Friday, 27 April 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “LG Optimus True HD LTE Comes to Europe and Asia”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “LG Optimus True HD LTE Comes to Europe and Asia”

LG Optimus True HD LTE Comes to Europe and Asia

Posted: 27 Apr 2012 04:41 AM PDT


LG Optimus True HD LTE is coming to several new markets across Europe and Asia: Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The device has so far been available in Korea, Japan, US and Canada.

It’s LG’s most powerful LTE smartphone, with a monstrous 4.5-inch, 1280 x 720 True HD IPS screen, a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU and an 8-megapixel camera.

LTE is obviously a big selling point for LG. In its press release for this launch, the company claims it has “the greatest number of LTE patents under its belt.”

LG also promises an upgrade to Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich somewhere down the road.

More About: LG, LG Optimus True HD LTE

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Today’s Top Stories: CISPA Passes House, BlackBerry 10 Phone Rumors

Posted: 27 Apr 2012 03:25 AM PDT

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.

CISPA Cybersecurity Bill Passes House

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House of Representatives on a 248-168 vote late Thursday afternoon. CISPA's goal is to allow private companies to share information about cybersecurity threats with one another and the federal government, but critics say it might result in serious breaches of Internet users’ privacy.

BlackBerry 10 Phone Rumored for October

The first BlackBerry 10 smartphone might hit the stores as early as October 2012. Citing multiple unnamed sources, Laptop Magazine reports RIM plans to announce the device by mid-August. Details about the device are very scarce — it might be a slider with a touch screen and a QWERTY keypad, but nothing is confirmed at this point.

Space Shuttle Enterprise Is Coming to the Big Apple

NASA's prototype shuttle orbiter Enterprise is flying to NYC today. The Enterprise has been on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum since 2003; its new location will be Manhattan's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: blackberry, CISPA, enterprise, features, first to know series, mashable

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How Social Media Is Changing Sports [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 27 Apr 2012 01:00 AM PDT

Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are having a tremendous impact on the sports world for fans, players, teams and sponsors alike. We try to stay on top of that here at Mashable, bringing you stories on great sports memes, moments of unexpected discovery, sophisticated marketing strategies and more.

But sometimes a stellar infographic is needed to put things in perspective. This one, from the sports medicine company KT Tape, shows the different ways social media has changed sports during the past few years.

More than 80% of sports fans monitor social media sites while watching games on TV, and more than 60% do so while watching live events. Players have capitalized on social media and fueled massive buzz as well. More than 9,000 people per second tweeted about Tim Tebow after he threw an unexpected touchdown pass in last season’s NFL Playoffs. Jeremy Lin gained more than 550,000 followers in a single month while taking the NBA by storm earlier this year. And soccer stars Kaka and Ronaldo have leveraged their sport’s global reach to become Twitter’s two most followed athletes.

KT Tape pulled research from The Wall Street Journal,, and other sources to compile these facts and much more. Check out the infographic below for the full picture, then tell us in the comments — how is social media changing your sports experience?

More About: Facebook, infographics, sports, Twitter

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This $20 Trillion Rock Could Turn a Startup Into Earth’s Richest Company

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 08:50 PM PDT

Meet Amun 3554. Doesn’t look like much, right? Little more than a mile wide, it’s one of the smallest M-class (metal-bearing) asteroids yet discovered. Unless it ever decides to smash into us — a theoretical possibility, but extremely unlikely over the next few centuries — it will continue orbiting the sun, unknown and unmolested.

That is, unless Planetary Resources has its way. Planetary Resources is the asteroid-mining company launched Tuesday in Seattle, with backing from Microsoft and Google billionaires, along with the equally prominent James Cameron and Ross Perot Jr.

Its object is to completely dismember poor little rocks like Amun.

That’s because Amun is a goldmine — well, not gold so much. But it does contain a cool $8 trillion worth of platinum, an essential precious metal used in everything from jewelry to fuel cells to computers (and one that’s currently trading at the same rate as gold — $1500 an ounce.) On Earth, only a few hundred tonnes of the stuff are produced every year.

The $8 trillion figure is an estimate based on observations by John S. Lewis, professor of planetary science, author of Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets, and Planets, and now a consultant to Planetary Resources. He also found 3554 Amun to contain another $8 trillion in iron and nickel, and a mere $6 trillion worth of cobalt.

So, the total payout from one unassuming asteroid? $20,000,000,000,000.

That’s what got Planetary Resources co-founder Peter Diamandis so excited. “There are $20 trillion checks up there waiting to be cashed,” he enthused at a space development conference in 2006.

Trillions and Trillions

And 3554 Amun is hardly alone; it’s just one of the few asteroids that has been submitted to rigorous chemical analysis. Another mile-wide Near-Earth Asteroid, known as 1986 DA, is said to contain 100,000 tonnes of platinum and 10,000 tonnes of gold. That’s worth another couple of trillion. Not too shabby.

How many of these mile-wide metal paydays are up there? We have only a vague idea. Nearly 9,000 Near-Earth Asteroids have been discovered so far. Planetary Resources’ best guess is that represents just 1% of the total.

That’s why the company is focusing its efforts on launching space telescopes first; they’ll do the prospecting, then report back on the lowest-hanging fruit. It’s not inconceivable that Amun could be worth pennies compared to its compadres. Then the asteroid retrieval and mining process — all done by robotic spacecraft — can begin in earnest.

Beating Apple with Ease?

To become the wealthiest company in the world, Planetary Resources need only capture one rock. Less than that, in fact.

Apple, currently the world’s most valuable company, has a market cap of $500 billion. To match that in resources, let alone market cap, Planetary Resources need only mine one-fortieth of 3554 Amun.

Of course, there’s a catch. You couldn’t offload all those metals on the world market at once, for fear of crashing their prices. But the company would still own that much in equity, which would allow them to borrow against it. They would be that wealthy, to all intents and purposes. That’s just how capitalism works.

Still, for all this wealth, platinum and gold may not be the most important thing the asteroid miners are hunting. The water on some ice-bound asteroids could count for more in the long run. Not only does it make the existence of life in space that much easier, but it can also be broken down into the perfect rocket fuels: hydrogen and oxygen.

The more Planetary Resources starts a gold rush, the more important water in space becomes. No wonder the company is already talking about building a chain of orbital and space-bound refueling stations. Ice from asteroids and comets could be the next oil industry.

Check out these interviews with the Planetary Resources team, and let us know in the comments: have they got what it takes to make it?

More About: asteroid mining, Asteroids, planetary resources, space, trending

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Meet the 80-Year-Old Grandma on a Quest for 80,000 Twitter Followers

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 08:21 PM PDT

When the poet Dylan Thomas wrote of growing old, “do not go gently into that good night,” it’s a safe bet he didn’t have Twitter in mind. But Josephine Lamberti does.

The 80-year-old Staten Island grandma is, as her @J_DIMPS Twitter bio puts it, on a quest for “80K followers (or maybe a million) before I die!” And she’s getting close, having already racked up more about 65,000 in less than two years on the network.

She’s become a hit with celebrities, getting retweets and DMs from pop stars and pro athletes alike and becoming something of an online celebrity in her own right. Earlier this year, the NBA player Nate Robinson invited her and her grandson to a game after chatting over Twitter.

“We went and he met us after the game,” J. Dimps says. “He wanted to meet me more than I wanted to meet him. It was awesome.”

J. Dimps — short for dimples — originally joined Twitter and began her quest for followers with the help of 24-year-old grandson Donny Brandefine.

“Well, it was getting a little boring, so he came over and we tried to figure out something to keep me busy,” she says. “We came up with this idea, and it’s been good.”

Brandefine — who Dimps calls “my right arm” — says his grandmother has always had a rambunctious personalty and that she’s taken her online celebrity acquaintances in stride. A list called MyAdoptedGrandchildren contains more than 300 celebrities she’s interacted with on Twitter or is especially fond of.

“Thats all the big stars she has following her,” Brandefine says. “To me its crazy seeing her just sit there like, ‘Yeah, Jose Canseco’s reading me, Rihanna’s reading me.’ She thinks she’s a big shot over here!”

Dimps says she remains young at heart, as if her social media presence — she’s also on Facebook and YouTube — wasn’t proof enough. She Tebows, and she represents the hashtag #OLDladySWAG. What’s old lady swag mean?

“I’m really cool, stylish,” she says. “Funny. That’s about it. I really don’t act my age.”

Dimps says she acts “maybe 21,” and her tastes have evolved since she used to ballroom dance at the Palladium concert hall.

“Now I dance to the Rihanna music,” she says. “I don’t do the lindy or things like that no more.”

Despite racking up the Twitter followers, Dimps has managed to keep a proper followed-by-to-following ratio, at about 63,000 to 5,500. So how can you get a follow back from Dimps as she makes her way to 80K?

“If they make me laugh,” she says, “I’ll follow them back.”

Will you help 80-year-old J. Dimps meet her goal of 80,000 followers? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Twitter

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Major Video Game Villains to Appear in a Disney Movie

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 08:00 PM PDT

Wreck-It Ralph, a 3D computer-animated Disney movie due out Nov. 2, will feature cameos from the gaming world’s most-beloved bad guys.

Although the star-studded comedic film stars the 9-foot, 643-pound video game character Ralph, be on the lookout for villains from Super Mario Bros., Mortal Kombat, Sonic, Mega Man, Street Fighter and other classics.

Wreck-It Ralph will be Disney’s 52nd animated flick. It tells the story of an 8-bit miscreant who after decades of mischief-making wants to turn his life around and become a role model.

“He takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a game-hopping journey across the arcade through every generation of video games to prove he's got what it takes to be a hero,” Disney says in the synopsis for the movie, which features voiceovers from John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer and Sarah Silverman.

SEE ALSO: Stunning Drawings Put Daniel Radcliffe, Actors in Non-Cartoon Scenes [PICS]

Along the way, viewers will be treated to some flashback-inducing appearances from these badasses:

  • Bowser, Super Mario Bros.
  • Kano, Mortal Kombat
  • Doctor Robotnik, Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Doctor Wily, Mega Man
  • Zangief and M. Bison, Street Fighter II
  • Clyde, Pac-Man
  • Coily, Q*bert

BONUS: Jay-Z Launches Facebook Game

In other gaming news, hip-hop star and businessman Jay-Z unleashed a new Facebook game called Empire. The game challenges you to take your virtual self to "go from hustler, to entrepreneur, to business mogul."

Empire Facebook Game

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: animation, comedy, disney, Entertainment, Gaming, Movies, video games

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How to Develop Customer Evangelists

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 07:34 PM PDT

Alex Goldfayn's new book is called Evangelist Marketing: What Apple Amazon and Netflix Understand About Their Customers (That Your Company Probably Doesn't). He is CEO of the Evangelist Marketing Institute, a marketing consultancy with clients that include T-Mobile, TiVo, and Logitech. Follow him @alexgoldfayn.

When you have evangelists for your product or service, you have the best possible kind of customer. Your evangelists are passionate, loyal, and thrilled to recommend you. They are communicators — when it matters. They are your public defenders — when times are difficult. Evangelists are also forgiving. They assume your mistakes are honest. They believe you have their best interests at heart. Best of all, evangelists are hyper-repeat customers.

If you agree with the above then you’ll probably agree with the following. No matter what business you are in – large or small, product or service, public or private – you should be doing everything humanly possible to develop these kinds of customers.

With a critical mass of evangelists, you can succeed in unimaginable ways. Companies like Apple and Amazon are proof of this. Netflix also enjoys evangelists (Remember how evangelists are forgiving? If they weren't, Netflix would be out of business). So, if you want to develop the kind of evangelists that stick by your side through thick and thin, here are three critical steps.

Customer Insights

First, you must develop deep insights about your buyers. This is the single most important activity you can undertake to create powerful marketing. Start by conducting qualitative interviews with your customers, prospective customers, and even your competitions' customers. You want to know what they think, what they want, and how they use your product or service.

This activity is so critical because your most effective messaging comes from your market. If you do this right, your will gather language that you know resonates strongly with your customers because it comes from your customers.

Sure, Steve Jobs famously said it's not the customers' job to know what they want. He could say that because he had an unparalleled instinct about what customers want. Everybody else — us included — needs to be talking to customers, asking them strategic questions to uncover the most effective messaging.

Amazon enjoys uncommon access to customers' feedback via its consumer reviews. And Netflix certainly has received its share of customer feedback over the last year. To the company’s credit, it has actually listened when it abandoned its terrible idea of spinning off Qwikster. However, the company could have avoided every one of its mistakes over the past year by simply talking to its customers. That Netflix was surprised by the consumer outcry that followed its actions is nothing short of negligence. There is no excuse for not knowing exactly how customers will react to something you are about to do. To find out, all you have to do is ask.

Emotional Marketing Language

Once you have customer insights, you use them to develop simple, emotional, lifestyle-oriented marketing language. No matter what you do, you are in the life-improvement business. If your work is in the business-to-business space, your language must focus on how you improve the condition of your clients. Not technical specifications. Not features. Just simple, salient statements.

For example, you do not make Airplay wireless speakers, rather, you bring beautiful music into people's homes and hearts without wires.

You are not a social media marketer. You make your clients' dreams come true by dramatically increasing their sales.

You are not in the cloud business. You protect the precious, priceless memories of people's lives.

This may sound like basic marketing 101, but take a look around. Is any technology company besides Apple and Amazon talking like this? Even public relations agencies and social media outlets, which are in the business of helping clients connect with customers in effective ways, tend to tout their process and technique.

Here's the bottom line: most customers don't care about the steps you take to improve their life. All they want know is how you'll improve it. So, tell them!

Proper Platforms

Finally, you must communicate this effective messaging on the proper platforms. Here is a list of good ones and forgotten ones:

  • 1. A long list of your customers. Names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses.
  • 2. A long list of your competitions' customers. If you have good lists you can communicate directly with that market.
  • 3. Powerful relationships with earned media resources: bloggers, writers, editors, producers, etc.
  • 4. Social media.
  • 5. Your product package. It's generally an overlooked opportunity to communicate to potential customers how you can improve their lives.
  • 6. Your product manual is generally useless. Product manuals should be filled with success stories: how various features and uses of your product or service has improved the lives of real people.

There are many more, but the above list is a good place to start. Once you develop evangelists, you must work hard to simply maintain them. In fact, you must continue to innovate your products and your marketing just to maintain your position of success. Need proof? Research in Motion used to have evangelists. So did Best Buy.

If you stop aggressively doing the things that made you successful, the world will pass you by in three seconds. It's not difficult to create evangelists — you simply have to do the work that most businesses do not do: gather qualitative insights from your market; use simple, emotional language; and communicate it from the right platforms. Do that, and your competition will be an easy crowd to stand out among.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alexsl

More About: community evangelists, contributor, features, Marketing

Airbnb Launches Match: A Booking Service that Makes More Sense

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 07:03 PM PDT

Airbnb users may have booked 4 million nights of accommodation in 2011, but the room-renting startup didn’t make it easy until now.

The company launched a new booking process on Thursday called “Match” that aims to make searching and booking rooms more efficient. Instead of asking you to find rooms through filtered searches and to message hosts individually, the new tool automates some of the work.

Match recommends places to stay based on criteria such as location, room type and amenities, and presents a slideshow of options that you can vote up or down. When finished sorting, you can then mass-message your favorite hosts for pre-approval.

My favorite part of the new tool: an option that will automatically send pre-approval requests to hosts of similar spaces, if the ones you chose don’t work out.

Airbnb says Match makes booking accommodations on the site three times faster. It’s hard to say how it determined that figure. In my test, I received a pre-approval for my mass-messaged sample request within an hour. Not too bad.

Will you use Airbnb Match? Were you wary of using the service before? Let us know in the comments.

More About: AirBNB, travel

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7 Major Apple Products Revealed at WWDC

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 06:39 PM PDT

Apple announced its 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference on Wednesday, to be held at San Francisco’s Moscone West from June 11 to 15. The company often uses the conference to announce key products, and if years past are any guide, there’s a possibility this summer will bring us more exciting news from tech’s most valuable company.

We thought it appropriate to look back at some of the game-changing product announcements Apple has revealed at WWDCs past. See below for items of note.

2003: iLife

At WWDC '03, Apple announced its first bundled suite of creative and media management software, iLife. It included iMovie, iTunes, iDVD and iWeb.

Click here to view this gallery.

Additional research and reporting by Christina Warren and Chelsea Stark.

More About: apple, features, Tech, wwdc

Adapter Could Let Any Smartphone Camera Shoot in 3D [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 06:11 PM PDT

You may soon be able to shoot 3D video with your cellphone — even if that phone doesn’t have a 3D camera.

Fujitsu is working on a new way for phones that just have one rear camera to shoot three-dimensional videos — a process that traditionally requires two cameras. The magic would be done using a special attachment that uses mirrors to send two different images to the camera’s sensor. After recording a video with the attachment, you would upload your creation to Fujitsu.

The company would then add some image processing and send your masterpiece back to you in 3D.

It’s not ready for market just yet, but the image sensor would be about the size of a chapstick tube. When shooting videos, it would use only about 25% of your camera’s sensor — which means you’re walking away with videos not near as high-quality as if you had recorded them in 2D with your phone’s camera.

If you’re interested in shooting 3D videos with your phone, there are a number of 3D smartphones currently out there that can get the job done. The HTC EVO 3D for instance, can capture 3D pictures and video and can display those photos and movies on its glasses-free 3D screen.

LG also makes a 3D smartphone, the LG Thrill, which can shoot 3D videos and pictures and has a glasses-free 3D display.

Would you want to add the ability to shoot 3D videos to your smartphone, or do you think it’s an unnecessary feature? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: 3D, fujitsu

Text Message Alerts Mean More Kids Get Flu Vaccines

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 05:47 PM PDT

Text messaging may be the best approach to encourage people — especially in low-income communities — to get flu vaccines.

A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) says a pilot program that asked parents in low-income communities to get their children vaccinated was successful in increasing the percentage of people who received shots.

Parents of 9,213 children and adolescents received five text messages per week during the 2010-2011 cold and flu season. The messages provided parents with a link to a flu shot registration website, educational material and information about Saturday clinics.

Of that initial group, 7,574 had not received the influenza vaccine prior to the intervention start date. All children had been under the care of a physician. As of March 31, 2011, 43.6% of children and adolescents in the intervention group whose parents were texted received shots, compared to 39.9% of children whose parents did not receive texts.

Jed Alpert, CEO and founder of Mobile Commons, told Mashable that mobile has a 100% read rate and tends to have an extremely high response rate, too.

“The great thing about mobile is when you send messages, they’re designed to have an outcome,” he said. “When someone gets a text message there’s an implication that action should be taken — you typically wouldn’t send general information through text.”

The study states 91% of Americans carry a cell phone and nearly all cell phones support texting. Organizations that create text messaging programs can provide newfound access to information and services for citizens of every socioeconomic status –- and at a significantly lower cost. For reaching under-served and low-income populations, text messaging is an effective medium of communication.

“Mobile reaches pretty much everyone,” Alpert said. “Once you’ve established this line of communication, it can be an excellent way to continue to communicate with people who in many case are difficult to reach.” Text messaging is also a great way for people to stay in-touch with health updates wherever they live, he added.

Text message campaigns were also used recently during the h1n1 outbreak. You can also sign-up for general health information text message alerts from the Centers for Disease Control.

Do you subscribe to any text alert programs related to healthcare? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Capifrutta

More About: health, SMS, text messages, text messaging

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4 Hot New Events in Business, Dev, Social Media and PR

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 05:21 PM PDT

From digital advertising conferences to programming hackathons and everything in between, you’ll definitely find a swanky locale to suit your professional and personal interests on Mashable’s new Events Board. Whether you’re an event organizer or an event-goer, our Events Board is an essential resource for helping you build relationships, engage face-to-face and learn about new trends in the business.

Exciting new events are always added to Mashable’s Events Board in a variety of industries, and every week, we round up five freshly-posted events that you should definitely add to your calendar. Keep checking the board for the newest listings of conferences, meetings and expos spicing up the tech scene around the world.

Business: DCM East

Date: 6/19/2012-6/21/2012
Location: New York, New York

Digital Content Monetization East, or DCM East, is a conference that focuses on developing models and strategies for multi-platform digital monetization. Speakers in the conference include executives from Starz,, Lionsgate and HarperCollins. Register before May 4 for an “Early Bird” discount of up to 30% ticket sales.

Dev & Design: WebVisions Portland

Date: 5/16/2012 – 5/18/2012
Location: Portland, Oregon

Now in its 12th year, WebVisions Portland will hold lectures, workshops and seminars discussing the future of digital and mobile design. The event also includes many social events, such as film screenings, a “Hackathon for Social Good” and a grown-up pinewood derby. Attendees can purchase event tickets (general admission is $425) or workshops a la carte. Later this year, WebVisions will hold events in Barcelona and Chicago.

PR & Marketing: Likeable U Class of 2012: Beyond The Buzz

Date: 5/5/2012
Location: New York, New York

Social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm Likeable will host Likeable U 2012, a day-long seminar series covering many aspects of digital and social media marketing. Keynote speakers include venture capitalist Peter Shankman and Aliza Licht, SVP of communications at DKNY. In addition to seminars and breakout sessions, the conference will culminate in The Likeable Awards 2012, honoring executives and personalities in social media.

Social Media: Glimpse: The Social Discovery Conference

Date: 6/6/2012
Location: San Francisco, California

Industry experts and digital reporters will be speaking at Glimpse: The Social Discovery Conference, which will focus on how users find content through social media platforms. The day-long conference of speeches and moderated panels will also include an evening cocktail reception.”Early Bird” tickets, which discount $100 from the general admission price, will be available April 27.

Want to promote your upcoming event on Mashable’s Events Board? Click here.

More About: Events, features, mashable

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Why Apple’s CEO Is Right About ‘Refrigerator-Toasters’ — and Laptop-Tablets

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 04:58 PM PDT


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

Few people have the kind of clout that their off-the-cuff asides qualify as world news.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is such a person. His ad-libbed comment during this week’s company earnings call about “convergence” devices has inspired more online buzz than a Kardashian marriage.

Answering a question about whether an Apple tablet-laptop hybrid is inevitable, Cook said convergence shouldn’t be done for convergence’s sake. Then, to illustrate his point, Cook appeared to take the first two kitchen appliances that popped into his head.

A refrigerator-toaster hybrid was theoretically possible, he said, but it wouldn’t work as well as either product individually.

In response, the Internet exploded. Cook’s comment went viral, partly because of the imagery of the example, but mainly because it was a clear dig at the competition.

And he wasn’t talking about Android. In the lead-up to Windows 8, many manufacturers have showed off prototype laptop-tablet hybrids. In fact, a big chunk of Microsoft’s strategy for Windows 8 tablets rests on convergence: your tablet and PC are one and the same.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga is probably the most famous — and arguably the best — example of the hybrid idea. It’s an ultra-thin notebook (or “Ultrabook”) whose monitor can fold over a complete 360 degrees to become a tablet. The keyboard automatically switches itself off, so you needn’t worry about knees touching the keyboard in tablet mode.

The Yoga has generated a lot of excitement due to its compelling design. But is it useful? Do designs like the Yoga (and some of these other prototypes) really address a need?

To answer this question, look to Cook’s predecessor, Steve Jobs. When Jobs unveiled the first iPad, he made a powerful case for its existence. In that 2010 keynote, Jobs said a tablet had to justify its existence by being better at some key activities — web browsing, reading, using email and watching video, in the iPad’s case — than a laptop or phone.

Sixty-seven million iPads later, and I think we can safely say the iPad has filled the niche it was designed to fill. Still, people still use both tablets and laptops. Wouldn’t it be easier to just have one device?

Easier, yes, but not better. Or more precisely, the experience surrounding those activities is lessened, particularly in tablet mode.

Here’s the rub for laptop-tablet hybrids: Even if the issues surrounding battery life, performance and overall weight are somehow addressed, those improvements will also improve tablets themselves. Say it does become possible to create a sub-2 pound notebook that folds into a tablet that gets great battery life.

That means a dedicated tablet would probably weigh less than a pound and runs for days between charges. So what’s the advantage of the single device again?

SEE ALSO: What Would It Take to Beat Apple?

Oh yeah, the all-in-one form factor. It’s nice, but it’s overrated, particularly since both laptops and tablets are trending toward lighter weights in any case.

Besides that — and this is the hurdle Microsoft is going have the hardest time leaping — consumers have now been trained to think of laptops as “work” devices and tablets as “lean back” (or “consumption”) devices.

As they say, customer habits are the hardest thing to break. Sure, the Yoga has a curious and fairly slick laptop design as laptops go. Those kinds of projects always garner lots of attention, but redefining the laptop is another matter entirely. I have a hard time seeing the Yoga becoming anything more than a good-looking device that a few enthusiasts will buy.

That’s why Cook’s right: bringing two products together that serve different needs lessens the experience of both. Apple made the iPad because it actually did things better than phones and laptops. It wasn’t combining categories, it created one.

As slick as the Yoga has shown a hybrid can be, at the end of the day I don’t go to my fridge for toast.

BONUS: Lenovo Yoga in Pictures

IdeaPad YOGA

The Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA is marketed as a 4-in-1 device. Really, it's a 2-in-1, but users might find it useful nonetheless.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image by Tommaso Gecchelin

More About: apple, IdeaPad Yoga, ipad, lenovo, tablets, tim cook

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How a Distasteful Meme Sparked a Web Culture War

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 04:31 PM PDT

When does an Internet joke go too far?

Years ago, a photo of a baby with down syndrome was taken from a support group website and turned into a controversial Internet meme. That child — now 16 years old — is Heidi Crowter, and Heidi just discovered what the entire Internet has been saying about her photo, according to The Sun.

Because memes spread so widely and rapidly, it can be difficult to track the source of an image. Especially in this case, since it seems to have originated in 2009.

It’s impossible to point the finger of blame at one person or site. It’s equally impossible to wipe a widespread image from the web. Image board sites like 4chan and 9gag allow users to post anonymously, which means that even if you can find the origin point, you’d never identify the first uploader. Then there’s the First Amendment question.

Heidi’s family and friends have attempted to fight the meme by creating a Facebook page to raise awareness, and asking people to take the image down. However, the page has been hacked, allegedly by users on 9gag, although some claim they’re being framed by 4chan users.

The issue has spiraled from a distasteful meme to the Internet’s distasteful reaction, to a family asking for sympathy. There are millions of people who don’t understand how web culture works, or how memes travel — there are also plenty of people who don’t care.

This story in particular highlights the divide between people who understand Internet culture and those who seek to fight it. Many Redditors have pointed out that Internet users have the right to disseminate content, however distasteful. It’s a free speech issue, and the mainstream media’s portrayal of “Internet trolls” oversimplifies a complex discussion.

See this BBC report, for example:

But try explaining that to Heidi Crowter.

Heidi’s case is “a sign of the times,” according to Ben Lashes, a meme manager who represents viral characters and their creators, such as Nyan Cat, Scumbag Steve and Keyboard Cat.

Lashes suggests that instead of trying to get the images taken down from the Internet, the family should fight fire with fire and use the publicity to rally around a cause.

“This girl has an opportunity to be someone who can speak out about how it feels to be bullied, and maybe use it to get the message out there so that other kids know there’s someone who knows what they’re going through,” says Lashes.

This is not the first meme we’ve seen try to fight the Internet. Remember Star Wars kid? The families who leaked that video were sued, but that didn’t take the viral video away. The kid in question went on to become a law student, and eventually president of a non-profit.

What do you make of this story? Is Crowter’s family taking the right approach in fighting anonymous Internet users? Give us your take in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, bns124

More About: 4chan, 9gag, features, memes, trending, viral

CISPA Cybersecurity Bill Passes House, With Some Amendments

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 04:05 PM PDT

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as CISPA, cleared the House of Representatives on a 248-168 vote late Thursday afternoon after several hours of debate and amending.

CISPA’s intention is to allow private companies to share information about cybersecurity threats with one another and with the federal government. The bill was introduced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).

Some of the amendments passed included language to restrict the use of information collected under CISPA and ensure that most collected data would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Proponents of CISPA, including top technology companies such as Facebook and Microsoft, have argued that CISPA would allow businesses to pool knowledge about cyberattacks, enhancing their ability to defend their networks. Naysayers believe the bill would allow private companies to send Internet users’ personal information to the federal government with minimal civilian oversight.

CISPA’s authors worked with technology companies as well as privacy and civil liberty organizations after controversy over the bill began to brew. Some privacy groups, such as the Center for Democracy and Technology, tentatively withheld their opposition to CISPA dependent on the amendment process.

But two amendments the CDT and other groups considered key to addressing their concerns with CISPA were blocked from debate, leading the CDT to renew their opposition.

Anti-CISPA online petitions from groups such as Demand Progress have gained tens of thousands of signatures.

CISPA was passed under the spectre of a veto threat from senior advisors at the White House, who said they would recommend President Obama not sign the bill should it reach his desk prior to being amended as they believe the bill trades individual privacy for security. It is not yet certain if the amendments the House passed Thursday would be enough to earn the president’s signature.

It is unclear at this time if the amended form of the bill, which will be posted online shortly, will satisfy the bill’s advocates and critics alike.

Before CISPA reaches the White House and the possibility of veto, it must pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where other competing cybersecurity bills have been gaining momentum.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, PashaIgnatov

More About: CISPA, cybersecurity, Politics, US

StumbleUpon Hits 25 Million Users — And is Gaining 1 Million a Month

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 03:56 PM PDT

StumbleUpon passed the 25 million user mark earlier this week — that’s about one million users every month since it announced it had reached 20 million users in October.

The discovery service has existed in some form since 2001. It accepted its first round of funding in 2006, was purchased by eBay in 2007 and became independent again in 2009.

At that point, it had about 5.5 million registered users. It’s been growing at a lightning rate since, nearly quadrupling its userbase in three years.

“For all intents and purposes this is a new company since the spin out from eBay,” StumbleUpon VP of Business Development and Marketing Marc Leibowitz tells Mashable. “Virtually all of the 120 employees we have today have joined since then [when there were about 30 employees].”

Leibowitz also cites the launch of a web-based service and mobile apps as contributing to StumbleUpon’s post-eBay growth. Previously, StumbleUpon had been available solely through a browser extension, and it didn’t launch its Android and iOS apps until August 2010 — fairly late in the mobile game.

Today, about 20% of the 1.2 billion Stumbles made per month are made on mobile phones.

StumbleUpon is not yet a mainstream social network. Its 25 million users pale in comparison to Twitter’s 140 million accounts, Facebook’s 901 million users or Tumblr’s 53 million blogs.

BranchOut, a startup that builds a LinkedIn-style social network on Facebook, recently reached as many users in about two years as StumbleUpon has in 11 years.

But at its current growth rate, StumbleUpon could be on its way to some major mainstream recognition.

The recommendation engine, by one StatCounter study’s measure, is already responsible for referring more traffic to websites than any other social network in the U.S. It has more than 75,000 advertisers. And its users are active — according to Leibowitz, on average they spend about seven hours every month hitting the Stumble button.

Meanwhile, StumbleUpon has been busy building features that already come with mainstream social networks. A redesign in December added brand channels, which are somewhat equivalent to Facebook brand pages in that they create a profile for marketers separate from personal profiles. About 250 organizations have launched free channels since.

StumbleUpon also plans to launch an API that helps power third-party products’ recommendation features. The company also wants to create international versions of its own discovery engine (only 15% of Stumblers are currently based outside of North America). Meanwhile, you can expect to see more social features.

“I think StumbleUpon is often the source of content that goes viral on other social networks,” Leibowitz says. “But I don’t think we’ve done a great job of creating a viral loop.

“Content is launched into other social networks, but we don’t do a particularly good job of capturing the content around that into StumbleUpon.”

Bonus Gallery: Stumble Into StumbleUpon’s San Francisco Office

Engaging Office Life

"This is the first job I've ever had where it is fun to go to work everyday." - Jack Krawczyk, Sr. Product Marketing Manager.

Click here to view this gallery.

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Google Probe: Meet the FTC’s Secret Weapon

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 03:26 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO — The Federal Trade Commission has hired an outside litigator to lead its antitrust probe of Google, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said Thursday during a visit to the agency’s‘s Western Region office here.

The search giant is getting some serious treatment. This is the first time in at least four years the FTC has had anyone other than internal staff run a major investigation.

The outside litigator in question: Beth Wilkinson. She’s a partner at the international law firm Paul, Weiss and previously helped secure a conviction against Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. She will begin work on the Google case Monday.

“We want to bring in someone who is a world class litigator and has some antitrust experience and the trust of the commission,” Leibowitz told a small group of reporters.

Wilkinson previously chaired the white-collar crime group at the law firm Latham & Watkins. She also worked in-house for the mortgage company Fannie Mae for several years. Wilkinson began her legal career in the U.S. Army, where she achieved the rank of captain and was an assistant to the general counsel of the Army for Intelligence & Special Operations from 1987 to 1991, according to her bio page on the Paul, Weiss site.

Leibowitz announced Wilkinson’s addition to the FTC’s Google investigation team while in San Francisco visiting a number of startups and tech companies including Square, Mozilla and others.

The FTC is investigating Google’s search business for anti-competition infractions. The investigation does not necessarily mean the FTC will sue Google, but it does pave the way for possible litigation.

“In an important case, you want to do a thorough investigation and make sure you get it right,” Leibowitz said Thursday. “It’s sometimes a good idea to bring someone in from outside and we found out Beth was interested in coming aboard. The commission talked about it and we thought it would be great for the consumers we represent.”

Also Thursday, Google agreed to pay a $25,000 fine — less than the cost of a day’s lunch for its employees — for allegedly impeding a Federal Communications Commission investigation into personal emails and other data collected via the company’s Street View cars.

More About: Antitrust, FTC, Google

Brought Your Kids to Work? Send Us Your Photos

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 03:14 PM PDT

Technology Editor Pete Pachal gives his son a tour of Mashable HQ

Click here to view this gallery.

Thursday is “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” day. And at Mashable we celebrated in style: with puppies.

Several Mashable sons and daughters join us for coloring, puppy playing, snacks, and plenty of pictures taken. And it wouldn’t be a day at Mashable without scooters or Nerf guns (or some combination of both).

Our New York City headquarters is a very dog-friendly office, but it was great fun having the kids and the dogs together. Let’s just say there was a lot of running around — and there are going to be some pooped pups tonight. Check out our photos below to see what we got up to.

Did you or your colleagues bring kids to your office? We’d love to see your photos! Tweet your office pics to @mashablehq with the hashtag #MashKids or you can submit through the photo widget at the bottom of the post.

More About: community, mashable

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Amazon Stock Surges on Strong First Quarter Results

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 02:51 PM PDT

Internet retailer Amazon beat analysts’ estimates for its first quarter on Thursday, prompting a 15% surge in its stock price in after-hours trading.

Net income for the quarter dropped 35% to $130 million, or $0.28 per share, compared with its 2011 figures of $201 million, or $0.44 per share.

Revenue, however, reached $13.18 billion, besting Amazon’s guidance of between $11.9 billion to $13.3 billion for the quarter, and analysts’ consensus estimate of $12.8 billion. Amazon’s first-quarter revenue last year was $9.86 billion.

Amazon touted strong Kindle sales in Thursday’s earnings announcement. The Kindle Fire is Amazon’s “bestselling, most gifted and most wished for product across the millions of items available on since launch,” according to the company.

SEE ALSO: Amazon 2012 — What the Future May Hold for the Web's Largest Retailer

“In the first quarter, nine out of 10 of the top sellers on were digital products — Kindle, Kindle books, movies, music and apps,” Amazon reports.

Most recently, Amazon made a software update to the Kindle Fire, making its ebooks experience more social.

BONUS: Amazon Kindle Fire, iPad's First True Competitor [REVIEW]

“The $199 Amazon Kindle Fire is a worthy device. It's not an iPad slayer, but it could be the first tablet to ably stand atop Mount Tabulous (or at least on a rock ledge just a few dozen feet lower) with Apple's industry-dominating slab computer.” Read the full review here.

Amazon Kindle Fire: Main Bookshelf Interface

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: amazon, Business, earnings, Kindle, Tech

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Groupon CEO Drinks Too Much Beer, Says His Site Needs to ‘Grow Up’

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 02:30 PM PDT

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason told company employees during a town hall meeting Wednesday that the daily deal site needs to grow up — right after apologizing for drinking too much beer during the meeting.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the 31-year-old CEO said the company doesn’t “have any margin for error,” while at times swigging from a beer bottle as he outlined the corporate goals for the next six months.

At one point during the meeting, Mason’s voice broke, prompting him to apologize: “Sorry, too much beer.”

The town hall meeting, available via webcast, is a weekly initiative by Groupon in which employees have the chance to ask questions of company executives. The meetings are informal to the point that beer is available for everyone in the room, says a Groupon spokesperson.

Among the corporate priorities Mason outlined were increasing financial controls and hiring more finance staff. Groupon has come under heavy scrutiny recently, with the Securities and Exchange Commission investigating the company’s restatement of its fourth-quarter results. The restatement was apparently driven by higher-than-anticipated refund rates — which forced Groupon to disclose the company had not allocated enough money for customer refunds.

While Groupon is part of the top 10 internet IPOs of the last 10 years, news of the SEC investigation caused its stock price to plummet to $15.27. At the time of writing, its price currently stands at $11.95 — well below its IPO offering of $20.00. The Chicago-based company went public just six months ago.

At the meeting, Mason said that Groupon’s financial revision and its current outlook is “the latest in a string of just us making an example of how bad we are at being a public company.” He acknowledged that while the company had tried to grow quickly to beat out other daily-deal competitors, it now needs to shift its focus — in other words, slow down, so that it can focus on “quality and control” and “not taking stupid risks.”

However, Mason’s beer-induced speech while talking about the company’s need to improve is not just ironic — it also draws attention to what some worry is an immaturity to be CEO of a multi-billion dollar company.

Mason has addressed his critics, however, and told the Wall Street Journal in January that he’s going to continue to “work [his] butt off to add value for shareholders.”

“I got the company this far. To the degree I was weird, I was weird before we were a public company and managed to get it worth whatever it’s worth,” he said.

Along with his candid demeanor at Wednesday’s meeting, some of Mason’s other quirks include posting videos of himself on YouTube doing yoga in his underwear.

Still, some of Mason’s comments were firm on Wednesday. “We’re still this toddler in a grown man’s body in many ways,” Mason said during the meeting. “We have to get good at this.”

Do you think Groupon needs to grow up? Should beer be freely available in a startup environment? Sound off in the comments.

More About: Business, groupon

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Google Actually Sells a Service: Sketchup is Going to Trimble

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 02:13 PM PDT

Google announced Thursday that it was selling 3D modelling tool SketchUp — an unusual event for the tech giant known for aqcuiring companies more than for selling them.

Trimble Navigation is purchasing the platform for an undisclosed amount of money.

Google acquired SketchUp in 2006 and has used the tool to design building models within Google Earth.

“In its time at Google, SketchUp has become one of the most popular 3D modeling tools in the world,” SketchUp wrote on its official Google blog. “With over 30 million SketchUp activations in just the last year, we're awfully proud of our accomplishments. But there's still so much we want to do, and we think we've found a way forward that will benefit everyone—our product, our team and especially our millions of users.”

SEE ALSO: Google Wants to See Your Town in 3D

Trimble, the new parent of SketchUp, makes surveying, mapping and marine navigation equipment. SketchUp says Trimble’s commitment will help the platform return to its core communities — both veteran and new modelers, designers and makers — which it calls its heart and soul.

SketchUp says it will keep the free version of the platform, which is used by a wider audience.

Do you think SketchUp will be better served by Trimble, a more niche parent company than Google? Sound off in the comments.

BONUS: 12 Mysterious Google Maps Sightings

1. The Badlands Guardian

This natural formation in Alberta, Canada is known as the Badlands Guardian and looks strikingly similar to a native American wearing a headdress. If you look close enough, it looks like he's wearing a pair of earphones, but that section is actually a man-made road and oil well.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Google, Sketchup

Kindle Fire Takes 54% of Android Tablet Market [STUDY]

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 01:59 PM PDT

Amazon’s Kindle Fire has taken 54.4% of the Android tablet market, leaving the number two in the category — Samsung Galaxy Tab — in the dust, according to comScore.

The Kindle Fire, introduced in November, nearly doubled its share over the last two months, comScore reports. Meanwhile, Galaxy Tab, which had a 23.8% share in December, is now down to 15.4%.

Motorola Xoom, the number three in the category, commanded 11.8% of the market in December and has now dropped to 7%, according to the report.

One notable omission: Barnes & Noble’s Nook. ComScore says it considers the Nook an e-reader rather than a tablet. Here’s the full list:

Though Apple’s iPad still has the lead in the tablet category, a recent study by IDC shows that Android-based tablets, led by Kindle Fire, are catching up. Apple had 61.5% of the global market in the third quarter of 2011, but that share fell to to 54.7% in Q4 2011, largely because of the success of Kindle Fire.

IDC estimates that Amazon moved 4.7 million units in Q4. Compare that to 15.4 million units for Apple’s iPad.

In Apple’s latest fiscal Q2 filing, the company disclosed that it sold 11.8 million iPads. Amazon does not break out sales for its Kindle products. However, the company on Wednesday reported a 34% jump in revenues for its first quarter. Amazon Kindle is the best-selling item on Amazon’s site, according to the company,

1. Proporta Leather Pouch

Made from the "finest quality alternative to leather," Proporta's pouch provides stylish protection without the guilt.

Cost: $26.95

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: amazon, android, ipad, kindle fire, tablets

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Zynga’s Q1 Report Shows a Company Thriving

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 01:50 PM PDT

There’s no question about it: people love to play Zynga games. The company’s latest financial report reflects its growing fan base.

Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) announced its financial results on Thursday for the quarter ending March 31, 2012, and the results are impressive: Q1 revenue of $321 million, up 32% year-over-year.

"We're pleased with the progress that Zynga has made in the first quarter growing our audience reach 25% year over year and nearly 20% quarter over quarter," Mark Pincus, CEO and founder of Zynga, was quoted saying the company’s statement.

Zynga launched six games during the first quarter of 2012 — Hidden Chronicles, Zynga Slingo plus four games on mobile platforms: Scramble with Friends, Dream PetHouse, Dream Heights, and Draw Something.

The games company is the top developer for Facebook, according to AppData. CityVille takes the second most popular spot of Facebook apps in terms of monthly active users (MAU), according to the same site.

“As of March 31, 2012, Zynga held eight of the top ten games on Facebook, based on DAUs, including CastleVille, launched in the fourth quarter of 2011, and Hidden Chronicles, launched in the first quarter of 2012,” noted the statement.

The company also highlighted some other stats coming out of this quarter:

  • Daily active users (DAUs) increased from 62 million in the first quarter of 2011 to 65 million in the first quarter of 2012, up 6% year-over-year.
  • Monthly active users (MAUs) increased from 236 million in the first quarter of 2011 to 292 million in the first quarter of 2012, up 24% year-over-year.
  • Monthly unique users (MUUs) increased from 146 million in the first quarter of 2011 to 182 million in the first quarter of 2012, up 25% year-over-year.
  • Average daily bookings per average DAU (ABPU) increased from $0.051 in the first quarter of 2011 to $0.055 in the first quarter of 2012, up 8% year-over-year.
  • Monthly Unique Payers (MUPs) increased from 2.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 3.5 million in the first quarter of 2012, up 21% sequentially.
  • Zynga experienced growth in both mobile and web bookings year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter, with the majority of bookings growth coming from mobile.

Do you play any Zynga games on Facebook or your mobile device? Tell us in the comments.

More About: Zynga

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25 ‘Green’ Photos From the Mashable Community

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 01:37 PM PDT

Sunday, April 22 marked the 42nd annual Earth Day, and more than 500 million people in 175 countries took the time to focus on the environment. In the spirit of Earth Day, we asked you to send us a photo that represented the idea of green for this week’s Mashable Photo Challenge.

SEE ALSO: What if Environmentalism Were as Big as Social Media? [INFOGRAPHIC]

For the past week, the Mashable community team has been checking out the photos you sent to us. We appreciate every entry and have selected 25 of our favorites to feature in the gallery below, as well as on our Facebook page. Some of our readers sent us photos of actual greenery, while others captured a photo expressing what it means to “go green.”

Be sure to stay tuned to Mashable to be a part of next week’s photo challenge: lunch break.


"Green Grass, Blue Sky, In this Beautiful World!"

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: community, Mashable Photo Challenge, photography

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Hulu’s Media Owners Take Bigger Stake in the Company [REPORT]

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 01:19 PM PDT

A new report indicates that Comcast, Disney and News Corp. will soon own even more of the streaming television service Hulu.

According to Bloomberg, Providence Equity Partners — the one non-media conglomerate invested in Hulu — is close to selling its 10% stake in the company to the other owners. The companies behind ABC (Disney), NBC (Comcast) and Fox (News Corp.) each own a 27% stake in the Hulu.

Providence invested $100 million in Hulu back in 2007. Bloomberg‘s sources say the firm will get $200 million for its share. Not a bad return on a five-year investment. The $200 million sale would give Hulu a $2 billion valuation.

Less than a year ago, Hulu’s owners were considering selling the over-the-top (OTT) and subscription streaming service. The fact that the three majority owners are now going to invest more in the company underscores just how much the online video and streaming space has changed over the last six to eight months.

Hulu Flourishes in New Content Wars

Last July, I wrote about the content battle taking place between TV Everywhere and OTT online streaming. Since then, that battle has only expanded, as cable networks have launched their own OTT offerings and content owners have signed more robust TV Everywhere deals.

As a result, Hulu (like Netflix) has had to shift its focus from simply licensing content and branch out into original content creation.

Hulu started playing with original reality programming in 2009. Earlier this year, the company launched its first scripted series, *Battleground.”

Moreover, Hulu is flipping the switch on the licensing model and syndicating its original programming to traditional television outlets.

That focus — coupled on improvements to the ad platform and support on more devices and set-top boxes — has helped Hulu gain premium subscribers. More than 2 million users now subscribe to Hulu Plus, the company’s $8 a month offering. This is a far cry from Netflix’s 26 million streaming users, but it shows that Hulu is catching on.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto,

More About: hulu, netflix, subscription streaming, tv everywhere

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Children, Puppies and Webby Awards, Oh My!

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 12:46 PM PDT

Mashable is very excited to be nominated for a Webby Award in the business category!  Today is the final day to vote and we’d greatly appreciate your help.


While we focus on staying on top of the latest business news, we also know how to have fun!

Today, Mashable took part in “Take Your Child to Work Day.”  In addition to our young guests, we also encouraged our staff to bring in their dogs.  While our visitors were in the office, we enlisted them to help us in our Webby Award campaign.


We’d love it if you could take a minute and vote for Mashable hereThank you!

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Twitter Updates Its iPhone and Android Apps

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 12:39 PM PDT

Twitter has updated its iPhone and Android apps, tweaking the design and adding a number of improvements to the mobile version of the service. Amongst the new enhancements: the addition of a discover tab to the app, improved search functionality, and push notifications for Interactions.

Discover: Thursday’s update brings the Discover tab from Twitter on the web to its mobile app. Much like the web version, the Discover tab lets you know what tweets people you follow have favorited or retweeted. The tab also lets you know if someone you follow has decided to follow a new person or add a new person to a list.

Activity appears below stories in Discover, and tapping on a story will let you see more tweets about a trend or news story that can be replied to, retweeted, or favorited.

Search: The updated apps have improved search functionality, which offers suggested spellings and related terms when you search. When performing a search for people, the app will autocomplete searches for people you follow when you start typing in his or her first or last name or username.

Specifically for the iPhone, Twitter has added the ability to tap the search box in Discover and see your recent queries, as well as the ability to go directly to someone’s profile when searching for a username in Connect.

Notifications: Twitter’s app now supports push notifications for interactions. Now you can choose to be notified when someone new follows you on the service, or when your tweets have been retweeted or favorited

Have any of you downloaded the update? What do you think about the improvements? let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: android, App, iphone, trending, Twitter

Are Kickstarter Investors Idiots or Geniuses?

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 12:31 PM PDT

Pebble on Kickstarter

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

Kickstarter, the crowd-sourced project funding platform, is now officially a thing. It's being actively parodied by comedians all over the web with videos that mock the slick, yet warm and heartfelt-approach of its best pitches.

Those jokesters can make fun all they want. Many Kickstarter projects are laughing all the way to the bank.

Every day I read a story about a new Kickstarter project zooming to $1 million dollars. The Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter gobbled up $3.3 million and Pebble sought $100,000 and got $7 million. This is serious funding. It's angel-investor level stuff, but without a venture capitalist in sight.

Kickstarter is, ostensibly, not about starting a business. Instead it promotes closed-loop projects. When someone has an idea — whether a movie or a new piece of technology — and cannot make it without some cash, it’s a way to solicit enough cash to make the idea a reality. If the project doesn’t reach its funding goal, it doesn’t get any money.

On the other hand, what's the purpose of building one of these projects if you're not intending to start a business? Surely Pebble wants to finish building the E Ink-based smart watch, sell a billion of them and use the profits to make more.

I have never funded a Kickstarter project. No, I'm not immune to the lure of a good pitch. I've watched videos for everything from the Galileo remote-controlled iOS robot to Versalette sustainable woman's clothing and thought, "Wow, that's cool."

I've also wondered how some Kickstarter projects create such awesome videos. These pitches look like mini movies. Though, as parodies point out, they all use similar tricks: the defocus/focus, a project leader staring off into the distance, close-ups, clichés and aphorisms overlaying imagery, artsy shots of the team and where they work and a moving soundtrack. These videos make the project ideas and prototypes many times more compelling than they might be otherwise.

SEE ALSO: Kickstarter Project Wants You to Drink 999 Bottles [VIDEO]

The more cynical side of me wonders if we aren't all being played. I mean, who wouldn't watch these videos and want to make these projects a reality? I wonder if venture capitalists watch the pitches and laugh. Before they back something, they get a good look — a really good look — at the people, the product/prototype/project and the market. They know so much before they decide to invest at any level. For them, it's all about measuring risk.

Kickstarter investors get the satisfaction of knowing the project will get done and, if the project warrants it and the pledge covers the retail cost of the final project, a copy of the product. Not every project allows for that. Spencer Tunick's Dead Sea Art Installation, for example, is pure satisfaction. He plans on filling the dead sea with naked people, and managed to surpass his goal of $60,000, by almost an additional $60,000.

The platform has its own fairly obvious charms. It's proven effective. It's public and, therefore, open to social sharing. And there are no VCs leaning over your shoulder, asking you tough questions about your project or trying to steer it in a, potentially, more market-friendly direction (“Hey, maybe we could just put some clothes on all those people in the Dead Sea.”).

I do wonder, though, if all of the buzz surrounding Kickstarter is now driving funds into projects that would otherwise never make it in the real world. There's sort of an irrational exuberance around every new Kickstarter idea. Pebble is a good example. Smart watches, or watches that connect to your phone, are not a new idea. I reviewed one (WiMM One) earlier this year. Sony has one, too. But something about Pebble’s E Ink-based version captured the imagination and it zoomed well past its $1 million goal to $6.5 million.

This is not the company's first smart watch. As the video notes, they started with one for BlackBerry (what company targets BlackBerry users first?). This is the follow-up, but they needed funding to complete it.

In other words, they didn't make enough revenue to build and sell the Pebble. It's also possible that a tiny company like this sees Kickstarter as a way to spread the risk. The company cannot afford to pour $100,000 into its own project, so it let fans do it (or at least the fans they expect to garner on Kickstarter with their awesome video).

Like I said, Kickstarter investors get satisfaction and, sometimes, a product. But if a product like Pebble is a failure, all they have is a really cool end-of-life gadget. Something that, as technology moves along, will be no more useful than the rock it's named after.

More About: investment, kickstarter, trending, venture capital

Etsy: A Beginner’s Guide to the Crafty Ecommerce Site

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 12:04 PM PDT

Sure, Etsy‘s been around since 2005, but not everyone is hip to the ecommerce site. No worries, we’ve provided an overview of all the great features Etsy has to offer. Just don’t blame us when you’ve logged your fifth straight hour browsing refab couch cushions. It’s been known to happen.

Etsy is an ecommerce site comprised of individual user shops, similar to eBay or Amazon. However, Etsy has the reputation for hosting a very specific genre of products: handmade items, vintage clothing and jewelry, refurbished and upcycled housewares, craft supplies, etc. Basically, Etsy encourages you to launch your small business venture on the site, and the more DIY the better.

Even if you’re not an Etsy shop owner, the site is just as fun. In addition to browsing items from individual sellers all over the world, Etsy users can access an engaging social layer on the site, whether by “circling” friends like Google+ or adding “favorites” like you would pins on Pinterest.

SEE ALSO: 20 Unique 'The Hunger Games' Items on Etsy

It’s true, Etsy has changed a lot since 2005. Whether you’re a veteran user or a newbie, take a look at our guide below. You’ll discover how to search, favorite and purchase some incredibly creative products. And be sure and let us know what you think of Etsy in the comments below.

1. Handpicked Items

One of the first things you'll notice about the Etsy homepage is the collage of handpicked items. Often, these items belong to themes distinguished by color, occasion, material or type. Etsy updates the homepage's handpicked items regularly, so you could check back 20 minutes later for an entirely different set.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: ecommerce, Etsy, fashion, Gifts, shopping, web

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10 Funniest Sketch Comedy Channels on YouTube

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 11:30 AM PDT

1. Funny or Die

So many hilarious bits and acts have come out of Funny or Die, such as "Between Two Ferns," "Billy On The Street" and "Drunk History." It's hard to pick just one reason why you should follow this channel. The site is founded by comedic geniuses Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, so let's just say if you like Anchorman, you'll find this funny, too.

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Platforms like YouTube have created opportunities for the sketch comedians of the world. Before, it would have been nearly impossible for anyone just starting out to convince a major television network to launch his script into production.

Today, distribution is no longer a huge issue — anyone with a camera and creativity can produce potentially viral content, as we’ve seen time and time again.

That being said, YouTube may seem overwhelming for the people searching for that content. Eight years worth of content are uploaded to YouTube on a daily basis — how can you possibly find the type of comedy you’re looking for?

SEE ALSO: The Future of Funny: How Old and New Media Collaborate on Comedy

We’ve rounded up some of the best comedy channels on YouTube, each known for a different type of humor. Whether you like old school UCB-style sketch comedy, or outlandish, over-the-top humor, there’s likely a channel to suit your needs.

What’s your favorite sketch comedy channel? Let us know in the comments.

More About: comedy, features, humor, Social Media, Video, YouTube

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