At the recent Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Mary Meeker updated her Internet Trends analysis that she has presented for the past eight years. Meeker is a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and was formerly managing director and research analyst at Morgan Stanley.
Meeker offered some compelling data this year (the ReadWriteWeb post features some great trend charts and statistics). Highlights include:
Globality — China’s Internet users add up to almost twice the number of U.S. users.
Mega-Trend — Empowering people worldwide with mobile devices.
55 percent of Twitter traffic and 33 percent of Facebook traffic comes from mobile devices.
User Interface — Touch, sound and movement is the new UI.
85 percent of world’s population now covered by commercial wireless signals.
Smartphones and tablets outshipped PCs (notebooks and desktops) in Q4 2010.
Mobile apps and advertising has been growing 153 percent/year over past four years.
Social networking time is surpassing portal times.
Hollywood studios are starting to use Facebook as a direct-to-consumer platform for streaming films, possibly cutting out services such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon in the process.
Universal, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. have distributed some 45 films via the Social Cinema app from Milyoni (pronounced million-eye). “What Zynga is to social gaming, Milyoni is to social entertainment,” reads the company’s website.
Miramax and Paramount have used similar apps to offer movies for Facebook credits on fan pages.
Rentals based on credits are running the equivalent of $3-$5. Facebook draws a 30 percent cut of transaction revenues.
Ad Age Digital suggests the studios’ willingness to offer rentals via social network sites “may reflect their desire to foster competition among online distribution platforms,” adding, “Miramax CEO Mike Lang said that digital monopolies were a greater threat to the film industry than piracy and that his studio had been aware of the importance of a competitive marketplace when doing deals with Netflix and Hulu.”
There was a time when Apple was a consumer electronics company, Google was a search engine, Amazon was an online retailer and Facebook a place to connect with friends. Now each of these companies is growing into the space of the others as they compete for new and expanding markets in mobile, social and cloud services.
Amazon’s upcoming Kindle Fire tablet will compete directly with Apple’s iPad. Google+ has taken on Facebook. Android and iOS are direct competitors. And Facebook has been considering its own mobile phone while it also looks to offer content, advertising and retail services.
Fast Company analyzes the “future of the innovation economy” in this regard, with a particular emphasis on the inevitable war and its major players.
“Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will not last forever,” the article suggests. “But despite this oncoming war, in which attacking one another becomes standard operating practice, their inevitable slide into irrelevancy likely won’t be at the hands of one of their fellow rivals. As always, the real future of tech belongs to some smart-ass kid in a Palo Alto garage.”
Google’s music download store is expected to link with Google+ within the next two weeks. However, the service may prove disappointing if the company cannot secure deals with the four major music labels.
Tentatively named Google Music, the service would follow in the footsteps of Spotify, which earlier this fall linked with Facebook to promote its music service.
The Google+ integration would allow users to recommend songs to Google+ contacts, who could then listen to those songs once for free. MP3 downloads would then be available, most likely for 99 cents each.
Music labels have shown hesitation about the service’s propensity to allow piracy, in addition to the lack of revenue for record companies, as the music locker is free.
Kirk Skaugen, VP of Intel’s Architecture Group, told a crowd at Web 2.0 in San Francisco that the transfer of data over the Internet is growing at a rate faster than ever before, and infrastructure is scaling to meet the demand.
“There was more data transmitted over the Internet in 2010 than the entire history of the Internet through 2009,” reports Mashable.
Interesting statistics: approximately 48 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded each minute, 200 million tweets are sent each day and 7.5 billion photos are uploaded to Facebook monthly.
“Skaugen said although there are currently 4 billion connected devices around the world, Intel expects that number to increase to 15 billion by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020.”
This brings challenges to servers and computers; Intel and other companies will have to work to make Internet hardware cheaper and user-friendly while meeting the challenges of powering the new social Web.
The number of Americans who use social networks has grown 37 percent over the past year, according to comScore.
In August for example, 72.2 million Americans accessed social sites or blogs via mobile devices.
“Nearly 40 million U.S. mobile phone users, which accounts for more than half of the mobile social media audience, use social sites while on the go nearly every day,” reports Computerworld. “As a result, mobile devices are an increasingly important part of the burgeoning social media market.”
The new comScore study also indicates the number of mobile users who accessed Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn increased by at least 50 percent for each service in the past year.
“It might sound crazy, but I think there’s an argument that Facebook could become a leading enterprise software vendor for the webscale world if the social-networking kingpin is so inclined,” writes Derrick Harris for GigaOM.
“As we continue to consume web applications and cloud services and webscale data centers become more common,” he adds, “Facebook’s tools and expertise could be a cash cow.”
The article details a few examples of new tools and systems Facebook has integrated to manage its massive infrastructure.
“Facebook could stand to make a lot of money by consulting with customers on how to build their data centers and architect their applications, and then selling them the software tools to keep those apps up and running,” writes Harris, also noting there is no indication that Facebook will ever pursue selling webscale software.
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.”
Streaming music service Spotify, which recently partnered with Facebook, saw its revenue more than quintuple last year. However, the British company still showed losses totaling $42 million, an increase from $26 million in 2009.
“Spotify’s performance has been closely monitored by the music industry, which sees it as a kind of litmus test for the viability of digital music by subscription, which pays labels each time a listener streams a particular song,” reports The New York Times. “That system brings in lower royalties per song than downloads, but with a large enough listener base could in theory bring in substantial amounts.”
Spotify subscriptions cost about $10 to $15 per month and includes an ad-supported free version. Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, recently announced that the service had reached the 2 million mark with paid subscribers, although there are believed to be more than 10 million total users.
Facebook has announced a few new features to help users organize information and friends, “features that could, put simply, eliminate your desire to use any other social network,” reports The Next Web.
New Friends Lists are created automatically based on similarities in profile information (people you work with, go to school with, etc.). There is also a Close Friends list and Acquaintances as well as Suggestions that allow you to manage friends lists easily.
Facebook also features the Subscribe button “eliminating your desire for any other network.” Similar to Twitter’s “follow” you can subscribe to non-friends and select what specific information you’d like to receive from them (like updates, photos, and/or games). Users can post information publicly or just to friends (so subscribers won’t see).
Latest from Facebook, The Next Web reports in a related article, is the ability to tag non-friends in comments and posts.
These changes may help users to navigate information and target certain groups of friends more easily.
Facebook launched its Open Compute Project as an effort to open-source the technology of its 147,000-square-foot data center that opened in Oregon in April.
“It published blueprints for everything from the power supplies of its computers to the super-efficient cooling system of the building,” reports MIT’s Technology Review. “Other companies are now cherry-picking ideas from those designs to cut the costs of building similar facilities for cloud computing.”
Although the concept of sharing designs and allowing other companies to build similar cloud-computing facilities at a lower cost may seem altruistic, it also serves as “an attempt to manipulate the market for large-scale computing infrastructure in Facebook’s favor,” suggests the article.
“The company hopes to encourage hardware suppliers to adopt its designs widely, which could in turn drive down the cost of the server computers that deal with the growing mountain of photos and messages posted by its 750 million users,” explains Technology Review. “Just six months after the project’s debut, there are signs that the strategy is working and that it will lower the costs of building — and hence using — cloud computing infrastructure for other businesses, too.”
Frank Frankovsky, Facebook’s technical operations director and a founding member of the Open Compute Project, notes that the project opens the flow of ideas necessary to improve cloud technology. He is encouraging others to contribute new ideas and improvements to the current designs.
Subscription-based music service Rhapsody has acquired Napster from Best Buy in a deal expected to be finalized the end of November.
“There’s substantial value in bringing Napster’s subscribers and robust IP portfolio to Rhapsody as we execute on our strategy to expand our business via direct acquisition of members and distribution deals,” said Rhapsody president Jon Irwin.
Rhapsody and Napster have the two largest music service subscriber bases and the acquisition could impact other music services such as Rdio, Spotify and MOG.
Irwin emphasized the importance of a strong subscription base: “This is a ‘go big or go home’ business, so our focus is on sustainably growing the company.”
“Apparently it takes more than Facebook sharing to win the subscription war,” comments Gizmodo. “Too bad I haven’t seen a Rhapsody or Napster song actually shared on Facebook.”
In the wake of Google’s announcement last week regarding new real-time analytics, Facebook is introducing changes to Insights, its marketing product.
A new feature called “people talking about” combines all the stories generated about the brand — Likes, comments, tags, etc. — across Facebook, and provides a raw number to gauge overall buzz.
Also new, Premium ads serve stories generated by a brand to fans’ friends. This ad unit isn’t currently available on the self-serve ad platform, so most likely won’t be accessible for those brands with a smaller budget.
The obsession with the number of Likes on Pages will likely decline. “Now brands will be judged not just by how many Likes they have, but through their talkability,” suggests The Next Web, as the new number generated by Insights becomes public.
France recently banned TV and radio show hosts from naming Facebook, Twitter, or other specific sites unless directly referencing a news story involving the companies. The regulation was created to reduce bias for the popular social networks over other striving, lesser known sites.
Apple’s iTunes has benefitted from the phrase “Now available on iTunes” commonly tacked onto advertisements where it was previously customary to simply say “Now available in all good music stores” — which could today be updated to say “online music stores” in order to include other music providers.
Additionally, the phrase “Now available on Amazon.com” has become standard for book promotions, which basically provides free advertisement for the site while ignoring other providers.
Similarly, “Follow us on Twitter” and “Like us on Facebook” have dominated commerce. “Social networks only work when people use the same ones. In other words, they naturally lend themselves to being monopolized,” suggests The Next Web.
Some brand names have now become part of everyday language. Google, for example, has grown so popular that it is commonly used as a verb when describing the act of searching online. TiVo is also regularly used as verb, and sometimes replaces “DVR” in conversation.
The article casts doubt on the actual effects regulation would have on social media monopolies: “…users will typically go where all the action is taking place.”
“The Internet isn’t a monopoly though. It’s an oligopoly consisting of multiple monopolies from different digital industries, and the reason this is happening really isn’t all that complicated,” adds The Next Web. “Success breeds success, something which underpins most monopolies, whether we’re talking about dominant languages, biological species or, indeed, Internet technology companies. Hegemony stems from success, and it’s certainly not unique to the Internet age.”
Producer Mark Burnett and the team at Youtoo is hoping to kickstart the first age of social TV by “putting 500 people on TV each day — providing more Americans than ever before with a real shot at their 15 minutes of fame,” according to the press release.
Burnett’s production studio VIMBY (Video in My BackYard) and online distributor KoldCast TV have joined Youtoo CEO and founder Chris Wyatt in the venture.
“VIMBY will be producing content for the network asking users to submit video ‘FameSpots’ or ‘Social Shouts’ via the Web, iPhone, iPad or Android to insert themselves into the content,” reports Lost Remote.
Youtoo’s patent-pending software and cross-platform technology stack enable users to record an HD broadcast quality video, or a “FameSpot,” which is filtered by the software and if chosen, will be put into the live broadcast feed.
“Youtoo is the world’s first social TV network,” says Wyatt. “Since millions of people want to be on TV, we created a website and app for that. Youtoo is a social network, television network, and the technology to make them all work together. Just like a social network, you can interact with your friends or followers. However, you can also interact with a national audience on TV. Think of it as Facebook for TV in concept.”
Youtoo launched September 27th in beta and is currently live. According to Wyatt, the network has distribution to 15 million households through Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, Verizon, Service Electric, Bright House, National Cable Television Cooperative and Insight Cable.