Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories in Tech, Business & Mobile”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories in Tech, Business & Mobile”


Today’s Top Stories in Tech, Business & Mobile

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 05:13 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning’s edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. We're keeping our eyes on three particular stories of interest today.

Sony Acquires Ericsson’s Stake in Sony Ericsson

Sony Corporation has acquired Ericsson's stake in mobile phone joint venture Sony Ericsson for €1.05 billion ($1.47 billion) in cash payment from Sony.

RIM Faces Class Action Suit for BlackBerry Outages

Consumers in the U.S and Canada have filed suit against Research In Motion (RIM) for four days of BlackBerry outages that occurred earlier this month.

Nokia Exhibits Flexible “Kinetic Device”

Nokia is showing off what it calls a "kinetic device," a tablet prototype with a flexible display, at its Nokia World 2011 event in London.

Further News

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

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Livestream Reinvents Itself, Becomes the “New Livestream”

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 04:36 AM PDT

livestream image

Livestream, the popular livestreaming site which essentially coined the term, just announced a serious relaunch under the title “New Livestream.”

New Livestream will retain all the same video features of Livestream but with a suite of social and multimedia tools. Users and event hosts will now be able to combine streaming coverage with real-time photos, messages, social posts and video clips. This will make New Livestream much more interactive and immersive than its predecessor.

The new player will have adaptive video quality, meaning it will naturally scale video quality (up to 720p HD) depending on a user’s Internet connection or computer speed. Livestream has been known to overload with heavy traffic, causing videos to skip, pause or crash entirely. The adaptive tech should help create a more seamless viewing experience even if it might a little blurry for some users.

Livestream has been duking it out with YouTube to be the top video site. It recently created channels and subscriptions, much the same way that YouTube does, while YouTube has been running more livestreamed concerts and events.

New Livestream is available as an open beta providing that users follow the content of Livestream’s launch partners, such as the Volvo Ocean Race. It’s not an ideal bargain but it beats having to pay to get on the new platform. Web and mobile developer tools will be released in December along with a renewed focus on brand and event-based channels. The New Livestream will be fully open by April 2012 for free and premium users.

It’s clear that Livestream is trying to keep up with other video sites that have jumped ahead in terms of features and social integration. Can New Livestream help keep it relevant? Does Livestream have a chance of taking down YouTube? Is that even the point? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: livestream, Social Media, Video

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Steve Jobs, Human Being: 10 Quirky Details From the Bestselling Biography

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 03:23 AM PDT


So he was a flawed mortal after all. A really flawed mortal, whose boundless obsession turned him into the nearest thing to a Shakespearean figure that our century has seen.

This is what we find after finishing Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, the authorized biography which rocketed to the top of the Amazon charts after its release Monday. It is without a doubt the year’s hardest-to-ignore book. (For myself especially, having interviewed Jobs many times and having worked for Walter at Time magazine, resistance was always going to be useless.)

Indeed, the past few days have felt like belonging to a book club that encompasses the entire tech world. If you listen closely to Mashable this week, you can almost hear the soft tapping of page-forward buttons and iPad screens. So here are a few first impressions and discussion points we’d like to bring up at that book club meeting.

What left the deepest impression in your reading? Let us know in the comments.

Jobs thought different … about deodorant.
Steve Jobs cared about tiny details, and the best biographies are all about them — the impressionistic traits that really shape your understanding of a whole person. In Jobs’ case, one of those would have to be the fact that he spent decades insisting his vegan diet would naturally clear up any body odor issues. All you need is fruit. It was an early but persistent example of what Isaacson calls Jobs’ “magical thinking.”

Jobs reveled in his role of Chief Bully … and so did many of those he bullied.
Before and after his restoration at Apple, Jobs had one go-to management tool: to get better performance out of your staff, yell, belittle and badmouth the bejesus out of them, often seven days a week and late into the night. Many Apple employees quit under this constant drill sergeant-style pressure; many more were fired. Still more were inspired to do what they called the best work of their careers. But could he have been nicer about it and gotten the same results? Probably so, Isaacson concludes.

Ultimate design nerd … or obsessive-compulsive?
Jobs sweated every detail in his life and work. He lived a spartan existence on the floors of his mansions, largely because he could not bring himself to chose a single sofa or bed frame. He would chew employees out over a few frames removed from an ad, or the thickness of a line in a calculator widget. He had more than 100 black turtlenecks from the same designer in his closet. Tired and hallucinating during his liver transplant operation, he demanded the doctors bring him five models of oxygen mask to test. We always knew Jobs was a design nerd, but his degree of focus still surprises.

Let the tears flow.
When Jobs wasn’t obsessing, it seems, he was tearing up. Practically every chapter in the book features some instance of Jobs crying, quite often when he didn’t get his way with product design or corporate organization. But Jobs would also cry happy tears when encountering what he thought of as “purity of spirit” — such as the copy for the first “Think Different” TV ad.

He was a romantic … but not the best at romance.
One of the most biggest head-scratchers in the book comes when Jobs is dating folk singer Joan Baez, who is famous but not wealthy, and keeps telling her about a Ralph Lauren dress she’d look great in. Finally, on date night, Jobs drives her to the store with the dress — only to pick up a few shirts for himself and suggest she buy the dress herself. Another girlfriend, one of the loves of his life, would come to believe that he had Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

His stubbornness about health and food hurt him.
The hardest detail to take, for those of us still grieving the loss of Jobs, is that he waited nearly a year to have the operation on his first, perfectly curable tumor, allowing it to spread. This was because he didn’t want his body to be violated by surgery, Jobs told Isaacson with a note of regret. He would also fast or eat minimal fruit diets when doctors were urging him to bulk up and eat more protein.

Jobs met his birth father … but not really.
Syrian student Abdulfattah Jandali, the father of the baby given to the Jobs family for adoption, lived an itinerant life, at one point running a restaurant near Cupertino. Jobs’ birth sister, novelist Mona Simpson, discovered that Jobs had eaten in the restaurant several times and shook Jandali’s hand without either man knowing the significance from it. Still, Jobs never responded to Jandali’s request for a proper meeting.

There’s a Jobs boat waiting to be built.
The Apple founder could not stop designing newer and greater things. Even during his long bouts of sickness, he was hard at work designing a sea-going vessel, perhaps to compete with his yacht-loving friend Larry Ellison. It was, of course, a very minimalist and tasteful boat design.

Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch: Unlikely friends.
Jobs formed a friendship with Murdoch during his later years, after persuading the media mogul to create content for the iPad, and would frequently invite him to dinner — to the dismay of many of Jobs’ liberal friends. But Jobs was no right-winger (he offered to do the ads for Obama’s reelection campaign), and did take Murdoch to task for what Jobs saw as the “destructive” nature of Fox News.

Even after 40 interviews, Jobs remains an enigma.
Isaacson put Jobs on the record 40 times over two years. Yet, as many reviewers have pointed out, for all these quirks, it’s still a somewhat thin portrait. Jobs shuts down a lot of lines of questions, and keeps many answers ambivalent (such as his “fifty-fifty” belief in life after death.) What was it like to actually live in Steve Jobs’ head? Answering that question still requires some magical thinking on the part of the reader.


Bonus: Steve Jobs: Inspirational Quotes






Jobs quote from 2005 Stanford commencement address. Posted by livinglauren.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, steve jobs, Steve Jobs: A Biography

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Angry Birds and iPads to Fly into Space

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 02:24 AM PDT


After taking over the world – in the form of an extremely popular multi-platform game, followed by toys and accessories, even baby clothesAngry Birds will venture where no dissatisfied feathered creature has gone before: into space.

An Angry Birds plush toy, as well as two Apple iPads, will be sent to the International Space Station with two upcoming Russian space launches.

The iPads will be sent with the next unmanned resupply flight later this month. The toy doll of the red bird from the popular game will be sent with three crew members, which are due to fly to the ISS next month.

The cosmonauts will use the iPads for entertainment purposes, but the plush toy will actually have a mission – it will signal the escape from the clutches of Earth’s gravity field when it starts to float.

[via collectSPACE]

More About: angry birds, International Space Station, ipad


Sony Acquires Ericsson’s Stake in Sony Ericsson for $1.47 Billion

Posted: 27 Oct 2011 12:20 AM PDT


Sony Corporation has acquired Ericsson’s stake in mobile phone joint venture Sony Ericsson.

The deal will place Ericsson’s 50% stake in the joint venture under Sony’s control. Sony will also acquire five wireless technology “patent families.” The two companies have also entered into a cross-licensing agreement for their intellectual property.

As part of the transaction, Ericsson will receive a €1.05 billion cash payment from Sony. That values the deal at $1.47 billion at current market prices.

“This acquisition makes sense for Sony and Ericsson, and it will make the difference for consumers, who want to connect with content wherever they are, whenever they want,” Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer said in a statement sent to Mashable.

Sony says that acquiring all of Sony Ericsson will enhance its “four-screen strategy” — televisions, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The company intends to not only sell devices in all four categories, but sell content there as well through the PlayStation Network and the Sony Entertainment Network. Sony also has a large presence in film as well, thanks to Sony Pictures.

Sony and Ericsson started their joint venture in 2001 in an effort to turn their unprofitable mobile handset divisions around. The company has focused on Android devices in recent years with the Xperia Arc and the Xperia Play, best known as the “PlayStation Phone.”

More About: acquisition, sony, Sony Ericsson

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Beware the Digital Disruptors: They’re Coming for Your Industry

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 09:14 PM PDT


James L. McQuivey, Ph.D. is a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research serving Consumer Product Strategy professionals. Follow him on Twitter at @jmcquivey.

Growing up in the ’70s, I was the world's biggest fan of The Bionic Man. Every Sunday night at 7 p.m. you could find me glued to our Trinitron TV to watch Steve Austin battle every villain from Bionic Sasquatch to the evil Dr. Dolenz. The appeal of the show was simple: Amplified by technology, the Bionic Man is better, stronger, and faster than his enemies.

It turns out to be a morality tale for our own day. But you are not the bionic man in the drama I'm unfolding — you are his target. Because while you were carefully planning your business strategy, hundreds — if not thousands — of individuals and competitors have been exploiting technology to make themselves better, stronger, and faster than you.

We call these people digital disruptors. And they're coming right for you.

No matter what industry you are in, you are their target. Where you could once dismiss digital disruption as the sole province of the music or other media industries where it destroyed billions in value, digital disruption has now expanded. These disruptors employ technologies — and the platforms they enable — to build better products than you can, establish a stronger customer relationship than you have, and deliver it all to market faster than you ever thought possible.

Oh, and it doesn't cost anywhere close to six million dollars for them to get started. I offer Lose It! as one of many case studies worth considering. Targeting the weight loss and fitness business — one of the most analog industries on the planet — Lose It! is disrupting the more than $40 billion Americans spend on weight loss each year. It's a costly industry to enter — think of Jenny Craig's marketing budget alone, then add its hundreds of physical locations, prepared meals, and all the infrastructure to support the entire enterprise. So while franchises like The Biggest Loser have succeeded in entering this business recently, they have done so at great cost.

Meanwhile, a single app that helps dieters keep track of the calories they consume on their smartphones has gone from 0 to 7 million downloads in just a few years. FitNow, the company behind the app, pulled this off with four employees, establishing an unheard of customer-per-employee metric of 1.75 million.

This is digital disruption at its finest: better, stronger, faster. The app got to market quickly, partly because as a digital disruptor, FitNow could afford to launch something that didn't try to solve all the problems in the weight-loss world. As Charles Teague, CEO, told me recently, "Let's not pretend that we know the endgame here. Let's do the least amount of features to know if it will work. Then improve it if people use it." And improve it they have, adding fitness tracking and more recently a robust social community of like-minded dieters.

Because it sounds so easy, a CEO I shared this with asked me why, if digital is so quick and dirty, his company's website redesign was over time and over budget. I told him it was precisely because he staffed up his business under assumptions about design and functionality that were true in 2005 but are no longer the case. Digital disruption has even disrupted the digital businesses that preceded them.

While digital disruptors are better, stronger, and faster, they are not untouchable. Their ease of entry comes from the fact that traditional barriers have fallen to zero. That means your direct cost to emulate their practices can also be low.

That's why I recommend you steal the digital disruptor's handbook. Use the iPad, the Kinect, and whatever platform is next to build a digital bridge to your customers. Like with Lose It!, your bridge must engage customers more often than your current product can, packaging and delivering benefits that you didn't realize were part of your consumer contract because before now, they weren't. You have to change your understanding of your product so you can then change your customer's understanding of it as well. This will require better thinking than you currently do – I previously explained how digital disruptors take advantage of a type of thinking called “innovating the adjacent possible.” It's crucial to generating more ideas more quickly so that you can find the nearby opportunities that will succeed while quickly culling those that will fail.

There's more to do, but before you can even begin, you have to know: Are you ready to do this? Does your company have the energy, skills, and policies to turn into a disruptor or are you more likely to be displaced by the digital disruptor nearest you?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Nikada

More About: apps, contributor, Disrupt, features, Startups, Tech

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Create & Publish a Web Page in Seconds with Pen.io

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 08:25 PM PDT


The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Pen.io

Quick Pitch: Pen.io is the fastest way to publish content online.

Genius Idea: Create pages in seconds.


What started as a fun weekend project back in February has literally become the quickest way to publish on the web. No joke. I’m talking about Pen.io, the three-person San Francisco-based startup re-imagining what it means to create and publish content online.

“The original project and idea was simply to create the fastest way to put a piece of content online,” Pen.io founder Anthony Feint says. “I was looking at WordPress and thinking it was quite complicated just to put a recipe or quote online,” he adds. “I didn’t necessarily want to start a whole new blog just to quickly put up a single piece of content.”

The premise behind Pen.io is to allow anyone to publish on the web without having to create an account, go through a signup process or possess any technical skills, Feint explains.

And that’s exactly what it is. Navigate to Pen.io and you’ll find that your next webpage is just two fields — page name and page passwords — away from being live on the web. Just hit the “Create The Page” button, and you’ll get your own tabula rasa to fill in and use as you see fit.

That may not sound remarkable at first, but think about it for a second. You’ve just created a permanent webpage without having to register a domain, set up a new blog (which is far more arduous than it should be) or even sign up for an account. Better still, you can go on to create as many pages as you’d like and continue to avoid all those tedious steps in the process.

Okay, you say, but what the heck am I going to do with a blank web page? The answer, says Feint, is anything you’d like. Quickly publish a personal recipe, research project, essay, poem, song, diatribe or make a basic “About” page. You can even drag and drop photos and add YouTube video URLs to add a bit more personality to your pages.

Pen.io is proving to be quite popular. It already sees 300,000 visitors a day. Teachers use it, students love it and professional content creators are quite enamored with it, Feint says.

Part of Pen.io’s early appeal is that you can use it completely anonymously, which means the service is becoming a publishing tool and online outlet for those who are limited in what they can say on the web. Case in point: 40% of visitors to Pen.io come from China.

The simplicity and ease of Pen.io’s page publishing tool is like nothing we’ve seen before. It’s not a blog — in fact, it’s almost the anti-blog. Nor is it a social media platform. But Pen.io is a fast publishing platform, which puts it in the same category of services as WordPress, Posterous, Tumblr and Twitter.

So, where exactly does it sit and what could this become? Mashable put the question to Feint. It’s a rival to WordPress and Posterous in that it appeals to folks who don’t want to commit to starting a blog, he says, and it’s a compliment to Facebook and Twitter.

“WordPress and Posterous aren’t as relevant as they were before. People are definitely using Twitter and Facebook more, but they still want a place to put their content,” Feint says. “So used in conjunction with [Twitter and Facebook], Pen.io is great.”

The startup will work to better integrate with Twitter and Facebook to show off this greatness, he says. In the near future, users can also expect premium Pen.io packages with privacy, video hosting, analytics and themes for a fee.

Also coming soon is a new page editor. But, promises Feint, “we will never have a complex editor like you might find in WordPress or the other blog engines.”

Pen.io has raised $100,000 in seed funding and is actively working to raise another round.

Image courtesy of Flickr, sparkieblues


Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark


Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

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How the U.S. Consumes Real-Time Entertainment Online [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 07:56 PM PDT

For years, media industry observers have talked about convergence, with video entertainment someday moving completely online, morphing into an all-streaming entertainment cornucopia that’s only a few years away.

When you look at this infographic from Sandvine (a company that makes devices that assist broadband providers with throttling the connections of their users, so they should know about high bandwidth usage), you’ll see how the long-heralded convergence of broadband and entertainment is almost there. It’s not all-streaming yet, but close to it.

In fact, according to Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Report for Fall 2011, if you’re subscribing to broadband Internet service, 96% of you were using some sort of real-time online entertainment each month.

Beyond that, using some combination of broadband-tapping devices such as smart TVs, gaming consoles, settops, smartphones and tablets, “55% of all real-time entertainment traffic” is coming from sources other than cable or broadcast TV, says Sandvine.

That number is only going to get bigger. Will streaming ever completely replace broadcast and cable TV?


Infographic courtesy of Sandvine

More About: broadband, infographics, Sandvine, streaming

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Rainn Wilson Caught in $12K Tweet For Pay? [VIRAL EMBARRASSMENT]

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 06:42 PM PDT


Does actor and comedian Rainn Wilson really love fast food eatery Del Taco? Take a look at this trio of tweets Wilson sent, and tell us if you think he really does believe that the Del Taco Macho Bellgrande Burrito is actually as “Beeftacular™” as he tweets.

Just before Wilson, a star of TV series The Office, tweeted his endorsement of the oversized folded-up meat pies, he instructed his assistant to tell the company he would accept $12,000 for what appears to be a paid plug on Twitter.

Apparently realizing he confused a direct message with a tweet, 4 minutes later he tweets, “Please disregard last tweet – was a private text to my assistant.”

Private, indeed. Present company excluded, maybe the old adage “believe nothing of what you read and only half of what you see” would be applicable in this case. What do you think? Did Wilson make a huge mistake, or is this a publicity stunt for Del Taco?

[via Buzzfeed; photo courtesy Wikipedia/David Shankbone]

More About: Del Grande, rainn wilson, Twitter

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How to Time Your Facebook Posts to Reach the Most Fans

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 05:37 PM PDT


Jeff Widman co-founded PageLever to provide better Facebook analytics for marketers. PageLever measures more than 650 million Facebook fans across sites like YouTube and MTV. Jeff has been cited as an expert in Facebook analytics by Mashable, AdAge, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, InsideFacebook, AllFacebook, etc.

I get asked all the time, “How frequently should I post on my Facebook page? When is the best time to post?”

Answer: Post whenever the most recent status update for your page stops showing up in your fans’ News Feeds.

If you post often, you will see an immediate spike in News Feed impressions, but it’s generally not worth the cost in lost fans. When your fans see two status updates from you in their News Feeds, they’ll likely get annoyed, and will consequently unsubscribe or un-fan. There are few exceptions to this rule.

If you post too infrequently, you’re missing out on opportunities to reach your fans. Over the course of a year, a page with 10,000 fans that posts only half as often as they could misses more than 1 million chances to get their content in front of a hyper-targeted Facebook audience. The larger your fan page, the more often you should be posting — without annoying your fans.

The kicker: Each post performs differently. Some posts last ten hours, and some posts last thirty hours.

Calculate the average post lifetime by using the method below, but remember it’s just that — an average. To get really in-depth, figure the average post lifetime for photos vs. articles, or the average lifetime when you post Thursdays at 3 p.m. vs. Saturdays at 10 a.m. However, it’s still just an average; each post is unique, so you can never exactly predict how it will perform.

How do you know when a post stops appearing in your fans’ News Feeds?

The good news is that when you track your posts’ performance, you’ll be able to see, in real-time, when that post drops out of the News Feed. If it flops five hours sooner than you expected, then immediately stick up a new post.

Each status update drops out of different fans’ News Feeds at different times, depending on how long Facebook’s algorithm EdgeRank calculates that particular fan will be interested in that particular status update. Then, the best we can do is look at how each status update performs across all your fans’ News Feeds.

You’ll actually see a slowdown in new impressions, clicks, likes and comments as a post starts dropping out of News Feeds. The following graphs show cumulative numbers, so when the graph flattens, the post has dropped out of News Feeds.

Each of these metrics has pros and cons.

1. Impressions per-post: Impressions per-post is a single aggregate count of how many times a particular status update has been viewed. Facebook updates this number as more and more people view the post; however, it often won’t update for several hours at a time when Facebook’s computers are calculating for millions of posts across millions of fan pages. On the bright side, when it works, it’s great — you can literally watch as your post gets viewed by fans.

2. Comments per-post: All the comments on any status update are time-stamped, so you can measure on a minute-by-minute basis exactly when a fan saw the status update. Unfortunately, most status updates receive so few comments that there aren’t enough data points to determine whether your fans are choosing not to comment or simply aren’t seeing the post in their News Feeds.

3. Likes per-post: In general, this is the most accurate way to see when your status update starts dropping out of News Feeds. Facebook updates the post’s like count in near real time, so it’s more reliable than the post impression count. And because posts tend to get more likes than comments, the data presents an accurate picture of how long a post stayed in News Feeds. On the other hand, likes aren’t time-stamped, so you have to check the like count regularly to see when new likes are added.

So how do I actually measure?

Post a status update. Every hour, record the number of impressions, likes and comments. Figure out when the rate of new impressions or likes slows down.

Try recording all the raw data in Excel, then graph the data just like you see above. Visually estimate the post lifetime based on when the graph flattens out.

After you calculate the post lifetime for 10-20 posts, you’ll start to generate an average post lifetime unique to your fan page.

What’s the average post lifetime?

I don’t know.

However, I surveyed 20 posts across five fan pages that had 2 million+ fans, and calculated an average post lifetime of 22 hours, 51 minutes. Theoretically, this implies most fan pages shouldn’t post more than once a day.

I strongly recommend keeping track of your posts in real-time because post lifetimes vary widely, even across the same fan page. In my sample of twenty posts, the shortest post lasted only 10 hours, while the longest post lasted a full 50 hours!

If you weren’t tracking those posts, you would have been invisible in the News Feed for 13 hours when the post flopped at the 10-hour mark. Similarly, you could have delayed your next post when the high-performing post showed no sign of slowing down.

Lastly, feel free to experiment and break the rules.

You won’t know if your fans respond better to a different posting strategy until you try it. Use these analytics to augment your intelligence, not replace it.

Happy posting!

Image courtesy of Flickr, kaysha

More About: analytics, contributor, Facebook, features, Marketing, Social Media


Nokia Shows Off Flexible Mobile Device of the Future [VIDEOS]

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 04:24 PM PDT


Look what Nokia has done with this mobile gadget — Nokia calls it a “kinetic device,” a prototype with a flexible display the company showed at Nokia World 2011 in London.

Instead of the pinch-to-zoom capabilities copied throughout the smartphone industry, Nokia has come up with a novel way to accomplish the same thing: When you bend and twist this handset, the image on its screen does your bidding in a highly intuitive way.

One of the advantages Nokia touts for such a device is the ability to use it without looking at it — for instance, twisting it in your pocket to dismiss a call or change song on a music player.

How does it work? According to CNET, a Nokia demonstrator said the company was experimenting with bundles of carbon nanotubes whose electrical properties change when they’re stretched. Those nanotubes are embedded in a flexible substance that allows the device to control the screen when twisted and bent. An additional advantage: The device is much tougher — and is water resistant, too.

We’ve heard of displays that might be capable of folding like a newspaper and rolled up like a tube, but the idea of controlling by bending is different. Imagine the possibilities: Perhaps it could be used by blind people, where the bending properties of the device would not require vision to intuitively control a smartphone.

When will we see such a thing in the real world? Nokia’s not saying precisely when its kinetic device will be released, but one rep tells IntoMobile in the video embedded below, “hopefully soon.”

More About: Flexible display, future tech, Kinetic Device, Nokia


Top 10 iPhone Apps for Halloween

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 03:06 PM PDT


1. Make A Zombie




Zombies usually get a bad rap for being downright creepy, but the zombies in this app are quite the opposite. You can still create ones with exposed brains and knives in their skulls, but they somehow still manage to be huggable and cute.

Either way, this app is a great way to flex those creative zombie muscles. Plus you can share your masterpieces with your social networks too.

Cost: FREE

Click here to view this gallery.

The leaves are changing, the air is crisp and the pumpkins are piling up. Halloween is right around the corner. While the little ones are busy planning their costumes, mapping out their trick-or-treat routes and dreaming of piles of candy, there's no reason why our connected generations can't have fun on Oct. 31 as well.

SEE ALSO: 13 Free Halloween Fonts

Trick or treating may end at your teenage years, but there are still lots of ways to celebrate the holiday. The following 10 iPhone apps are a great way to get you into the Halloween spirit. Boo!

More About: apps, contributor, features, Halloween, iphone


One Last Thing: Steve Jobs Documentary to Premiere on PBS

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 02:04 PM PDT


If the news articles and newly released biography of Steve Jobs aren’t enough for fans of Apple’s late co-founder, PBS has announced that the documentary, Steve Jobs – One Last Thing, will premiere Nov. 2.

The documentary, which will air from 10 to 11 p.m. ET next Wednesday, pays tribute to Jobs’s talents and innovations, and will follow the four-part series, NOVA The Fabric of the Cosmos.

"From the vast complexity of time and space to the genius of a man who put technology in the palm of our hands, these extraordinary programs explore the work of two visionaries in science and technology," said John F. Wilson, senior vice president & chief TV programming executive.

One Last Thing uses interviews with colleagues and others who knew Jobs to explore his life and passel of innovations. It focuses on Jobs’s character, examines how and why he was an exceptional mastermind, and digs deeper into what influenced his character and his climb to success.

SEE ALSO: Apple Celebrates Steve Jobs: Quotes from One Infinite Loop [PICS]

The documentary also includes a never-before-seen interview with Jobs from 1994, in which he clarifies and interprets the true meaning behind his life philosophy:

“You tend to get told that the world is the way it is, but life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact; and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you … Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again."

The film includes interviews with:

  • Ronald Wayne, co-founder of Apple with Jobs and Steve Wozniak
  • Ross Perot, who invested in NeXT Computer when Jobs was running out of money
  • Walt Mossberg, principal technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, who interviewed Jobs every year from 2003-2010
  • will.i.am, frontman and producer for The Black Eyed Peas
  • Dean Hovey, designer of the original mouse for Apple
  • Robert Palladino, calligraphy professor at Reed College, whose classes Jobs credited with inspiring his typography design for the Mac
  • Bill Fernandez, who introduced Jobs and Wozniak in Sunnyvale, where the three hung out in his father's garage and tinkered with electronics

The title of the documentary, One Last Thing, was inspired by Jobs’s catchphrase during many of his Apple product launches. Nearing the end of his presentations, Jobs was known for saying, “Oh — one more thing,” before he released his latest product to the public.

Click here for local listings of the airing.


Steve Jobs demos Apple Macintosh, 1984


Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh to the world. Computing would never be the same.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, pbs, steve jobs

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Nokia Lumia 800: What You Need to Know

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 01:50 PM PDT


It's Like the N9...But Not




The Lumia 800 is nearly identical in appearance to the N9, Nokia's first -- and last -- MeeGo handset.

Like the N9, it sports a beautiful polycarbonate body with a curved glass screen, a rear camera with LED flash and edges that feel great in the hand.

Click here to view this gallery.

Nokia just announced the Lumia 800, the company’s first Windows Phone, and we’ve got the details on the specs, form factor and special features.

As we said in our hands-on coverage, on the surface, the Lumia 800 is an N9 paired with Windows Phone 7.5, otherwise known as Mango.

The phone has a single core 1.4Ghz processor — which is standard for the Windows Phone ecosystem. It has a beautiful 3.7″ display that curves seamlessly into its polycarbonate body. The phone has an 8-megapixel rear camera. The phone does not have a front-facing camera, eschewing a trend that most other manufacturers have adopted over the last 18 months. The photos should look great, however, thanks to the Carl Zeiss lens and LED flash. The phone will also record HD video in 720p.

SEE ALSO: Nokia Lumia 800 Could Be the Best Windows Phone Yet [HANDS-ON]

The Lumia 800 has 16GB of internal storage — though like Apple, this storage is not upgradable. Nokia points out that all Windows Phone users have access to 25GB of free cloud storage using Microsoft’s SkyDrive. It also includes all of the built-in connectivity options you would expect, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and even an FM radio.

The Lumia 800 will be available in most of the world by the end of 2011, though Nokia is still mum about U.S. availability. Before VAT and subsidies, the phone is €420, or $584 U.S.

More About: Feature, Lumia 800, Nokia, windows phone, Windows Phone Mango

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Man Hysterically Fails at Explaining Klout to His Boss [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 01:35 PM PDT


Each day, Mashable highlights one noteworthy YouTube video. Check out all our viral video picks.

In this 3D animation, a man amusingly describes Klout to his boss during a performance review.

The overly excited employee mentions “free stuff” (a.k.a. Klout Perks) and explains how he’s influential about social media, popcorn and Justin Bieber, who has the highest Klout score in the world.

Today in Klout news, many users of the service — which calculates users' online influence on 12 social networks — noticed their scores drastically drop on both their personal and company Klout profiles. The San Francisco-based startup implemented a new scoring model Tuesday, which immediately frustrated some users and spawned an @OccupyKlout Twitter account.

We envision some of those users’ discussions with co-workers and friends about Klout’s changes to be as funny as the above video.

At one point in the short clip, the boss says, “Wow, I am giving you a raise,” to which the man replies, “Really?”

“No, I was being sarcastic,” the boss says.

SEE ALSO: Klout's New Topic Pages Reveal Content Influencers | Klout Adds WordPress.com

The video was created on animation-making platform Xtranormal.

How do you describe Klout to co-workers and friends? Have you had difficulties summing up what it does and why you use it?


BONUS: What Klout’s New Topic Pages Look Like


Klout released new feature in September that lets users gain insights on top content influencers as well as users who have received the most +Ks for respective topics.

To populate a user’s Topic Pages (see screenshots below), Klout analyzes the user’s content created across the 12 networks it calculates.


Clickable Topics on Your Dashboard




On your Klout dashboard, you can click on a topic to open its Topic Page.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: klout, Social Media, viral videos, viral-video-of-the-day

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Sorry, Skype, Tango Is Dancing With Windows Phone Mango First

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 01:14 PM PDT


Despite Microsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype in May, a lesser known application called Tango will power video calls on several upcoming Windows Phone devices.

The app will come preloaded on Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) devices arriving in early November, a spokesperson for Tango confirmed. (UPDATE: Devices include the HTC Titan and Radar in the UK and Singapore, and the HTC Rhyme in Europe and Asia, a spokesperson said.)

Tango works across desktops and roughly 450 mobile devices, including many tablets. The service has attracted 25 million signups in 190 countries and gains 2 million additional registrations per month.

Eight-year-old Skype, by contrast, has 663 million registered users, of which 170 million use the service at least once per month.

I’ve been using Tango on my iPhone since it was released in September 2010. I’ve found it a superior alternative to Apple’s FaceTime app, which limits video calls to other iPhone 4 and 4S devices, requires a Wi-Fi connection and frequently disconnects.

Why Microsoft is using Tango instead of Skype is not yet clear. We’ve reached out to both Microsoft and Skype for comment and will update this post with any further information. (UPDATE: A representative from Tango said Microsoft and Skype were not apart of the decision. The decision to include Tango as a native app was determined by individual wireless carriers.)

[via Forbes]

More About: mango, microsoft, Skype, tango, windows phone 7.5


Startup Success: How 7 Top Angel Investors Do Business

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 12:51 PM PDT

startup image

Bill Clark is the CEO of Microventures, a startup fundraising platform that uses crowdfunding to allow investors to invest between $1,000 to $10,000 in startups. He also manages the venture capital firm MicroAngel Capital Partners. You can follow him on Twitter @austinbillc.

If you think you have what it takes to invest in startups, but are unsure of where to target your first seed investment, it may be worth your time to profile some other successful angel investors. By studying their strategy, the types of investments in their portfolio and the trajectory of their investments over time, you will start to develop your own strategy that works with your pace and desired investment outcome.

Don't be discouraged if you're unable to quickly and exactly mirror successful investors. Their strategies have most likely been developed over time; and they have learned from their own mistakes.

Below I summarize the strategies of some of the most successful angel investors, which should help as you start to build your own investment strategy and begin looking for the next big opportunities.


Ron Conway: Google, Twitter, Square and Paypal


Ron Conway is probably the best known and most successful angel investor in recent time. He has invested in some of the most successful companies in the past 10 years. Conway has focused his investing strategy on early stage, high-tech companies, and continues to examine current social, social commerce and mobile markets.

The most important factor for Conway is the team. "We start with the people first. We think the ideas that entrepreneurs start with evolve and change dramatically from the beginning and sometimes end up unrecognizable, so we believe in investing in the people," he says.

Conway makes a lot of small investments too, a tactic commonly known in the industry as the "spray and pray" strategy. He is then able to make additional investments in the companies that perform the best. Since he invests in most of the best early stage startups, and is able to spread his money around, only a portion of his portfolio needs to succeed for him to continue earning.

When Conway makes an investment, he doesn't worry as much as the typical investor about the valuation he is getting. He has publicly offered startups convertible debt with no cap, which is very favorable to the startup. When he is investing at a seed level, it doesn't matter if the company is valued at $3 million or $5 million — when you are looking for the big exit, the end result doesn't change that much.

An investment from Conway doesn't guarantee your startup will have a successful exit, but because his network is extensive, his investments certainly catch attention of a wide group of potential investors interested in getting on board.


Reid Hoffman: LinkedIn, Facebook, Zynga, Flickr


As far as angel investors go, Reid Hoffman ranks right up there with Ron Conway in terms of number of deals and successful exits. He is the CEO and founder of LinkedIn and has invested in Facebook, Zynga, Flickr and others.

Hoffman is very interested in web 2.0 companies whose innovative ideas can reach millions of users and scale efficiently, and looks for three things when he is investing in a startup:

  • How will you reach a massive audience? He targets products and services that have the potential to reach millions of users and keep them engaged.
  • What is your unique value proposition? He doesn't like to invest in companies that can't distinguish themselves from their competition.
  • Will your business be capital efficient? Meaning, will your idea continue to get funding in later stages of growth?

Chris Sacca: Photobucket, Twitter, Instagram, Turntable.fm


Sacca started angel investing in Photobucket when he was first at Google. Since then he has gone on to create his own fund and invest in companies like Twitter and Instagram.

Sacca will invest in seed and early stage technology companies, as well as secondary transactions from founders who are looking to sell shares for liquidity. As simple as it sounds, he looks for products that consumers want. This can be demonstrated by his investment in Turntable.fm. He recognized early that users would become engaged and spend a lot of time on the site.

He plays an active role in the companies in which he invests by becoming an advisor, further ensuring the brands continue their successful trajectories.


Chris Dixon: Hunch, Skype, Milo


Dixon is the co-founder of Hunch and also invests through his founder collective fund. He has made investments in companies like Skype and Milo, and in 2010 was named by Businessweek as the number-one investor in tech.

Dixon almost exclusively invests in seed stage deals and looks for high-tech startups, but also invests in industries outside high tech to diversify the risk. When he looks at a company he is not only looking at the technology, but also at the team involved. He will ask people who know the founders what they think of them to get "Social Proof" before making an investment.

"That is the most important aspect to the investment," says Dixon, "The environment changes, you discover flaws in your original concept, and good entrepreneurs adapt and change. The only way you would’ve seen it is if you’d understood the passion and guts of the people involved.”


Peter Thiel: Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster, Yelp


Thiel is one of the co-founders of Paypal and was the CEO of the company before it was acquired by eBay. His most famous and successful investment to date was a $500,000 investment in Facebook for 10% of the company. He has also made investments in LinkedIn, Friendster and Yelp.

Peter believes that the best predictor of a startup’s success is how much the CEO is paid. The larger his salary, the more likely everyone else is paid high, and therefore, the faster you'll burn through money. If the CEO is paid less than average, it more likely his interest will line up with the equity shareholders.

Additionally, Thiel has also recently given 20 kids under age 20 $100,000 to pursue innovative scientific and technical projects. It is clear that Thiel believes the millennial generation encompasses the visionaries of the future.


Mike Maples: Odeo, Twitter


Before becoming an angel investor turned VC, Maples was an entrepreneur and co-founder of Motive Inc. After he left his corporate gig, Maples decided to make angel investments with his own money. He was very successful, and soon created his own fund to invest other people's money.

Maples prefers to invest in startups that have low capital requirements, meaning that a company won't need tens of millions to succeed and prove its model. To Maples, one of the most important qualities for a startup company is a solid team.

His first investment was in Odeo, founded by Evan Williams. When Odeo was failing, Williams tried to give Maples his money back, but Maples believed in him and asked Williams to invest that money in his next venture. That venture was Twitter, and you all know that story.


Ashton Kutcher: Flipboard, AirBnB, Skype


While Kutcher hasn't been investing for that long (approximately four years), he has made several high profile investments already, including Flipboard, AirBnB, Skype, Zaarly and about 40 others. He now makes most of his ventures through his partnership fund, A Grade Investments.

Kutcher can add a lot of value when he invests; his social reach includes 7.5 million Twitter followers. When he looks at a startup he tries to understand what problem it is solving, and how many people are in the market for that particular solution. He also believes that you are investing in the founders more than anything, so having confidence and trust in them is a big factor when taking an investment leap.

If you are interested in investing in startups and want to mimic the pros, examine the factors that, according to them, foresee a successful business.

  • Look at the founders. Good investors make sure a company's founder really understands the industry he's entered and the problem he is solving. The founder can make quick, tough decisions to take the startup to the next level. Most startups fail, but a great founder can even transform an unlikely idea into a successful business.
  • Look for early investment opportunities. Angels are also interested in investing in the seed stage, potentially just an idea and some founders. Many investors believe this approach is how you can make a big return on an investment that is somewhat smaller than a later round investment.
  • They look at the idea itself. These angel investors are looking for something cutting edge that no one else is doing, or a problem that no one else is solving. When they find it, they jump at the chance to get involved and see the idea through to success.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, dblight, Flickr, The DEMO Conference, jdlasica

More About: angel investing, Business, contributor, features, investors, Startups, venture capital

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RIM Delays PlayBook Software Update

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 12:34 PM PDT


Research in Motion’s stock price fell 6% on Wednesday, after the company announced its latest setback — a delay in the system update for its PlayBook tablet.

RIM wants to make sure it is “confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers and end-users,” David J. Smith, SVP for BlackBerry PlayBook, wrote in a blog entry.

The new version will be released in February and won’t include the BlackBerry Messenger application.

The PlayBook launched in the U.S. and Canada in April. The OS update was supposed to come 60 days after that.

The company launched a beta version of PlayBook OS 2.0 last week at BlackBerry DevCon, an announcement that was overshadowed by RIM’s introduction of BBX, its new mobile OS that will hit the market next year.

Despite investors’ apparent reaction to the move, few people are likely to be affected. The company shipped just 200,000 PlayBooks in its most recent quarter.


BONUS: The 10 Best PlayBook Cases



1. RIM Leather Envelope




RIM offers a decent range of official cases, but the highlight for us has to be this "Envelope" design. Made of leather with a magnetic closure, the RIM logo on the flap is just the right side of branded to look official without making you a poster-boy for the company.

Cost: $59.99

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: blackberry, playbook, RIM, Tablet


Coldplay Live Streams Free Concert on YouTube

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 12:19 PM PDT

coldplay image

Coldplay will stream a live concert today at 4 p.m. ET on YouTube, through the American Express Unstaged performance series.

Early online viewers of the concert, which is actually in Madrid, will be treated to a documentary made by Anton Corbijn. American Express has rented four large screens in New York’s Times Square to broadcast the concert with sound, too.

Fans, however, might want to stay home to take advantage of all the digital tools. Viewers will be able to switch between several different camera views including a director’s cut, main stage and an aerial camera. The live stream will also feature a chat pulling in comments and posts from people around the world.

YouTube made its foray into live streaming earlier this year. And this isn’t the first time YouTube has tried to make music more social. It used a similar player — complete with variable cameras and a chat stream — during this spring’s Coachella Festival. That live stream proved to be a huge success, drawing in a ton of viewers who might not have otherwise seen the show.

The Coldplay live stream coincides with the band’s recent release of the album, “Mylo Xyloto.” Assuming the live stream doesn’t buckle from traffic, it should be another feather in YouTube’s musical cap.

You can check out the live stream here.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jeremy M Farmer


BONUS: 8 Great YouTube Channels for Music News



The Needle Drop


Run by Anthony Fantano, The Needle Drop is a blog/vlog and NPR-affiliated radio show about indie music. Unlike many YouTube vloggers, Fantano is actually pleasant to listen to -- even when he's going on 15-minute diatribes about Odd Future.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: livestream, Music, trending, Video, YouTube

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8 Amazing Social Media & Tech-Inspired Jack-o-Lanterns [PHOTOS]

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 11:59 AM PDT


Pig King




Breanna Hughes also sent us this great carving featuring the Pig King of Angry Birds fame.

Mashable Reaction: On Halloween, we don't know how the Pig King could be so angry. There are parties and free candy!

Click here to view this gallery.

Last week, we asked you to send us your social media and tech-inspired Jack-o-Lanterns. We received a bunch of great designs, ranging from tech company logos to carvings paying homage to the web’s favorite viral videos.

While we loved them all, here are the carvings we found most inspired. We also sent them around to the Mashable staffers to gather feedback from our team on some of the pumpkins, which you can find in the slideshow above.

Congratulations to our winners! Which one is your favorite and why? Let us know.

More About: community, contest, Halloween

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BlackBerry Bold 9900 Gets the MasterCard Mobile Payment Nod

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 11:38 AM PDT


Two BlackBerry models — the Bold 9900 and the Curve 9360 — have been approved for MasterCard near field communications payments.

The two devices join the Samsung Nexus S 4G as the only mobile phones that interact with the platform. However BlackBerry maker Research In Motion claims that the two phones are the world’s first SIM-based smartphones to receive such certification. If you have any of the phones and are approved by MasterCard, you can make a payment by merely waving it before a PayPass reader.

PayPass is now available in 350,000 locations including McDonald’s, CVS, Macy’s and Walgreens, but MasterCard hopes one day to integrate the technology into Microsoft’s Kinect so you can wave your smartphone in front of your TV to buy things.

SEE ALSO: Near Field Communication: A Quick Guide to the Future of Mobile

The major credit card companies have been eyeing NFC technology for some time. MasterCard, American Express and Visa joined the NFC Forum in 2004. In addition to PayPass, Visa has a competing technology called payWave that can be used for NFC payments.

More About: blackberry, mobile payments, nfc, RIM

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Why Groupon Must Change Its Business Model for Long-Term Success

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 11:18 AM PDT


Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

I needed sunglasses, the prescription kind. I hadn’t owned a pair in years, but this past summer I finally became fed up with squinting and wincing while daytime driving. Lo and behold, a few days after I decided to invest in some new shades, a Groupon for a local optical shop appeared. Pay $75 now for $175 off frames and lenses later. Serendipity.

That was in July, and a couple of weeks ago, I finally found some free time to head downtown and cash in my coupon. I found some nice frames, haggled a little on the price ($312 was hard to justify for sunglasses when I spend half my time in front of a computer screen), then I pulled out my Groupon. “Ugh,” groaned the sales clerk, eying the piece of paper in my hand. “You have one of those.” And a little twinge of guilt set in.

It turned out that the Groupon promotion had been much more popular than the tiny shop had anticipated. They’d been inundated with Groupon wielding customers and had a hard time keeping up. More salesperson hours plus deep discounts for a luxury item that most people only buy once every couple of years. Was it worth it? The clerk shrugged his shoulders noncommittally. Maybe. Would you use Groupon again? A blank stare that seemed to ask, “Are you daft?”


Sometimes Good, Sometimes Bad


That’s long been a popular refrain from small businesses who have tried Groupon. On the one hand, it’s a virtually guaranteed way to reach large numbers of new customers. On the other, unless you can turn those customers into repeat business or up-sell them, the deep 40-60% discounts Groupon demands can be damaging. Plus, if you can’t keep up with demand or the influx of new customers annoys regulars, your business could suffer a hit on reputation.

Yet, Groupon reports in its IPO prospectus that it featured on its site over 45,000 merchants in North America in the first two quarters of 2011 compared to just over 27,000 in 2010 — small businesses keep signing up. Why, in spite of well-publicized horror stories, would businesses jump into such a risky marketing strategy?

For some businesses, Groupon makes sense. For large corporations, like Gap, which ran an extremely popular promotion on the site last year, Groupon provides a great way to reach millions of potential customers. A business that large can eat the cost out of their already sizable advertising budget. For businesses that provide oft-repeated or critical services, such as auto mechanics or hair salons, a Groupon might be able to convert more repeat business, and thus be beneficial (note: that’s idle, but logical, speculation on my part).

But why did a boutique optical shop run a promotion? I suspect they thought they had to, and I suspect many other small businesses feel the same.

A down economy and low consumer spending numbers that refuse to rise out of the doldrums have forced business owners to do whatever they can to get people in the front door. Groupon’s millions of potential customers are just too attractive to pass up, even at a high-risk. In other words, small business owners feel compelled to gamble because the economy has forced their hands. When the economy turns back around — whether that’s in a few months or a few years — business owners won’t need sites like Groupon, and certainly not on Groupon’s terms.

A June study from Rice University that looked at deals across five major daily deal sites found that 48.1% of businesses would run another deal — a number that closely mirrors Groupon’s own internal data, as well as that of another recent study. Almost one in five say they would not run another deal and just about a third are on the fence. Half isn’t a terrible merchant retention number. According to the study’s author, Professor Utpal Dholakia, however, it is indicative of flaws in the daily deal model.

“Over the next few years,” writes Dholakia, “it is likely that daily deal sites will have to settle for lower shares of revenues from businesses compared to their current levels, and it will be harder and more expensive for them to find viable candidates to fill their pipelines of daily deals.”


Businesses Won’t Always Need Groupon


In an online presentation about the upcoming IPO, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason runs through what he says is a typical deal on the service. His example is Seviche Restaurant in Louisville, KY, a seafood restaurant that is, according to Mason, already very successful. Seviche wasn’t happy with traditional advertising, and ran a Groupon as a way to attract new customers. The details of the deal are as follows: $25 for $60 worth of food. Groupon keeps $12.50 of that price. Mason says that Seviche’s average bill is $100 and its cost of goods is 33%, which means that each Groupon customer should be worth, on average, $19.50 to the restaurant. His point was the prove that, when properly structured, Groupons are indeed profitable for the businesses that run them.

But let’s take that math a bit further. We’re getting into the land of hypotheticals here, but bear with me. Let’s say that the Groupon brings in 100 new customers. 100 x $19.50 = $1,950 in profit. Let’s also say that a traditional ad would perform only 40% as effectively at bringing in new customers, so it brings in just 40. Those 40 customers are paying full price, so they’re worth $67 in profit. 40 x $67 = $2,680 in profit.

How many of each become repeat diners? The Rice University study found that only about 1 in 5 daily deal users become repeat customers. If 20 customers from the original 100 that bought the Seviche Groupon come back, say, twice in the next year and spend the full $100, that’s worth another $2,680 in profit. I’d argue that the traditional ad customers probably convert to repeat visitors at a higher rate simply because they spent $100 on a dinner from the get-go (that is, they were all definitely customers willing to fork over full price), unlike the Groupon-wielding customers, who are getting a big discount . But for simplicity, let’s use the same metric as the daily deals for repeat customers. That’s another $1,072 over a year.

So who wins? In our hypothetical situation, the Groupon nets the restaurant $4,630 over the year while the traditional ad gets us just $3,752 — and there were probably some upfront costs that still need to be deducted. So Groupon is the clear winner, right? It’s actually trickier than that. According to the Rice study, just 35.9% of daily deal customers spend beyond the face value of the deal. Or, in other words, a large chunk of those initial Groupon users might get to the $100 average bill, so the profits from the Groupon might be much lower. (In our example, Groupon customers would be worth negative $7.30 if they only spend the Groupon price. That means they’re worth about $235 the first time through, assuming 64 of them only spent the coupon amount and the rest spend the full $100 average, and about $2,915 over the year.)

Of course, I can make the numbers say whatever I want — it’s all hypothetical (changing the numbers this way can make Groupon look great or look terrible) and I’ve made plenty of assumptions about customer value. The point is this: Other forms of advertising don’t have to be that much more effective (and can still be less effective from a pure purchaser standpoint) to create similar revenue and offer similar customer acquisition costs.

When consumer spending is low, it makes sense that fewer people are spending on things like expensive dinners out. A discount Groupon is an attractive incentive to get them out to the restaurant, and it is more effective at driving new business, even for successful restaurants like Seviche. But that likely won’t always be the case. If and when the economy rebounds, businesses might have an easier time getting customers in the door to spend at full price. They may no longer require the high-cost marketing that Groupon offers.


Can Groupon Keep Growing?


Groupon’s growth relies heavily on marketing. When the company cuts its marketing expenditures, revenue growth slows dramatically. That’s in a poor economy that is friendly to Groupon. What happens to that growth when businesses with desirable products and services can afford to refuse offering such attractive discounts? What if merchants refuse to play at all? Just 29.5 million of its nearly 143 million subscribers have ever purchased a Groupon (again, according to the company’s IPO prospectus). What will that conversion ratio look like if deals cease being as attractive to buyers as they are now?

As the company nears its IPO, investor confidence appears to be waning. In a piece in VentureBeat Monday, analyst Rocky Agrawal, who thinks Groupon is bound to fail unless it significantly reinvents itself, painted a bleak picture of who loses if the company goes under. Spoiler alert: it’s not just Groupon’s executive team and investors who would feel the pain.


Customer Retention Over Acquisition


So is Groupon destined for collapse? I’m not ready to say that just yet. Any economic turnaround in the U.S. won’t happen overnight — and could take years — and Groupon has aggressively expanded into international markets over the past year, whose economic climates I can’t and won’t comment on. They’ve also launched some new programs in an attempt to diversify their offerings, such as Groupon Now, which allows businesses to target deals to specific times and sell excess inventory during slow periods (though some reports indicate that Now is not gaining Groupon-like traction), as well as a travel deals service.

However, I do believe that Groupon will be forced to significantly alter its existing business model to survive long-term.

More than decreasing customer acquisition costs, Groupon needs to find new ways to add value for merchants to keep them offering deals. I predict that once the economy rebounds, small businesses will need to risk less to get potential buyers in the door and will be more interested in ways to retain and reward customers. This is something that Groupon only just recently began to address with Groupon Rewards, a clever program that allows merchants to reward customers for repeat business with exclusive deals. Groupon isn’t alone in this space — they’ll face stiff competition from companies like Swipely and Google’s yet-to-launch Punchd, which incentivize full-price purchasing through discount rewards, and Foursquare, which drives repeat foot traffic at a low cost.

This is the future. Customers will always buy deep discount deals, but fewer merchants will need them. What they’ll need are ways to turn existing business into repeat business.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, seewhatmitchsee, and Flickr, diloz.

More About: daily deals, groupon, Opinion, trending

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The Colbert Report Comes to Flipboard

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 11:07 AM PDT


It looks like earlier rumors are true: Flipboard is indeed getting into TV and film — starting with The Colbert Report.

The iPad app, which has long been posited as a social newsreading magazine, welcomed Comedy Central’s Colbert Report Wednesday. Bud Light and Paramount Pictures have both signed on as inaugural advertisers for Flipboard’s new video section.

The show is not coming to the app in full though. Users wll be able to browse clips of recent episodes, as well as tweets from the show and Colbert’s Twitter account, says Erik Flannigan, EVP of digital media at parent company Viacom.

In an interview with Reuters this summer, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue suggested that the company was working to bring video to the app by the end of the year, something investor Ashton Kutcher no doubt has a hand in.

The company is also in the final stages of releasing its iPhone app.

Image courtesy of MikeBrowne via Flickr

More About: Comedy Central, Flipboard


Sociable Labs Strives to Make Ecommerce More Social and Profitable

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 10:42 AM PDT


Sociable Labs, a startup focused on integrating social actions and social sharing into ecommerce websites, emerged from stealth Wednesday with $7 million in funding, as it launched its ROI-Guided Social Design, an ecommerce tool.

The San Francisco-based startup was one of the 22 companies Facebook invested in with the fbFund in 2009. Since then, the company has been heads-down, focusing on finding ways to give online retailers the ability to harness social sharing to generate more revenue.

The company has several products retailers can integrate into their website. Sociable RSVP and Purchase Share, its two leading products, are integrated directly into a retailer’s website, making it possible for customers to share their purchasing via Facebook. The focus is on delivering “hard” ROI to retailers — that is to say more traffic, sales and conversions. The company claims that its technology works “up to 20 times” better than simply adding a “Like” or “Share” button.

"Sociable Labs' technology is driving referral traffic to Active.com that converts at a 300% higher rate than Facebook Fan Page traffic,” Active.com VP of marketing Kristin Carroll says. The company also counts Rue La La, Backcountry, HauteLook and Chegg as customers.

Sociable Labs also announced that it has raised $7 million in Series B financing from Battery Ventures, with Javelin Ventures, KPG Ventures, Quest Venture Partners and Founders Fund also participating. The money will be used to accelerate the company’s growth and add more people to its team of 25 employees.

The social ecommerce space has been gaining traction in recent months. It will face stiff competition from companies like Y Combinator-funded Curebit and SocialFeet as it tries to make bring social to ecommerce.

More About: Battery Ventures, fbfund, Sociable Labs

For more Business coverage:


How Gamification Can Make News Sites More Engaging

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 10:31 AM PDT


Gamification, the use of gameplay mechanics for non-game applications, is transforming online news into an engaging, social and fun activity. It's quickly becoming the next frontier in web and mobile technology.

But what makes gamification successful? Simply put: motivation. By tracking readers’ success, news organizations provide a sense of progress. This, in turn, motivates readers to continue reading, commenting or performing whatever actions on the site that will contribute to their overall progress.

At Mashable, we've incorporated gamification into Mashable Follow, our social layer and content curation tool. Readers sign up for Follow with their Facebook or Twitter login to comment on and share stories, manage their news streams by following the topics they care most about, and connecting with fellow readers by viewing and commenting on their site activity.

Activity is the core of Follow. Readers must be logged in to comment on articles and are encouraged to share to any or all of their social media accounts with a single button.

Rewarding readers for taking these actions was an important component of Follow. We decided to use Badges as the reward systems because they are native to our audience. The Badges are central to Follow's game mechanics. Readers earn badges for everything, from gaining followers to connecting social networking profiles to their account. So far, there are 26 badges that Mashable community members can earn. Most are named after web memes, such as Strutting Leo and Double Rainbow.

Of course Follow badges are just one example of game mechanics on a news site — and here’s why they work.


Fostering Community


As a result of the hunger for badges, readers develop a more personal and valuable community on our site. All badge-worthy actions are tied to Mashable community contributions, such as commenting and inviting friends to use Follow. This inadvertently creates a stronger bond between Follow users and our site, making for a more engaged and committed readerbase.

Andrew David Baron, an avid Follow user, can attest to the badges encouraging Mashable readers to comment more. "[The gamification] lends itself to creating an informed hierarchy of Social followers… not many people are willing to take a risk and put their comment out there first," he said.

Bob Aycock, another frequent Follow user agrees.

"Once Mashable launched Follow it made me start leaving comments and replying to other folks’ comments," he said. "I also read more posts now that Follow has become such a hit (and personal addiction)."


Resonating With Readers


Mashable coverage is driven by web culture. That's why we chose web memes as the main theme for Follow badges. Some of the most popular ones are David After Dentist, the unforgettable YouTube video of a child reacting to dental surgery medication, and Dramatic Chipmunk, yet another notable (albeit short) YouTube video. Keeping the badges consistent with our content area helps give readers a deeper connection to Mashable.

"It really makes people smile to see something funny, referential, nerdy, etc. — things that we can relate to and feel even more at home at Mashable," Baron said. The Sad Keanu badge, inspired by a viral Keanu Reeves photo, is his favorite.


Creating Competition


In real life and on the web, badges are status symbols. Each earned badge shows as an update in the reader's My Activity stream as well as the Friends' Activity stream. Followers can comment on these updates and often do so, sharing congratulations — or jealousy. Knowing what badges friends are earning makes the game more of a friendly competition, which increases readers' motivation to use the service. In addition, each Follow user profile has a Badges tab that shows what badges a reader has earned and which they have yet to unlock. These publicly displayed achievements make keeping up in the badge-earning race essential.


Room For Growth


Just as the next big web meme is always around the corner, so are future Follow badges. We aim to give readers something to continue striving for as a motivation to remain active. Our team is continuously brainstorming badge design and milestone ideas. It seems our readers are too. They recently got involved with the process by entering our Follow Badge Contest, which resulted in our newest badge: The Honey Badger. Involving the community in the gaming dynamics gets readers further excited about and vested in Follow.


Conclusion


Though badges have worked well for Mashable Follow, there are a number of gaming mechanics and strategies. Points, challenges and virtual currency have been successful for some sites as rewards, while behavior and calls-to-action are examples of viable game dynamics. Gamification remains an open book for the news industry. We've only scratched the surface on the potential for community building, revenue and more.

At the heart of gamification is games — and games are intended to be enjoyable. News organizations should explore it and challenge themselves to take a fresh angle on engaging their communities. And, remember, have fun.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, rubenhi


Presenting Sponsor: AT&T


More About: community, content, curation, gamification, journalism, mashable, mashable follow, Media

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10 Free Halloween Ecards [PICS]

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 10:14 AM PDT


1. Punchbowl's Halloween Digital Greeting Cards




We're such fans of Punchbowl's ecards we've included two in this roundup. With the look of traditional cards, but great contemporary designs, they are a seriously classy way to say "Happy Halloween."

Click here to view this gallery.

If you and yours are really keen on Halloween, then sending an ecard to mark the occasion is a great way to kick off your fiendish festivities.

We have found 10 excellent ecards that offer a range of spooky salutations, from video clips to vintage designs.

SEE ALSO: 13 Free Halloween Fonts | 8 Spooky Sets of Social Halloween Icons

Take a look through the image gallery for our selection. Let us know in the comments which ones you’ll be sending this All Hallows Eve.

More About: ecards, features, gallery, Halloween

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The Evolving Role of Social Media in News Organizations [LIVE Q&A]

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 09:51 AM PDT


A few years ago, news organizations were unsure about social. Journalists were apprehensive to create Twitter accounts and media companies questioned whether a branded Facebook fan page was necessary.

Nowadays those uncertainties are irrelevant. Social media has become the driving force of many news organizations’ digital strategies. They don’t just want to have a presence on the social web — they want to make the most of it.

That’s why some newsrooms have hired social media editors and community managers to guide their social media approach. Still, the day-to-day tasks of these employees differs from organization to organization.

Anthony De Rosa of Reuters, Drake Martinet of All Things D, Katie Rogers of The Washington Post and I will attempt to define what a social media editor is and how the role has changed at Mashable‘s Media Summit on Nov. 4.

Today we’re kicking off the conversation with a virtual pre-panel here on Mashable. Join us in the live chat below to ask questions and see our thoughts about the evolving role of social media in newsrooms and how it’s changing our day-to-day work as social strategists.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, rubenhi


Presenting Sponsor: AT&T


More About: community, journalism, News, reporting, Social Media


Klout Tweak May Affect Your Score

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 09:46 AM PDT


Klout has tinkered with its method for determining social media influence and it may affect your score on the platform.

The new scoring model “represents the biggest step forward in accuracy, transparency and our technology in Klout's history,” Ash Rust, director of ranking, announced on Klout’s post Wednesday. CEO Joe Fernandez outlined the thinking behind those changes in a blog post last week.

The upshot, Fernandez wrote, is that “a majority of users will see their scores stay the same or go up but some users will see a drop.” The good news for those in the latter category is that Klout can offer a diagnosis. “We now have the power to share the specific actions that are helping or hurting your score,” Fernandez wrote. “When your Klout Score changes you will be able to match it to a corresponding change in one of these subscores and understand why the change has occurred.”

Three-year-old Klout, which has calculated more than 100 million scores, is constantly updating its formula. The company recently took into account Google+ and WordPress.com activity as well as interactions on Twitter and Facebook.

Did your score go up, down or stay the same? Let us know in the comments.


BONUS: What Klout’s New Topic Pages Look Like


Klout released new feature in September that lets users gain insights on top content influencers as well as users who have received the most +Ks for respective topics.

To populate a user’s Topic Pages (see screenshots below), Klout analyzes the user’s content created across the 12 networks it calculates.


Clickable Topics on Your Dashboard




On your Klout dashboard, you can click on a topic to open its Topic Page.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: klout, trending

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Never Mind Apple: Sincerely Raises $3 Million for Cards Competitor

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 09:34 AM PDT


Sincerely, makers of mobile apps Postagram and PopBooth, will continue its mission to turn digital captures into printed gifts with the addition of $3 million in Series A funding and the pending release of Sincerely Ink, a greeting card application for iPhone, iPad and Android.

The new release and the funding should help the young, 12-person startup better withstand direct competition from Apple. Apple recently entered the mobile greeting card space with the release of Cards.

Sincerely Ink will launch in a few weeks as a separate holiday-themed mobile offering. Application users on iOS and Android will able to select from more than 40 different photo card templates and illustrated designs to create, customize and send holiday postcards for $1.69 a piece.

Sincerely Ink will launch with winter 2011 postcard themes, but will be refreshed with new designs for each holiday thereafter.

The latest addition to Sincerely’s mobile application lineup looks to be even closer in purpose and style to Cards than Postagram or PopBooth, but CEO and cofounder Matt Brezina continues to believe that his startup offers users the best photo-gifting experience on mobile, bar none. Plus, as he points out, Cards isn’t available on iPad or Android.

Sincerely’s investors, a collection of notable firms and Angels, seem especially confident in the promise of the mobile gifting startup — though the Series A round closed in the spring, prior to the release of Apple’s Cards.

Are investors feeling buyer’s remorse? Maybe not. “We’ve had record revenue days since the Cards app launched,” Brezina shares. “And in a head-to-head comparison, the users we’ve talked to prefer Sincerely’s products.”

But it’s a David versus Goliath story with an ending that only you, the mobile greeting card buyer, can write.

So, what’s next for Sincerely? “The same thing we do every night, Pinky,” Brezina says channeling Brain from Pinky and the Brain. “Try and take over the world.”

The Series A round was led by Spark Capital, with participation from First Round Capital, Charles River Ventures, SV Angel, Chamath Palihapitiya, Drew Houston, Paul Buchheit, Adam Smith, Ariel Poler, Shan Sinha and Paul Freedman. Sincerely will use the $3 million in funding to scale its team and user base, Brezina says.

The first 200 people to sign up for Sincerely Ink and use the code “MASHABLE” will get one free holiday card.

More About: greeting cards, Sincerely, Startups

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Oakland Mayor Takes Heat on Facebook After Police Fire Tear Gas at OWS Protesters

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 09:27 AM PDT


As images circulate of police firing tear gas at Occupy Oakland protesters, spectators from around the world have descended upon Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s Facebook page to express their anger.

Hundreds of comments along the lines of “What on Earth were you thinking last night?” “Shame!” and “How can you look at yourself this morning?” have been written on her wall. They are nearly all negative.

The conflict that inspired such spite started Tuesday morning when police dispersed protesters who had been camping near city hall for more than two weeks. Later in the day, protesters convened and marched back to the area, where they were met by police in full riot gear.

The Oakland Police Department said in a statement that it used tear gas in defense after protesters threw objects at officers and, contrary to some reports, did not use rubber bullets or flash-bag grenades.

Even before she ordered police to break up protest camps, Quan was actively disliked by some of her constituents. On Monday, The Oakland Tribune reported that a recall petition was in the works. Leaders of that effort cited the city’s police shortage as their main complaint.

Visitors to her Facebook page have since added many more.

“I was tear gassed twice while simply trying to take pictures of the protest taking place in my neighborhood yesterday,” wrote Joshua Daniels. “As a resident of downtown Oakland I felt much safer with the camp at Ogawa Plaza then with your brutal and reactionary police force tear gassing me and threatening me with arrest for walking around my neighborhood. Recall election!!!”

“Those of us with family who live in Oakland are appalled at your behavior,” wrote Greta Berlin.

Quan, who was elected in November 2010, has not responded to any of the comments on her Facebook page since the evening conflict. On Tuesday at 7:30 a.m., long before the second wave of police enforcement, she did post a statement about why the city had decided to remove protesters from the park.

“Over the last week it was apparent that neither the demonstrators nor the City could maintain safe or sanitary conditions, or control the ongoing vandalism,” she wrote. “I commend Chief Jordan for a generally peaceful resolution to a situation that deteriorated and concerned our community.”

That post now has about 3,500 comments. Among the most recent 500 at the time of this writing, not a single one is positive.

The mayor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Update: Shortly after this article was published, wall posts on Mayor Quan’s Facebook page were disabled.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, blackhour

More About: Facebook, Mayor Jean Quan, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Wall Street


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