding a special Fan Appreciation Day for Pysch fans in New York City. Fans will be given the opportunity to watch the season 6 premiere episode before it airs on TV on Oct. 12. USA will be livestreaming the event (sans premiere episode), which will include interviews with the writers, cast and crew and will answer questions posed by fans online and at the event.

Making Other Shows More Social

Psych has a socially engaged audience, which is one reason a campaign like #HashTagKiller is already off to such a solid start. What about USA’s other show that might have a less social audience? I asked Redniss about what the network is looking to do to increase the social activity for its other properties.

Redniss told me that using various social networks — including its popular Chatter real-time chat program, the network hopes to graduate its existing shows and its new skeins to a more social atmosphere.

Chatter is powered by Echo and lets users login and chat in real-time about a TV show as it airs. Chatter has proven to be successful for the network, especially in introducing audiences to the concept of social TV.

Mashable Interviews Cast & Crew from Psych at SXSW 2011 at Facebook Live

More About: Facebook, psych, social tv, usa network

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14 Epic Tech Fails That Will Live In Infamy [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 06:42 PM PDT

Sometimes a stroll down memory lane is more interesting because of the garbage. We’ve collected a list of 14 tech train wrecks you may remember from back in the day — and even if you used some of them, we won’t judge.

Most of these products fizzled due to market competition, lack of consumer demand or just plan clunkiness. Others were cool for a time (especially if Leonard Nimoy said so), but were quickly surpassed by other groundbreaking technology.

The list below is by no means exhaustive, so please share other tech flops you’ve witnessed over the years — that is, if you’re willing to admit you used them.

Infographic by Nick Sigler

More About: features, Mashable Infographics, Tech

Angry Birds Speaker Docks Coming Soon for iPhone, iPad [PICS]

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 05:41 PM PDT

Now you can complement your collection of Angry Birds games, cases, cookbooks, plush toys and baby clothes with these speaker docks, decked out as your favorite feathered friends — and particularly compatible with iPods, iPhones and iPads.

The Red Bird speaker lets you connect any audio device with an auxiliary cable while propping up that device in its own stand that looks like it’s already taken a couple of direct hits from those avian aggressors.

The helmeted pig can charge up an iPod or iPhone with its protective headgear while playing back its audio with two stereo speakers and a subwoofer, while our favorite Angry Birds character, the powerful and explosive Black Bird, charges up an iPad and plays audio in a similar fashion.

Can’t wait, Angry Birds addicts? All three are set to smash into Apple Stores and later this fall.

Get pricing details and a close-up look at the trio here:

Red Angry Bird

Red Bird speaker ($79.99) works with any device with an auxiliary audio output.

Green Helmet Pig

This loathsome pig (sound effects not included) will cost you $99.99, and is compatible with iPhone and iPod for charging and playback.

Black Angry Bird

Of course the Black Angry Bird, also $99.99, is powerful enough to charge up an iPad, and you can park your tablet in its special halfway destructed holder.

More About: angry birds, ipad, iphone, iPod Docks

5 Ways Facebook’s New Features Will Fuel Social Shopping

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 04:55 PM PDT

Christian Taylor is founder and CEO of Payvment and developer of the number-one Facebook ecommerce platform for brands, agencies and merchants, and the world's only Facebook Shopping Mall.

Many of the new features introduced at Facebook's f8 Developer Conference last Thursday, such as a customizable Open Graph and real-time news Ticker, will have a tremendous impact on social commerce and social shopping in the very near future.

SEE ALSO: How Facebook Timeline Might Radically Change the Look of Brand Pages [PICS]

Developers will now be able to build a Facebook commerce experience more relevant to shoppers and also offer more effective social discovery for sellers. Sellers will be able to access new insights into shopper preferences and will use this data to better promote their products. These new opportunities will make the Facebook shopping experience richer and more social.

Here are five ways Facebook's new features will fuel social commerce and product discovery.

1. Better Self-Expression for Shoppers

Custom Open Graph gestures will bring a new level of relevance to the Facebook shopping experience. By enabling new buttons such as "Want," "Own" and "Love," shoppers will be able to express themselves more specifically around a particular product. Consequently, News Feed stories can also be customized to generate phrases such as "Jim reviewed" or "Jane loved" a particular product. These types of posts will drive much more effective social discovery than a simple "Like" story.

These new buttons will also be used to enrich the social shopping experience within Facebook storefronts themselves. For example, in the future, you will be able to see who "owns" a product you're considering and connect with that friend for recommendations. This functionality will also enable sellers to engage more deeply with shoppers. For example, if I discover that Jim owns a product in my storefront, I might ask him for a product review.

2. Product Discovery Through Ticker

The new Ticker creates a persistent real-time stream that sellers can use to publicize products to shoppers, just as Ticker allows users to discover music their friends are listening to. For example, if my friend Jane visits a Facebook store and clicks the "Want" button on a product, the resulting Ticker story could read, "Jane wants a Granite Fountain at the Fountain Shop on Facebook."

As powerful as this capability is, developers should be careful to publish only the activities that shoppers agree to promote. For instance, if a boyfriend is secretly checking out engagement rings, he might not want his whole friend list to know about it.

3. The Ability to Create Wishlists

As part of the new design, Facebook will aggregate application activity to create persistent modules on a person's Timeline. Different social shopping widgets will post to a person's profile, such as holiday and birthday wish lists or wedding and baby registries. These lists are created automatically based on the custom action buttons. For example, all "Want" button clicks will create a wish list on the Timeline.

SEE ALSO: Why Facebook Timeline Will Be Huge for Brands

Adding product-focused lists to your profile lets people know what you want, and makes it easier for friends to know what to buy you when those special events come around. Now when your friends get a birthday reminder for you, they can click through to your profile, and may even be able to buy you something from your birthday wish list immediately.

The Ticker will also play a role in promoting these wish lists. Want to remind people about your wish list before your upcoming birthday? Just "Want" a more recent product and it will automatically generate a fresh Ticker story.

4. Clearer Permissions

Have you ever started to use a new Facebook application, but hesitated when seeing how the application could use your data? The current permissions dialog box did not allow developers to explain why they want your permissions, so users didn't always have enough information to make an informed decision.

Developers will now have more control over the content displayed in the permissions dialog, and thus can better articulate how a person's data will be used. Social shopping applications can explain exactly what type of data will be used and what benefits it will provide the shopper; they can even include screenshots of posts that might appear on your Timeline. For example, a permissions dialog might explain that your Facebook interests will be used to provide product recommendations and special deals targeted to you. This option could, in turn, build trust and increase participation by users.

5. Shopping With Friends

The Facebook custom Open Graph and Ticker opened the door to social music discovery – so why not social shopping as well?

In the near future you might see an "invite friends to shop" button within a social storefront. Clicking on it would generate a post in the Ticker that says, "Jane is shopping for baby strollers." When a friend clicks on the post, they would be taken to a chat room-style panel or comment box where they can share stroller recommendations. That feedback might become part of the public comments in the store, or may only be visible to the two of you. The end result is that you have enlisted your friend's help to make a purchase decision, as if you were both shopping together at the mall.

These kinds of experiences are only the beginning. Just as developers have used Facebook to bring people together to play social games, so too will developers use this new functionality to make Facebook shopping a much more interactive — and social — experience.

What features would you like to see in a Facebook shopping experience?

A Closer Look at Facebook’s New Features

The New Facebook Profile: Timeline

Timeline is a radical departure from previous versions of the Facebook user profile. The most prominent feature is the addition of a cover photo at the top of the page. Users can change this to whatever they'd like it to be.


In 1987, my sister was born. Facebook knows these life events and includes them in your timeline.

Being Born

You can even add a picture and context to your birth, which starts the Timeline.

Timeline Interface

The Timeline is a two-column interface with top photos, status updates, friends and more.


Facebook has added a feature that lets you see where you have visited. This is powered by Facebook Places.

Photos in the Timeline

Here's how photos are displayed in the Timeline.

Friends in the New Timeline

Here's what the Friends page looks like.

Changing Settings

Some of the new Timeline's customization features.


More of the new Timeline

Getting Married

You can add life events, such as getting married, to your profile through the Publisher Bar. You can also announce that you broke a bone, got a new job, etc.

More About: contributor, ecommerce, Facebook, features, shopping, Social Media

MAD’s ThunderLOLCats Set Memes-Per-Minute Record [VIRAL VIDEO]

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 04:23 PM PDT

How well do you know Internet memes? Find out with this video from Cartoon Network's MAD TV show, which created this meme-a-licious compendium of goofiness encompassing more than a decade of Internet culture.

Tell us in the comments which of your fave memes were left out, and if you’re sick and tired of memes, remember, as it says in the video, “The only way to fight this is with even stupider memes.”

More About: memes, ThunderLOLCats

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Netflix’s Very Bad Month: How Low Can It Go? [CHART]

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 03:47 PM PDT

As September comes to a close, Netflix‘s stock price is falling like the Autumn leaves.

The company’s stock lost another 11% on Thursday, racking up one of the biggest drops of the day on Nasdaq as investors reacted to Amazon‘s flurry of announcements on Wednesday — particularly Amazon’s offer of a free month of its Prime streaming service.

Unless the stock makes a dramatic comeback on Friday, Netflix is set to lose about 50% of its value for the month. Of course, Netflix has itself to blame for some of its woes. The company’s baffling decision to spin off and rename its DVD service as Qwikster didn’t go down well with investors or consumers. Nor did a price hike that took effect on September 1. Here’s hoping October looks a little less scary.

Netflix Price Stock Chart

Netflix Price Stock Chart by YCharts

Image courtesy of Flickr, Ross Catrow

More About: amazon, nasdaq, netflix

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Look at the Honey Badger, He’s Cracking Pistachios! [VIDEO]

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 02:45 PM PDT

Internet meme and utterly fearless mammal the Honey Badger, not content with his 18 million views on YouTube, is headed for the TV screen. He opens pistachios in true badass style in the latest attention-getting stunt from Wonderful Pistachios.

The 19-second ad, a kind of condensed, cleaned-up version of the viral video, features the Honey Badger using a cobra to crack open the nut. Randall, the single-named narrator who did the exuberant voiceover for the hit video, is on hand for the new ad as well.

The Honey Badger’s star turn comes after another attention-getting ad featuring the Winklevoss twins earlier this month. Snooki and Wee-Man from the Jackass movies have also done ads for the brand.

What does the Honey Badger have to do with pistachios? About as much as he has to do with beer. And though you may think he’s getting too commercial, the Honey Badger … well, let’s just say he’s not too worried about it.

More About: Advertising, Honey Badger, memes, Wonderful Pistachios

YouTube Down? Video Service Sees First Disruption Since May

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 02:14 PM PDT

Having trouble watching that video a friend just sent you? That’ll be because YouTube is experiencing its first service interruption in months, and its first significant downtime of the year. itself appears to be working, but links to individual videos are extremely sporadic. has called a “likely service interruption” since roughly 4 p.m. ET. shows several outages over the course of the previous hour. This is a shame, as the Google-owned video service had an unblemished 100% uptime record since the middle of May, according to Pingdom.

We’ve reached out to YouTube and will keep you updated on the situation. In the meantime, let us know in the comments if YouTube has stopped working for you — and what you’re doing instead. Did business productivity just go through the roof?

UPDATE: “The engineers have fixed the problem and videos should be back up,” the official YouTube Twitter account just tweeted. “Thanks for your patience and understanding.”

More About: Google, YouTube

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PayPal & eBay Get Friendly With Facebook

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 02:06 PM PDT

Auction giant eBay and Facebook are quietly forging stronger ties with a secret joint partnership and the addition of Facebook exec Katie Mitic to eBay’s board of directors.

Mitic, the current director of platform and mobile marketing at Facebook, will now become the twelfth member of eBay’s board of directors. She will join a board of directors that includes founder Pierre Omidyar, Marc Andreessen (Netscape, Andreesen-Horowitz), Scott Cook (Intuit) and William Ford, Jr. (Ford Motor Company). Mitic was previously an SVP at Palm and a VP at Yahoo.

The appointment comes at an interesting time for eBay. In less than two weeks, the company will host its X.commerce Innovate Conference, an event where the company will unveil its vision for the future of ecommerce under the PayPal, eBay, Magento and GSI Commerce brands. Katie Mitic is already slated to be one of the conference’s keynote speakers. Both companies are expected to make a joint announcement at the conference.

We expect the announcement to be related to the Facebook Platform and the new Facebook Open Graph. Our bet is that Facebook Credits will be given the spotlight in a joint effort between the two companies. We’re digging to find out more about the partnership.

Mitic is a whiz when it comes to mobile. She helped launch the Palm Pre and the company’s app store before it was snatched up by HP. Her background in building and promoting developer platforms, especially in the mobile arena, should prove useful as eBay strives to replace the wallet with the phone by 2015.

More About: ebay, Facebook, paypal

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WATCH: Jeff Bezos Introduces Amazon’s Kindle Fire [VIDEO]

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 01:20 PM PDT

The Kindle Fire has been the talk of the town ever since Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos introduced it to the world on Thursday.

The 7-inch touchscreen utilizes the power of Amazon’s cloud for faster web browsing and multimedia. It’s based on the Android OS, but doesn’t look or feel like an Android device. It’s an Amazon device, with its own app store and a radically cheap $199 price tag.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos did his best to channel the magic of Steve Jobs in his 51-minute presentation about the company’s new family of Kindles, including the new $149 and $99 Kindle Touch devices. For the most part, he succeeded at captivating the audience and getting the media to call this device a worthy competitor to the iPad.

If you want to see Bezos work his magic, we’ve embedded the entire 51-minute Amazon Kindle Fire announcement for your enjoyment. Let us know what you think of the Amazon founder’s performance in the comments.

More About: amazon, amazon kindle, jeff bezos, Kindle, kindle fire

Blekko Takes on Google — With Help From Russia

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 12:56 PM PDT

Blekko, a search upstart that believes in human curation, has added $30 million in fresh funding to its coffers and has found a new strategic partner — thanks to Russian Internet company Yandex.

Blekko is on a quest to build a search engine free of spam, content farms and malware. Its goal is to eke out a small percentage of the U.S. search market, currently dominated by Google. The startup has always contented that owning just 1% of all searches could turn it into a billion-dollar business.

Now, Blekko has the backing and support of Yandex — Russia’s most popular search engine — to help it get there. “There could be a future for us here," Yandex’s CTO Arkady Borkovsky told the Associated Press on the company’s first U.S. search investment. "This is an interesting experiment for us and we are quite excited about it."

“Having access to one of the world's top pools of search talent and the fantastic products they have built will help us grow Blekko in the U.S.,” Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta says.

Yandex led the $30 million funding round with a $15 million investment. Arkady Volozh, founder and CEO of Yandex, is joining Blekko’s board or directors. New investor MLC Private Equity, and repeat investors U.S. Venture Partners, CMEA Capital and PivotNorth Capital also participated in the round.

In total, Blekko’s piggy bank has grown to more than $54 million. Is it enough to lure searchers away from Google? The search alternative attracted roughly 225,000 unique U.S. visitors in August, according to Compete. But compare that to Google’s 165 million uniques for the same month and the challenge looks enormous.

More About: blekko, funding, Search

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Facebook Will Never Charge You to Use It. Here’s Why

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 12:41 PM PDT

The rumor that Facebook will suddenly start charging users to access the site has become one of the social media era's perennial chain letters.

While Facebook prominently advertises that its service is "free and always will be" on its homepage, it hasn't stopped false rumors of a pay scheme from going viral on numerous occasions, most recently in conjunction with the major profile redesign that the site announced earlier this month.

Given the ubiquity of these rumors, we thought it was worth exploring their origin — and why we can guarantee Facebook will never charge you to use its service.

A Long History

Chain letters — which date back to the days of snail mail — have dogged nearly every online service that achieved critical mass. While they vary in the details, the general premise is that something negative will happen to your account unless you spread the message to your friends.

On AIM, this took the form of IMs that needed to be shared with friends to avoid account deletion. On Friendster, rumors spread that the service was getting "too crowded" — and hence, they needed to determine which accounts were active and remove those that weren't. On MySpace, word was that the service was getting so popular that the site would soon start charging members, and the only way to avoid the fees was to — you guessed it — forward the message to your friends.

Of course, none of these situations ever actually materialized, but it didn't stop millions of users from passing the message along. Snopes has a detailed overview of these scams and others that have permeated the web over the years, going all the way back to the early days of Hotmail.

Facebook's Business Model

The New Facebook Profile: Timeline

Timeline is a radical departure from previous versions of the Facebook user profile. The most prominent feature is the addition of a cover photo at the top of the page. Users can change this to whatever they'd like it to be.


In 1987, my sister was born. Facebook knows these life events and includes them in your timeline.

Being Born

You can even add a picture and context to your birth, which starts the Timeline.

Timeline Interface

The Timeline is a two-column interface with top photos, status updates, friends and more.


Facebook has added a feature that lets you see where you have visited. This is powered by Facebook Places.

Photos in the Timeline

Here's how photos are displayed in the Timeline.

Friends in the New Timeline

Here's what the Friends page looks like.

Changing Settings

Some of the new Timeline's customization features.


More of the new Timeline

Getting Married

You can add life events, such as getting married, to your profile through the Publisher Bar. You can also announce that you broke a bone, got a new job, etc.

The recent round of Facebook rumors suggest that the site will start charging for membership as a result of the upcoming new profiles. The new Facebook does indeed feature some dramatic changes, but you can rest assured that one of them isn't that the site will start charging you.

Here's why: For starters, it doesn’t need the money. Facebook is estimated to be on track to pull in around $4 billion in revenue in 2011, and has raised more than $2 billion in venture capital. It's also on track to go public in 2012, a move that would bring in significantly more capital for the company and value it at between $80 billion and $100 billion.

More importantly, the company's business model revolves around having as many users as possible. Remaining free is paramount to doing that. Facebook makes its money on highly targeted advertising that's based on the plethora of data that its members share on the site. Restricting users’ ability to use the site would actually be detrimental to that model.

Facebook didn't even introduce its ad platform until 2007 — because the company wanted to focus on adding users as quickly as possible.

That's not to say social networking sites haven't found success in charging members for some services. LinkedIn offers premium memberships with features such as enhanced search, direct messaging and seeing who has viewed your profile. Some dating sites, like and eHarmony charge users to message each other. Still, those services are appealing to a specific audience — Facebook's goal is to connect everyone in the world. That can't be done if you need a credit card to use the service.

Why It Will Never Charge You

Of course, Facebook is in business to make money. Beyond advertising, it has found ways to profit directly from its users through Facebook Credits, a form of currency that can be used on the site in social games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

In the future, we expect Facebook to find additional ways to monetize. The company could grow its credit system to become a rival to PayPal. We could also see Facebook extending its ad platform beyond the social network itself and onto the wider Web — in order to compete with Google's AdSense.

There's also potential in ecommerce. Although Facebook's Deals product fell flat, an increasing number of merchants are starting to sell their wares directly on the social networking site. Might Facebook one day provide its own tools for powering such activity? It's certainly possible.

The one thing that all of these models have in common is that they need a critical mass of users to be successful. Facebook has that, and would never risk losing it by charging people for basic access to the tools that make its multi-billion dollar business work.

More About: Facebook, internet hoaxes

Google Analytics Adds Real-Time Traffic Data

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 12:17 PM PDT

Google for the first time is providing a window into real-time web traffic with Google Analytics Real-Time.

Real-Time reports are available in the new version of Google Analytics, and administrators with Analytics accounts will get Real-Time reports. Google turned the new feature on Thursday for “a number of you,” John Jersin, product manager at Google Analytics wrote on the Google Analytics blog.

For users trying to gauge how a campaign or post is performing, Real-Time will track the immediate impact to site traffic. If a user posts something and then tweets about it, for instance, Real-Time will track when traffic from the tweet stops driving visits.

Google isn’t the first company to offer such data. Woopra, Chartbeat and a number of other tools also provide data in real time. But unlike some of those, Google’s will be free.

Speaking of which, Google also rolled out Google Analytics Premium, the first paid Google Analytics product. Perks for the service include extra processing power, advanced analysis and 24/7 support for $150,000 a year.

More About: chartbeat, google analytics, real-time analytics, woopra

Fall TV Premieres: Who Won the Social Media Wars?

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 12:09 PM PDT

x factor image

Fall marks a whole new season of television show premieres. As shows battle to win the airwaves, tracking platform SocialGuide has figured out which shows won the social media wars.

SocialGuide tracked Facebook comments, tweets, overall followers and a variety of other stats on 12 of the most hotly anticipated Fall TV premieres, including The X Factor, New Girl, Pan Am, Charlie’s Angels and The Playboy Club.

Unsurprisingly, the big winner was The X Factor, which had more than 50,000 unique viewers and more than 100,000 comments across all social networks. This is significantly higher than New Girl, which took the number two spot with 24,634 uniques and 31,553 comments. Pan Am, which came in third, had 11,645 unique viewers and 17,535 comments.

This looks like a huge disparity, but it’s impressive that both New Girl and Pan Am fared so well against The X Factor given its huge promotional push, longer run time and inherently more social format.

So how does this compare to overall primetime ratings? The X Factor‘s Wednesday and Thursday premieres ranked 19th and 20th in Nielsen’s TV ratings, while New Girl and Pan Am did not crack the top 25. The most-watched new show in the rankings was 2 Broke Girls, which came in fourth.

SEE ALSO: Fall TV Goes Social: 27 New Shows to Watch

The number of comments-per-follower for all 12 shows was fairly consistent. The lowest (2 Broke Girls) averaged 1.22 comments per follower whereas the highest (The X Factor) averaged just 2.09 comments per follower.

Is social TV here to stay? Did you think these numbers would be higher or lower? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of The X Factor

More About: Social Media, social tv, television, TV, Video

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Amazon Kindle Fire Just Hijacked Android

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 11:55 AM PDT

One aspect of the Amazon Kindle Fire has consistently been understated by the Amazon team: the Kindle Fire runs on Android.

Amazon didn’t hide the fact that Android powers the Kindle Fire — and allows it to access Amazon’s Appstore for Android — but the message is clear. This is not an Android device; this is an Amazon device.

As John Gruber noted on his blog, the only mention of Android on the Kindle Fire product page is in reference to the Amazon App store.

A True Android Market Alternative

When Amazon launched its Appstore for Android in March, some wondered why Amazon would bother creating an alternative to the Android Market. Now the reason is clear: It allowed Amazon to provide access to apps on its own devices.

Amazon will vet app submissions, just like Apple, and ensure that Kindle Fire users have access only to the apps that work on their device. And while we’re sure that Android hackers will be busy rooting the Kindle Fire, a la the Nook Color, we’re equally sure that Amazon will take as many precautions as it can to keep the device untouched.

The Appstore experience on the Kindle Fire is completely customized, as opposed to the free-for-all Appstore APK for Android devices. And, unlike regular Android — which can exist without the Android Market — Amazon’s approach is much more akin to the way the App Store is built into iOS.

In short, the Amazon Appstore is a fundamental part of the operating system.

A Fork or a New Skin?

Amazon is not the first company to use Android for its devices, only to customize the UI and add its own App Store. Practically every major phone manufacturer has some variation of its own Android UI skin and Barnes & Noble has taken the liberty of hiding most of the Android elements from the Nook Color.

Still, Amazon’s customization of Android goes above and beyond re-theming the interface. Amazon has created its own apps for email, video playback (using Amazon Instant Video), music and books. The Kindle app, while similar in appearance to Kindle for Android [Android Market link], is slightly tweaked and looks distinct in its own right.

Amazon is using Android 2.3 as its base, not the tablet-specific Honeycomb, and we expect that the company has taken the opportunity to optimize 2.3 specifically for the Kindle Fire’s hardware.

Likewise, instead of applying tweaks to the basic Android web browser, Amazon chose to build its own: Amazon Silk. Silk operates both server-side and on the device itself, and is tuned to deliver content quickly and efficiently.

On nearly every Android device I have used, even those which are disguised not to look like Android (like the Nook Color), Android elements still creep into the system anyway. That’s not the case with the Kindle Fire, as it looks like Amazon has taken every step possible to fully customize the interface.

For this reason, I consider what Amazon is doing a fork — that is, taking the software in such a different direction that it no longer conforms to its original guidelines. It is, perhaps, the first true fork of Android. Because much of Android is covered by the Apache license and not the GPL, Amazon won’t even have to commit most of its changes back to the main Android branch. It also means that Amazon can choose to deviate from the official release cycle, focusing on customizing or adding functions to Android 2.3, rather than adopting Ice Cream Sandwich.

We expect Amazon to start courting Android developers to make customized Kindle Fire-specific versions of their apps.

Stock Android Tablets Beware

If the Kindle Fire takes off the way Amazon hopes it will, the $200 tablet could take a big chunk out of the crowded Android tablet market. Despite the dozens of Android 3.x tablets on sale, none have managed to make an impact in terms of sales to actual customers. Furthermore, the number of tablet-specific applications remains very small.

If Amazon can push enough units this holiday season, it could convince some developers to forget tablet-specific apps for Android, and instead focus their efforts on the Kindle Fire. If that happens, Amazon’s fork of Android might just end up encroaching on the greater Android ecosystem.

For Mashable’s Complete Amazon Kindle & Kindle Fire Coverage

More About: amazon, android, kindle fire, op-ed, tablets

Create a Custom Gift Card for Any Store With Giftly

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 11:17 AM 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: Giftly

Quick Pitch: Giftly lets users create custom gift cards for any store.

Genius Idea: Bypassing the merchant in the gift card process by using a mobile checkin for redemption.

In theory, gift cards are a great way to cut down the number of wrongly-sized sweaters, useless knickknacks and uninspired coffee table books you receive. But the fact is these cards — the virtual version alone consulting firm Aite Group predicts will grow into a $10 billion industry by 2015 — often go unused. The average American family has about $300 worth of them collecting dust at home.

Startups like Plastic Jungle and Cardpool have responded to this inefficiency by creating resale markets for gift cards. Giftly, which launched in May, wants to fix the problem at its source — by creating the “cooler, more sophisticated, and smarter cousin to the gift card.”

Here’s how it works: The gift giver goes to Giftly’s website and designs a gift certificate. You can decorate it with a picture, write a message and choose up to three stores where it can be used. Any location on Yelp can be listed on a Giftly certificate.

Giftly is free to use for gifts less than $20. For more expensive gifts, the startup charges a fee. A $30 certificate, for instance, costs $2. After purchasing the gift, the buyer can print it, email it or post it on the recipient’s Facebook profile.

When recipients want to redeem the gift certificate, they must sign up for a Giftly account and provide their credit card information. When they use their mobile phone to check in at the merchant location on, the full amount of the gift — regardless of what was purchased — is credited directly to their credit card accounts.

The buyer doesn’t need to visit a physical location to purchase a gift card that works there, and gift cards can be used at locations that don’t necessarily issue them. Plus, the recipient doesn’t have to deal with a leftover balance on a card.

The process is a lot like handing someone cash, but requiring them to be in a certain location before they can use it.

“There’s a level of personalization where you can think about, ‘What does this person like?’ And you can reflect that in the gift really easily,” Giftly founder and CEO Tim Bentley. “I know where a friend lives and can give him a gift that works at places near him. Or, if I learn that you really like mojitos, I can give you a gift that will work at places where they have great mojitos in New York.”

That’s a fair point. But how do I explain to my less than tech-savvy grandmother how to access the New York mojito adventure I’ve gifted her through her mobile phone?

Bentley concedes that this might be an issue. But a Giftly partnership with Visa should soon help with sending a physical gift card. This re-introduces the leftover balance problem, but it also allows me to give a more personalized version of a Visa gift card.

Bentley doesn’t see the physical gift card as the future of his business, however. He says he hopes the purely virtual concept will continue to grow more relevant along with the rise in smartphones, the mobile wallet and increased sharing on social networks like Facebook.

“We’re seeing a ton of distance gifting, remote gifting,’” Bentley says. “Rather than just writing a wall post, we’re seeing people send a Giftly. It’s a way to actually send them an experience in the real world.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, kutaytanir

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, Giftly, Gifts

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Why Facebook Timeline Will Be Huge for Brands

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 11:02 AM PDT

Zeny Huang is an Emerging Media Strategist at JWT New York where she helps brands connect with fans in innovative and meaningful ways using social media. You can follow her on Twitter @Zenidala.

When Facebook unveiled Timeline last week, many users were struck by the idea of humanizing your profile by summarizing your life and connections.

But what if you’re not a human at all?

SEE ALSO: How Facebook Timeline Might Radically Change the Look of Brand Pages [PICS]

Timeline may have a similar effect on brands as well. In fact, the brand benefits of Timeline could be huge, and will let companies tell a more engaging and authentic story. This is one reason (beyond the 800 million active users) that brands should be celebrating the new changes to Facebook even if the network hasn’t yet confirmed that brand pages will employ Timeline. Here are a few more reasons we hope they do.

More Pictures, More Branding Opportunities


From New York agency Skinny.


From Skinny.

Kanye West

From Skinny.

The New York Yankees

From Skinny.


From Skinny.


From Ryan Kennedy.


From Ryan Kennedy.


From Skinny.

The Muppets

From Ryan Kennedy.

Big Spaceship

The New York-based digital agency reimagines its own Facebook presence.


Skinny reimagines its own Facebook Page.

McCann Digital

The Israeli digital ad agency experiments with its own Facebook look.

According to Dr. John Medina's book Brain Rules, vision is our most powerful sense, and "we learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words." This helps explain the popularity of infographics, photo apps like Instagram and visual blog platforms like Tumblr. We increasingly consume information through photos, from browsing friends' Facebook albums to mobile Twitpics. Accordingly, Facebook has made photos a main focus of the new Timeline profile.

Compared to the current Facebook brand page (which only allows the profile picture and five thumbnails to be customized, hiding photo albums and tagged photos beneath the Wall), Timeline unlocks new possibilities for branding, raising awareness and creativity. The "Cover," an 849 by 312 pixel image spanning the top of your profile, can be changed at any time and is major real estate for a brand — perfect for a product shot or promotion push. In addition, brands could call out important photos on the Timeline by clicking a star on the post that expands the photo to widescreen.

Brands Can Be More Interesting

Currently, the hidden "Info" tab on the Facebook brand page serves as a dumping ground for every bit of information about a brand in a boring text format. When deciding whether to drive paid media to Facebook or a brand site, brands face the challenge of choosing between growing their Facebook community or providing a more informative and better user experience elsewhere. Now, the decision tips a bit more in Facebook's favor as Timeline makes it easier for people to find information by pushing the Info section, photos, apps and map to the top of the page in a clear navigation bar.

While conversations on Facebook still matter, information and content have become more prominent in the Timeline design. The infinite scroll prolongs the lifespan of brand content, giving people more to engage and consume, which will lead to more chatter, and focuses more on quality of posts over quantity, since posts don't disappear “below the fold” of the Facebook wall.

With the focus shifting from building conversation to sharing content, the purpose of a Facebook brand page will be less about selling and more about telling an authentic story. Brands can express what makes them unique and build an emotional connection with fans through behind-the-scenes photos, blooper videos, real-time mobile pictures, sound clips and exclusive news. In addition to expressing the brand in the present, a brand can utilize the Timeline to speak to its past to reignite nostalgia and sentiment that may be associated with it.

It Simplifies What It Means to Be on Facebook

The focus on telling a brand story lowers the barriers to entry for brands on Facebook, especially small businesses like a car repair shop, florist or restaurant that don’t have the budget or content to sustain a community. Prior to Timeline, brands often felt confused as to how Facebook fit into their brand strategy and felt the need to have a gimmicky app or sampling incentive for people to "Like" or engage with their page. According to ExactTarget, of the people who "Like" Facebook brand pages, 40% are doing that to receive discounts and promotions. Now with the larger post size and photos, Timeline can easily serve as a brand blog, providing fans with frequent and engaging updates in a neatly packaged profile.

The same challenges of building a brand hub and bringing the brand to life on Facebook still exist, but the design of Timeline will make content creation easier by providing a skeleton for brands to fill in.

It’s a Great Move for Facebook

Two months ago, I suggested that Google+ brand pages could be better than Facebook’s. At the time, I could only focus on what Facebook had done wrong for brand pages — poor user experience, few branding opportunities and limited analytics. With the launch of the Timeline, I am happy to say that Facebook has done something right.

Brands, especially small businesses, may forgo creating a blog or unique domain page, opting to use Facebook Timeline instead due to the massive number of active Facebook users and the simplicity of setting up a page. All I ask of Facebook now is for more robust analytics, especially adding a "time spent" metric that can be drilled down by demographic and location so brands can better measure and analyze engagement. After all, it is called Timeline.

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

The New Facebook Profile: Timeline

Timeline is a radical departure from previous versions of the Facebook user profile. The most prominent feature is the addition of a cover photo at the top of the page. Users can change this to whatever they'd like it to be.


In 1987, my sister was born. Facebook knows these life events and includes them in your timeline.

Being Born

You can even add a picture and context to your birth, which starts the Timeline.

Timeline Interface

The Timeline is a two-column interface with top photos, status updates, friends and more.


Facebook has added a feature that lets you see where you have visited. This is powered by Facebook Places.

Photos in the Timeline

Here's how photos are displayed in the Timeline.

Friends in the New Timeline

Here's what the Friends page looks like.

Changing Settings

Some of the new Timeline's customization features.


More of the new Timeline

Getting Married

You can add life events, such as getting married, to your profile through the Publisher Bar. You can also announce that you broke a bone, got a new job, etc.

More About: brands, Business, facebook timeline, features, Marketing, Social Media

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David Hasselhoff Dresses Like a Cheerleader and Destroys a Pink Limo [VIDEO]

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 10:45 AM PDT

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

You thought we were kidding? It’s OK, we thought it was a joke too. In this promo video for the downloadable video game Burnout Crash! David Hasselhoff dresses up in a cheerleader outfit and blows up a pink limousine. That’s about it.

Strangely enough, the (absolutely insane) video makes some sense. The game, which sees players trying to cause as much mayhem as possible by crashing and exploding cars, is controlled by a series of special Kinect-enabled moves.

One of those moves is, apparently, “the cheerleader.” Players can control the game with a standard controller (the game is also available for PlayStation) or the Kinect — Xbox’s motion-controlled peripheral. Explosions are triggered by performing one of several signature finishers, including the aforementioned “cheerleader,” or “the chicken.”

You wanted a ridiculous video for that one too? No problem. Here’s Hasselhoff dressed up in a chicken suit blowing up an ice cream truck. With his mind.

More About: Gaming, Video, video games, youtube video of the day

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Facebook TV Show Stars You & Your Friends

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 10:32 AM PDT

Warner Bros. will launch an experimental live-action show next month that will run exclusively on Facebook and incorporate information from your profile to put you and your friends into select scenes.

The show, called Aim High, is story of a young man who is a high school student by day and a government operative by night. McG, of Charlie’s Angels fame, will direct the series, which makes its debut on October 18 on Facebook and

Claiming to be the first-ever “social series” by a Hollywood studio, Aim High will employ Facebook technology so that your photos, friends and other information in your profile shows up in the background scenes. It’s a feature that has been used by Mentos, and True Blood, among others. For example, in some scenes, your photo might appear in a student body election poster and your name might be scrawled in graffiti on the bathroom wall. Viewers can also share comments and tweets about the show.

While more networks are trying their hand at so-called transmedia storytelling, using Facebook as a test bed for new properties may be smart. But incorporating profile data could distract from the action more than it adds to it.

Would you watch a show on Facebook? Does the profile info angle interest you? Let us know in the comments.

More About: aim high, Facebook, warner bros

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Twitter Revenue to Hit $400 Million By 2013 [STUDY]

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 10:00 AM PDT

The success of Twitter‘s Promoted Products will propel the company into $400 million in revenue in 2013 compared to $45 million last year, says a new report.

Twitter will earn $139.5 million this year, a 210% jump over last year, according to eMarketer. Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer, credited Promoted Products’ success for the rosy estimate.

“Since their debut in April 2010, Twitter's Promoted Products have proven successful in the U.S.,” Williamson said in a statement from eMarketer. "Marketers have shown solid engagement rates with Twitter advertising — in some cases better than those on Facebook — despite Twitter's relatively smaller audience."

Twitter has 100 million active users compared to 800 million for Facebook.

The growth estimate for Twitter in 2011 is downgraded from eMarketer’s previous prediction of $150 million in revenues in January, a function of Twitter’s slower-than-expected rollout of various ad initiatives, including a self-serve ad platform and ad sales offices abroad. Twitter just created a sales staff in the UK– its first foreign office — this month, which is why 96% of Twitter’s ad revenues will come from the U.S. this year, eMarketer predicts. The researcher says that by 2013, 88% of revenues will come from the U.S.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Shawncampbell

More About: emarketer, Twitter

Which Amazon Kindle Would You Consider Buying First? [POLL]

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 09:46 AM PDT

Amazon is offering consumers new goodies that will heat up the ereader and tablet markets: Kindle Fire and the Kindle Touch — just in time for the holiday shopping blitz.

The company’s first tablet, Kindle Fire, two versions of the new Kindle Touch and the price-slashed Kindle will likely attract buyers with their uncharacteristically low prices. Stocking stuffers, anyone?

Kindle Fire will be released Nov. 15, the Touch will be available Nov. 21, and the Kindle is already available.

Are you considering buying any of these products for yourself or as gifts for family or friends? Or are you completely uninterested? Let us know in the poll below and tell us why in the comments.

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Onion Reports Fake Shots in Capitol: Did Satire Site Go Too Far?

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 09:21 AM PDT

The Onion sent this alarming message to the feeds of its more than 3 million Twitter followers Thursday: “BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.”

Remembering the fake news of Obama’s assassination that hackers tweeted after breaking into a Fox News account in July, The Washington Post’s blog speculated the The Onion must have been hacked.

But it wasn’t hackers, a spokesperson from The Onion — and Project Manager Matt Kirsch, who runs its Twitter account — told Mashable.

Rather, the startling tweets were a promotion for a fake news story about congressmen taking a group of schoolchildren hostage.

“This is satire,” the company said in a statement. “That’s how it works.”

The Onion often treats fake breaking stories as if they were real breaking news on Twitter, including updates that don’t include links. In this case, the site tweeted twice without including the story that cued readers into the joke.

More updates are being posted even now, such as “two chaperones are being held, one of whom is said to be pregnant.”

An investigation into The Onion‘s “false report” by Capitol police may be overkill, though it is still apparently happening.

The real problem seems to be that jokes about gunshots in federal buildings are categorically not funny. Especially the day after a man is arrested for allegedly plotting to blow up the Capitol and the Pentagon. And it’s hard to see the humor in a hostage situation involving school kids and pregnant chaperones.

Did The Onion take satire too far by applying its usual straight-faced tone to a too-realistic and too-terrifying scenario? Or should the world know fake news when they see it? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Fashion Blogging Grows Up: Why Advertisers Want a Piece of the Action

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 08:49 AM PDT

Alisa Gould-Simon is the Director of Marketing & Communications at, a free mobile shopping application. She is a fashion consultant and writer and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal. You can follow her on Twitter at @alisagouldsimon.

The advent of blogging has dramatically changed the face of the fashion industry — and fashion media in particular — in just a few years. Fashion bloggers have evolved from stigmatized outsiders to lauded insiders, sending scores of seasoned marketing executives and editors' heads spinning.

Today, bloggers are not only creating editorial to rival that of the glossies, they're leveraging myriad talents in shooting lookbooks, styling them, and, in some cases, starring in them. In addition, they’re hosting events, dressing the windows of some of 5th Avenue's finest storefronts — after catching a fashion show from the front row, of course — and moving product on behalf of retailers.

"There's a personality behind these blogs," says Ian Schatzberg, development director of Fashion Networks. Fashion Networks recently debuted Now Manifest, a highly curated content aggregate for a handful of the biggest names in the fashion blogging biz, which it sells ads across. This distinction — that of the prevalence of singular personas behind the vast majority of style blogs — is an important one when reflecting on fashion's blogosphere in relation to that of say, music or art.

"There's something about blogger media, where a lot of it is personality-driven," adds Schatzberg, and that includes dozens upon dozens of visual representations of the personalty in question. Take the ubiquitous outfit post, for example. “There is a prominence of who the author is… It's very strong, personality-focused media."

Management Agencies Move In

In this niche pocket of the blogosphere where personality (and aesthetics) are paramount, larger-than-life personas have proven potent when it comes to selling product. And, with the exponential growth of the commercial influence of some of fashion's most recognizable bloggers, an influx of management looking to represent the industry's new money-making machines has followed suit.

Manila-bred Bryanboy, who pens a namesake blog (tagline: "I'm so gay I sweat glitter") was recently added to CAA's talent roster (where he joins the likes of Tom Cruise). LA-based Emily Schuman, the face and voice behind Cupcakes & Cashmere, likewise has secured Hollywood representation through William Morris Endeavors. Rumi Neely, on the other hand — who has starred in a campaign for Forever 21, walked for Rebecca Minkoff and designed for Revolve clothing among other endeavors — is represented by NEXT models.

"There's no difference to Hollywood in that someone might be worth a lot of money because they know how to open a movie. If [a blogger] can convert 14,000 people in a week for you, that's worth something," says Karen Robinovitz, who co-founded the digital management agency Digital Brand Architects (DBA)  in 2010 with Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, formerly of Ralph Lauren. The agency manages a growing roster of bloggers including photographer-blogger Jamie Beck and Lindsey Calla of Saucy Glossie, landing them roles in everything from TV shows and commercials to print ad campaigns.The agency also develops social media strategy for brands, sometimes bringing the two sides of its business together.

"We believe that if someone is providing a service you would normally pay someone for — a model, photographer, stylist, designer, etc. — then the blogger should be compensated appropriately," Robinovitz argues. "Someone needs to be able to communicate on both sides – business with brands and publishing creative content. We are out to make sure that both the brand and the blog have a win at the end of the day and have created incredibly successful partnerships as a result."

And navigating that unfamiliar territory can be overwhelming for a brand or retailer unfamiliar with the space, or a blogger not schooled in the world of corporate partnerships — especially given the unprecedented types of collaborations that can arise out of a marriage of the two.

Photographer Craig Arend of said that signing with DBA put him on a “fast-track to corporate collaborations.” And the timing was right. "Financially, revenue is way up as a result of being with them. I've doubled my revenue in the last six months doing it with DBA versus when I was doing it on my own independently."

As Arend puts it, the potential payoff likewise vastly outweighed any possible risk. “There was limited financial downside and unlimited financial upside."

Not All Bloggers Are Signing On

High-profile management or representation has not, however, played a distinct role in Leandra Medine's rise to sartorial stardom.

"I was totally winging it," Medine, founder of the wildly popular blog The Man Repeller (which drives 1.2 million page views a month), muses of her nascent stages as a blogger. (Although, she does admit to utilizing the services of an entertainment lawyer on occasion.)

"My strategy was always take every day as it comes and do as much as you can. I really never had any sort of strategy the way Jane Aldridge really doesn't oversaturate herself and keeps exclusive and high-end. I figured, I'm just going to take it as it comes because Internet turnover is so quick. If it's hot right now, it could very well mean that it sucks tomorrow,” she says.

For Medine, guidance from her father and a thorough investigation of possible profit generators has helped contribute to her success. She has trademarked “Man Repeller” and “Arm Party” (pending) thanks to urging from the former. As for the latter: "I didn't start accepting money through an affiliate program until two months ago. The amount of money that I'm making from that affiliate program is astonishing," says Medine, who notes that she has earned over $10,000 in the past two months through the program.

As Medine points out, brand partnerships can mean many things for a blogger. "When I'm working with other brands, my first question is, 'What am I doing for you?' and 'Do you want me to blog about it?' Because, if it's attached to the blog I'll charge two to three times the amount." Medine adds, “It's all about setting benchmarks: I did one gig in May where I styled mannequins and made $5,000. I decided that I'm no longer going to do styling gigs for $500 or $1,000 if I can hold onto my guns and get more. For Fashion's Night Out, I had it in my head that I didn't want to leave the night if I don't have five figures in my pocket. I feel, I'm at the height of my popularity; I'll probably never be so famous. So, I turned down 14 gigs, but instead did four gigs, and I surpassed what I wanted to."

An Evolving Landscape

Signed or unsigned, the landscape of digital advertorial and blogger endorsements is evolving. In fact, it’s looking more and more like that of traditional fashion media, with brands buying ad space and advertorials.

"There's a relationship between editorial and advertising, and there are ways of building relationships with a site through advertising,” observed one source off the record.

But, as much as bloggers can learn from the Vogue magazines of the world, this is a decidedly unprecedented era in fashion.

Of the fashion blogosphere today, Medine says, "It's a funny comparison, but it reminds me of the Facebook movie [The Social Network] and Jessie Eisenberg's character, who didn't want to start accepting ads yet. How can we monetize it, if 'we don't know what it is yet.' No one really knows what it is.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, webphotographeer

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Spotify Hides Your Musical Taste From Facebook Friends With Private Listening Mode

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 08:32 AM PDT

Spotify has rolled out an update to its app that will allow users to “hide” their listening behaviors from auto-publishing to Facebook.

Since launching its integration with Facebook last week, users of the service have complained about the fact that all of their listening activities are automatically published to Facebook.

The upside of this sort of integration is that you can share with friends what you’re listening to without friction. The downside is that your guilty pleasures are on display. You can disconnect the service from Facebook — but that means giving up the ability to play tracks while browsing friends’ Facebook pages.

Spotify updated its desktop app Thursday with a feature called “Private Listening.” It works like the “incognito” or “private browsing” in your web browser and keeps your Spotify activity off of Facebook as long as you are in that mode.

Spotify announced the feature on its Twitter account. To access the feature, update your Spotify client (it should happen automatically) and from the File (Windows) or Spotify (Mac) window, select “Private Listening.”

Spotify’s more controversial move — which limits new signups to users with a Facebook account — remains in effect. But hey, at least you can listen to Journey’s Greatest Hits on repeat without fear of online teasing.

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How Pandora Bounced Back From the Brink of Ruin to Revolutionize Internet Radio

Posted: 29 Sep 2011 08:17 AM PDT

The Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Series is supported by Diet Coke®. Now, the drink that helps you stay extraordinary brings you extraordinary people. Find Diet Coke® on Facebook for access to a whole lot of extraordinary.

Costly Internet radio royalty rates left Pandora on the brink of extinction in the summer of 2008. The popularity and success of its mobile apps kept the company afloat until mid 2009, when a more favorable royalty deal was struck with record labels. Today, the newly public company looks healthier than ever.

Pandora is setting its sights on getting its music streaming service on all phones, in all homes and in all cars. It’s a lofty goal that will require the company to first tackle another huge challenge: international music licensing issues.

Mashable spoke with Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder and chief strategy officer, to find out how he managed to get through the company’s darkest hour, chat about its ever-evolving business model and hear more about what’s ahead for the music streaming powerhouse and its more than 100 million users.

Name: Tim Westergren

Company: Pandora

Year Founded: 2000

Fun Fact: He can play a recorder duet through his nose.

Q&A with Tim Westergren

What inspires you?

Discovering a new piece of music I love. There’s nothing quite like it. Makes my life better. And I have it forever.

What in your mind makes Pandora a game-changer?

That it combines scale with a personalization technology that can truly surface the long tail — that has never been done before in music. The utilization of technology to connect such a wide range of artists with millions of prospective fans is a game-changing proposition. It is for listeners, who never had radio tailored to them as an individual, and artists, most of whom have never had this kind of mass promotion.

What has been the biggest challenge Pandora has faced thus far? What do you anticipate will be Pandora’s next great challenge?

There have been several over the years. One that is still fresh in my mind was the fight over royalty rates when we almost went out of business because the rates imposed by the copyright tribunal were astronomically high.

Our next great challenge is going to be tackling the licensing issues internationally.

What makes licensing music internationally more complicated?

The lack of centralization. Pandora plays the music of over 90,000 artists. This translates into a substantially larger number of rights owners — the artists themselves, labels, publishers, etc.

Without a one-stop shop for licensing, it’s administratively difficult to enable the service. Where these centralized entities do exist, they have demanded royalty rates that are completely uneconomic. I would argue that in so doing, they are failing to serve their very constituents.

When Pandora was in dire straits, was there ever a time when you thought about throwing in the towel? What kept you going?

Never. No matter how tough things got, we’ve always had an unshakeable belief in the power of our idea. We were always convinced we just had to hang on long enough to figure out how to apply it.

There was a time years ago, at a very dark moment when we came close to betting our last cash reserves in Reno, but we ultimately decided that wasn’t proper financial stewardship. Needless to say, with all that we’ve been through, the progress we’re making right now is particularly rewarding.

How has Pandora’s business model evolved over the years?

We’ve “pivoted” numerous times over the years — from online licensing, to a kiosk product for brick-and-mortar retail, to personalized radio. When we did finally find our focus with Internet radio, it was clear that we’d come home.

Since the launch of Pandora, we have made numerous adjustments to our strategy, the most notable of which was a move to very aggressively develop our mobile offerings on smartphones. Our goal is to have Pandora Personalized Radio on every phone, computer, in every car, office and home in the country and, ultimately, in the world.

Describe the transition process from going to a private company to a publicly traded company. Were there any bumps in the road? What did you learn along the way?

It was a very smooth process — we have a solid team in place internally and great partners in our legal and banking teams as well as the folks at the NYSE. They helped make the process as smooth and effective as possible.

Pandora is fast making its way from web and mobile to living rooms and cars. What’s the next frontier for the company?

We still have a lot to go on that front — we’re in a lot of cars and phones and living rooms now, but we want to be in all cars, on all phones, in all homes. Looking beyond that, I’d say our next frontier is international.

What do you think it will take to get Pandora in all cars, on all phones and in all homes?

Time and a substantial continued investment in technology. There is little doubt that Internet radio is on its way to complete ubiquity. The smartphone paved the way, and now virtually every automaker and [consumer electronics] manufacturer is aggressively working to embed Pandora Internet radio into their products.

Does Pandora have a social media strategy?

Yes. In fact, our recent redesign is full of enhancements aimed at encouraging listeners to share and connect with like-minded listeners on Pandora. Our social strategy starts with the product, but we also have a great community manager, Aaron [Morgan], who handles our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and other elements of our online community.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Don’t do it alone.

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