Facebook and Twitter Dominate Social Scene: Google+ Losing Momentum

  • The Hollywood Reporter suggests that Google+ may be losing momentum in its foray into social networking, citing data analytics from Chitika recently published in The Next Web. Facebook and Twitter are currently maintaining dominance in the social space.
  • “Our monthly referrals from there are down 38 percent since their peak, while Facebook referrals are up 67 percent and Twitter referrals up 51 percent over the same period,” reports TNW.
  • After Google+ attracted 10 million users in less than a month, expectations rose. But according to Chitika, Google+’s initial spike in traffic was short lived, leveling off just four days after its launch.
  • As one Google engineer stated on his Google+ page, the social network is “a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms” and “a knee-jerk reaction” to Facebook.
  • “Bottom line: Facebook is still the king of social networks and will be for the foreseeable future,” adds THR. “Plan your marketing campaigns accordingly.”
  • In a related post from Gizmodo, Google+ claims 40 million “users” — but the question remains regarding how many are actually using it: “‘Users’ here, being loosely defined, since Google+ is a relative ghost town of privately shared links about how Google+ is a ghost town.”

Google Announces New Dart Programming Language for Web Apps

  • Google unveiled an early preview version of its Dart programming language this week, which engineer Lars Bak of the Dart Team describes as “a class-based optionally typed programming language for building web applications.”
  • Bak writes on the Google Code blog that Dart has three design goals: 1) “Create a structured yet flexible language for web programming,” 2) “Make Dart feel familiar and natural to programmers and thus easy to learn,” and 3) “Ensure that Dart delivers high performance on all modern web browsers and environments ranging from small handheld devices to server-side execution.”
  • Google has made its language and preliminary development tools available as open source via dartlang.org, with code the company suggests will be “executable via a native virtual machine or on top of a JavaScript engine that translates Dart code to JavaScript,” reports The Next Web.
  • According to Google: “This means you can write a web application in Dart and have it compiled and run on any modern browser. The Dart VM is not currently integrated in Chrome but we plan to explore this option.”

Carriers May Help Close the Gap for Android Enterprise Adoption

  • While Android has so far trailed Apple in enterprise adoption, GigaOM reports that Motorola’s subsidiary 3LM, “has finally launched its security, management, and remote access platform for Android devices” that will enable:
  • “Device encryption of full memory and SD card data; selective encryption of corporate applications; remote wipe capabilities and whitelist/blacklist of applications; and control applications’ access to corporate resources.”
  • “Enhanced security and control of device, OS, and applications; remote installs of critical enterprise application; device tracking.”
  • “Secure remote access to enterprise resources and device health and status checking.”
  • The post also indicates that AT&T has announced “Toggle,” which allows Android users to separate professional and personal use by creating two different modes. This will help keep personal data private from IT managers.
  • Apple has made gains in the enterprise with iPad and iPhone integration, but this news suggests that “with better management tools that augment what already exists on Android, it may help boost Android’s acceptance in the enterprise…”

Google Patent Portfolio Too Thin to Protect Against Competitors?

  • Google has a relatively small patent collection, with most of its patents related to fundamental search algorithms and technologies.
  • Looking to expand into the mobile sphere, Google purchased Motorola’s cellphone business and by extension its patent portfolio to “better protect Android from anticompetitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies,” Google CEO Larry Page said.
  • However, IPVision, a patent-analyzing software company, says, “the 1,029 patents that Google bought from IBM in July contain little that the company could use to either attack its competitors or defend its own products.”
  • Google will most likely need to expand its patents into mobile software. “It’s common knowledge that Google is patent poor,” says Hoo-Min Toong, co-founder of IPVision. “Not only does it need to gain patents in their own product areas, but also in defending themselves against other claims.”

Amazon Hopes its Appstore will Stand Apart from Android

  • With its Kindle Fire, Amazon hopes to distinguish its Appstore from Google’s Android, even though the tablet’s OS is based on the 2.x version of Android.
  • “It seems that Amazon really wants to make sure that the Fire is a more curated and cohesive experience than most Android tablets,” suggests The Next Web, as is evident in the guidelines for submitting Kindle Fire applications. However, the post points out: “They’re not locking everything down though, as installation of ‘non-Appstore’ apps will be permitted without rooting.”
  • Interestingly, Amazon’s Appstore doesn’t support in-app purchasing. “Because Google’s in-app purchasing technology requires access to Google Mobile Services,” says Amazon, “it will not work on Kindle Fire. We are working on a solution that will let you sell digital content in your apps using Amazon’s merchandising and payments technology. Our solution is currently in Beta and available by invitation only.”

YouTube is Going Hollywood: Finalizing Deals with Media Companies

  • YouTube is reportedly putting up $100 million in advances to well-known personalities and major media companies to produce original content channels on on its video site.
  • The plans include attracting major advertisers and getting higher ad rates for professional video programming. Insiders suggest that YouTube hopes to launch the channels sometime next year.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that agreements are underway with the likes of pro skateboarder Tony Hawk, Warner Bros., News Corp.’s ShineReveille unit, BermanBraun, Fremantle Media (“The X Factor”), “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker, and others.
  • According to WSJ: “With its channels initiative, Google — which has been under pressure to turn YouTube into a profit center since buying the site for $1.6 billion in 2006 — is aiming to position the site for the rise of televisions and cable set-top boxes that let people watch online video in their living rooms, said the people familiar with the matter. More people are also watching videos on their smartphones and tablets, pressuring traditional cable and satellite operators to make content available on smaller screens.”
  • ComScore numbers indicate YouTube had more than 600 million unique visits in September.

Google+ Announces Three New Features in Response to User Feedback

  • Google+ users can now lock posts or disable comments before sharing. Previously, users could share to selected circles, but would then have to close comments after the post was made.
  • “This feature comes in response to popular user feedback, reassuring the G+ community that the platform does, indeed, have its privacy and best interest in mind,” reports The Next Web.
  • TNW also reports there is a new unread notifications number displayed on the tab bar, so that users no longer have to download third party apps.
  • Additionally, Google+ now has searchable hashtags, although the hashtag results are mixed in with regular key word findings.

Google+ is Google Itself: Social Network will be Identity Platform

  • Google intends for Google+ to become an identity platform for its other services such as Android, Chrome and YouTube to develop an “understanding of who you are,” Brad Horowitz, VP of product told Wired magazine.
  • “This comes on the heels of comments that Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt made earlier this year about how Google+ was intended to be an ‘identity service’ for other projects and services that the company either had in place or was planning to launch,” reports GigaOM. “It wasn’t clear exactly what Schmidt meant by those remarks at the time, but putting them together with Horowitz’s comments, it sounds like Google wants to make Google+ the central repository of everything it knows about you.”
  • GigaOM compares Google’s desire to “aggregate as much as it can about you and your interests via all the services it offers” to Facebook’s recent improvements in accumulating data through social apps and “frictionless” sharing.
  • The article contends that “all of this social-activity data and these ‘social signals’ are crucial information that Google needs not only to make its search better — since socially-influenced search is becoming a larger and larger part of how people find things online — but to make its advertising more targeted as well. Google’s giant market share in online advertising has been built on the back of its understanding of ‘intent’ when it comes to search, and without access to the Twitter firehose and Facebook’s walled garden, Google has to effectively create its own sandbox for social activity.”

Editorial on Kindle Fire and Silk: Forget iPad Killer, Amazon is Targeting Google

  • Chris Espinosa, a longtime Apple employee, gives his impression of Amazon’s Silk and Kindle Fire announcements.
  • “Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet,” Espinosa writes in his blog. “People who cringe at the data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here.”
  • “Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they’re being offered there. What’s more, Amazon is getting this not by expensive, proactive scraping the Web, like Google has to do; they’re getting it passively by offering a simple caching service, and letting Fire users do the hard work of crawling the Web,” he adds. “In essence the Fire user base is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence.”
  • “They use a back-revved version of Android, not Honeycomb; they don’t use Google’s Web browser; they can intermediate user click-through on Google search results so Google doesn’t see the actual user behavior. Google’s whole play of promoting Android in order to aggregate user behavior patterns to sell to advertisers is completely subverted by Amazon’s intermediation. Fire isn’t a noun, it’s a verb, and it’s what Amazon has done in the targeted direction of Google. This is the first shot in the new war for replacing the Internet with a privatized merchant data-aggregation network.”

Facebook Deals Shutdown: Is There a Future for the Social Coupon Biz?

  • Facebook Deals, which offered coupons for local businesses in Facebook users’ main news feeds, officially shut down on Sunday.
  • While some assume the shutdown suggests a failure, sources say that Facebook cut the program because of limited engineering resources the company wanted to place elsewhere.
  • “Groupon and rival LivingSocial are no doubt pointing to Facebook’s withdrawal as evidence that the business is harder to replicate than people previously thought,” reports All Things D.
  • Groupon and BuyWithMe have introduced technology that attempts to track consumer loyalty following their first voucher purchase. Other companies in this space, including Google, are ramping up their coupon platforms, creating mobile solutions that “will recognize when people are close to a deal and allow them to redeem it immediately,” suggests the article.
  • “Last week, Microsoft launched Bing Deals, which is aggregating deals from other major providers to help users browse, find and purchase them in one place,” according to All Things D. “Ironically, that site is being powered by The Dealmap, which Google acquired in August.”

Are There Implications to Consider Regarding the Silk Web Browser?

  • As part of its New York press event yesterday that unveiled the Kindle Fire tablet and three new Kindle e-readers, Amazon announced Silk, a new Web browser powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and available exclusively on its new tablet.
  • Amazon Silk is an important part of the Kindle Fire pitch, and as a “split browser” exclusive to the tablet it “gets the heavy lifting done on its EC2 cloud servers and promises faster access as a result,” reports Engadget. “Dubbed Silk to represent an ‘invisible, yet incredibly strong connection,’ it takes advantage of Amazon’s existing speedy connections, and that so many sites are already hosted on its servers to speed up Web access.”
  • Amazon’s cloud-accelerated browser may have some technical implications. First, Amazon may release a Silk desktop browser. It’s reliance on Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure may cut off access to the Web for customers during outages. That said, if Amazon succeeds, it may push other browser developer such as Google, Apple and Microsoft to follow. Mozilla may have a difficult time doing the same.
  • From a privacy perspective, Amazon talks about learning from “aggregate traffic patterns,” but in reality each Kindle has its own Amazon ID. Thus, Amazon will be able to track your personal Web habits, buying patterns and media preferences in detail.
  • “Until the Kindle Fire ships, there are more questions than answers,” suggests ReadWriteWeb. “I’m eager to get hands on a Fire so I can test out Silk and see for myself how it works. I’m not yet concerned about the privacy issues, but I do think they bear watching. What do you think? Is the Silk model something you’re excited about, or is Amazon a middle-man you’d rather do without when browsing the Web?”

Amazon to Unveil the Kindle Fire Today: First Real Competitor to the iPad?

  • Amazon is expected to announce its long-awaited Android tablet this morning at a press event in New York City.
  • The 7-inch backlit Kindle Fire is expected to launch by the second week of November, just in time for the holidays. “The iPad has many challengers, but analysts say Amazon’s could be different — it has a chance to be more than a wannabe,” reports The New York Times.
  • Amazon built its own custom version of Android, has included a streaming video service, and will feature the Amazon MP3 service and the Kindle bookstore.
  • In related news from The Hollywood Reporter, major magazine publishers — including Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith — have signed deals to sell digital versions of their publications. One big holdout is Time Inc., but it’s being reported that a deal could be reached “hopefully by the end of the year.”
  • One publisher with an Amazon deal said: “You’ve got beauty and design with Apple, which we love. But with Amazon you have marketing, and ease of use. We’re very optimistic.”
  • Amazon’s terms seem to be similar to those offered by Apple. Publishers get 70 percent of Amazon sales while the retailer shares customer information with the publisher. But, the report notes that those numbers could fluctuate depending on the title and customer offer.
  • We’ll have more on this story following the press event…

Pandora Embraces HTML5 as Key Enabler for Connected Devices

  • Pandora now claims more than 100 million registered users. CTO and EVP of Product Tom Conrad credits the success of his company’s Internet radio service with the decision to embrace both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating system. Conrad spoke at this week’s GigaOM Mobilize conference.
  • However, Pandora had a rocky start regarding growth on mobile platforms until the iPhone came along to help turn things around. And at one point, Conrad had little interest in Android. Pandora shipped its app through the iTunes store and watched its user base explode from 13 million to what it is today.
  • “Conrad has also since made peace with Android, about which he had previously said that he needed the platform ‘like I need a hole in my head,’ referring to the confusing state of Android fragmentation. On Monday, Conrad didn’t want to go into the specifics of Android vs. iOS market share amongst Pandora users, but he called Android’s growth ‘nothing short of remarkable.'”
  • Now Pandora is embracing HTML5 as it looks to what’s next.
  • “The company launched a new HTML5-powered website last week, and Conrad said that using HTML5 helped to both dramatically increase the performance of the site as well as implement new social features,” reports GigaOM.
  • Conrad calls HTML5 a “key enabler for connected devices,” hoping that it will provide opportunities for Pandora on connected TVs and car dashboards.
  • Currently, 70 percent of Pandora’s listening occurs on mobile devices. “In the future, the majority of Pandora listening will happen in the car and on the connected device,” predicts Conrad.

Future of the Internet: Do Web Technologies Need an Owner?

  • Software engineer Joe Hewitt proposed in a recent blog post that Web technologies may need an owner, and the assumption that the Web must not be controlled by anyone is a dangerous one. “The HTML, CSS, and JavaScript triumvirate are just another platform, like Windows and Android and iOS,” he writes, “except that unlike those platforms, they do not have an owner to take responsibility for them.”
  • He also suggests that “the arrogance of Web evangelists is staggering” since they “place ideology above relevance.”
  • Standards bodies cannot create the kind of cutting edge platforms developers need like they are doing with iOS, Android and Windows.
  • “My prediction is that, unless the leadership vacuum is filled, the Web is going to retreat back to its origins as a network of hyperlinked documents,” writes Hewitt. “The Web will be just another app that you use when you want to find some information, like Wikipedia, but it will no longer be your primary window. The Web will no longer be the place for social networks, games, forums, photo sharing, music players, video players, word processors, calendaring, or anything interactive. Newspapers and blogs will be replaced by Facebook and Twitter and you will access them only through native apps.”

Turner Looks to Google TV for Next Wave of TV Everywhere Initiative

  • Turner is working with Google TV to launch apps giving users who authenticate they are pay TV subscribers access to full-length episodes of TBS and TNT shows.
  • Turner is already doing this on the Web and through iPad and iPhone apps. The broadcaster confirmed it will offer the new apps, but did not say when they’d be available.
  • The next version of Google TV is expected in a few weeks. “The second iteration of the platform will be based on Android 3.1 (a.k.a. Honeycomb) and have access to the Android Market,” reports GigaOM. “Dedicated apps as well as authentication features could possibly convince other TV networks to embrace the platform as well, but it’s unclear how this would be received by consumers.”
  • Consumer interest in Google TV had been initially tepid but is showing some signs of improvement. Logitech, for example, was forced to drop the price of its Revue set-top box from $250 to $99 in July, but then the companion box to Google TV “made a brief appearance in Amazon’s list of the ten best-selling gadgets last month,” indicates the article.

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