Saturday, 29 October 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Channels and Celebrities: Say Hello to the New YouTube”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Channels and Celebrities: Say Hello to the New YouTube”

Channels and Celebrities: Say Hello to the New YouTube

Posted: 29 Oct 2011 03:19 AM PDT

YouTube is partnering with Ashton Kutcher, Amy Poehler, Shaq, IGN, The Wall Street Journal and dozens of others to launch a slew of premium video channels.

The channels, which have been in the works for months, is a big and risky play to get premium content onto its servers. Google (YouTube’s owner) is reportedly spending $100 million to secure the deals for its original channels.

“The first of these new original channels will appear on YouTube starting next month and will continue over the next year,” YouTube Global Head of Content Partnerships Robert Kyncl said in a blog post. “They'll be available to you on any internet-connected device, anywhere in the world, with all the interactivity and social features of YouTube built right in.”

The channels will be anchored by a celebrity lineup that includes Madonna (DanceOn), Shaq (The Comedy Shaq Network), Rainn Wilson (SoulPancake), Ashton Kutcher (Katalyst Thrash Lab) and Deepak Chopra (Generate The Chopra Well). YouTube’s partnerships run deeper than celebrities though: WWE, WSJ, The Onion, SB Nation, Demand Media, CafeMom, TED, IGN, Slate, Bleacher Report, InStyle Magazine and Lionsgate are all partners that will seed the content for the new YouTube channels.

YouTube has also launched a preview site for the new channels.

It’s no secret that Google has been wanting to move more into premium video. It’s far more monetizable than cat videos, and it sets up YouTube to be the cable channel of the future. It acquired Next New Networks to help it produce more premium content, and it isn’t sparing any expense to land big-name celebrities for its channels. It won’t be long until we see whether those deals were worth the price.

More About: ashton kutcher, madonna, YouTube

For more Entertainment coverage:

Can Search Data Be Used to Choose Book Ideas?

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 07:39 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: Hyperink

Quick Pitch: An ebook publisher that develops titles based on existing demand.

Genius Idea: Bloggers, content farms and news publishers alike have long leveraged search trends to uncover the information people are looking for and profited accordingly. But can the same model be applied to book publishing?

McKinsey alum Kevin Gao, whose startup Hyperink announced its first significant ($1.2 million) round of funding this week, believes so. (And so do his investors, apparently.)

Book publishers, he says, too often choose what to publish based on what they like rather than what they know will sell. Hyperink will instead find out what people want to read, largely by sifting through short and long-range search data. The company will then find authors to write short, highly targeted books on the topics people are searching for information about.

Think How to Get Into Yale rather than How to Get Into College, or a short history on Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs around the time of his death.

Hyperink is also welcoming pitches from aspiring authors, promising design, editing and marketing services in exchange for 50% of the royalties. Gao says the company is also interested in partnering experts who are less inclined to write their own books with journalists to co-author books.

Books are generally priced in the $15 to $25 range — a bit on expensive side for ebooks, but on the low end for business books.

Gao added that all of Hyperink’s books to date have been profitable within the first year of publication.

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: ebooks, hyperink

For more Business coverage:

Facebook Says 600,000 Accounts Compromised Per Day

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 06:32 PM PDT

In a blog entry on Thursday, Facebook stated that about 600,000 log-ins every day are compromised.

The factoid, first noted by security site Sophos, was in the context of an entry introducing new security features for the social network. The figure was extrapolated by a stat showing 0.06% of 1 billion logins per day are compromised. Less than 0.5% of Facebook users experience spam on any given day.

Facebook’s proposed solution for such breaches is to find three to five “trusted friends”. That way, if you’re locked out of your account, Facebook will send codes to your friends to give to you. Facebook is also testing app passwords that the company will generate on your behalf and you won’t need to remember.

What do you think? Are you surprised at the extent of the breaches or does this seem low to you? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: A Guide to Facebook’s Privacy Settings

Facebook launched new privacy settings in August of this year. Here’s how to use them.

Privacy Controls: Profile Editing

You can edit the visibility of individual parts of your profiles right from the profile editing page. In the past, this had to be done from the Privacy Settings page.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, security, sophos

Siri Gives Apple a Two-Year Advantage Over Google, Says VC

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 05:53 PM PDT

Could Siri, the voice-based virtual assistant for every iPhone 4S owner, constitute a threat to Google’s Android operating system?

Absolutely, says Gary Morgenthaler, a partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, recognized expert in artificial intelligence, and a Siri board member and investor. Apple, he argues, now has at least a two-year advantage over Google in the war for best smartphone platform.

“What Siri has done is changed people’s expectations about what’s possible,” Morgenthaler said in an interview with Mashable. “Apple has crossed a threshold; people now expect that you should be able to expect to speak ordinary English — and be understood. Siri has cracked the code.”

This threshold, from mere speech recognition to natural language input and understanding, is one that Google cannot cross by replicating the technology or making an acquisition. “There’s no company out there they can go buy,” Morgenthaler says.

Google has Voice Actions, a voice search application for Android. So what’s the big difference? It comes down to semantics, Morgenthaler says: “Siri understands what you mean.” She has a far more precise understanding of what you’re saying and the context you’re saying it in, in other words.

Morgenthaler calls Google’s Voice Actions a “capable speech recognition program,” and says it was the state-of-the-art voice-based user interaction program. That was, until Siri, with all her semantic prowess, debuted on iPhone 4S. (Of course, Morgenthaler may well have a financial stake in Siri’s future; the terms of the company’s sale to Apple were never disclosed.)

Currently, Google is making dismissive public pronouncements about Siri: “your phone shouldn’t be your assistant,” Android chief Andy Rubin told the AsiaD Conference. But Morgenthaler believes they’re scrambling to catch up behind the scenes, because Apple won’t stand still with this technology.

Rather, it will use Siri to solidify the strength of its platform and steal advertising dollars away from Google, he argues. “Siri is a platform,” Morgenthaler says. “It’s not just limited to those things that Apple has done at launch.”

SEE ALSO: I Want My Siri TV: Is Apple Aiming to Make the Remote Obsolete?

At the moment, Siri has a lot of iPhone-centric functions. But Siri the company implemented more than 45 APIs prior to being acquired by Apple — meaning the possibilities of a conversation interface to the web are endless. Back in April 2010, just after the Apple acquisition, Mashable noted Siri’s potential role as a driver in mobile search.

“Apple has the opportunity to outmode the entire Android ecosystem,” Morgenthaler says. Of course, that hinges on Apple making those APIs available to iOS developers, but he believes Apple will do just that: “This will be the differentiating factor in the iOS platform.”

Siri’s threat to Google could reach further than Android. In fact, Siri challenges Google’s entire search empire and shakes it to the foundation, Morgenthaler says.

“Google has made a huge contribution to all of our lives … they’ve made search comprehensive and instantaneous … but the whole paradigm is wrong,” he says. “[People] don’t want a million blue links, they want one correct answer. All the rest is noise that you’d rather have go away.

“Apple has the opportunity to really understand the question that you’re asking, and apply semantic knowledge such that [Siri] will deliver you the right answer, or a small set of highly relevant answers.”

When that happens, Morgenthaler says, all the steps that typically comprise an online search, including the ads served against search results, become completely irrelevant. He believes Apple can and will circumvent this search experience, passing consumers to merchants by way of Siri — and earning a finders fee for doing so. Under this paradigm, Google could be completely forgotten.

In short, forget the search engine — Siri will be an answer engine. She can perform executable actions and change consumer expectations in the process.

BONUS: Siri Politely Answers 10 Absurd Questions

The classic question

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, iPhone 4S, siri

For more Mobile coverage:

7 Creative Tributes to Steve Jobs

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 04:02 PM PDT

Steve Jobs Made from Old Macbook Pro

Mint Foundry put together this portrait of Jobs by tearing apart and laying out an old Macbook Pro.

Click here to view this gallery.

Many mourned the death of Steve Jobs, the often-controversial, often-brilliant mind behind Apple. Amidst the sadness came a flood of tributes with mini-shrines and a company-wide memorial ceremony.

Those tributes have only become more and more elaborate. How best to remember Jobs than with a little bit of creativity? Check out the gallery above for seven clever samples.

What other tributes to Jobs have you seen? Let us know in the comments.

More About: apple, steve jobs

For more Tech coverage:

Steve Martin to Turn Tweets Into Book

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 04:01 PM PDT

Steve Martin’s not going to let his one-liners on Twitter go to waste. Instead, he’s going to recycle them for a for-charity book.

The actor/comedian announced the move on his Twitter feed on Thursday:

The title of the book: “The Ten, Make that Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make that Ten.” Grand Central Publishing, a unit of Hachette Book Group, will publish the book in 2012.

Martin joined Twitter in September 2010 and now has close to 1.8 million followers. Martin’s not the first to recycle tweets into a book. The forerunner for Twit Lit was Justin Halpern, who got a book deal and a short-lived TV show based on his Shit My Dad Says Twitter feed.

Some recent Martin tweets:

  • “Dinosaurs did not walk with humans. The evolutionary record says different. They gamboled.”
  • “Got the new iPhone and it keeps saying, ‘you're a creep.’”
  • “I'm for the Wall Street Occupiers. But will they accept me when they find out I sell packaged mortgage default instruments to children?”
  • “I'm tired of wasting letters when punctuation will do, period”
  • “I got a flue shot and now my chimney works perfectly.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Ellasportfolio

BONUS: 10 Must-Follow Fake Twitter Celebs

Looking for other funny celebrities to follow on Twitter? These accounts aren’t the real deal … but they’re all the funnier because of it.

1. Not Burt Reynolds

Not Burt Reynolds has less followers then most accounts on this list, but with tweets like "When I lose a follower, I just assumed they died. Because let's face it, it's hard not to love me," and "You can call it a mustache, or a hairy set of angel wings," the account's sure to catch fire. Follow this account for tweets documenting what you imagine Mr Reynolds' life would be like.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: shit my dad says, Steve Martin, Twitter

Sleekly Designed Porsche BlackBerry Has Gravity-Defying Pricetag

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 02:45 PM PDT

Porsche Design P'9981

Click here to view this gallery.

For the discriminating BlackBerry fan, the Bold 9900 isn’t the ultimate BBM-running device, it’s the limited edition Porsche Design P’9981 from BlackBerry.

The P’9981 has the same internal specifications as the BlackBerry Bold 9900, but it sports a unique look and feel — styled by Porsche Design. It’s also 10 times as expensive.

That’s not a typo. As slick as the P’9981 looks (for a BlackBerry), we can’t help but laugh out loud at the $2,000 list price. I understand the appeal of limited-edition luxury electronics, but usually when a phone costs this much, it’s covered in 14k gold or adorned with diamonds.

The guys at t-break put together a hands-on video of the special edition device. It will be available at Porsche stores and select retailers.

Don’t get me wrong — the phone is beautiful. The design is sleek and futuristic and retro all at the same time. But $2,000? If you really need a phone to match your vintage 911 or Boxster Spyder, this might be the phone for you. Ah, who are we kidding? It’s still a BlackBerry.

More About: blackberry, porsche p'9981 blackberry

For more Mobile coverage:

YouTube’s Spookiest Halloween Videos [BOO!]

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 02:15 PM PDT

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

The Simpsons - No TV and No Beer

Brian Anthony Hernandez: In this clip from The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror V, Homer turns a little loopy after being deprived of two of man's best friends: TV and beer!

Homer: "So what do you think, Marge? All I need is a title. I was thinking along the lines of 'No TV and No Beer Make Homer' something something."

Marge: "Go Crazy?"

Homer: "Don't mind if I do!"

Click here to view this gallery.

Rather than limit ourselves to just one YouTube video today, we bring you a whole collection of our favorite spooky clips from the streaming platform. Be prepared to be horrified by this roundup.

Watch in awe as a ghost cuts through a pumpkin. Quiver as a pumpkin head interpretive dances in a cemetary. And, possibly most frighteningly, see what happens when Homer Simpson goes without TV and beer.

And please let us know your favorite in the comments.

More About: Halloween, viral-video-of-day, YouTube

For more Entertainment coverage:

YouTube to Launch 100 Celebrity Channels [REPORT]

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 02:02 PM PDT

About 100 YouTube channels with original content from Ashton Kutcher, Amy Poehler and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, among others, are on the way, according to a report.

The new channels will be created in partnership with “dozens of media companies” and generate about 25 hours of new content on YouTube, according to The Wall Street Journal. Most of the program is expected to go live next year.

YouTube reps could not be reached for comment.

Such programming has been rumored for at least six months, though originally there were supposed to be only 20 premium channels. Sources told the WSJ in April that the deal was worth around $100 million.

According to this latest report, other celebs getting their own channels include Deepak Chopra, Rainn Wilson and Sofia Vergara.

More About: ashton kutcher, YouTube

For more Entertainment coverage:

Hulu to Get Current Season of Gossip Girl and Other CW Content

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 01:51 PM PDT

Hulu inked a five-year deal with The CW on Friday, giving the streaming site access to next-day content from five of the six major networks.

Starting “later this year” (Hulu declined to get more specific), Hulu will begin providing next-day content from shows like Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries and 90210, among other shows.

Subscribers with Hulu Plus will see that content the next day; those who get the free Hulu service will see it eight days after the content airs. Hulu Plus costs $7.99 a month.

With The CW on board, Hulu Plus is now offering next-day content from all the major networks except CBS. Hulu’s proposition and its pointed emphasis on next-day content is intended as a stark contrast to Netflix, which got access to past-season content for CW shows earlier this month.

What do you think? Will next-day CW content persuade you to sign up for Hulu Plus? Let us know in the comments.

More About: hulu, netflix, streaming video, the cw

For more Entertainment coverage:

Top 5 Tools to Better Time Your Tweets

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 01:40 PM PDT

Leo Widrich is the co-founder of Buffer, a smarter way to publish tweets and Facebook posts. He writes more about Twitter tips and tools on the Buffer blog. Follow him on Twitter @LeoWid.

When exactly are your best times to tweet? With over 200 million tweets posted each day, this is a very important question to tackle. When you better time your tweets, you're better able to reach your followers. Furthermore, knowing when they're actually online is incredibly important.

Let's examine different tools that help determine Twitter metrics. Each tool takes a look at your own personal following to calculate best tweeting times. Below you'll find the top five tools and how they can optimize your tweeting schedule.

1. WhenToTweet

This first tool is certainly my favorite in terms of simplicity. Drop your username into WhenToTweet and the app works out the stats for you. It will come up with a very easy to understand graph, detailing which time of the day you should start tweeting.

Your best times are determined by two key measures: the performance of your past tweets and when most of your followers will be online.

2. TweetStats

TweetStats is a comprehensive tool that provides more detailed best tweeting times. Among other things, the app tells you how many tweets per day you're currently sending, what your tweet timeline looks like, and how many replies you send in comparison to original tweets.

The app also features a tweet density report. Whenever most tweets are hitting your stream it means your optimal tweeting times are reached. Try posting at these high density times to get better results.

3. Tweriod

My favorite in terms of algorithm is certainly Tweriod. The app takes into account a great number of different parameters, and calculates a very accurate result. Tweriod looks at both your tweets and those of your followers to provide the best times to tweet.

It is also worth mentioning that the app excludes automation tools, such as Twitterfeed, when determining whether your followers are online — definitely a big plus.

4. TweetReports

TweetReports takes a slightly different approach by gathering the tweet statistics from your top 25 influential followers into its "Follower Analysis" feature. The spikes indicate when these users are most active and, therefore, likely to see your tweets.

Additionally, the app allows for a very comprehensive keyword search. It analyzes the times at which certain keywords are talked about the most, and when you should participate in those discussions.

5. TweetWhen

This is a great tool from Dan Zarrella, which shows you the best times to tweet based on your previous 1,000 tweets. Similar to WhenToTweet, the process is super fast, meaning you will have your results in a few seconds.

Of course, because TweetWhen only looks at your past tweets, its algorithm may miss some important parameters.

What else is important other than timing?

Of course, success doesn't solely depend on timing your tweets. My company looked at one million tweets from our users. These additional factors contributed to higher CTR and engagement rate.

  • Frequency of tweeting is nearly as important as timing. If you can consistently and regularly post 5-10 tweets with valuable content, well-spaced throughout the day, you will achieve maximum impact.
  • Tweet a variety of sources. This has equally contributed to increased engagement on Twitter. This means, the more varied the destinations of your links, the more trust you can build among your followers. If all you do is send tweets to your own blog or products, followers gradually drop off and stop clicking through.

These tools help to optimize one's daily tweeting habits. More effective Twitter management is crucial to move forward fast and efficiently. How have these types of apps helped with your tweeting?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, dandanian

More About: contributor, features, Social Media, Twitter, web apps

For more Social Media coverage:

Apple Enlists iPhone 4S Users to Solve Battery Problem

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 01:17 PM PDT

Two weeks after the iPhone 4S release, Apple is quietly reaching out to users who have experienced serious battery drainage problems — and asking them to help by installing a monitoring program.

The crowdsourced approach came to light courtesy of The Guardian, which found a user in the UK who had been contacted by Apple after he wrote about his battery life problems online. “I then got a call from a senior engineer who said he had read my post and was ‘reaching out’ to users for data,” the user said. He had been experiencing a 10% drop in battery life every hour.

The Apple engineer then “admitted this was an issue (and that they aren’t close to finding a fix!) and asked lots of questions about my usage and then asked if he could install the file below and that he would call back the day after to retrieve the info.”

Apple has sent mixed messages about the iPhone 4S battery life since its launch. The company’s data sheet notes that the phone’s standby time is 200 hours, which is lower than previous models — but Apple also says the 4S has a longer battery life when it comes to 3G talk time.

Although the battery issue hasn’t quite reached Antennagate levels, it is lighting up the Apple message boards. One user post on “iPhone 4S battery life” has received 1,300 replies and nearly 100,000 views since Oct. 15.

No consensus has been reached on what is causing the drainage. Some 4S owners have been able to fix it by doing a clean restore of their phone from iTunes. Others point the finger at Contacts, especially those imported from MobileMe, iCloud or Google contacts, and have found success by reinstalling them.

Another possible culprit is the new Notifications system in iOS 5, which can overload a phone with constant pings from services such as Facebook or Instagram. Having too many GPS-based location services turned on can also cause the phone to lose battery life fast. Siri, the intelligent voice assistant baked into the iPhone 4S, does not appear to be a serious drain on the battery.

Speaking as an iPhone 4S user, I have noticed no battery life problems in the past two weeks. Then again, I have kept my Notifications to a minimum — not for the sake of my phone, but the sake of my sanity. The Facebook app’s notifications, especially, can waste a lot of time, whether or not it wastes power too.

iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4S looks and feels exactly like the iPhone 4.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Antennagate, apple, iphone, iPhone 4S, Top Stories, trending

For more Mobile coverage:

Wall Street Journal to Launch Bestseller Lists for Ebooks

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 12:57 PM PDT

The Wall Street Journal‘s bestseller rankings will now include ebook sales, the publisher announced Friday.

Beginning this weekend, the Journal will display four lists charting book sales: combined ebook and hard copy sales of fiction, combined ebook and hard copy sales of non-fiction, ebook-only sales of fiction, and ebook-only sales of non-fiction.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Google are among the retailers that have agreed to release ebook sales numbers to Nielsen, which powers the Journal‘s rankings.

The New York Times and USA Today already include ebook sales in their respective bestseller lists. Physical and ebook sales rankings often differ, with many self-published, $0.99 ebooks topping the ebook charts.

The addition of ebooks to bestseller lists points to the growing strength — and soon, perhaps, dominance — of the ebook market. In May, Amazon announced that it sells more ebooks than hardbacks and paperbacks combined.

More About: amazon, ebooks, wall street journal

For more Business coverage:

9 Incredible Tech-Themed Halloween Costumes

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 12:32 PM PDT

1. Angry Birds

The Clock Bloggers had earned such praise for their Angry Birds costumes that they blogged an instructional post for other bird-crazy fans sure to take advantage this Halloween.

Click here to view this gallery.

Memes are huge this year. So are video game birds, superheros and working iPhone bodysuits. The year 2011 has never seen so many tech-inspired Halloween costumes.

That’s right, nowadays white sheets and bloody fangs are out — unless you’re desperately hanging on to the Twilight trend, which is only borderline acceptable in my book. This Halloween you’ll be encountering “aha” moments around every corner. Mermaid with thick-rimmed glasses = Hipster Ariel. Aviator-rimmed older man carrying a stuffed badger = Ojai taxidermist Chuck Testa (either that, or someone you should avoid at all costs).

SEE ALSO: Top 10 iPhone Apps for Halloween

Flip through our gallery for a brief overview of what to expect this Halloween. Homemade, assembled or bought, these costumes represent tech innovation and digital trends from the past and present.

Show Us Yours and Get Featured on Mashable!

How To Enter:

  • Tell us what social media or tech costume you’re wearing for Halloween and why it’s so fabulous in the comments below. Please include a link to a photo of you in the costume on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram or other network where you’ve posted it.
  • Submit your costume and photo link by Monday, October 31 at noon ET.
  • Please use your real identity in the submission so that we may credit you in the follow-up post.
  • Look out for a post with the winning submissions on Monday, shortly after the contest closes, to see if you’ve won!

More About: angry birds, features, Gaming, Halloween, iphone, Meme, trending

For more Tech coverage:

Occupy Wall Street: Who Is Donating to Keep it Afloat? [STATS]

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 12:04 PM PDT

#OWS image

The Occupy Wall Street movement has not only inspired people to take to the streets, but to open their own wallets to support the cause — many using mobile payment site WePay.

On Oct. 10, WePay had recorded more than $81,000 sent to groups associated with Occupy Wall Street. Just 17 days later, that number grew by 301% to more than $325,000, according to WePay, whose trove of data reveals who these donors are and where all that money is going.

A strong percentage of that money (83%) is collected in general funds used for shelter, food and other essentials. Another 4% has been designated just for legal fees — either when protesters are arrested or to learn their rights about where and when they can demonstrate.

The single largest spike for donations took place on Oct. 11 in Massachusetts. Boston police arrested 141 demonstrators in a restricted section of Rose Kennedy Greenway. Massachusetts donations multiplied by more than 400% from just $3,816 to more than $19,000 on that day.

In the United States, the state with the highest average donation is Connecticut, with an average of $65.15 donated. The lowest average is North Dakota with $16.25. While these don’t indicate total donations, it appears that most donors choose to go local. Excluding New York — considered the epicenter of the movement — 85% of donations traveled less than 100 miles.

SEE ALSO: Occupy Wall Street Beats Tea Party in Searches on Google

Of course, Occupy Wall Street isn’t just limited to the U.S. Of all donations recorded on WePay going to satellite movements, Finland had the highest number of donations per capita.

In terms of income brackets, the majority of donors (25.09%) make between $50,000 and $75,000 a year. The pattern follows a relative bell curve: Extremes on the income bracket (high wealth and poverty) donated less often, whereas middle brackets such as those making $35,000 to $50,000 or those making $75,000 and $100,000 donated more often.

The fact that donations followed a relatively standard data population graph suggests that the movement is widespread. Of all donations, 64% were donated by men, according to additional data from RapLeaf.

What do you make of these numbers and the fact that Occupy Wall Street groups have received more than $325,000 in support? Are any numbers higher or lower than expected? Sound off in the comments.

BONUS: Occupy Wall Street: 6,000 Protest in Times Square [PHOTOS]

Occupy Times Square

Thousands of #occupywallst protesters occupied Times Square Saturday afternoon and evening.

The group is opposed to growing economic inequality.

Image credit: @glomag / Twitpic

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Atomische • Tom Giebel

More About: Occupy Wall Street, Social Media, stats

Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 11:47 AM PDT

Thanks to this week's advertisers and partners for enabling us to bring you the latest social media news and resources. Mashable’s sponsors are as social media savvy as our readers!

Advertise with us and get noticed.

Mashable is seeking site sponsors for our large, diverse audience — social media users, venture capitalists, early adopters, developers, bloggers and many more. You’ll receive hundreds of thousands of views per day in addition to weekly recognition as part of our “thank you” to our premium sponsors. Are you interested? Contact us for more information and to receive our media kit and rate card.

This week, our valued sponsors are: Diet Coke®, Vocus, MessageMaker Social, Lenovo, The Awareness Social Marketing Hub, AceProject, BMW i, Discover Digital Group, Sprout Social, IDG, CUNY School of Professional Studies, Oneupweb, SoftLayer, SRDS, Buddy Media, Clickatell, Microsoft BizSpark and Eventbrite.

FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.

Fedex supports Mashable’s Commerce With a Conscience Series.

smart — unbig. uncar. Test drive the space saving, eco-friendly, totally unique, smart. Visit to find a new smart center near you.

Smart supports Mashable’s Tech Trendsetters Series.

Diet Coke® is the drink that helps you stay extraordinary, and now it brings you extraordinary people. Find Diet Coke® on Facebook for access to a whole lot of extraordinary.

Diet Coke supports Mashable’s Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Series.

VocusSocial Media Strategy Tool is a free, six-step online tool that lets you build your own custom social media framework in six easy steps. It helps you determine your organization's goals, explore the latest MarketingSherpa research data, and create your own workbook packed with the strategies, tactics and resources you need.

Vocus supports Mashable’s Social Media Infographics Series.

MessageMaker Social is the social media management system (SMMS) that lets you publish and manage targeted content across a large number of social interaction points while generating actionable intelligence. This smart, simple SaaS solution elevates your company's social presence among thousands of social Pages and accounts, helping you meet compliance regulations, maintain brand consistency, maximize engagement and generate actionable intelligence — without adding additional human resource costs.

MessageMaker Social supports Mashable’s Social CEO Series. Follow MessageMaker Social on Twitter.

Lenovo does not just manufacture technology. They make Do machines — super-powered creation engines designed to help the people who do, do more, do better, do in brand new ways.

Lenovo supports Mashable’s Tech Innovators Series. Follow Lenovo on Twitter and Facebook.

The Awareness Social Marketing Hub is the leading social media marketing software for marketers to publish, manage, measure and engage across the social web. The Awareness Social Marketing Hub is leveraged by companies of all sizes including Sony, MLB, American Cancer Society, and Starwood Hotels. Request a demo here.

Awareness supports Mashable’s Social Media For Business Leaders Series. Follow Awareness on Twitter and Facebook.

AceProject is a collaboration-oriented project management web application that empowers you to manage projects, tasks and time sheets. Create your free AceProject account here.

AceProject supports Mashable’s Digital Collaboration Series. Follow AceProject on Twitter.

BMW i is a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit

BMW i supports Mashable’s Global Innovation Series. Follow BMW i on Twitter and Facebook.

Discover Digital Group is a unique consultancy that focuses on identifying new e-revenue opportunities for both Fortune 1000 and startup clients alike. From developing new digital products to generating new audiences and revenue for existing online products, it creates smarter, more effective solutions for your business challenges. Follow DDG on Facebook to get a taste of the insights that are offered.

DDG supports Mashable’s Social CMO Series. Follow DDG on Twitter and Facebook.

With the explosion of mobile devices, advertising dollars will begin to shift to mobile for tech marketers this year. IDG Global Solutions President Matt Yorke talks about the rise of social and how IDG helps marketers create social campaigns. The line is fading between social media and traditional media. Earned media or sharing of information within social networks is becoming mainstream whether on a PC or mobile device. Learn more.

IDG supports Mashable’s Modern Media Agency Series.

Oneupweb is an agency specializing in search marketing, social media and design for mid-to-enterprise level brands. Keep up with Oneupweb through its blog and monthly newsletter.

Oneupweb supports Mashable’s Behind the Social Media Campaign Series. Follow Oneupweb on Twitter and Facebook.

SoftLayer provides global, on-demand data center and hosting services from facilities across the U.S. it leverages best-in-class connectivity and technology to innovate industry leading, fully automated solutions that empower enterprises with complete access, control, security, and scalability.

Follow SoftLayer on Twitter and Facebook.

SRDS connects agencies, brands and media through its online database of media planning data. SRDS is committed to making it easier to buy online ad space and build integrated marketing campaigns. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of the SRDS consumer and business database here.

Follow SRDS on Twitter and Facebook.

Buddy Media is Power Tools for Facebook. Have something new to tell 500 million people? Learn the best way to manage multiple brands on Facebook with this webinar.

Buddy Media supports Mashable’s Facebook Marketing Series, which is about how brands can advertise on Facebook. Follow Buddy Media on Twitter and Facebook.

Clickatell was the first provider of Online SMS Gateway connectivity, and after 10 years, is still the leading provider. Clickatell can deliver your SMS text messages to over 818 mobile networks in more than 222 countries and territories.

Follow Clickatell on Twitter and Facebook.

BizSpark is a program which offers new software businesses and entrepreneurs access to Microsoft design, development and production tools with no upfront costs for up to three years. Learn more or connect with a Microsoft BizSpark advisor here.

BizSpark supports Mashable’s weekly Spark of Genius Series, which showcases promising startups. Follow Microsoft BizSpark on Twitter and Facebook.

Eventbrite is an online events marketplace where tens of thousands of individuals, businesses and organizations of all sizes manage, promote and sell tickets to their events. Make your event a success on Eventbrite.

Follow Eventbrite on Twitter and Facebook.

Additionally, thanks to the following partners for making Mashable happen:

Intridea is an application development consultancy specializing in Ruby on Rails and mobile development, and has worked with many Fortune 500 companies and funded startups. Visit or call 1-888-968-IDEA (4332).

Intridea has created the official Mashable apps for platforms including Android, iPad, and the Mac App Store. Follow Intridea on Twitter and Facebook.

Webtrends founded the web analytics industry in 1993. Today, its leadership extends much further to social media measurement, paid-search optimization and connecting the online and offline data silos scattered throughout organizations. Webtrends helps you analyze the data generated by your web site, blogs, online campaigns and enterprise systems to understand your customers and, ultimately, business opportunities.

Follow Webtrends on Twitter and Facebook.

Since 2007 W3 EDGE has assisted with creative, web development, and search and social media marketing for and its other web properties and projects. Day-to-day maintenance and support is handled by Frederick Townes and his W3 EDGE team.

Follow W3 EDGE on Twitter.

Rackspace Hosting is the world’s leader in the hosting and cloud computing industry. The San Antonio-based company provides Fanatical Support® to its customers across a portfolio of IT services. For more information, visit is hosted on Rackspace, and Rackspace sponsors Mashable’s Web Development Series. Check it out here, and follow Rackspace on Twitter.

iStockphoto offers easy, affordable inspiration with millions of safe, royalty-free photos, illustrations, video, audio and Flash® files. Browse the best stock library of royalty free content at prices anyone can afford. Mashable readers save 10%.

Mashable sources many of its photos from iStockphoto. Follow iStockphoto on Twitter and Facebook.

Dyn Inc. is a world leader in managed DNS, powering the best brands on the web including Gowalla, Mashable, Twitter, Wikia and more. For more information about Dyn Inc., visit, e-mail or call +1-603-668-4998.

Mashable provides exclusive content on Check it out here, and follow Dyn on Twitter and Facebook.

ConcentricSky offers web and mobile development with a focus on emerging technologies. With partners ranging from National Geographic and Encyclopedia Britannica to NASA and The World Bank, Concentric Sky is known for delivering innovative, world-class software solutions.

Concentric Sky is the only App Developer officially endorsed by Mashable. Learn more here, and follow ConcentricSky on Twitter.

We can get your name out there.

Contact us for more information about supporting Mashable’s growth and development. Alternatively, visit our advertise section for more details about:

  • Competitive direct ad sales
  • Sponsorship opportunities for events and other channels
  • Sponsored giveaways and contests
  • Custom ad deals and partnerships

More About: mashable, Sponsors

For more Social Media coverage:

6 Great Alternatives to Netflix

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 11:13 AM PDT

On Monday, Netflix reported losing more than 800,000 subscribers since the company announced a 60% price increase, which went into effect in September. If you’re one of these Netflix customers who couldn’t seem to rationalize the hike, you’re probably exploring other options.

A few years ago, our only option was to drive to the nearest Blockbuster or Hollywood Video, only to be subjected to ironclad late fees and out-of-stock titles. Now, with a multitude of popular online streaming services, our favorite movies and TV shows are just one click away. From Amazon Instant Prime to Blockbuster On Demand and VUDU, more and more companies are providing viable streaming alternatives.

Luckily, most of these sites offer free trials without any obligation to sign up. If you’re still not sure which service is best for you, take a look at our gallery below to compare your options.

1. Amazon Prime Instant Video

What Amazon Prime Instant Video Offers: Instant streaming of unlimited, commercial-free movies and TV shows at no additional cost with a paid annual Amazon Prime membership. The membership also includes fast shipping along with other benefits. Amazon Prime Instant Videos will offer more than 12,000 titles by the end of this year.

Cost: $79/year for an Amazon Prime membership to watch prime instant videos.

What You Need: A PC, Mac, Blu-ray player or set-top box that is compatible with Amazon Instant Video. Internet-connected TVs also work.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: features, Movies, netflix

For more Entertainment coverage:

Nokia, Bring the Lumia 800 to the U.S. Now — Please

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 10:52 AM PDT

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

Nokia’s new Lumia 800 looks fantastic — easily one of the most impressive Windows Phone devices — yet the Finnish company remains mum on its plans to bring it to the U.S. market, aside from a few cryptic statements alluding to plans to “introduce a portfolio of products in early 2012.” This is a big problem, not just for Nokia, but for Windows Phone as a platform.

I get it. Nokia sees Europe as a more important market than the United States. In fact, research firm Strategy Analytics predicted that the partnership with Nokia could help Microsoft double its smartphone market share in Western Europe in 2012. Nokia has long fallen out of favor in North America, but in Europe, the brand still has strength.

Leveraging European strength certainly makes sense, but does that require ignoring America? From my perspective, it appears as if Nokia thinks that success in Europe and success in the U.S. cannot co-exist. Perhaps it’s my North American bias speaking, but I think success can take place in both markets.

It's Like the N9...But Not

The Lumia 800 is nearly identical in appearance to the N9, Nokia's first -- and last -- MeeGo handset.

Like the N9, it sports a beautiful polycarbonate body with a curved glass screen, a rear camera with LED flash and edges that feel great in the hand.

Click here to view this gallery.

Nokia Needs to Emulate Motorola

Despite once being a market leader in the U.S., Nokia fell out of favor with carriers and users as it started to transition into the smartphone market. In the pre-smartphone days, Nokia devices were popular, well-designed and ubiquitous. After 2005 or so, that stopped being true.

Of course, Nokia isn’t the only company that struggled with the transition from cellphone to smartphone. Motorola Mobility went from making the most popular non-smartphone of all time (the original Razr), to fighting for its life.

What did Motorola do? It signed a big contract with Verizon in the U.S., partnered with Google on Android and crashed onto the scene with the splashy Droid Does campaign.

Motorola, as a result, catapulted back into the spotlight and was instantly recognized as a provider of high-end smartphones. It helped kickstart widespread adoption of Android across the world.

The Nokia Lumia 800 could be the device to really give Windows Phone a face and a chance at eclipsing BlackBerry as the number three smartphone platform, but it needs to be available throughout the world — and that includes America.

The Waiting Game Doesn’t Work

When Nokia says that it is planning on bringing a “portfolio of products” to the U.S. in early 2012, that could mean January or that could mean March. Make no mistake, the longer Nokia waits, the slimmer the chances are that the phone will find success in the U.S.

To use Motorola as an example again, the company’s eagerly anticipated Droid Bionic was supposed to hit the streets this spring. Eight months after appearing at CES, it finally did.

It’s still a solid device — and a great 4G LTE handset — but the momentum built up around the phone had already disappeared. Moreover, the competitive landscape had increased, with Motorola facing competition from a fleet of new devices that appeared months after the Bionic was supposed to make its debut.

Motorola and Verizon have essentially made the device obsolete themselves, with the announcement of the Droid Razr.

Nokia can’t make the same mistake with the Lumia 800. Already users are complaining about the lack of a front-facing camera and its ability to “only” record 720p video. Other Windows Phone Mango devices from LG and HTC have faster processors.

The longer Nokia waits to make a big global splash with the Lumia 800, the more it risks losing a chance to sway the markets.

In the U.S., Carriers Matter

Microsoft has struggled to get widespread carrier support in the U.S. Walk into a T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon or Sprint store and you’ll see Windows Phone devices, but oftentimes, these devices aren’t promoted as well with signage, placement or employee training as handsets running Android or iOS. This is a problem in the U.S., where the carriers matter just as much as the phones themselves. Yes, the rare device can make or break a network, but carriers can also make or break a platform.

From a device-maker perspective, Apple, Motorola and RIM are at an advantage in that they support one platform. That makes the branding easy. Even before Google announced its intentions to acquire Motorola Mobility, Moto was synonymous with Android.

This is where Nokia could have a big opportunity in the U.S. Not only does Nokia finally have a hardware/software combination that can appeal to U.S. smartphone consumers, it can put its marketing muscle behind promoting Windows Phone as a platform.

Making It Happen

In February, I argued that Microsoft was Nokia’s last best hope for reversing course.

At the same time, I cautioned that “execution is essential” and said “the longer it takes for the first Nokia-branded Windows Phone to hit stores, the lower the chances for success it will have.”

Eight months later, Nokia is about to release its first Windows Phone. Now it just needs to make the big push to the U.S.

More About: Lumia 800, Nokia, op-ed, Opinion, Windows Phone Mango

For more Mobile coverage:

9 Ways Top Brands Use Social Media for Better Customer Service

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 10:33 AM PDT

Rohit Bhargava is SVP of global digital strategy at Ogilvy, an award-winning marketing blogger and the best-selling author of Personality Not Included, a book about creating a more human brand. His is currently writing his second book called Likeonomics on how to be more believable.

When an irate traveler tweeted about how he had arrived late to The Four Seasons in Palo Alto and been "bumped" to an inferior room, the hotel saw it immediately and responded, promising to make it up to him. Turns out, the customer spends about 60 nights a year in Palo Alto for work, and promised in his next tweet to spend many of those nights at The Four Seasons.

The brand has had several similar stories posted online by delighted customers, and they are exactly the kind of successes that justify the investment in social media for customer service (which, in turn, drives sales).

Oct. 27 was the first day of the Social Media for Customer Care Summit in New York, a gathering of some of the largest brands in the world focused on how social service can be leveraged more effectively. Nearly every brand was struggling with the same three big questions, which became discussion topics and hashtags in their own right:

  • How can customer care better integrate with other functions across a company, like marketing? #integration
  • How can an organization take the efforts of one or two pioneering individuals and employ it brand-wide? #scaling
  • How can social media be used to mitigate negative posts or a brand crisis? #crisis

Throughout the day, there were many strong ideas and lessons offered on these topic. Here are just a few of the highlights.


1. Don’t allow any one team to own social media. (KLM)

In April 2010, Dutch airline KLM was thrown into the jaws of social media head first thanks to the Icelandic ash cloud that covered Europe and grounded flights across the continent for nearly a week. Moving quickly, KLM earned credit by creating a rebooking tool for Facebook within 24 hours and created a “multi-functional” team across customer service, marketing, PR and operations. For the world’s largest airline, this forced integration was just what they needed to build a highly sophisticated view that social media belongs belongs everywhere across the company. When they recently launched 24/7 support on Twitter and Facebook, they did it through a highly engaging "Live Replies" campaign in which they responded to tweets with a small army of staff in an airplane hanger holding up signs.

2. Go through the experience to really get it. (Telus)

Canadian telecom brand Telus shared an important lesson about walking in someone else’s shoes. For them, it meant bringing executives into the real "down and dirty" conversations that customers were having with service reps on social media channels. As Carol Borghesi, senior vice president of the brand’s Customer First initiative candidly shared, Telus was rated high on the Canadian list of companies with the "worst customer service." Social media is a key component of how they plan to be the first telecom in Canada to make it off that notorious list.

3. Help your customer service people feel like rock stars. (Zappos)

Of course, no conference about customer service would be complete without a great Zappos story, and Scott Klein and Marlene Kanagusuku from its customer loyalty team certainly delivered. A key thread in their presentation was how every employee is required to take four weeks of customer service training, and they are planning to cash in for the holiday season by bringing everyone from across the company in to man the phones and work with customers directly during that busiest time.


4. Get top-level buy-in through stories and data. (Citi)

Frank Eliason became something of a rock star within the world of social customer care thanks to his work founding the @comcastcares Twitter account and helping to change that brand’s corporate culture. Now he's got a unique point of view on how and why social media for customer service is a failure, and how brands can fix it. One of his main points was that you need to combine data with real powerful stories in order to actually make a change. As he shared, "I've never met a CEO who wanted to create a bad customer experience." Amen.

5. Find your ROI formula to justify your own existence. (Xbox)

Everyone has his own secret strategy for how to answer the big ROI question. But McKenzie Eakin, LIVE community programs manager for Xbox pulled back the curtain on her relatively simple formula:

Unique customers engaged with Xbox on Twitter x The percent of people who say they would have called instead of tweeting x Average cost per call = $$ saved in call center costs.

It's not a perfect methodology, but it’s all about finding the right lens through which to view data your company cares about.

6. Consider and leverage employees’ personal passions. (Best Buy)

No discussion of scaling a social media for customer service effort would be complete without delving into the amazing work of Best Buy and its Twelpforce. All 180,000 of their employees are encouraged to use social media tools (a staggering number) and they have many training programs and content creation initiatives (like an in-house production studio). One important key — they let employees share their personal passions for technology and intersect those with their jobs. More companies should find a way to do this.


7. Don’t freak out. (Four Seasons)

Earlier in the post, I started with a great customer service example from The Four Seasons hotels. While this tip itself was not something that Andrew Gillespie, Four Seasons's manager of guest services, shared from the stage, it was an important reminder. Not every piece of negativity from a customer is bad news. Many times, it’s an opportunity to confound expectations, deliver something unexpected and completely turn that experience around.

8. Respond with empathy, but defend your brand. (Comcast)

Kip Wetzel didn't have an easy job when he became the new voice of the @comcastcares Twitter handle. At the conference, he talked about striking the right tone, how a human quality like empathy can be translated into 140 characters, and how engaging on social media doesn't mean you need to let go of defending your brand. Be real and genuine and detailed, but also share the truth.

9. Don’t feed the trolls. (Samsung)

In one of the final sessions of the day, Carla Saavedra from Samsung shared the important reminder that not everyone is worth engaging online. Some people are looking to pick a fight, get free stuff, or just get some attention on Twitter. Ignore those trolls and have a real strategic or customer-centric reason for responding to content online. This relates closely to the scaling topic because you can't scale without prioritizing your responses.

More About: branding, contributor, customer service, features, Social Media, social media marketing, Twitter

For more Business coverage:

Forget Your Facebook Password? Your “Trusted Friends” Could Help

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 10:02 AM PDT

Facebook is releasing a new method for accessing your account when you lose your password: a little help from “trusted friends.”

The social network says it is testing a new tool in the coming weeks that will let you designate three to five friends you trust. If you forget your password or can’t access your email, Facebook will send your friends a code that they can pass along to you.

We’ve probably all been there: You forget your password and have to go through the “Forget your password?” process of waiting for a new one to arrive by email. Or, if we use Facebook’s comparison, you lock yourself out of your house — and now can go to a friend who has a spare key. Your spare key for Facebook is the code.

The new system doesn’t actually seem more efficient than the usual route if you’ve simply forgotten your password, but if for instance your account has been hacked and you’ve been locked out of your email, this is a new solution. It adds a new layer of security (the feature was announced for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month), too, since your friends can verify your identity more easily than any automated email.

Security firm Sophos points out, though, that a hacker could also remove or change your trusted friends settings and render the feature useless.

To set up “trusted friends,” go to your Security Settings Page (Account > Account Settings > Security), and click on the Trusted Friends section. From there, you can scroll through your friends and choose up to five. (You may not have access to this just yet — this section doesn’t appear in my settings.)

SEE ALSO: Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings Every User Needs to Know

Facebook offers similar, lesser-known security tools as well, like being able to log out of your account remotely and receive a temporary password for accessing public computers.

The social network also announced this week a new option to use different passwords for third-party apps. To set this up, go to Account Settings, and in the Security tab, go to the App Passwords section.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, malerapaso

BONUS: A Guide to Facebook’s Privacy Settings

Facebook launched new privacy settings in August of this year. Here’s how to use them.

Privacy Controls: Profile Editing

You can edit the visibility of individual parts of your profiles right from the profile editing page. In the past, this had to be done from the Privacy Settings page.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, security, trending

Google TV Gets Massive Android Software Upgrade Next Week [PICS]

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 09:45 AM PDT

Google TV had such potential when it launched in October 2010. But for many users, the lack of Hulu — along with the awkwardness of the interface and lack of cooperation from TV networks and content providers — was a huge turnoff. Now Google aims to fix that with a massive overhaul, upgrading Google TV with its Android operating system.

Google announced on its Google TV blog Friday that the platform will be upgraded to Android 3.1 (otherwise known as Honeycomb) for Sony devices Sunday, with the Logitech Revue set-top box getting its upgrade “soon thereafter.”

What will you get with this software upgrade to Android? Google says it’s “much simpler.” Its customization capabilities will go a long way toward alleviating the awkwardness of its first iteration, which Google admits was “not perfect.” And the addition of the Android Market will open up a variety of applications, with the promise of more — perhaps thousands more — on the way.

One welcome improvement will be an easier ability to search across all the TV shows at your disposal. With this update, Google’s trying to answer that age-old question, “What’s on?” If Google can pull that off, it could be a powerful thing indeed.

The company says it has learned from its mistakes with the first version of Google TV and is “committed to find the best way to discover and engage with the high-quality entertainment on your television.” So does that mean Google TV will be able to find all the shows from whichever cable or satellite provider you’re subscribing to, or from the web via all of the apps within Google TV, such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and HBO Go? Maybe. Of course, Google plans to improve Google TV’s search across YouTube, its own video streaming service.

In the blog post, Google also hinted at future software updates (Ice Cream Sandwich, anyone?) and new devices “on new chipsets from multiple hardware partners.” Hey, this is getting interesting.

We’ll have to reserve judgment until we can install this software update on our Logitech Revue box, but for now, clearly this update has great potential. It makes perfect sense for Google — purveyor of Android, the Chrome browser, YouTube and by the way, the world’s search expert — to leverage these powerful capabilities in its TV set-top.

The hurdle Google needs to navigate is not so much a technical or software one, but a matter of negotiating and arm-twisting of content providers. Will the company gain cooperation from TV networks and movie studios, allowing their content to be searchable on the Google TV platform? That’s the key to Google TV’s success.

Android Market

The Android Market, a familiar sight for smartphone users, is coming to Google TV.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: android, google tv, honeycomb

Warner Bros. Withholds New Release DVDs From Blockbuster

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 09:28 AM PDT

warner image

Warner Bros., one of the world’s major film studios, will not be providing Blockbuster with DVDs for rentals. The decision came after Blockbuster went day-and-date with some Warner Bros. titles without the studio’s permission.

There is a 28-day industry standard between the date that DVDs go on sale and the date they are available to stream. Warner Bros. is trying to force that same window on Blockbuster. Blockbuster has been pushing against this 28-day window as a way to beat streaming rental services and establish itself as a go-to for early rentals.

Movie studios, however, are not taking so kindly to Blockbuster’s business move, with Warner Bros. the first to crack the whip. Tensions flared when Blockbuster put up rentals of Horrible Bosses and The Green Lantern earlier than the 28-day window without Warner Bros.’s permission, reported Josh Halliday at The Guardian.

Blockbuster will fight back by simply buying Warner Bros. movies when they come out and placing them for rent. This is obviously a risky strategy considering the rental chain is used to getting films at wholesale. And it certainly won’t put Blockbuster in the studio’s good graces.

"They felt it was important to continue to offer day-and-date rental so rather than work with us they went around us," Warner Bros. Home Entertainment President Kevin Tsujihara told the Financial Times.

Oddly enough, both Blockbuster and Warner Bros. are partners in UltraViolet, a new streaming service backed by a coalition of Hollywood and industry organizations. Warner Bros., like most studios, is at risk of losing even more sales to piracy and streaming services such as Netflix and Redbox. The 28-day window provides a stopgap where DVD sales are relatively protected. Warner Bros. and other studios are rumored to be trying to push that window even longer to generate more sales.

SEE ALSO: Timeline: How Netflix Lost Two-Thirds of Its Value in 3 Months

Is Blockbuster’s power move smart business? Is Blockbuster trying to provide for its customers or save its own skin? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Gage Skidmore

BlackBerry Offers a Free PlayBook, If You Buy Two First

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 09:11 AM PDT

We’ve seen this deal from grocery stores and apparel retailers — but a buy two get one free tablet deal?

BlackBerry is now offering business customers a free PlayBook tablet computer with every two purchased, in a new marketing plan running through Dec. 31. The company is likely trying to increase its share of the business user market with the deal, as few individuals purchase multiple tablets for personal use. But, dare we say, giving away a third tablet seems like the company’s gotten a bit desperate to spread the device.

SEE ALSO: BlackBerry PlayBook Enters the Tablet Race [REVIEW]

Each purchase will also come with a premium accessory, such as a leather sleeve, charging pod or high-speed cable.

The 16 GB PlayBook starts at $499. The deal applies to the 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models, although all three must be the same storage configuration.

What do you think of this deal? Does it reflect badly on the future on BlackBerry tablets or will it help spread the RIM device? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: The 10 Most Influential Tablets on the Market

1. iPad 2

Manufacturer: Apple, Inc.

OS / Version: iOS 4

Screen Size: 9.7 inches

Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768

Processor Type / Speed: Apple A5 / 1.0 GHz

Storage: 16, 32, 64 GB

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: blackberry, Mobile, RIM, tablets, trending

How Brands Can Maintain Loyalty Among Fickle Digital Consumers

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 08:45 AM PDT

J. P. Gownder is vice president and research director at Forrester Research, where he leads a team that serves consumer product strategy professionals. You can follow him on Twitter at @jgownder and read his blog or his team's blog.

Between 2006 and 2010, American brand loyalty has declined sharply. During that same time span, fewer consumers self-reported that "owning the best brand is important to me."

Why did this happen? One glaring reason was that the recession diverted priorities, particularly among the jobless, away from brand names and toward lower prices.

Brand loyalty (the propensity to repurchase a brand) isn't merely an elite or expensive proposition. Economic instability can actually promote brand loyalty for lower price bands. (The Wal-Mart brand name was built on the promise of low prices, as was Payless shoes and 99-cent stores.) There's more to the story than the recession alone.

Technology Erodes Brand Loyalty

Beyond economic conditions, there's an even bigger culprit affecting the decline in brand loyalty. Rapid innovations in consumer technology have provided buyers with new tools for discovering, comparing, evaluating, choosing and experiencing brands. Smartphone app ShopSavvy literally expands buyers' choices on the spot and offers alternative products (along with peer reviews and location-tagged alternative stores nearby). Amazon's customers have increasingly become loyal to the channel – Amazon – rather than to the products within. Finally, comparison shopping sites like Bizrate, Google Products or Expedia offer shoppers both product and channel comparisons, increasing the likelihood shoppers will find a new brand or a better deal to entice them away.

Armed with these technologies, customers are becoming increasingly brand agnostic. Furthermore, statistical analysis shows that the more technology-optimistic a consumer is, the less loyal she becomes. Technology optimists – consumers who value and report using technology – tend to be higher-income, quicker adopters of new technology products (smartphones), new technology channels (iPad shopping apps) and new technology promotions (Groupon). Because technology optimists like to have the latest and greatest, they’re more likely to switch to new brands because of their high expectations and strong desire to be on the leading edge.

This effect has only increased over time. The correlation between technology optimism and lower brand loyalty grew more pronounced over the past five years, according to a quantitative study conducted by my company.

Nearly every company is seeing its best, most digitally fluent customers become less attached to the brand names they've nonetheless bought before.

Digital Product Experiences Can Reestablish Brand Loyalty

If technology optimists are abandoning their brand loyalty, what can companies do about it? The answer is to empower consumers with digital technologies that reinforce a brand, rather than erode it.

Let's take a hypothetical example. Imagine that executives at The Gap want to use digital technology to reinforce brand loyalty. They could do this by building a digital product experience that links together:

  • Brand. The Gap could link up with a media brand, such as Lifetime’s Project Runway, to co-brand a digital experience, perhaps a design contest partnership.
  • Simulation. The Gap could choose to offer this Project Runway experience in the form of a game. The brand could leverage a platform such as Xbox Live with Xbox Kinect, empowering a group of friends to compete with one another in a contest to design (for example) its fall fashion wardrobes. But the game would allow consumers to engage in real clothing design (because mass customization is the future of products). Each contestant designs his or her own outfits, based on configurable clothing from Gap.
  • Product. Ultimately, Project Runway fans who participate in their own gamified simulation don’t just want a game — they want to receive real clothes. Mass customization would allow Gap and its partners to sell actual clothing tailored to each buyer. Customers could plausibly buy any design that contestants concocted during the game — presumably with a bias toward the winning outfit.

Companies Should Think – And Staff – Differently

Executing on a digital product experience is hard. It requires new partnerships (like Lifetime), new technologies (like mass customization) and new platforms (like Xbox). Yet executives at companies like The Gap should see that a failure to construct those digital product experiences makes them more vulnerable to the declining brand loyalty facing every consumer company today.

If there's a single move executives in all industries can make to jump-start their digital product strategy, it's hiring employees who understand digital in a deeper way. “We have an iPad guru" is a common refrain we hear from companies today. It's a start, but the number and richness of computing devices is constantly expanding.

Hire talent that can spot the best digital product opportunities across a wide range of devices (game consoles, smartphones, tablets, ereaders, connected TVs, Blu-ray players, etc.). These devices are flooding the market; your product/service needs to as well. See the connection?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, PeterPhoto

More About: brand management, Business, contributor, features, Marketing

For more Business coverage:

Samsung, Others Snap Up Nokia’s Declining Share of Mobile Market

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 08:13 AM PDT

Nokia‘s share of the global handset market fell 5% in the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

However, Nokia still owns the largest portion of the market, having shipped 106.6 million mobile phones — or 27.3% of all mobile phones sent to vendors — in the last quarter, according to estimates from Boston-based research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics.

The Finnish manufacturer unveiled a number of new devices in London earlier this week, including two Windows Phone devices and four Symbian smartphones, pictured in the gallery below.

According to the same estimates, Samsung shipped 88 million units in the third quarter, compared to 71.4 million units in the period last year. The company is now in possession of 22.6% of the global handset vendor market, up from 20.9% a year ago.

LG, ZTE and Apple rounded out the top five with 5.4%, 4.7% and 4.4% of the market, respectively. LG’s share declined by 3% and ZTE’s grew by 0.6%. Apple’s growth was marginal at 0.3%, despite triple-digit sales increases in the Asia-Pacific region.

Collectively, 390 million handsets were shipped in Q3 2011, up 14% from the same period in 2010.

Nokia Lumia 800

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, LG, Mobile, Nokia, samsung, zte

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Reflects on What Went Wrong

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 07:50 AM PDT

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says entrepreneurs can’t be afraid to move fast on enormous opportunities, even when mistakes are made.

At the f.ounders conference in Dublin, Hastings openly discussed the controversies that have erupted at Netflix since its decision to raise prices. He explained that like him, many people will make mistakes and have to apologize if the goal is to move fast and seize opportunities.

“You have to keep trying,” Hastings told a small audience of prominent startup founders. “You can’t be afraid to make mistakes. Every entrepreneur is about creating change.”

Hastings explained the world is moving toward faster Internet connections and mobile devices — pointing out 5 billion people are active mobile phone users — and that Netflix has to be positioned to seize the opportunities these changes represent. That means moving fast, making mistakes and focusing on the digital side of the business, rather than the still-lucrative DVD arm of the company.

Hastings hopes that as more people gain smartphones and broadband connections they will become Netflix subscribers. It’s important to note Hastings isn’t thinking about Netflix’s growth in terms of months or years, but “the next two decades.”

“We have to go country by country and build a subscriber base,” Hastings told the audience. The next step toward Netflix’s international expansion starts early next year with the launch of Netflix in the UK and Ireland.

Hastings also told the audience of entrepreneurs that honesty, simplicity and culture. Those values were put on public display in 2009, when Netflix released an internal presentation that discussed its philosophy on management and culture. The unusually honest presentation explains that Netflix is a team, not a family, and that the company doesn’t care how many hours its employees are at the office — as long long as they perform.

BONUS: Ireland Rolls Out the Red Carpet for Tech's Elite

Kicking It Off With a Panel

f.ounders, an intimate conference for 150 of the world's most prominent technology and startup founders, kicked off the first night with drinks, appetizers and a panel that included Bebo co-founder Michael Birch and Angry Birds co-founder Mikael Hed.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: f.ounders, netflix, reed hastings, trending

For more Business coverage:

First Motorola Droid4 Photos Surface [PICS]

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 07:17 AM PDT

The first photos of Motorola’s next big Android 4G LTE release, the Droid4, have surfaced, just one day after the handset manufacturer’s super-thin, super-light, 4G-sporting Motorola Droid Razr went on sale at Verizon.

The biggest difference between the Droid Razr and the Droid4 is the slideout QWERTY keyboard. According to Droid Life, which obtained the images, the Droid4 also boasts a 4-inch Super AMOLED Advanced screen, a non-removable battery and two cameras, one of which (presumably an 8-megapixel) is capable of recording 1080p video. The device runs Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread).

The dimensions and processor have not yet been identified, although we can expect the former to be thicker than the Droid Razr, and the processor to be at least as good as the 1.2 GHz dual-core processor that the Droid Razr uses.

The Droid4 features a five-row, "illuminated" slideout keyboard.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: android, droid4, ice cream sandwich, Motorola

How Hotels and Travel Companies Are Nailing Social Media

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 06:37 AM PDT

The Digital Marketing Series is supported by HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA, that makes a full platform of marketing software and tools for lead generation tools.

Apart from restaurants, there are few businesses whose fates are linked as closely to online reviews as hotels. That’s why Accorhotels’ move in late 2010 is considered so bold.

Last September, the hotel chain began featuring reviews from TripAdvisor on some of its sites. Since Accorhotels has no control of the TripAdvisor content, it’s a bit like posting every review of your restaurant — not just the favorable ones — in your window. “There’s no question TripAdvisor plays hugely in this space,” says Melissa Parrish, an interactive marketing analyst at Forrester Research who covers the travel industry. “They make or break certain kinds of hotels.”

But the hotel chain, which runs Motel 6 and Sofitel among others, was merely acknowledging the obvious: Consumers no longer get all their information about your establishment from your marketing materials. In addition to TripAdvisor, there are blogs and sites like Kayak that aggregate reviews. People thinking of trying out a hotel can also canvas their friends on Facebook or the multitudes on Twitter.

Parrish says the savviest players in the segment have figured out a way to control some of that social media chatter by using social media as a sounding board for positive experiences. A few of the noteworthy approaches are outlined below.

Harnessing Social Media Comments

Carnival benefits from a curious phenomenon specific to the travel industry — “social media bragging.” Jordan Corredera, director and general manager of Carnival Online, says that even people who never go on social media will do so when they’re on vacation, if only to rub their friends’ noses in it. That’s not the only time they go on, though. Many consumers like to hit the site before their trip to psyche themselves up for it. Typical of this sort of interaction is this comment from Carnival fan Jessica Ayala: “I cannot wait until October 29 on the Carnival Dreams.”

Carnival’s primary hub for this kind of social media activity is its Facebook Page, which at present has about 1.2 million fans. (For comparison’s sake, Disney Cruise Lines has about 600,000 fans.) Like other brands that run successful Facebook Pages, Carnival asks a lot of open-ended questions about pleasant topics. For instance, a recent status update that asked, “Carnival sails all over the place, but there must be a destination that's your favorite. Which port would you recommend to a friend? Why?” got 479 likes and more than 700 comments. “We’re a very social brand,” says Corredera. “Given the experiential nature of a carnival cruise, the best way to deliver that is through the comments of Carnival customers.”

Carnival uses other social media channels, like Twitter and YouTube, of course, but everything goes back to Facebook. The company’s ads are tagged with a plea to visit its Facebook Page and videos that show up on the company’s YouTube channel premiere on Facebook first.

An International Approach

Not surprisingly, many brands in the travel category have footprints all over the world. Since many areas around the world lag in social media adoption, global travel brands can circumvent that challenge. Four Seasons’ approach has been to establish a social media presence for all its far-flung locales.

For instance, there is a primary Twitter feed for Four Seasons’ global brand, but the brand’s Twitter page includes a URL that lays out dozens of feeds from around the world. Creating that kind of presence isn’t easy, says Felicia Yukich, manager of social media marketing. “It means training people in Cairo how to tweet and teaching people in Bangkok how to post something on Facebook,” she says.

All that work pays off in the sense that it provides armchair travelers with a quick portal into exotic Four Seasons outposts. For example, are you curious what the Four Seasons in Beirut is like? The Twitter feed for that hotel includes a stream of photos, including the one above.

Embracing Users’ Comments

Customer reviews are a cornerstone of online retail sites like Amazon, but travel brands have been more hesitant to embrace online reviews. There’s nothing nefarious about this — who hasn’t been dissuaded from staying at a hotel or B&B because of one stinging review that, for all you know, could have been written by the proprietor’s chief competitor? Why do bad reviews carry more weight for a travel brand? Think about it: If you order a product and it doesn’t live up to the hype, you can always send it back. But book the weekend at the wrong hotel and you’ve ruined a one-time experience. Why take the chance on a place that’s been reviewed badly, even if most of the reviews are good?

Nevertheless, Dennis Schaal, North America editor for travel news publication Tnooz, says many hotels have accepted the reality that users are going to check out TripAdvisor, and seeing a TripAdvisor widget on a hotel website is no longer unusual. Schaal says the inclusion of the widget demonstrates confidence. “If you’re a lousy hotel, chances are you wouldn’t want to put your reviews on there,” he says. Seasoned travelers know that reviews on the site should be taken with a grain of salt anyway, he says. “Some of the reviews are fake, but if you disregard the over-the-top favorable ones and the really bad ones and look in the middle, you should get a good idea.”

Series supported by HubSpot

The Digital Marketing Series is supported by HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company based in Cambridge, MA, that makes a full platform of marketing software and tools for lead generation tools.

More About: Digital Marketing Series, features, mashable, Social Media, social media marketing, travel

For more Business coverage:

Why Hasn’t Yahoo Been Acquired Yet?

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 06:06 AM PDT

Despite the alleged intentions of its board, as well as rumored interest from Google and Microsoft, among others, momentum for a potential acquisition of Yahoo has stalled. But why?

The company’s sale has been thwarted by its “lack of strategy” and “restrictive confidentiality agreement,” unnamed sources told Reuters.

Yahoo’s board is reportedly divided about whether the company should be sold as a whole, in pieces or not at all. On the buyer side, a nondisclosure agreement attached to financial documents Yahoo began circulating two weeks ago has delayed, and in some cases fully prevented, potential buyers from grouping together to make a bid.

Among those still interested in Yahoo, according to Reuters’s sources: Google, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba (which already has a 40% stake), Russian investment firm DST Global, and a handful of private U.S. investment firms, including Silver Lake, TPG Capital, Bain Capital, Blackstone, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Providence Equity Partners, Hellman & Friedman and Carlyle Group.

Image courtesy of Flickr, eirikref

More About: AliBaba, Google, microsoft, Yahoo

For more Business coverage:

Ireland Rolls Out the Red Carpet for Tech’s Elite [PICS]

Posted: 28 Oct 2011 05:28 AM PDT

Kicking It Off With a Panel

f.ounders, an intimate conference for 150 of the world's most prominent technology and startup founders, kicked off the first night with drinks, appetizers and a panel that included Bebo co-founder Michael Birch and Angry Birds co-founder Mikael Hed.

Click here to view this gallery.

Ireland is pulling out all the stops, including a presidential visit, an orchestra and Bono, for a handful of the world’s technology elite.

One-hundred and fifty of the world’s most prominent and successful startup founders and technology executives have gathered in Dublin for the second annual f.ounders conference. The event is a four-day intensive dive into funding, management and the future of tech — the issues that affect startup founders.

Thursday was the first day of the event. It kicked off with a pub crawl through Dublin, and ended in the massive library of Trinity College, where the founders were served dinner (hosted by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström) and entertained by the student orchestra. U2 frontman Bono also made an appearance at dinner, where he took photos with the conference attendees.

Later this week, the attendees will be welcomed to Ireland by outgoing President Mary McAleese (the last event she will host at the official residence before leaving office) and eat dinner at the Dublin Castle.

Check out some of the photos we collected from the first night of the conference.

More About: bono, dublin, europe, f.ounders, ireland, Tech

For more Business coverage:

Back to the top