Saturday, 5 November 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Retail Startup Unites Tumblr, Content and Emerging Design”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Retail Startup Unites Tumblr, Content and Emerging Design”

Retail Startup Unites Tumblr, Content and Emerging Design

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 08:59 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: Of a Kind

Quick Pitch: Retail startup sells limited-edition clothing and accessories exclusively on Tumblr.

Genius Idea: Of a Kind, the first store to be built on blogging platform Tumblr, is celebrating its one-year anniversary later this month.

The startup has amassed a loyal following among consumers looking to acquire design goods outside of the mass market. Each week, founders Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo unveil two items they’ve commissioned from two emerging designers, such as the Clove Scarf by Louisa Parris ($195, above). Items tend to be priced between $60 and $175, and come in runs of 20 to 35 on average.

Content plays a big part in Of a Kind’s sales strategy. Mazur and Cerulo dish up a lot of information about the designers whose goods they sell on their site, taking readers behind the scenes of the creative process in one post, and examining their favorite eateries or movies in another.

“Consumers really connect with the storytelling aspect,” Cerulo contends.

But Mazur and Cerulo attribute a greater share of their success to the Tumblr community, some 35,000 users of which now follow Of a Kind on Tumblr. The community has been a great fit for Of a Kind because it’s populated by early adopters — people who are the first to acquire new gadgets, or the first to know the next big band or chef, says Mazur. These people also want to be first in discovering great design.

Tumblr’s built-in subscription options have also helped Of a Kind develop a steady customer base. Twenty-five percent of all sales have come from repeat customers, according to Mazur.

Not that Tumblr hasn’t had its drawbacks. When the platform was experiencing frequent outages earlier this year, Of a Kind went down with it, and so they were forced to build a backup system that keeps the site up when Tumblr goes down.

Site design in general has been a challenge within the limitations of Tumblr’s platform — something that has again become apparent as the company prepares to launch a redesign in the next couple of weeks, says Mazur. Soon, designers featured on the site will be able to make pieces from their regular collections available for purchase, giving both parties greater opportunities for revenue.

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: content and commerce, of a kind, tumblr

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How Algorithms and Editors Can Work Together to Burst the “Filter Bubble”

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 06:31 PM PDT

The algorithms that surface content for us on Facebook and Google are miracles of modern programming. But Eli Pariser, author and chairman of the board at, has concerns.

In March, Pariser gave a popular TED talk about “filter bubbles” — the idea that when search and social networks only serve us content that we “like,” we’re not seeing content we need. He cited examples where liberal-leaning Facebook friends only see fellow liberals in their “Top Stories,” or a frequent traveler only got tourism results when Googling “Egypt” in the midst of the Arab Spring.

As users increasingly get their news from curated social channels, this trend has the potential to isolate us and damage our world view.

At Friday’s Mashable Media Summit, Pariser offered some solutions, and focused on how human editors and algorithms can work together to get users clicking on content that matters.

7 Things That Personalization Algorithms Do Poorly

Pariser pointed out the critical things that social personalization gets wrong when it comes to content.

  • Anticipation: If there’s a small story about a meeting of the Greek parliament today, a human editor could anticipate that stocks might tumble tomorrow. Algorithms are rarely good at making this kind of abstract correlation.
  • Risk Taking: For an algorithm to be successful, it needs to be right most of the time. Suggestion engines almost always offer up “safe” content within a very narrow spectrum. Human editors have the will to take risks on content that might be wildly successful (or fail miserably).
  • Big Picture: Algorithms seldom connect the dots between specs of content to form a big picture of current events. An editor can create a front page (today, a homepage) that shows the news of the day in context, and arranged by importance.
  • Pairing: Human editors can draw you in with something “clicky” and get you to stick around by pairing that item with something of substance. This can be an art more than a science, which is why algorithms come up short.
  • Social Importance: Algorithms are good at surfacing what’s popular but not necessarily what’s important. The war in Afghanistan may not be “likeable” or “clickable,” but a human editor can ensure that stories about it get seen.
  • Mind-Blowingness: Pariser spoke about the Napoleon Dynamite problem on Netflix. Users either loved the movie (rated it five stars) or hated it (one star). Because the Netflix algorithm doesn’t like making risky recommendations, it often eschewed Napoleon from suggestion lists — even though people who like the movie really like the movie.
  • Trust: People learn to trust good editors. If something seems boring or irrelevant but a trusted editor says it’s important, you’ll heed. Algorithms may never be so trustworthy.

How Do We Fix It?

In his talk, Pariser noted that nearly every major online media company and platform is moving toward some level of personalization. And why not? It drives clicks and engagement, which drives revenue.

But how can we create balance? For his book The Filter Bubble, Pariser asked the big platforms (Facebook, Google and Netflix, among others) about the difference between implicit and behavioral intent.

“In this era where we have data about everyone, do you trust behavioral data, or what people actually say they want?” he posed from the stage of the Media Summit. “If you don’t trust what users say they want, then users lose agency. You’re just sending them things they will click on.”

It’s clear the current platforms don’t get us there on their own. But by striking a balance between editors and code, Pariser thinks we can get the best of both worlds.

“The great thing about the Internet is that it’s a very malleable thing,” he said. “It’s not a medium, it’s a meta-medium.”

By hooking people with content users like and pairing it with content users need, editors can drive traffic and value simultaneously.

“How do we make hard news as irresistible as LOLcats? That is what news is competing with. We need to find new ways of packaging it,” Pariser asserted.

“The Internet can go either way. It can encapsulate us in a little bubble of our narrow interests, or it can connect us to new people and ways of thinking.” The latter is what we all hoped for, Pariser said. And his hybrid media strategy might be one way to save us from creating “a bubble of one.”

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

Click here to view this gallery.

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

More About: eli pariser, journalism, mashable media summit, Media, News, personalization, Tech

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Close Encounter: Huge Asteroid to Pass Within 201,000 Miles of Earth

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 05:51 PM PDT

A 1,312-foot asteroid will soon pass within 201,000 miles of Earth, a distance closer than the Earth’s distance from the moon.

The asteroid, 2005 YU55, will make its close encounter with the Earth at 6:28 p.m. EST on Nov. 8. The object will be visible from the northern hemisphere, although it will be too dim and far away to see with the naked eye.

“It is the first time since 1976 that an object of this size has passed this closely to the Earth,” Scott Fisher of the National Science Foundation tells Reuters.

SEE ALSO: NASA Details the Next 25 Years of Space Exploration

If the thought of an huge object coming within a few hundred thousand miles of Earth scares you, don’t fret. The object has “no chance” of hitting the Earth or the moon in the next several centuries.

“2005 YU55 cannot hit Earth,” says Lance Benner, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “at least over the interval we can compute the motion reliably, which extends for several hundred years.”

Asteroid 2005 YU55 is a C-type asteroid, the most common type of asteroid in the universe. It is mostly made of carbon-based materials. This will be the second time the asteroid has visited the earth in as many years. It made a close approach roughly 18 months ago.

Bonus: 23 Must-Follow Twitter Accounts for Astronomy Lovers

1. @NASA

A convenient feed for all things NASA, including launch news, astronaut updates, space discoveries and interactive media.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Asteroid, Earth, NASA, space

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Zediva Forced to Permanently Discontinue Service

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 05:27 PM PDT

Video-streaming startup company Zediva can no longer stream videos or provide any services at all.

After violating copyright laws, Zediva was slammed with a permanent injunction on Friday, prohibiting the company from continuing its service.

The Motion Picture Association of America sued Zediva’s parent company, WTV Systems, and founder and CEO Venkatesh Srinivasan in April when Zediva founders uncovered an alternative, illegal way around online video-streaming. Zediva allowed their customers to “rent” digital copies of movies for $1.99 each at their data centers in the Silicon Valley.

While this may not seem like such a bad idea, Zediva’s actions were illegal. Here are the rules: Companies can rent physical copies of DVDs without consent from the movie studios. When it comes to online video streaming however, movie studios require companies to pay separate payments for Internet streaming rights in fear that licensing newly released movies online will hinder DVD sales.

By allowing customers to rent DVDs, Zediva illegally avoided paying royalties and fees, and waiting for license deals from the movie studios.

The movie studios, including Time Warners Inc.’s Warner Bros. Entertainment, and Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Enterprises, claimed that Zediva violated copyright laws by publicly performing movies.

After spending two years developing its technology, Zediva was forced to shut down its operations and agreed to pay the movies studios $1.8 million.

Image courtesy of Zediva

More About: zediva

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8 Simple Tips for Your YouTube Ad Campaign

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:50 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.

Even if you’re a small business, don’t neglect YouTube. More than ever, brand fans and loyalists are seeking out businesses on YouTube as supplemental outlets to a brand’s Facebook and Twitter presences. Consequently, the video-sharing site has proven hugely profitable for many companies.

Want to get in on the action? Here are eight examples of successful branding via YouTube.

1. Tap Into Today's Humor

Maybe you're thinking this video is just like any old taxidermy commercial, right?

To use a line from Chuck Testa -- NOPE! The follow-up "Kids React" video asks, "The people who made this commercial, do you think they were aware that they were making a normal commercial?" Believe it or not, those kids picked up on the humor Chuck Testa and his dead animals were trying to communicate.

The commercial's director accomplished three things: 1) He exploited the odd subject of taxidermy; 2) He exploited Chuck Testa's dry humor; 3) He translated both into today's recognizably ironic humor. Remember that humor changes with the decades. What was funny 20 years ago likely won't produce the same belly laugh today.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Advertising, features, Marketing, open forum, YouTube

Apple Gives Its Key Execs $400 Million in Bonuses

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 04:23 PM PDT

Apple has awarded seven of its key executives with massive stock grants worth approximately $400 million in total.

Six Apple SVPs have been awarded 150,000 shares of Apple for their services, according to recent SEC filings. This includes Scott Forstall (SVP, iOS), Robert Mansfield (SVP, Hardware Engineering), Peter Oppenheimer (CFO), Phil Schiller (SVP, Marketing), Jeffrey Williams (SVP, Operations) and Bruce Sewell (SVP, General Counsel). At Apple’s current stock price of $400.24, those shares are worth approximately $60 million.

Eddy Cue, the recently promoted SVP of Internet Software and Services, received 100,000 instead of 150,000 like Apple’s other SVPs. However, Cue received 100,000 shares when he was first promoted to SVP in September. Each 100,000 stock grant is worth $40 million.

Apple’s execs won’t be able to spend their new-found wealth immediately, though. Fifty percent of Forstall, Mansfield, Oppenheimer, Schiller, Williams and Sewell’s shares will vest in June 2012, while the other half will vest in March 2016. Cue is on a different vesting schedule: 25% of his shares will vest in September 2014, while the other 75% will vest in September 2016.

“Our executive team is incredibly talented and they are all dedicated to Apple’s continued success,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. “These stock grants are meant to reward them down the road for their hard work in helping to keep Apple the most innovative company in the world.”

CEO Tim Cook was awarded 1 million shares of Apple after his promotion. At Apple’s current stock price, those shares are worth approximately $400 million. They will vest on a 10-year schedule.

Update: Some readers have pointed out that Jony Ive, Apple’s SVP of Industrial Design, didn’t get a bonus. That is not necessarily the case. For various legal reasons, Jony Ive’s bonus wouldn’t have to be reported to the SEC. We believe he also received a bonus from Apple, but the company declined to report it to the government.

More About: apple

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What Facebook’s New Features Mean for Journalists

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 03:58 PM PDT

Most of the changes that Facebook announced at its f8 conference have gone into effect (even though we’re still waiting for Timeline). In general, new Facebook tools create opportunities for journalists to evolve their personal brands and beats.

At Friday’s Mashable Media Summit, Facebook’s journalist program manager, Vadim Lavrusik, explains how the social network’s new features can help journalists.

"Profiles and subscribe are going to be the most useful for journalists that are posting as themselves," says Lavrusik. He suggests these users review their profile settings if they plan to start using Facebook publicly. Oftentimes, their privacy settings may be so restricted that their profiles won’t appear in public search. Conversely, users should check settings to make sure they don’t publicly share more than they’re comfortable with.

Apart from individual journalists, larger-scale media organizations are reaping the benefits of the new Facebook. Lavrusik acknowledges that online media will always have concerns that page views affect advertising. Why, then, would they export their media to an outside host like Facebook? According to Lavrusik, Facebook has monetized the advertising available in its applications. “You can put advertising on there and monetize the audience. … You can control what's in that environment,” he explains. “[Media] is thinking about it as a mobile application; you're able to consume content in Facebook instead of kicking back to a news site."

In response to Mashable deputy editor Chris Taylor’s assertion that “Facebook Is Too Damn Complicated,” Lavrusik says that most users don’t engage with every tool on Facebook anyway. “Your average user isn't going to use all these features,” he says. “You don't have to do everything on Facebook. It becomes complicated when you think about it that way."

On the other hand, some of us at least want to try to use Timeline. When will it finally roll out? “When it’s ready,” Lavrusik promises.

For more of a helping hand, see the gallery below for Lavrusik’s presentation slides and Facebook advice for journalists.

1. Ticker: Live Updates

"We wanted to surface things that were more timely," says Lavrusik. The ticker is completely unfiltered. This is a great thing for media companies because it puts a lot more emphasis on breaking content. There are now two opportiunities to see that: either as a recent story or through the ticker."

Click here to view this gallery.

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

Click here to view this gallery.

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

More About: Facebook, facebook subscribe, facebook timeline, features, journalism, media summit, Social Media

Please, Help Me Love Groupon

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 03:34 PM PDT

My Groupon Deals

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

People love Groupon. When something is worth $18 billion dollars, what other conclusion can I reach? I've tried it though, and I have never been particularly enthused over the deal site.

Yes, I am a member and I'm letting Groupon push me updates wherever and whenever it finds them. There are some good dinner values, like $98 dinner for two for just $39. But for every one of those delectable deals is an offer for a spa or body treatment.

I just don't get that excited by deals for spider-vein removal and laser hair-removal treatments. This is one of Groupon's fundamental flaws: It simply can't know what you want, when you want it. Deals in your area are fine, but they assume that you might be interested in that Caribbean dinner or private fencing lessons. Sure, I'm all for serendipity. Perhaps I'd find that I love fencing and be glad that Groupon showed me the way.

Those looking for deals have, I think very specific needs. If they're in the market for a dinner, some kind of lesson or maybe a makeover, then perhaps they'd appreciate Groupon's typical deal choice. On the other hand, those shopping for something more specific, like a laptop, new HDTV, a pair of shoes or pants, might be frustrated. I have trouble finding anything of value on Groupon. I don't need "$50-to-$100 off Framed Artwork" or money off a tuxedo.

I actually find the way Groupon goes from here is a great deal to "Buy!" somewhat off-putting. And by "Buy," Groupon means: Give us your credit card info now. Then you have to wait for enough people to also take the deal before you even get the coupon. Sorry, but I don't give out my credit card info just for the chance to access a deal. "Buy!" is too much pressure for me. If I'm reading the Sunday paper and checking out the flyers for the latest electronics deals, I do not have to take any action except collect the best deals — by circling or tearing them out — and then deciding later if I want to buy any of them. With Groupon, its aggressive approach can be off-putting.

I must be missing something. As I said earlier, Groupon just pulled off an incredibly successful IPO. It's now worth billions. I turned, as I often do, to Twitter and Google+. I wanted to know if 1) they thought Groupon is overvalued, 2) do they even like the service, and 3) if they could help me love Groupon just a little bit.

On Twitter, virtually everyone who responded directly to me said Groupon is not worth $18 billion. This comment from @HTownChowDown was pretty typical:

"Groupon’s valuation is insane. It’s a mailing list, and an idea with tiny barriers to entry. They’ll be gone in 18 months."

And this one from @garysimmons put the whole matter into perspective:

"So Groupon is worth $18B, but RIM only $10B? The stock market is weird and wonderful."

Over on Google+ there was a little more ambivalence. No one is ready to say Groupon is an $18 billion company, and only a few grudgingly said they like the service. Still, even as some cast doubts on Groupon, they copped to using the service's deals.

Christopher Brightwell said,

"It’s great for the buyer but it’s arguable Groupon is bad for the vendor. That said, as I write this, I’m noshing on some BBQ purchased via a Groupon deal.

This was a fairly common sentiment and a worry I've heard elsewhere: Groupon is not paying off for vendor partners. Merchants post deals to drive traffic into their stores and build customer retention. It seems they get one, but not always the other. In one study, 82% of retailers running a Groupon promotion were "Unsatisfied with the Level of Repeat Business."

This is not surprising. People will come to a new story — any store — for a really good deal, but that does not mean they become devoted customers. One could argue that that's the merchant's fault. What are they doing around the deal to bring people back?

The other problem is competition. I'm not a deals person, but I have noticed the new deals Amazon is sending me. I'm a member there, too, but for far more than just deals. I buy books, gadgets, movies and more with Amazon. Oddly, Amazon's deals seem even more local than Groupon's. Still, I have not acted on a single Amazon deal.

To my mind, the deals business is fundamentally flawed and may flame out, but not before Groupon has its $18 billion moment in the sun. With all that good will and capital, Groupon may hit upon one or more strategies adjacent to or outside of deals that make it a lasting success.

For now, though, I still don't love it. Thanks for trying, folks.

Bonus: Groupon’s Rise from Startup to IPO Hit

Groupon Offers One Local Deal Per Day, Nov. 2008

The social buying website Groupon provides one remarkable deal every day for each city they support - Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington DC.

Users can also subscribe to the Groupon mailing list to make sure they have the daily deals emailed to them.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jason Rosenberg

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: features, groupon, ipo, Opinion

Parents Tell Their Children They Ate Their Halloween Candy [VIDEO]

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 03:08 PM PDT

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

Kids sort of like Halloween. And parents want their kids to be happy, right?

Well, not too happy. At least not the parents who accepted Jimmy Kimmel Live‘s challenge to tell their kids they ate all their Halloween candy.

Daring moms and dads across the U.S. followed the talk show host’s request. They hid their children’s candy and captured their reactions on camera. This YouTube video pieces together their frenzied responses.

It doesn’t make us bad people if we laugh at crying children, does it?

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

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5 Essential Tips for Managing Your Users’ Social Profile Data

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 02:40 PM PDT

suit image

Vidya Shivkumar is director of products at Janrain and has built and shipped consumer, B2B and B2C products and services for over a decade.

Online behavior tracking has been successfully employed for nearly a decade, but its tools do not uniquely identify users, and rightfully so. Tracking was only designed to group users into audience segments; for example, golden retriever owners who live in San Francisco, CA, or baseball and wine enthusiast females in their 30s who live in Seattle, WA.

Of course, certain laws restrict combining offline data sources with online user behavior tracking. Therefore, how do brands get to know users individually, rather than as one of many in an audience segment?

Require a social network login to access your website. You request permission to access visitors' social profiles and, when approved, you'll have an opportunity to build a wealth of knowledge on the individual user. Learn about their hobbies and interests, friends, likes, age, marital status, places visited and alma mater. And the best part is that your users have consciously opted to share this information with you.

Obtaining the user's social profile data is the first step. The following tips detail how to access rich social profile information, while avoiding some of the challenges associated with data gathering.

  • Social profile data is complex and dynamic. Depending on the particular social network, the data can range from professional affiliations, education history, friends lists, current location and checkins.
  • Social profile data is useful only if actionable. A copious amount of user data is worthless if you are unable to feed it to existing systems such as email marketing tools or content personalization engines.
  • Social profile data is relevant only when combined with other data sources. Social does not have to replace what you already know about your users. The real win is augmenting existing intelligence with this new, valuable social data source.

Let's also look at five critical considerations for collecting, storing and managing social profile data.

1. Structure and Discipline

Consider hosting data in a flexible and extensible schema. This will ensure that data has rules and constraints placed around it. For example, verify that an email address is unique and accurate, that date of birth follows a consistent format, that zip code and phone number, if mandatory, are present, etc.

2. Multi-Channel Support

According to Nielsen, smartphones make up over 40% of all mobile phones in the U.S., and smartphone owners are three times more likely to access the Internet via their handsets. Brands are catching onto this trend by offering both web and mobile experiences for their users.

Unify user intelligence across multiple devices and channels, for example, mobile devices, networked kiosks, trusted partner sites and campaign landing pages. Future-proof now, so you don't need to re-architect when the next digital experience arises.

3. Availability, Redundancy and Backup

Like any other user databases, social profile storage systems need to be available 24/7. They should be supported by enterprise-class service-level agreements (SLAs), be backed up so that data is not lost in the event of catastrophic disk failures, and most importantly, be redundant to minimize service interruptions.

4. "Don't Make the User Think"

Those of us who have conceived of, built and launched a registration system know that screens and workflow are crucial components to data collection. After all, a well-designed interface can make or break your data collection plans. But they take time to build and get right. (My company has estimated that a default workflow for capturing, editing and displaying social data takes up to 19 screens!)

Today, no profile system is complete without a public and a private profile page. Users have come to expect a page in which they can manage their settings for the data they share with your brand. Also, if your site offers community features such as blogs, reviews or comments, users want to be able to manage their public persona via a public profile page. Last but not least, users expect branded interfaces so they know who is managing their data.

5. Third-Party Access

Now let's look at things to consider when making social data usable and actionable. Most brand marketers want to use social data, at a minimum, to power their targeted email marketing programs. Others want to use the data for onsite personalization, such as serving relevant news articles, displaying merchandise, or even promoting concert tickets relevant a user's interests.

When you combine social data with legacy or traditional user data, you build a 360-degree perspective about your users. However, not all third-party tools need to know everything in your database to operate effectively. For instance, an email marketing tool may only need access to first and last names, email addresses, interests and zip codes for a segment of mountain climbers in Portland, OR. Thanks to protocols such as OAuth, building such capabilities into a registration system is now possible.

Given that marketers need to be able to customize and change their marketing segments often, this type of segment creation must be easy to set up via a dashboard, and should not require a database administrator, a web programmer and an operations team to roll out.

Visitors to your site are showing up with a wealth of information that you can leverage to improve the onsite experience. The critical element for marketers is to have the right tools in place to request, store and manage users' social profile data for meaningful purposes. The more ubiquitous these tools become, the more users will demand engagement and personalization on your site.

Image courtesy of Flickr,

More About: behavioral analysis, contributor, data collection, features, social data, Social Media

Online Fraud: Are Baby Boomers or Millennials More Scared? [STUDY]

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 02:08 PM PDT

security image

New research shows the majority of both Baby Boomers and Millennials are concerned about becoming the victims of online fraud. The study, released exclusively to Mashable, finds 77% of Baby Boomers (ages 55 and older) and 62% of Millennials (ages 18 to 24) are concerned about their information’s misuse online.

The majority of both groups do not feel “very secure” shopping online (only 34% of Millennials and 19% of Baby Boomers feel “very secure”), the ThreatMetrix study conducted by The Ponemon Institute reveals. However, only half of Millennials — a generation of digital natives — and 41% of Baby Boomers say they consider the security of an online merchant before making a purchase.

"It's interesting to note that while the younger generation is less concerned about online fraud in general, when they do question the fraud prevention measures of an online merchant, they say it adversely influences their experience with that particular brand," says Bert Rankin, ThreatMetrix’s VP of marketing. "It's a big concern if online retailers are losing out on potential sales simply because consumers can't trust the security of the transactions on the website."

SEE ALSO: Security Fears Skyrocketing in the U.S. [INFOGRAPHIC]

When it comes to mobile commerce, the two groups’ practices are more distinguished. Only 25% of Baby Boomers have made a purchase from a smartphone or tablet, while 60% of Millennials report having done so. However, both groups believe there is less fraud risk from a mobile device than a desktop or laptop. Boomers choose m-commerce for its perceived increased security, while Millennials choose m-commerce for its convenience.

"Mobile offering better fraud protection is a common misconception that fraudsters use to their advantage," says Rankin. "Not only are merchants still trying to understand the mobile channel, but the majority of consumers don't even download virus protection on their smartphones. And with more consumers using mobile devices to purchase goods, leverage social networks and conduct banking transactions, fraud is of growing concern in this channel."

The study polled 722 U.S. consumers who are self-reported active Internet users, and did not consider respondents between ages 26 and 54.

Image courtesy of Flickr,

More About: identity theft, online fraud, online security

The Evolving Role of Social Media in News Organizations [LIVE BLOG]

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 01:38 PM PDT

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

Click here to view this gallery.

For many news organizations developing digital strategies, the conversation has moved beyond questioning whether Twitter and Facebook presences are necessary.

Instead, social media has become a driving force for reporting initiatives and is seen as imperative for content distribution. Now media companies don’t just want to have a presence on the social web — they want to make the most of it.

That’s why some newsrooms have hired social media editors and community managers to guide their approach to social media. Still, these roles greatly differ from organization to organization.

Anthony De Rosa of Reuters, Drake Martinet of AllThingsD, Katie Rogers of The Washington Post and I, on stage at Mashable Media Summit, will attempt to define what a social media editor is and where the role is headed.

We’re bringing the panel to you via the live blog below. Follow along for quotes and commentary from Mashable editors on the ground at the Media Summit.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Goldmund

More About: community, journalism, News, reporting, Social Media

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There Is No Turning Back, Says Matrix-Inspired Mystery Site

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 01:19 PM PDT

“There is something wrong with the web. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad.”

So says a new mystery site making the rounds, in a tone of voice intended to resemble that of The Matrix’s Morpheus, before promising there is no turning back after 11.11.11. Turning back from what, it doesn’t say.

But it wants us to associate whatever it is with The Matrix. The script for the short video that plays upon arival to the site is adapted from a famous scene in which Neo must chose whether to swallow a red pill and learn more about the Matrix or a blue pill and live an ordinary life.

The site’s video instead presents two pill-shaped icons.

“You click the blue icon and you continue browsing the web blindfolded,” it says. “You click the red icon, you stay in wonderland. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more.”

Users can sign up to be notified on Nov. 11 (after which, their lives purportedly will never be the same) or post the site on Facebook or Twitter. So far, more than 8,000 people have joined the mailing list.

While the site’s privacy policy originally offered an email address for media inquiries, it has been replaced with a note saying the identity of the site owners is being concealed on purpose. The domain name, according to Whois, was purchased in Norway last month, and the IP address that hosts the site doesn’t appear to host any other domains.

Our best guess is that it’s an attempt to gain buzz before a campaign or a startup launch (some tweets about the project even seem to be paid). We’ve seen people do crazier things in an effort to sign up users. One man, for instance, started a lottery that allows companies to raffle off equity to the people who agreed to sign up for their services. Another brought a cow to a New York city Apple store for the Apple 4S release.

As far as viral buzz goes, sometimes less is more. Stealth startup had its beta invite page go accidentally viral after it simply asked people to reserve their usernames and share the opportunity with friends.

But here’s the truth about publicity stunts: They only matter if what they’re publicizing is also worth talking about. A Matrix Mystery, like a Startup lotto or a cow, is a fun idea that has gotten our attention. But when those of us who have signed up for our worlds to be changed get our mass email on Nov. 11, the secret needs to live up to the charade — or risk becoming the butt of its own joke.

More About: Matrix, There is no turning back

Siri: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 01:08 PM PDT

Siri's Debut

After acquiring voice-activated app company Siri in April 2010, Apple integrated the feature with its iPhone 4S. The public finally got a glimpse of the hands-free assistant at the Apple Keynote on Oct.4, where Senior Vice President Scott Forestall showed off the product's muscle. The audience delighted at the demo, which featured Siri promptly and efficiently listing all of the available Greek restaurants in Palo Alto.

Click here to view this gallery.

It’s only been a month since the public caught the first glimpse of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant for the iPhone 4S. However, the past four weeks have seen many ups and downs for the feature, which most recently spent Thursday totally AWOL.

Though the service has proven to be a boon for Apple, frustrations over its bugs have been plaguing it as consumers wonder when the assistant will finally outgrow its beta period.

Through the good times and bad, here is a history of Siri’s brief time in her position as personal assistant. Do you use Siri every day, or do you hate her guts? Tell us in the comments below.

More About: apple, features, gallery, iphone, siri

Why User Experience Must Always Account for the Human Condition

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 12:53 PM PDT

For the first 10 minutes or so, Mashable Media Summit attendees were probably wondering why Tor Myhren, president of Grey New York, was talking about losing his virginity. Well, it all started with the telephone…

It's 1986. One night in Denver, 14-year-old Tor dials into Teen Line, a telephone chat room filled with kids yelling over one another to be heard. There he meets Mindy, who soon shouts her telephone number (933-9465 a.k.a. WEE-WINK). The two begin a month-long courtship over the phone. Soon Mindy invites Tor to a hot tub party in the suburbs. Long story short, he and Mindy creep upstairs for 15 seconds of romance and a broken condom. Needless to say, the rest of the phone relationship is equally brief.

After 10 minutes of hot tub storytelling, interrupted only by delighted howls from the audience, Myhren says, "I'm going to tell you that story again."

At 39, Myhren is now the president and chief creative officer for financial service and advertising firm Grey New York. If you watch the Super Bowl, you'll recognize his 2009 E*TRADE talking baby commercial. He's also responsible for nominating 50-year-old Ellen DeGeneres as the face of CoverGirl, for creating the Obama "Race Switch" poster, and for inventing Oprah's famous car giveaway. But today, Myhren is retelling that virginity story, as promised.

It's 2011. He's still a 14-year-old virgin. However, "Nobody meets over the phone anymore. As most relationships start, I go to Facebook," he says. There, "Myhren" proceeds to stalk, poke, email, IM, Tumble and finally contact Mindy by telephone. But who needs to talk when you can text? And who needs to text when you can sext?

Soon Mindy Facebook invites Tor to a hot tub party, where a friend uploads a video of their makeout sesh to YouTube. Finally, the two sneak upstairs and get down to business. "That 15 seconds will never change for eternity," Myhren admits.

Neither will that 2011 virginity story disappear from the web. "The seemingly innocent 14-year-old one-night stand will live forever," Myhren says. "Ten years later, I'm trying to find a job and my boss sees me on YouTube making out with Mindy." That's when the audience stops laughing.

"Think about that 14-year-old kid. What motivates him hasn't changed at all. As tech continues to change, the soul of man continues to stay the same," says Myhren. In other words, today's online user experience continues to drastically evolve, yet people's biological instincts can't seem to keep up. "I think it's really important that we don't confuse the two. They are different."

Myhren goes on to explain that maintaining that distinction between person and digital is vital — that we must respect the inherent human condition (e.g. teenage hormones) even as technology advances. Just like the difference between the telephone calls with Mindy and the "real thing," nothing in technology will ever compare to sincere human connection. "As we continue to invent these new places where we can talk to people," Myhren concludes, "it's important that we don't forget how to talk to people in the most important place of all, which is right here."

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

Click here to view this gallery.

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

More About: Facebook, media summit, Social Media, user experience

Introducing the Mashable Publisher Platform

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 12:41 PM PDT

At today's Mashable Media Summit, we announced the Mashable Publisher Platform, a new editorially curated syndication experience that brings content from select publishers to our site.

Starting next week, you'll begin seeing articles from AppAdvice, Causecast, ClickZ, GeekSugar, International Journalists’ Network, paidContent, Pocketnow, PSFK and UX Magazine appearing on Mashable.

For readers, the Publisher Platform means more great content that goes deeper into the topics that you care most about – hand-selected by our editors – appearing on Mashable, on topics ranging from app reviews, to business and marketing, to the future of journalism. This content will complement the original reporting created by our editorial staff, which consists of more than 30 journalists in New York, San Francisco and around the world.

For publishers, our platform offers what we believe is a unique value proposition, with each story featuring our M-Share button, which lets readers share it simultaneously to multiple social networks, a new module that allows readers to subscribe to the publisher on Facebook, Twitter or Mashable Follow, and a "related link" area that drives readers directly back to the publisher's website.

Starting Nov. 10, content from our partners will start appearing on Mashable. In the months to come, we plan to add more features to the platform and open it up to additional partners.

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: mashable, mashable publisher platform, Media

For more Social Media coverage:

Occupy Wall Street Gets Its Own Social Aggregator

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 12:27 PM PDT

occupationalist image

Anyone following the Occupy Movement knows that it’s actually hard to follow all of the Occupy updates. Occupationalist is a new site that is part social aggregator, part media hub for all things #occupy.

The populist protest movement sprung up around Occupy Wall Street, which saw scores of New Yorkers stage a peaceful protest against banks and big money. That spark ignited a series of similar protests across the U.S. and world. It has been difficult, however, to keep an accurate account of what’s happening with the movement at any given moment. This is partly due to Occupy’s tremendous size but also hit-and-miss media coverage.

Occupationalist, built by Boulder Digital Works, is trying to make is easier to find and share news and media about what’s happening in the movement both for those involved and those on the digital sidelines.

SEE ALSO: The Architect of #OccupyWallStreet Praises the Power of "Magical Hashtags"

The site purports to be by and for the “99%” — the nickname given to the protesters who are said to be at odds with the “1%” or hyper-rich. Occupationalist features a slew of Twitter news feeds and RSS readers for U.S.-based protests as well as a meetup board, Foursquare checkin heat map and a wall of hand-written notes from protests and supporters that is updated every day.

All of the site’s content is being pulled from the social web, including more than 15 topical hashtags, Google images and videos, the Occupy Wall Street blog and relevant headlines from the media. It’s unclear if the Occupationalist team is actually participating in the protests, but the site seems to be a trove of unfiltered Occupy information. As the site claims: “Occupationalist is an impartial and real-time view of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Covering history as it unfolds. No filters. No delays.”

What do you make of the Occupationalist? Do you think a site like this will help or hinder the movement’s growth?

occupy image

More About: Occupy Wall Street, ows, Social Media

Tweets Last Up to 67 Times Longer for Users With Higher Klout Scores [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 12:10 PM PDT

How long does a tweet last before it loses steam and falls by the wayside? If you have a high Klout score, it may last up to 67 times longer than other users.

The social influence measuring tool studied the impact of a tweet over time, based on a user’s Klout score. Specifically, the company wanted to know how many retweets different types of users garner and how much time it takes before those retweets cut in half — or the half-life of a tweet. Klout measured a week’s worth of retweet data to find out.

The results are stark. If you have a Klout score between 40 and 70, you can expect your tweet’s half-life to last for just five minutes. If you have a Klout score between 70 and 75 though, that number quintuples to 25 minutes.

SEE ALSO: Man Hysterically Fails at Explaining Klout to His Boss [VIDEO]

The 75-80 range is where the big jump occurs, though. The average half-life of a tweet from a user with that score range is a huge two hours and 45 minutes. It increases to five hours and 15 minutes for the 80-85 range, and tweets coming from Klout users with a score above 85 will last for an average five hours and 35 minutes. Interestingly enough, tweets coming from users with a Klout score less than 40 actually have an identical half-life to those with a score between 70 and 75.

The results compare well with other studies on the half-life of sharing. recently performed a study of the half-life of tweets as well and determined that the half-life of a popular link is around three hours.

Check out the infographic Klout put together below, and let us know in the comments what you think of the results.

More About: klout, trending, Twitter

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Hey Yahoo, Do a Barrel Roll: How Google Wins With Whimsical Tricks

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 11:54 AM PDT

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

You have to hand it to Google. With one fun little trick that a single engineer probably came up with in his mandated 20% spare time — getting the screen to “do a barrel roll” — the company got enough free media to make a chief marketing officer weep.

It’s hardly an anomaly, either. As we showed yesterday in our gallery of silly Google tricks, this kind of whimsy is baked right into the search giant’s company culture. Easter eggs are buried all over. April Fools tricks happen year-round. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin built a company that likes to let its hair down every single day, and it’s what helped them get where they are now.

I’ve been covering Google since it was squeezed into one tiny office building in Mountain View, and the things I saw in those early days are still burned into my memory. The lava lamps, beanbags and Friday hockey games have become legend, but this kind of stuff was everywhere. Page liked to show off the working inkjet printer he had constructed out of LEGO. Brin could often be found fiddling with hardware-based screensavers. There’s a reason those guys are always grinning.

Granted, Google won the search wars with its algorithm. If it hadn’t had the Page Rank system, it would have been just another startup. But it’s one thing to have a great piece of technology, and another thing entirely to build a great company. Attracting talent is key. (Yahoo has had a difficult time with it, apparently.)

That doesn’t just mean free ice cream and backrubs at Google, though I’m sure they wooed their fair share of Silicon Valley engineers. Even the much-vaunted 20% time doesn’t mean much if there isn’t a company-wide culture that celebrates trying stuff and burying fun features in major products.

I visited Yahoo earlier this year and saw a well-meaning and earnest company trying to dig itself out of a hole of irrelevance. Senior executives presented their digital media strategy in the form of a periodic table — something I can’t remember a single thing about unless I look it up.

It’s odd that Yahoo hasn’t snagged this reputation for whimsical little tricks and childlike wonderment. With a name like that, you’d think they’d be all over it. But the company had a succession of CEOs who thought in very serious and grownup terms, such as Terry Semel, who wanted to turn the company into a kind of digital Hollywood studio.

Bing has the right idea with its animated desktops. It’s this kind of feature that will catch users’ attention and make them smile. But the large and lumbering Microsoft could also do with a greater reputation for surprise and delight. We all have way too much drudgery in our daily lives; companies can lift us out of it with great products, a sense of vitality and the odd, winking joke. As in any good relationship, that’s what we gravitate toward.

So yes, Yahoo, we’re sure your digital media periodic table is awesome. But try giving us a barrel roll once in a while too.


Enter "Google Gravity" in the search bar. Hit "I'm feeling lucky" (if you have Google Instant enabled, it's on the right hand side of the suggested searches). Then watch your world fall down.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of Flickr via puliarf

More About: Google, trending, Yahoo

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The Future of Social TV at the Mashable Media Summit [LIVE BLOG]

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 11:41 AM PDT

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

Click here to view this gallery.

Social and digital media have an increasingly strong influence on how people consume content of all types. Nowhere is that more apparent than the world of television, where viewing habits are being deeply impacted by digital. From talking about TV shows on social media sites to consuming online video content to so-called “second-screen” experiences that marry secondary computer- and mobile-based content with what’s being broadcast, media outlets are pursuing social TV strategies in a big way.

Recent studies also indicate a strong correlation between online buzz and TV ratings. Yet, the concept of social TV is still in its infancy and best practices are still emerging. What does the future hold for the television space?

Mashable Entertainment Editor Christina Warren is joined on stage by panelists Alex Iskold, founder and CEO of GetGlue, Jesse Redniss, VP of digital at USA Networks and Tom Thai, VP of marketing and business development at Bluefin Labs.

Join our live blog below to follow the action with Mashable editors!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, CostinT, iStockphoto, subju

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

For more Entertainment coverage:

Steve Jobs Said Sports Illustrated’s Tablet Demo Was “Really Stupid” — But Didn’t Mean It

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 11:31 AM PDT

Several months before Apple unveiled the iPad in January 2010, editors from Time, Inc., including some from Sports Illustrated, met with Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs to get a preview of the soon-to-be-released tablet. The venerable sports magazine was already planning a tablet version and had even cooked up a video (above) that demonstrated what Sports Illustrated could look like on a full-color, Internet-connected tablet device that readers could touch, swipe and rotate.

One Time Inc. employee asked Jobs what he thought of the video.

“I think it’s really, really stupid,” Jobs said.

“We were all kind of sad,” Terry McDonell, editor of Time Inc. Sports Group, recounted on stage at Mashable‘s Media Summit Friday morning. “It was not stupid, though. In fact, it anticipated everything he was doing.”

Later that day, McDonnell got a call from someone at Apple. “Steve wanted you to know that was pretty much a negotiation tactic,” he said.

It looks like Sports Illustrated had gotten it right after all.

And, as we’ve explored previously, Sport Illustrated‘s editors have continued to innovate aggressively in the tablet space ever since. The magazine has produced a digital edition for the iPad every week since it debuted last June, and has rolled out weekly editions for the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Nook Color and HP TouchPad in more recent months.

Sports Illustrated also produces daily content for, highlights 10 sports photos every day on its Chrome web app, and offers more content on one-off apps and in special cross-channel packages, including Swimsuit.

“We used to do 3,500 pages per year,” McDonell recalled on stage. “Now we do more than 100,000 pages, maybe 200,000 if you count different aspect ratios and slideshows as pages.”

That’s impressive, especially given that the magazine hasn’t staffed up significantly. Instead, McDonell said, Sports Illustrated‘s departments have become better integrated and its staff is working harder. SI‘s web operations, once exiled to an office in Atlanta, have been brought to headquarters. Ninety-five percent of writers produce content for both the web and print, filing short news pieces for the web while building out longer, weekly pieces for the print and tablet editions.

The strategy appears to be paying off: Sports Illustrated's digital revenue was up 22% between 2009 and 2010, and it is on track for double-digit growth again this year, according to Scott Novak, VP of communications at Sports Illustrated Group. Digital now accounts for 30% of overall revenue, said McDonell. Print generates 55%, and other marketing efforts bring in 15%.

That isn’t to say Sports Illustrated hasn’t made mistakes. Its first digital editions were oversized and cluttered with too-many add-ons, McDonell admitted on stage — what he dubs the “Swiss Army Knife Trap.”

“We’ve had to be hard on ourselves about what we’re going to put in [the tablet editions]. We have to think about what [additional features] will actually do for someone,” he explained.

McDonell said he and his team are now working on developing a “second-screen dashboard” designed to be used while watching sports on TV. He suggested that social media and gaming elements would play a large role in that dashboard.

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

More About: ipad, mashable media summit, Media, Sports illustrated, steve jobs

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From Startup to IPO: Groupon’s Major Milestones

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 11:17 AM PDT

Groupon Offers One Local Deal Per Day, Nov. 2008

The social buying website Groupon provides one remarkable deal every day for each city they support - Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington DC.

Users can also subscribe to the Groupon mailing list to make sure they have the daily deals emailed to them.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jason Rosenberg

Click here to view this gallery.

After launching in 2008, the deal-of-the-day website Groupon experienced a rollercoaster of ups-and-downs and competition from an overwhelming number of other social buying sites.

Friday morning, Groupon was worth nearly $18 billion, as its stock prices began trading publicly — under the symbol GRPN. This estimate makes Groupon the largest technology company to go public since Google did in 2004, according to the Associated Press.

From Groupon’s worth of $1 billion after just 16 months in business, to the company’s partnership with popular social websites such as Foursquare and eBay, here’s a look at Groupon’s major milestones in the past three years.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, slobo

More About: groupon, Groupon IPO, ipo

For more Business coverage: Watchlist Predicts Fall TV Shows’ Success

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 11:01 AM PDT

Nine of the top 10 new fall TV shows on‘s Watchlist were picked up for a second season, illustrating the platform’s success in predicting hits, said Christy Tanner, EVP and general manager of

Tanner, who spoke at Mashable‘s Media Summit Friday, provided a list of the shows, which include, in order: New Girl, Pan Am, Person of Interest, Terra Nova, Ringer, Once Upon a Time, Prime Suspect, Revenge, Unforgettable and Up All Night. Nine of the 10 shows have been given the green light for a second season, except for Pan Am.

The highest-rated among those shows and for all new shows for the week of Oct. 24- Oct. 30 was Person of Interest, which drew a 7.2 “live + same day” rating, which translates to about 8.3 million households. New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel (pictured) was on hiatus that week, but got a 3.5 rating when it last aired on Nov. 1.

TVGuide launched Watchlist in August. The free online service lets users search to see where they can find their favorite shows on TV or on other connected devices.

Though the service is designed for consumers, information about the most-engaged shows may have some relevance for network execs looking to find proof new shows are taking off. However, several others are attempting to do the same, including BlueFin Labs, Networked Insights and Trendrr.

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

Click here to view this gallery.

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

More About: Bluefin Labs, Networked Insights, Trendrr, TV,

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AT&T LTE Service Coming to New York City

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 10:51 AM PDT

AT&T’s high-speed LTE service will be coming to New York City “very soon,” says Larry Solomon, SVP of communications for AT&T.

Solomon, who broke the news at Mashable‘s Media Summit Friday, declined to be more specific about a time frame. New York will be the sixth major city to offer so-called 4G Long Term Evolution service through AT&T. The others are Dallas-Forth Worth, San Antonio, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago. AT&T will launch LTE service in Boston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Athens, Ga., this Sunday. By the end of 2011, AT&T plans to offer LTE to 70 million people in 15 major metropolitan areas.

For AT&T customers, there will be no extra charge to use LTE. Customers who have the carrier’s two LTE-compatible phones — HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket — will enjoy download speeds that are 5-12 Mbps, about 10 times faster than what’s offered through AT&T’s 3G network, a rep says. The Vivid and Galaxy S II Skyrocket will also be available on Nov. 6.

SEE ALSO: What Is 4G? An FAQ On Next Generation Wireless

iPhone owners, though, won’t be able to use AT&T’s LTE service. An LTE-compatible iPhone is likely in the works, but at the moment, iPhones only work with 3G.

AT&T’s LTE rollout, which began this summer, comes after rival Verizon Wireless introduced LTE in the U.S. last December. Sprint currently offers 4G WiMAX and plans to roll out LTE in the U.S. in mid-2012.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Eve Abreu

More About: 4G, att, LTE, trending, verizon

For more Mobile coverage:

Only a Test: T-Mobile Jumps the Gun on Emergency Alert System Dry Run

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 10:37 AM PDT

T-Mobile PLAN Test

T-Mobile scared me, and likely thousands of other subscribers when it inadvertently conducted a test of a new cellphone-based emergency alert system this morning.

I’d had the new HTC Radar 4G smartphone for just 12 hours when it started to make the oddest sound. The phone was in my pocket and I heard what sounded like a siren. It was a bit like the emergency alert noise your TV or radio makes right before a test of the “Emergency Broadcast System.” I pulled out the phone and saw this message on screen: Presidential Alert. Underneath, in smaller letters, were the time and the word “Test.” Slightly confused, maybe a little alarmed, I took a photo of the phone’s screen and then tweeted it out in hopes that someone would know what it’s all about.

A half hour later, the phone did it again, this time adding repeated vibrations — as if it were getting a call. No one was calling me; I simply had the same alert message. I checked a few news sites to make sure Armageddon was not underway and then started looking for details about text-based emergency alert systems. Eventually I found stories about PLAN or Personal Localized Alert Network. This is a new national cellphone, text-based emergency alert system that, according to the FEMA, allows “customers who own an enabled mobile device to receive geographically targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area.”

PLAN is geographically enabled, meaning that you only get alerts for your area, and the alerts will arrive to you — and all other carrier subscribers — whether or not you’ve signed up for them. In the case of a national or even local emergency like a tornado or terrorist threat, this is undoubtedly a good thing.

Virtually all major carriers have signed on to support the service, which is designed to complement FEMA and FCC’s Emergency Alert System (it used to be called the “Emergency Broadcast System”). That’s the same federal system that runs those familiar emergency alert tests on your TVs and radios. Carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have committed to being ready to work with the system by April 2012. Not all phones are ready to work with PLAN, and some carriers will reportedly have to push out software updates to existing customers’ phones. This HTC Radar 4G, though, is definitely ready to go.

The new nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) is scheduled for a test next week, but that only effects TV and radio (cable TV, satellite radio, satellite TV and “wireline video services”) alerts. PLAN has no scheduled tests, though it’s clear that carriers like T-Mobile could be testing PLAN right now.

We’ve reached out to T-Mobile for comment and will update this story with their response.

Editor’s Note: The FCC reached out to Mashable to clarify that while complementary, PLAN and the EAS are not part of the same system. We have adjusted the text to reflect this information

T-Mobile customers: Did you get the test? Were you surprised, confused, scared? What does everyone think of the new PLAN system? Tell us everything in the comments.

More About: Emergency Alert System, plan, smartphones, T-Mobile

For more Mobile coverage:

Is Groupon Really Worth $18 Billion?

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 09:41 AM PDT

Within its first minutes as a public company, Groupon shares soared to about $28 — 40% more than the opening price.

Right now, the daily deals group-buying site’s market value is almost $18 billion.

It’s not unusual for a company’s share price to pop immediately after it goes public — especially when, as is the case with Groupon, the offering is a very small percentage of the company. Groupon’s 40% increase is not even particularly high in the realm of technology company IPOs, the Wall Street Journal points out. In 1999, one company’s share price jumped 697.5% on its first day of trading.

The bigger issue analysts are arguing over is whether Groupon’s valuation should be anywhere near what it is. Groupon’s path to its IPO has been riddled with criticism about its business model, questions about its accounting practices and attention to its stockholders’ habit of taking most of the company’s funding off of the table.

When Groupon filed with the SEC in June, it was still not profitable.

One site called the impending IPO "another example of orchestrated hype that has you in the crosshairs."

Defenders of the company’s valuation often point to its 83.1 million subscribers and potential to pivot to models beyond daily deals.

We’re interested to hear what you think. Does Groupon deserve to have the second-highest valuation of any tech company that has gone public since Google in 2004?

More About: groupon, Groupon IPO, ipo, trending

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ScrollMotion Shows Off Impressive New Enterprise Sales Tool for Tablets

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 09:31 AM PDT

ScrollMotion’s story is well-known to Mashable readers. The small New York City-based company creates technology that powers digital editions for some of the world’s largest publishers — everything from children’s books to magazines to textbooks. The company has pushed thousands of interactive media apps to various app stores over the past few years, and at the Mashable Media Summit, ScrollMotion’s co-founder and chief creative officer, Josh Koppel, showed off the next frontier for the company: the enterprise.

Koppel talked about what he likes to call “the hockey stick of complexity,” starting with the least complex implementation and moving toward the most. That’s a good analogy for how ScrollMotion approaches creating media apps. The company has developed a suite of cross-platform tools that integrate web standards like HTML5 with native interactions on specific tablet platforms that function as a framework to build multiple types of content. Koppel went through the hockey stick, starting with simple RSS-powered text apps through interactive children’s books, magazines and textbooks.

“All the things I’m showing you are built on top of a single platform,” Koppel told the audience. In other words, the same technology that powers mini-games in a Snow White book from Disney also powers interactive features on Oprah’s magazine. The platform can be used to create apps for either end of the hockey stick, from very simple to extremely complex.

ScrollMotion’s newest product offering combines the lessons learned from creating those types of content into a new package for enterprise clients. “One of the largest purchasers of iPads are corporations. They’re arming their sales teams with these devices,” said Koppel. And the reason is clear: Adding interactivity to sales presentations is a compelling proposition. ScrollMotion’s new tool brings the type of interactive features found in its media apps to sales presentations, something that Koppel says is invaluable to businesses because interactivity spurs conversations, and conversations lead to sales.

The theme of the tools Koppel showed to the Media Summit audience was giving business users everything they need, whenever they need it. Like its media apps, ScrollMotion’s enterprise offerings are customized to include the pieces of information that each business needs — whether that means live charts that pull data from the cloud, interactive presentations, videos, or PDF files. The platform also connects with business intelligence tools like Salesforce and Sharepoint or communications tools like Skype and FaceTime.

However, the piece that Koppel seemed most excited about is that everything in the app is measurable. Sales teams can look back after giving a presentation and see which slide or interaction got the most attention. They can answer questions more easily about the effectiveness of pitches — did we get stuck on that slide because it wasn’t clear or because it had a really effective interactivity that the client wanted to play with more?

“That type of information is going to change everything about how businesses sell their products,” concluded Koppel.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ymgerman

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

Click here to view this gallery.

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

More About: apps, enterprise, ipad, Josh Koppel, mashable media summit, scrollmotion

7 Ways to Know if a Development Project Is Worth Your Time

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 09:00 AM PDT

Brett Miller is the president of Custom Software by Preston (CSP). For more than 10 years, CSP has impressed clients with highly effective software solutions and teams of multi-talented software engineers.

Remember the old 80/20 rule? The same applies to software development inquiries, as in 20% of sales inquiries result in 80% of new sales volume. The challenge is being able to identify which inquiries will be fruitful, and which will only cost you time and effort.

Potential clients expect accurate estimates — clearly a reasonable request. For any developer, accurate estimates are a time consuming and challenging task because custom software development and technology are constantly changing, and it’s not the same as buying an off-the-shelf item.

Even worse, many prospects decide not to move forward with their project at all (with any vendor). It’s not because the bidders did anything wrong, but because the client did not realize the full extent of the commitment required (usually defined by cost).

I have spent 15 years of my career in software development, both as a freelance developer and as a business owner. That practical experience has taught me to quickly recognize which potential projects are going to move forward and which are just not worth pursuing. There are Seven Axioms I use to help identify the solid opportunities.

1. Documented Requirements

If the client took the time to write down what they want, it is a strong indicator that they are serious. Otherwise, you will need to do this for them. Then time and documentation flows back and forth until a project's parameters are finalized.

Rule: Lean toward clients who have taken the initiative in identifying and drafting their own software project requirements.

2. Urgent Need

This goes right to the heart of the matter. Is software development a logical next step in their growth or does it seem more whimsical/experimental in nature? For example, does the software project tie in to the launch of a new product without which, they might falter?

Rule: Lean toward projects that have an immediate nature, where the client absolutely needs it done.

3. Deal With the Decision Makers

Many times decision makers send underlings to gather the initial project information and specifications. In my experience, information gathering usually results in little else. Decision makers are involved when projects are deemed critical.

Rule: Lean toward projects where you work directly with the decision makers — the ones who steer the project and identify priorities.

4. Budgeted Project

Could anything be more critical than having realistic expectations about the cost of development? Many prospects may have misconceptions about cost, which is further exacerbated by vendors who shy away from early discussion on the subject. Sales professionals consider rough estimates to be an important applied mechanism of the trial close, potentially saving many hours of time and effort.

Rule: Use rough estimates to measure a client's continuing interest. You could say something like, "Based on these preliminary estimates, does it make sense for us to take the next step?"

5. Process and Timeframe

Questions about the bidding process and timeframe should be addressed up front to uncover internal processes (like board reviews) or external influences (like venture capital availability). If the process seems extensive or the time frame is not well-defined, there is good reason to question if the project will ever happen.

Rule: Realize that the quality of your work and the accuracy of your estimate will not win the project if their timeframes or processes are inhibited by roadblocks. Lean toward projects that have appropriate funding, immediate need and the attention of decision makers.

6. How do I Earn the Business?

Asking about the client's selection criteria make sense. If they haven't already done so, they need to think about these things now and you need to know the rules of the game. Their processes and criteria may even play into the overall desirability of the project.

Rule: Understanding what is required to get the job reveals a lot about what it might be like to have the job. Do you even want to work within the structure and environment the client creates?

7. Show Me Some Money!

Your time and expertise has value. It is not that unusual for a potential client to be looking for a free consultation, which may only be used internally (if at all). If possible, ask the client for a small amount to put together the initial requirements and specifications for the project. If they are willing to spend real hard cash on developing the specifications, they are really serious about the project (and you as a potential vendor).

Rule: Initial project analysis, documentation drafting and identifying deliverables take considerable time and effort. Describe the process to the client and don't be afraid to ask for payment for these services.

Sophistication, Process and Specifics

Legitimately qualified software development opportunities can be summarized in three words: sophistication, process and specifics. You need all three in your approach to the sales cycle and should expect all three in return.

Sophistication is about the approach to the project, indicating that available information and outcomes have been given thorough consideration upfront. Process relates to both parties understanding the steps and effort it will take to achieve success. Specifics have to do with identifying and sharing the salient properties of all project parameters — before, during, and after the project.

Approach every potential project with these factors in mind and you will know which ones are worthy of your attention, leading you down the path to a sale.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, peepo

More About: Business, contributor, developers, features, How-To, List, software development

Who Owns Your Online Identity? [LIVE BLOG]

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 07:59 AM PDT

At face value, identity feels so simple. I’m just me, and you’re just you. But, enter the world of the web and everything becomes exponentially more difficult.

Will we ever have the equivalent of a “driver’s license” (i.e., a ubiquitous ID that everyone seems to have)? And, how much control do we, as users, want over how much of our identity is shared to third-party sites when we connect with our Facebook, Google or Twitter accounts?

I’m joined by esteemed panelists Tim Dierks (SVP of Engineering at the Huffington Post Media Group), Patrick Harding (CTO of Ping Identity), and Andy Mitchell (Strategic Partner Development at Facebook).

Join our live blog below to follow the action with Mashable editors!

Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

More About: identity, security

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Simulated Mars Mission “Returns” to Earth After 520 Days

Posted: 04 Nov 2011 07:25 AM PDT

Oh, Mars. As the possible next step in human space exploration, the Red Planet is bound to be visited by us bipeds someday. So what’s the best way to make sure something doesn’t go wrong? Make a simulated, 520 day-long mission with real astronauts and see how things turn out.

Mars500, the European Space Agency’s mission held in a Moscow institute, started 520 days ago on June 3, 2010, with six astronauts enduring the hardships they would probably encounter on a real flight to Mars: The flight there, insertion into orbit, landing, exploration of the planet, and finally the long flight back and landing on Earth.

The mission cost $15 million and, although it could not replicate every aspect of a real flight to Mars (such as constant low gravity conditions), it had the crew perform more than 100 experiments with limited consumables and communications with Earth being artificially delayed and, at times, disrupted.

According to ESA, the team of six international male astronauts has performed “exceptionally well” during the simulated flight. They will go through a series of tests, debriefings and evaluations until early December, when the mission officially ends.

The video (above) shows the 520 days of the astronauts’ life during the mission compressed into 15 minutes.

More About: Mars, NASA, space, trending

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