• Tools of the Trade – Google+ App

    July 20th, 2011

    Don’t look now Facebook but Google+ is making waves. Google+ is growing in audience with published estimates at more than 18 million users world wide, in just a couple weeks.

    Today the Google+ app was launched and is trending as the top download on the Apple iTunes store. This type of popularity has only been seen once before and could be a preamble of the next big social network “thing” to come along. Facebook holds the record for most app downloads.

    The iPhone app is similar to the one initially launched on Google’s Android phones, but has the huddle function built in. The app has the same full functionality as the desktop version.

    Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told CNN that Google miscalculated the power of Facebook and should have created a Facebook-like network sooner. “Fundamentally what Facebook has done is built a way to figure out who people are. That system is missing in the internet as a whole. Google should have worked on this earlier.”

    Google+ has a lot of catching up to do before it can really challenge Facebook’s 750 million user mark.

    If you haven’t checked out Google+ yet, it is worth a look. Google has taken social networking to a new level with the ability to classify your friends, family and etc.  into circles. Allowing you to restrict what and with whom you share it.

    Here is a link to the download page.

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  • Netflix Changes Online Plans

    July 13th, 2011

    If you are a Netflix subscriber, like me, you probably received this email yesterday about the online streaming and DVD rental company’s plans for a rate hike and service restructuring. Couched as improved service, Netflix is in essence raising rates by 54% on its monthly customers, effective September 1, 2011. The new price structure splits online viewing to $7.99 and DVD viewing to $7.99 per month. Netflix says this is to better reflect the costs of each service.

    Early adopters may remember that Netflix began as a DVD by mail service, then added streaming video last year. It is obvious by this week’s announcement that Netflix is banking more on online viewing, than DVD rentals. Just today NBC Universal released new streaming plans for access to their film and TV library titles. The companies announced a multiyear renewal of their licensing agreement today.

    Under the terms of the deal with NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution, streaming subscribers will be able to access prior-season series across multiple NBCU networks, including NBC’s The Office, 30 Rock and Parenthood.  All future seasons of these shows will be available on Netflix on a one season delay basis.

    “This agreement demonstrates our commitment to providing NBCUniversal’s high-quality content to consumers on a variety of platforms,” said Frances Manfredi, executive VP and general sales manager at NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution. “We are very pleased that Netflix recognizes the increasing value of NBCUniversal’s extensive content offerings for their subscribers.”

    “Our relationship with NBC Universal has been, and continues to be, mutually beneficial and has led to regular expansions of programming for our subscribers,” added Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. “This latest deal includes more episodes of more shows from more NBCU owned channels than ever before.”

    Reaction from Wall Street has a tone of growth and caution for Netflix and its streaming services.

    Forbes.com is reporting mixed reaction this morning from industry analysts. Anthony DiClemente, Barclays Capital told Forbes online, “Netflix’s pricing change to subscription plans announced yesterday is a strategic move to further drive streaming-only plans and adoption,” he writes, but adds that “this move could also increase churn and slow domestic sub growth.”

    Tony Wible of Janney Capital tells Forbes,  “We believe the move shows that NFLX’s old pricing model was unsustainable as the company was losing money on a cash basis, which it masked through accounts payable increases and accounting treatments on the income statement,” he writes. “It is too early to know if there will be a net benefit or loss from the change, but we do know that the risk around the story has now intensified – especially if it creates an opportunity for competitors.”

    The backlash over the pricing is lighting up the social pages, especially  Twitter boards and Facebook pages. The general tone from current Netflix subscribers is that now is not the time to price change in “this economy”, people will be forced to make decisions for other services, like the current pay as you go service from Apple,  Hulu, and Boxee – of course  you must have a Netflix account to access online movies with Boxee. Hulu may be a larger threat, along with the $7.99 subscription service of Hulu Plus, an ad-supported subscription service that offers current and back season shows from ABC, Comedy Central, FOX, NBC, and MTV and we all know what Apple is capable of.

    In all of this is a clear sign that consumers are continuing to move online for entertainment, movies and general television viewing. Netflix blazed the trail for others to follow. This week’s change in service structure simply sets up the business model where technology is headed – a course correction on Netflix’s part.

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  • Tools of the Trade – The Glif

    July 13th, 2011

    Sometimes it is the little things that make the biggest difference. I think this is the case with a neat little gadget called the Glif.

    The Glif is an iPhone 4  accessory that has multiple uses. It snaps to your iPhone so can can mount it to a standard tripod for rock solid pictures or can be used to prop up your iPhone at various angles for video calls, reading, or browsing the web. It is a full featured smartphone tool, with a relatively simple design. The Glif was developed by Studio Neat in New York and funding for development via crowd funding at Kickstart.

    The brain trusts behind the Glif tool, Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost, two designers and software developers that thought this simple device was just too good to pass up.

    “The Glif is made from recyclable rubberized plastic that feels great and plays nice with your phone, and is small enough to fit snugly in your pocket, purse, or backpack. It has a 1/4″-20 thread that fits any standard tripod or camera mount. The Glif is designed to work with a “naked” (caseless) iPhone 4 and is compatible with both CDMA and GSM models. Designed and manufactured in America.”, says the company website.

    The compact design allows you to stick it in your run back if your are a digital journalists and lock down your iPhone to capture video during a press conference, or news scene. Think about also using it for Skype live shots during breaking news situations.

    Glif Montage from Studio Neat on Vimeo.

    The Glif is  $20 via Paypal.

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  • Tools of the Trade – Video Chat

    July 6th, 2011

    This is what it looks like when two online giants do battle, Facebook vs. Google. Today, Facebook is expected to announce a partnership with online calling giant Skype. This on the heels of Google’s announcement of Google+ last week.

    Google is attempting to capture a piece of the social networking pie, mostly owned by Facebook with live video chat. Google’s video chat can connect up to 10 users at a time on one screen. The service is integrated in the new social networking platform Google+.

    Not to be outflanked, Facebook is expected to team up with Skype and offer what could be the worlds largest video chat social network . Obviously Google and Facebook see social video chat as the next frontier. With more than 750 million users a partnership with Skype could go a long way in gaining market share. Granted, Facebook has become somewhat of a media darling giving media companies the ability to connect with thousands of fans in their markets.

    For television stations and online companies video chat takes it to the next level. No longer clips of the printed word on screen but actual audio and video comments fans , lifted straight off the Facebook page and into the broadcast. So get ready Facebook is expected to announce today and Google+ is already in beta testing. I for one, fully expect to see live video chat and video comments rolling into broadcasts in a matter of weeks.

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  • Smartphone Growth Surges – Texting Still King

    July 5th, 2011

    Terry and I have been telling you about the importance of building and implementing a strong portable strategy. The first half of 2011 has seen huge growth in consumers adoption of portable devices.

    Just this year Android has over taken Apple as the most popular operating system, despite Apple’s huge success with iPads and Phones. Apple updated its offerings with a new pad version. A new phone is rumored to be released in the fall.

    comScore, the digital measuring company has just released data that paints a pretty clear picture of how Americans are using smartphones. comScore surveyed more than 30,000 US mobile users in May  and found that Google’s Android has captured 38.1% of the market share, a 5% increase over the previous month. Apple grew slightly capturing 26.6% of market share. Some may find this surprising, but consider the number of Android phones on the market, versus the single device iPhone.

    Speaking of phones, Samsung has the largest market share of smartphones subscribers. Popular 4G models like the Galaxy and Nexus have been flying off the shelves of the nations four largest mobile carriers.

    LG is the only phone within striking distance of the top spot, and industry rumors are pointing to the new LG Thrill 4G as the next gotta have smartphone. It is expected the LG Thrill will begin popping up on shelves this month.

    It is interesting to note, despite the popularity of social media, texting remains the dominate content on smartphones, with nearly 70% of all users listing texting as their top choice. Trending is the use of mobile browsers, downloaded apps, gaming and social media. What we don’t see in the  list is email and photos.

    This latest data suggests it would be smart to shore up your text alerts, and continue to build that audience as part of your mobile strategy. Some examples might include:

    • News Headlines for upcoming broadcasts
    • Traffic alerts
    • Weather advisories
    • Targeted Special Report Marketing
    • Even conversations that are trending on social media

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  • Tools of the Trade – Google Sites

    June 29th, 2011

    You have been reading here the last few weeks about the explosive growth of mobile. It is projected  that half of all Americans will own  smartphone by the end of this year.  Google is expanding its foray into mobile, now allowing users of Google Sites to build mobile web sites, easily and quickly.

    Google Sites is a free service from Google that allows you to build free websites, including free templates and webspace. Now they add an auto rendering feature that builds a mobile site from your main page. The feature was launched last week and today includes several free mobile templates to chose from for your business.

    Google’s blog speaks to the growing importance of a mobile site:

    As the dramatic growth of the mobile web changes the way people consume content, it’s becoming increasingly important for publishers to provide a good mobile experience. With this in mind, we just added automatic mobile rendering in Google Sites for iOS 3.0+ and Android 2.2+ devices, and a mobile version of the Google Sites lists.

    Here is a link to Google’s Mobile Sites video. A one-click, straightforward approach to mobile web design.

    I can see great uses for private internal websites or quick builds for niches sites. It is potentially a great tool to help you dabble in the mobile world and it is free. Google also offers Google Sites Premium edition , with more storage, enterprise email, and Google Talk and Google Docs.

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  • Tools of the Trade – Facebook Ipad App?

    June 22nd, 2011

    This is probably some of the best news I have heard all week. The NY Times is reporting today Facebook’s apparent anti-iPad stand is changing its ways and will soon offer a Facebook app for the pad.

    Facebook was ready and waiting when Apple first launched the iPhone, but has yet to release the much anticipated app for the iPad. Well wait no more. The Times is reporting in its blog:

    People who have seen the application said it has a slick design that has been tailored for the iPad and its touchscreen interface. Facebook developers and designers have also overhauled the Facebook Chat and Facebook Groups features for the application. And the app will go beyond the features available on the Facebook Web site by allowing users to shoot and upload photos and videos directly from the iPad’s built-in cameras.

    “The photo and video experience is amazing, offering full resolution and full-screen images,” said a person who has seen the app.

    Facebook is commenting on the possibility of a new app, but if the aforementioned article on mobile growth is an indication Facebook and Apple can’t afford not to play in the tablet world. A Facebook / Apple partnership could also potentially help Apple sell more pads, as opposed to Google’s Android based products. These days its a made dash to capture as much of the portable audience as possible.

    Facebook is reportedly also working on a creating a better website for iPad users, who would prefer not running an app.

    If you don’t have your Facebook social strategies running on all cylinders, it’s time to tune them up.

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  • Mobile Apps Are Taking Over

    June 22nd, 2011

    To some this may not be very shocking news, to other web purist it could be a hard pill to swallow. The growth of the mobile web is creating significant divisions on how people are choosing their online content. Portable devices are overtaking desktops at an alarming rate.

    Flurry is reporting on its blog, “Our analysis shows that, for the first time ever, daily time spent in mobile apps surpasses desktop and mobile web consumption. This stat is even more remarkable if you consider that it took less than three years for native mobile apps to achieve this level of usage, driven primarily by the popularity of iOS and Android platforms.”

    According to Flurry the average user spends 9% more time using apps on their mobile devices than the internet. 12 months ago that wasn’t the case, when the average user was on the internet 64 minutes and mobile use dwindled at 43 minutes.

    Just a year later mobile outnumbers online use by seven minutes per day. Expect these numbers to continue the upward momentum as portable devices are adopted by the masses and cloud storage becomes common place.

    Granted the use of the internet does continue but no where near the level of mobile use and adoption. In fact  KCPB’s Marry Meeker reports portable shipments have outnumbers desktops and laptops.

    Major League Baseball offers a great example of the shift that has taken place. Noah Garden, Executive Vice President of Revenue told an audience at a recent industry conference that page views from mobile devices will surpass those from online in the next 12 to 18 months. Garden told the crowd at the ELEVATE , the Online Video Advertising Summit, that mobile page views have grown from 8% in 2008 to 37% last year. That growth due mainly to the popularity of tablet devices. Noah says MLB expects to sell 2 million subscriptions to MLB.tv and mobile devices this year. MLB has already delivered 100 million streams of games this year, a 47% increase from 2011.

    “We want to be on any device that has a plug and a battery” to reach all targeted consumers with MLB.tv equally. Since MLB has been one of the key leaders in online/mobile video distribution, its initiatives are widely followed in the industry.
    Mobile App Consumption by Category

    Obviously there is interest in viewing video and events on mobile devices. That is part of the bet that the broadcast industry is making as over the air programming and other content is offered to portable users.

    Flurry also took a look at what categories mobile users are most interested in. Not surprising Facebook and social networking, along with games tops the list. Combined the two represent 79% of total mobile use.

    News and entertainment make up about 15% of the audience preference.

    The Flurry group reminds us, “As interactive media usage continues to shift from the web to mobile apps, one thing is certain: Facebook, Apple and Google will all expend significant resources to ensure that no one company dominates owning the direct relationship with the consumer.”

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  • Tools of the Trade – Dragon Naturally Speaking

    June 15th, 2011

    Dragon dictating has been in the business since 1997, not bad for a company that has seen and adapted to change from analog recorded media, to digital, now to mobile digital.

    Digital and especially mobile digital is partly responsible for the company’s 40% plus growth rate over the last few years. Today they take another step forward and release the latest version of their dictation software. The Dragon Naturally Speaking software lets you interact with your PC via voice recognition, creating documents, emails, surfing the web and even updating your Facebook and Twitter pages.

    Think about it. No keyboard, no mouse – just speak it and the text appears. This software could be especially helpful to a digital journalist in the field that has limited  time and space to create content. With Dragon you simply launch the program and speak the story you would normally write. Certainly there would be some cleanup, but not nearly as time consuming as typing manually.

    Today’s software announcement takes it a step further a offer a free iPhone app that turns your phone into a wireless microphone, that speaks directly to your PC. Allowing even more portable on the go dictation. Dictate into your phone while you drive and the script is ready when you get to your destination.

    Not just scripts, but updated tweets and Facebook postings from the field, and text messages – wirelessly. Pretty cool.

    “As mobile devices and social networks have become a more important part of our customers’ lives, they have asked us for more flexibility in how they can use Dragon,” said Peter Mahoney, senior vice president and general manager, Dragon, Nuance. “People who have never tried Dragon before will be genuinely impressed with all the ways it lets you interact with your digital world. Those who are already familiar with Dragon will see some exciting improvements that extend its use with social sharing, and add flexibility with microphones and recording devices.”

    The PC software is $199, but the iPhone app is free in the Itunes store.

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  • Tools of the TRade – Apple iCloud

    June 8th, 2011

    Lots of buzz this week about the Apple WWDC conference and Steve Job’s announcement of the new Apple service iCloud.

    The iCloud is Apple’s answer to having all of your photos, documents and music automatically stored on an Apple server and available on all of your devices.

    Granted cloud computing has been around a while, the ability to store data on distant hard drives and recall it later. This is a little different. Think of it as Mobile Me on steriods, if you are an Apple user.

    There is no longer connecting your iPhone or iPad to your computer for updates and syncs, it just magically happens. No more tethering with that Apple proprietary cord, that I can never seem to find when I need it.

    In the journalist’s world, I can easily see this as an opportunity to efficiently transmit pictures and video back to the content center for playback. No more emailing or MMS to send content.

    With iCloud you simply take the picture, it sends it to your iCloud, which can then be accessed and downloaded  back at the station.

    We won’t get to see iCloud in action for another month, but you can’t beat the price – FREE! So long as you download and install the new iOS software from Apple.

    I will test it for you here and share the results, but for now another strong argument for using iPhones in the field for journalists.

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