I have worked on computers since 1982 almost every day. I had my first internet connection in the early ’90s. Since 1994 I am more or less in online marketing. I tweet, I bing, I facebook, I wrote books. But I never ever wrote my own blog. I never thought I needed to, but too many people are telling me I should share my thoughts with others. By the way, you might think my English is weird. You are right; I am originally from Germany. Please excuse any uncommon grammar or unorthodox spelling.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Facebook and Skype a potential partnership
Facebook and Skype are in talks to establish a partnership that would combine the communication services, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a person familiar with the situation.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook users would be able to sign in to Skype through their Facebook Connect accounts. They would then be able to text message, voice chat, and video chat with Facebook friends through Skype.
Enabling Skype's chat on Facebook would be a "logical progression" to the partnership, the source said.
This talk is coming at an interesting time. Skype is preparing an IPO and a partnership with Facebook can bring the skype network to one billion users assuming no Facebook user has a skype account. Skype has right now 600 million users world wide, most likely many Facebook users have already a skype account, but even if all have a skype account the partnership can be a win for both.
Apple is pushing their face time which supposedly is open standard that other devices can use but skype and Facebook can bring over night 500 million people together which Apple could only dream about. Almost all smart phones have a Facebook application. Imagine the application would allow to make video calls. Not only mobile Facebook users can make video calls to each other but as well mobile to notebook and desktop, or calls from Facebook to landlines, just from one day to the other.
As a result skype could pump up their pay calls using Facebook credits.
Maybe Facebook users buy credits for zynga, earn more credits playing farmville and use the credits to make paid calls through Facebook to overseas.
Skype build into Facebook would be the killer, and skype could still have a stand alone application with facebook functionality. As an example my sister in Germany uses skype all the time to call me but is not a Facebook user. She might suddenly see in her skype account friends of mine through the facebook connect because I have an Facebook account. She would see a friend of mine who could be her friend too. She now would be able to call him even he has no Skype account.
Suddenly Skype and Facebook users are one big community.
Facebook on the other hand can get much more integrated into commercial sites.
A brand page might have a hotline number which now is connected to facebook.
Skype is as well partnering with Avaya to get a better entry into company Voice over IP. Avaya will work close with skype together to build a business version of skype to allow IT operations easier to distribute and service skype.
If then Facebook will start to offer their website for business (as close groups), then there would be a big chance for both to enter the business world with the most comprehensive social intranet, extranet, company instant messaging, ip telephony etc etc.
Maybe Facebook is buying Asana to build for this venture an enterprise-level collaboration software (which was founded by Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook, and Justin Rosenstein, an alum of both Facebook and Google),
Bringing Facebook and skype together could eliminate as well Vonage and other VoIP companies for home use, using a wifi phone where the computer does not be switched on to get Facebook messages or calls.
This is a total connect.
- Posted using My iPad
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Dynamic location based advertisement -the next logical step?
Dynamic ads are not new for google, their text ads are basically dynamic ads. Depending on search term a text ad can have different content and be still the same ad. As an example I could buy into google ads. Would define the search terms when the ad shall be displayed and have the text ad displaying the search term. Like "xxx for the best deal in town, click here". Xxx stands for the search term the user did look for. How often did we click on an ad because our search term was in the ad but the target domain had nothing to do with our search. Now you know why.
However not many companies are using this methodology for their display ads.
Google gave an example for display ads for dynamic content based on location.
Depending on the weather the ad would look different. It is a cool idea, as long the users IP address is in the correct zip code. Imagine you would surf the Internet from Florida but your IP would represent Alaska and the displayed ad would show snow and winter tires, this would not really make sense.
Changing ads by weather condition is not hard if we assume we can figure out the correct zip code, but the question what to show depending on weather will get very philosophical. As a travel agency, is it better to show during snowing an ad for vacation on Hawaii or an ad for a short trip to a ski resort around the corner?
Really interesting are dynamic display ads when they change the content depending on the content the user is reading or looking for.
Maybe an ad could show "save on chicken at Walmart in Orlando", If an user from Orlando searches on a recipe site for chicken recipes, but if somebody searches for chicken wings and is located in Tampa, the same ad would show "save on fresh cooked chicken wings at Walmart in Tampa" etc.
Dynamic ads can get much more personal if they are on sites where the user signed in with Facebook connect and agreed on that the site can use his Facebook data.
The limit is the sky and our privacy settings.
But how do these dynamic ads work?
It is a pretty simple method. The ad might be done in flash, the content of the flash comes from an XML, this XML is dynamic generated by certain parameters like zip code.
The agency would build multiple versions of an image (with snow, rain, sun etc.) then a code in the backend would read the IP address of user and compares the IP with stored information in a DB to find correct zip code, this zip code would be send to weather.com to get weather information. The XML would then contain a rain image.
Similar approach for dynamic ad in search results. Instead of building 100 different ads and upload them to an ad server, the agency could build one ad for uploading which would read an XML, which gets it's information dynamically from a DB which contains a lot of different images which are tagged with keywords. The text of the ad would repeat the search term by reading the search term from page etc.
I tried to be simple and therefor not technical correct.
At the end the question is not if dynamic ads or not. There is no doubt it will come more, especially when combined with cookie, location, content relevance, behavior and social information.
The question will be if such approach is paying off (ROI), does it really raise the CTR (click through rate), does it help for better branding, or is it just expensive and has no added value?
The time and experience will show. Right now it brings a lot of PR for the agencies who are offering such service and a lot of PR for brands which are using the service. But what is, when it is commodity?
As great dynamic advertising is, it might never be commodity, because the law could change. Which would as well reduce extremely all other targeted advertising.
On July 19, Illinois Representative Bobby Rush, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce Trade and Consumer Protection, introduced HR 5777, the Best Practices Act. This bill is similar to the Boucher proposal introduced in May by Rep. Rick Boucher and Rep. Cliff Stearns in that it would regulate the online and offline collection, use and disclosure of covered information and would regulate behavioral advertising.
Click here if you would like to read the bill (PDF format)
- Posted using My iPad
Google is predicting more social and targeted display ads
I actually agree with the predictions. We are right now mostly still in the ad life of 10 years ago, the ads got more rich and have some targeting but are still not there where they could be. Especially with all new social networks and the ability to target people better through behavior and location when they use their mobile device.
Mobile is still a child in comparison to desktop Internet, but we saw how fast the desktop Internet did grow, mobile will grow at least 2.5 times faster. And desktops or notebooks will have earlier or later GPS build in. The technology gets cheaper and cheaper and advertisers will drive manufactures to have this function or other location defining technology in all computers. It will not be driven by the consumer, but it will be market that the consumer believes manufactures do include (in their hardware) such technology because it makes the life easier.
Who does not want to sit at the notebook in Starbucks reading Facebook and posting on the wall how good the coffee is and have instantly the location posted with it (mobile devices can do this already). The advertising market will change extremely, as soon location technology is included in all type of computers. Right now if a consumer is using a desktop or notebook for Internet surfing many geo related targeted ads are a hit or miss, because the IP address does not give enough correct information.
Some parts of the NYT blog:
Neal Mohan, the vice president for product management responsible for Google’s display advertising products, and Barry Salzman, managing director of media and platforms for the Americas at Google, who runs display ad sales, envisioned a Web where the ads are more social, mobile and real-time — and a lot more profitable.
1. Google announced two new kinds of video ads for YouTube and predicted that half of display ads would include cost-per-view videos that viewers choose to watch. On YouTube, people will be able to skip video ads they don’t like after five seconds (and the advertiser won’t pay for those views) or choose which of three ads to watch.
2. Half of the audience will be viewing ads in real-time, Google predicted. That means changing elements of ads on the fly based on things like location, the viewer’s interests and the weather. Google demonstrated technology from Teracent, an advertising company it acquired, that changes a car ad depending on whether the viewer is in a sunny or rainy place, is a woman or a man, and prefers shopping or sports. The technology would allow “millions of possible permutations,” Mr. Salzman said.
3. Google has been talking for a while about mobile being a priority and predicted that cellphone screens would be the No. 1 screen for viewing the Web by 2015. In display advertising, that means using phones to bridge the gap between a magazine ad and an online ad. An app called Google Goggles already lets people take photos of things like a landmark to search for them on Google. Eventually, people will be able to take a cellphone photo of a print automobile ad, for instance, and see the car in 3-D, zoom in and visit the company’s Web site.
4. There are metrics more important than clicks. “Whatever the marketing goal is, you should be able to measure it,” Mr. Salzman said. In addition to measuring engagement with rich media ads and video views, other examples of new forms of advertising measurement include “sentiment analysis” that examines “the tone of consumer comments about a brand” and geo-based metrics will allow marketers to measure the increase in foot traffic or to their stores.
5. Three quarters of all ads will be socially enabled. “All users will be able to share an ad, comment on an ad and give feedback on an ad,” said Mr. Mohan. Instead of advertisers talking to consumers directly, Mr. Mohan envisioned “a two-way communication channel between a brand and its consumers.”
6. Rich media ads will comprise 50 percent of all campaigns. According to Mr. Salzman, “Static banner ads will become a thing of the past.” To illustrate his point, Mr. Salzman showed the audience the live video stream of the presentation as it was streamed to ad units on the Advertising Age Web site. He described it as a “meta media phenomenon.”
7. Display advertising will grow to be a $50 billion market.
When asked at the end of the presentation how these predictions would affect advertisers and agencies, Mr. Mohan and Mr. Salzman agreed that companies would have more time to focus on the creative aspects of their marketing campaigns. “The technology should just work,” Mr. Mohan said.
- Posted using My iPad
Location:W Laurel St,Tampa,United States
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
German design Student - genius game developer or stupid tasteless?
It is almost not believable that one person can do this within just short time.
It is not as perfect as Halo or other commercial first person shooter games but the rendering is much better than 10 years ago.
The name of the game is „1378 (km)“.
But, 1378 (km) is not a usual first person shooter game. It plays in Europe 30 years in the past. To be exact in 1976 at the border of West and East Germany. The game got released 20 years after the fall of the wall. 1378km was the length of the fence which separated both Germanys. Nobody from East Germany could easily leave the country. The only way for the most part at this time was to find a way through or over the fence as a refugee.
The players of the game (it is a free download) can make the choice to play either the refugee or the border guard with a AK-47 half automatic.
A guard can change the side and join the refugees.
The game is extremely smart, a guard can be punished if not following his superior order but might be later in the game a hero. Or if a guard is stopping many refugees to leave the country he might get a military medal but has later to stand in the court after the wall went down to face the crimes.
Jens's Stover professor (from the HFG, Karlsruhe) is seeing this game as a "serious game" with a perfect execution and educational importance.
Other critics do believe that the game is tasteless and does not honor the victims of this hard time during 1964 and 1990. Thousand of innocent people got killed because they did want to rejoin their separated families or did just want to have freedom.
Sven is too young to know how it was before the wall went down. I grew up in a time when the wall and separation was there and even part of my family lived in East Germany. Whenever we did want to meet them, we had to go through difficult paperwork before we could go. At the border we had wait hours till they searched our whole car ( they even took the chairs out on the way home). My aunt and uncle could not visit us till 1985 and after this only once a year and only one person at the time, to make sure this person goes back to East Germany.
I can't say if this game is tasteless, because I saw more blood driven first person shooter games published by big companies here in the States. I saw games which are taking other realistic historic moments as a storyline like war in Afghanistan or the second world war.
But I think it is the first time in Germany, that a German does build an educational and serious game as first person shooter, which does not have the balance between good and evil, actually a misbalance which (first view) favors the evil (the border guard and East German military). However the game has twists.
I think it depends who is playing the game. People who like violence and who have a tendency to extremism love the game just to shoot people, to see how many they can kill.
On the other hand, players which want to understand how complex and crazy the time was (as a guard you have to follow your orders but if you do so, you have to kill, if you don't you get maybe killed, but 20 years later you spare the jail if you did not follow orders).
And then we have the third group which will see this game tasteless and something we don't need.
I personally don't like any first shooter games, i prefer adventures or sport games, but if it is a shooting game, it should have good logic.
I never played the game, everything i wrote is from German news, screen shots and videos i saw from the game.
Maybe living in America makes it hard to understand the controversy about the game. And it is hard to compare it with something else because the situation was so unique. Any example might be wrong. The closest I can think of would be a 9/11 game where the player has to choose to be a hero (firefighter) or a terror attack victim (worker in the building). And any second the hero has to decide to get more victims out of the building and risk his own life or to stop helping people but get moral depression.
If you think this topic is not something which should be played in a game, or if you think this would be a great serious education for our children who grew up after the attack, then you know and understand why the 1378km game is so discussed in Germany.
1378(km) - Teaser from Jens M. Stober on Vimeo.
- Posted using My iPad
Monday, September 27, 2010
The tablet market is heating up
Who in the world does need another device? Apple proofed we needed a new device between smart phone and notebook. In April the iPad got shipped and after only 2 months they sold over 3 Million.
Six months after the first iPad got shipped the market has changed. The iPad was just the beginning. Many manufactures did follow.
First the German company Neofonie announced their WePad with memo a Linux based tablet computer which just got released as WeTab starting at $499.
Then Samsung released their Galaxy Tab in the UK with a two years carrier contract which will translate into $1000 running android.
Shortly after Dell announced a 7inch slate as the big brother of the 5inch Dell streak phone. Both are running on android.
Today we did read about the Blackberry playbook a 7inch tablet with two cameras for business customers starting at $499.
HP announced at the CES their slate which is a 9.7inch touchscreen computer with either windows 7mobile, Palm Os or both, price around $500. But not released yet
And there might be many more coming as I posted a few weeks ago.
But really interesting is that none of them are cheaper than the iPad, but have two things the iPad does not.
Flash and cameras (at least one camera). They are all either more heavy or smaller than iPad but interesting not cheaper even if everybody said the iPad is too expensive.
Rumors are around that Apple is already producing the second iPad generation as a 7inch version and with camera. Which is not typical for Apple to come with a second version before a year ends.
Back to the start of this blog, do we really don't need a bigger iPod touch? Maybe not, but interesting that all big players are following Apple. Most of them had netbooks before, but now they are moving to slates and starting to discontinue the netbooks.
Steve Jobs might had his downtime when he was fired from Apple in 1985 (The Man Who Fired Steve Jobs From Apple, John Sculley, Is Now Getting Fired By His Wife). And struggled 10 years with Pixar and Next till he came back to Apple. But since his comeback it seems that he can create any products he wants and we buy them and the rest of the manufactures try to follow him.
Next was not a total failure, iOs is using objective C, which was the base for nextstep the Next OS. Pixar needed long till it made money with Toys story. But a lot of UI inventions of Mac OsX are products which were originated by Pixar developers in the early years. Steve was not a software guy, he loved hardware but Pixar helped him to get a feeling for Art in software (Source "the second coming of Steve Jobs").
2011 will be hot with slates, and as a friend of mine says: "if it is released, it is already old, go to the next thing". He is so right, all the companies who are right now copying Apple to bring faster and better products to compare with iPad, are so busy with this that they will be late with the next big thing because Apple will have it already.
It is time that somebody steps out and does their own thing, the only way to be ahead of Apple, at least right now.
- Posted using My iPad
Barcodes on TV is not the answer
The 45-second commercials by the online fashion retailer Bluefly show snippets of its “Closet Confessions” interviews with designers and celebrities like Bethenny Frankel, who appeared on “The Real Housewives of New York City,” and the Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir.
When the cellphone is pointed at the on-screen bar code, the user is linked to a complete closet-baring episode, which can run as long as five minutes, and offered a $30 discount on a $150 purchase at bluefly.com, which sells designer and other branded clothing and accessories.
The idea is brave, but not convenient.
Depending on your distance to TV and the size of your TV you have to get close to the TV, hold your phone still and try to scan the barcode. Even if the image would be big enough for doing the scan without getting up, the scan is hard to do because of the bright TV backlight.
Shazam and SciFi have the better approach by using sound. Shazam is a famous application to record some music and then get the author, group and song name back (their DB has over 1 Billion songs). But since a few weeks Shazam is offering with SciFi the ability to record a few seconds of (as example) Eureka and as a result the user gets extra info back (see one of my older blogs).
It is much more convenient and easier to use. The consumer does not need to get up or hold the phone in a weird position to get results.
Barcodes are great and have their place in our life, like product packages or print media where no sound is available. But TV commercials should not depend on barcodes. Most phones don't have a barcode reader, the consumer has to download it the first time, same for shazam. But shazam has already over 75 million users and 20 million smart phone users, more than any barcode app has.
And then there is the problem that in the US is no standard for 2 dimensional barcodes (qr codes). Microsoft has their color codes, some have only two color codes and then there is a third version which is a combination of both.
In Europe and Japan QR codes are regulated to one standard.
We will see more integration of mobile and TV and maybe all devices and Advertisement will follow us from device to device utilizing sound not barcodes.
- Posted using My iPad
Location:W Laurel St,Tampa,United States
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Computers, processors and memory get faster and cheaper. Combining all these things together with everyday electronic items like toaster, fitness tools or microwave gives us a new way of life.
Soon we will be able to decide which item should be connect to the world and which not.
Today we have already scales with wifi to collect and save our weight to our phones or computers and can send updates to Facebook or Twitter. This helps to get controlled through friends or trainers, In countries like US where friends can live hundreds of miles away.
Microwaves will soon have wifi with a scale and camera build in.
We put our food into the microwave. It will measure the weight send an image of the product to a DB and second later the microwave will set temperature and time to the perfect amount.
Toasters will burn funny images on our toasts, which we chose from an online image library.
Our cars will be connected to our smart phone not that we only can find the car on a big parking lot but as well to start and open the car and to see the car health. The car will post to our Facebook page when an oil change is needed and set an appointment with the car dealer knowing when we have time by looking in our calendar and social behavior.
Our fridge will have a touchscreen in the door which shows us an image from inside with information which item will soon be bad and what we should order because we run out of it. We can order everything through the internet using the touchscreen.
The ability is unlimited and in a few years, it will be not anymore the question what a smart phone can do but which utility we should replace because it can't connect with the world or our life.
The only negative part could be that companies would start to think how to monetize every day items.
I believe it will self regulate and not too much advertising but new ways to monetize which we don't know yet how.
The total connect future is big and interesting. It is right now a good time to follow these new waves and to be a part of it.
Companies which will help to make this total connect future secure and build on top of all a perfect privacy setting toll will be the biggest winners.
The technology is changing too fast that many companies can't keep up with proper rules and settings for privacy. It is normal that we first develop a product and then work on the privacy after first complains are coming in.
- Posted using My iPad
Saturday, September 25, 2010
What is augmented reality and why is it hot
We hear and see more and more companies offering augmented applications for smart phones. But to be honest most of the time it is not augmented reality, it is Mediated Reality.
Mediated Reality refers to the ability to add to, subtract information from, or otherwise manipulate one's perception of reality through the use of a wearable computer or hand-held device such as a smart phone (wikipedia.org).
Nevertheless if we call it augmented reality or mediated reality, it is not new but gets it's hype with the smart phones.
I used to have in 2003 the Siemens SX1, which we could compare with smart phones.
It had a touch screen, a camera, extendable memory and a web browser.
The phone was awesome and i think I had it 2 years.
It did run on Symbian OS, but the really cool part was an installed game called Mozzies. In Mozzies, the Camera is used to detect the motion. So you have to position the gun on the flying mosquitoes which are superimposed on the video feed from the camera. The objective is to shoot down the mosquitoes by moving the phone around and clicking when you are aiming correctly.
I believe this game won some prices as best mobile game back in time. But I don't know who did build it.
Even the military is using such technology sine many years to project information on windshields of fighters for the pilots. Mercedes presented on a trade-show a few years ago a concept car with a projected navigation system on the drivers windshield. Meditated reality goes even back till the 60es ( 1966: Ivan Sutherland invents the head-mounted display suggesting it was a window into a virtual world.
1975: Myron Krueger creates Videoplace that allows users to interact with virtual objects for the first time.).
Today augmented or let us say for now mediated reality goes a step further and does incorporate more information from the Internet.
Many times it not only uses the camera picture, but as well position data either over GPS or Wifi or sound speakers.
Imagine you go shopping in a big mall and instead searching for a mall map, you look on the screen of your smart phone and hold it in the direction you want to go and you would not only see the real image of the mall but as well arrows and text indicating where which store is and if if they have specials. Clicking on one of the stores will bring their e-commerce site or let you set an appointment to avoid waiting times.
Or if you are in a store and you are seeing a nice dress, you just hold your phone to the dress and you could see yourself in the screen wearing the dress without the hassle to go to the changing room. If you like the dress you order it direct on the phone. When you are done with shopping a friendly employee will hand out to you a bag with your orders before you leave the store.
Or you are in a book store (if they are still around) and look at a book. You instantly would see on the book cover information from the internet through your smart phone )The rating, a short overview and alternative sales prices etc.).
This is mediated reality combined with e-commerce and social.
I believe this is just the beginning and like me a lot of investors. In the last 12 months a handful of companies specialized in mediated realty got big funding.
All of them uses as their object of choice a smart phone.
But I think this type of technology will go away from smart phones and will find it's way into devices we don't need to hold, maybe into eye glasses. It just does make more sense if you don't need to hold something to get this information. It will as well make it's way into windshields of cars.
Mediated realty is the normal progress. That we use computer screens is only because we do things and want to see things which we can't do in our brain and therefore not able to visualize as real images.
If we would have an organic computer build in which we could connect to all other people in the world (if they want) and if we would be able to visualize all we hear and think in front of our eyes we would not need computers. We can't and this the reason why we still have computer boxes and screens. But at least technology gets faster, cheaper and smaller that we are now able to have such mediated realty in our smart phones.
The software for mediated realty is not expensive, everybody can download a SDK as an example at eye tap.org for free.
Because it is a new hype the developing costs are artificial high but will constantly get cheaper till everybody can have it on their computer (like MS World) to build their own mediated realty application.
The tricky part is to find out what would make sense as mediated realty application and how to monetize it.
At end we will have 2 or 3 global players and a few niche players, because they could differentiate themselves from other with applications which are useful.
- Posted using My iPad
Friday, September 24, 2010
How much should companies trust cloud services?
Source NYTimes September 16th
The 27-year-old employee, David Barksdale, allegedly accessed information about four teenagers he met through a Seattle technology group, according to gossip website Gawker, which reported the incident Tuesday.
A similar reported incident that did not involve minors also resulted in the dismissal of an engineer, said a Google employee who was not authorized to speak about the topic.
These are two incidents in a short time of period at google. Even if google does encrypt the stored emails, it is alarming how google engineers (and maybe lower level employees) can access gmail accounts and read these information, even if only the top managers can do this.
Google is pushing for google apps and their service to be used from companies. Start ups as well big companies are starting to use google mail, google docs etc like Valeo (automotive with 30.000 employees) or Rentokil (pest control, 35.000 employees).
I love the idea of google apps, it is a cheaper alternative to Microsoft bundles (MS Office, Sharepoint, MS Project), but i see at the same time big risks.
What happens when a company is using google apps and might be dangerous competition to Google, or might be on the Google buying list?
How do we know Google is not taking advantage of the ability to access the stored data?
How do we know that Google has not a key to access all of this?
Hold on, is this not a risk everywhere? Let us take ATT as an example, could not a certain group of employee access all phone bills? Maybe access stored voicemails? Yes they might could, but it would be still far less deep and detailed company information to begin with.
ATT and other companies don't have the expertise like Google in search. Google has the most brilliant engineers in search technology, they surely can come up with search algorithm to puzzle all pieces together to get a clear picture of a company.
I am a big fan of cloud computing but I would think twice which part i would take into the cloud, or what software i would use for my company as a SaaS solution.
Any data which is company critical and describes the most value besides employees should stay in the company. If a cloud is necessary for these applications than a cloud controlled by my company not 3rd party.
Would a retailer use Amazon for hosting their complete customer base and day by day financials in the cloud and using Amazon services for this? I don't think it would be a good idea. I trust Google and I trust Amazon as companies, but i can't trust thousands of people working with them.
I am really surprised that the two privacy incidents at Google was not big in the news. I had expected much more noise about this, especially the privacy breach came at an awkward time for Google. Federal regulators and lawmakers are weighing whether to make Internet privacy rules more stringent — a move opposed by Google and other Internet companies that argue the industry can regulate itself.
Here just two of many other privacy issues concerning Google:
Google is also under scrutiny in the U.S. and overseas for collecting personal data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks through its Street View service that takes panoramic pictures from vehicles. Google also raised the hackles of privacy watchdogs when it rolled out a social networking service called Buzz that is used in conjunction with users' Gmail accounts.
- Posted using My iPad
Mark Z. donates $100 million to schools
The three men plan to announce the arrangement on Friday on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Mark Z. has not only the biggest Social Network but does social things too.
But how can he afford to donate $100 million? The company is not public yet and Facebook revenue is expected to be $600 million this year which is fully needed for their growth. Zuck does not get enough salary that he has so much money. He is worth $2.6 billion but only if he can sell the company or if the company goes public.
So either he is paying the money from gross income which would lower the net revenue or he is paying in shares. And all articles are saying Mark is donating not Facebook, therefore it sounds like his money and not company money.
This could be an hint that Facebook will go soon public. Otherwise Newark would have a just a piece of paper but not the needed money. And I doubt that Mark would sell some of his shares on the secondary market to cash $100 million.
I am eager to see the official announcement today, to hear how he can pay so much cash.
- Posted using My iPad
Thursday, September 23, 2010
A world is collapsing. Facebook is down
I tried multiple Facebook domains and all seem to have been down.
Everybody is crying millions of people are confused. What can they do now without facebook?
Facebook was down for 20 minutes. Which means the world did stand still for 20 minutes.
I believe they are getting hit from zombi computers.
Waiting to see their explanation.
Facebook users have been seeing the site go online and offline on Thursday. The company issued a statement but gave no explanation as to the cause of the problem:
We’re currently experiencing some site issues causing Facebook to be slow or unavailable for some users. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
The downtime also affected the many sites that incorporate Facebook’s “Like” buttons and the Facebook Connect service. Many Web sites bore empty white boxes or error messages where Facebook’s content should be.
Facebook’s developer Web site remained up and noted that the company was experiencing problems with its application programming interface, which outside programmers and sites use to interact with Facebook. A statement on the site said:
Current Status: API Latency Issues
We are currently experiencing latency issues with the API, and we are actively investigating. We will provide an update when either the issue is resolved or we have an ETA for resolution.
Update: Facebook said in a statement that it had resolved its problems: “Today we experienced technical difficulties causing the site to be unavailable for a number of users. The issue has been resolved and everyone should now have access to Facebook. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
Update: In a fairly technical mea culpa posted on its Web site, Facebook said that its worst outage in four years lasted 2.5 hours and was caused by an “unfortunate handling of an error condition.” The company also apologized to its users.
- Posted using My iPad
Location:W Laurel St,Tampa,United States
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Facebook makes the life of game developers harder
This will change with the new Facebook settings. Users will only get news from farmville when they are farmville players.
An user would not see anymore when a friend reached a new level in game as example.
This cuts off some marketing channels for game developers. An ext step from Facebook to find a way to monetize better on games.
See post from blog.facebook.com:
A Better Games Experience
by Jared Morgenstern on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 8:37pm
Games are an important way we connect with people, from family game night, to playing console games with siblings, to card games with friends. More than 200 million people play games on Facebook every month because it's easy to get started and play with friends. We're focused on improving the quality of the experience for those who play games, as well as those who do not. Today, we're launching features to give you better control over the updates you see in your News Feed.
Previously, you've had the ability to hide an application story, or block it completely. Now, we're putting changes in place so game stories only post to your feed if you're playing them. This means people who play games can post stories to their Wall without worrying about overwhelming their friends who aren't playing, and people who don't play games won't see irrelevant stories in their feed for which they have no context.
For game players, here are some improvements we're excited to be launching today:
§ Full stories in News Feed so they won't miss when a friend shares an action or needs help in a game. The more active a person is in a game, the more prominent the stories will be.
§ Smarter bookmarks on the home page that will automatically appear and reorder based on the games they're playing. They will no longer need to individually bookmark apps, and it will be easier to get to favorite apps.
§ A clearer, highlighted number for pending requests or tasks alongside bookmarks.
§ Requests in the Games Dashboard, where they can manage all their game activity and discover new games.
You’ll no longer need to bookmark individual applications, as the ones you use most often will automatically appear and reorder.
People who do not play games will only see stories when a particular game is added by a group of friends, instead of ongoing News Feed stories. These dedicated stories will show which friends are playing a game, making it easy to join them. Over the coming months, we plan to launch additional features that provide improved and personalized social games and News Feed experiences. Happy gaming!
- Posted using My iPad
Location:W Laurel St,Tampa,United States
Monday, September 20, 2010
Facebook or something else?
I can't wait till i can be a member of diaspora to see if it will be better, but so far I can't be. I only find their blog and some screenshots and news that they are live since September 15th, but where?
Reading as much as I can about diaspora, in news, Facebook and github it is still not clear for me if these guys want to build framework for other social networks or their own social network. I will ending up to install diaspora to see how it works.
In the mean time I did research anti Facebook movements to see how much the interest is to move to another social network. First bigger article against Facebook was in January 2008 (an article in the UK times). Since then there have been many anti Facebook blogs or news. The biggest blog I could found is http://sickfacebook.com/ there might be better once but i could not find.
Sickfacebook is claiming that 60% of Facebook users would move to another social network (A poll survey conducted by IT security company, Sophos, revealed that almost two third of facebook users are considering leaving and 16% claiming to have already stopped using Facebook.)I could not find the source of this report.
Even on Facebook itself are some anti Facebook pages. Most of them have a few thousands followers the most. The biggest group is joindiaspora with almost 44,000 followers. I really did not find much on facebook. One group which is not against facebook but against changing Facebook layout has over 50.000 followers.
Maybe Facebook is hiding anti Facebook movements.
But the thing I found (which diaspora could be the big winner) is the very bad search on facebook. First of all with my iPad the search field gets cleared after hitting search. Second of all it does not handle typos. No alternative is offered as we are used from leading search engines.
This is so annoying I had to rewrite my search phrase a couple of times. Try yourself with some small typos like "fscebook" and see if you get results.
At least not with the iPad.
Finding an application is almost not possible. I did want to move my blog into facebook but was not able to find something better than "notes". This is another part where diaspora can be better. Maybe when diaspora tries to keep the good stuff of facebook and makes the bad stuff better then there is a chance.
Once Microsoft got very big and a lot of people did not like it. Linux came as open source and had a chance to change the world. But it did not worked out. Microsoft has still over 80% market share.
Then there came google.com and Microsoft bing.com and yahoo (which is older than google and was once leading search engine) tried to fight against google.com but google is still number 1 with over 72% of market share.
Neither Microsoft had the first OS nor google was the first search engine.
But both had found a new way to get the majority of users.
Same with facebook, it was not the first social network, but they did something better. At a time when myspace was market leader, Facebook did recognize that user have to use their real name was the big winner. For google was how they changed the search methodology with page rank and word distance relevance.
Once they all get enough critical mass it is hard to create something to take over. Windows might not be the best OS, google might not be the best search engine and Facebook might even not be the best social network, but with a market share of over 70% and a reach of hundred of million people (google is used by a billion users, Facebook has over 500 million members and Microsoft Windows is on over 750 million PCs and servers) it is hard to compete. To beat this - an alternative product most be not only better, but the leading company must miss something which makes the competition much better. Just being as good or slightly better would not give enough momentum.
Back to facebook and diaspora. If I would count all unique anti Facebook results and posts together, then I don't get more than a group of people together which is not bigger than 3% of the Facebook population. An average brand has more complains.
Diaspora might have a chance if their idea works that people can take their friends from facebook to diaspora with one click and if they have some major improvements of things which are not so good in facebook but more than just better privacy settings (if they are working).
As we know Microsoft has some shares in Facebook and Facebook is using bing as a search engine for web search results on their page.
During my research I found something interesting, I searched at bing "Anti facebook" and then I searched for the same at google. Bing gave me 941,000 results and google had 216,000,000, this 229 times more. Not implying anything but interesting.
- Posted using My iPad
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Why diaspora social network will fail
Diaspora is a project founded by four young very smart guys. Mr. Salzberg, Mr. Grippi, Raphael Sofaerc and Ilya Zhitomirskiy.
6 months months back, four geeky college students, living on pizza in a computer lab downtown on Mercer Street, decided to build a social network that wouldn’t force people to surrender their privacy to a big business. It would take three or four months to write the code, and they would need a few thousand dollars each to live on.
They gave themselves 39 days to raise $10,000, using an online site, Kickstarter, that helps creative people find support. At the end they got over $23.000 from over 700 backers.
The four guys decided on September 15th to make diaspora an open spruce project that the whole world can help to build a better social network.
I am a big fan of better privacy settings and would switch to another social network and i support open source but in this case I believe the project will never an alternative.
1. The name and domain
If you want to go international you need to have a name which works in other countries you need to be better with the choice. In Germany Diaspora is a part of the Bonifatius Werk to help people to learn to help themselves. Diaspora comes from Greek and wikipedia describes diaspora as:
A diaspora (in Greek, διασπορά – "a scattering [of seeds]") is the movement or migration of a group of people, such as those sharing a national and/or ethnic identity, away from an established or ancestral homeland. When capitalized, the Diaspora refers to the exile of the Jewish people and Jews living outside ancient or modern day Israel.
The domain diaspora is even not registered to these 4 kids and they had to choose joindiaspora.com as domain
2. The size of project
They had been estimated it takes only 4 for months to build a social network code like facebook. This might have been true for a Facebook version 4 years ago. The biggest hurdle is that FB has a lot of functions which users are today expecting and after 6 months of developing they figured out that they can't deliver a working product with at least some of the most important function and had to make it open source.
3. It is open source
To use open source is not bad. FB with over 500 million users is basically only developed with open source. At the front end, their servers run a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) stack with Memcache, the backend mostly with python, java, C++ and Erlang and as database Cassandra. For the backend the FB philosophy is:
1. Create a service if needed
2. Create a framework/toolset for easier creation of services
3. Use the right programming language for the task
Open source shows to work for FB. But diaspora wants to make its social network open source. Send it to world and they will make it cool.
Good idea, but very risky. Any open source approach will open more holes than a Swiss cheese and harder to fix without having the control. I and many other people would not trust a social network which everybody can develop against and maybe obtain private information.
4. No big VC
We do not read any news about big VC or business angels joining this project. This could indicate that these guys don't have a really good connection to the business world. Without business supporters, the project will be just one of the many open source projects which take never off. Even FB had from the beginning the right contacts to make it successful, it was not just a student hacking some line of codes together.
5. Too public before foundation established
A lot of people are complaining about FB (search for for "deleting my Facebook account and you will get millions of results). However if you want to be a serious alternative you need to be ready with it when you start to talk about.
These 4 guys have been very good with marketing and press releases, but too early in a time when they had not more than a vision. The fire went out before it started.
I believe the diaspora project will not go live or not be big. Maybe in a few years we sill see hundreds of small local social networks using the same code base once started by diaspora. Similar like joomla. Once started as CMS for one company went open source as mambo and then reinvented as joomla.
Today are thousands of joomla installation all over the world.
Correction (Thanks Mark)
..The guys didn't decide to open source it when the project became too big, it was always supposed to be open source. That promise was how they raised so much cash from Kickstarter - over $200K from nearly 6500 donors.
- Posted using My iPad
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Facebook - heaven and hell for brands
Rather than ignoring consumers these pages help to be on the pulse of the consumers.
Brands have a very good view of the consumers likes and dislike of the brand. More users are moving to the fan pages in Facebook than to the companies websites or reading newsletters. Starbucks has already over 13 millions fans, Coca Cola 12 millions, Pepsi 1.2 million and so on.
Fan pages are growing but for some brands their email subscriptions and website visitors are going down. A lot of researchers do see a relationship between FB fan page growth and decrease of page views on company pages.
Despite that fan pages can brands give much more detail about their fans, the statistics which Facebook is delivering with their insight tool are not detailed enough. Even if companies can do a lot on facebook, they don't own the real estate.
And this is the biggest problem. It is like renting a house where you are allowed to pain the walls, but you can't make holes in the wall to see what is behind.
We should not forget, that for now fan pages a free, but really fast it could be that Facebook is starting to charge for them. Has a company moved most of their traffic to facebook, will be a big shock if they need to pay big money to keep the fan pages up, a company should not spend on facebook, FB should be always another channel but not the main channel of marketing.
There is no doubt that a company needs to have a Facebook page for their brands or products but it is really important to know that a the company will never own the place and therefor will be never able to get detailed statistics and in the way they want.
As a marketer we should be very thoughtful how we utilize facebook to ensure to get most of statistics as possible and to know when we want to drive traffic to Facebook and when from Facebook back to our owned websites.
Just duplicating content to Facebook or replacing newslettter with FB, would not be the best choice, because then we lose the consumer into the Facebook land and can't guide the consumer anymore, it is like a taxi driver would give his passenger the steering wheel.
But Facebook can help to see trends, consumer reactions and to start a buzz which will bring the consumer back to the place we want to have him.
A few important points to consider when having a fan page:
1. Never have a one way direction
Facebook buttons on pages are great, but don't give the user only the ability to like your fan page. Give the consumer the ability to post to his wall but with a link back to your page outside from facebook.
2. Use Facebook to read news on your site
When publishing news, post an intro to facebook with link to the full news on your domain.
3. Don't have a facebook owner in your company
Trust your employees and allow a bigger group of employees to post on your Facebook page. Having only one or 2 people dedicated to Facebook will slow you to be successful. Your consumer will not feel as a part of your brand when only one person answers post entries or is posting something to the wall.
Consumers have a higher positive loyalty when they feel that the whole brand does care what consumers are saying and writing.
4. Bad news are better than no news
Never ever try to delete negative entries on your wall, you can be sure somebody did read it before you and will recognize when the entry is deleted. This would be a big lost of trust. Better try to answer these posts.
5. Know the limits
Facebook is great but does not give (in terms analytics) enough insight. Depending what data you want to analyze - a newsletter might be better. In Facebook you don't know who did read your posts, but with a newsletter you know who opened your email and partly what part they did read. Always keep this in mind.
6. Facebook is organic and hard to control
Having a Facebook page will change your marketing life. FB is dynamic and not always predictable, consumer can write what and when they want. You have to learn how to guide and how to react.
7. Know yourself in Facebook
Have somebody in your team who does nothing else than searching and analyzing facebook.
This person should not write posts but look for anti brand fan pages or screening the wall entries and what infos your fans have public for you. This is the best way to get best statistics beyond the insights FB gives you.
- Posted using My iPad
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Things you should not do in facebook
But with facebook are coming new problems and transparency we might not want.
Below the most important things you should NOT do in Facebook or at least not have shown to others than friends.
Birthday and birth city
Telling everybody birthday, year and city where you live, is almost as critical to give the social security away. With a little knowledge how the SSN is generated, people can use this to figure your SSN out to use it for false credits etc. Just bing for "ssn generator" and you will find tons of web pages.
Obviously having the privacy setting wrong and your address in Facebook will allow criminals not only to find out where you live but as well how well. Putting this address into google maps and using street view gives a good indication about your house. We are aware of this but still 40% of Facebook users have their address in Facebook and 65% of them public.
You might be excited to go on vacations, but announcing it in Facebook or Twitter is very stupid. It is like announcing everybody that your house is empty the next two weeks.
Confessions and complains
Confessions are belonging into the church or courthouse but not in Facebook.
A waitress in Michigan got fired because she complained about her boss and co-workers in facebook. A fast food chain employee got fired after he confessed that he and his coworkers are not wearing gloves when preparing food.
Already 8% of companies did fire somebody because of wrong use of a social network, even if online social networking pretty young.
Too much information (TMI)
Most websites with password protection will ask an user a security in case user did forget password.
These questions are almost every time the same. What is your mothers maiden name? What is your favorite movie? What is your cats name? Etc.
You make it easy for people to answer these questions, If you have such info on your Facebook page.
If you smoke 2 packages of cigarettes a day, don't post about this, your health care company will use it against you.
Don't write about all your small accidents you had with your moms car, the insurance will charge you more.
Insurances are scouting social networks for all these information to either charge you more for your insurance or to sue you later that you did not disclose this info to them from the beginning.
Games and during work hours posts
As much fun games are and as much you like to tweet or post your thoughts to Facebook or Twitter don't do it during your work hours.
Even if you use your private phone and not your company computer, your boss can see the time stamps of all your entries on your wall and can easily figure out how much time you spend in facebook during work.
Off time locations
Don't use your cell phone at all when you took a day off because you felt sick, or because you had to go to your grand uncle funeral. It looks pretty bad when you post your location with places or foursquare to you Facebook account, which shows your location in a nice nightclub in the other side of town than the location you supposed to be.
- Posted using My iPad
First glance at Apple iOS 4.2
One of the biggest new features touted by Apple CEO Steve Jobs during his annual September announcement was the ability to print wirelessly from the iPad. AirPrint will work one of two ways, either with a compatible printer from HP (and eventually printers from other manufacturers) or with printers shared via your Mac or PC.
The apps on the iPad need to support printing. You would need to download latest version of the apps. Pages and numbers will be updated with new iOS release to support print.
Safari, will have the print button under the Share icon to the right of the Bookmarks button; in Mail, where it lives under the Reply button; and in Photos, you need to have to tap the Share button before you get an option to select and print pictures. Tapping print in any of these brings up a popover that asks you to select a printer by searching your network, and a control for selecting the number of copies.
One of the other major features that is new in iOS 4.2 is support for AirPlay, a new-and-improved version of the AirTunes feature which is already in the current desktop version of iTunes.
With AirPlay, users are able to stream media—from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to any AirPlay-compatible device.
At the beginning, AirPlay will work with only AirPort Express units (for audio) and the new Apple TV (for audio and video), although Apple is licensing the technology to other vendors to allow them to sell AirPlay-compatible products—speakers, receivers, and the like. (iHome is one of the first companies to announce an AirPlay product.)
Whenever you’re listening to music in an AirPlay-enhanced app—for example, the built-in iPod app—under iOS 4.2, you’ll see an AirPlay button. Tap this button, and any AirPlay-compatible devices on the same local network appear in a popover menu. Tap a device, and your media is streamed directly to it.
Additional iOS 4.2 features
Settings now has a Notes section which allows to switch font to Chalkboard or Helvetica.
The iPad now has a software screen orientation lock when swiping to the right in the multitasking shelf. You can lock the screen in portrait or landscape orientations. The iPad has already a hardware button for orientation lock, this button will change to mute switch like the iPhone has. At the moment, you can also still hold down the volume down button for a couple seconds to mute the iPad, which is probably a redundant feature that should be excised.
Apple also added a brightness slider to the left of the media playback controls, which reduces the steps to go through settings to change brightness..
Safari iOS 4.2 brings a couple of additions to Apple’s Web browser. The pages icon in Safari’s toolbar will show you how many pages are currently open.
Best feature is that you can search page text through the search box, and tapping the new "on this page" button.
Users who have updated their iPhones or iPod touches to iOS 4 will be happy to see, most of iOS 4’s features make their way to the iPad.
In iOS 4.2, the iPad adds support for the same types of background tasks that were introduced in iOS 4 which makes the ipad finally a multitasking device.
It is exactly the same as on the iPhone and reachable by double clicking the ho,e button. The iPad will as well have the folders we appreciate on the iPhone, however because the screen is bigger, the folders can have 20 apps instead of 12 on the iPhone.
Mail and game center will be exactly ascon the iPhone.
Those with Microsoft Exchange accounts will be able to see event invitations in the iPad’s calendar application.
Macworld.com did a full test of the new iOS and can be found on their website.
- Posted using My iPad
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Google keeps going to add more social
A lot of experts are speculating that google will come in fall with google.me
It seems almost that we are either painted in google colors or an absolute Apple fan. We don't hear anything anymore about Microsoft in terms of computer, services or mobile phones. Microsoft seems right now be more concentrated on business solutions or XBox and games (btw the Halo release last Tuesday gave us the highest online first person shooter playing ever in the history and people waited 4 hours in line for the midnight release).
If somebody is a google fan, than this person would have android phone, Gmail email account, is using google docs, surfs only with Chrome and does not know any other search engine than googol.com (sorry for the spelling error but googol is actually the right spelling :)).
I am an Apple user and have to admit that at home all my devices are from Apple, I surf the internet with Safari, uses my mobile me for email and do all my writing in pages, numbers or keynote.
Both companies are offering more services but both are not yet good in social. The only difference is that google is reaching 65% of all internet users and apple only 12%.
Google did miss the right time to invest into social and is now trying to run behind the train.
Google is trying to play the big card by saying that Facebook has to open the DB for google search if FB does not want to lose ground. E. Schmidt believes google can get FB data from other sources and it would be wise for Facebook to work with google. For me this is a sign that google believes FB is dangerous for them.
And they better should, if FB gets a market penetration of 65% (I believe right now it is only 29%) then why should we even need google anymore. 10 years ago nobody thought we need just a search page, because portals will be the number one entry point for users. Google showed we were wrong, till now. There is now one big portal called Facebook which is the entry point for most users.
Facebook can eventually replace google for the most part.
The secret of google was their page rank which nobody did before and therefor the search results were much better than competition.
Facebook works with friends, people we know, people we trust. If their search engine would incorporate this methodology then google can lose. More and more companies are using fscebook connect, this gives now FB much more data outside of their user base and still social relevant.
All this combined can give Facebook much more power than google might want.
PARADISE VALLEY, Arizona — Google Inc plans to gradually introduce social-networking features starting this fall, reviving attempts to compete with Facebook after pulling the plug on its stillborn Wave project.
Chief Executive Eric Schmidt told reporters Tuesday the Internet search leader intends to work in "layers" of social networking to its sites, rather than unveil a flashy product. To propel that effort, he intends to sustain its pace of acquisitions.
"We're trying to take Google's core products and add a social component," Schmidt told a select group of reporters at Zeitgeist, a gathering of business partners and high-profile industry figures.
"If you think about it, it's obvious. With your permission, knowing more about who your friends are, we can provide more tailored recommendations. Search quality can get better."
Google has struggled to find the right touch in creating the types of social networking services that have become increasingly hot online.
It declared the demise this year of Wave, a high-profile online communications tool launched last year. And Orkut, its early online social network, has failed to catch on outside of Brazil and India.
Media reports now peg Google as developing a new social networking product — dubbed Google ME — in a bid to take on Facebook, which has more than half a billion users worldwide. Others speculate it might be looking for an acquisition to get into social gaming.
"Everybody has convinced themselves that there's some huge project about to get announced next week. And I can assure you that's not the case," Schmidt said.
Analysts point to recent acquisitions as signs the company is steadily beefing up its social-network capabilities.
The company this year undertook a series of small to mid-sized purchases, including a $182 million deal to take over social networking firm Slide, and a $700 million offer for airline ticketing firm ITA Software Inc.
Schmidt expects the last deal to win regulatory approval. He said the level of scrutiny it has drawn is similar to that for Google's acquisition of Admob, which won a green light.
Analysts have attributed a recent flurry of tech-sector acquisitions to a perception that valuations remain low, a product of a sputtering economy as well as persistent doubts about the strength of the tech sector recovery.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters Tuesday, Schmidt said he did not expect another recession soon, but warned of slow, or even zero, growth over the next few years.
"It's unlikely we'll have a double dip for all the reasons people talked about. A much more likely scenario is slow or no growth for a few years," Schmidt said in the interview.
"High tech is different. High-tech seems to be benefiting from new product cycles, lots of new investments," he added. "So high tech will probably have a different outcome from the average American (consumer)."
- Posted using My iPad
Text to Speech and ebooks
After all, text to speech is as I expected and far away from useful.
On the other hand I don't like to buy twice a book, as ebook and audio book.
I admit I did never listen to audio book till my wife and boss did tell me I should try.
I have an hour drive to the office. Obviously I can't read books during this time but listen to audio books. It is very comfortable to listen to a book during driving.
However ebooks have the advantage that I can make notes and posting parts to Twitter or to highlight parts which I think are important. Which an audio book is not able to. E- books allow me to read in the speed I want, and if I don't know a word I can look it up in the dictionary. Many times I don't understand certain words in an audio book and would like to see it written.
Therefore i would need two versions of the books which can get expensive and even if I would not mind to pay for it, it is inconvenient to switch between two books and find the correct page to make notes. Kindle with text to speech sounded right to use, but it does not make fun to listen to text to speech, it is too metallic and boring.
The beauty of audio books is the talent speaking the book.
I believe there will happen a lot in the future. It is similar like computer generated music. At the very first stage it was experimental and only a few bands using it like Kraftwerk. Today electronic music is a big part in almost all pop songs.
Everybody with computer can compose music. The programs are cheap and we are even able to give the sound a kind of soul by applying styles like pop, rock or even like Mozart style.
I see this in future with text to speech. We will be able to choose if female or male voice and the software which reads the books is smart enough to give the words some "soul". It might not sound like the best talent but at least similar like a normal person.
Nextup.com and naturalreaders.com have already pretty good PC software to simulate a human voice. It just a matter of time to get these on your kindle or other ebook readers. Even if both are pretty good applications, they fail to be interesting enough for hours log listening. The reason is that the music in the voice is missing the personal character. If I would be the owner of such company, I would hire one of the best musician to engineer the software.
A musician can and would look at the sound and how to analyze and translate text in a different way than engineers.
But maybe it will be the other way around and we will be able to buy audiobooks which have the the written text attached to. We would be able to see the words which are spoken (like karaoke), and we can stop the speech to highlight the words we want. As soon a word is spoken it will get another color that we can see what the speaker said. If we want to read because we don't want to listen we can as well.
The latter version is easier to implement but then each book will be a very big file and the production costs per book will go up.
The first version would keep the books small and costs per book low. But the investment upfront would be much higher.
E-book reader are just at the beginning and we will see a lot improvements in the next few years.
- Posted using My iPad
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Great product not so Great
Then i went to ToysRus, Walmart and Target to look for an internal rear mirror that i will be able to see my newborn child when driving the car without turning my head. I did find a few but none of them worked well. Either the mirror was too small or it did still not work because newborns are facing backwards and i had to look through two mirrors to see the baby seat.
I went online and searched for a camera system, i did found one but this company was out of business (at this time i thought i knew why).
I went ahead and did build my own system by buying a wireless rear camera set and did design a special mount for the camera, which i believed was the issue of the other system. They used a flexible arm to mount the camera which can break easily. My system is different the camera is mounted between the headrest polls, which makes it very stable and puts it in the right position. It is easily to uninstall and to mount it again to the front headrest when the baby is front facing. I did even file for patent for this mount.
My son got born in April 2.5 years ago and since this time my system is successful in use.
I showed it my neighbors and they liked and ordered from me the system.
I thought i had an Eureka effect and tried to get funding for this system. I needed around $500.000 to produce it cheap enough in China, to sell it under $100 and still make good profit. No luck.
As a product marketing person, i did build a website, did post about it and tried all channels i know (i even talked with car dealers, but again, these are mostly men)
Still no luck and then i started to wondering what is the problem with this system. It had all a good product would need.
1. Easy to explain
2. Solves a big problem
3. No competition
What i learned over the years is that this product is very well accepted by women, however because it is technical (even if easy to install) it needed to plugged into car power outlets and to be mounted to the headrest.
These are usually tasks done by men and men don't want to have anything in their car which can change the interior look and feel. The system is using its own screen which can be either mounted on the dashboard or clipped into an AC fan outlet. If it has been a navigation system, they would not have cared, but a baby monitoring system, which could potentially indicate that the car is a family car or would destroy the rolling man cave, is a no brainer.
I am still using the camera and i am still dreaming about this product being in millions of cars, but it is only a dream, because of missing start up money.
But what i learned is, that great products which needs a man and a woman to convince needs to be attractive for both. If you have a product which a woman likes but needs to be installed into a man territory and the man does not like it, then it won' work. the same the other way around.
finally i did call the other guy and asked him why he does not sell his system anymore and he had three reasons, too expensive, to easy to break and the main reason was he could not market it good enough that men would like it (women were scared of installing something).
I should have better asked him from the beginning before i started to dream.
I never give up and whenever i find 5000 pre-orders i will start again. I already know some modifications for this.
Check out the website: http://kinder-watch.com/
Internet search loses importance
Google did revolutionize the Internet search 12 years ago by changing how search works in the Internet. Before google the search companies like altavista and excite did use simple algorithms to search Internet. They believed the more often a search word is in a web page the more important is the result. Google invented the page rank (named after Lawrence E. Page - one founder of google). Page rank looks how often a page is linked from other pages and how important these pages are linking to target page. If AOL has a link to my page then my page would be more relevant in search pages, than if my page would be linked from some unknown person page.
Another break through was how far words are separated in a page. If i would have searched for real estate, google would give higher relevance when a page would have "real estate" in the text than "it is for real, that free estate..." (you get the point).
Google is trying all the time to keep the algorithm secret and to change it that nobody can fake the results.
However since google has ads on their search results, this does not work well anymore.
More and more people are annoyed with search results because these don't give always the right answer on the first page and the ads are disturbing.
Google is aware of losing searches on their webpage and are improving a lot. Latest change is the instant results which extends our search time because we spend more time on looking on the results than finishing our typing.
Why do I think search will decline?
Try to remember the time before internet. When did we research something and how?
We only researched things in libraries when we needed answers from experts or if none of our family or friends could answer our questions.
Internet search is/was important because there is so much information in the Internet and totally unorganized that the only way to find something is through search.
However the human nature is not search, it is to ask. If the internet would have an institution which could answer all our questions, we would not need to search.
Searching is a waste of time, we try to avoid whenever necessary.
Would you rather search your reading glasses or ask your spouse where they are.
Facebook understands this concept and offers Facebook ask.
But this alone is not the answer. I am pretty sure there will be soon a service out there which works only by asking and as a result we will get a few answers back.
Sorted by relevance (answer from expert), by trust (answers from friends) and by location (answers which considers geographic and social relevance).
You are now thinking about ask.com, but ask.com is still only a search engine, too many results from sources we don't trust.
Ask and answer should only give a handful of results we can trust.
You ask for best book for your Spouse, google and ask.com will give you many answers which don't help because you need to screen them.
A new service I have in mind would give these answers:
Expert answer will be "one woman, one book, many answers" (btw I love this book)
Friends answer will "Harley more than a bike" because my friends know my spouse very well and what she would like.
Location answer would "Florida geek ladies on the road" because her social page shows a lot interests in tech stuff and she likes to travel. Which the system knows by looking at my social profile.
Today each Facebook user has in average 130 friends, if we connect everybody through up to 5 levels, one person could know 37 billion people if so many would exist and have a FB account.
But with this approach by only going 5 levels in connection we would have everybody on this planet asked the same question and would get the best answers.
Of course if we would ask everything we want to search we would at the same time answers billions of questions each day which is not possible.
But if we would have a big DB with all social and expert information we could generate pretty good results.
The big difference between searching and asking is that search will give you millions of results you hope you can rely on.
Asking will give you only a few answers and you know you can trust because the answers are either from friends, experts or tailored to your profile.
Asking and answers will replace most of the searches we do, not all. Like 20 years back, when we went to library if we needed to search and research, but asked our friends for most of our questions.
The only difference will be that today we can ask all our friends at same time and get better results.
We should watch out Facebook and see how far their asking will go.
Maybe in a few years we ask in FB about google and get as answer that google used to be in 2010 most visit website, and now it is the biggest online library not more or less.
- Posted using My iPad
Monday, September 13, 2010
Flash somehow coming back to iPhone and iPad
Others tools are now as well allowed to build iPhone apps. This has partly to do with a deal Apple and Microsoft did, that allows Microsoft to offer tools to develop for the iPhone platform.
Another reason is that the iOS is losing ground against android platform, because more and more developers are moving to the open source android.
I am pretty sure we will see Adobe to either acquire a company which allows flash developer to export their apps for iOS or to reactivate their attempt to build into flash an iOS export.
Another positive side effect of the guideline changes is the possibility that soon silverlight is coming to the iPhone.
Silverlight is the Microsoft version of flash, much more slim, stable and more flexible as flash but not as much common. Most of the browsers have already flash plugin from the beginning installed but not silverlight. This would boost silverlight and helps Microsoft to gain more ground.
The guideline changes are an important step for Apple to grow their application pool (which did not grow much the last few months). Another effect with the guideline changes is that Apple will not be so strict anymore with their approval process. However sexual critical content will still not be allowed.
I am not a big fan of flash and i don't think it is a wise idea to allow flash developed apps and then converted to iOS to run on the iPhone. With step we will see too many developers using flash instead of using the native much more better SDk and code from Apple. We might see more apps, but as well more applications with bugs.
- Posted using My iPad
Location:W Laurel St,Tampa,United States
Airwaves will change internet
To get today a descent internet connection outside from home or office is only possible over 3G or wifi. 3G is expensive and wifi costs many times money too when no free wifi is available. But the most disturbing part are the dead spots. How often do we run around with our notebook to find a good connection. Or we are driving through the country and there is nothing than beautiful land but no Internet.
Utilizing the unlicensed airwaves will change the landscape. They have bigger reach and can go through trees, thick walls etc. We all know this airwaves, it is what radio station basically used. Local digital TV are using airwaves too, but only a few frequencies. Around them are white noises and these are perfect for internet.
White noises are used today by wireless baby cameras, microphones and other wireless devices.
Opening the unlicensed airwaves will put cellphone carriers under pressure, we would not need them anymore, we could make calls over Internet from everywhere.
The idea is that devices will recognize airwaves signals and switch the connection when a better signal is available. Of course devices connected to the airwaves will be at the beginning more expensive because of the technology and complexity, but after a few years the prices should be not relevant anymore. I remember my first wifi router with two wireless cards from 3M in the year 1999 was $2000.
Today wireless cards are standard in each device and a routers are starting at $30.
Theatres are complaining this would interfere with their microphones, but I am sure the F.C.C will exclude the the wireless microphone frequencies.
Baby phones and other wireless devices will be revamped and use Internet connection.
Overall it is a great move, I believe it helps the consumer to save money in the long-term and helps people on country side to get much better internet connection. The only way right now is either slow dial up or internet over dish, but dish does very dependent on weather. Airwaves work always.
Opening airwaves will he the economy, a lot of start ups will jump on this and the beauty is that it will be much cheaper for them to do so. If F.C.C. Would have chosen an auction model like for UMTS (in Europe) then only the big players would be able to utilize airwaves and this would mean we consumer would need to pay a lot for the service.
Besides all excitement, it will take awhile till we can have this new type of Internet connection. It will be some work to figure out how to utilize it and how to make it secure. We can expect companies like Google and Microsoft to be in the mix from the beginning. They have working and supporting this since years.
- Posted using My iPad
Location:W Laurel St,Tampa,United States
Friends are more important than strangers
Imagine you go into a store look at a product and can easily ask all your friends if you should buy this product.
Today I found an article at the NY Times which is supporting this idea.
The most important message in the article was a statement from Forrester Research:
“What your friends think and what people like you think is much more relevant than what everybody thinks,” said Augie Ray, an analyst with Forrester Research.
Here is the full article:
After a decade when search engines ruled supreme — tapping billions of Web pages to answer every conceivable query — many people now prefer getting their online information the old-fashioned way: by yakking across the fence.
Turning to friends is the new rage in the Web world, extending far beyond established social networking sites and setting off a rush among Web companies looking for ways to help people capitalize on the wisdom of their social circles — and to make some money in the process.
“What your friends think and what people like you think is much more relevant than what everybody thinks,” said Augie Ray, an analyst with Forrester Research.
Amazon.com now allows its shoppers to connect to their Facebook accounts so that Amazon can display their friends’ favorite books, films and other products. TunerFish, a start-up owned by Comcast, lets users share what television shows and movies they are watching, mapping out an up-to-the-minute TV guide of programs gaining in popularity among their friends.
And Loopt, a location-focused social network with 3.4 million registered users, recently began showing them which of their friends liked a particular restaurant.
“We’ve gotten a tremendous response from that,” said Sam Altman, a co-founder. Mr. Altman said that one’s network of friends “is an incredible predictor of what you will like.”
On Google and other search engines, searches for things like hotels or electronics can turn up a lot of online clutter and spam. Instead, many people informally poll their friends for recommendations, often through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
“Improving search has always been about improving relevance,” Mr. Ray of Forrester said. “But the thinking now is that getting information from your immediate social network is what will really make results more relevant.”
While user-contributed review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have long been popular ways to get a quick reading on a new place to eat, the sheer volume of reviews they offer can be overwhelming.
And the reliability of those reviews can be hard to gauge. Some may have been planted by management, while others are from disgruntled customers with a bone to pick.
The trust factor of friends’ suggestions can make a big difference. Mr. Altman said Loopt’s users are 20 times more likely to click on a place their friends had liked or visited than a place that simply ranked higher in search results.
So-called recommendation engines on sites like Amazon and Netflix try to guess what customers might like by comparing their previous purchases or rentals with those of others with similar tastes. But that approach often does not offer much insight as to why a particular film or restaurant is being recommended, said John Riedl, a professor of computer science at the University of Minnesota.
Social networks, he said, “do a richer job of constructing recommendations.” For example, seeing that a friend is frequenting a new pizzeria can have a lot of influence over whether you go.
Of course, your friends are not generating the amount of data that a company like Amazon may use to make its automated recommendations, which could result in fewer choices. “The trade-off is that you will be more comfortable with the recommendation,” Mr. Riedl said.
TV watching, often a solitary activity, is an obvious candidate for some social tips. TunerFish shows which programs are gaining in popularity in your online social circle, and what is being watched right now.
Although TunerFish is available only on the Web for now, the company says it could eventually be brought to the TV screen through an application running on a set-top box.
Facebook has its own recommendation system in place. The service allows its 500 million members to click a button to indicate what news articles, companies and celebrities they “like,” and it shares data about those preferences with its Web partners. When a Facebook user visits a Web site like Yelp or TripAdvisor, they are shown reviews from friends before they get to those from strangers.
Facebook recently began introducing a feature called Facebook Questions that allows users to pose questions to friends and strangers using the site. Last month it introduced a service called Places that encourages people to “check in” at places they visit and broadcast their location to friends.
The new services will help Facebook amass even more data on its users’ tastes. But for now there is no comprehensive way to search through or refer back to the information your friends have shared.
Bret Taylor, the chief technology officer at Facebook, said the company’s main focus was on helping other sites add social features. But he said the company was thinking about ways to corral the “likes” and suggestions of its members into a more cohesive system.
“Exposing higher-quality recommendations in more obvious and prominent ways would improve the health of the system,” he said.
Hunch, a start-up based in New York, wants to go beyond cataloging the places and products for which your friends have already expressed affection. With some complex software, it tries to use that information to predict what other things you might like, even if nobody you know has ever offered an opinion on those things before.
The service pulls in data about articles, topics and people that you and your friends have “liked” on Facebook or follow on Twitter. “Based on your placement in the social graph and who your friends are, we can make inferences about what you like,” said Chris Dixon, who founded the company with Caterina Fake, one of the creators of Flickr.
For example, Hunch’s database shows that people who are big fans of Twitter are also likely to be interested in visiting the Museum of Modern Art in New York, while the non-Twitterati tend to favor the theater.
Mr. Dixon said the company was testing a local search tool that can make restaurant, shopping and hotel recommendations. “We can take your taste profile and data from the Web and begin to match you to places that you will like,” he said.
The company says it plans to unveil partnerships with major e-commerce, news and travel sites, along with mobile location-based services.
A shopping or travel site that Hunch is working with could help a visitor decide which offerings would best suit their tastes. Based on the data Hunch has collected about correlations between user preferences, the site might suggest that someone in search of a hotel in Las Vegas should stay at the Venetian if her online circle of friends listens to hip-hop artists like Rihanna and Usher.
The friend trend, where likes matter more than links, could eventually present a significant challenge to Google, which has struggled to create appealing social services.
In February the company introduced Buzz, which lets Gmail users share updates and photos, and it is including those updates in its customized results when users perform Web searches.
“People are likely to find what your friends are saying about the iPhone 4 or a Chinese restaurant more helpful in a Web search,” said Matt Cutts, a software engineer who oversees search quality at Google.
Mr. Cutts declined to talk about what Google might do next in the social search area, but he did say he expected “these sorts of trends to continue.”
- Posted using My iPad
Location:W Laurel St,Tampa,United States