Saturday, 19 November 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Nook Tablet Gives Kindle Fire a Run for Its Money [REVIEW]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Nook Tablet Gives Kindle Fire a Run for Its Money [REVIEW]”

Nook Tablet Gives Kindle Fire a Run for Its Money [REVIEW]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 09:18 PM PST

Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet

When I told people I was reviewing the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, the first thing they asked me was: "Is it better than the Amazon Kindle Fire?" The second thing they asked was, "Should I buy it instead of the Apple iPad?"

To both questions, here’s the short answer: It depends.

Barnes & Noble's $249 Nook Tablet is both a slick rebranding of an existing product, the Nook Color, and an excellent version 2.0 of that very same device. Spending time with the Nook after having reviewed Amazon's Kindle Fire is an edifying experience.

The Kindle Fire's quirks, of which there are many, are hallmarks of a 1.0 device. After having tested the Nook Tablet, I'm more certain of this than ever. Barnes & Noble, which released the Nook Color in late 2010, has had almost a year to refine the platform (Android 2.1 to Android 2.3). Barnes and Noble's tablet hardware, though not perfect, is more stable and much better aligned with its software subsystem.

Like the Kindle Fire, The Nook Tablet is a device that works right out of the box. It's tied to your Barnes & Noble account so you can buy books and magazines immediately. If you've ever seen the Nook Color, the Nook Tablet looks the same. (It’s 49 grams lighter.)

The similarities are more than hard-shell deep. The devices share the same screen resolution: 1024×600 (same as the Kindle Fire) on seven-inch screens, the same book content (2.5 million titles), and Wi-Fi, but not 3G service (just like Amazon's Kindle Fire).

I prefer the Nook Tablet's design over the Kindle Fire – it's a bit lighter, and I like the left-hand corner cut-out, which my thumb used to steady the device. It just looks friendlier.

The Nook Tablet is more powerful than its predecessor. It has 1 GB versus 512 MB on the Nook Color, and a 1GHz CPU versus 800 MHz on the Color. The Tablet also adds a microphone (which lets you record yourself, page-by-page, reading children's books—sounds exciting, but the implementation is not great) and the ability to stream movie content.

How do those stats compare to the Amazon Kindle Fire? The Nook Tablet is a little stronger. They both have 1 GHz, dual-core CPUs, but the Fire only has 512 MB of RAM. In my tests, this gave the Nook a bit more pop, and smoother screen interaction.

A Better Look

While both the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet run the exact same Android OS (2.3), I now prefer the Nook Tablet's implementation. The whole interface is cleaner and brighter. Amazon went with a lot of dark colors and an austere look. The Nook’s interface is refined, yet friendly.

As on the Amazon Kindle Fire, there is a "Daily shelf" on the Nook Tablet's home screen, but it really doesn't look like a shelf. It shows your most recent purchases. You can drag and drop anything from that shelf to a "permanent" spot on your main screen—a very nice touch.

To see your recently accessed files, you use the "More" drop down in the upper-right hand corner of the interface. It's not a great name. "My Activity" would make more sense. The menu is well organized, showing Periodicals, Books, Files and TV Shows, though I wish it wasn't black.

Barnes and Noble's Nook Tablet has a few more buttons than the Kindle Fire, but they're well-placed on the outer, rounded edge. All enhance the device. There are physical volume buttons, a power button and a "n" Nook button on the face of the device, just below the screen. It's your home button and is just as useful as the one on the Apple iPad.

On the Nook Tablet, “n” brings you back to the main screen and pulls up a master menu that includes "Home" your Library, shop, universal search, Apps, the Web browser and Settings. While not totally avoding the tiny type that pervades Amazon's device (the controls and notifications when you're in an app could be measured in a few pixels), the Nook Tablet's menus are often more readable.

Content Consumption

The Nook Tablet is, like the Fire, a content consumption device. It's for reading books, perusing colorful magazines, watching movies, listening to music, and playing with apps. For the most part, the Nook compares favorably, if not better, than the Kindle Fire in these areas.

Book reading is a pleasure on the Nook Tablet (take it into one of Barnes and Noble's stores and you can read any book for free for one hour) and if I sign into my Barnes and Noble account on any device and let each device sync up, I never lose my place. Magazines look fantastic on both devices, though the Nook Tablet may have a slight edge. The device has a special "VividView" touch screen which puts the actual image much closer to the glass covering.

As a result, the magazine images I viewed on the Nook Tablet has just a bit more pop than similar (or even the same ones) I viewed on the Kindle Fire. The difference is small, so I wouldn't go making your buying decision based on this one metric. As for the magazine reading experience, it's good on both devices, as long as the publisher does the extra work to make all of the type readable. Rolling Stone, for example, lets you read in magazine or reader layout (I had to use the former to effectively read articles).

The Nook Tablet, though, is not quite as complete a content consumption device as the Kindle Fire. Yes, I get Hulu and Netflix on the Nook device. The Netflix interface was built for the Nook Tablet and it looks pretty good — no Netflix interface is great. What I don't have on the Nook Tablet is access to Amazon's library of premium rental movies. The Nook Tablet doesn't currently have an option for first-run movies. Too bad, because I bet they'd look great on this screen.

Sour Notes

Similarly,the music experience lags behind what I found on the Kindle Fire. With Amazon, I can stream the music from my personal cloud or buy whole albums directly through the device and start playing them immediately (both the Fire and Nook Tablet, by the way, do an excellent job of letting you play music while doing something else, like reading). There is a music player in the Nook Tablet, but it's really for side loaded music.

Initially, all it had in there were tracks I recorded for the children's book feature. With no music store, I’m left to choose from the nice, pre-loaded Pandora app that makes it easy to log on and start streaming music or I can use the clunky and often confusing Rhapsody app to select individual albums or songs. You can download an play songs offline, but the experience is not nearly as seamless as it is on the Kindle Fire (or iPad, for that matter).

Amazon relies heavily on the cloud for all extra storage and for access to your digital content. This is both a strategy and a necessity. The Fire has 8 GB of internal storage. The Nook Tablet, which has 16 GB inside, has a Micro-SD slot (which can support up to 32 GB). I added my card and was able to peruse it on the device. You can't do that with the Kindle Fire or the Apple iPad—which has no accessible file system for end users. You can put MP3 files on the card and play them, but the Nook Tablet does not recognize all file types. I could not, for instance, play back my AVI and MOV video files.

App Happy

The App experience on the Nook Tablet is generally good. There are, as on the Kindle Fire, hundreds of apps designed for the device. No, there is no official Twitter app, so I had to use Seesmic—it's just OK. As with the Kindle Fire, e-mail is an app and not resident on the home screen. This must be an Android 2.3 quirk. However, I much prefer the Nook Tablet's bright and more readable e-mail interface. The Nook Tablet's fonts are slightly larger and the background is white with blue accents. Setting up my Gmail was simple in both platforms.

Both new tablets have Web browsers, but The Kindle Fire's is special. It's called Silk and should get faster with each passing day (so far it's fast, but not noticeably more so than before). As for the Nook Tablet, it has solid and fast web browser that renders pages smoothly. Where the Kindle Fire wins is its thumbnails and tabs for navigating between websites. The Nook Tablet browser lacks both, and when you scroll down on a web page, you're left with no navigation at all. At least with the Kindle Fire, the tab bar remains frozen at the top of your screen.

Should You Buy?

Overall, I like the Nook Tablet a lot. Yes, it's $50 more than the Kindle Fire. This is the price you pay for the extra memory, storage and microphone. It may also be so Barnes & Noble doesn't lose money on every device. I'm disappointed that Barnes & Noble didn’t understand the magic price point of $199. But if you can look past that lost fifty bucks and do not care too much about first-run movies and your music, this is a very good tablet.

If Barnes and Noble can add and improve these last two features, I'd peg it as the winner over the Kindle Fire — and an even more formidable contender for the larger, app-rich Apple iPad.

Nook Tablet Box

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Amazon Kindle Fire, apple, Apple iPad, barnes & noble, barnes and noble, Nook Tablet

Jewelry Startup Reinvents Direct Selling for the Digital Age

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 08:59 PM PST

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: Chloe + Isabel

Quick Pitch: A fashion jewelry company reinventing the direct sales model online.

Genius Idea: Chantel Waterbury, a seasoned corporate merchandiser whose 15-year career has spanned the jewelry divisions of both Target and LVMH, got into the business in an unusual way: through selling knives. At 18 years of age, she began direct selling as a way to fund her college tuition.

“I developed so much confidence from being successful at that,” Waterbury recalls. “I was truly making what I was worth, and that was an awesome feeling.”

Direct selling is a big business: In 2009, it accounted for $117 billion in sales worldwide, of which roughly a quarter was generated in the U.S. These days, Waterbury says, direct selling programs — think Mary Kay or Avon — largely cater to stay-at-home moms. These women tend to host parties at their neighbors’ houses, showcasing and vending products to their friends and their friends’ friends, from which they earn a commission of up to 50% on each sale.

But Waterbury believes there’s opportunity outside of that demographic. With so many students racking up loans to pay for tuition, and so many others unable to secure full-time employment after they graduate, she believes it’s the perfect time to bring a direct selling program to 18 to 28-year-old women — particularly a program that allows them to leverage the social networks they’ve built organically online. This May, she launched an online fashion jewelry business called Chloe + Isabel that does just that.

It works like this: The company designs, produces and markets a range (currently about 200) fashion jewelry pieces priced between $18 and $200. Interested sellers, or Merchandisers, can sign up to create their own online boutique where they can curate and sell Chloe + Isabel jewelry on a 30% commission. Merchandisers also have access to the company’s online library of training videos, as well as insights and trend reports. The startup is currently working with lifestyle blog Refinery 29 on a campus ambassador program to recruit new Merchandisers.

In August, Chloe + Isabel raised a $3.25 million seed round led by First Round Capital and Floodgate Fund, with participation from a number of notable angel investors including SV Angel’s Ron Conway, Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake and actor Ashton Kutcher. The startup raised another $8.5 million in a Series A led by General Catalyst Partners earlier this month.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, chloe+isabel, direct selling, fashion, jewelry, spark-of-genius

For more Startups coverage:

Google Music: Everything You Need to Know

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 08:36 PM PST

Google Music: What You Need to Know

Google Music is free to all users, and includes access via the web, desktop and mobile devices.

Click here to view this gallery.

Google Music launched to the public earlier this week, and we’ve provided you with all the things you need to know about the service.

We’ve seen how it stacks up against the competition, but what do you think about Google’s latest musical endeavors?

SEE ALSO: No More Beta: Google Music Goes Live

More About: features, Google, google music, Mobile, Tech

How Journalists Can Leverage Facebook’s New Features [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 07:52 PM PST

No doubt you’re already familiar with Facebook‘s new design. However, you’ll soon see journalists taking advantage of the social network’s tools in fresh, strategic ways.

Facebook’s journalist program manager, Vadim Lavrusik, sat down with Mashable‘s SVP of content and executive editor, Adam Ostrow, at the Mashable Media Summit to discuss the platform’s new features, and how journalists can take advantage of them. Overall, the changes mean journalists can more easily brand themselves, promote their content and report by crowdsourcing. Lavrusik also addressed advertising concerns and privacy issues on a larger scale, reassuring the audience that Facebook’s new overhaul has accounted for potential weaknesses.

SEE ALSO: What Facebook's New Features Mean for Journalists

Take a look at the video, not only to discover how journalists are using Facebook, but also how to position yourself around your favorite publications and writers.

The Mashable Media Summit in Pictures

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, features, journalism, mashable media summit, Video

New Arrested Development Episodes Coming to Netflix in 2013

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 07:12 PM PST

arrested development images

Netflix has signed a deal with Fox and Imagine Television to develop new episodes of beloved sitcom Arrested Development, which will be available exclusively to Netflix’s U.S. subscribers in the first half of 2013. Fox and Imagine will co-produce the episodes, and it appears that Netflix will be covering at least part of the production costs.

The show’s creator, Mitchell Hurwitz, hinted at a New York Festival event last month that the long-awaited Arrested Development movie was still in progress, and that a series of TV episodes were also being developed as a preamble to the film. "We're basically hoping to do nine or 10 episodes, with almost one character per episode,” Hurwitz said at the time.

Shortly thereafter, rumors surfaced that Netflix, Hulu and Showtime were in a bidding war to get the rights to broadcast the show's new episodes. Hulu seemed the most likely candidate at the time, given the number of views its catalog of old Arrested Development clips and episodes has amassed to date.

Although Arrested Development was canceled for low performance in 2006, it has enjoyed a loyal following and an impressive online afterlife. It could help Netflix regain some of the subscribers it lost during a recent price hike.

In recent weeks, the company has signed a number of deals with TV and film studios to bring content to its streaming service in the UK and Ireland, set to debut early next year.

More About: arrested development, netflix, trending

For more Entertainment coverage:

LivingSocial to Announce $200 Million in Funding Next Week [REPORT]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 06:23 PM PST

LivingSocial is currently raising around $200 million in a deal that will value the company somewhere between $5 billion and $6 billion, according to multiple sources.

JP Morgan Asset Management's new Digital Growth Fund, as well as existing investors Amazon and T. Rowe Price, are among those contributing to the round, “people familiar with the matter” have told CNBC and The New York Times. LivingSocial is also discussing a $100 million revolving credit facility with JP Morgan that would allow the company to draw funds without signing a loan for each withdrawal in the future. The deal is expected to close next week.

The value of LivingSocial’s main competitor, Groupon, has jumped to $16.7 billion since going public two weeks ago. Shares closed at $26.19 on Friday, up nearly a third from its starting price of $20 per share. Only 35 million shares, or about 5.5% of total oustanding shares, were offered in the IPO.

The additional capital should give LivingSocial an opportunity to catch up — and continue differentiating itself — from its rival. Both companies have launched new offerings recently. Earlier this week, LivingSocial unveiled a restaurant delivery service in the Washington, D.C. region. And Groupon rolled out a set of personalization features that allow businesses to target the subscribers most likely to become repeat subscribers.

One of the Times’s sources said that an IPO is still on the table for LivingSocial, but that plans have not yet been finalized. The company raised $400 million in its last fundraising round in April.

More About: amazon, groupon, jp morgan, LivingSocial, T. Rowe Price

For more Business coverage:

Groupon Does Good: Deals Feed Families in Need, Offer $1 Lunches

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 05:34 PM PST

food image

Groupon has a new deal on cheap meals. The daily deals site has partnered with Feeding America for a special charitable offer: For $11 you can feed a family of four for two weeks.

Feeding America — The Loop” aimed to get 200 donations before the deal closed. At time of writing, that goal has been blown out of the water with more than 5,000 donations. Feeding America fights domestic hunger via a network of food banks across the country.

Unlike other Groupon deals, the buyers won’t actually get a “deal” other than, as Groupon describes it: “100%-off, free, priceless karma.” Pepsi has committed to matching every donation up to $250,000. That means every $11 purchase is actually a donation of $22 worth of food for the needy.

Groupon hasn’t gone entirely charitable, however. The company is also promoting its new Groupon Now service, which delivers deals specific to users’ current locations, by offering $1 Lunch Day on Nov. 18. The program offers a series of $1 lunches across the country, found using the new platform.

To its credit, Groupon has paired this promotion with Feeding America. A portion of its proceeds will be donated. And users that buy the cheap meals will also be asked to contribute to Feeding America’s $11 campaign.

It’s a smart link: Users that save money on their meal might be more inclined to make a donation. There’s also a certain guilt factor: imagine receiving a great deal on lunch but denying that same good fortune to those who really need it.

In 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 49 million Americans were “food-insecure.” That means they did not have consistent access to enough food to remain healthy and active.

The Groupon deal officially expires Feb. 21, with 100% of donations going to Feeding America.

Groupon has offered plenty of social good projects before. But its controversial humor have landed the company in trouble (remember those Super Bowl ads?). With Groupon feeling the squeeze from daily deals competitors, the company has more impetus to take a more mature tone and promote its charitable work.

Does getting a great deal make you more willing to donate to a related cause like hunger and food issues? Let us know in the comments section.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Cha…

More About: charity, groupon, Social Good, Social Media

For more Social Good coverage:

Facebook’s Real-Time Ticker to Show Sponsored Stories

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 04:40 PM PST

Facebook will increase the distribution for Sponsored Stories by allowing them to run in the ticker across the site, ClickZ News has learned. Since the ticker — a lightweight newsfeed seen on the upper right-hand part of — was launched in August, the social context ads had been running only via the app ticker for Facebook games.

In an email earlier today, Annie Ta, Facebook spokesperson, said, “Starting on Monday, we are continuing to slowly roll out Sponsored Stories in [the] ticker across Facebook. Sponsored Stories help people see more relevant marketing on Facebook and they can be twice as engaging as ads on Facebook.”

The Palo Alto, CA-based digital giant launched Sponsored Stories during January, and the ad units have become an important focus of Facebook’s pitch to agencies, brands, and political marketers.

More About: Facebook, trending

Google Earth Follows Robots Across the Pacific Ocean [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 04:23 PM PST

Google Earth is following four unmanned robots across the Pacific Ocean. According to the company, the robots “will be collecting data about the Pacific ocean for use by scientists and students back on dry land.” Google Earth users, however, will get to access some of that data from within the software as they follow the program. Check out the video above for more details on the project.

More About: Google, google earth, oceans, robots

Disney Characters Get Augmented in Times Square [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 03:23 PM PST

Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse! Walt Disney’s beloved icon turns 83 today and Disney Parks is celebrating at the Disney Store in Times Square with an innovative augmented reality installation.

Running through Saturday at the Disney Store on Broadway and 45th Street, the Disney Parks team has implemented a 60-foot digital billboard AR experience.

Visitors step on an orb and interact with characters projected on the big screen. Disney tells us that unlike other AR events, many of the character interactions are done live. That means that the characters can respond directly to how guests are moving and reactions from the crowds.

The display is also serving to kickstart Disney’s second “Let the Memories Begin” campaign.

That effort includes crowdsourced home videos and photos of real families visits to the Disney Parks. Visitors to the Times Square installation will be emailed photos from the experience that can be shared across social platforms.

Disney is using the hashtag #DisneyMemories to track experiences at Times Square and throughout the campaign.

More About: Augmented Reality, disney, disney parks, disney xd, Mickey Mouse, trending

For more Entertainment coverage:

Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin Donates $500,000 to Support Wikipedia [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 03:09 PM PST

Google co-founder Sergey Brin and wife Anne Wojcicki, the co-founder of 23andme, have donated $500,000 to The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that funds Wikipedia. The donation comes at the start of Wikipedia’s annual fundraising drive that the site depends on to fund operations.

Do you donate to Wikipedia? Alternatively, would you still use the service if it used ads for support? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Sergey Brin, wikipedia

For more Social Good coverage:

Guys Scream Like Girls in New Justin Bieber Commercial [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 02:49 PM PST

I scream, you scream, we all scream … like Justin Bieber’s loudest female fans? That’s the concept behind Macy’s new winter holiday commercial, which stars a ton of dudes reacting like teenage girls whenever the Biebz graces them with his presence.

The 30-second ad promotes Macy’s Black Friday sale and Bieber’s “Someday Gift Set,” featuring the Canadian pop sensation’s new Christmas album and perfume. For each gift set sold, Macy’s plans to donate $2 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, up to $200,000.

SEE ALSO: Justin Bieber’s Social Media Stats [INFOGRAPHIC] | Justin Bieber, Startup Investor?

Bieber is no stranger to making media go viral online. His official YouTube channel has north of 2 billion views. Previously, his bedtime tweets have attracted thousands upon thousands of replies and retweets. This Macy’s commercial already has 92,000 views since its Nov. 15 release.

Just push play — and I dare you not to laugh.

1. Amazon

Amazon is promoting its Countdown to Black Friday on its Facebook page.

The company is offering one Gold Box deal along with multiple Lightning Deals appearing and expiring throughout each day this week. Things such as an LG 32" HDTV for $308.99 or Halo Reach on Xbox 360 for $29.96 are among the many deals on the site.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Advertising, Holidays 2011, justin bieber, macys, viral videos

Ultrabooks Get Ready for Their Close-Up at CES 2012 [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 02:22 PM PST

If 2011 was the year of the tablet, 2012 may well be the year of the Ultrabook.

Up to 50 new models of the extremely thin, lightweight laptops are going to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, one of the show organizers said.

At a CES event in London, Shawn DuBravac, director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association, said he was expecting a torrent of Ultrabooks to make a splash at the show. “We expect to see 30 to 50 new Ultrabooks launched at CES," DuBravac said, according to PC Pro.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini is scheduled to give a keynote at the show, where he's expected to announce the official launch of the company's "Ivy Bridge" processors. These chips employ Intel's much-hyped Tri-Gate transistor technology to reduce power consumption while improving performance.

Intel showed off some prototype Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks at its developer conference in September, and we believe most of the models launching at CES will pack the new chips.

Although small and thin laptops have been around in one form or another for years, they have spiked in popularity recently. The most recent version of the Apple MacBook Air has fueled much of that growth.

Intel invented (and trademarked) the term "Ultrabook" to refer to any thin-design laptop that uses the company's processors and adheres to certain specs. Among them:

  • The thickness must be no more than 0.71 inches (18 millimeters) at its thickest point
  • The weight must be less than 3.1 pounds
  • It must have a long battery life, offering more than five hours of general use
  • It must have flash-based drive for storage
  • It must use Intel's Rapid start technology for fast boot times

Ideally, Ultrabooks should also have a "mainstream" price in the neighborhood of $1,000 — though Intel doesn't appear to be that strict about pricing.

A handful of manufacturers have debuted Ultrabooks so far. Asus unveiled the UX21 in the spring, then followed up with the UX31 in October. Toshiba announced the Portege Z835 at Germany's IFA show in the late summer, the same place Lenovo debuted its IdeaPad U300s. Acer also has an Ultrabook, the Aspire S3.

DuBravac also said he expected another big showing for tablets at CES 2012. Last year more than 100 slate-like devices debuted at the show, and the CEA expects a similar number this year.

via PC Pro

BONUS: Zenbook Launches: Does It Beat the MacBook Air?

Asus Zenbook Metallic Spun Finish

It's got a burnished finish.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Acer, Asus, intel, laptops, lenovo, macbook air, Ultrabooks

Why Brands Need Friends – Not Fans – on Facebook

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 02:02 PM PST

Clyde McKendrick is founder and executive strategy director of innovations and insights lab Cultural Capital, an integrated advertising agency based within WDCW-LA. Clyde has spent the last 15 years guiding brands like Pepsi, Red Bull and T-Mobile to develop their brand strategies and communications.

Facebook offers brands access to its vast audience with no apparent cost of entry. Therefore, one would presume that brands would develop strategic and forward-thinking campaigns to maximize their reach. Not so.

Instead, brands quickly entered a popularity contest for the most Likes. It seemed companies were simply content with growing audience numbers. Until lately, they've been comfortable measuring return on investment by the number of fans alone. Now they're beginning to question the value of such a one-dimensional strategy.

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

Starbucks, one of the most popular brands on Facebook, has startlingly low engagement numbers, despite its 26 million fans. A recent post from Starbucks mentioned the company's popular red holiday cups. Yet, its engagement rate (the number of gestures on the post divided by the total number fans at the time of this writing) only calculated to 0.28% Likes and 0.02% comments.

The challenge for brands is to evolve from simply being a company with a product to becoming a valuable source for interesting, entertaining and useful content. The real measurement of a brand's Facebook success is relevance.

Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm is the first step for measuring a brand’s relevance across its community. Following F8, people began to optimize social media performance against Edgerank’s key metrics, namely, by developing strategies to measure affinity, edge weighting and recency. Unfortunately, numbers don't mean anything if the brand can't reach into fans' News Feeds and achieve basic levels of engagement.

Brands would do best to approach the problem differently or, more specifically, to start acting like those hyper-connected Facebook friends we all have. These individuals not only broadcast their status updates, connect with apps like Spotify, and Like frequently; they also frequently engage friends in one-to-one discussions or curate social events, thereby building broader community circles.

From Content to Collaboration

To date, most brand activity has focused on building a brand’s audience base and then using a simple content strategy to engage fans via Likes and comments.

Widening the focus to include a collaboration strategy would create a stronger communications infrastructure around a brand.

The challenge for the brand is to identify and reach out to the most socially active, engaged and influential fans. By collaborating with these individuals and creating mutual value, companies will begin to see increased sharing and growth in their own community.

Brands must learn how to mimic human sharing behaviors. Individuals strive to be the first to break news, to post photos proving "they were there," to beat another friend in a social game, etc. Brands that mirror such activity will prove more relevant to fans. By acting like a friend first and foremost, brands will collect – and ultimately engage with – more people.

Characteristics of “Friendly” Brands

Creating an influencer affinity model is certainly nothing new to marketing. On Facebook, however, connecting with your influential community takes time and resources, but ultimately returns greater value. What are some ways brands can do this?

1. Provide Ranking and Recognition

Thirty-year psychology veteran and founder and owner of the User Experience Institute and, Susan Weinschenk applies psychology to understand how people think, work and relate. One of her posts discusses user addiction to Facebook status updates and News Feed posts. These behaviors are fueled by dopamine, which has been shown to cause seeking behavior. Dopamine causes us to desire and seek out, says Susan, which ultimately increases our goal-directed behavior.

Knowing this, brands need to create Facebook content that encourages habit-forming behavior. Furthermore, companies need to rank user engagement and involvement, and recognize fans for their efforts as brand ambassadors.

2. Grant Exclusive Access

One of the best ways to engage fans is to provide them with exclusive access. Imagine what the ultimate fan experience would look like for your brand. Would you open your locker room or office to fans? Would they get the opportunity to be part of your next packaging design? By thinking like the fan, you'll be leveraging a collaboration strategy rooted in exclusivity.

Sephora has rewarded its most loyal customers on Facebook with exclusive, friends-only deals, early access to products and deluxe samples. Fashion brand Diane von Furstenberg offers its fans an exclusive wrap dress each month, proving that this time-old marketing tactic is just as effective today.

3. Reward and Incentivize Sharing

Loyalty programs are nothing new to brands and marketers, but brands need to understand that social word-of-mouth is just as important. Combine the two strategies by rewarding your brand's most loyal ambassadors for sharing their positive experiences online.

GoPro camera leverages this kind of fan interaction on its Facebook page. Its recent “I Love My GoPro" contest asked fans to submit a GoPro photograph that communicates "that epic moment, that photo that you showed all your friends, that photo you could only get using a GoPro camera." Fans wrote captions for their photos and submitted them to the company over Facebook. Then GoPro fans voted for the top 50 entries to advance to the finalist round.

GoPro understands that its contest was mutually beneficial: It got people talking about the brand (and sharing it with their friends), and also rewarded fans by publishing their photography and presenting a grand prize.

By putting emphasis on the fans behind the brand, a company can start to humanize its interactions and drive people to connect online and offline. After all, who wants fake friends, in real life or on Facebook?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Marco Fieber

More About: Brand pages, contributor, engagement, Facebook, features, Marketing

For more Business coverage:

Regis Philbin’s Farewell Nets 21,000 Comments on Social Networks [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 01:36 PM PST

Friday morning’s "Live! With Regis and Kelly" send-off special for Regis Philbin ignited a firestorm of online activity, helping it edge out all other 2011 morning talk show episodes as far as number of comments posted across social media websites.

Comments surpassed the 21,000 threshold for the farewell episode, according to data from Bluefin Labs. Online commentary peaked when co-host Kelly Ripa read her goodbye speech in which she tearfully said she’ll miss walking 43 steps from her dressing room to the live studio every day with Philbin.

NBC’s Today previously held the title for 2011′s most social morning talk show for its Nov. 1 telecast that attracted 14,600 comments. That episode featured news about the death of U.S. troops in helicopter crash in Afghanistan as well as Kim Kardashian’s divorce. In comparison, primetime shows tend to hover above morning talk shows for online comments. For example, Bluefin Labs data show American Idol and Dancing With the Stars both average 21,000 comments per episode, while True Blood averages 17,000 messages.

SEE ALSO: 11 #RegisFarewell Tweets | 20 TV Shows With the Most Social Media Buzz This Week

“Just looking at the word cloud for this episode, it’s pretty clear how the audience felt about Regis,” Bluefin Labs’s Tom Thai told Mashable. “The vast majority in the uptick of comments about this episode was driven by Regis, not the show.”

Look no further than the word cloud in the infographic below to notice that fans spilled their emotions in their comments. Of the popular terms and hashtags featured in the word cloud, these emotionally jam-packed terms made the top 15: miss, crying, love, sad and farewell. The graphic also depicts how online commenting — on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social sites — fluctuated Friday morning.

Are you saddened about Philbin’s departure after 28 years as the show’s leading man? Let us know below.

Kelly Ripa

No words were needed from Regis Philbin's co-host, Kelly Ripa, to express how she felt about him hosting "Live! With Regis and Kelly" for the final time.

The 80-year-old has clocked 995,000 minutes in his 28 years as the show's leading man.

Leave your Regis tweets in the comments.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Entertainment, Regis Philbin, television, Twitter

For more Entertainment coverage:

Twilight vs. Harry Potter: The Social Universe Picks a Winner

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 01:22 PM PST

twilight image

All right, let’s settle this: Is Twilight more powerful than Harry Potter in terms of social anticipation and buzz? Mashable spoke with two sentiment analysis companies to get a grip on how the social universe is responding to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part One. We then asked them to compare Breaking Dawn, the first half of the series’ final movie, to social sentiment around the final Harry Potter movies.

We hate have to say it but the winner is … Harry Potter.

Breaking Dawn is officially out in theaters but even all that residual buzz couldn’t help it topple the Harry Potter movies. The good folks at Trendrr scoured the web and found that Twitter sentiment for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part One has been 41% positive, 7% negative and 52% neutral in the two weeks leading up to its release.

Trendrr found that Twitter sentiment for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was 70% positive, 7% negative and 23% neutral in the two weeks leading to its release in July.

Those numbers were similar on Facebook where Twilight was 66% positive and 15% negative compared to Harry Potter, which was 72% positive and 7% negative.

The team at NM Incite narrowed in on the social response to Breaking Dawn on the day of its release and found that people were about 38% positive, 24% negative and 34% neutral.

twilight image

We know what you’re thinking, “How can you possibly compare these two blockbuster franchises! That would be like comparing wizards and vampires!”

Well, to you we say, that was an incredibly long, well-thought-out and an apt analogy. Before we get trolled to death, we are not passing judgment on which movies are better nor are we taking sides. Anyone with an Internet connection knows that there is a long-running rivalry between Twilight fans and Harry Potter fans. The two fantasy series have had a friendly feud at the box office, but this competition has often spilled over into name calling and spats in the fan communities.

Some call the Twilight series vapid because of its emphasis on Bella and Edward’s relationship. Harry Potter and its author J.K. Rowling have gotten flack for its plain writing style and sometimes stock characters. Regardless on where you land on the spectrum, both series have no doubt had an enormous impact on generations of people. Even if you hate vampires, wizards, werewolves and dragons — don’t we all win if the books encourage more kids to read?

Now it’s your turn. What does the sentiment analysis say about the two series? And can we all be happy that more kids are reading or should we be more concerned with what they are reading?

More About: harry potter, Movies, trending, twilight saga

For more Entertainment coverage:

Top 10 Black Friday Deals on Social Media

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 01:10 PM PST

Black Friday is a lot like Facebook — you’re either obsessed with it, or you try to avoid it at all costs. It’s also equally as fast and crowded, which is why the two are so perfect for each other!

This year, social media has become a great platform for many big companies hoping to cash in on the big day. Some are running contests for gift cards or exclusive pre-madness shopping sprees, and some are donating to charities each time a customer checks in to a store on location networks.

Although many participate in Black Friday shopping for the thrill or experience, technology has made it easier and — dare I say it — a little more fun. Here are some of the big campaigns to look out for.

1. Amazon

Amazon is promoting its Countdown to Black Friday on its Facebook page.

The company is offering one Gold Box deal along with multiple Lightning Deals appearing and expiring throughout each day this week. Things such as an LG 32" HDTV for $308.99 or Halo Reach on Xbox 360 for $29.96 are among the many deals on the site.

Click here to view this gallery.

Are you one of the brave souls going out for Black Friday? Where are you going and what do you have your eye on this year? Let us know in the comments!

More About: black friday, Christmas, deals, features, Gifts, hanukkah, Holidays 2011, shopping

Now You Can See the Source of Einstein’s Genius

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 12:58 PM PST

When Albert Einstein died in 1955, the literal symbol of his brilliance - his brain – was preserved and pieces of it divided between research institutions for academic study.

Now the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, a medical history museum specializing in medical oddities, has some of those samples on display to the viewing public.

Forty-six slides containing pieces of Einstein’s brain were donated to the museum by a neuropathologist from the city’s children’s hospital who wanted to ensure this bit of medical and scientific history was properly preserved and shared with the public.

The majority of the samples remain at Princeton’s University Medical Center, where the autopsy of the groundbreaking physicist was performed at the time of this death. Researchers studied Einstein’s brain over the last five decades searching for any physical clues when compared to other brains to explain the genius of the Nobel Prize winner.

For more information on visiting the exhibit, check out the Mütter Museum website. Are you interested in seeing the display in person?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Patrick Denker

More About: albert einstein, Science

For more Tech coverage:

Lobbyists and Politicians Beware: First Street Reveals Your Hidden Connections

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 12:47 PM PST

first street image

Politics is as much about who you know as what you know. That’s why the website First Street wants to help us learn more about the who of politics — and how they’re all connected.

The site details the allegiances of political officials and lobbyists — for a price. It already has content deals with the New York Times, the Associated Press and the Washington Post.

First Street is based on decades of information pulled from congressional staff directories and self-reporting forms. CQ Press, a political publishing house, created First Street to turn that overwhelming amount of data into a searchable database on where people worked, who they worked for, and where their allegiances may lie.

The database currently contains more than 660,000 lobbying forms, 240,000 congressional and federal staffers, 32,898 clients of registered lobbying organizations and 20,000 congressional and federal organizations. In total, First Street says it covers more than 2 million connections.

CQ Press realized it was sitting on a goldmine in 2006 when it decided to digitize the congressional directories. These books are published several times a year, and act like a phone book. They are meant to be updated and replaced — but combing through past editions reveals how Beltway professionals moved up the political ladder.

Every individual in First Street has an official bio (some of which were outsourced to another company) and a listing of their previous positions, rather like a politically-minded LinkedIn. These connections can be clicked to reveal other individuals that held that job, supported a bill, attempted to lobby a group and so on.

All that information can be hard to follow. So First Street created “Coalition Builder,” a visualization tool to help keep track of all those relationship webs. Clicking on a person will bring up their personal connections, offices and potential bills. Clicking on these links will expand the web with thin lines drawn between people, departments, etc. where there is overlap.

apple image

For media companies, the Coalition Builder is a ready-made infographics machine. It can also be used to discover unexpected connections. The First Street Research Group is dedicated to showing how First Street can be used to out these connections.

One example: “The Face of Apple in Washington, D.C.” which highlights firms and revolving-door lobbyists that represent Apple including the specific bills which they lobbied and the lobbyists’ former positions in politics.

First Street can also help users organize a breadth of information. For example, a First Street study on automotive lobbyists showed that the most prominent issues were tax exemptions and fuel economy standards.

There are similar sites out there, including the Almanac of the Unelected and The team at First Street insists its database is the most comprehensive, and that their platform can find hidden relationships behind political dealings.

First Street certainly needs to promote its unique tools — it comes with a hefty price tag of $3,000 for a single license and $1,000 for subsequent, same-company licenses. The price tag puts First Street out of reach of casual and curious users. It’s more like other high-powered research tools like Lexus Nexus or the Bloomberg terminals.

The whole project would fall apart if the information was unreliable, of course. But First Street stands by its data — and says it hasn’t received a single complaint about inaccuracy — because almost all of its information is self-reported or pulled from official directories. CQ Press sent out forms to federal and congressional offices asking them to document their positions. They then combined that information with government data on lobbyists, firms, and organizations.

That does open the door for lobbyists to spin the system. It does mean, however, that First Street has a rock-solid fall back against libel and accuracy charges — since its data comes from first-hand sources.

“It’s data, not opinion, so we can’t really get into trouble,” says Steve Stesney, product lead for First Street. “This is the best information available. If someone doesn’t report it, we don’t have it. But no on has it.”

Will First Street revolutionize politics (and political reporting) by airing out connections that are often kept secret? Or is it a high-priced alternative to what’s already been done? Share your thoughts in the comments.

BONUS: 10 Unforgettable On-Air Political Bloopers [VIDEOS]

Rick Perry: "Oops"

2012 presidential candidate Rick Perry drew a massive blank Wednesday night during CNBC's "Your Money, Your Vote" GOP debate. On stage in Michigan, Perry attempted to rattle off three federal government agencies he would eliminate, but failed to remember number three: "Commerce, education and the … uh, um, what's the third one there. Let's see … " The mental block lasted about 40 more seconds before Perry uttered, "Oops."

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: data, Media, Politics, Social Media

It’s the Last day to Nominate Your Favorites for the Mashable Awards

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 12:37 PM PST

Nominations for the Fifth Annual Mashable Awards have been open for a little over a month, and today marks the last day of the nomination period. We already received well over 200,000 nominations, which will make the voting period even more challenging.

Each year, Mashable encourages its community to recognize companies, individuals and gadgets in the digital space for innovative and creative ideas by voting for them in the Mashable Awards. This is not only a way of recognizing the current digital community, but also a way to discover new tools and brands. This year, with 28 different awards categories, including Best Smart Phone, Most Innovative Mobile App, and Most Social TV Show, there is sure to be some intense competition.

The nomination period will close tonight, Nov. 18 at 11:59 p.m. E.T.  Once closed, Mashable editors will select the top finalists in each category. The final nominees will be announced on Monday, Nov. 21 when the Mashable community will be able to vote for the final winners. Voting will remain open until Dec. 16. The best part is the winners get to hang out with the Mashable team at MashBash at CES on Jan. 11, 2012.

This is crunch time, which means it is the last chance to get your nominations in. Continue to tell your communities to keep on nominating, whether it is for Breakout Startup of the Year, Best Social Network or any of our other categories.

How To Nominate

It couldn’t be easier to nominate your favorite digital startups, companies and personalities for a Mashable Award. As in years past, Mashable has created a unique social voting platform for the Mashable Awards. You can submit your nomination in four easy steps:

Step 1


Click here to view this gallery.

Remember, you may nominate once per day in each category.

The Categories

Social Media

  • Best Social Network
  • Up-and-Coming Social Media Service
  • Must-Follow Actor or Actress on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Musician or Band on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Athlete on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Media Personality on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Business Personality on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Non-Profit on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Politician on Social Media


  • Best Smartphone
  • Best Mobile Game
  • Most Useful Mobile App
  • Most Innovative Mobile App
  • Most Useful Tablet-Based App
  • Best New Gadget


  • Viral Campaign of the Year
  • Most Innovative Use of Social Media for Marketing
  • Must-Follow Brand on Social Media
  • Best Branded Mobile App
  • Best Social Good Cause Campaign
  • Most Digital Company of the Year
  • Breakout Startup of the Year


  • Game of the Year
  • Viral Video of the Year
  • Best Music Service or App
  • Best Online Video Streaming Service or App
  • Most Social TV Show
  • Best Social Movie Campaign

The Winners

Award winners will be announced on Mashable on Monday, Dec. 19. Following the competition, we’ll celebrate our winners at MashBash CES on Jan. 11, 2012, at the 2012 International CES convention at 1OAK, the hot new nightclub at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

The 2011 Mashable Awards Are Presented by Buddy Media


Buddy Media is the social enterprise software of choice for eight of the world’s top ten global advertisers, empowering them to build and maintain relationships with their consumers in a connections-based world. The Buddy Media social marketing suite helps brands build powerful connections globally with its scalable, secure architecture and data-driven customer insights from initial point of contact through point of purchase.

More About: announcements, mashable awards, mashable awards 2011

For more Social Media coverage:

How to Write, Launch and Sell Your Informational Ebook

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 12:09 PM PST

Alexis Grant is a journalist, newbie entrepreneur and author of the eguide How to Take a Career Break to Travel. She tweets @alexisgrant.

Selling ebooks can be a great way to complement your income, gain visibility and build a network around your brand – not to mention, feel satisfied about creating a quality product. But if you've never created an ebook before, what's the best strategy?

While plenty of authors use digital tools to publish fiction, other writers are becoming successful in the how-to and non-fiction genres, partly because informational products often sell at a higher price. If you're looking to share your expertise, this is the type of ebook to aim for.

Here's a step-by-step guide to writing and selling your first informational ebook, along with practical tips that will help make your launch a success.

1. Create

Choose a topic. Address a specific problem. Then offer a solution.

What questions do your friends or blog followers often pose? Determine whether you can answer that question in ebook form. Answer the question as simply as possible, then flesh out related practical tips, insight, anecdotes and examples. If you frame your ebook as a solution, your readers will recognize how it could help them.

When choosing your topic, consider leaning toward solutions that will help your readers make money. Potential buyers may be more willing to shell out cash to purchase your product if they know the information will help them earn that money back.

Write. To make this potentially daunting task more manageable, outline the project and focus on one section at a time. Many writers are more successful when they set a goal of 500 words per day. Commit to working on the project regularly, whether that means setting aside time every evening, every weekend or one weekend each month. Set a goal and stick to it.

How long should your ebook be? That depends on the topic, your audience and your writing style. Rather than shooting for a specific word count, write until you've included all pertinent information, and then trim excess until the copy is tight.

Don't forget to include anecdotes. Readers are more likely to buy your ebook if they can relate to your voice and ideas. Tell your story, but in a way that will help achieve a reader's goals.

Finally, write like you blog. Throw the stiff voice out the window. In the brave new world of informational ebooks, stiff is out and conversational is in.

Hire an editor. Even the best writers need an editor's eye to produce a fabulous product. Editors will not only help to catch copy and factual errors, but they can also provide insight into the book's overall organization and message.

If you want to be perceived as a professional, don't skip this step. Eat the costs – because you're going to make good money off this ebook anyhow, right?

Find a cover designer. Potential buyers get strong first impressions from a book's cover. Your book's cover will significantly influence whether a consumer pulls out her credit card. I went the DIY route on this for my first eguide, then replaced the cover with a professional-looking one as soon as I realized my mistake. Here's to you not making the same newbie error.

A professional designer will create a cover for about $300, but consider hiring a junior designer or even bartering for the cover. Remember that potential buyers will see your cover as a thumbnail, so the title and image should be clear, simple and convey meaning even in a small size.

Choose a format. Or two or three. Standard PDFs are readable on most devices, but you may also want to create ereader versions of your book too – for Kindle or ePub. That decision can depend largely on your target audience.

Format the ebook. If this sounds daunting, you can hire a professional for this step too. Although foramatting can be tedious, know that it's certainly possible to format on your own.

You want your PDF ebook to look appealing on both an e-reader and a computer screen. Don't think in terms of old-school book formats. Favor easy to read, large font and plenty of visually-friendly white space. Notice the details in ebooks by other writers (and ebooks on how to write ebooks) — the appearance of their header and footer, the location of page numbers, etc. — and incorporate effective presentations into your own work.

Know your options. If you don't want to put the time and effort into all these details, companies like CreateSpace, Lulu and Lightning Source offer packages for putting together ebooks. But beware: Just because you pay a company to produce your ebook, doesn't guarantee it will sell. You have to put in the promotion effort.

2. Sell

Pick a price. How much should your ebook cost? While prices vary, informational eguides often cost more than traditional books, partly because they're considered an affordable form of consulting. It's not unusual to see them priced at $19, $29, $49 or more.

Of course, the higher you price your product, the fewer people will buy. That's why some writers are experimenting with lower price points, selling ebooks for $2.99 or even $0.99.

Decide which approach is likely to be more effective for you. Do you want to price low and aim to sell thousands or even tens of thousands of copies? Or will a smaller group of buyers pay a higher price, making it equally worth your while?

Because this is a relatively new medium, there's no magic formula for figuring out how to price your work. Research your niche, ask for feedback on the price you're considering and then go for it.

Choose a platform. Will buyers purchase the book directly from your site or through a distributor like Amazon?

The advantage of selling through your site is you get to keep all the profits. Enticing, right? The catch is that you need a decent-sized platform to do this successfully. Furthermore, you'll need to drive traffic to your sales page by publicizing effectively.

That's where Amazon can help — if you're willing to give it a cut of sales. Amazon offers authors who charge between $2.99 and $9.99 (and follow certain rules) 70% of every sale. But Amazon might not be so effective if you're selling at a higher price point.

If you take the sell-it-yourself approach, E-Junkie is the go-to site for ecommerce. It costs only $5/month initially, routes your sales through PayPal and sends your ebook to buyers automatically.

E-Junkie also provides an affiliate option, which gives bloggers a commission for books they help sell. At least 33% commission is standard for affiliates; many ebook authors offer 50%.

Create a sales page. Especially if you sell from your own site, you'll need an effective and visual product page that convinces readers to buy the book. This page presents a great opportunity to communicate your initial focus: What problem will your ebook solve for readers?

3. Launch

It seems like writing the ebook would be the hard part, but even after that's complete, you've got a long way to go. To spread the word about your guide, create a smart launch plan.

Throw yourself into promotion. Approach bloggers with big platforms and ask for reviews, Q&As or guest posts, keeping in mind that you'll have to actually write the guest posts you promise.

Use your network! Keep track of the people to whom you pitch and their responses in a Google Doc. If you do this properly, you'll be able to remember everyone who's helping spread the word about your book and thank them accordingly.

Add a bonus. What else can you offer buyers to sweeten the deal? Your bonus could be another product, a service like coaching or some other special deal.

Before releasing my eguide, I made a deal with another author who published an ebook on a similar topic. When people bought my eguide, they received 50% off that author's related ebook. This deal appealed to potential buyers, not to mention, created more exposure for the other author. Win-win.

Offer a launch discount. To encourage browsers to buy now rather than later, offer a significant discount redeemable only during launch week. Offer a pre-launch discount to your newsletter subscribers too. If you show your appreciation to these loyal readers by offering an awesome discount before launch, they'll no doubt reciprocate by helping spread the word about your ebook.

Create a review package. Make it easy for bloggers and journalists to write about your ebook by putting together a zipped folder of helpful materials: a sample copy of the book, an image of the cover, your headshot and bio, affiliate materials and whatever else makes it simple for bloggers to communicate what you have to offer.

Got more ideas for publishing ebooks? Tell us about them!

Image courtesy of Flickr, Elizabeth Thomsen, Slaff, Fosforix, jblyberg

More About: contributor, eBook, ebooks, features, How-To, Marketing, publishing

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Goes Mobile [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 11:49 AM PST

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is getting a technology update for its 85th year by way of an official mobile app. The Parade app will be available on both iOS and Android ahead of next Thursday’s event, and feature a route map, NYC tips, a wifi hotspot finder and a way to track specific participants in the parade.

You can see some of the app’s features in the video above. Macy’s says that all of the features will also be available on the Parade website. Will you be tuning into the parade this year? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Holidays 2011, macys, thanksgiving, trending

Look Up: Wolfram Alpha Can Identify That Airplane

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 11:43 AM PST

Wolfram Alpha, the company whose scientists are responsible for the smarts behind that sometimes-sarcastic Siri assistant on the iPhone 4S, has figured out a way to give you an abundance of information about any plane you see flying overhead.

For some reason, every time I see a plane go by, I’m immediately wondering what type of aircraft it is, where it’s coming from, where it’s going, what airline it belongs to and how high it’s flying at the moment. Now, Wolfram Alpha can satisfy my curiosity in real time, letting me look it up on the Wolfram Alpha Computational Knowledge Engine.

Where is that located, you say? In some sheltered lab deep underground within a defense department bunker? Heck no, it’s a lot more accessible than that — just enter the search term “flights overhead” at on any computer or smartphone’s browser, and you’ll see results like this:

As you can see in the graphic above, you’ll get a list of the airliners overhead and what types of aircraft they are, and there’s a sky map that even tells you where to look for them.

When you spot a plane, you can click on that flight and drill down to even more info, showing you everything you’d want to know about the flight (short of who the passengers are and what they’re talking about at the moment). You’ll see where it came from and where it’s going, its flight duration, a full map of its flight path, how long it’s been in the air and a lot more.

Tip: While you can look up this data using a smartphone, when we tested it on iPhones and Android phones, that handy Sky Map didn’t show up. But you can still tell where to look for planes by using the “Angle” information provided by Wolfram Alpha.

By the way, there’s no need to spend the $2.99 for the Wolfram Alpha app on the iPhone or $1.49 for the Android version to get this data — even though both of are useful apps, you can get the “flights overhead” info on a standard browser on most computing devices.

More About: Flights overhead, wolfram alpha

YouTube Favorite Annoying Orange Gets TV Show

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 11:31 AM PST

Annoying Orange, a YouTube series that has amassed more than 850 million views, is coming to Cartoon Network.

A half-hour show featuring the character will join the network’s 2012 lineup, Cartoon Network announced. The debut date was not disclosed. According to The New York Times, the premise of the series is that Orange and his buddies use a “magical fruit cart” for time travel.

The deal came about after management/production company The Collective joined forces with Annoying Orange creator Dane Boedigheimer earlier this year to shoot a pilot and then shop it around to networks.

For the uninitiated, Annoying Orange is an animated orange with a squeaky voice who plays tricks on and annoys other fruits and vegetables while dispensing corny puns.

Though making the leap from YouTube to TV is unusual, Annoying Orange is not the first to do so. Last year, Fred, the squeaky 6-year-old played by Lucas Cruikshank, starred in Fred: The Movie on Nickelodeon.

More About: annoying-orange, cartoon network, TV, YouTube

For more Entertainment coverage:

Domino FedEx Boxes Artfully Tumble From Montreal to Miami [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 11:20 AM PST

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

The holiday season is just around the corner, which means sales, shopping and shipping. FedEx Canada’s latest ad uses elegantly falling dominoes to illustrate how easy it is to ship from the Great White North to sunny Florida.

A Canadian goose in Montreal sends a hockey stick — via a FedEx box, of course — to his pal, the American puppy in Miami.

SEE ALSO: The Economics of Holiday Gift Giving [INFOGRAPHIC]

This ad stands out for the carefully engineered domino creations, referencing the long, yet sometimes seamless journey of a shipped holiday delivery.

More About: viral-video-of-day

Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 10:58 AM PST

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: MessageMaker Social, Lenovo, 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.

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.

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.

Reach the world with Clickatell. As the leading SMS gateway we magnify the reach of your mobile communications channel on a truly global scale. Now your social applications can cost-effectively and reliably make contact with over 960 networks in more than 220 countries.

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:

Which Tech Toys Do Kids Want for the Holidays? [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 10:31 AM PST

Apple products dominate a new Nielsen study that asked kids ages 6-12 about the tech toys they want the most heading into the holiday season. iPad, iPhone and the iPod touch were children’s three most-wanted gifts, though video game consoles also remain popular with the age group.

For more on what kids want, check out the video above, and let us know what your children are craving in the comments.

More About: ipad, Kids, mashable video, Winter Holiday Season

Gmail for iPhone: Everything You Need to Know [PICS]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 10:28 AM PST

1. Signing In

Once you've download Gmail from the App Store, sign in to get started.

If you downloaded the older version, first uninstall or log out of the old app before installing the new app.

Click here to view this gallery.

After a stuttering start, Google‘s Gmail app has returned to the App Store.

We’ve taken a hands-on look at the new option for iPhone owners and put together a basic walkthrough of the Gmail app’s main features, plus a few quick tips sure to come in handy.

SEE ALSO: 10 Dead Simple Gmail Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts

Take a look through the gallery for a glance at Google’s latest mobile app. Let us know in the comments whether you’ll be using it to check your mail on the go.

More About: email, features, gmail, Google, How-To, iphone, iphone apps

Apple iPhone 4S Remains In Short Supply

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 10:22 AM PST

Six weeks after the iPhone 4S arrived, the three largest U.S. wireless carriers are still struggling to keep up with demand for Apple's fifth handset, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Launched in the U.S. and six other countries on October 14, the iPhone 4S is still selling out quickly at AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. In fact, people are still waiting up to three weeks to get the smartphone at some locations. Meanwhile, Apple’s own website is reporting a 1-2 week delay in iPhone 4S shipments for new orders.

According to Glenn Luri, AT&T's president of emerging devices:

"We are having some supply issues in the sense that demand's huge. We have had just record-breaking sales on it."

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless, Brenda Raney, said the carrier is working with Apple to increase its inventory of iPhone 4S models. "Not only was the iPhone 4S popular when it was introduced, but the popularity continues to build," she said. "We don't want to keep our customers waiting for their purchases."

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told analysts he expected the iPhone 4S to set a record for iPhone sales during the current quarter. Cook's opinion, based on this report, seems about right.

Have you purchased your iPhone 4S yet? Let us know by using the comments below.

Bonus: iPhone 4S Features

iPhone 4S

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

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, iphone, iPhone 4S, mashable

For more Mobile coverage:

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” Makes the iPad Feel Like Magic

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 10:17 AM PST

A Charlie Brown Christmas is now available as a spectacular pop-up book for iOS and Android.

Loud Crow Interactive, the people behind last year’s phenomenal Peter Rabbit iPad app have really outdone themselves with this touch-device remake of Charles M. Schulz’s classic story.

The app captures the nostalgia of the 1965 television special, while still adding a modern and inventive twist on the children’s book app.

Given the amount of pre-existing Charlie Brown Christmas media, it would have been easy for Loud Crow to phone this one in. It didn’t. The app is beautiful and designed down to the last detail to mimic the interaction of a real pop-up book, while also adding true digital features.

Users can play “Linus and Lucy” on the piano, make snowflakes splatter and fall and finger paint. Hidden within the app are various achievements that unlock additional decorations and customization elements for creating a unique Christmas tree.

This is the sort of app where seeing really is believing. We put together a gallery of some of our favorite parts of the app, but this is one you really need to play with to fully experience.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Click here to view this gallery.

The iOS version of the app is optimized to run on the iPhone or iPad, but the nature of this sort of story and interaction works best on a larger screen. At $6.99 in the App Store, Android Market and the Amazon Appstore, this is an app I can whole-heartedly recommend.

Last Thanksgiving, the Peter Rabbit app sold most of my extended family on the power of the iPad. This year, A Charlie Brown Christmas will convince those yet to convert that tablets have value.

For U.S.-based Charlie Brown fans, A Charlie Brown Christmas is also viewable in its entirety in ABC’s iPad app.

What are your favorite holiday-themed children’s books? Let us know.

More About: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Android apps, Christmas, Holidays 2011, ipad apps, loud crow interactive, Winter Holiday Season

Back to the top