Monday, 3 October 2011

Mashable: Latest 14 News Updates - including “HTC Security Flaw Exposes Private Data [REPORT]”

Mashable: Latest 14 News Updates - including “HTC Security Flaw Exposes Private Data [REPORT]”

HTC Security Flaw Exposes Private Data [REPORT]

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 05:19 AM PDT

Several HTC Android handsets, including EVO 3D, EVO 4G and Thunderbolt, are susceptible to a security flaw that exposes users’ private data, including emails, phone numbers and SMS data, according to a report from Android Police.

HTC recently added a suite of logging tools to some of its devices that gather a lot of personal data. This is cause for concern in itself, as seen from the recent iOS location-tracking controversy. But to make matters worse, these tools reportedly do not adequately protect this data.

Now, any app that requests a common “android.permission.INTERNET” permission can access the list of user accounts, email addresses, GPS locations and a limited history of previous locations, phone numbers and SMS data, among other things.

HTC has not yet addressed this flaw, but it said it is looking into the matter and issued the following statement: “HTC takes our customers’ security very seriously, and we are working to investigate this claim as quickly as possible. We will provide an update as soon as we’re able to determine the accuracy of the claim and what steps, if any, need to be taken.”

Until HTC offers an official fix, owners of affected HTC devices can only remove the vulnerability by removing HTC Sense software, or rooting the device and then removing HTC’s logging tools as explained here.

Check out a detailed explanation of the security flaw in the video below.

More About: htc, htc evo, security, vulnerability

For more Mobile coverage:

Mashable Weekend Recap: 23 Stories You May Have Missed

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 04:45 AM PDT

This weekend was dominated by Facebook and Apple. The former launched several new ad products, and speculation is rampant as Apple’s iPhone event on Oct. 4 approaches.

We posted several other useful resources this weekend too, including hot tips on getting a job at Google and the other big tech companies. We also took a stroll into Nintendo’s past, and picked out the phones that have defined the past 10 years.

There was a ton of news, and as we always do, we saved it all in one place for you, right here:

News & Opinion Essentials

Facebook Launches New Metric: "People Talking About"

#OccupyWallStreet Takes Over Twitter & the Brooklyn Bridge [PICS & VIDEOS]

No iPhone 5? Apple May Only Launch iPhone 4S [RUMOR]

SpaceX Plans 100% Reusable Spacecraft With Retrorocket Re-entry [VIDEO]

Top 10 Tech Stories We Almost Posted This Week [PICS]

Facebook Is Getting Too Damn Complicated [OPINION]

Facebook Says It's Looking Beyond Click-Throughs [INTERVIEW]

Amazon Silk: An Ingenious Plan to Get You To Buy More Stuff

iPhone 5 Launch: Top 10 Questions

Klout Quietly Adds WordPress to Klout Scores

Facebook Introduces Expandable Ad Unit

Helpful Resources

Hot Tips For Landing Jobs at Google, Apple and Facebook [INFOGRAPHIC]

HOW TO: Subscribe to the Mashable Team on Facebook

3 New Apps for Sharing Gifts, Trips & Products

Blogger Outreach: 5 Tips for Connecting With Top Influencers

62 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Top 10 Reasons Your Website Is Losing Sales

The Significant 7: The Most Influential Phones of the Last 10 Years

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Digital PR Consultant

Weekend Leisure

Facebook 101 [COMIC]

YouTube Cover Song Face-Off: Maroon 5′s "Moves Like Jagger"

10 Neat Nintendo Facts

iPhone 5: Are You a Fanboy? [INFOGRAPHIC]

More About: Weekend recap

For more Social Media coverage:

Samsung Galaxy S II Arrives at AT&T

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 02:00 AM PDT

AT&T’s version of Samsung’s flagship smartphone — which is a bit different from the versions sold at Sprint and T-Mobile — is now available for purchase.

Samsung Galaxy S II comes with a 1.2 GHz Exynos CPU, Android 2.3 Gingerbread and 16 GB of storage in all three variants.

AT&T’s model is a bit thinner at only 8.89 mm, with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen and a 1650 mAh battery.

It costs $200 with a 2-year contract and requires a minimum data service starting at $15/month. The price for the device sans a contract is $549.

[AT&T via Engadget]

More About: android, Galaxy S II, samsung, samsung galaxy, Samsung Galaxy S II, smartphone

For more Mobile coverage:

Top 25 Most-Shared Stories in September

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 12:47 AM PDT

Top 25 Most Shared Stories in July

To no one’s surprise, 18 of the 25 most-shared Mashable stories in September were about Facebook.

Your share-happy fingers went into overdrive because Facebook announced a barrage of changes involving your profile (Timeline, anyone?) and News Feed, both of which will influence your privacy on the social network.

Google wiggled its way into this month’s list as Google+ went from invite-only to open for public sign-ups. Apple also got the tech crowd all giddy when it announced the iPhone 5 announcement date: Oct. 4.

Based on figures from Mashable Follow‘s M Share button, the following 25 stories got the most love, with all of them garnering about 622,000 combined shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Google Buzz. To keep track of the most-shared stories at anytime, log into Mashable Follow and click on “Top Stories” next to the Mashable logo. You’ll have the option to view the top stories of the day, week, month or year.

Which stories will you remember the most as the year progresses? Which stories are missing?

SEE ALSO: Top 25 Most-Shared Stories in: August | July | June | May

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

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, flyparade

Facebook Launches New Metric: “People Talking About”

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 06:06 PM PDT

Facebook has overhauled its Pages Insights analytics tool and added a new metric to gauge the health of a page: “People Talking About.”

That statistic, which users will see on Pages below the total number of “Likes,” will be one of four tracked by Pages Insights. The idea is that users will understand a Page with a high People Talking About rating is one that has compelling content. Likewise, content creators will be motivated to make their Pages more comment-worthy.

People Talking About (that might not be the final name for the metric; at press time, Facebook wasn’t sure) will measure user-initiated activity related to a Page, including posting to a Page’s Wall, “liking,” commenting, sharing a Page post or content on the Page, answering a Question posed to fans, mentioning a Page, “liking” or sharing a deal or checking in at your Place.

The other metrics, which are designed for administrators of brand and media Pages, include “Likes,” “Friends of Fans” and “Weekly Total Reach.” While “Likes” is self-explanatory, Friends of Fans is the actual number of friends your fans have, and weekly total reach is designed to be an accurate assessment of how many total people have posted something about your Page, how many news organizations (within Facebook) have referenced it and how much viral distribution elements of your Page has gotten.

David Baser, product manager for Pages Insights, says that despite a raft of new activities that Facebook will be introducing soon under the Facebook Gestures banner, those four metrics will remain and the “Like” will maintain its ranking as a top measurement. “Likes are an expression of identity,” Baser says. “It's a user saying that I have a relationship with this brand.”

In addition to tracking the four metrics, Pages Insights will also offer a deeper dive into data around specific updates. Facebook will list your last 500 posts (the company began tracking them in July) and count the total number of engaged users, People Talking About it and virality. The latter measures the percentage of users who commented on the post.

Sentiment, however, will not be part of the calculation. Whether a user is lauding a comment or trashing it, it will count the same.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ilbusca

Facebook Insights Main Page

Facebook's primary Insights Page will measure "Likes," Friends of Fans, Weekly Reach and "People Talking About" the Page.

Facebook Insights: Reach

Facebook will now offer a deeper dive into your Page's reach.

Facebook Insights: Post Analysis

Facebook will also offer more visibility into how your post performed, including its "virality," i.e., the percentage of people exposed to the update that commented on it, "Liked" it or had some other kind of interaction with it.

More About: Facebook, Pages Insights

Facebook Introduces Expandable Ad Unit

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 06:00 PM PDT

Facebook is introducing a new type of ad that will expand if a friend “liked” the brand.

The ad unit, which will be announced this week at Advertising Week in New York, is subtly different from Sponsored Stories, which rolled out in January, in two ways: it won’t ever appear in the News Feed and — unlike Sponsored Stories, which merely show an interaction with a brand — it also contains an advertiser message. It’s also different from Social Ads, which tell you if a friend took an action related to the brand.

Instead, the new ad unit will expand to let you comment and see other comments related to the ad. This mock-up ad for The Ides of March (no advertisers have signed on yet) shows a “like” from the user as well as the copy:

The ad unit is based on the belief that ads with recommendations from friends will be more effective than standard display ads and magnify a brand’s reach. For instance, research Facebook undertook in May with comScore found that Starbucks fans and friends of fans spent 8% more at the coffee chain than other Internet users.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Mari Smith

More About: Advertising, Facebook, Sponsored Stories

Klout Quietly Adds WordPress to Klout Scores

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 04:43 PM PDT

Klout Adds WordPress

When Klout announced in mid-September that Blogger and Tumblr would play a role in determining your Klout score, WordPress users immediately asked, “What about us?”

Klout responded by quietly adding WordPress to its scoring system, which already factors in 11 other services: Blogger, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram,, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube. Unlike its integration with those services, Klout didn’t publicly reveal the WordPress addition, but we noticed the WordPress button on the Klout dashboard anyway.

“People love WordPress and have put a ton of effort creating their blogs and building and influencing their audience,” Klout CEO Joe Fernandez told Mashable. “Our goal is to measure influence everywhere it occurs. [Posterous, Quora, Yelp] and and many others are on our roadmap.”

Recently, the San Francisco-based startup also released a feature that lets users gain insights on top content influencers, as well as users who have received the most +Ks for respective topics.

“The big thing historically we have not done a good job on is helping people understand their scores,” Fernandez said. “Through the rest of the year, you will see us release a series of features that really address this.”

“I often think back to doing a Google search in 2000, the results were better than anything else out there, but they have had to constantly improve to be where they are today. That’s how I think of Klout. We are taking on a huge challenge and it’s very early in the game and we have a long journey ahead of us. The key difference is when you search Google and the result you wanted comes up third instead of first you generally don’t get personally offended. With Klout, we are putting a score next to your name and if a person feels like the data there about them isn’t correct it’s understandable that they get upset.”

BONUS: What Klout’s New Topic Pages Look Like

To populate a user’s Topic Pages (see screenshots below), Klout analyzes the user’s content created across the 12 networks it calculates.

Clickable Topics on Your Dashboard

On your Klout dashboard, you can click on a topic to open its Topic Page.

Social Media Topic Page

For example, here's the social media Topic Page, which displays top influencers and top +K recipients.

Journalism Topic Page

Here's the journalism Topic page.

Top +K Recipients

You can click on "Top +K Recipients" to get a closer look at which users are snagging the most +Ks.

Best Content Stream

The "Best Content" tab will show you popular content from the past 90 days.

More About: blogging, klout, News, Social Media, social networking, WordPress

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Digital PR Consultant

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 03:45 PM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Research indicates businesses increasingly rely on the public relations industry to develop and implement innovative, cost-effective communication strategies. And, with the increased demand for social media marketing, consultants who can integrate traditional and digital communication strategies to deliver stronger results are in high demand.

But, that begs the question: How do you find a PR firm that can bridge the traditional and digital divide to help you achieve your business goals? When researching and interviewing potential candidates, incorporate some — or all — of the following questions to separate the "doers" from the "talkers."

10 Questions to Ask a Potential PR Consultant

1. Why do you think your firm is best suited for our needs? Why should we pick you?

2. Can you share multiple case studies from clients with budgets similar to ours that show how your firm combined traditional and digital PR tactics to achieve measurable results?

3. How will you manage my account? (Follow up questions here include: Who will be on my account team? How long have they been with your company? Who will set the strategy? Who will be my day-to-day contact? If the director of strategy is not the primary contact, what kind of skills and experience does the day-to-day contact bring to the relationship?)

4. What kinds of metrics do you use to evaluate the success of a PR campaign that integrates traditional and digital tactics? At what point in the implementation process does measurement occur? How do measurement tools inform PR campaigns? (Hint: Measurement shouldn't happen last. One of the biggest benefits of digital communication is the ability to measure — and make necessary adjustments — mid-campaign.)

5. How do you incorporate social technology to strengthen traditional PR (i.e. media relations, community outreach, crisis communication or event planning)?

6. Conversely, how do you incorporate traditional PR tactics to give a boost to online activities?

7. What kind of experience do you have building and sustaining an online community? Can you offer concrete examples to illustrate how you've leveraged an online community to achieve bottom-line business goals?

8. What services do you use for media research? What's your approach to pitching journalists? (Another hint: The best answers will focus on the need to do research and develop personalized pitches. If they blast press releases out to large databases, that's probably not what you want.)

9. Do you treat bloggers like media, or do you approach blogger relations differently than traditional media outreach? Explain your approach. (Note: Bloggers answer to their community, while journalists answer to editors, so you can't lump them together. If a firm preaching "integrated communication" treats them the same, it's a major cause for concern.)

10. While we hope we never face a crisis situation, it's better to be prepared than caught off-guard. Tell us about your experience managing a crisis situation that involved both online and offline stakeholders/audiences.

Other Things to Consider

As you narrow your search for a PR consultant, also consider each candidate's intangible skills. These attributes can be the difference between a so-so relationship and one that generates above-average results. For example:

  • Seek a PR partner … not just another vendor. Think of a PR consultant as an extension of your company. The team assigned to your account should be fully ingrained in your business and industry. With any new consultant, there will be a learning curve — you need to be a willing teacher, and the consultant needs to be an eager student. The reverse is also true. As a client, you need to be open to listen to the consultant's counsel and fresh ideas.
  • Think strategy before tactics. As you're interviewing potential consultants, be wary of the ones who think Facebook and Twitter are the answer. Those two sites may be part of the solution, but what's the plan? How do they fit into a broader communication program? There are plenty of consultants out there who can string together some buzzwords to sound tactically smart. The real value is in a consultant who can develop and implement communication strategies that feed into your company's overall business goals.
  • If you're not quick, you're not relevant. Thanks to the immediacy of social media and the breakneck pace of news, response times are critical. You need a PR person who is equipped to navigate today's communication landscape and the expectation of immediacy. Waiting a few days — or in some cases a few hours — to respond isn't smart business.
  • PR pros need to be trend spotters. You rely on the PR pro to be on the lookout to identify new trends that your company can leverage. For example, can you provide a local or industry-specific example to illustrate a national trend? Additionally, trend spotting can take the form of "storytelling" — what new tools or technology should you be employing to effectively disseminate your company's message? It's the PR person's responsibility to be on the lookout and to present you with new ideas and opportunities.

Note: This post is written based on the assumption that most small- to mid-size businesses aren't going through a lengthy, formal RFP process. If you need an RFP, also refer to this post from Todd Defren on how to streamline RFPs.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, purmar

More About: features, List, mashable, PUBLIC RELATIONS

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#OccupyWallStreet Takes Over Twitter & the Brooklyn Bridge [PICS & VIDEOS]

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 02:34 PM PDT

The Occupy Wall Street movement, a series of nationwide demonstrations that opposes corporate greed and social inequality, has caught fire in recent days. What started as a single protest in New York City has spread to multiple cities and resulted in hundreds of arrests.

The movement began in July after anti-consumerist group Adbusters called for an occupation of Wall Street on Sept. 17. It quickly gained support from groups like Anonymous. Around 1,000 showed up for the first protest. Over the next two weeks, the protests gained steam and drew the attention of the mainstream media.

The protests reached their crescendo on Oct. 1, when thousands of protesters started blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. More than 700 were arrested as police officers and protesters clashed during the unauthorized march.

The web chatter about #OccupyWallStreet is on the rise as well. The protests were the subject of more than 0.5% of all tweets at its peak on Saturday, according to Trendistic. Protesters have uploaded thousands of photos and videos of the protests from Seattle to the Big Apple.

We’re tracking the movement’s growth. In addition, we’ve curated a range of photos and videos from various #OccupyWallStreet protests. Check out the galleries below to get a glimpse of what is happening, and let us know what you think of the movement in the comments.

Photos: Occupy Wall Street

Brooklyn Bridge Protests

via @watergatesummer

Ithica Commons Protest

via @mangiaratti

Liberty Plaza Protests

via @miss_millions

#OccupyWallStreet in San Francisco

via @MrG415

Taking Over the Bridge

via @ghostofmichael

On the Brooklyn Bridge

via @BatmanWI

Police and Protesters on the Bridge

via @M0nicaL0pez

#OccupyWallStreet Seattle Protests

via @Xenocider1

Protests at One Police Plaza

via @OccupyManhattan

More Protests


Videos: Occupy Wall Street

Protesters Film Arrests

Roseanne Barr at a Occupy Wall Street Protest.

Roseanne Barr appears at Occupy Wall Street protest.

Occupy Wall Street Arrest on 9/24

Occupy Wall Street Protest in San Francisco

Protesters Take Over the Brooklyn Bridge

Michael More Talks at Liberty Plaza

Protests on the Bridge

More About: Brooklyn Bridge, Occupy Wall Street, Twitter

iPhone 5: Are You a Fanboy? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 02:02 PM PDT

In the coming days, if you don’t restrain your enthusiasm for Apple’s new iPhone introductions, you’ll invariably be called fanboy or fangirl (fanperson?).

Last week, in part 1 of our 3-part series of iPhone 5 infographics, we dug deep into the question of who is most likely to upgrade. This week, we again tapped the power of our friends at AYTM (Ask Your Target Market) and research firm PaidViewpoint for part 2, illustrating the responses of a questionnaire given to 1,000 iPhone owners aged 18+ living in the U.S.

The result? A definitive diagnosis of Apple Fanboy Syndrome, which not only confirmed our suspicions, but showed us why these product launches get Apple fans so beside themselves with anticipation of the company’s latest products.

So now it’s your turn: Are you an Apple fanperson? Glean the answer from the infographic below:

More About: apple, Fanboy, infographics, iPhone 5

The Significant 7: The Most Influential Phones of the Last 10 Years

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 12:42 PM PDT

October 1 marks 10 years since Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo flipped the switch on the world’s first 3G network in Tokyo. Heralding new speeds and amazing possibilities such as “real-time videoconferencing or sending and receiving e-mail attachments with 10,000 characters,” it was an important moment in cellular history.

To celebrate this milestone, we decided to take a look back at some of the most significant consumer mobile phones in the last 10 years — a decade in which a huge amount has changed in the industry.

Take a look through the image gallery below. Our choices — although informed — are open to debate, so have your say in the comments as to whether you agree with our picks. Let us know which other handsets launched since 2001 you consider influential — as well as who might be the important manufacturers in the next 10 years.

1. Danger Hiptop/T-Mobile Sidekick

First launched in 2002, the Danger Hiptop was the first mobile phone that had mass appeal to the youth market.

This was due in part to its functionality -- a fun, user-friendly interface and easy messaging thanks to the phone's QWERTY keyboard and big screen -- but also due to some celebrity endorsements.

Jay-Z lent the phone instant street cred when he featured the handset in the video for "Excuse Me Miss." A star-studded ad campaign for the T-Mobile version -- the Sidekick -- helped up the cool factor, as did various celebs photographed with the phone.

What the Hiptop showed the mobile phone market was how the valuable youth market could be successfully targeted. And with a new Android-powered (Danger-free) Sidekick 4G now available on T-Mobile in the States, it seems the brand is still considered valuable nearly 10 years on.

Image courtesy of Paul De Los Reyes

2. Motorola RAZR

The best-selling clamshell handset of all time is Motorola's iconic RAZR. With then incredibly slimline dimensions, a cool industrial design with a gorgeous metal keypad and a seriously satisfying flip action, the RAZR showed the world that a mobile phone could be gorgeous as well as functional.

As the first designer phone available to the mass market, the RAZR featured in innumerable films and TV shows and became a "must-have" accessory -- arguably one of the first in the world of consumer electronics.

It is now considered a design classic. So much so that the updated "Here and Now" version of Monopoly has a RAZR V3 as one of its pieces.

Image courtesy of Hector Rodriguez

3. Nokia N95

Released when Nokia was enjoying better fortunes, the Symbian Nokia N95 was a super-smartphone for the consumer masses. The N95 showed the general public it could demand more from handsets than just phone functionality.

Although the first chrome version had some limitations, Nokia soon followed up with the black N95 8GB which enjoyed, among a few other tweaks, increased memory, a larger display and better battery life.

With a decent 5-megapixel camera with video recording, GPS with navigation, a web browser, email, a basic office suite, good multimedia abilities and N-Gage gaming, the N95 demonstrated that the converged handset was not a pipe dream.

Nokia marketed the phone with the slogan "It's what computers have become," which seems an accurate way to describe the feeling towards this can-do handset when it was first available back in 2007.

Image courtesy of Mark Guim

4. BlackBerry Curve

The entry-level BlackBerry Curve saw RIM do what some considered the impossible -- crossover from an enterprise marketplace to a consumer one.

By adding a consumer essential -- a camera -- and adjusting the OS to a more user-friendly version, yet keeping the classic QWERTY BlackBerry looks and email functionality, RIM opened the appeal of its range to a wider audience.

While it remains to be seen whether RIM will still be in the consumer electronics marketplace in 10 year's time, it's clear that the success of the Curve is what gave it the confidence to experiment in this arena.

Image courtesy of Marvin Kuo

5. Apple iPhone

In 2007 Apple changed the mobile phone market with the iPhone, and then in 2008 changed it even further with the launch of the App Store.

However, the iPhone wasn't the first Apple mobile. Two years earlier Apple had teamed up with Motorola to offer the ROKR, the first phone with support for iTunes.

The ROKR wasn't a great handset and the crippled iTunes element -- limited to 100 songs -- meant it never became a success.

One could argue that ROKR spurred Apple on to create its very own phone with no hardware or software limitations (other than those it chose to implement.)

Back in 2007, the iPhone offered some revolutionary features. Although not the first touchscreen phone on the market -- touchscreen PDAs had been around for years -- Apple's bold move to have only one physical button was almost shocking at the time. Other innovations included the icon-based interface, Visual Voicemail and easy multimedia options thanks to the iPod and YouTube apps. The full-featured Safari browser (when compared to mobile-optimized browsers of the time) was also highly impressive for a handset.

The introduction of the App Store in 2008 sealed the deal for Apple as consumers bought into the affordable, bite-size software applications, which had existed before as "widgets" on other platforms, but saw mass market appeal under Apple's know-how.

Amid major hype, the original iPhone was an instant success and iOS remains one of the major platforms in the mobile phone market today.

Image courtesy of Ryan Tir

6. T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream

The very first Android handset was a big deal. The Open Handset Alliance's fresh OS gave consumers a strong alternative to the iPhone when other mobile platforms were faltering.

Shunning the touch-only route with a full QWERTY keyboard, the much-rumored "gPhone" was Googled to the hilt with Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Talk and YouTube preloaded.

While the G1 wasn't an astounding phone, it did two important things. It gave HTC a headstart in the Android market and it revealed Google's mobile ambitions.

These ambitions were later to be realized when Google followed up the Android-based Nexus One and sold direct to consumers via the web.

Image courtesy of Paul Martin

7. Motorola Droid

Finally, we're highlighting the Droid as our last influential handset. The Droid was the first big commercial success for the Android platform in the States. Its launch was high profile -- at the time, Verizon marketed it as a direct iPhone competitor.

While versions in other countries -- where it was launched as the "Milestone" -- did not do so well, the Droid put the open OS firmly on the map in terms of the American consumer.

While it could be considered that earlier Android handsets appealed to the more geeky consumer, the glossy, well-specced Droid saw Android come of age.

Although you may not automatically think of the Moto-made handset in the context of today's mobile phone market, we're fairly certain the recent figures suggesting Android handsets are outselling iPhone two to one wouldn't be the case if it weren't for this 2009 handset -- and its great marketing campaign.

Image courtesy of Robert Bejil

Thumbnail image courtesy of Hector Rodriguez

More About: features, gallery, history, mobile phones

For more Mobile coverage:

10 Neat Nintendo Facts

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 11:39 AM PDT

Despite a few flops along the way, Nintendo has been one of the most successful players in the video game industry since the early 1980s.

But how much do you know about Nintendo? Did you know it’s over 100 years old? Do you know which American sports team it owns? Did you know LEGO once took legal action against it?

Take a look through the gallery for some fun facts you might not know about the Japanese gaming giant. Let us know in the comments which factoids scored a 1-Up with you.

1. Nintendo is 121 Years Old

Nintendo makes its gaming rivals look like cheeky young upstarts. It was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi on Sept. 23, 1889 as a company that made Japanese playing cards. While Sony's history dates back to 1946, Microsoft's 1975 inception makes it the baby of the trio.

Image courtesy of Olly Moss

2. Nintendo Used to Run a "Love Hotel"

One of many business ideas explored by early Nintendo was a "love hotel." These establishments are popular in Japan and offer couples rooms by the hour. Nintendo invested in a love hotel in the swinging '60s, although "the location and name of Nintendo's hotel seems lost to the pages of time..." Lost -- or buried.

Image courtesy of Dave Walker

3. Nintendo Once Made LEGO-like Bricks

Another of its many business schemes: Nintendo built a brick system called "N&B Blocks." It seems LEGO wasn't too pleased, but Nintendo wangled its way out of legal difficulty due to the fact that some of its blocks were rounded.

The N&B Blocks were eventually nixed, but back in the 1990s a GameBoy game made reference to them. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins boasted an entire stage made out of N&B Blocks.

Image courtesy of BeforeMario

4. Only One Man Has the Right to Call His Sailboat "Donkey Kong"

Skip forward a few decades and Nintendo is facing more legal action. This time it's Universal Studios, which thinks Donkey Kong infringes on the King Kong trademark.

Because Nintendo's first bit had just hit in the States, it was a crucial legal battle to win. Nintendo pulled out the big guns with attorney John Kirby, who successfully argued that the King Kong plot and characters were in the public domain.

To thank Kirby, Nintendo bought him a sailboat and granted him "exclusive worldwide rights to use the name for sailboats."

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

5. Nintendo Beats Microsoft to Redmond

Redmond, Washington is most famous as the headquarters of Microsoft, but Nintendo settled in the Seattle suburb before the software giant.

With the profits from Donkey Kong Nintendo bought land in Redmond in 1982. Microsoft didn't relocate from Bellevue, Washington until 1986.

Image courtesy of Benjamin Benschneider

6. Nintendo Invented the Cross-Shaped D-Pad

The cross-shaped D-pad was invented by GameBoy creator and long-time Nintendo employee Gunpei Yokoi. It was initially designed for the handheld version of Donkey Kong, but Nintendo soon realized it could be used with console controllers, too. The D-pad featured on the NES "+Control Pad", and the rest is history.

Image courtesy of TenThirtyNine

7. Nintendo of America Censored Everything in the Eighties

In the '80s and through to the early Nineties, Nintendo of America had some seriously strict game guidelines laid out in an official policy. While much of the policy worked to block truly offensive content, the level of censorship was taken to the extreme.

Examples of over-zealous changes made to games include a classic nude statue being clothed, a red cross being removed from a hospital frontage, bars being changed to cafes and, in one bizarre example, a criminal gang smuggling a shipment of bananas, rather than drugs.

Image courtesy of jjmccullough

8. Nintendo Owns the Seattle Mariners

Back in 1992 Nintendo became the majority owner of major league baseball team the Seattle Mariners. After the purchase, the team's mascot remained the Mariner Moose,, although a Mario mascot did make an appearance when the company was promoting Mario Super Sluggers.

9. Nintendo Developed a Phone in the Early 2000s

As well as patenting an "electronic apparatus having game and telephone functions," Nintendo actively developed a mobile phone. Last year PocketGamer revealed the surprising news.

"A development source, who preferred to remain anonymous, has revealed that there was a skunkworks R&D project run by Nokia and Nintendo in the early 2000s - about the same time Nokia was working on its original N-Gage phone."

"The R&D efforts, which were located at Nintendo's Japanese HQ, were successful enough that the concept of a Nintendo phone was taken to the company's board of directors for approval. It was rejected."

10. Nintendogs Was Inspired By a Shetland Sheepdog Called Pikku

Nintendogs could have just as easily been Nintencats were it not for a Shetland sheepdog called Pikku. This is because Pikku belonged to Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's famous game designer.

As well as the dog-themed game, Miyamoto's impressive resume includes creating some of the world's most famous video game franchises, such as Mario, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda.

MTV reports, "Miyamoto acknowledged that his team had considered making the game about other animals. 'The reason it ended up being a dog game is because about four years ago me and my family actually got our first dog,' he said. The family's tri-color Shetland Sheepdog named Pikku sealed it."

Image courtesy of Rachel Davies

More About: facts, gallery, Gaming, Lists, Nintendo

YouTube Cover Song Face-Off: Maroon 5′s “Moves Like Jagger”

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 11:03 AM PDT

Each week, Mashable picks a popular song, finds 10 covers of it and asks you to vote for your favorite.

“Moves Like Jagger” from Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera — both Best New Artist Grammy winners — lands atop Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart this week.

The song debuted June 21 to coincide with a performance of the tune on The Voice, a singing competition that became a social media sensation. After 14 weeks on the charts, the song has been covered by musicians across the globe. Vote for your favorite version in the poll.

And if you know any YouTube cover artists who should be on our radar, please let us know in the comments.

Roomie & Magdalena Engstrom

All About Maggie

Stephen Carmichael

Arlene Zelina & Jervy Hou

Katy McAllister & Tyler Ward

Von Smith

Goodnight Argent

Andrey K

Alex G & Kevin Littlefield

Kollaboration New York

Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger ft. Christina Aguilera

UK release: Sept 5th - Pre-order the new album "Hands All Over" including 'Moves Like Jagger' on iTunes now: Music video by Maroon 5 performing Moves Like Jagger. (C) 2011 A&M/Octone Records

To listen to more covers used in past YouTube Cover Song Face-Offs, click here.

Last Week’s Face-Off Winner

The soulful cover of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You" from James David snagged 42% of the votes in last week's face-off. David covered "Forget You" because his friends had been trying to persuade him to do a cover of a Top 40 song. “I looked for one that would suit my voice and ‘Forget you’ seemed to fit my style,” he told Mashable. “Forget You’ will be a classic for our generation. It has an old school feel with some new school flare.”

David is in the studio working on original songs, including the unfinished “Runaway.” (See video number four.)

"Whether it makes two people or 2 million people smile, I like doing it," said David, who wants to perform duets with YouTube cover band Karmin, as well as the legendary Prince. “I want to be like James Earl Jones or, for the 30 Rock fans, Tracy Jordan, and be a part of the EGOT club (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). If it takes me 90 years to do it, I will."

"Forget You" Cover

"Super Bass" Cover

" ... Baby One More Time" Cover

"Runaway" Unfinished Original

What popular song should we pick next week for the YouTube Cover Song Face-Off?

More About: Entertainment, Music, music videos, viral videos, YouTube, YouTube Cover Song Face-Off

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No iPhone 5? Apple May Only Launch iPhone 4S [RUMOR]

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 10:08 AM PDT

Expecting Apple to unveil the iPhone 5? You may be in for a disappointment, according to various reports.

New evidence and speculation points to the existence of an iPhone 4S, rather than the iPhone 5 many people are expecting. The most recent iTunes developer beta includes several references to a CDMA iPhone 4S, according to 9to5mac. Apple’s inventory system contains references to an iPhone 4S as well, under the codename “N94AP.”

This story only gets more intriguing, though. Macrumors points out that the iPhone 4S reference has been in the iTunes beta since late August. And a Gizmodo report obtained pictures of what it believes to be a cheaper model of the iPhone 4, codename “N90A.”

SEE ALSO: Apple iPhone 5 Launch: Here’s What to Expect

So where does this leave the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S? Once again, these rumors show that nobody actually knows what Apple is planning. Several of our sources are certain that Apple will only release an iPhone 4S, while a few others think Apple will be rolling out an upgraded iPhone 4 and an iPhone 5 next week. Nobody can agree on what Apple plans to unveil on Tuesday.

But here’s something to consider: a whopping 86% of Mashable‘s readers think that Apple will be releasing the iPhone 5 on Tuesday. Anything less than that is likely to be seen as a disappointment. Regardless, we expect the new iPhone to sport an 8MP camera, the faster Apple A5 processor and a voice-based “Assistant” feature based on its 2009 Siri acquisition.

Would you be disappointed if Apple released an iPhone 4S instead of an iPhone 5? What features do you want to see the most in a new Apple phone? Let us know in the comments.

Bonus: What an iPhone 5 Could Look Like

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: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5

Top 10 Reasons Your Website Is Losing Sales

Posted: 02 Oct 2011 08:30 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

UK retailers are losing more than £8 billion ($12.6 million USD) per year due to website inefficiencies, according to research by data and analytics firm QuBit.

Using its Exit Feedback technology, QuBit collected more than 18,000 comments about a range of UK retail websites and analyzed the data to discover the major issues that these sites face.

Mashable spoke with QuBit CEO Graham Cooke about the company’s research, and what it means for businesses. We looked at the top 10 reasons website visitors don’t convert to paying customers on retail websites and offer a few tips for businesses that face these problems.

Top 10 Problem Areas for Conversion

Here are the top 10 website issues that hinder retail website visitors from converting to customers, according to QuBit’s research:

  • Pricing: Pricing was the leading issue for consumers in their online purchase decisions. Transparency and accessibility are key for the online retail world, since comparative shopping is drastically easier on the Internet as compared with shopping in the real world. QuBit recommends crossing out previous prices or focusing on a “deal of the week” to satisfy price-conscious consumers.
  • Product descriptions: More than 12% of feedback was related to the lack of clear and complete product descriptions. Descriptions must be thorough enough to replace the knowledge of a sales associate. This is especially important for fashion retailers, as “the vast proportion of feedback found on fashion retail sites blames lack of sizing information as a primary reason for exiting the site,” the report reads. Materials used, origin of goods and sizing information are just a few details that retailers should consider listing.
  • Stock information: It is important that availability of products be communicated to website visitors early on in the purchasing process. If a product is out of stock, timely information about when it will be available is also important. Otherwise, users should be given the option to be notified once the product becomes available, or the site should recommend related goods that are in stock.
  • Site functionality: Users are frustrated when they enter a site with expectations of how it should function and are utterly disappointed. Key missing functionalities cited in this research included wish lists, in-store pick-up, personalized recommendations, guest checkout and product filters.
  • Shipping information: Shipping prices and times should be readily available. Lack of this information is likely to cause checkout drop-offs and complete abandonment of the site, the report explained. Offering international shipping and displaying shipping prices in destination currencies are two features likely to improve this problem area.
  • Images: People like to see what they’re buying before they make a purchase. High quality photography from multiple angles and with zoom capabilities is important for converting shoppers into buyers.
  • Discounts: Commenters point to not being able to find where to enter discount codes as a big problem when shopping online. Likewise, consumers seemed confused as to whether offline discounts could be applied online, and if so, whether the discounts applied to their demographic or purchase. We’ve all been there — exclusion lists are lengthy and can include details on countries, states, brands and even particular items.
  • Navigation: Consumers are accustomed to visiting large commerce websites, such as Amazon, that feature clear navigation — and they expect that same level of quality across all retail websites. Broken links within the shopping cart, lack of category pages in the main navigation and broken browser functionalities (such as the back button) were key issues cited by consumers.
  • Video: Product videos can add flare to a product page, and apparently consumers expect them, as the lack of videos was expressed as a major problem area on retail websites. QuBit pointed to Burberry as being a trendsetter in this area, as the retailer’s website presents a seamless experience of videos and photos.
  • Website speed: Slow loading times are of huge concern to retailers, as consumers simply hate waiting around for a website to finally show up. Retailers should benchmark their load times against those of their competitors and act accordingly.

Tips for Improvement

QuBit CEO and ex-Googler Graham Cooke told us that there are three main things that a retail website owner needs to look at in order to improve conversions:

  • Product information: “Are the descriptions on your site clear, concise and engaging? Do they tell the user what they need to know about a product? Have you got great images on the site and do you let people zoom in so they can really get the detail? The product information on a website plays the role of the store assistant in an offline store, so you want to make sure its performing at its best.”
  • Payment processes: “The checkout is one of the most likely areas where you’re going to lose customers, and there are some really simple things you can do to make this work better. Lots of retailers ignore really simple things, like enabling the display of payment information in multiple currencies or making sure that people have clear information about shipping costs.”
  • User experience: “We’ve all known for years that user experience is key to successful online retail, but it still pops up all the time as a major issue. Again, this can be [narrowed] down to relatively simple issues such as slow page loading speeds or site search, but they’re all costing you valuable sales.”

How does your business optimize its website for conversions? Let us know your strategies in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Flickr, turtlemom4bacon & Images of Money

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