Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stories I Found Of Interest (weekly)

    • Pictures beat words: In August, U.S. smartphone owners visited Instagram from their smartphones more frequently and for longer periods of time than they visited Twitter.
    • While Twitter may have had a greater number of smartphone users visiting its site (via the mobile Web and via Twitter apps), Instagram’s users appear to be returning to the site on a more frequent basis, and spending longer on the site each time they return.
    • Above all else, it speaks to the ongoing mobile issues of Facebook, now the parent company of Instagram. The massive shift in user traffic to mobile devices is a real thing, and Facebook seems to now hold an asset in the highly popular Instagram. The trick now, however, is to figure out a way to effectively monetize Instagram and the Facebook mobile experience.
    • o be clear, using the app for what it’s advertised for — scanning barcodes — works as intended. But getting to that point was more complex than expected. In all, the app feels incomplete and perhaps rushed. In other words, it doesn’t feel like an Apple product yet.
    • the map mess demonstrates why circumstances are turning against Apple's current business model. Simply, content is king again. However much it might benefit Apple's business model to force users to patronize its own maps app, the company won't get far in trying to deny them Google's far superior app. Apple for a while managed to tame the power of content and make it subservient, but that day is coming to an end.
    • there is no solution to TV that will let Apple keep doing what it has been doing
    • Apple's fans imagine the company can do for TV what it did for music: breaking up the existing distribution model. Forget about it. Television is about to demonstrate the inadequacy of Apple's own business model.
    • Video-content owners aren't looking for a savior and ultimately won't be satisfied with anything less than an open ecosystem accessible by any device
    • To maintain its position, the company will have to focus more on giving its devices superb access to content it doesn't control and hasn't approved.
    • Consumer tracking service NPD says TV sets are now the most popular way to watch streaming video.
    • 45 percent of consumers report that TV is now their primary Web video screen, up from 33 percent last year
    • he software giant's new NFC-enabled wallet at the NFC World Congress last week
    • "Is there a huge amount of money in this?", he asked, regarding Microsoft's adoption of NFC. "Probably not. But think about it in terms of getting consumers and developers interested.
    • 'there's nothing as vulnerable as entrenched success.' And the auto industry, in particular General Motors, was so successful for so long that it didn't recognize the need to innovate, to become more productive, to become more efficient, or it would ultimately be vulnerable to foreign competition.
    • Iran plans to switch its citizens onto a domestic Internet network in what officials say is a bid to improve cyber security but which many Iranians fear is the latest way to control their access to the web.
    • Facebook is working with a controversial data company called Datalogix that can track whether people who see ads on the social networking site end up buying those products in stores.
    • Facebook is gradually wading into new techniques for tracking and using data about users that raise concerns among privacy advocates
    • Datalogix has purchasing data from about 70m American households largely drawn from loyalty cards and programmes at more than 1,000 retailers, including grocers and drug stores. By matching email addresses or other identifying information associated with those cards against emails or information used to establish Facebook accounts, Datalogix can track whether people bought a product in a store after seeing an ad on Facebook.
    • Facebook users are automatically included in the advertising studies conducted with Datalogix, and cannot directly opt out through their Facebook account. Instead, they must go to the Datalogix website, for which Facebook has a link posted in its help centre
    • Starting today, you can Shazam any TV show on any channel. And advertisers hope you'll soon be doing the same for commercials.
    • Shazam is aiming to make the second-screen experience so compelling, you'll start Shazaming commercials as you would shows or songs. For its 140 brand partners, which include companies such as Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, and Pillsbury, Shazam is offering access to engaged users and minimizing friction between advertisers and their potential consumers.
    • Shazam has the unique advantage of well-established relationships with all the major TV networks, as well as massive reach, which means massive amounts of invaluable user data. Shazam is adding 2 million users a week and logging 10 million content tags a day. Combine those numbers with information users can choose to share with Shazam and you get a gold mine of data that reflects when those users are Shazaming commercials, what kind of content they interact with the most, and what really gets them to engage with a brand. And all of that means new revenue streams for Shazam, who can neatly feed that data back to networks and advertisers to help them make more informed choices about the content they produce.
    • The concept is not entirely new. Anyone following the mobile landscape for the past year has seen the progress of the second screen, the ability to tie in your handheld mobile device or tablet and have it provide information about the current programming you may be watching on your big screen. Advertisers are especially enamored by the concept because as consumers are whizzing by commercials on their DVRs, they often have their portable devices in their hands or at least close by. Several other apps have used sound recognition to accurately discover what show is currently playing and then load up relevant information, along with a dose of content-specific advertising. Want to buy the dress that the star of the sitcom is wearing? Here’s a quick link to a sale at JCPenney. Watching the game and looking for team jerseys? It’s now a click away via your mobile device on game day, during the game. While various apps have had some success, none have really broke out of the pack. The key point with Shazam is that it opens the gates to new second-screen technology to a huge base of users, most of which may never go hunting around for a content recognition app but may indeed use one if the software they already have includes it.  
    • Shazam makes things easier because really all you have to do is hold the device up in the air, and the app will quickly capture the information from the entertainment you are now consuming. 
    • The rapid shift in Facebook's user base to mobile platforms—more than half of users now access the site on smartphones and tablets—appears to have caught the company by surprise
    • Facebook (ticker: FB) founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg must find a way to monetize its mobile traffic because usage on traditional PCs, where the company makes virtually all of its money, is declining in its large and established markets. That trend isn't likely to change.
    • Anyone who owns Facebook should be exceptionally troubled that they're still trying to 'figure out' mobile monetization and had to lay out $1 billion for Instagram because some start-up had figured out mobile pictures better than Facebook
    • we're a completely new kind of marketing. We're not TV. We're not search. We're a third medium."
    • Most of those mobile-only users probably are under 25, and it's within that group that Facebook is seeing reduced usage on PCs.
    • the declines were sharpest among users aged 12 to 17 and 18 to 24, which saw drops of 42% and 25%, respectively. Time spent on Facebook by PC users aged 55 and older was up sharply.
    • "The paradigm shift to the app model is unequivocally bad for Facebook
    • According to Venture Beat, AmEx is launching integration with Passbook later today.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stories I Found Of Interest (weekly)

    • “N.F.C. employs lower-frequency operation than cellular, requiring a longer antenna,” Mr. Strauss said. “That antenna is often wrapped around the battery in some cellphones, but a metal back shields any radio waves from reaching a nearby data terminal. Only plastic, Kevlar or similar backings will allow the radio connection for mobile payments. Clearly, Apple chose beauty over functionality with its aluminum back.
      • Interesting macro philosophy
    • The modern consequence, he says, is a society that discourages curiosity, critique, challenge, commercialisation and collaborative technology
    • But there’s a strong view that China’s innovation and technology shortcomings are rooted in a socio-cultural system, and an incentive system that emphasises incremental over radical change, and quantity over quality and uniqueness
    • China’s technological cutting edge may forever lag behind that of its western competitors and rivals
    • Facebook has for most of 2012 been leading a hard-and-heavy campaign advocating for the mobile web. For developers, the company has said the platform-agnostic approach can lead to huge distribution benefits.
    • No one company can fix all of these, but we are very keen to work with the industry, browser vendors, OEMs, carriers, and developers themselves to smooth away those challenges,” said Facebooker James Pearce earlier this year.
    • The obvious enhancements went over well with iPhone users, who praised the new app for its functionality. But some early reviewers said the development choice “proves write-once-run-anywhere is and always will be impossible.”


    • And with Zuckerberg wanting Facebook to reach “everyone in the world,” the company said it’s not going to be native iOS apps or a speedy, HTML5 web app — it will have to be both.
    • A major reason FBX has thus far proved so successful is that Facebook is arguably the best site on which to retarget users. “Users are always on Facebook and always keep the Facebook page open,” Coelius said. In essence, Facebook is the anchor of peoples' online browsing habits: A user sees on Facebook that a friend is on vacation, opens a new tab to see where they might like to travel to, returns to the Facebook tab to see which friends might live there, opens another tab to check airfares and another to find a new swimsuit.
    • Just this past April, Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg announced that the world’s most visited social networking site had purchased wildly popular photo-sharing app Instagram for a measly $1 billion. Facebook finalized the purchase for the photo-sharing app this past week for roughly $715 million.

      It’s a not-too-shabby cash-in for Instagram, a 2-year-old startup with zero revenue that garnered its impressive status by enabling users a simple way to take photos, apply filters and share them with friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

      Gigaom’s Om Malik says Instagram “has created a platform built on emotion. It created not a social network, but instead built a beautiful social platform of shared experiences.” Instagram continued its growth and, shortly after Facebook’s acquisition, surpassed 50 million users while adding five million more each week.

    • Conceivably, video sharing apps should be right on the horizon, perhaps ready to flex their muscles and become the Instagram of Video.  S
    • Zuckerberg also signaled that Facebook might get into the search business, a move that would ratchet up competition with rival Google. He said that Facebook already processes about 1 billion search queries a day without “even trying.”

    • Zuckerberg also didn't comment on another ominous Facebook trend: The usage declines are most pronounced among those who were once Facebook's most devoted users: Young people.
    • Anecdotally, one of the services kids are flocking to at Facebook's expense is the new mobile photo network Instagram. Instagram was founded only a few years ago, and it's usage has already exploded to 100 million registered users (one-tenth of Facebook's global users). Instagram has yet to be "monetized," but given its emphasis on visual images, it's not hard to imagine that it could eventually be an effective advertising medium.


    • Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller said that Passbook alone does what most customers want and works without existing merchant payment systems.
    • With the rise of texting, instant chat and transcription apps, more people are ditching the venerable tool that once revolutionized the telephone business, displaced armies of secretaries and allowed us to eat dinner more or less in peace.

      The behavioral shift is occurring in tandem with the irreversible fading of voice calls in general, prompting more wireless carriers to offer unlimited voice minutes

    • In a must-read story, the Economist explains how cheap 3-D printers could one day let knock-off artists crank out shoes, gadgets, watches and any type of prized design. While counterfeiting is already wide-spread, it could increase dramatically with the machines:


      But while the [traditional] pirates’ labour rates and material costs may be far lower, the tools they use to make fakes are essentially the same as those used by the original manufacturers. Equipment costs alone have therefore limited the spread of the counterfeiting industry. But give every sweatshop around the world a cheap 3D printer coupled to a laser scanner, and pirated goods could well proliferate

    • It’s early days yet and, for now, the objects being replicated are dumb pieces of plastic. This means that, in the immediate future, it may only be firms like Lego or Oakley (not Apple or Porsche) that may have to worry.


      But if the “print-me-anything” devices take off as predicted, we will eventually be able to copy most things around us. When that happens,  the debates over copyright and the DMCA will look like a tea party

    • The US Defense Logistics Agency is confronting the counterfeit problem by implementing genetics-based validation
    • Contractors shall obtain the DNA marking material from Applied DNA sciences or an authorized licensee, and may contact them at
    • The DNA marking can be applied with an invisible DNA mark on the part, or the contractor’s ink utilized for part marking can be mixed with the DNA marking material. The authentication DNA used shall be unique to the contractor. Contractors will be required to retain traceability documentation that demonstrates the items provided under the contract have been marked with DNA material produced by Applied DNA Sciences or an authorized licensee, and that the DNA marking is unique to the contractor.
    • Applied DNA Sciences of Stony Brook unveiled its latest product Aug. 26, entitled Cashield.  Following up on its AZ Sure product, the new technology is designed to permanently stain cash that is stolen from ATMs or other systems that dispense money. Unlike AZ Sure, however, which only stained cash with a blue ink,
    • Applied DNA Sciences and Holliston are developing and testing DNA-coatings that essentially cannot be copied, and provide a means for customs and law enforcement
    • why did Google finally decide to pull the plug on the longstanding program? According to the official email, Google is sunsetting the prepaid program because it “recently launched the ability to use any debit or credit card in Google Wallet.
    • Following a day-long Domain Name Service server outage, web hosting provider GoDaddy is letting its competitor, VeriSign, host its DNS servers

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Stories I Found Of Interest (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Stories I Found Of Interest (weekly)

    • Google has already been working on patents that could pick out faces and song melodies in our YouTube clips. Now, it might just have the ultimate tool: the technique in a just-granted patent could pick out objects in a video, whether they're living or not. Instead of asking the creator to label objects every time, Google proposes using a database of "feature vectors" such as color, movement, shape and texture to automatically identify subjects in the frame through their common traits -- a cat's ears and fast movement would separate it from the ball of yarn it's attacking, for example. Movie makers themselves could provide a lot of the underlying material just by naming and tagging enough of their clips, with the more accurate labels helping to separate the wheat from the chaff if an automated visual ranking system falls short. The one mystery is what Google plans to do with its newfound observational skills, if anything, although the most logical step would be to fill in YouTube keywords without any user intervention -- a potential time-saver when we're uploading that twelfth consecutive pet video.
    • unless federal agencies monitor every CAD file sent to a printer, whether or not it is harmless. Monitoring of every file sent to a printer means that federal agencies would need access to every home and office network.
    • you can expect that a time will come when perhaps well-meaning politicians will attempt to prevent guns and synthetic drugs from being created using 3D printers. If passed, the resulting laws would be draconian in their invasion of privacy while simultaneously ineffectual in preventing the creation of the products they seek to prohibit

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.