Facebook Plans to Launch News Platform: Facebook Editions

  • Facebook is planning a new service called “Facebook Editions” that creates app versions of popular news outlets.
  • CNN, The Daily and the Washington Post are a few of around a dozen news outlets that have already signed on.
  • The recently released Google+, which already has 10 million users, reportedly has a similar idea in the works.
  • Both the Facebook and Google service have a potentially significant obstacle to face: paywalls (New York Times is holding back for the time being due to complications with this issue).
  • Look for Facebook Editions as a new feature of the social networker possibly by September.

Acer Announces Social Networking Hot Button for New Laptops

  • Acer has announced that the new Gateway NV and ID series laptops will provide one-touch access to social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
  • Social networking hot keys will activate integrated widgets that enable activities such as status updates, message posting, uploading media and more.
  • However, some laptop makers — including HP and Dell — suggest that hot buttons could potentially overwhelm users, and prove to be an unnecessary feature when software could easily do the job (in some cases, such keys are even being removed from business laptops).
  • Computer users spend on average one out of every six minutes of online time on social networks, according to comScore.

Zynga Going Public: Insiders Anticipate Value at $20 Billion

  • The Zynga Game Network, maker of online video games, is expected to file for its initial public stock offering this week.
  • The company’s games, including “Cityville” and “Farmville” are immensely popular on Facebook, with 270 million active users.
  • The stock sale is expected to value the company between $15 and $20 billion, making it one of the largest technology offerings since Google’s IPO in 2004.

Companies use Facebook Credits as Incentives with ifeelgoods Help

  • Facebook “Credits” began as a means of purchasing virtual goods for social games, and then were used as a tool for other digital goods such as movies.
  • Companies are now leveraging Credits in a new way — to attract consumers to their brands via the social network.
  • The ifeelgoods platform helps retailers provide consumers with Facebook Credits, which can then be used for tasks including: “liking the retailer on Facebook, signing up for an email distribution list, making a purchase, checking into a location or answering a survey.”
  • The company suggests that Credits may be more effective than offering a coupon or discount code, “because consumers like to believe they are receiving something, especially if they know they don’t have to make a purchase.”
  • Facebook users can then post related information to their wall (ifeelgoods claims consumers are willing to share this information 60 to 70 percent of the time).
  • Ifeelgoods has raised $6.5 million in capital.

Is Facebook Finally Ready to Announce its iPad App?

  • Facebook is reportedly preparing to release a free social networking iPad app, after nearly a year in development.
  • Developers have overhauled the Facebook Chat and Facebook Groups features, which are now in the final stages of testing.
  • The app will also allow users to shoot and upload photos and video content from the iPad’s built-in cameras.
  • “People who have seen the application said it has a slick design that has been tailored for the iPad and its touchscreen interface.” (Facebook users have previously complained (read the related TechCrunch post) that its interface is not optimized for touchscreen functionality.)
  • Facebook claims it is approaching 700 million users worldwide, with 250 million of them actively accessing the site on mobile devices.

Facebook Media Plans Include Spotify and Others

  • Facebook is working with Spotify and others to integrate new music services and applications.
  • The social networking giant has expanded its position in significant Internet sectors – including retail, news and games – and is now getting serious about music and other media.
  • At the recent Cable Show in Chicago, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts predicted that cloud-based guides and interfaces will be paramount to television’s future. Roberts described an integration with Facebook that can make TV more social with recommendations and interaction with “friends.”
  • Spotify already allows users to share info about songs with Facebook friends, but the next level of integration is expected to be much deeper. Additionally, Facebook has reportedly been reaching out to other online music services.
  • Facebook’s Music Dashboard will show songs of friends, recommended songs and “happenings” in your social and music areas.
  • This opens new potential for Facebook to become a social e-commerce business.

Is Facebook Poised to Become THE Social Entertainment Operating System?

It seems we cannot escape ongoing speculation in recent weeks surrounding the potential impact of a collaboration between social networking giant Facebook and European music service Spotify. Whether you subscribe to the opinion that such a partnership will change the face of music discovery, distribution and consumption — or you agree with Peter Kafka who wrote in WSJ’s All Things D that the deal would simply “be a nice feature for Facebook and a nice promotional outlet for Spotify” that would merely provide “limited amount of free music, and the option to upgrade to a paid subscription” — the bigger issue involves the direction of online social media and Facebook’s ultimate role.

If the Spotify deal serves as a stepping stone for Facebook’s involvement with other forms of media — music, movies, games, news, video, etc. — the social networking site may be on its way to serving as much more than a way for “friends” to share information and photos. It could become a powerful online hub for media distribution.

When Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at the e-G8 Forum in Paris last week he explained (again) that he has no interest in becoming the CEO of an entertainment company. However, increased integration between Facebook and entertainment media is clearly in Zuckerberg’s sites.

In March, Warner Bros. became the first Hollywood studio to offer movie rentals directly on Facebook, starting with The Dark Knight; Netflix has reportedly been discussing with Facebook the possibility of integrating social networking tools; Facebook began allowing third-party developers to offer games on its site four years ago (since then, social-gaming companies like Zynga have become among the largest in the industry); and now the deal with Spotify may help extend media integration. ZD Net reports that four months ago, “Spotify signed an agreement with Sony Music Entertainment, and three months ago, it struck a deal with EMI Music. The company thus has two of the four major music labels; the other two are Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest label, and Warner Music Group.” The Spotify/Facebook deal could lead to competition with streaming and cloud-based music services.

As the trend of electronically sharing thoughts and interests continues to grow amongst consumers of all ages, it makes sense that the leading social networking site would be poised for successful integration with the media people regularly discuss. In doing so, Facebook (which currently has nearly 700 million users) may become the ubiquitous entertainment layer of the Internet. At the very least, it may help serve as an EPG of sorts for media.

“Listening to music is something people do with their friends,” Zuckerberg said in France. “Movies, TV, news, books — those types of things are things I think people just naturally do with their friends. I hope we can play a part in enabling those new companies to get built, and companies that are out there producing this great content to become more social.”

Related Wall Street Journal article: “Chill Out! Spotify on Facebook Is Cool, Not a Game Changer” (5/25/11)

Related GigaOM article: “Amidst Spotify Rumors, Facebook CEO Talks Music and Media” (5/25/11)

Related Bloomberg article: “Facebook’s Zuckerberg Says Music, TV Are Social Frontiers” (5/25/11)

Related ZD Net article: “Rumor: Facebook is partnering with Spotify” (5/25/11)

Related TechCrunch article (including Spotify slides): “Behind The Scenes: Making Spotify More Convenient Than Piracy” (5/30/11)

Related Forbes article: “Facebook To Launch Music Service With Spotify” (5/25/11)

Related New York Times article: “Facebook Is Developing Ways to Share Media” (5/26/11)

Related ETCentric story: “Spotify Launches Music Download Store and iPod Syncing” (5/13/11)

DAR.fm is a Free (for now) Digital Audio Recorder for Radio

There’s been a lot of music news reported in recent weeks, from a collaboration between Spotify and Facebook to compelling new discovery apps including Radio Spotter from mSpot Music to emerging cloud-based services from the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple. We’ve also been watching the direction of services such as Pandora, Slacker, Rhapsody and Napster as digital music distribution continues to evolve. However, a new online service created by MP3.com founder Michael Robertson may change the way we consume radio.

Robertson’s DAR.fm (currently in beta) is a digital audio recorder for radio content, what David Pogue describes in his New York Times column as “free TiVo for radio.” According to the site’s FAQ page: “DAR.fm is a personal recorder which records radio stations and shows to be played back at the convenience of the listener. Similar to how a DVR (digital video recorder) works with television DAR is a DVR for your radio.”

Currently, there is no charge for the basic service, but that may change in the future based on potential restrictions or data storage space (advertising on the site is also reportedly in the works). Pogue explains that each user starts with 2GB, and completing an application at MP3Tunes.com provides a free upgrade to 10GB. According to the site: “DAR.fm gives you 2 GBs of storage to record your content. This is enough to store approximately 100 hours of material. However, it depends on whether the material you’re recording is talk or music — you may be able to store more or less. If you need more space you can purchase a Premium account with 20, 50, 100, or 200 GB of additional storage.”

What makes this service compelling, however, is that users can listen to an unlimited range of radio content anywhere, anytime: via computer, phone apps, Wi-Fi-connected radios, even the Roku set-top TV box. Listening to recordings from a phone is made possible by free apps based on the open music API (Airband for the iPhone, MP3tunes for Android, Locker Player for Windows Phone 7, and Music in Your Palm for WebOS). Users can even download individual songs that have been captured.

“It’s crazy cool, like a hybrid of iTunes and satellite radio,” writes Pogue.

If DAR.fm catches on, will it compete with cloud-based and subscription music services? If it works as flawlessly as Pogue describes, it may have a strong chance, although MP3Tunes has yet to share the limelight with other more notable cloud services. Pogue writes: “The person who created DAR.fm also runs a company called MP3Tunes.com. It’s an online storage locker for your music files, so that you can play them from any computer or phone, anywhere you go. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because Amazon introduced a nearly identical service last month, called Amazon Cloud Player. Google just opened a ‘cloud music locker’ service, too. Needless to say, the headlines about this ‘new’ kind of music service drives the MP3Tunes guy crazy; his site has been in operation for four years.)”

Related Grace Digital Audio press release: “Grace Digital DAR.fm Audio Recorder for Internet Radio Debuts” (5/19/11)

Related Radio World article: “DAR.fm Hopes to Shift the Paradigm” (4/15/11)

Related Radio World article (with video): “DAR.fm, Grace Radio Aim at a ‘Talk TiVo'” (5/18/11)

Related PC Mag article: “MSpot Adds ‘Radio’ Music Discovery to Online Music Locker: Hands On” (5/26/11)

Related TechCrunch article (from Disrupt conference): “Rexly’s Social Music Discovery App Is What Ping Should Have Been” (5/23/11)

FlickLaunch.com Distributes Independent Films on Facebook

FlickLaunch.com is a new startup billing itself as the first independent movie distribution platform built on top of Facebook. It was co-founded by Berkley entrepreneurs Craig Tanner and Erik Moore. Currently in beta, the service enables viewers to watch movies on Facebook and share with their friends.

Filmmakers pay a $250 fee to set up a Facebook fan page that makes each film available, either for free to those who click the “Like” button — or for a rental price to generate revenue immediately. For example, a filmmaker can stream the movie to the first 1,000 viewers for free, hoping to generate buzz — and then if the film continues to prove popular via social networking, new viewers will pay a small fee ($1-$5) through PayPal for each 7-day rental.

Films can be viewed on a PC, mobile phone or tablet (the company is also working on Android, iPad and iPhone apps). The filmmakers keep 70 percent of the revenue while FlickLaunch keeps the other 30 percent.

The platform launches with the 720p streaming release of the urban crime thriller “Blues,” written and directed by Brandon Sonnier and distributed by Level 33 Entertainment.

Related Hollywood Reporter article: “Startup FlickLaunch Debuts Movie Distribution Platform” (5/11/11)

Projected Facebook Earnings Raise IPO Speculation

Facebook Inc. is expected to have its initial public offering as early as next spring, while projected earnings and evolving online advertising models continue to raise speculation about the company’s overall value. The social network’s business is growing faster than its forecast of several months ago when Goldman Sachs Group and Digital Sky Technologies invested $1.5 billion. The Wall Street Journal reports the Internet company may earn as much as $2 billion in 2011.

Facebook was launched in February 2004 and claims more than 600 million active users today. According to WSJ: “Goldman’s and Digital Sky Technologies’ investment reported early this year was at a share price that implied a $50 billion valuation for Facebook. The people familiar with the company’s recent finances said they thought its profit was growing at a fast-enough clip to justify a valuation of $100 billion or more when it goes public.”

Additionally, eMarketer estimates that Facebook will earn ad revenue this year of $4.05 billion, more than doubling last year’s $1.86 billion. According to comScore, 31 percent of all online display ads in the U.S. for the first quarter of 2011 appeared on Facebook.

Wedbush Securities analyst Lou Kerner estimates the company’s value in the public market at $112.9 billion. “Part of our bullishness for Facebook is our belief that it is still in the embryonic stages of advertising,” he said.

Related San Francisco Chronicle article: “Why Google Should Buy LinkedIn, Now Before It’s Too Late” (5/3/11)

Related Mashable article: “One Year Later: What Marketers Have Learned About Facebook’s Open Graph” (4/26/11)

Related CNBC article: “Facebook Launches Deals Program, Rivals Groupon” (4/26/11)

Identifying Effective Tools for Analyzing Social Media

Seth Grimes of InformationWeek reports there is a growing demand to analyze social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, but he has yet to see “satisfying criteria” for assessing existing analysis tools. This article outlines what Grimes considers to be six fundamental missing pieces in analysis tools that could prove effective in measuring social media.

Grimes breaks his approach down into six basic categories: Metadata, Resolution, Integration, Alignment, Interface, and Walk the Talk. The following are excerpts from his rationale.

1. Metadata: “Let’s not look at messages in isolation, as so many tools do. SMA tool makers: Help us understand message diffusion and discourse (threaded conversations) with an analytic that incorporates demographics.”

2. Resolution: “Content analysis is the real challenge, getting at the entities (names of people, companies, places, products, etc.), facts, opinions, and signals. For this, you need sophisticated natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis with the ability to resolve parts of speech and, especially for source materials longer than tweets, to spot co-references including anaphora.”

3. Integration: “To integrate, or link records across sources, you need to capture or discern identity. I think the information is more available than most people would suppose, with significant digital sleuthing involved in discerning it.”

4. Alignment: “I’m looking for analysis tools that measure and predict social’s ability to drive business transactions — money-making outcomes — as well as how business news will play out on social platforms.”

5. Interface: “BI tools will typically let you nest variables in an axis to create a pivot table with several dimensions. You often have a choice of measures — sums, counts, percentages, calculated values — and the ability to navigate up and down dimensional hierarchies (such as year-quarter-month-week-day) with automatic value aggregation. I rarely see these capabilities in SMA tools.”

6. Walk the Talk: “I look for clue-ful SMA suppliers. If a company doesn’t know how to use social media effectively, or if it won’t make an effort, do you really want to trust it with your business? The question isn’t moot; anyone who spends time on social platforms can tell strong from weak social engagement and has seen instances of both.”

Warner Bros. Looks to Facebook for Movie Rentals

Looking for a new distribution channel in the face of decreasing DVD sales — and new ways to leverage increasing consumer time spent online — Warner Bros. Entertainment announced it will start renting movies via the popular social networking site Facebook. The first offering will be the 2008 Batman hit, “The Dark Knight.” The choice was based largely on the fact that the film has already been “liked” by 3.9 million Facebook users.

The studio created the rental application independently of Facebook, so the films will be hosted and streamed by a third party.

According to comScore, Facebook was the sixth-most popular video site in the U.S. in January. Despite its growing popularity for streaming video, Facebook has not announced any plans to launch its own paid video service.

Some analysts responded to the news that Facebook could become a serious competitor for Netflix and other online video services.

IntoNow App Takes Social TV to the Next Level

IntoNow is a new iOS app that identifies and tags live TV shows in realtime, creating something similar to Shazam, but for television rather than radio. Users press a button on the app interface while viewing a television program and, with the aid of a platform called SoundPrint, the app uses the program’s audio for identification within 4-12 seconds. The results appear on the iPhone or iPad screen and can be shared via social networking entities such as Facebook or Twitter, or can be added to a Netflix queue.

Engadget has a video demo where the user is watching CNN on a laptop (place-shifted via SlingBox), and uses the IntoNow app on an iPad to identify the TV stream. Based on the sharing features, users can also see what their friends are watching, check out program info for selected shows, and even leave comments. Social interaction is taken to the next level with push notifications in which the app lets users know when their friends are viewing the same content.

This is yet another step toward media content sharing that may significantly impact consumer viewing habits. Engadget reports that the initial launch is iOS only, but the company has plans to tackle other platforms such as Android.

Related Forbes article/review: “IntoNow Just Foursquared TV. Can It Groupon Its Commercials?” (3/25/11)

Page 118 of 118«...102030...109110111112113114115116117118