Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “RIM Working on a 10-Inch Version of PlayBook Tablet [RUMOR]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “RIM Working on a 10-Inch Version of PlayBook Tablet [RUMOR]”


RIM Working on a 10-Inch Version of PlayBook Tablet [RUMOR]

Posted: 05 May 2011 05:08 AM PDT


RIM plans to release a 10-inch version of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet at the end of 2011, Boy Genius Report claims quoting multiple anonymous sources.

No further details are known about the upcoming tablet, except for the increased screen size compared to the original PlayBook’s screen, which measures 7 inches.

The first PlayBook was introduced in April, so a December release of another PlayBook sounds more like an attempt to capture a piece of both the 7-inch and the 10-inch tablet market than a standard upgrade cycle.

In any case, a 10-inch version of the PlayBook would be a welcome change; in our review, we’ve found the 7-inch screen size limiting, especially when using the device in portrait mode.

[via BGR]

More About: blackberry, Boy Geniru, playbook, RIM, Tablet

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Apple to Release Mac OS X Lion Through Mac App Store [REPORT]

Posted: 05 May 2011 02:49 AM PDT


Apple plans to release the next major update to its operating system, Mac OS X Lion, through its desktop application store, AppleInsider reports citing people familiar with the matter.

The Mac App Store, launched in January 2011, is Apple’s attempt to apply the app store concept it had popularized through the iOS ecosystem to desktop applications.

If Apple indeed starts offering the Mac OS X Lion through the Mac App store, it’ll make strides in popularizing the store among users. The store holds Apple’s software but also third-party apps, with Apple receiving a 30% cut from each purchase.

Apple will also offer Lion in the traditional form of an optical disc for users with slower internet connection, AppleInsider reports. We’ll probably find more about Apple’s distribution plans for Lion at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which is held June 6 – 10 in San Francisco.

[via AppleInsider]

More About: apple, mac app store, mac os x lion

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Next iPhone Might Have Over-the-Air Updates [REPORT]

Posted: 04 May 2011 10:52 PM PDT


The day where you don’t have to plug your iPhone, iPad or iPod into your computer to update its operating system might be close at hand. There’s a report that iOS 5 will be capable of over-the-air updates.

According to 9to5 Mac‘s multiple sources, Apple has been negotiating with Verizon Wireless to provide the over-the-air updates, but the sources wouldn’t comment on whether the same negotiations were taking place with AT&T.

For iOS updates to be delivered over-the-air, Apple will need to make fundamental changes in the way its updates work. For one thing, Apple will need to stop requiring a download of the entire operating system for a simple update.

My take: Today, I updated my iPhone to iOS 4.3.3 (fixing that location tracking problem that caused such an uproar lately), and as it always does, the phone’s data was backed up onto my laptop, and then the entire iOS 4.3.3 was downloaded, all 662.3 MB of it. That’s not going to be easy to do over the air, especially if you’re using 3G or 4G.

Perhaps Apple will let these updates take place only over Wi-Fi connections, as it does for some large app downloads. Even if that’s the case, just for the sake of efficiency it would be a good idea to send incremental updates, similar to the way Microsoft has been updating its operating systems for years, in small pieces as they become available.

This would be a long-awaited and welcome capability — a feature that’s commonplace in the Android operating system. So how much longer must we wait? Of course, Apple’s not saying, but general consensus is that iOS 5 will launch when the iPhone 5 ships, and now the latest iPhone rumor is that it won’t be happening in June or July, as many had hoped. Another recent report said the next iPhone would be shipping in September.

Are you hoping for over-the-air update capability, and do you think it’s on the way?

More About: iOS 5, ipad, iphone, ipod, over-the-air update, rumor, software, trending, Update

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Startup Makes Facebook Likes Searchable

Posted: 04 May 2011 08:37 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: Likester

Quick Pitch: Likester is a searchable database of what gets Liked on Facebook.

Genius Idea: Showing trends among friends, locations, categories and the world.


Facebook invited the web onto its platform when it launched the Like button a little more than a year ago. The invitation has been largely accepted: As of August, more than 2.5 million websites have installed it.

In all of this Liking, there is buried a mass of data that would be valuable to brands. But it’s still difficult for even one individual to keep track of what is popular among his or her friends, thanks to Facebook’s habit of hiding repeats from newsfeeds.

Likester aims to solve the problem for both individuals and brands. Its consumer-facing website, which launched in late April, shows you what is most popular among your friends and among all Facebook users. You can also search for top-Liked sites in a specific location or for what a specific friend liked and see what Likers of a specific page were also inclined to give a thumbs up.

Facebook search engine Booshaka has long provided searchable "trending topics." Booshaka recently launched a more competitive approach. It assigns points for comments, posts and Likes on a fan page, and shows users where they and their friends stand in the ranking of fans.

Brands can use Booshaka to install a similar leaderboard on their own pages — a feature that is free for now but seems like a promising future revenue stream.

Likester doesn’t have a revenue roadmap yet, but founder Kevin McCarthy says that he’s interested in using the catalog of Likes to help e-commerce sites better understand how to leverage the Like button. For now, he’s established what is possibly the only efficient way to find out what the most-Liked local business in your hometown is.


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.

More About: bizspark, facebook, Likester

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Report: Facebook to Buy Skype? [UPDATED]

Posted: 04 May 2011 07:28 PM PDT


Two reliable sources say Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is talking to Skype about either buying the company or forming a joint venture, according to Reuters.

One of the sources said Facebook is considering a buyout of Skype at a price of between $3 billion and $4 billion. Others pointed out that Skype’s IPO, which has been recently delayed by its new CEO until the second half of 2011, was expected to raise less than that, around $1 billion.

The other source told Reuters the deal won’t be a purchase by Facebook, but a joint venture between Facebook and Skype.

Skype and Facebook are no strangers. Last October, when Skype released its version 5.0 software for Windows, it included a Facebook tab that let users chat or call Facebook friends via Skype, right from the Facebook newsfeed that can be viewed from within the Skype application.

Facebook isn’t the only one chasing Skype. One of the sources talking to Reuters added that Google was also in “early talks” with Skype about a joint venture.

Update: When we contacted Skype tonight, the company responded, “As a practical matter, we avoid commenting on rumor and speculation.”

Let us know in the comments what you think of this deal, and who stands to gain the most.

More About: buyout, facebook, joint venture, Skype, trending, Zuckerberg

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Like Lists? Geek Out With This New App

Posted: 04 May 2011 05:44 PM PDT


Quick, name the top bands of the 80s. Chances are your list will differ greatly from mine. Obviously, I think my list is better than yours and you think your list is better than mine, but there’s something exciting and emotional in the debate between the two.

Now, substitute 80s bands for a subject matter that you’re passionate about and you’ll begin to understand the idea behind Listgeeks, a new social network for people who like to create, share and compare lists of things.

Listgeeks is as simple as it sounds — its sole purpose is to let users make lists. Sure, making lists sounds tedious, and lists are often associated with to-do lists, chore lists, errand lists and grocery lists. When you consider lists as a way to rank your interests, passions and preferences, and as a means to see where your ideas match up against others, then lists can come alive.

Such is the experience that Listgeeks engineers. You can browse lists, people (“geeks” as this social network calls them) or start a new list.

Should you wish to experience the site’s intended purpose, start by browsing the site’s popular lists, where popular means that multiple users are creating the same list. It’s here that you’ll likely find inspiration to start your first list.

“Favorite Authors,” for instance, is a list that 23 site users have repurposed for themselves. Should you select this list, you can tab through the lists of others or view the average results for everyone. In this example, Douglas Adams holds the top spot. You can also drag-and-drop entries from other users or type in your favorites to create your own “Favorite Authors” list and participate in the shared experience with others.

“People are using collaborative list making as a form of blogging,” explains co-founder Derick Rhodes, “So it’s a merging of product/taste-oriented lists with a more emotional, social kind of communication.”

And he’s right. Listgeeks has both a personal ownership quality (this list is of my creation) and a shared aspect (look at how my list compares against yours) to it, and that’s what makes it interesting.

Eventually, Rhodes would like to use Listgeeks lists as a basis for recommendations. “We see Listgeeks becoming more of a recommendation engine as we build the community,” he says. “We want to be able to tell people which restaurant they should visit on their upcoming trip to Seattle based on the books they loved last year.”


More About: listgeeks, Lists, social network, startup

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Bin Laden Speech Gets Obama’s Best TV Ratings of His Presidency

Posted: 04 May 2011 05:07 PM PDT

When President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden, it drew in more viewers than any other speech of his presidency.

The Nielsen ratings were astronomical, with 56.5 million viewers watching the speech live at 11:35 p.m. EDT on nine networks, according to TV Guide.

To give you some context of that number, Obama’s second most-watched speech was his address to Congress in February 2009 (not a State of the Union address), with 52.4 million viewers tuning in.

His first State of the Union address to Congress in 2010 garnered 48 million viewers, and 42.8 million watched his 2011 State of the Union speech on television this January.


While those are some impressive numbers, they’re lower than Obama’s highest-rated speech ever, from Election Night in Grant Park in Chicago, watched by a cool 70 million viewers.

But those numbers are nowhere near the ratings of the most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history, the 2011 Super Bowl where Nielsen says 111 million viewers watched the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sunday night’s broadcast of Obama’s speech was not the only way people got the news of Osama bin Laden’s death. According to exclusive data sent to Mashable by Visible Measures, as of the morning of May 4, more than 90 video clips of Obama’s speech generated more than 8.5 million views and 160,000 comments.

More About: media, obama, osama bin laden, speech, TV Ratings

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HOW TO: Sign Up Users Even Before You Launch Your Startup

Posted: 04 May 2011 03:42 PM PDT

buzz image

Shane Snow is a Mashable contributor and co-founder of Contently.com, an "agile publishing" platform for brands and professional bloggers.

In April, "stealth" social media startup Kohort announced its upcoming launch. Within a few days, the site received thousands of user signups, according to its founder Mark Davis. In the startup world, this itself perhaps isn't uncommon, but what made Kohort's story unique is the fact that those thousands of users had no idea what Kohort was when they signed up. To this day, the purpose of the site is still secret.

It may not matter to you what Kohort is or isn't, nor whether stealth is good or bad. But the fact that it managed to get thousands of people to take blind action (before the site even launched) with so much competition for early adopters is quite powerful.

Kohort is not alone, or even lucky, in its ability to break through the startup-launching, consumer-pitching chaos. There's a science to generating pre-launch buzz and an art to gaining new users. Here are four tricks startups have used to make it happen.


1. Create a Shareable “Launching Soon” Page


launchrock image

In order to collect user information, you need a place for users to sign up. Philadelphia-based startup LaunchRock thinks a company's "coming soon" page should be more than a placeholder; it should be a place for users to sign up and provide a way to share a new startup with friends.

LaunchRock gives startups a turnkey solution for a custom coming soon page that allows users to sign up for updates and share the fact that they did so.


2. Create Viral Content


Infographics startup Visual.ly raked in five-figure daily signups after announcing its upcoming launch, according to the site’s founders. They attracted curiosity and in-bound user potential with an infographic-type video describing the site. It wasn't just a plain (read: boring) video about some company launching. It was a spin on its own market: data visualization. People shared and watched the video more than 50,000 times in a couple of weeks.

Disclosure: The author is an adviser to Visual.ly


3. Make A (Smart) Game Of It


subjot image

Subjot, the brainchild of game developer Chris Carella, turned its coming soon page into a social game using a feature available on LaunchRock. Carella offered users who signed up for his site the opportunity to gain access early if they got friends to sign up. Every friend you talk into joining the site's waiting list (via links Subjot's launch page generates for you) brings you closer to receiving access yourself. Each referral moves you further up in line.

The most remarkable part? Subjot's launch page didn't even say what it was. "It got 10% conversion," Carrella says. "That's amazing considering there's nothing on the page."

It’s a core idea for Jameson Detweiler, co-founder of LaunchRock: “It's all based on the concept of incentivized sharing. After someone signs up for your site, you ask them to share it with their friends through various social media channels and/or email. In exchange for doing so, you reward the user with something if they get enough of their friends to sign up.”


4. Tease Users With Exclusivity Or Mystery


kohort image

TV shows like LOST or The X-Files kept viewers hooked by cultivating an addicting feeling of "WTF is going to happen next?!" In a similar manner, anything that sparks curiosity –- in the right way –- gets under our skin. Kohort said the site was “stealth” to play up the sense of mystery around its brand and to generate interest.

Kohort also used exclusivity and scarcity to drum up user signups. Its launch page tells visitors to "stake your claim" and reserve your username before someone else does. Judging by the chatter on Twitter, many people are reserving usernames because they don't want to risk losing their chosen handle in case this "mysterious" service turns out to be something cool.

“Adoption has far exceeded our expectations," Davis says. "There seems to be a good bit of curiosity about what we’re up to that is driving interest.”


Buzz Is Great, But Substance Matters Most


In the end, if a startup's product sucks, it doesn't matter if it has four users or 4 million when it launches. But if a company has something cool or useful to show the world, an extra thousand users or so to share your message can be pretty nice to have around on launch day.

It’s an even simpler — if not more ambitious — equation for LaunchRock’s Detweiler: “Have an addicting and useful product that brilliantly solves a real problem for a specific market.” Build it, and they will come.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Sweetsofa

More About: business, buzz, kohort, launchrock, MARKETING, social media, startup

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Get a Job in Social Media, Marketing or Design

Posted: 04 May 2011 03:01 PM PDT


If you’re seeking a job in social media, we’d like to help out. For starters, Mashable‘s Job Lists section gathers together all of our resource lists, how-tos and expert guides to help you get hired. In particular, you might want to see our articles on How to Leverage Social Media for Career Success and How to Find a Job on Twitter.

But we’d like to help in a more direct way, too. Mashable‘s job boards are a place for socially savvy companies to find people like you. This week and every week, Mashable features its coveted job board listings for a variety of positions in the web, social media space and beyond. Have a look at what's good and new on our job boards:


Mashable Job Postings


Business Development Coordinator at Mashable in New York, New York.


Executive Assistant at Mashable in New York, New York.


Community Assistant at Mashable in New York, New York.


Community Intern at Mashable in New York, New York.


Ruby on Rails Developer at Mashable in San Francisco, California.


VP Product (NYC or SF) at Mashable in New York, New York.


Editorial Intern at Mashable in New York, New York.


Tech Reporter at Mashable in San Francisco, California.


Regional Sales Director at Mashable in San Francisco, California.


Mashable Job Board Listings


Marketing Manager, Website at Lookout in San Francisco, California.


Social Media/Marketing Specialist at Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, North Carolina.


Program Officer, Entertainment Media Partnerships at The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Menlo Park, California.


SVP/Marketing at Digitas in Chicago, Illinois.


Assistant Account Executive at Gabriel Marketing Group in Ashburn, Virginia.


Mobile and Social Media Producer at A.D.D. Marketing + Advertising in Los Angeles, California.


West Coast Digital Sales Director at American Express Publishing in Los Angeles, California.


Community Support Specialist at Cruise Critic/Independent Traveler in Pennington, New Jersey.


Access Associate, Business Operations and Strategy at Google, Inc. in Mountain View, California.


Email Marketing Coordinator at Warner Music Group in Burbank, California.


Social Media Manager at Independent Content in Secaucus, New Jersey.


Sales Development Manager at Everyday Health, Inc in New York, New York.


Web Developer at Midwest New Media, LLC in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Developer at StudioGood in San Luis Obispo, California.


Loyalty Program and Social Media Manager at Warwick International Hotels in Denver, Colorado.


Account Supervisor, Social Media at Ketchum in Washington, D.C.


Social Media Strategist at VML in New York, New York.


Social Media Coordinator and Web Designer at Encompass Group LLC in Lake Forest, Illinois.


Interactive Graphic Designer at M Thirty Communications Inc in Toronto, Canada.


Social Media Consultant at Meltwater Group in Chicago, Illinois.


Web Designer at American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C.


Director of Online Advertising Sales, Western Region at Synacor in New York, New York.


CTO at muchness in New York, New York.


Intern – Web Developer at ICON Worldwide in Buehler, Switzerland.


Graphic Designer at Top Drawer Soccer in Long Beach, California.


Social Media Marketing and Community Manager at Anonymous Startup in London, United Kingdom.


Interactive Web Designer at Emerging Blue in San Francisco, California.


Director, Social Media Strategy at Aramark in San Francisco, California.


Social Media Program Manager at IMRE, LLC in Sparks Glencoe, Maryland.


Online Communications Associate at Center For American Progress in Washington, D.C.


Web Designer/Developer at Tastitreats Productions Inc. in Covina, California.


Social Media Coordinator at City of Orlando in Orlando, Florida.


Software Engineer at Business Logic Corporation in Chicago, Illinois.


Social Media Strategist at Sparkloft Media in Portland, Oregon.


Social Media Coordinator at Telepictures Productions in New York, New York.


Customer Success Advisor at Higher Logic in Washington, D.C.


Junior Systems Analyst at Higher Logic in Washington, D.C.


Interactive Designer at GAPRC in Stone Mountain, Georgia.


Graphic Designer at Wine’s Up in New York, New York.


Digital Media Producer at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring, Maryland.


Associate Producer at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring, Maryland.


Account Manager at Unruly Media in New York, New York.


Senior Web Developer at Saatchi Online in Los Angeles, California.


Associate Director, Social Media at Razorfish New York in New York, New York.


Director, Social Media at Razorfish New York in New York, New York.


Web Production Artist at Hallelujah Acres in Shelby, North Carolina.


Media Strategist at noise in New York, New York.


Graphic Designer at Likeable Media in New York, New York.


Creative Contributors for Book at BurdaStyle in New York, New York.


Internet Marketing Account Manager at Blue Magnet Interactive in Chicago, Illinois.


Digital Analytics Specialist at Weber Shandwick in Chicago, Illinois.


Account Executive at OC METRO Magazine in Newport Beach, California.


Product Manager, DLP & Search Applciations at Everyday Health in New York, New York.


Interactive Designer at Connections Media in Washington, D.C.


Product Manager at Crowdtap in New York, New York.


Senior Account Executive at THIS IS RED Agency in Pittsburgh, PA.


Front End Developer at THIS IS RED Agency in Pittsburgh, PA.


Manager of Online Marketing at Manhattan GMAT in New York, New York.


Mashable‘s Job Board has a variety of web 2.0, application development, business development and social networking job opportunities available. Check them out here.

Find a Web 2.0 Job with Mashable

Got a job posting to share with our readers? Post a job to Mashable today ($99 for a 30 day listing) and get it highlighted every week on Mashable.com (in addition to exposure all day every day in the Mashable marketplace).

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, YinYang

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6 Mother’s Day Gifts You Can Make [VIDEOS]

Posted: 04 May 2011 02:29 PM PDT


Mother’s Day is all about showing your mom how much you appreciate what she does for you. What better way to display your gratitude than by taking the time to make her something?

Whether you’re looking for simple craft ideas to create with your kids or just something homemade to surprise your mom on Sunday, we’ve got some affordable, easy and definitely “doable” video tutorials to help.

Take a look through the video gallery below to find a quick craft project to suit your needs. Share your own ideas for what to make your mom in the comments below.


1. How to Make a 3D Flower Card


Don't spend money on an expensive store-bought card for your mom. Take the time to make one instead. This video tutorial will help you make a pop-up paper bouquet greeting card from just paper and a few dabs of glue.


2. How to Make an Envelope


Here's a super-quick how-to on making an envelope to match.


3. How to Make Paper Flowers


Created from just tissue paper and pipe cleaners, a bouquet of paper flowers is a colorful and long-lasting alternative to a trip to the florist. This video offers a method that's suitable for little fingers.


4. How to Make Homemade Cupcakes From Scratch


We'd imagine your mom will be delighted with any kind of cake you can rustle up for Mother's Day, but these cupcakes from Laura Vitale are pretty in pink and perfect for a special treat. The beauty of making cupcakes is not just that you can decorate them to make them look scrumptious (and hide flaws in your baking), but with multiple results you can be sure at least one will turn out well enough to actually give to your mother.


5. How to Make A Fruit Bouquet


If you know your mom won't appreciate a sweet treat, then the healthy option is an edible fruit bouquet. This tutorial shows you how to make a fun fruity flower arrangement with a minimum of tools - and cost.


6. How to Make an Origami Gift Box


Finally, if you have bought your mom a gift for Sunday but still want to add a homemade touch, this video tutorial will show you how to create a lovely origami gift box from just eight squares of paper.


Interested in more DIY resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

Image courtesy of Flickr, slumberingheart

More About: crafts, how to, List, Lists, mothering sunday, mothers day, videos

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Glee To Hit Theaters This Summer — In 3D

Posted: 04 May 2011 02:14 PM PDT


Now you can feel like you’re back in high school — like literally in — this summer, as Glee Live! 3D! will be coming to a theater near you.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Glee Live! 3D! — a movie of a concert tour featuring popular Fox show Glee cast members — will hit theaters on August 12.

"We knew that not every fan who wanted to attend a concert would get that opportunity,” show creator Ryan Murphy told EW. “Now, thanks to our friends at Twentieth Century Fox Film, we'll be able to bring the concert experience to movie theaters across the country in full three dimensional glory.”

The film will include "Don't Stop Believin',” so we’re picturing a lot of 3D fist pumps. And tears.

More About: 3D, Film, GLEE, television, video

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AOL Profit Falls 86% as Subscribers Keep Fleeing

Posted: 04 May 2011 01:51 PM PDT


AOL's profits fell 86% from the first quarter of 2010 to now, as its subscriptions and advertising revenue continued to suffer.

In a statement, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong tried to find a positive note. He said the quarterly financial report includes a milestone for one advertising revenue stream: display ads.

Global display ad revenues grew for the first time since 2007. Display ad revenues increased 4% from Q4 2010 to Q4 2011, and domestic display revenues jumped 11%, or 6% excluding recent acquisitions The Huffington Post and TechCrunch.

Advertising revenue overall, though, fell 11% to $313.7 million compared to $354.3 million in the same quarter in 2010. Weak spots included search and contextual ad revenue, which fell 21%, and international display, which plummeted 46%. The rate of AOL’s total ad revenue decline did at least improve from Q4 2010, when advertising revenues slipped 29% from Q4 2009.

Subscriptions are on the decline too. Revenue from them fell 24% to $215.4 million. In all, AOL’s revenue fell 17%.

The company's net income includes $27.8 million in restructuring expenses related to The Huffington Post acquisition. AOL paid $315 million to acquire the company in March.

More About: aol, Huffington Post, media

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Beyonce Surprises Harlem School, Teaches Kids To Dance [YouTube Video of the Day]

Posted: 04 May 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Singer Beyonce recently dropped by PS 161 Pedro Albizu Campos middle school in Harlem, New York, to help teach the dance routine for her song “Move Your Body.”

The song — a remix of “Get Me Bodied” — and accompanying video demonstrating the dance steps are a part of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to end childhood obesity.

If we had gym teachers like Beyonce back in the day, we would have all probably been much more keen to change into sweats and hit the linoleum.

h/t Josh Catone

More About: beyonce, lets-move, michelle obama, move-your-body, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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The Osama Bin Laden Takedown, Tweet By Tweet [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 04 May 2011 01:07 PM PDT


Here’s an interesting infographic showing confirmed facts of the raid that ended the life of Osama bin Laden — along with a play-by-play of tweets from @ReallyVirtual, the IT guy who happened to be a couple of kilometers away from the action as it was happening.

Social media startup Namesake has handily compiled the information, which includes a pre-raid timeline of intelligence gathering and operation planning as well as a post-raid breakdown of announcements and bin Laden’s burial at sea.

For another look at the interaction between the social web and this world news event, check out our roundup of social media reactions to bin Laden’s death.

Click on image to view full-size version.


More Stories About Osama Bin Laden’s Death


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Nintendo Will Slash Wii Price to $150 This Month

Posted: 04 May 2011 12:44 PM PDT


Nintendo will officially drop the price of its Wii game console from $199.99 to $149.99, effective May 15.

Details of the price drop — including the effective date — leaked online last month and retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Toys R Us lowered the price on the console to $169.99 two weeks ago.

Since its debut in 2006, the Wii has sold more than 35 million units in the U.S. alone. Sales began to decline in 2010, however, thanks to stronger competition by the Xbox 360 and its Kinect camera add-on. Meanwhile, the Wii hardware is showing its age — and doesn’t do full HD.

Nintendo confirmed that the Wii successor will launch in 2012. (Mashable has put together a comprehensive guide to the various Wii 2 rumors.)

In addition to lowering the price by $50, Nintendo will also be putting together a new Wii bundle. Available in both black and white, the Wii system will ship with the Mario Kart Wii game, a Wii Wheel accessory, as well as the standard Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk controller. That’s quite a bargain for $149.99.

If you haven’t jumped on the Wii bandwagon, is the new price and bundle enough to make a difference? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Nintendo, nintendo wii, video game consoles, Wii

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Does Twitter Drive TV Viewership? [VIDEO]

Posted: 04 May 2011 12:26 PM PDT

Twitter says it saw its most expansive integration with television to date during the recent Royal Wedding, and it suggests that engagement on Twitter drives TV viewership.

The company featured the above video in a blog post, providing a glimpse at how TV and Twitter have grown closer over the years. Looking at the footage, the rapid growth of the platform’s legitimacy is impressive — especially when late night host David Letterman was making fun of Twitter a year ago.

To be sure, Twitter has increasingly found a place in mainstream TV programming. Social sharing is included in ABC’s Grey's Anatomy Sync for iPad and NBC’s iPad app, as well as most second-screen offerings.

And then there are the tie-ins. MTV gave a big thumbs-up to Twitter with its search for the first-ever TJ, or Twitter Jockey, and The Science Channel introduced Twitter to its programming last year by adding tweets to An Idiot Abroad. Super misanthropic series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia even introduced Twitter into its show with Sunny Tweets, an app that let users interact with each other and featured the program’s actors tweeting during the show.

We’ve been questioning whether Twitter is playing a hand in increased viewership for a while now — the 2010 Grammy Awards saw a 35% increase over the 2009 event, perhaps in part due to social integration. Most recently, the Super Bowl saw massive engagement on Twitter — setting a new record at the time for tweets per second. The Super Bowl also drew the highest ever audience for a U.S. TV show.

It will be interesting to see how viewership and Twitter engagement changes as more folks cut the cord. TV ownership recently dropped for the first time since 1992, and while Nielsen is yet unsure as to whether newer platforms had an effect on said drop (or if it was just the economy), the growing ubiquity of tablets and alternative methods of viewing in coming years is sure to have some impact as the distance decreases between TV and social channels.

More About: ipad, mtv, royal wedding, social media, trending, twitter

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Magic Piano Released for Free on the iPhone [VIDEO]

Posted: 04 May 2011 12:07 PM PDT

Smule, the team behind I Am T-Pain, Glee Karaoke and Magic Fiddle has released an iPhone version of its popular iPad app Magic Piano.

Smule is using the launch of Magic Piano for iPhone [iTunes link] to test a freemium business model. Smule’s other iOS apps range in price from $0.99 to $2.99. Magic Piano for iPhone, however, is free.

The app includes a selection of songs for users to play, and each Wednesday new songs will be added and a new free song will be available. Using a currency called “Smoola,” users can purchase additional songbook tunes from artists like Lady Gaga, Five for Fighting and Jason Mraz.


Smule has flirted with in-app purchasing in the past in apps like I Am T-Pain and the Glee Karaoke apps, but this is a more direct experiment with the freemium model. Rather than buying tracks individually as in-app purchases, users exchange Smoolas for each track or songbook pack. Pricing starts at $1.99 for 160 Smoola and tracks range from 25 to 75 Smoola each.

As with other Smule apps, users can connect with friends and other Smule players around the world and listen to others as they play tracks in the game. In addition to the songbook, Magic Piano includes a solo freestyle mode. This includes various keyboards — just like on the iPad.

As for the app itself, we’re big fans. The app fuses Guitar Hero/Tap Tap Revenge-style prompts with the multi-touch nature of iOS. Smule’s apps stretch across the musical instrument sphere — from the flute to the fiddle — but the touch-centric nature of iOS makes the Magic Piano series work particularly well.

Magic Piano may not have the same novelty on the iPhone as it does on the iPad, but it’s just as much fun to play. And the fact that it’s free makes the musical treat that much sweeter.

More About: iphone apps, magic piano, magic piano iphone, Smule

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How Converse Became the Biggest Little Sneaker Brand on Facebook

Posted: 04 May 2011 11:47 AM PDT


The Social CMO Series is supported by the Discover Digital Group, a unique consultancy that focuses on identifying new e-revenue opportunities for both Fortune 1000 and startup clients alike. Follow DDG on Facebook to get a taste of the insights that are offered.

Converse doesn’t have a huge advertising budget, but, judging by its social media fan base, it doesn’t seem to need one. Converse now has more than 15 million fans on Facebook, which is almost four times the number for its parent company, Nike and about eight times as many as Adidas.

How did Converse do it? Geoff Cottrill, Converse’s chief marketing officer, has said that one day he discovered that Converse had 8 million fans and was asked what the brand should do. “Nothing,” he replied. But, as the interview below reveals, there’s a bit more to it than that. In fact, Cottrill has engineered some clever social media programs for the brand that raise awareness for Converse without compromising its image. For instance, the brand is planning to open a recording studio in Brooklyn for up-and-coming bands this summer. But Converse is careful not to ask the bands plug any of its products. (Converse is also not planning to get into the music publishing business, Cottrill explains.) In the following Q&A, Cottrill discusses how he navigates social media, which is instructive to any marketer contemplating the space.


Q&A With Geoff Cottrill, Chief Marketing Officer, Converse



You’ve said on a few occasions that when you found out Converse had 8 million Facebook fans your reaction was “do nothing.” If that’s the case, what do they need you for?

By doing nothing, I meant doing nothing special. Our philosophy in social media has been to bring our voice to the medium, which includes acting like a good party guest — we bring something to the table, and we listen more than we talk. It also means not bringing campaigns from other channels verbatim to a platform that's about conversation.

We think that the fans of any brand want to know about product and like offers too, but they also want to have an emotional connection -– we're trying to be a good host for that connection. The bottom line is that in social media you have to "let go.” Forget about the old methods of one-way communication. Social media isn't even a two-way conversation –- it’s more complicated than that. We're lucky that we've got a brand that people have used for years to express their own personal style. Our job is to keep focused on making great products our consumers want to wear and to be a participant in the discussions going on in the social media space. By showing respect and trusting your consumers, I believe your brand benefits via strong advocacy –- having millions of advocates can be a powerful thing. You just have to let go and trust your consumers.


Aside from doing nothing, what’s your advice for engaging fans on Facebook

We mix it up with posts about product, posts about content and questions about topics of the day. Last year, for example, we posted a design-your-own shoe contest inspired by the Double Rainbow guy, who was blowing up that week on YouTube. Some of what we do is planned, but a lot of it is spontaneous. You have to be flexible and ready to talk about lots of topics — just like at a dinner party. We're also learning a lot about posting tactics –- time zones, language, regional relevance, etc.

I go back to what I said earlier –- you have to have the courage to let go and not try to control the conversation or broadcast advertising messages every chance you get. Be respectful of the time between purchases of your product by adding value and contributing to the conversation. When it comes time again to purchase, your relationship with them should pay off.


How has Converse’s forays into music publishing helped the brand?

First off, we're not in the music publishing business. Converse makes footwear, apparel and accessories. Our primary focus is and always will be to make great products that people want to wear for lots of different occasions. At some point in history, many within the music and artistic community adopted the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star as their expression of individuality and independence. We're extremely proud of the music initiatives we've done in the past. One of our goals as a brand is to give back and help inspire a new generation of musicians. This summer, we will open Converse Rubber Tracks, a new state-of-the-art recording studio in Brooklyn, New York, where artists can record at no cost. The studio will provide a platform for new musicians to overcome one of the biggest hurdles in their careers — affording studio time. Converse Rubber Tracks is one important way for us to say thank you to the creative and music community, and to provide a place for new artists to have access to resources they may not be able to afford. We're looking at it as an investment in making sure that new voices have the means to be heard. We won't own any of the content — it belongs to the artists who created it.


How do you measure success in social media? By raw numbers? Engagement? What’s the best metric out there?

We've definitely been lucky to grow and connect with a very large audience on Facebook, but aggregating fans feels like it's coming to a close in 2011. The real metrics are the ones about engagement and ultimately, about connecting a conversation or brand affinity to results. I think a lot of brands are trying to figure that out right now — can social play a role in generating sales?


You ran a very clever campaign using Google search with terms like “How do I kiss a girl?” a few years ago. Have you done anything like that since then? If not, why not?

The insight of the program you mentioned, where we analyzed Google Trends to find out the how-to kinds of questions kids were asking, remains true today, except in a different place — Facebook. We continue to engage with kids on the topics they care about. We just finished making a few videos for kids to use to ask out their prom dates, for example. In another two years, we'll engage via that same spirit of helping our kids out, in whatever new place they hang out.


A few sneaker companies have includes USB devices in their shoeboxes with “value add” media. Has Converse tried anything along those lines? What do you think of that?

Converse shoes aren't about added technology or even about us. They're about what our customer does in them. It works for other companies for sure, but that's not our MO.


What is the most overhyped form of social media right now? Why?

Social media itself is a lot of hype, except for the potential for companies to act more like human beings and be forced into thinking about marketing and message control in a different (or now obsolete) way. But social media has the potential to mature into a powerful hybrid of traditional marketing techniques and community engagement, especially if that community becomes your brand advocates. Which is why we focus on a couple of core marketing truths via social –- be relevant, make a connection, be useful, etc.


How does Converse keep a consistent brand image across various forms of social media?

We focus a lot on tone of message, but modify those messages according to platform. For example, on Facebook and YouTube, we might feature video of new bands we caught at a music festival. Simultaneously, we'll run a call-and-response for interview questions with those bands on Twitter. The key is to know yourself as a brand, be confident in your POV and act that way wherever you are.


Series Supported by Discover Digital Group


The Social CMO Series is supported by the Discover Digital Group, a unique consultancy that focuses on identifying new e-revenue opportunities for both Fortune 1000 and startup clients alike. From developing new digital products to generating new audiences and revenue for existing online products, it creates smarter, more effective solutions for your business challenges. Follow DDG on Facebook to get a taste of the insights that are offered.


More Marketing Resources from Mashable:


- Why Cross-Channel Messaging Is Crucial to Reaching New Consumers
- HOW TO: Sync Your Online and Offline Marketing Campaigns
- 3 Facebook Mobile Trends to Watch This Year
- 5 YouTube Marketing Tips for Better Engagement
- 6 Tips for Creating Valuable Branded Content

Image courtesy of Flickr, Kubrak78

More About: business, Converse, digital marketing, facebook, MARKETING, Social CMO Series, social media marketing

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Apple Addresses iPhone Location Tracking Controversy with iOS Update

Posted: 04 May 2011 11:26 AM PDT


Apple has released iOS 4.3.3, which alters how iPhone and 3G iPad devices store and back up a built-in location database cache.

Apple faced criticism last month when two data researchers publicly announced their discovery of a location database cache stored on the iPhone and backed up to Macs and PCs using iTunes. Apple answered the questions and concerns of politicians and consumers last week.

The iOS 4.3.3 update is part of the company’s response. As the release notes point out, this update contains changes to the iOS crowd-sourced location database cache, including:

  • Reducing the size of the cache
  • No longer backing the cache up to iTunes
  • Deleting the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off

Users can download the new release by connecting their devices to iTunes.

More About: apple, iOS, ios 4.3.3, ipad, iphone, location tracking, LocationGate

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Sony Details PlayStation Hack to Congress

Posted: 04 May 2011 11:10 AM PDT


In a response to the U.S. House of Representatives about the recent PlayStation hack, Sony suggests the hacktivist group Anonymous may be behind the breach. The response says that a file named “Anonymous” was planted on PlayStation servers and it reportedly contains the words “We are Legion.”

However, the minds behind Anonymous, a loosely organized collection of hacktivists known for Scientologist-baiting and politically motivated DDoS attacks, said Anonymous had nothing to do with the PSN takedown.

As loosely organized as Anonymous is, however, it’s impossible to say that some part of Anonymous was or was not involved. But for a collective that tends toward pride over its exploits, an explicit denial of involvement is telling.

Another telling factor that points toward gray-hat (rather than fraud-motivated black-hat) hackers is the fact that no credit card fraud has yet been reported in connection with the hack. Sony specifically notes, “As of today, the major credit card companies have not reported any fraudulent transactions that they believe are the direct result of this cyber attack.”

This would suggest that the motivation for the hack was political rather than financial. In other words, Sony may think the attack was the result of its lawsuit against George Hotz, a.k.a. geohot, the hacker who opened the PS3 to homebrew games and PS2 emulation.

Sony says it’s beefing up cybersecurity, including “enhanced levels of data protection and encryption; enhanced ability to detect software intrusions, unauthorized access and unusual activity patterns; additional firewalls; establishment of a new data center in an undisclosed location with increased security; and the naming of a new Chief Information Security Officer.” It will offer free ID theft protection, free downloads, a free 30-day PlayStation Plus membership and more freebies to U.S. account holders.

Sony has posted its full-length response to the relevant House subcommittee on Flickr.

We’ll keep you posted as details about the PSN hack unfold. Hopefully, reliable forensic evidence will make this more than a “Did not!” “Did too!” war of words between Anonymous and Sony.

image based on photo from Flickr user yoyolabellut

More About: anonymous, congress, hack, playstation, sony

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Turn Your iPad Into a Music-Filled Planetarium

Posted: 04 May 2011 10:36 AM PDT


Remember grooving to iTunes Visualizer during your college days? Well, a new music visualization iPad app from Bloom Studio basically blows those old-school spirals and swirls out of the water.

We heralded the coming of Planetary [iTunes link] last month, and now the free app is available for download.

Its progenitor, Bloom Studio, recently closed a seed round of funding led by Betaworks with participation from Ron Conway's SV Angel and individual investors. It plans to create a suite of iOS applications that present social media and streaming data in playful visualizations with personal context. (One of the co-founders is Jesper Andersen, maker of the Forgiveness Engine and Avoidr.)

Planetary is the first of Bloom’s offerings, and focuses on iTunes. When you open the app, you’ll find a homescreen on which you can surf through your music collection. Artists are depicted as stars, albums as planets and moons as tracks. While listening to music, you can explore a beautifully rendered universe of sound.

Ever since the iPad launched, music services and app developers have tried to create a lean-in experience on the device (Pandora was an early example) — the screen size really demands it. Apps like Aweditorium and Vevo have found intriguing ways to make use of the iPad’s screen real estate, and we wager to say that Planetary has as well.

Like Aweditorium, which presents music as playable tiles packed with videos and facts, the app encourages the users to click around and listen. However, Planetary taps into one’s own music collection — Aweditorium is more about indie music discovery — a limitation that actually makes it fun to rediscover music otherwise forgotten.

We’ve heard that Bloom might incorporate streaming services like Spotify and Rdio into future iterations of Planetary, a move that will only service to expand this exploratory, musical universe.

We’ve created a gallery of the app below. Take a look and let us know if you decide to download.


Homescreen




The letters correspond to artist name.


Artists




Tap a letter to bring up artists. I chose "D."


Albums




From "D" artists I chose Destroyer. I have one album, Kaputt.


Tracks




Click on the album to bring up the track listing.


Song




Choose a song. I chose "Chinatown," which began zooming through a universe that I could explore by swiping across the screen.


Navigation




While listening, you can always go back to the homescreen to search for more music.

More About: apple, bloom-studios, ipad, music, planetary

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Facebook Takes 31.2% of the U.S. Ad Display Market [REPORT]

Posted: 04 May 2011 10:16 AM PDT


Facebook now claims nearly a third of all U.S. display advertising impressions with 346.4 billion in the first quarter, more than double what it garnered in the comparable quarter in 2010, according to a new report.

The research, by comScore, estimates that Facebook now has 31.2% of U.S. advertising display impressions, up from 25.9% in the fourth quarter of 2010 and 15.6% in Q1 2010. At the current pace, Facebook will easily surpass 1 trillion impressions for the year.

The total number of U.S. impressions was 1.1 trillion for the first quarter. Facebook's closest competitor is Yahoo's network of sites, which claimed 10.1% of the market. Google, which is still relatively new to the display business, had 2.5%. The chart below shows Facebook’s rise since January 2010.

The latest numbers are proof, if anyone needed it, that Facebook's advertising business is off to a running start in 2011. Facebook's dominance in the market has prompted it to raise its ad unit prices by 40% according to one report while another speculated that the company's IPO could be in the $100 billion range next year. Facebook's business is growing faster than previously thought.

This recent report also notes that AT&T was once again the biggest display advertiser on the web with 19.4 billion impressions or 1.8% of the total market. Number two was Experian with 16.6 billion and 1.1%.

Image courtesy of Flickr, denneyterrio

More About: advertising, att, display advertising, facebook, Google, Yahoo

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How Mountain Climbing in Kenya & Social Media Spark Change [PICS]

Posted: 04 May 2011 09:58 AM PDT


Elia Saikaly and a group of students are climbing Mount Kenya to help build schools and connect students who are continents apart. Saikaly is a Canadian activist and founder of FindingLife, a site that pairs adventure, tech and multimedia to spark change.

Not only does Saikaly climb mountains to make a difference, but he’s built an entire social media suite to connect with students, teachers and supporters. At first glance, the campaign, called the “Garnier FindingLife Expedition to Africa” seems small scale. Saikaly and a team of photographers, teachers, experts and 12 students (some from Canada, some from Kenya) are on a 20-day trip that started April 21. They’ll help build a classroom in Solio, Kenya, pair up with Kenyan students, climb a mountain and travel through the countryside.

To give the campaign broader reach, the trip is broadcast to thousands of people in North America. “I think the big picture here is we’re supporting this community here called Solio,” Saikaly said just after summiting Mount Kenya. “But the big idea is that it’s a whole community of kids supporting kids.”

Thousands of students in Canada are following and supporting the expedition, too, by watching webisodes and live video feeds, interacting with Facebook and Twitter updates, reading blog posts and participating in live Skype video chats to help document the team’s journey. There is also a virtual GPS tracker that maps Saikaly and the team’s path as they work in Africa.

The goal of the trip’s broadcast is to bridge students in the different continents. Canadian teachers can sign up to follow the team and get a glimpse inside the struggles and joys of the impoverished children they’re helping. A massive interactive soccer tournament on April 26 was a central component to the idea of bringing the students together. About 400 students gathered at Louis Riel High School in Ottawa at the same time that Saikaly and the team in Kenya set up their own tournament. The students were able to communicate and watch each other play via large green screens and a streaming Skype video chat. The Kenyan tournament was live streamed for two hours on a mobile hotspot. Saikaly said some of the Kenyan students had never seen a computer before, much less participated in an interactive tournament. “It opened up my eyes,” he said.

This isn’t Saikaly’s first time climbing a huge mountain for a cause either. Last year, he climbed Mount Everest to raise money for children’s issues. This year, Saikaly expanded the mission and partnered with Garnier and Moving Mountains Trust, a charity aimed at sustainable benefits to communities in need. All proceeds from the expedition will go toward Moving Mountains and building classrooms for children in Solio.

Saikaly said he bears much of the responsibility for getting content to kids in Canada: “At the end of the day, I’m still the guy on the MacBook who’s cutting webisodes together on a daily basis.” In fact, after climbing Mount Kenya, Saikaly, along with the University of Ottawa’s Norm O’Reilly and student Scott Gibson ran back down the mountain, cut together footage of the climb, then ran almost 10 miles in the rain to make calls to the press. “Norm was just telling the students that I’m a robot,” joked Saikaly.

By raising money and seeing their fellow classmates abroad, the expedition becomes more real for the students back home, Saikaly said. “It’s bringing schools together and helping put things into practice, like empathy,” he said.


A Solio Landscape




Photos courtesy of FindingLife.


Walking to the Soccer Tournament





Arriving in Solio, Kenya





Saikaly at Work





Preparing Food





Kenya Landscape





Kenyan Students





Kenyan Student Soccer Team





Portrait of Students





The Soccer Tournament





The Team Takes a Bus Ride





A Friendly Race





Playing Soccer





Building a School




More About: africa, kenya, non-profit, social good, social media

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Warner Bros. Bets on Future of Movie Watching With Flixster Buy

Posted: 04 May 2011 09:36 AM PDT


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group announced it has acquired Flixster, the popular movie discovery mobile app. As part of the acquisition, Warner Bros. will also get Rotten Tomatoes, a website devoted to aggregating movie reviews and ratings from across the web.

Flixster acquired Rotten Tomatoes from IGN Entertainment in January 2010 and at the time, we described the partnership as “a match made in movie-lover heaven.”

At first blush, it might appear that Warner Bros. is buying Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes to gain influence in the apps, websites and associated communities. However, in its statement announcing the acquisition, Warner Bros. says that Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes will “remain fully independent.” The Flixster team will continue to work out of San Francisco and Rotten Tomatoes will stay in Los Angeles.

Instead, it looks like the Flixster acquisition is part of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group’s broader digital content strategy. Last month, the company previewed a new app code-named Digital Everywhere that is designed to help consumers get information and make purchases for all movies — not just Warner Bros. titles.

Digital Everywhere is an aggregator of sorts that allows customers to see various purchase and rental options for movies and TV shows. It’s also a portal that offers news, movie trailers and reviews from across the web.

The most exciting part of Digital Everywhere — and perhaps one of the reasons Flixster was acquired — is the plan to allow customers to access their movie and TV libraries from various connected devices, like the iPhone, iPad, Android devices, laptops and set-top boxes. Warner Bros. and other major studios have signed on to use a technology called UltraViolet that will power this cloud-based service.

Perhaps in an effort to avoid the same problems that have plagued the music industry, movie studios have actively looked at ways to bring digital distribution and device-agnostic purchases into the home-video fold.

Even though box office receipts as a whole continue to grow, studios are watching home video revenue sink from the highs of the late ’90s and early ’00s. Studios need to find a way to make digital content as attractive to customers as DVD discs were a decade ago.

To that end, it’s reassuring to see that the biggest studios are at least embracing various digital distribution channels and are willing to work together to make things easier for consumers.

This change in direction isn’t limited to Warner Bros.; other studios are embracing digital channels, too. At CES 2011, I spoke with the North American head of home video at Fox Entertainment and he was absolutely aware of the realities facing his industry. This isn’t like the music industry — when executives were unwilling to face facts and listen to their customers; the studios know they need to deliver a solid solution to customers that will be easier than simply Googling for a torrent or download link.

To that end, being able to integrate existing movie communities like Rotten Tomatoes and Flixster with this next wave of products and distribution channels could be a step in the right direction.

More About: connected devices, flixster, movie studios, Movies, rotten tomatoes, warner bros

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4 Ways Mobile Tech Is Improving Education

Posted: 04 May 2011 09:15 AM PDT


The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit bmw-i.com or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Communication centers, computers, laptops, mobile phones and tablets have all been spoken about at one point or another as technologies with promising applications for education.

But mobile phones stand apart in an important way. In United States high schools, 98% of students have access to some kind of smartphone, according to a report by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow.

The United Nation's International Telecommunication Union estimated that there were 5.3 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide at the end of 2010 — and that a full 90% of the world population now has access to a mobile network. In contrast, only about 2 billion people have Internet access.

Students around the world are increasingly bringing their own mini-computers (or some connected device) to class. Whether this creates a distraction or a boon to learning is debatable, but these four uses of mobile phones in education — and countless others — could one day help prove the latter.


1. Inquiry-Based Learning


Abilene Christian University (ACU) began equipping its students with iPods and iPhones in 2008 (now students can also choose an iPad).

Faculty have used the presence of phones in their classrooms in numerous creative ways. The theater department put on an interactive production of Othello, the student newspaper launched an iPad version and teachers have used phones to facilitate discussions on controversial topics.

The phones have also helped create a teaching style that the faculty refer to as “mobile-enhanced inquiry-based learning” — combining mobile phones and a learning theory that teaches through experimentation and questioning.

"Most students don't really have a foundation that allows them to know what questions to ask,” says Dwayne Harapnuik, director of faculty enrichment at ACU. “[The phones] transfer to a model where students access the information when they need it and then make more meaningful connections based upon what they already know.”

Professors use the phones to deliver information, flashcards, key words and other basic information that students need in order to come to class ready to discuss and experiment. The project recently won a nearly $250,000 grant from Next Generation Learning Challenges to test the method at Del Mar College and California University of Pennsylvania as a way of reducing dropout rates.


2. Flipping the Classroom


Sal Kahn, the founder of video learning website Kahn Academy, speaks about flipping the classroom at TED.

In many ACU classes, one component of mobile implementation is lecture podcasts, which allow students to consume much of the information typically delivered in the classroom on their own time and in their own dorm rooms.

The idea is to free up teachers during class time for interacting with students and working through problems, a concept known as “flipping the classroom.”

It also allows students to pause and repeat information that they find confusing, and they can work at their own pace.

Flipping the classroom is certainly possible without putting a mobile device in the hands of every student, and many universities — including UC Berkeley and MIT — have long made lectures available online, but Harapnuik says that doing so with a mobile component is an advantage.

“Do you ever leave the house without your phone?” he asks. “The beauty of a mobile phone is that it’s always there.”

In studies of the program, students who participated in an ACU class that used the mobile-teaching method performed modestly, but not significantly, better than their peers in a control class. On the other hand, the mobile-using group reported that they had learned more than the control group reported they had learned.


3. Reinventing the Textbook


“Textbooks are always the wrong information, in the wrong order, at the wrong price, at the wrong weight in my backpack,” says Jed Macosko, an associate professor of physics at Wake Forest University.

Macosko is the co-founder of a project that aims to transform the textbook so that it complies with How People Learn (literally, it’s inspired by a book of that title).

The result thus far is BioBook, a device-agnostic, peer-written, node-driven text. In other words, it’s like Wikipedia on steroids.

In his classes, Macosko asks his students to write short one-concept nodes, which they then link with other nodes on the same subject. When a student opens the book, currently hosted on a wiki, he can click around the nodes to learn a subject in whatever order makes sense to him.

“It's important to have the student engaged in connecting facts in a framework in their mind,” Macosko says. “When you learn a fact, you basically hang it on a hook of some pre-existing structure in your brain."

In a pilot project of the book, students preferred the book over their traditional textbooks (no assessments were taken to see if BioBook resulted in deeper understanding). A final version of the book, which will be piloted at four universities starting in September, will include analytics, multimedia, short quizzes and other options for teachers to interact with students.

That version will be device-agnostic.

“If you have this big heavy textbook, you don't take it out of your dorm room very often,” Macosko says. “But you might take your index cards out of your dorm room and use them to study for your next exam … the same kind of portability of the index cards is what mobile will give you.”


4. Teaching Hard-To-Reach Communities


In the report from the United Nation's International Telecommunication Union, mobile penetration rates in developing countries were expected to reach 68% by the end of 2010.

The prevalence of mobile phones has led many education efforts to come to the same conclusion as Michael Trucano, senior ICT and education policy specialist at the World Bank.

“Broadband will come, but it will not come quickly enough. Computers, as we think of them sitting on someone's lap or on a desktop, will come, but not quickly enough. Phones are already there … We think there's a real opportunity there to explore.”

Trucano cautions that there aren’t a lot of mobile education initiatives in developing countries that have reached scale. But there are several promising projects.

In Pakistan, for instance, one group of educators recently began experimenting with sending SMS quizzes to students. After the student answers a question, he receives an automated response, which varies depending on whether the answer was correct.

“For some of these students who have been educated in a system where very large, lecture-based classes are the norm, this may be the first time they have received ‘personalized’ feedback of any sort from their instructors,” Trucano writes in a blog post about the project.

Others — like the text2teach program in the Philippines and the BridgeIT program in Tanzania — use phones to deliver educational video content to classrooms. The Human Development Lab at Carnegie Mellon University runs a program called MILLEE, which has used custom mobile games to teach language in India for the past seven years (the program has also expanded to rural China and sub-Saharan Africa).

“Especially at a time when many countries are considering buying tons and tons of computers to put into their schools — there's nothing wrong with that but the fact that there is a huge installed userbase of people who have increasingly powerful computers — ministries of education should at least consider pocket computers part of their broader decisions about investment.”


Series Supported by BMW i


The Global Innovation Series is supported by BMW i, a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles; it delivers smart mobility services within and beyond the car. Visit bmw-i.com or follow @BMWi on Twitter.

Are you an innovative entrepreneur? Submit your pitch to BMW i Ventures, a mobility and tech venture capital company.

More About: ACU, BioBook, education, Global Innovation Series, Mobile 2.0, Wake Forest University, world bank

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Aviary Aims To Power the Web’s Photo Effects With New API

Posted: 04 May 2011 09:00 AM PDT


Web-based tools creator Aviary is launching an API on Wednesday that allows any website or mobile app to easily tweak or add effects to its photos.

A dating site, for instance, could use the API to autocorrect red eye, lighting and blurriness in profile photos. An ecommerce site could automatically resize and watermark product photos. And a photo-snapping mobile app could add Instagram-like filters without creating its own code. Aviary does the heavy lifting in the background.

In the past, Aviary has created APIs for its suite of web-based media editors and embeddable photo editor. Photo startup Pixable, online store creator Shopify and photo diary Momentile are a few of the companies that use the tools to give their users photo editing options.

The new Effects API, which can run without any user interaction, is somewhat of a new approach for the 4-year-old startup.

“We saw the photo filter space and decided instead of entering it (via a competing app), we should power the space. …We are expanding our offering and moving into the consumer space,” says Alex Taub, Aviary head of business development.

Just as Twilio‘s API powers group messaging apps like GroupMe, Beluga and Fast Society, Aviary aims to lurk behind the websites and apps that use photos — ultimately charging frequent users for its service after the beta period ends.

More About: api, Aviary, Photos

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The Netflix Effect? DVD Sales Fall 20%

Posted: 04 May 2011 08:36 AM PDT


DVD sales fell 20% in the first quarter of 2011, suggesting that video streaming from Netflix and others may be having an impact on the business.

The Digital Entertainment Group, which monitors DVD sales, has a different spin: The organization blames the lack of blockbuster releases and the fact that Easter came later this year than last year — when it fell during the first quarter — for the shortfall.

The DEG also reports that the second quarter is off to a strong start — DVD sales are up 20% in the first few weeks. The lack of blockbuster releases and a later holiday aren’t to blame for the entire shortfall, though. Overall home entertainment sales only fell 10% for the first quarter.

Indeed, the organization notes that other formats are taking a bigger slice of home entertainment revenues. Spending for "electronic sell-through," a.k.a. buying over iTunes or other formats, rose nearly 11% and consumer spending on video-on-demand was up 9%.

The biggest casualty in the slump was brick-and-mortar rentals, which fell 36% for the quarter. Meanwhile, subscriptions — either by streaming or physical rentals — rose 33% and kiosk sales were up about 31%.

The news, which demonstrates the changing media consumption habits of U.S. consumers, comes after The Nielsen Co. on Tuesday released a report showing that TV ownership in the U.S. fell for the first time since 1992.

Image courtesy of Flickr, kalleboo

More About: DVDs, netflix, streaming

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Will Ferrell Reprises Role as George W. Bush For Osama Bin Laden Sketch [VIDEO]

Posted: 04 May 2011 08:16 AM PDT

Following Osama bin Laden’s death, Funny or Die added its own addition to the meme canon with a video parodying former U.S. President George W. Bush’s reaction to the news.

The video stars Will Ferrell (who is also co-founder of Funny or Die), reprising his well-known Saturday Night Live impersonation of President Bush.

What do you think of the goings-on in the video? Accurate? Or not so much?


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More About: funny or die, humor, osama bin laden, pop culture, president-bush, video, will ferrell

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Why Mobile Users Aren’t Checking In [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 04 May 2011 08:01 AM PDT


Those who use social location-based apps such as Foursquare or Facebook Places represent just 17% of the mobile population, according to a study commissioned by digital agency Beyond and exclusively shared with Mashable.

Of those opting out of participating in the checkin craze, or any other social location behavior for that matter, 48% cited privacy concerns as their primary reason for not doing so. And 50% were merely unable to do so because they did not have a smartphone.

The study uncovered some positive findings for the top brand names in social networking (Facebook) and group buying (Groupon). Ninety percent of respondents actively using checkin applications indicated they use Facebook Places; 40% of those who have never checked in would consider sharing their location with Groupon.

More than half of mobile users who do use checkin apps (54%) said they are motivated to share their location when discounts are involved. Just 21%, however, said badges and status rewards motivated them to check in.

As for consumers not using checkin apps, 99% said they do not consider badges or status an incentive for sharing their location.

The message, at least in the digital agency’s not-so-objective opinion, is that brands do have an opportunity to develop geosocial strategies that reach consumers through Facebook and Groupon.

“The results of this study highlights the huge changes that will take place as social location apps move from niche to mass consumer,” says Beyond CEO David Hargreaves. “Brands that can develop ‘Glocal’ social media strategies, tap into the motivations of the mass consumer and leverage the reach of the Facebook and Groupon platforms will be the real leaders in this sector.”

Beyond, in partnership with the Social-Loco conference, surveyed a statically representative panel of 1,003 U.S. consumers during the week of April 18. Respondents were asked 21 questions designed to assess their familiarity with and usage of Facebook Places, Groupon, Living Social, Twitter’s location features, Yelp checkins, Foursquare, Gowalla, Foodspotting, Path, Instagram, Soundtracking and Aroundme.

The consumer pool’s responses were then compared against online buzz of social location-based apps, as measured by a random sample of 383 online conversations. Checkins and non-English updates were excluded from analysis.

Here are a few more stats pulled from the study:

  • Nineteen percent of mass consumers are motivated to check in to learn about the location.
  • Early adopters are more likely to check in at locations that sell food or drinks. The top places are restaurants (53%), coffee shops (40%), hotels (38%) and bars (36%).
  • Mass consumers check in most frequently at the homes of friends and family (35%) and restaurants (33%).

The study’s results are not all that surprising. We’ve known for some time that the percentage of the population willing to embrace checkins is quite small — just 4% according to the Pew Research Center — and that mobile users have a strong predilection for coupons over checkins.

The findings, though potentially accurate measurements, don’t reflect the maturation of the space or the impressive growth of the smaller social location-based startups pushing the envelope.

For more on the study’s finding, check out the infographic below (click to enlarge).

More About: beyond, location-based apps, Mobile 2.0, mobile apps, study

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SoundCloud Labs Showcases Experimental Music Apps

Posted: 04 May 2011 07:43 AM PDT


Audio platform SoundCloud has announced the arrival of SoundCloud Labs, a site — much like Google Labs — where employees of the company can showcase experimental projects built on the platform’s API.

SoundCloud, which launched in 2008, now has more than 4 million registered users, and is quickly becoming ubiquitous in the music tech space. Included in a ton of music-sharing/promotional apps (including Facebook apps like Band Pages and damntheradio, and now Headliner.fm), the service is quickly becoming a go-to source for musicians looking to showcase their jams. (One of my favorite bands, Man Man, premiered its new album via a SoundCloud stream just the other day.)

Now, the site aims to build out even more tools using the SoundCloud API, and users will be afforded the chance to offer feedback to the platform’s developers.

At present, there are four new projects featured at the new Labs site:

  • 1). Social unlock, which is basically akin to “Track for a Tweet.” Users can make a page to promote and stream music, and then gift fans with a download when they share that link on Twitter.
  • 2). Importer, which will let users import tracks from a URL, email or via phone call.
  • 3). Google Apps Gmail Plugin, which will include SoundCloud’s characteristic waveforms in emails, allowing people to play songs within a message.
  • 4). Takes Questions, a service that we covered the other month that’s basically an audio Q&A.

What do you think of the new SoundCloud Labs?

Image courtesy of Flickr, Theoddnote

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