Entries tagged with “Social Networking”.

Napster, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

Twitter is receiving almost as much attention as Google receives at industry events. In this interview from SES New York, Jeff Ferguson of Napster talks about TwitterHawk and the marketing power of it.

TwitterHawk is a new tool for Twitter that is still in the developing stages. It is keyword-based and allows users to create a variety of reply phrases to respond to people with. TwitterHawk usage costs 5 cents per tweet (reply) but can be purchased in advance through a variety of packages.

In an effort to build up a client’s Twitter base, Jeff decided to use the tool for a DJ for iGlobal Radio. He used keywords such as Radiohead, alternative music, Indie-Music, etc. When someone tweeted one of those keywords, they were sent an automated response that said something similar to “If you like Radiohead, you’ll love iGlobal Radio…”

As a result, TwitterHawk helped Jeff’s client to receive many more Twitter followers and created more interactivity with his followers. On the negative side, there were a couple of people that accused Jeff’s client of spam. Jeff responded to one user and found that he didn’t like that fact that a robot was responding to him and that it was a paid service.

Jeff countered the argument by explaining that his client wrote his own copy for his responses. Also, his client’s actions were completely human but simply carried out in an automated fashion.

If users only use TwitterHawk and are not personally active on the service, then Jeff says those users could be classified as spammers. His client however, is active on Twitter and used TwitterHawk to better target his market.

What are your thoughts on TwitterHawk? Do you think it is pure marketing or does it cross the line and create a spam issue?

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Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Technology companies will need to lower prices this year to appeal to consumers, says David Silverberg, managing editor of DigitalJournal.com.

There will be lots of discounts as companies struggle to sell products to buyers who are watching their cash in the face of the economic downturn, he told CBC News.

So there will be fewer big video-game titles this year because they are costly to produce, and “a lot more simpler games,” he predicted. Karaoke-type games that can be played with friends, such as Guitar Hero, will continue to be popular, he said.

But even if consumers hold back, there will be new gadgets and applications this year.

Communications-device companies Research in Motion and Nokia will jump on the applications bandwagon, following the path set by Apple Inc.’s iPhone, Silverberg said.

GPS on cellphones “will really be huge,” while organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TVs will come on strong, if the price comes down. At the moment, an 11-inch Sony OLED TV costs $2,500, Silverberg said.

But OLED TVs “trump LCD big time,” because the resolution and colours are much better, and they draw less energy, he said.

Social networking will continue to be popular, and the next step may be corporate use of the sites to connect with customers and link staff, Silverberg predicted. But current users may feel that is an intrusion, he said.

It could be the year of the Blu-ray video format. After it beat out a competing format last year, manufacturers could put more money in to marketing and publicity.

But lowering the cost of the players is key, Silverberg said.

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Image representing Yahoo! as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Yahoo and Intel hope products to be shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January will mark the beginning of their Internet-fueled expansion to the world of TV. Yahoo and Intel built their success upon widespread use of personal computers, but the two companies hope products to be shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January will mark the beginning of their Internet-fueled expansion to the world of TV as well.

The two companies have attracted several significant manufacturing and content allies in the attempt to bring new smarts and interactivity to a part of the electronics world that has remained a more passive part of people’s digital lives.

Intel and Yahoo showed off Net-enabled TV prototypes in August, but the companies’ technology will be presented in more finished form at the electronics show within products by Samsung, Toshiba, and a number of new partners that have signed on since the debut.

What exactly are they trying to achieve? For Yahoo, it’s establishment of the Widget Channel, a software foundation that can house programs for browsing photos, using the Internet’s abundant socially connected services, watching YouTube videos, or digging deeper into TV shows–and through which Yahoo will be able to show advertisements. For Intel, it’s a foothold in an industry whose microprocessors have typically been cheaper, less powerful, and less power-hungry.

Yahoo is confident the products will catch on, in part because it’s set “very low” licensing requirements, said Patrick Barry, vice president of Yahoo’s Connected TV initiative.

“We do not see it as a niche offering in a few high-end models. We see this as moving into the mainstream. In 2009 we’re going to see good penetration into the product lineups of the consumer electronics companies,” Barry said. “Beginning in 2010, I think, you’re going to see Internet-connected consumer electronics devices dominating the lineup.”

But for both companies, TVs are terra incognita. “We emerged from the ocean of the PC,” Barry said.

An anthropologist’s view
Despite years of effort, the idea to put media-centric PCs in the living room hasn’t caught on widely. But Intel, stung by its poorly received Viiv brand, has been taking the challenge seriously.

It even dispatched its top anthropologist–yes, the chipmaker employs anthropologists–to carefully study how people use TVs. In other words, Intel is trying to adapt to reality, not foist its ideas on an unwilling market.

Some people like to watch TV, but anthropologist Genevieve Bell, director of user experience for Intel, likes to watch people watching TV. Specifically, Intel concluded that unlike the PC, TVs are social. People watch it together, and what they watch turns into what they talk about. Another difference from PCs: it must be simple and reliable, she said.

When bringing the Internet to the TV, “You couldn’t just turn it into a PC,” she said.

And it’s pretty obvious why those not in the TV market would be angling for a piece of the action. People in the U.S. spend about 5 times more time watching TV than using a computer, Bell said. Globally, it’s a factor of 25; unusually, the TV and PC time is at parity in Israel, perhaps because of communication habits, she added.

More ads
For decades, people have been accustomed to advertising-supported television. The Widget Channel technology opens up some new horizons for Yahoo, though Barry said the company isn’t going to rush to plaster sponsorships over the new interface.

“We have a lot of support from the advertising community, but we’re focused on the consumer now,” Barry said. “What you’ll see initially is us trying to fall all over ourselves trying to make the consumer happy. The advertisers understand that.” He wouldn’t comment on when advertising will be launched with the technology.

Although Yahoo will eventually show ads, it won’t have a lock on them. Barry said: “We are not going to be locking down anything from a walled garden perspective, including monetization. We get a nice advantage, knowing the ins and outs, but we will not limit the platform to being addressable by us.”

There are many opportunities for ads, including the dock that can be shown across the bottom of the TV screen and in pages that fill the screen.

The Widget Channel technology is based on the Widget Engine software Yahoo got in 2005 with its acquisition of Konfabulator, and it lets programmers write a wide variety of applications. Course corrections
Intel learned from initial testing of the TV technology, Bell said. For one thing, the company found that people didn’t like the Widget Channel controls appearing on the left edge of the screen, one option the companies had demonstrated. Instead, people prefer the bottom, where they’re accustomed to seeing text already.

For another, she said, people expressed a powerful desire for a big button to make the software go away in one fell swoop–no menus or arrow keys or complication–so they could get back to watching TV when they wanted. That big button is also used to activate the Widget Channel.

And nobody wanted yet another remote control.

To help chart its long-term course, Intel gauged consumer sentiment in part by asking what people thought the future of TV would look like. People’s answers generally fit into a few categories:

• Something that would provide relevant information in real time, such as the weather right before heading to a sporting event.

• Something that would connect them to other people they care about, a variation of social networking.

• Something that would let them participate more with what they’re watching, for example by figuring out where a show’s cast members already had acted, or finding, rating, and sorting content.

Few, though, wanted a full-on Web browser, nor a keyboard to clutter up the room.

Yahoo sees the same fallow ground as Intel in the market.

TV innovations that have succeeded focused on screen size, image fidelity, and flat-screen technology, Barry said. “But the consumer electronics industry has not really explored the…connectivity that the Internet provides.”

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New, Improved *Semantic* Web!
Image by dullhunk via Flickr
Social networking — the new ‘killer app’?
By Liam Lahey

Some say social networking came of age in 2008 and as it continues to mature over the course of 2009, it will live up to the hype as the next “killer app”. But beyond social networking, what will Web 2.0 do for businesses in a forthcoming year that is economically unpredictable?

According to Tim O’Reilly (the man who coined the term), “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.”

As stated on Wikipedia, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, described the term Web 2.0 as a piece of jargon. “Nobody really knows what it means,” and “if Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.”

Perhaps we’ll have a stronger definition for Web 2.0 by the time there’s talk of Web 4.0, as hindsight helps things to become vastly clearer.

“My own feeling is that all monikers are jargon,” said Warren Shiau, senior associate, IT research, The Strategic Counsel. “What I perceive is that many people use Web 2.0 to signify people, rather than business entities, controlling the Web. But like Tim Berners-Lee says, Web 2.0 means lots of different things to lots of different people.

“Whatever you define Web 2.0 as I think is, in the end, irrelevant. There’s a cycle to everything: start-ups get started, businesses grow and fail; things everybody says will be huge may end up being huge or turn-out not so huge. Remember how gigantic the ASP market was supposed to get?”

Beyond monikers, social networking has become a viable application with consumers and business users.

“Right now, social networking is valuable, and used, from a marketing and promotion standpoint. It can raise a company’s profile, not to mention a brand or product profile,” commented Michelle Warren, principal analyst, MW Consulting. “I’ve also seen it used for HR purposes — to aid in the recruiting function. It is still largely viewed as being a cost-centre, however, as it is challenging to measure true benefits against it.”

Executives would be well-served to understand its opportunities over the next year, and to see how they can benefit from it, she added.

“[Social networking] continues to ramp as a platform, however under current economic conditions which will restrict traditional and non-traditional forms of funding I expect there will be some market consolidation over the next two years,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst, The Enderle Group. “It isn’t going away though and will continue to evolve into an ever strengthening platform but, I expect, with fewer major vendors in a few months.”

It has also been said Web 2.0 is about hyper-connectivity, about the conversations that are happening on the Web that are shifting power away from companies and to the individual and the online communities to which they belong.

That is true of every wave of technology going back to the Bronze Age; the waves are just coming at an increasing rate.

“This is evolution at Internet speeds and those businesses that can be agile enough to evolve quickly enough will survive, many will actually anticipate these changes and flourish. You could argue that Google and Apple are poster children for this, while those that can’t (Sun comes to mind) will languish and perhaps die,” Enderle remarked. “This rate of change does put significant emphasis on survival of the fittest.”

Warren said that is a definitely liability of Web 2.0 and an opportunity for the resellers.

“Sourcing, finding, and using data is difficult. Also, Web 2.0 expedites communications and therefore, the speed of business,” she said. “Many argue that business is moving ‘fast enough’ these days — Web 2.0 has the potential to speed it up. This has the ability to change the face of business in the next five years.”

Meanwhile, Dan Latendre, CEO of Igloo Software — a corporate social networking solutions provider — said the technology still has a ways to go in terms of being adopted by organizations.

Igloo defines Web 2.0 as a set of new and innovative tools that take us beyond simple browsing, searching and publishing of static Websites.

“Along with this whole Web 2.0 and social networking play is something that’s been forgotten and that’s the software-as-a-service model,” he said. “These are the choices organizations are going to have to make — ‘am I going on-premise or SaaS?’”

To that end, the coming year would be another important step for the corporate social networking adoption, he added.

“I don’t think [social networking] came of age in 2008, I think we’re still in an education phase,” he said. “A lot of CIOs are still trying to figure out how to best implement a corporate social network in their organization.

“I strongly recommend to organizations to do it by business units . . . and not the top down enterprise approach. In the marketplace, you extend corporate social network outside your firewall to deepen those connections with your key partners and suppliers.”

“Web 2.0 will generally allow successful businesses to become better connected with their customers, and it will probably have a great deal to do with who survives and prospers over the next 24 months,” added Enderle. “Customer care and customer satisfaction form the foundation for customer retention and Web 2.0 services go to the core of customer care and customer satisfaction.”

John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, recently said the next Internet experience would be driven by collaboration and Web 2.0 technologies and would be built around video and virtualization as the industry moves to the usage of collaboration tools.

“We believe the network will enable all forms of communication and IT,” he said.

Everything Cisco is doing is building off of its belief that collaboration and Web 2.0 would become a more dominant and important part of business communications and doing business, Chambers added.

With files from Chris Talbot.

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