Filed under: COOL SHT, Feature | Tags: 2012, Apple, Austin, Davos, Driskill Hotel, Foursquare, Google, Lady Gaga, Lowline, Naveen Selvadurai, Newspaper, NYC, park, Pinterest, Smartphone, Steve Jobs, SXSW, Twitter, underground, Yelp
THIS WEEK: THE DESCENT OF SXSW
This week, SXSW descends over Austin. If you’re unfamiliar, SXSW is a three-in-one conference encompassing interactive, film, and music. SXSW has launched a few innovative companies in its midst including Foursquare and the now-acquired Gowalla. In my opinion, it’s a nerd fest reunion with some music folks on the back end. Once a year, all of my digital nerd friends from all across the US get together to drink, party and possibly hit a panel or two. This week, I had a conversation with an ad agency executive in NYC about the merits of SXSW.
While this particular person had never attended SXSW, he felt that the information which returned was never of value. The thought was that SXSW was simply a drunken booze fest without value.
I thought about this argument and sat down to read an article in the New Yorker about Davos. Davos, as contrasted to SXSW, rounds up the top world leaders with the hope of igniting inspiration at the highest levels. I’m sure cocktails are shared but I’m guessing no one ends up at the Driskill Hotel at 2 in the morning passed out in a hotel lobby arm chair. That said, my argument in defense of SXSW centered on the simple physical aggregation of start-up folk, programmers, product people and marketing experts alike. Primarily, in the past four years that I have been attending SXSW, this has included an audience under the age of 35. We are young, we are innovators, and yes, we like to drink. Let’s face it, a cocktail or two lowers our fears and in many cases, allows creativity to flow. Steve Jobs referenced LSD as “one of the two or three most important things [he had] done in [his] life” as he considered the experience principally one which opened his eyes to creativity in ways he did not think possible.
Now, I’m not condoning alcoholism or drug use. I’m simply pointing out that discounting SXSW because this particular audience parties or drinks heavily,is simply disregarding it based on unfair terms. It may be Spring Break for digital folks but don’t we all need a vacation from reality every once in a while? If you’ll be at SXSW, I’ll be speaking on a panel entitled, “Are We Killing Social with Social?” Stop by and share some thoughts, cocktail or no cocktail.
In other news, Pinterest is surging while Google + is puttering, Lady Gaga becomes the first person to hit 20MM followers on Twitter, newspaper revenue tanks shocking no one, smartphone owners now outnumber other mobile users in the US, Yelp shares surge on their first day of trading, and co-founder Naveen Selvadurai is leaving Foursquare.
Some more Cool Sh-t:
Filed under: Feature, TECHNOLOGY | Tags: Alexandra Petsavas, Apple, Facebook, iTunes, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Last.fm, Mark Zuckerberg, Micki Krimmel, Myspace, Pandora, Ping, Steve Jobs, Telephone, The Acorn, Twitter
Is Ping the MySpace Music Slayer?
Since Apple’s Wednesday announcement of the social network for music, Ping, the service has been called a MySpace killer. At the core of the Apple fan boy or girl, is an ethos that Apple can and will continuously do it better than the next guy. This ethos has been built on the back of the company’s ability to blow away the smartphone marketplace with one swift punch to the balls called the iPhone. As I sit with my iPhone parked next to me and my MacBook Pro at my fingertips, I certainly classify as an Apple fan girl. In Ping’s case, the assumption that Apple always draws shotgun would be a mistake. In its current configuration, Ping is not and will not be a MySpace killer. Until some major problems are fixed, it will continue to live in the shadow cast by powerhouses like Pandora and MySpace.
If the principle challenge with the MySpace platform is hyper-personalization turning the site into the bedroom of an over-eager teenage girl, the problem with Ping is the insistence on an overly simple user interface. I may not need the many bells and whistles thrown at me on MySpace daily but I do need more features than Ping is offering.
Here are a few reasons why Ping won’t crush my MySpace usage anytime soon:
1) What Do I Care About Most?
Photo Credit: Micki Krimmel
It’s the Music Stupid.
Ping seems to think the answer to this question is the sharing of music. In actuality, I care most about the music itself. I sit writing this while listening to Arcade Fire’s new album on MySpace. Currently, this band doesn’t even exist on Ping. While I sit listening to The Suburbs in full, the band gets a “No Results” on Ping. Yes, yes. I know the service is still too new to accommodate the likes of indie rock but perhaps more should have been done to draw bands into the service before it was launched to the public. Mashable posted an interesting article on the challenges bands face in entering the Ping world vs. the ease at which bands enter their MySpace communities and post at will. The Ping user needs more of their favorite bands and the bands need an easier way to access the new platform.
Above the selection of bands, what I really want on a music page is…in short, music. I want to listen to full-length songs like I can on MySpace music. I can’t even find any music to listen to on Lady GaGa’s Ping page until I click over to the iTunes store. As we all know in the online world, and for those who don’t know, shortening the click-thru stream is necessary for lazy audiences everywhere to engage with your platform. Don’t make it more difficult for me to get to what I really want: the music. And once I’m finally there, I get a 30 second nugget rather than what I really want: the full song. Let’s see a side-by-side Ping to MySpace comparison:
Sir Steve Jobs attracted me to the platform with his promise that 160MM global iTunes users would be there waiting for me. I fire up the upgrade, click on the attractive Ping logo with the chat bubbles and find Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, and Rick Rubin staring back at me. Now, I love the GaGa as much as the next girl, but what about my actual friends? Where are they?
Apple promised a Facebook Connect feature allowing me to easily search for my Facebook friends. Not so much… If you haven’t seen the most recent press, Apple played a bit aggressively with Facebook and was denied access to the API. On Kara Swisher’s blog, All Things D, she spoke to Steve Jobs moments after the Apple announcements and was told by Jobs that Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to.” In essence, when Facebook’s API is called upon with over 100 million requests a day, Facebook requires a monetary agreement to handle the overload on their systems. Apple and Facebook could not come to an agreement on this and hence no Facebook for Ping.
Until this is resolved, I can only find my friends by entering in their email address one by one until I find someone. Suffice to say, this is the real “onerous” process and simply unmanageable by anyone who has a job. Yesterday, my friend from Berlin tracked me down so I officially have one real Ping friend. This is only one hiccup with the service but the most sizeable one. Until this one issue is resolved, Ping will have problems truly being a “social network for music” without connecting its 160MM worldwide users together.
3) What type of Music Defines You?
On the initial fire of the Ping community, you’re asked to pick a collection of music which will be used on your profile to define you to your friends. I don’t take this process lightly at all. Being someone who previously worked in the music industry, I take my collection and particular music taste very seriously. The user has the choice between a manual selection of music or an automatically pre-selected one chosen by an Apple algorithm. Being that this was an Apple interface, my expectation was that Apple would choose my taste better than I could possibly define my own. Yup, not the case.
Instead of looking at my music library, which would be the obvious choice, Ping seems to favor my purchased iTunes items, surfacing selections which may not be something I’d like to define my musical taste by. Selfish selection by Apple really. Imagine you buy Justin Bieber for your 12-year-old niece and all of a sudden it surfaces as your favorite music. Bieber fail. Manual entry is certainly a requirement.
**Please note: This would never happen on this MacBook of course. I wouldn’t allow this sort of download on my machine. Just sayin…
4) Sharing Begins & Ends in iTunes
Hey Apple, just want to let you know about these fantastic social networks known as Facebook and Twitter. You may have heard about them? Only about 500 MM users use the first one. Just thought I’d let you know, as you seem to care not for the likes of those little guys. You may have 160 MM worldwide users but before you get on that soapbox, Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook dominion holds down 500 MM globally. When I go to “like” something in Ping, I share that like with the Ping community alone. There are currently no sharing features with Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and with that list being the three primary social networks, seems Ping is lacking a little in the “social” department. Apple seems to be acting like a possessive boyfriend with this product rather than truly building a social experience for music.
5) News Feed Overload
After seeing a recommendation from Alexandra Petsavas, my favorite music supervisor who brilliantly filled an entire episode of The O.C. with Beck B sides, I decided to download a few tracks from the Canadian band, The Acorn. Now, my entire feed is filled with my love for The Acorn even though I downloaded a few tracks off of one album. I wish there could be more control in terms of what is surfaced and what isn’t. I don’t need every song purchase listed in my feed especially around the holidays when I decide that The Time Life Christmas CD’s are a must-have.
So is Ping the MySpace Killer? If you enjoy sitting in enclosed spaces talking to yourself about your favorite music, then yes, Ping wins.
Alright, I’m off. MySpace just threw me an “Are You Still Listening?” curve ball and I need to change this song.
“We’re sorry, the number you have reached is not in service at this time. Please check the number or try your call again.” Telephone Lady GaGa
Filed under: WIRELESS | Tags: Apple, Handhelds, iPhone, iPod Touch, Macintosh, Smartphone, Steve Jobs, Wall Street
Apple is developing three versions of its new iPhone, but only two will make it to market, according to Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu, who says his industry sources report the company will produce 5 million to 6 million handsets, more than Wall Street had expected. Wu adds that Apple will make a more powerful version with expanded battery life and a beefier processor that can handle more complicated applications. CNNMoney.com/Fortune (4/8) , IntoMobile (4/8)
Filed under: TECHNOLOGY | Tags: Apple, iPhone, Microsoft, Mobile phone, Nokia, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Sony, Steve Jobs
Despite being on a six-month, health-related leave of absence, Apple CEO Steve Jobs remains intensely involved in the company’s strategic decisions, Apple board members told investors Wednesday at their annual meeting. The company also said that Jobs would return to work, as planned, in June. ClipSyndicate/Bloomberg (2/25) , The Wall Street Journal (2/26) , The New York Times (2/25)
Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said Wednesday that the company was “very actively” looking at entering the laptop-computer business, the first time he has officially commented on the phone maker’s long-rumored ambitions. “We don’t have to look even for five years from now to see that what we know as a mobile phone and what we know as a PC are in many ways converging,” Kallasvuo said. Reuters (2/25)
After a year of trying to work out their differences without success, Microsoft has announced that it is suing GPS maker TomTom for patent infringement. The case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and with the International Trade Commission, involves “innovations in car navigation technology and other computing functionality,” according to Microsoft’s Horacio Gutierrez. PC Magazine (2/25) , Computerworld/IDG News Service (2/25)
Celeno Communications, an Israeli company with backing from Cisco, said it was field-testing in-home Wi-Fi networks that can deliver multiple HDTV streams to a home. The system, expected to be ready for market this summer, would allow viewers to stream video from personal computers to TVs and other electronics devices. Telephony Online (2/25)
Panasonic, Philips, Sony and other Blu-ray disc patent holders are developing a streamlined licensing program for Blu-ray disc, CDs and DVDs. The resulting single license is expected to be offered by midyear. CNET (2/25) , TWICE (2/25)
Panasonic has introduced 10 home-cinema systems that give customers the chance to choose from wireless, Blu-ray or regular DVD platforms. The units also have been developed with energy- and space-efficiency in mind: They use about 20% less electricity than the 2008 models and have been built with fewer parts to allow for more compact designs. Pocket-lint.co.uk (2/25)
Filed under: TECHNOLOGY | Tags: Amazon Kindle, Apple, Blu-ray Disc, iPhone, Playstation 3, Sony, Steve Jobs, Television
As Amazon’s Kindle 2 e-book reader starts shipping, bookseller Indigo Books & Music on Thursday will launch Shortcovers, an e-book reading program that works on the iPhone, Blackberry and other devices. The service lets users share comments and Twitter while they read. (Iwantmedia 2/24, http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/02/23/kindle-2-arrives-and-so-do-rivals 2/23)
When Muvico opens a 14-screen movie theater this week in Thousand Oaks, Calif., the real star will be Sony products. The theater will use Sony’s 4K SXRD digital projectors, which will get on-screen billing before the show starts, Sony LCD TV screens at the concession stand and PlayStation 3 consoles in the arcade. The New York Times (2/23)
Apple on Wednesday will convene its first annual shareholders’ meeting since Steve Jobs, the company’s iconic leader, took an extended leave of absence for health reasons. The event will give investors an opportunity to question Apple executives about how the company will transition to a Jobs-less future. Bloomberg (2/23)
While the gap between smartphones and netbooks has converged along certain lines, such as system cost and complexity, other, more wide-ranging differences will keep the segments from competing with each other in the short term, according to this analysis. EE Times (2/23)
Blu-ray discs are moving beyond their “early adopter” status and are becoming a mainstream product for top-quality video. According to a study by Futuresource Consulting, U.S. sales of Blu-ray discs topped out at 24 million last year and will reach more than 80 million in 2009. PC Magazine (2/23)
The makers of the latest flat-panel TVs are rolling out a series of technological advances designed to make their sets more eco-friendly. Companies such as Vizio, Funai, Sharp, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic are developing models that reduce power use in a number of ways, including changes in back-screen lighting and complete system shutdown when the TV is off. The Wall Street Journal (2/24)
Looking to offer a sound experience that will match the visual excellence of its Cinema 21:9 TV, Philips is offering a new home-theater sound system that includes the company’s HD AV receiver and a 7.1 speaker system. The package also includes four floor-standing tallboy speakers, two satellite speakers, a center channel and an active subwoofer. Pocket-lint.co.uk (2/23)