Friday, 17 February 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Mountain Lion Reactions, Google Drive Rumors, Pinwheel”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Mountain Lion Reactions, Google Drive Rumors, Pinwheel”

Today’s Top Stories: Mountain Lion Reactions, Google Drive Rumors, Pinwheel

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 05:03 AM PST

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning's edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. Today, we're looking at three particularly interesting stories.

Mountain Lion Reactions and Reviews

Somewhat surprisingly and without much fanfare, Apple on Thursday unveiled the next version of its desktop OS, Mountain Lion, and we’re still seeing interesting reactions to the news.

We’ve looked at the top features and the somewhat curious absence of Facebook integration in the new OS. TUAW noticed that Mountain Lion dropped support for several older Mac models, and Panic has an interesting take on a new security feature called Gatekeeper.

Is This Google’s Online Storage Service?

GeekWire claims that Google’s online storage service called Google Drive went live for some users, posting a couple of screenshots as proof. The news hasn’t been officially confirmed, but if it’s real, Google Drive launch might be just around the corner.

Pinwheel Launches Private Beta

Note sharing service Pinwheel has launched as a private beta. It lets you create, find, share and organize notes all around the world. The service plans to make money from sponsored notes, and it’s funded by Redpoint, True, Betaworks, Founder Collective, SV Angel, Obvious Corp, and individual angels.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: apple, first to know series, Google, Google Drive, Mountain Lion, Pinwheel

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Apple Sold More iOS Devices in 2011 Than Macs in 28 Years

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 03:24 AM PST

Apple sold 55 million iPads to date, CEO Tim Cook recently revealed in an interview with Fortune. The company also sold 37 million iPhones in Q1 2012 alone, with the total being around 175 million since the device’s inception. All in all, Apple sold 316 million iOS devices so far.

The numbers seem stellar by themselves, but Asymco created a chart of cumulative sales of Apple computing products which really puts them into perspective.

For example, Apple sold more iOS devices (156 million) in 2011 than it sold Macs (122 million) in 28 years of their existence.

What makes these figures even more amazing is the fact that Mac sales are actually rising fast: 2011 was the best year for Mac sales in Apple history.

In fact, all the major hardware product categories in Apple’s roster are selling extremely well and show no signs of stopping. We can’t say what this chart will look like in a couple of years, but right now, sky is the limit for Apple.

[via Asymco, Fortune]

More About: apple, iOS, ipad, iphone, mac, trending

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5 Key Trends Supercharging Today’s Digital PR

Posted: 17 Feb 2012 12:56 AM PST

In 2012, Social Media will move beyond growth to saturation. This means that digital public relations is changing quickly.

Recently, I had an opportunity to speak about the opportunities and trends in digital public relations at the PR News Digital Summit. Here’s a quick look at what I think social media saturation and mobile growth mean for public relations this year.

1. Beyond the Second Screen: 24 Hours of Screens

According to Comscore's recent social media study, the social media category as a whole is on the cusp of becoming the dominant form of online content; it accounted for 16.6% of Internet time in 2011. And this year it is expected to surpass portals as the most engaging online activity. Engagement is the key word there.

Social media saturation coupled with the rapid growth of mobile, tablets and connected TVs mean we are beyond the second screen — we are now at more than 24 hours’ worth of screens per day. There are even apps to influence your dreams!

People are constantly connected and consuming media, which sounds daunting but it is great news for media creators. And now PR professionals are not soley pitching the media, but they too are media creators.

2. Think Like PR People. Measure Like Mad Men.

This means online media formarts are converging. “P.O.E.M.” (Paid, Owned, Earned Media) is now really the future. (Paid being advertising and sponsorships. Owned being content created by brands/corporations. And Earned being press placements and media partnership).

Earned and Owned have always been sexier than Paid media because they are inherently social (and usually free!). But Advertising has always been immediately measurable and metrics drive the budgets and digital strategy.

Lucky for PR Professionals, the measurement tools for Owned and Earned are getting better and better. Just look at how much the Facebook Insights product has evolved since it launched.

The future of media strategy is the best of all three: Paid, Owned, Earned. And pubic relations professionals can lead the strategy. They have the most experience in strategic communications, cross platform media and rapid response. The future is to think like PR people but measure like Mad Men.

3. Find Your Peeps. These Are The New Influencers

Once upon a time the Internet was populated only by early adopters. They were passionate about the new technologies so they created forums to share their passions. They had the biggest microphone on the Internet. It seemed predominantly male and mainly dedicated to Apple products.. They became lovingly known as fanboys.

Now, more and more people around the world have access to the Internet or mobile technologies. And everyone is passionate about something. We each have opinions and preferences and now we have social graphs that are growing.

PR professionals need get on board with their peeps. Find the people who are most passionate about what you’re doing. These are the new "influencers." The next great influencers campaigns will not be about trying to get a celebrity to retweet you, but tapping into your base. 60% of Facebook users surveyed by digital agency Beyond said they'd be willing to post about a product if they were given a discount or free trial. Now that will be influence.

And you can find your peeps much more easily with the rise of niche networks such as Tumblr — now reaching more than 20 million monthly users — and Pinterest, which just passed 12 million monthly users. These niche social networks are creating mini communities for everything related to topic, brand and subject. Your peeps are there. Find them and engage.

4. The Rise of Fanwomen

All great marketers know that reaching the female demographic is key to campaigns. This has been one of the phenomena of Pinterest’s rapid growth — the high percentage of females on the platform. Females have always been a powerful audience for print and TV;. study after study shows they have the buying power in the majority of households. Now they too are online; they have communities and they have influence.

5. Small Teams FTW!

An age-old complaint within the PR industry has been lack of budgets and small staffs. That’s likely not going to change anytime soon. But there are new ways PR executives can make their small teams more powerful with fewer resources.

  • First, embrace the machine. “Automation” is no longer a scary word. Companies such as SocialFlow are developing algorithmic tools to share content to social media channels based on relevance. PR professionals are still responsible for developing the messages and strategy, but now the algorithms tell us when the messages are relevant to the conversation. It just like trying to get your company into a trend piece.
  • Second, take meetings and ask for what you want. There are many smart people and companies working to develop new products to help manage and measure social outreach. Don’t look at these requests for meetings as a nuisance. Take the meetings. Give these developers your list of complaints and have them go think about them. Likely they’ll come back in six months with a product that was developed with your wants and needs in mind — maybe even with a discount for the service.
  • Finally, maximize the media hits you do get. Did you get a spot on the Today show? Good job, but not a job well done. Not until its been shared everywhere.

    If your CEO is backstage, snap a photo in the green room and share it on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook. Check in on Foursquare. Once the video is on the Today website, get it on your blog, YouTube, Facebook and everywhere else.

Because, increasingly, if it didn’t happen on the Internet, it didn’t happen.

1. Welcome

Mashable's Stacy Green gave the opening Keynote at the PR News Digital Summit in SF #prndigital

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: digital, pr

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NFL Player Promoters Will Help NFL Dominate Social Media

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 08:59 PM PST

A select group of college students could get digitally cozier with their favorite NFL players.

United Way is looking for social media interns to promote the philanthropy efforts of the 32 NFL teams and each team’s United Way spokesperson to help the the organizations dominate social media.

The NFL has been known for its striking ability to engage with fans on social media. More than 4.6 million people are NFL Facebook fans and another 2.8 million follow the league on Twitter. The teams and individual players have large fan bases, too.

The interns will be called player promoters — not interns — and will be assigned an NFL player to promote. The main goal of the position is to drive traffic to the NFL player’s social media accounts to increase the player’s following, so United Way’s message will reach more people. Although unpaid, this opportunity is a chance for college sports junkies — who are social media savvy — to be noticed by their favorite NFL players and to increase their own social media following.

The Team NFL Player Promoter program adds to the NFL’s 39-year partnership with United Way. The non-profit’s name easily stays in the spotlight with the backing of 32 NFL teams that captivate a huge audience.

So far, 21 top athletes such as Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers, Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns and Roman Harper of the New Orleans Saints have pledged to recruit 3,000 United Way volunteers over three years in an effort to reduce the U.S. high school dropout rate. The volunteers will read, tutor and mentor youth to encourage students to stay in school. United Way’s high school dropout campaign plans to sign a member from each NFL team.

SEE ALSO: How the NFL Is Dominating Social Media

“These NFL players have their own reach — they are their own media,” said Tracey Holmes, spokesperson for United Way. “The interns will greatly help the players call attention to United Way’s goal and get their fan base interested in the player’s work.”

Interns will be responsible for developing creative social media strategies to reach the NFL player’s audience. On top of tweeting and Facebooking, interns will write one or two articles about their player’s efforts to recruit volunteers for USA Today College and United Way’s NFL microsite. The application deadline is Friday, Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. EST.

In the slideshow below, check out some of the players who want to cut the nation’s high school dropout rate in half by 2018.

1. Greg Jennings, Packers

Greg Jennings, a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, has the most Twitter followers out of the 21 players who have signed onto United Way's campaign to cut in half the number of high school dropouts by 2018. Jennings has more than 203,000 Twitter followers.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: internships, nfl, philanthropy, social media marketing, Twitter

Top 12 Oddest ‘Missed Connections’ Listings on Craigslist

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 08:30 PM PST

1. "minotaur, halloween, downtown - m4w - 22 (santa cruz)"

"You were a tall blonde girl wearing a creepy minotaur mask , walking down pacific avenue with the sexiest strut I've ever seen. It's nice to see a girl that can actually walk in high heels. Given, you were in your underpants, but I think even if you'd been dressed more modestly it would have had the same impact. Just....damn."

Location: SF Bay

Image courtesy of Phrancesco Ph, Flickr.

Click here to view this gallery.

You never know when you’ll stumble upon someone who makes your heart flutter or eyes stare. But when you do, you’ll likely find it hard to say hello or ask that person out on a date.

That’s where Craigslist can help. The classified ads website rolled out its Missed Connections feature in 2000 to aid strangers in finding that special someone they recently saw or briefly met but didn’t get a name.

“The idea of getting a second chance, however small, is very powerful,” Craigslist spokeswoman Susan MacTavish Best told Mashable. “And the idea of a love getting a second shot really resonates with people. In the end, Missed Connections is about hope — hope against the odds, the hope of a second chance.”

To relive some of the Missed Connections goodness, Craigslist hand-picked its 12 favorite listings of 2011.

SEE ALSO: Damn You Auto Correct Founder Picks 12 Funniest Texts Ever

The top listings are odd, to say the least. One man sought a woman who sported a “creepy minotaur mask,” and another wanted to find the woman who licked his fingers on a New York City train. The locations are as varied as the strange encounters themselves: a stranger’s bed, at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration, on an airplane 10,000 feet in the air and inside a Walgreens, for example.

“Missed Connections are widely read and loved by romantics everywhere,” MacTavish Best says. “Many people read them for pure entertainment. … People have found girlfriends or boyfriends — some of which have turned into wives or husbands.”

Have you ever used Missed Connections? Did you have any success in finding your crush? Or do you check the Missed Connections listing for pure entertainment purposes?

More About: craigslist, dating, trending

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FoundersCard Gives Entrepreneurs VIP Treatment

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 08:00 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: FoundersCard

Quick Pitch: FoundersCard is a membership community providing networking and exclusive benefits for entrepreneurs and innovators.

Genius Idea: Providing entrepreneurs with ongoing access to benefits, discounts, networking events and amenities that meet their needs.

If top executives at large companies and investment banks have access to benefits and
networking opportunities, then why don't entrepreneurs?

That’s the question that lead Eric Kuhn to start FoundersCard, a membership community for entrepreneurs and innovators that provides its members with exclusive benefits, discounts, amenities and frequent networking events that meet their needs.

"I wanted to create a community that allows entrepreneurs to have access to amazing and great opportunities," Kuhn told Mashable. "FoundersCard is a community that helps them by giving them access to ongoing support and the opportunities that they deserve."

Members receive a sleek, silver personalized card in the mail and can take advantage of all FoundersCard benefits from popular travel, lifestyle and business brands around the
world. A few of the most popular brands include Virgin Atlantic Airways, Apple, Zip Car, W Hotels, Qantas Airways and St. Regis Hotels.

FoundersCard also hosts exclusive monthly networking events for its members. January's event was in Las Vegas, and this month members will meet in San Francisco.

"It can be lonely being an entrepreneur or a founder, so we wanted to give them a chance to
connect with each other, share experiences and meet on a personal level," says Kuhn.

To give back to the entrepreneurial community, FoundersCard members can also create their
own benefits and deals from their companies for fellow entrepreneurs.

A FoundersCard membership costs $495 per year with a one-time fee of $65. Although most
members are referred by existing members, interested entrepreneurs can inquire about membership on the FoundersCard site. There’s an application process that focuses on the member's company and his or her commitment to the entrepreneurial community.

Interested in becoming a member? The FoundersCard team has provided a code for
Mashable's readers to purchase a membership for $295. To obtain this deal, just type in the code "FCMASH12 on the FoundersCard website.

Launched in 2010, FoundersCard is self-funded and currently has 5,000 members around the world.

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, Founderscard

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Fair Labor Auditor Says Apple Factories In China Better Than Most

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 07:25 PM PST

Hey, at least it’s not a garment factory. The head of the nonprofit Fair Labor Association — which Apple hired to do audits of the company’s factories in China — said the tech factories are better than garment and other manufacturing facilities in the area.

President of the FLA Auret van Heerden said he was impressed by the conditions at Foxconn after several visits, Reuters reported.

Audits of the eight factories Apple uses in China began on Monday starting with Foxconn Technology Group. Apple expedited the FLA’s audit after mounting criticism of working conditions at its factories. The results of the audit will be made public in March on the FLA’s website.

Foxconn is the most notorious of these factories for past explosions, worker suicides and strenuous hours of repetitive work. Apple made its list of suppliers public Jan. 13, but the company’s effort to be transparent didn’t quell the public’s dissatisfaction of alleged hazardous and inhumane working conditions in China.

The FLA will hold each factory to “140 specific compliance benchmarks” listed in its Code of Conduct. This document outlines rules against discrimination and age verification requirements.

Apple and other tech companies such as Sony and Dell utilize factories that hire low-paid workers. The workers are reported to have monotonous working conditions, but those conditions are supposedly better than available work in the rest of the country. The suicide rates at the Foxconn factory are less than average in China. Some have even gone so far as to say working at Foxconn can prevent suicide because the rate is much less than the national average.

There’s a lot of evidence to show that working conditions at Foxconn could stand to be improved. However, when it comes to overseas factory labor, there are gray areas.

Although factory labor conditions could be improved, the work results in relatively good wages, food and housing — a much better alternative to other types of work in underdeveloped regions of China. Young workers go to cities such as Shenzhen and Chengdu — two sites where Foxconn factories are located — looking for better opportunities, which these factories can provide.

Some people have wondered why the blame for poor factory conditions is resting on Appleextremely wealthy. Couldn’t a company that generated a record $46.3 billion in the first quarter of 2012 afford to make overseas conditions more liveable for workers?

The FLA was created under the Clinton Administration after Nike faced accusations of unfair and inhumane labor practices. Companies have no obligation to join FLA. In fact, Apple was the first tech company to do so. Apple likely wants to remain in the public’s good graces , so it may prove to be a wise decision to allow an audit by an unbiased organization to ensure its factories are humane.

Mashable sent an email to Apple for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

If the factories are found to be in violation of the FLA’s rules, what action do you think Apple should take to fix the problem? Are you pleased that Apple requested this audit from the FLA? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, veni

More About: apple, china, Foxconn

The U.S. Army Uses Pinterest? Sir, Yes Sir!

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 06:46 PM PST

Pinterest, the social image-sharing site that has exploded in popularity over the past few months, has found itself with a strange bedfellow: the U.S. Army.

The Army’s Pinterest boards include topics such as “Goodwill,” “Humanitarian Relief,” and “HOOAH!.” Each board is designed to show some aspect of Army life and the Army’s mission or to connect with Army families (“DIY & Decor,” for instance, might be a favorite among Army moms).

It may seem strange for the Army to have a presence alongside the companies that dominate Pinterest, such as fashion, do-it-yourself (DIY) advice and retail brands. But Juanita Chang, director of the U.S. Army’s online and social media division, says that it’s important for the Army to be on different platforms so it can reach people it can’t find anywhere else.

“We recognize that each social media platform has a different audience,” says Chang. “With the growing popularity of Pinterest, we determined that there was a unique audience that we may not have been reaching through other social media platforms.”

Of Pinterest’s Facebook fans, 97% are women, and Chang has that demographic in mind when thinking about Pinterest.

“We think that most of our followers so far are Army spouses,” says Chang. But, she is also “careful to ensure that our pins would appeal to a wide audience, not just women.”

SEE ALSO: Pinterest: Everything You Wanted to Know About 2012′s Hottest Startup [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Army has a sharing-friendly attitude when it comes to social media content. That’s rare for government organizations, and it probably helps contribute to the Army’s social media success.

“All of our social media content is public domain and we encourage the public to share it openly,” says Chang. “Pinterest helps to do that, as does our Flickr account and other sites.”

The U.S. Army is also active on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Google+, Vimeo, and it has an “Army Live Blog.” Each profile is fine-tuned to the particular platform’s user base. And they’re all awash in followers — almost two million on Facebook and over 120,000 on Twitter, for example.

The Army’s social media team itself isn’t an Army, but more like a small squad — they’ve got only five people, working together in a Pentagon office. Chang says the five are trying their best to get the most bang for their buck — in terms of social media engagement, not live artillery, of course. For backup, the team sent a social media guide to all Army public affairs offices, and they’ve got the support of “most (social media) platforms,” according to Chang.

What do you think of the Army’s Pinterest board and the rest of its social media presence? Sound off in the comments below.

1. Hands

Pinterest via Edris Kim.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: pinterest, trending

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Typosquatting Sites ‘Wikapedia’ and ‘Twtter’ Have Been Shut Down [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 06:34 PM PST

Two fake websites posing as Wikipedia and Twitter have been kicked off the Internet and fined £100,000 ($156,000) each.

The companies behind typosquatting websites capitalize on typos — they register domain names that are similar to highly trafficked website names, and are usually missing a letter or have common misspellings of popular sites.

Typosquatting websites such as 'Wikapedia' and 'Twtter' are popping up on the web to trick unsuspecting web users into clicking on fake ads that claim the user has won a prize. In the case of these two sites, to receive a prize, like an iPad, people were asked for their cellphone number. The site sent a text with a pin and more texts with survey questions. Each time a person responded to the survey questions via texts he or she was charged £1.50.

PhonepayPlus, the UK watchdog body responsible for regulating premium rate telephone services that booted 'Wikapedia' and 'Twtter' from the web, wrote in a statement:

"In both cases, the landing pages for the 'squatted' sites looked like the genuine sites the consumer was searching for – the 'squatted' sites used the same logos, colouring and fonts.

“These 'squatted' sites informed consumers that they had won or could claim a prize, such as an iPad. In both cases, consumers were given the impression that to enter or claim they simply had to enter their contact details and answer some questions."

The companies, Amsterdam-based R&D Media Europe and Unavalley BV, fined for the Wikapedia and Twtter sites, were ordered to repay those who were charged for responding to survey questions, since pricing was not clearly stated on the prize ads.

What other typosquatting sites have you encountered on the web? Tell us in the comments below.

More About: Twitter, typo, Video, wikipedia

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5 Paradoxes Shaping the Future of Mobile Commerce

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 06:19 PM PST

Igor Faletski is the CEO of Mobify, a web platform that optimizes ecommerce and publishing sites for mobile and powers more than 20,000 sites.

Remember when it took 23 clicks to find movie showtimes on your mobile phone? While that may seem like an eon ago, in reality it's just been a few short years. The mobile evolution has been advancing at a break-neck pace.

"Mobile is ramping up faster than any other technology we have seen in the past," says Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins. Mobile web adoption is happening eight times faster than traditional web adoption in the late ’90s.

With that growth comes a new set of user behaviors and consumer trends. What's the reality when it comes to the new mobile commerce landscape? Here are five facts that will have striking implications for the future of mobile commerce.

1. Customers Spend More Time on Their Mobile Devices Than Desktops.

My company powers about 20,000 ecommerce sites. The average desktop order in 2011 was $95.19, and the average mobile order amounted to $96.92. The difference of $1.73 per order may appear small, but that 2% increase in average cart size can dramatically affect a company’s bottom line.

While multiple factors contribute to this data, the most important may be the power of the tablet, which has quickly emerged as the third digital screen in consumers’ lives, in addition to desktops and smartphones.

Adobe’s Digital Marketing Insights report looked at data from 16.5 billion visits across more than 150 retailers to find that the average order value when shopping on a tablet was $123, compared with $102 on a desktop.

IPad users generally have higher education and higher income than general internet users. The same Adobe study found that tablet owners more often fall in the 18-34 age demographic, and that 29% have an annual income over $75,000. The group has proven a lucrative customer segment for retailers.

Beyond the demographics, the iPad's interactivity (aka touchscreen) may make shopping easier than desktop, despite the smaller screen size. A 2011 study reported that 52% of tablet owners prefer to shop online using their tablets, while 40% preferred using a traditional computer.

The moral of the story for retailers? Tablet users are a key customer group and their influence will surely grow through 2012 and beyond.

2. Mobile Shoppers Are More Focused.

While it may seem counter-intuitive at first, the average keyword search on mobile for both Android and iPhone is roughly double the length of the average desktop search.

But searches don’t take longer on mobile because the devices are harder to use, but rather, because mobile searchers and shoppers are task-focused and more specific in what they're seeking.

Microsoft reports that 70% of PC search tasks are completed in one week, while 70% of mobile search tasks are completed in one hour. Mobile searchers have a sense of urgency not seen as often in traditional search methods.

This difference has very real implications for both multi-channel retailers and ecommerce retailers. Mobile users are looking for information or assistance to help them make sourcing and buying decisions right at the point of sale: 88% of consumers searching on a mobile device will make a purchase within 24 hours.

As savvy retailers understand, mobile shoppers need to be able to simply research products and quickly make a purchase. Therefore, there should be as little extraneous content included on mobile commerce websites.

In contrast, a full desktop site is packed with brand-related content, community interaction, company information and detailed research methods. Mobile, on the other hand, is lean, mean and clean.

3. Click-Through Rates Are Higher on Mobile than Desktop.

While smartphones and tablets are still in the relatively early stages of adoption, they are already showing persistently higher click-through rates for search advertising.

A Marin Software study found that consumers are more likely to click on search results ads when using smartphones or tablets than when using a desktop or laptop. Actual click-through rates in Q4 2011 measured 1.25% for smartphones, 1.31% for tablets and 0.95% for desktops and laptops. Performics reported that mobile click-through rates were 45% higher than desktop through the end of 2011 and January 2012.

Click-through rates on search advertising are tracked closely because they’re important indicators of the intention of the searcher. Higher click-through rates are associated with searches of a commercial or consumer nature and translate into a more valuable consumer for both advertisers and retailers.

That more valuable consumer is now on mobile and tablet.

4. Mobile Shopping Peaks at Night.

We tend to think of mobile as synonymous with “on-the-go,” and picture the mobile shopper browsing or shopping during commute times. However, it's social media activities and email, not online shopping, that dominate commuters' time.

When we consider mobile vs. desktop, we see that hourly trends vary based on device type. According to data from Google Mobile Ads, searches from computers mirrors time spent at work, while tablet usage spikes dramatically at night. And people searching on their mobile phones overlaps both periods, growing steadily throughout the day and peaking at 9 p.m.

While both tablets and smartphones can viewed as “lean back” devices, smartphones alone are used on-the-go throughout the day and evening, including time at work and time at home.

5. The Importance of the Mobile Web.

Yes, we're living in an app culture. Yet the power of the mobile website (i.e. a site reached by browsing, not via an app) tends to get overlooked amidst all the hype.

Consider that 30% of all social media traffic originates on mobile devices. Of that traffic, over 42 million people accessed social networks via their mobile browsers in 2011, while 38.5 million accessed via mobile apps.

Marketers need to see that, with the exception of certain niches like gaming, the mobile web is still essential and apps additional. The mobile web is bringing in business for all customers, whereas apps can be viewed like loyalty programs for repeat customers.

Apps can be a big part of a mobile strategy, but are best for repeat customers who already know the brand and have downloaded the app. Unless your business exclusively deals with repeat customers, it’s best to start by tackling your mobile web presence and augment your mobile strategy with apps.

Looking Down the Road

By 2015, more U.S. Internet users will access the web through mobile devices than through PCs. And sales of smartphones continue to exceed all other types of computing devices combined, including tablets. Canalys reported that 488 million smarthphones were shipped worldwide in 2011, compared with 415 million “total client PCs,” including 63 million tablets. Finally, tablet ownership in the U.S. nearly doubled this past holiday season (mid-December to early January).

The macro trend is clear: The variety and complexity of connected devices will continue to grow. There's no doubt that 2012 will be an fascinating and innovative year for mobile commerce.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, -bilge, Matt_Brown

More About: contributor, desktop, ecommerce, features, ipad, mobile shopping, smartphone, tablets

Stimulate Your Lintellect With the Ultimate Jeremy Lin Nerd-Fest [CHARTS]

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 05:55 PM PST

Is it possible to quantify the astonishing, inspiring, almost mystical phenomenon known as Linsanity? Mashable contacted some number-crunching social media experts, and the answer is yes.

But first a primer for the somehow still-uninitiated: Jeremy Lin is the New York Knicks point guard who has come to dominate both the NBA and Internet over the past couple of weeks. Overlooked in high school, college and his first year-and-a-half in the NBA, the underdog’s humble attitude and shocking rise have given birth to the term Linsanity, which has become a platform for all things Lin-worshipping. His name and the #Linsanity hashtag have trended multiple times on Twitter recently, and he has apparently become the very top “suggested user” on Sina Weibo, Twitter’s Chinese equivalent.

But just how much has Lin dominated the online conversation, and what have people been saying most? Let’s dig into the numbers. The data show that Lin has eclipsed the game’s biggest names, confirms that people love to make puns using his surname, and shows that people prefer him to Denver Broncos quarterback-turned-meme-machine Tim Tebow.

Complete and total domination

According to social analytics firm Topsy, “Jeremy Lin” has been mentioned more than 350,000 times on Twitter in the past week. In the past day, tweeters have mentioned his full name nearly 70,000 times.

On Wednesday, Lin gobbled up .32% of all online conversations, according to the research company NM Incite. That was a rise from zero just twelve days prior, and more than the entire Knicks team and megastars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James combined. For a fuller picture, check out the graphic below:

Data from the buzz-monitoring SocialGuide reinforces this, too. On Feb. 4, when Lin had his first breakout performance, the #Knicks hashtag was mentioned about 18 times more than the #Linsanity tag. On Feb. 8, #Linsanity barely passed #Knicks, with 7,836 mentions compared to 7,372. On Feb. 14, #Knicks was tweeted 16,828 times. #Linsanity? 55,068 tweets.

Splicing the overwhelmingly positive data

NM Incite reports that 23% of Lin-related conversation over past couple weeks has revolved around humor or puns, while 22% mention Linsanity, and 17% draw comparisons to Bryant or James. Mentions of his Asian heritage and comparisons to Tebow clock in at 6% each.

Multiple sources confirm that the online reaction to Lin has been overwhelmingly positive. Analytics company Netbase reports that mentions of “Jeremy Lin” across the entire web, mentions of “Jeremy Lin” on Twitter, and mentions of “Linsanity” on Twitter have all hovered around 80% percent positive. The main Lindictments have been that he is overrated and getting too much credit.

Here’s a graphic showing where the conversation has originated across the web (“microblogs” refers to Twitter, “social networks” to Facebook):

More loved (or less hated) than Tebow

When people have talked about Lin on Twitter during the past two weeks, they have also been more positive than when discussing Tebow in December and early January. According to Topsy, the Lin conversation has trended around 70% positive, peaking near 80%, and never dropping below 60% since Feb. 3. By contrast, the Tebow Twitter talk from Dec. 1 through Jan. 15 averaged closer to 60% and dipped as low as 50%. Check out these two graphics from Topsy for the fuller picture:

But enough from us. What does this data tell you about Linsanity? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS GALLERY: The Jeremy Lin Meme Roundup

1. Linsanity

The classic.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, infographics, Social Media, sports, trending, Twitter

Lawmakers to Homeland Security: Social Media Monitoring Threatens Free Speech

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 05:27 PM PST

Security Cameras

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s monitoring of social media services could be a threat to civil liberties and online free speech, several lawmakers said during a hearing Thursday.

According to a report by a civil liberties group called the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, DHS paid more than $11 million to General Dynamics for a system to keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter public posts, as well as comment threads on major news websites.

EPIC’s report found that the system watches public social media posts for comments that “adversely reflect” on the government, and for responses to proposed government plans. EPIC tried to get information about the deal through a Freedom of Information request, but was denied. It then filed a successful lawsuit and was granted access to the specifics by DHS.

During Thursday’s hearing, congressmen from both sides of the asile grilled DHS about the General Dynamics deal as revealed by EPIC’s lawsuit. One Democratic representative, Jackie Speier of California, said she was “deeply troubled” by the arrangement.

The Department of Homeland Security “is not a political operation,” she added.

Pennsylvania Republican Representative Patrick Meehan also expressed doubts about the plan.

“My guess is that the average American has no problem with other private individuals reading their commentary in online writings and postings in open forums, but may feel a bit of unease knowing the federal government may be doing the same thing,” said Meehan.

Reps. Speier and Meehan elaborated on their concerns about the deal in a letter sent to DHS Thursday.

“Although there are clear advantages to monitoring social media to identify possible threats to our security, there are also privacy and civil liberties concerns implicit in this activity,” they wrote. “With its domestic mission, the Department of Homeland Security needs to be mindful of the rights of the citizens of our country to express themselves online. Not only should guidance issued by the Department permit analysts to do their jobs identifying threats, but it should also be stringent enough to protect the rights of our citizens.”

DHS Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan defended the agency.

According to Callahan, DHS’ social media activity has been limited to public outreach, gaining “situational awareness” when disasters strike and helping law enforcement. She added that privacy rules meant they could only collect information on public officials and during “life or death” situations.

“It is the what, not the who, being identified,” said Callahan.

Would you feel comfortable with the government monitoring your public social media posts? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adventtr

More About: Facebook, Social Media, Twitter

iPad 2 vs. Kindle Fire: Top Consumer Gripes [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 05:02 PM PST

When shopping for a tablet, consumers often compare specs and the benefits of each device, including screen size and resolution, processor speed, battery life and software. But sometimes a gadget’s biggest draw — or its most exasperating feature — doesn’t make the spec list.

Product Q&A website FixYa released Thursday a study that ranks the top consumer gripes with the iPad 2 and Kindle Fire. Overall, Kindle Fire owners had a longer list of frustrations than owners of iPad 2 devices. For Kindle Fire owners, the top issue is the lack of security inherent in the device’s one-click shopping system; for iPad owners, Wi-Fi connections. Some of those frustrations were identical: Users of both tablets say they have trouble securing Wi-Fi connections and getting their computers to recognize their devices when connected via USB, for instance.

The top five iPad 2 issues

  • Wi-Fi Connection Issues (35%). Some iPad 2 owners complain that they are unable to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or that they are soon booted off after they log in.
  • LED Display Issues (15%). Some users complain of splotchy light patches in the corners and on the edges of their screens when their screens display dark graphics or pages.
  • Microphone Quality (15%). Some iPad 2 owners are dissatisfied with the tablet’s audio recording capabilities.
  • USB Issues (10%). Some users have trouble getting their computers to recognize their iPad 2s after connecting them via USB.
  • Other Screen Issues (10%). Owners have reported a number of other screen-related issues, including screen freezes and touchscreen inaccuracy.

The top five Kindle Fire issues

  • Can't Turn Off One-Click Shopping (30%). The Kindle Fire allows users to store their credit card information to make automatic purchases. Although convenient, this creates security issues for some consumers, if, for example, their children make accidental purchases, or if their devices were stolen. Amazon says it’s working to address this issue.
  • Wi-Fi Connection Issues (25%). Many users complain of poor Wi-Fi connections and sudden disconnects. FixYa found that updating the Kindle Fire’s software to the latest version solves the issues in 30% of cases, however.
  • No Parental Settings (15%). A problem for Kindle Fire owners who share their tablets with their families and are worried about children’s access to uncensored web content.
  • Touchscreen Precision (15%). Similar to the iPad 2, some users complain of touchscreen inaccuracy.
  • USB Issues As with the iPad 2, some users have trouble getting their computers to recognize their Kindle Fires after connecting them via USB.

iPad 2 and Kindle Fire owners: Are you similarly frustrated with your tablet for the above reasons? What’s the one thing about your device you’d fix if you could?

More About: ipad, iPad 2, kindle fire, trending

How Twitter Is Changing the Craft of Comedy

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 04:36 PM PST

At the “How to be Funny in 140 Characters or Less” panel Wednesday, I watched the full life cycle of a humorous trending topic on Twitter — from its creation, to peak, then death — all within less than an hour.

The event was part of Social Media Week NYC, and was led by Lizz Winstead, writer and political satirist for The Daily Show; Jon Friedman, writer, comedian and producer; and Julieanne Smolinski, writer and editor.

“How to be funny on Twitter is always tricky, because no one can make you funny. But people can make what you think is funny a little more accessible,” says Winstead.

SEE ALSO: Twitter Comedy: How to Be Funny in 140 Characters

Hashtag games on Twitter have become a new form of entertainment, and a great exercise for comedians. The topic given at the panel was #RejectedGroupons. From just a 168-seat theater, the topic trended in second place, worldwide within twenty minutes. By the end of the hour-long panel, the topic was no longer trending.

The Funniest #RejectedGroupons Tweets

Click here to view this gallery.

Twitter has no doubt changed comedy, and humorists say it’s even created a new “genre” that’s different from traditional standup.

“Comedians are getting attention in a way they haven’t in a long time — it’s a new outlet,” says Friedman.

Attention on the social network has often led to opportunity for comedians and writers as well — Smolinski says “every job I have right now, I got because of Twitter.”

The panelists also discussed the formalities of being a comedian on Twitter. Although Winstead claims to hate using the word “brand,” she admits there is a certain entertainment to marketing ratio that every comedian should be aware of on Twitter. For her, it’s one pitch for every ten comedy tweets.

“You don’t want to tweet any type of self-promotion too much because then people will get irritated and then they won’t follow you,” says Smolinski.

Overall, the three panelists say that even with the rapid, viral nature of comedy on Twitter (as proved with #RejectedGroupons), this form of social entertainment is supposed to be casual.

“If I do standup, I get a little stressed out,” says Friedman, speaking of the copious amount of preparation that live performance entails. “But with Twitter, it’s different. I like to just calm down and not take it so seriously. Otherwise when it’s not fun, I’m not going to want to do it anymore.”

So how do you become a comedian in 140 characters or less?

“Don’t overthink it — if you thought it was funny, tweet it out there. You show people what you think is funny and they’ll throw it out there,” advises Friedman. “Just use your own voice and don’t try too hard.”

More About: comedy, features, humor, Social Media, social media week new york, Twitter

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Why Apple’s Mountain Lion Didn’t Roar

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 04:06 PM PST

Tim Cook at the iPhone 4s Unveil

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

I've been trying to remember another time when Apple made such a major announcement with so little fanfare. OS X Mountain Lion is this year's major Mac desktop and laptop operating system update — and it didn't merit as much as a press conference.

Instead, the Cupertino technology behemoth held a handful of private meetings and briefings with news organizations (including Mashable), unveiling the goods to a select few, then letting the news roll in the dawn hours.

On the one hand, you have to give Apple credit. The company would probably dominate the day’s tech news if it told no one beforehand and launched its product in the middle of the weekend, just as much as it would with a big, splashy, liveblogged-up-the-wazoo event.

On the other hand, the whole affair does run the risk of making Apple appear more selective and elitist than ever.

Last year, Steve Jobs took the stage for the last time at Apple's developer's conference to talk about Lion, unveil iOS 5, and reinvigorate Apple's cloud-based service with iCloud. It's hard to think of that event and not remember the frail founder giving it his all.

Mountain Lion, however, got none of this. Apple's new CEO, Tim Cook, does not appear anywhere near as comfortable on stage as Jobs (at least not from the evidence of the iPhone 4S launch). Are the days of unveiling every new Apple product with big fanfare and a lavish presentation in front of an audience over?

Some might argue that this is just a point upgrade, so there’s no need for a big show. But in case you haven't noticed, Apple has been doing some pretty major changes under the guise of smaller point upgrades. With a reported 100 new features in Mountain Lion, there's nothing small about this update.

Mountain Lion changes the names of fundamental features, pushes services to the cloud, and allies itself to Twitter at the expense of Facebook. And that's really just scratching the surface.

SEE ALSO: Apple Unveils Mac OS X Mountain Lion: So Long iChat, Hello Twitter

Yet here we are, with a developer's version of the new OS already in our hands, a beta version of Message (the replacement for iChat) available to anyone with a Mac running Lion, and no event to pin it on.

To know what Cook and company think and feel about these changes, we have to interpret a very few selective quotes. For instance, here’s what Cook told the Wall Street Journal about Apple's overall strategic vision for bringing OS X and iOS closer together:

“We see that people are in love with a lot of apps and functionality [on their phones]. Anywhere where that makes sense, we are going to move that over to Mac.”

Cook didn't say that the two operating systems are merging, but he is already thinking about them "as one with incremental functionality.” And, of course, Cook managed to get a subtle ding in about Apple's biggest competitor in the desktop OS space. “I don’t really think anything Microsoft does puts pressure on Apple,” Cook said; any pressure they feel is “self-induced.”

This puts Apple, and Cook, in the same realm as the Honey Badger: They just don't care. Apple is now so big, so successful, so powerful, that it really can do everything its own way. This seems to be what the company is saying:

Competing? That's for dummies. We're in our own space, competing against ourselves.

Those event-driven product-ganzas you so loved? They were a favor we did for you. But we realized that we put a lot of time and resources into them and are not certain we got all the return we desired. We couldn't control them to the extent we wanted, so we told only a handful of trusted outlets, to make sure you got our product message loud and clear.

In fact, I don't think Apple will kill product events altogether. This Mountain Lion drop was almost certainly something of a throat-clearing measure before Apple's next two or three massive product announcements: iPad 3, iPhone 5 and Apple iTV.

The rumor mill says we should expect the first as early as March 7. The iPhone 5 could come in June, and iTV could be September. Compared to them, it’s likely Apple thought Mountain Lion wasn't big enough to warrant face time with an audience.

I hope that is the case, because if access to Apple announcements and new products remains this narrow, the company could one day find itself struggling to gain the attention it wants. I know it sounds like a crazy pronouncement now, but the one constant in the tech industry is change. If you told someone in 1999 that the global media would one day care more about product launches from Apple and Google than those of Microsoft, they’d call you insane too.

For the moment, however, Apple and Cook can do whatever the heck they want, and we'll all still eagerly listen and cover. What choice do we have?

New Logo

Meet the Mountain Lion.

Click here to view this gallery.

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More About: apple, icloud, mac osx mountain lion, OSX, steve jobs, tim cook, trending, Twitter

Facebook Adds 12 New Media Apps

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 03:30 PM PST


Facebook launched its latest wave of media apps built with Open Graph Thursday, including a Mashable app.

The media apps — joining veterans such as The Guardian‘s social news app and Washington Post Social Reader — are a platform for users to discover and share content.

Facebook writes in a blog post that its news apps have driven significant traffic, increased engagement and introduced media outlets with a new, younger demographic.

The beta round of media partners were launched at f8 in September, including Yahoo News, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent and The Daily. Digg also launched an app in December.

In addition to the Mashable app, the new set includes Buzzfeed, CBS Local: Los Angeles and New York, CMT, The Daily Show, The Huffington Post, GetGlue,, MTV News, Pixable, Sporting News (coming in March) and TODAY Show. Among that group, GetGlue and Pixable stand out as non-news sites and we’re eager to see how those apps change the sharing experience on Timeline.

Facebook also released some numbers on the reach of its first wave of apps, since their launch at f8. Yahoo News has seen 25 million people opt into Social Bar and the app has 2 million daily users. The Guardian‘s app has been installed 5 million times, with 50% of users ages 24 and under. Digg Social Reader has driven a 35% increase in readership.

Are you using any social reader apps on Facebook? Where do you see the platform going? Let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: This post initially said The Huffington Post launched in November. It too launched Thursday.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, -Oxford-

More About: Facebook, facebook media, trending

This Robot-Human Handshake is Out of This World [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 03:07 PM PST

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

It’s one small handshake for man, one giant handshake for robot-kind — and one entertaining video for robot aficionados and geeks alike.

Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid robot NASA designed to help humans work and explore in space, took time out from his busy schedule recently to engage in a “man-machine” handshake in space with Commander Dan Burbank. The event took place after Robonaut 2 completed its system checks aboard the International Space Station.

“For the record, it was a firm handshake. Very nice. Nice job on the programming and all the engineering. Quite an impressive robot,” Burbank says in the video.

Burbank is one of three crew members who are part of Expedition 30, which is so named because it’s the 30th long-duration mission to the International Space Station. The crew is expected to return to Earth in March.

The expedition is examining the effects of space’s weightless environment on the human body and different substances, in part to help further determine what types of materials are best suited for space travel, according to NASA. Another goal is to train Robonaut 2 to take over boring, repetitive and dangerous tasks that the astronauts might not want to do themselves. When not busy with the work, Robonaut 2 updates his Twitter account.

1. The Cubinator

We met The Cubinator for the first time at the 2010 World Maker Faire. The robot currently holds the Guinness world record for fastest machine solve of a Rubik's cube. Pete Redmond, who developed the robot for the final project of his master's degree, says that its solve time averages about 25 seconds. Webcams in the robot's eyes detect the colors on the cube and the machine solves the puzzle by using an algorithm to find the fewest moves. It also has has a sense of humor, shouting "oh dear!" when it occasionally drops the cube.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: NASA, Robonaut2, robots, youtube video of the day

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Mitt Romney’s Google Problem: ‘SpreadingRomney’

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 02:36 PM PST

Like Rick Santorum before him, Mitt Romney’s got a Google problem. The second result when searching for the presidential hopeful is “,” a satirical site that lampoons Romney for leaving his dog atop his station wagon during a long family drive.

SpreadingRomney seeks to redefine “Romney” into a verb meaning “to defecate in terror,” which the dog apparently did before Romney washed him off and put him back in a crate on the vehicle’s roof.

The site is a riff on “,” which was built by Dan Savage in 2003 as a response to anti-gay comments made by then-Sen. Rick Santorum. That website seeks to redefine Santorum as a “frothy mixture,” which is the result of a certain type of sexual activity.

SpreadingRomney was set up by Jack Shepler, an Indianapolis, Ind.-based web designer and DJ. Why?

“I was inspired both by Savage’s Santorum site as well as the story about Romney putting his dog on the roof of his van,” says Shepler. “I couldn’t imagine doing that to a pet, especially for a 12 hour drive on the highway.”

Shepler launched the website Jan. 10, and he “immediately” saw the site picked up on social networks. Two days later, Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, mentioned the site on her show. Afterward, the site saw a dramatic spike in traffic — about 14,000 views in two days.

After that, Shepler says, traffic was relatively slow. But on Feb. 10, SearchEngineLand, a popular Search Engine Optimization (SEO) blog, posted about the site after noticing it was near the first page of Google results for “Romney.” Since that post, the site’s been seeing an abundance of traffic and sits second only to Romney’s official site.

As of Thursday afternoon, the site had received 142,000 pageviews, according to Shepler.

“I’m not sure if the site will have the same impact as Savage’s Santorum site, but that would be pretty incredible,” says Shepler. “My only hope is that it raises awareness.”

SEE ALSO: Dear Rick Santorum: 6 Ways to Fix Your Google Problem

A similar site, “,” is currently asking visitors to submit their input for redefining Newt Gingrich’s last name.

What do you think of SpreadingRomney? Is it too silly, or does it bring attention to a legitimate issue? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Flickr, Gage Skidmore

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, Google, internet, Mitt Romney

Pixable Brings the Hashtag to Facebook Photos

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 02:03 PM PST

Photo-sorting app Pixable is bringing the Twitter-style hashtag to Facebook photos.

The startup’s core service sorts images from your Facebook and Twitter feeds into piles such as “Top of the Day,” “New on Twitter” and “New Profile Pics.” Now you can tag the photos in these categories with hashtags and see them in your Facebook Timeline.

A new Facebook Timeline integration will show activity on the app within modules on user timelines. Photos with hashtags show up in a separate module in your timeline that functions like an album collection organized by sentiment rather than event. Using the new feature, you can sort the photos you view on Pixable — from both you and your friends on Facebook and Twitter — into piles such as #cute, #nyc, #friends or #birthday both within the app and on your Facebook profile.

Other Pixable Facebook Timeline modules include a roundup of favorited photos each month and a general log of app activity.

So far about 1.5 million people have installed Pixable on their iPhones and 300,000 have installed it on their iPads. About 20% of them log in every day.

“People are treating this more like a photo inbox,” explains Pixable co-founder Andres Blank. “The photos that really matter come to you, you don't have to go on a hunt.”

While focusing on photo consumption rather than broadcasting is what distinguishes Pixable from other photo apps, it also puts the app at a disadvantage when it comes to growing its numbers.

Hashtags are Pixable’s first broadcasting mechanism. When you add one to a photo, it can be Tweeted, Facebooked or shared with the rest of the community. Users can also browse public photos by hashtag.

More About: Facebook, Photos, Pixable

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Klout + Gamification = Extra Perks for Influencers?

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 01:34 PM PST

Badgeville, a gamification platform used by Samsung, eBay and Dell, among others, is integrating data from Klout to help brands identify, reward and promote its most influential brand advocates.

Formed in 2010, Badgeville provides a plug-and-play solution for brands who want to increase engagement and reward loyalty via badges, tokens and other types of online prizes. Kris Duggan, CEO of the company, says with the Klout integration, marketers who run the programs will be able to see how influential participating users are.

“So if you’re a Samsung brand manager, you can already see which user is commenting the most because we already offer that kind of behavior insight,” Duggan says. “What we haven’t been able to show is what their Klout influence is.”

What will brand managers do with that information?

Duggan says anything they want, though possibilities include giving preference to users with higher Klout scores. For instance, if an electronics retailer wanted to give its top users platinum status, they might require a Klout score above 40 to keep that status and maintain whatever discounts it afforded.

That idea isn’t new. In 2010, the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas created a “Klout Klub” which let high-ranking users get special perks. More recently, Chevrolet arranged for three-day loans of its 2012 Sonic to those with a Klout score of 35 or higher. However, it remains to be seen whether consumers will be willing to swap their online influence for extra perks.

The partnership is Klout’s latest attempt to monetize its rating system via a partnership. In November, the company linked with a startup called Wahooly that offered equity in other startups to Klout users with scores above 45 if they discussed the startups in social media.

What do you think? Is it fair to give people with higher Klout scores preferential treatment? Sound off in the comments.

More About: badgeville, gamification, klout

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Apple OS X Mountain Lion: Top 15 New Features

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 12:58 PM PST

1. Deeper Integration With iCloud

Today, Apple's iCloud technology syncs media (music, photos) and some data among iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and to a limited extent Macs. With OS X Mountain Lion, iCloud plays a greater role on the Mac side, syncing calendars, contacts and email across all your devices. iCloud syncing comes to a host more apps, including Messages, Notes and Reminders (more on those in a bit). As iCloud and the Mac evolve, Apple's vision of a unified experience across all devices is becoming clearer.

Click here to view this gallery.

Apple just unveiled the next major upgrade to its core software, OS X. It’s called Mountain Lion, and it’s a doozy, bringing a lot of the features its customers use ever day on iPhones and iPads over to the Mac. Apple says Mountain Lion has 100 new features, from tiny details in the Safari web browser to wholesale changes in how instant messaging works.

Curious about what’s different? The general public will have to wait until summer to download the release for themselves, but in the meantime you can explore the Top 15 most important new features in the gallery above. Throughout all of them, though, you’ll find two distinct trends:

  1. The continued migration of mobile features to the Mac experience.
  2. iCloud playing a greater role on the Mac.

When Apple first unveiled Mac OS X Lion back in 2010, it was a paradigm shift for computers. Mobile technology had been — and still is — evolving extremely fast, and more fundamentally was becoming much more integrated with peoples’ day-to-day lives. It only made sense to take the best features of mobile (full-screen experiences, integrated sharing, a launch center for apps, etc.) and bring them to the desktop.

SEE ALSO: Apple Mountain Lion: Why No Facebook?

Mountain Lion continues this transition. Apps familiar to iOS users get ported to the desktop, and most feature seamless syncing with their mobile counterparts.

Which brings us to iCloud. The cloud-syncing service introduced last year is playing a greater role in Mountain Lion, and so it should. Keeping track of what you’re doing on which device is a task no one wants — much better to simply take the whole experience with you no matter what machine is in front of you. The new version of OS X brings that functionality to a ton more apps.

For all the new stuff in Mountain Lion, however, it’s worth pointing out a notable absence: Siri. Apple makes no mention of its famous voice assistant in its overview of the new OS and has remained mum on why. Is it because Macs simply don’t have the same system-on-a-chip technology that the iPhone 4S includes? The investigation continues…

In the meantime, please browse OS X Mountain Lion’s many new features, and tell us which ones you’re really looking for to (or could do without) in the comments.

(Thanks to Mashable‘s Christina Warren for the screengrabs)

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More About: apple, iOS, ipad, iphone, lion, mac, Mountain Lion, os x, siri, trending

FTC: Apps for Children Raise Privacy Concerns

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 12:43 PM PST

Mobile application marketplaces, developers and service providers need to do a better job of protecting children’s privacy, according to an Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report released Thursday.

The report was based on an FTC survey that found mobile apps for children aren’t upfront about what they’re doing with user data.

"At the FTC, one of our highest priorities is protecting children's privacy, and parents deserve the tools to help them do that," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz in a statement. “Right now, it is almost impossible to figure out which apps collect data and what they do with it. The kids app ecosystem needs to wake up, and we want to work collaboratively with industry to help ensure parents have the information they need."

Smartphone users had about 800 apps to choose from in 2008. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 500,000 in Apple’s App Store and 380,000 in the Android Market. Many of those apps are designed for children.

"Consumers have downloaded these apps more than 28 billion times, and young children and teens are increasingly embracing smartphone technology for entertainment and educational purposes,” says the report.

Mobile apps can collect a wide swath of information about a user, including location, phone number and address book. Adults may be reasonably expected to figure out what an app does with all that data before installing it. But the FTC report suggests children are less likely to be so proactive and security-minded.

Therefore, the FTC report suggests that app stores, developers and service providers should “play an active role” in letting parents know about privacy agreements in apps for children. The report also says that information about data usage should be provided in “simple and short disclosures.”

The report puts pressure on the app stores themselves — the “gatekeepers” — to do more to inform children and their parents of privacy concerns.

Do you think app stores need to do a better job of informing parents and children about data privacy? Or does that responsibility fall on the parents alone? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ssj414

More About: apps, Children, FTC

RIP iChat, 2002-2012

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 12:33 PM PST

Dear iChat,

This isn’t really a eulogy. It isn’t goodbye. You’ve simply gone to a better place: iMessage for Mountain Lion.

I know you’ll be happy there, watching on proudly as the kids (on iPhones) jabber back and forth in the translucent bubbles you passed down to them. The spirit of Instant Messaging is alive and well, even though the format has mostly moved on to SMS.

And of course you will still be alive on the millions of Macs running Snow Leopard and previous OS Xs. (Lion users are getting a free beta version of iMessage to replace you too. Sorry, iChat.)

What we mourn today is the loss of your earthly shell: the name that became a verb. “I’ll iChat you” — how many times have I said that? It took a while for it to shift to “I’ll gChat you,” which is what I say now. I used the name iChat while using gChat for at least a year.

(Partly because Google doesn’t actually brand their Gmail-based IM product that — the company says we should call it “Google Talk,” but it is also notoriously bad at enforcing our verb usage. Its name attests to that.)

SEE ALSO: An iMessage-Inspired Eulogy for Group Messaging Apps

But iChat, you were nearly perfect. If only you’d integrated gTalk as seamlessly as you used AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), I’d still be using you. You understood that chatting should be a delicious experience, light as bubble gum, and that it should look that way too. Your design brought smiles to dull business chats, and brightened many an intense conversation with my editors.

And you were the first app to introduce video chats to my life. I’ll never forget the first ones, with all that jerky hand-waving and the sheer joy of seeing friends and family across the world, live, for free.

You were so easy to use and customize that I suspect people were a lot more creative with you. I used to have rip-roaring chats with a writer who liked to change her icon every five minutes, usually to a different Simpsons character, and try to chat in their voices. Your emoticons were beautiful and did their part to make emoticons ubiquitous. It was easy to drag and drop pictures into you.

Reading your archives, even now, can be like watching a good cartoon, starring your friends. Facebook Timeline could still learn a thing or two from you.

I’ll not mention the fact that you were once also a supremely easy way for friends to share MP3s by dropping them into the chat window too. Perish the thought! I’m sure they only did it that one time in 2003, anyway.

So as we say goodbye to your name and program, and discuss whether “I’ll iMessage you” will ever catch on, we stop and remember all the good things you brought us, and how much more pleasant you made our geeky lives. And we remember the times your creator would bring you up on screen at a keynote and excitedly iChat Al Gore, or Bono, or Madonna, or even Phil Schiller.

As a design experience, you’re a credit to your creator’s memory.

So long, iChat. I’ll be iChatting you.

New Logo

Meet the Mountain Lion.

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Why AOL Ventures Is Targeting Early Stage Startups [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 12:15 PM PST

AOL Venture, the venture capital arm of AOL, is one part early-stage investment firm and one part incubator of new and unique AOL products. The focus on seed and series A rounds is unusual among corporate investors, and founding partner Mike Brown, Jr. says it is because the fund is focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed early on and building AOL’s reputation in the early stage community. Though relatively young, AOL Ventures has already assembled an impressive portfolio of investments, including participation in rounds with startups like,, OpenX and NewsCred.

Watch our interview with Brown, Jr. to find out how AOL Ventures got started, what types of companies they’re looking to invest in and why strong management teams are so important.

This Venture Studio Classic was originally released on June 28, 2011.

Follow Venture Studio, in association with Mashable. The show is hosted by Dave Lerner, a 3x entrepreneur and angel investor. To join Venture Studio’s Facebook page, click here.

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More About: aol, entrepreneurship, investing, mashable video, Startups, Venture, venture capital, venture studio, Video

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New Robotic Arm Looks Nothing Like Our Own [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 12:14 PM PST

Will our robot overlords one day have appendages with five digits like us humans? We’d have to guess otherwise — could that really be the most efficient method? A new robotic arm from Cornell and the University of Chicago shows off a technique that might be more dexterous and dangerous.

The “universal grabber” has an elastic membrane that uses vacuum pressure to grip and release.

“The gripper passively conforms to the shape of a target object, then vacuum hardens to grip it rigidly, later utilizing positive pressure to reverse this transition — releasing the object and returning to a deformable state,” says the researchers’ abstract.

SEE ALSO: DARPA AlphaDog Robot Steps Lively With 400 Lbs on its Back

“By using both positive and negative pressure, we demonstrate performance increases of up to 85% in reliability, 25% in error tolerance, and the added capability to shoot objects by fast ejection,” the researchers say.

Should we be preparing to one day battle robots like this that might “shoot objects by fast ejection” at us? Not quite yet (the robotic arm’s aim isn’t great, for one thing). The researchers say their next step is to further develop the gripper. “In the long term we are striving to apply jamming in a more general way to adaptive robots and structures that might reconfigure, locomote, or recover from damage,” they say.

Check out the video above to learn more about the robot and see it in action.

Thumbnail image courtesy of John Amend, Cornell University

More About: mashable video, Robot, Science

Hate Sticky Screen Protectors? Roll-On Shield Is Foolproof [REVIEW]

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 12:02 PM PST

So long, air bubbles. When we heard about a fool-proof screen protector kit for the iPhone — with promises that even those with the clumsiest of hands could magically glide the sticky coating onto devices with ease — we had to give it a try.

The PureTek Roll-On Screen Shield Kit kit by Pure Gear ($24.99) aims to make the process of adding a screen protector to mobile devices seamless, eliminating the hassle of ironing out air bubbles and lining the shield perfectly over a smartphone. The kit’s packaging serves as an application tray that lines both iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S devices up to the 0.22 mm ultra-thin shield.

By dropping an iPhone into the application tray and using the roller included in the kit, users slide the protector over the smartphone and work out the air bubbles for a clean, sleek and protected display.

The concept in itself is brilliant — why didn’t someone think of this before? However, we experienced a few small kinks along the way. Although the protective shield is hardly visible over the touchscreen, the cover doesn’t completely align with our home screen button. In addition, a few small air bubbles and smudges appeared near the top of the device. We’ve been told that these will dissipate in the next 24 hours.

For those with attention to detail, these quirks might be bothersome. But overall, the PureTek kit is an impressive and effortless way to get to take the sticky factor out of ensuring your iPhone’s screen protection.

What do you think of screen protectors? Are they worth it or too frustrating? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: iphone, iPhone 4S, iphone accessories, Mobile

Kate Upton Teaches ‘Finger Mechanics’ in Latest 2K Sports Ad [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 11:48 AM PST

Supermodel Kate Upton lends her good looks and apparent video game expertise to the latest spot for the popular 2K series of sports games.

In the ad for MLB 2K12 — titled “Finger Mechanics with Kate Upton” — the curvaceous blonde is shown teaching a group of four major league pitchers how to throw a virtually un-hittable ball in the game.

“You take your thumb, go up and then around, and that’s a circle change,” she says to a rapt audience.

MLB 2K12 comes out on March 6. Users who pitch a perfect game will be entered into a contest for a chance to win $1 million.

But Internet denizens more interested in Upton than the game itself can get their fix of the supermodel elsewhere, too. She graces the cover of Sports Illustrated‘s 49th annual swimsuit edition this month. And the issue isn’t just available in hard copy — it’s hitting more digital platforms than ever this year. It’s available on the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Nook Color, Kindle Fire, Motorola Xoom and Android smarthphones for $6.99. Additional content is also available for free on and YouTube.

Upton herself is a digital native as well, having catapulted herself recent celebrity by leveraging a number of popular YouTube videos. She has nearly 200,000 Twitter followers and a New York Times profile recently detailed how she “has arrived on the scene as a largely self-created Internet phenomenon.”

Her MLB 2K ad will only increase Upton’s online popularity, and it’s amassed more than 250,000 views in three days. After she tutors one player in the spot, she asks, “Anyone else need help?” The other three players’ hands immediately shoot up.

How does the Kate Upton ad strike you? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Advertising, Gaming, YouTube

Tickets on Sale Now for Mashable’s Biggest Conference of the Year

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 11:37 AM PST

Mashable’s largest conference, Mashable Connect, returns to Orlando, FL this year from May 3 – 5. Our annual destination conference brings our community together for three days to connect offline in an intimate setting at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World®. Registration is now open.

Held in a unique location away from everyday distractions, Mashable Connect is a rare and valuable opportunity to be surrounded by digital leaders across industries. You'll spend time with Mashable's passionate and influential community, hear from top speakers who will provide insight into the the technologies and trends that are shaping the next era of digital innovation, and get to spend time with the Mashable team.

To keep Mashable Connect as intimate as possible, only a limited amount of tickets are available.

Register for Mashable Connect 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, FL on Eventbrite

We have a stellar lineup of speakers, and will be signing on even more in the coming weeks.

Cindy Gallop, founder and CEO of, will be speaking about new digital business models, and Duane Bray, partner of IDEO, will explore the future of digital tools and their impact on society.

Hilary Mason, chief scientist at, will reveal secrets of data, and Alexander Ljung, founder and CEO of Soundcloud, will provide new insights into sound.

Joe Trippi, founder and president of Joe Trippi & Associates, has been at the forefront of movement politics for nearly 30 years, and will speak about the impact of digital on campaigns.

Mashable team members will be leading discussions onstage about the evolution of the second screen and the future of mobile-first networking apps. And we’ll be sitting down with Joe Fernandez, founder and CEO of Klout, for a conversation about online reputation.

We’ll be announcing even more speakers and topics in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for some exciting updates about Mashable Connect.

A Look Back at Last Year's Mashable Connect

1. Mashable Connect Race Powered by Gowalla

Team members check in to a race location at Magic Kingdom during the Mashable Connect Race powered by Gowalla.

Click here to view this gallery.

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Sponsorship Opportunities

A limited number of sponsor opportunities are available for Mashable Connect. This is an excellent opportunity to get in front of Mashable's passionate and influential audience. Contact for opportunities.

More About: Connect, disney, Events, learn, mashable connect, networking

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U.S. Army Orders $13.9 Million in Badass Micro Robots [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 11:26 AM PST

The U.S. Army placed its largest order of micro-robots ever with ReconRobotics, Inc. on Wednesday.

A contract worth $13.9 million will supply the U.S. Army with 1,100 Recon Scout XT micro-robot kits. The 1.2 pound robot is equipped with a camera that can do indoor and outdoor surveillance for soldiers in combat.

And these bots can take a beating.

Ernest Langdon, director of military programs for ReconRobotics, said the bots are designed to take 1600Gs of impact. They can be thrown 120 feet and take repeated 30 foot drops onto concrete. And those are just the specs — Langdon said he’s seen the bots survive even more abuse.

The XT robot is water resistant and can move through rough terrain or even loose clothing on the floor of a home. The robot is equipped with infrared technology and can be attached to a bayonet mount or a pole to peek around a corner or peer onto a roofttop.

Langdon says the robots can be used for a variety of surveillance purposes, including looking under vehicles for explosive devices or being thrown on rooftops or around corners to survey potential danger. He said soldiers can also attach the lightweight robots to dogs who wander around city streets.

The bots will be used for training in the states before leaving with soldiers going overseas in mid-April or May, he said.

The company’s website says more than 2,200 of its robots have been deployed by the “U.S. military and international friendly forces, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, bomb squads and fire.”

The bots were purchased by the Rapid Equipping Force who are responsible for quickly providing the U.S. Army with weapons and other materials.

Each robot kit contains one robot, one carrying case and one charging system (either AC or a charger that uses military radio batteries to the charge the robot’s lithium power battery).

Here’s how the company describes the Recon Scout XT:

“The Recon Scout XT enables you to conduct video reconnaissance in cluttered indoor environments as well as in outdoor landscapes of dirt, sand and rocks. Equipped with large motors, powerful drive trains and aggressive wheels, the Recon Scout XT gives you the speed, power and maneuverability you need to gain mission-critical reconnaissance across a variety of terrain. Like the Recon Scout IR, the Recon Scout XT is equipped with an infrared optical system that automatically turns on when the ambient light is low, giving your team a big advantage in the darkest of environments.”

ReconRobotics, Inc. was founded in 2006 after the robotic technology was developed at University of Minnesota Distributed Robotics Laboratory with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science Foundation, plus others.

More About: government, microrobots, military, robotics, robots, technology

Talk Tech at a Mashable Meetup

Posted: 16 Feb 2012 11:15 AM PST

apple world

The Mashable Tech Talk meetup is less than a week away!

Mashable community members have organized more than 150 Mashable Tech Talk events for Feb. 22.

At these Meetups, the conversation will be centered on new and innovative technology and how those technologies will change the industry as we know it.

Through these Meetups, we’re giving the Mashable community an outlet to show off their own gadgets, chat about the ones they want and discuss technology that hasn’t yet been released.

The New York City Meetup

The New York City Mashable meetup will take place at Southern Hospitality BBQ‘s Hell’s Kitchen location at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Mashable Editor in Chief Lance Ulanoff and Technology Analyst Peter Pachal will be on hand to discuss technology, gadgets and industry trends.

The event is first-come, first-serve, and attendance is limited. Arrive early for the best chance of getting in!

Find A Meetup Near You

Technology Talk Meetup Ideas

Not near New York City or any other meetup and want to create your own event? Here are suggestions for planning a Tech Talk Mashable Meetup:

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