Fifteen months ago, Specific Media purchased MySpace, with Justin Timberlake taking an ownership stake in the flailing social network.
Following months of relative quiet — with the only major news being a new Panasonic partnership announced at CES 2012 — the new Myspace (now fashioned with lower case ‘s’) has finally been revealed in a Vimeo post.
Timberlake tweeted a link to a video that gives a sneak preview at the new service. Included in the Mashable post, the video makes the new Myspace look “clean and attractive.”
It shows a new login using Facebook or Twitter that allows users to bring photos or other information from the other networks. Status updates feature large photos with comments showing up below.
“There is a large music component to the service, which includes a way to browse albums, find popular songs and artists and more,” the post explains, noting that it is still uncertain whether Myspace is “building its own music service or if it has partnered with a provider such as Spotify, Rdio or Rhapsody.”
“The biggest question I have about the new Myspace is whether or not the brand is worth anything,” writes Christina Warren for Mashable. “I’ve argued in the past that the biggest asset of Myspace is also its biggest liability. What the new owners will have to do — celebrity investor or not — is prove to users why this Myspace is worth a user’s time.”
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, provides a compelling commentary on America’s ownership culture and the trends that are steering it toward a new shared ownership strategy.
“First, America’s declining wealth requires we cut costs where possible,” Shapiro writes in Forbes. The recent credit crunch has impacted purchasing and many young people are more likely to share housing with family or friends than in previous years.
“Second, our declining wealth means we need to find creative ways to get the same item or service for less,” he adds, citing examples such as vehicle sharing through ZipCar, emerging bicycle sharing programs, and educational videos shared online.
“Third, the Internet allows those with similar needs to connect quickly, easily and efficiently. More, mobile devices, such as smart phones, tablets and the plethora of apps, allow us to share information with each other and with retailers — increasing efficiency and putting together buyers and sellers.”
Shapiro explains that the Internet is a powerful tool that helps facilitate sharing and provide access at a lower cost. “After all, sharing is a far more efficient method of resource distribution than owning, and perhaps we will all have ‘more’ in the end.”
A British judge has ordered BT, the United Kingdom’s largest ISP, to block access to Newzbin2, a website that makes Hollywood content available to its users illegally. The order also made a provision for blocking access even if Newzbin2 moved to another IP address or URL.
“The judge backed the argument brought by a coalition of Hollywood studios, including Warner Bros, Paramount, Disney, Universal, Fox and Columbia, which have argued that Newzbin2 has made millions profiting from exploiting other people’s work,” reports The Guardian.
This order may set a precedent for blocking of other illegal filesharing websites in the UK.
“Securing the intervention of the ISPs was the only way to put the commercial pirates out of reach for the majority of consumers,” said Chris Marcich, president and managing director of MPA Europe. “This move means that we can invest more in our own digital offerings, delivering higher quality and more variety of products to the consumer.”
AirCassette is a $1.99 iPhone app that mimics the look of an audio cassette tape while playing (including the handwritten script of a label sticker).
“The reels actually spin and you can create and share mix tapes with your friends via e-mail or Facebook, just as we used to do back in 1986,” reports The New York Times.
The AirPlay-compatible app is from Finnish programmer Majasalmi, known for its “Russian Roulette” iPhone game, and features its own iTunes music interface.
The app includes multiple cassette designs that resemble popular blank tapes of the audio cassette era.
“Watching a cassette tape spin on the iPhone’s high-resolution display is oddly calming and, thanks to digital compression, the audio is far superior in AirCassette than it ever was on my Sony Walkman,” comments John Biggs in Gadgetwise.
Google announced this week the beta release of Chrome, which “enables users to sync different accounts across multiple computers,” reports ReadWriteWeb. “This allows more than one person to sign into Chrome on a shared computer and have access to all their browser data. It also enables one person to have different Chrome profiles with different email addresses, e.g. work and personal, that can all be accessed from any computer by logging in.”
Chrome already syncs personal settings such as bookmarks, extensions and passwords to a user’s account, but the new beta “makes it possible to use multiple Chrome accounts on any copy of the browser.”
Google acknowledges this feature provides convenience at the cost of privacy.
The Google blog notes that it “isn’t intended to secure your data against other people using your computer,” since “all it takes is a couple of clicks to switch between users.”
Shall I Buy is a free iPhone app with the goal of combining instant social feedback for shoppers to make better purchasing decisions and possibly combat buyer’s remorse.
A shopper can share a video, picture, price and location to engage potential followers and incite comments, and allows sharing of links through Facebook and Twitter.
“The app is done simply, taking heavy styling cues from Instagram, but in doing so it’s effective and easy to use,” reports TheNextWeb.
The post cites two potential downsides: 1) By default, users receive a great number of push notifications, and 2) It would be helpful to have “a way to configure notifications inside of the app itself,” rather than going to the website.
Robert Scoble equates it to “Foodspotting for everything else.”
The updated Google Reader was rolled out this week, featuring a revamped user interface and integration with Google+.
“Google has ignored the cries of the niche community of Google Reader sharing enthusiasts and has pushed forward in its plans to remove Google Reader’s native sharing features to promote deeper integration with Google+,” suggests TechCrunch. “While the ability to share with Google+ is an obvious important step forward for Google’s social agenda, it will be disappointing change for at least some of the Google Reader community.”
A community movement made attempts to save the old features, creating a petition that now has 10,000 responses.
Google’s reply: “We hope you’ll like the new Reader (and Google+) as much as we do, but we understand that some of you may not. Retiring Reader’s sharing features wasn’t a decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus on fewer areas, and build an even better experience across all of Google.”
Google says an Android app update can be expected soon.
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 a recent GigaOM article, Matthew Ingram provides a compelling alternative viewpoint to the recently publicized complaints regarding Facebook’s philosophy of “frictionless sharing.”
The concept — which essentially allows apps and online publishers to post a user’s activity to their wall without permission — has raised a legitimate concern in terms of whether the feature is a worthwhile addition or an invasion of privacy.
“Consumer advocacy groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center are arguing the latter, and have even asked the government to step in, while some users have deleted their Facebook accounts in protest,” reports Ingram. “But there’s an argument to be made that Facebook isn’t forcing anyone to share; it’s simply adapting to the increasingly social way that we are living our lives online.”
While it’s easy to see the concerns regarding privacy, there are clear benefits to this type of sharing. Ticker, for example, can often provide “serendipitous experiences” such as finding interesting music, video clips, or articles based on the activity of friends. “It also fits right in with the concept that underlies Facebook and most social networking,” suggests the article, “which is what user-interface designer Leisa Reichelt has called ‘ambient intimacy’: the idea that there’s something to be gained by having transient and lightweight connections to people in your life.”
The article points out that the news feed was also originally heavily criticized when it launched in 2006, but eventually became immensely popular.
Zuckerberg’s “law of social sharing,” which notes that the amount of data people share doubles each year, is a “good predictor of what people will do, regardless of what they say they will do or how much they criticize features like frictionless sharing from social apps.”
“And soon, the idea that apps are sharing a continuous stream of our activity will seem just as commonplace and uncontroversial as the original news feed,” contends Ingram.
The article argues that “social sharing online isn’t going away any time soon; it’s not just the core of Facebook, but the organizing principle of the modern Web — Facebook is just a symptom of that change, not the cause.”
Farhad Manjoo, writing for Slate, offers a compelling counterpoint to Facebook’s updated “share everything with everyone” philosophy.
The article suggests that Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook’s newly-designed profile feature (“it’s called Timeline, and it’s beautiful”) involves encouraging sites to develop social apps within Facebook, a grand vision that could dramatically change our digital lives. On the surface, this sounds like a fascinating idea, but there may be problems that evolve from too much sharing.
“If Facebook’s CEO has his way, everything you do online will be shared by default,” explains the Slate article. “You read, you watch, you listen, you buy — and everyone you know will hear all about it on Facebook.”
The article uses Spotify, Netflix and Hulu to illustrate Zuckerberg’s concept of “frictionless” sharing: “What he means is that I don’t have to bother with the ‘friction’ of choosing to tell you that I like something. On Facebook, now, merely experiencing something is enough to trigger sharing.”
Manjoo does not have privacy concerns or hesitation regarding Facebook’s financial gain based on his personal information. However, the author believes that the “nightmare” of “frictionless sharing” is more about Facebook killing taste. He believes that Zuckerberg is essentially lowering the bar by providing an all-access pass to things we don’t necessarily share with everything because they aren’t worth mentioning in the first place (read: boring).
While Manjoo enjoys sharing and discovering new media via Facebook and Twitter, he fears the day these services no longer serve as tools for navigating recommendations once they are bogged down in minutiae.
“That’s why I welcome any method that makes it easier for people to share stuff,” he writes. “If you like this article, you should Like this article. And even if you hate this article, you should Like this article (add a comment telling your friends why I’m a moron). But if you’re just reading this article — if you have no strong feelings about it either way, and if you suspect that your friends will consider it just another bit of noise in their already noisy world — please, do everyone a favor and don’t say anything about it all.”
Recent estimates from the 1000Memories photo-services blog suggest Facebook now houses more than 140 billion uploaded photos.
This figure is roughly 10,000 times larger than the number of photos currently housed by the Library of Congress.
Based on recent figures provided by a Facebook engineer, “the social network oversees more than 200 million photos uploaded per day, approximately 6 billion per month,” reports Digital Trends. “TechCrunch also reported that Facebook users uploaded an estimated 750 million photos over the New Year’s holiday earlier this year. 1000Memories estimates that the typical digital camera owner takes about 150 digital images per year and potentially uploads 20 percent of all pictures to Facebook over the course of a year.”
The 1000Memories post calculates that approximately 3.5 trillion photos (analog and digital) have been captured since the invention of the camera, of which 10 percent were taken in the last 12 months.
Following last week’s F8 developer’s conference, and the news that Facebook is making a significant shift into media sharing, Wired offers an interesting take on possible missing elements to successfully sharing music via the social network.
“Yes, Facebook will facilitate legal music sharing — something the industry has been trying to do ever since Napster electrified (some would say “electrocuted”) the music business over 10 years ago,” suggests the article. “But as important as it is, Facebook’s music initiative is missing five key ingredients, all of which are within its grasp.”
According to Wired, the following are the missing ingredients…
True Music Sharing: Facebook should allow people to listen to each other’s music using whatever music service they want. Instead of using the service that the friend is using, you should have the option to select which platform you would like to use. They’ve started doing this (somewhat unfairly) for Spotify with a “play in Spotify” link in shared songs on other platforms, like Rdio.
Real-Time Group Listening: “Why didn’t Facebook music launch with the ability to join other listeners on a station in real-time, so that people can chat about what they’re hearing…?”
Music Tab in the Ticker: With all the new information coming to Ticker through automatic updates in Open Graph, it would be nice to have a music filter to separate music updates from other things like adding friends.
Apple: Apple, iTunes and iCloud were not included in the media system and would be beneficial to users.
Independent Developers: Facebook just needs to “stay out of the way” of independent app developers that build third-party players atop their catalogs — apps that could offer a range of interfaces, platforms, designs, features, and more to programs like Rdio or Spotify.