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January 10 2011

19:18

10 Mobile Trends in 2011: Android Boom, Tablets Multiply

2010 was an important year for mobile, especially in media, where the announcement of the iPad and other tablets, along with new smartphones, made mobile and tablet apps especially intriguing to publishers. This year promises greater growth and new opportunities for content producers. Here are some of the top trends to keep an eye on as 2011 unfolds.

1. Continued Android Adoption

While the iPhone helped create a tipping point for mainstream smartphone adoption, Android activations are up to 300,000 per day, according to Google. Seeing this, some mobile developers, tired of the hassle of Apple's App Store approval process, are focusing their talents on creating apps for Android. If growth continues at this pace, it's possible that devices running Android will eclipse iOS in mobile popularity.

2. Growth of Geo-location

Screen shot 2011-01-07 at 2.28.13 PM.pngServices such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places receive a lot of attention among tech aficionados, but have yet to become mainstream. While many people are now familiar with the concept of a check-in, a study by Forrester Research found that only 4 percent of people in the U.S. have done so, and only 1 percent do so weekly.

Retailers are keen to capitalize on check-ins, offering deals to customers and rewards for loyalty. As more businesses hop on the bandwagon and smartphone apotion continues to grow, the number of people willing to share their location will increase.

3. More Tablets

Apple's iPad popularized the tablet in 2010. It remains the market leader, but competitors such as Motorola and RIM are brewing up their own models, and Samsung's Galaxy is already in the international market.

Motorola's newly announced tablet, the Droid Xoom will run Android's Honeycomb OS and offer connectivity through Verizon. RIM's PlayBook will support Flash and tethering via BlackBerrys with any carrier, two features that iPad critics might appreciate.

4. Increasingly Interactive Touch Screens

On the hardware side, touch screens are getting ready to start touching back. Some Droids and other phones have implemented haptics, or touch feedback, which can respond to a key touch with vibration, for example. Last summer, Apple filed a patent titled "Multi Touch with Multi Haptics" that could make specific parts of the screen provide feedback when touched.

Even more impressive is the TeslaTouch technology being developed by Disney Research. In the near future, the sense of touch will be used to communicate the size of a file being dragged, the texture of a visual graphic, and the moment when an object on the screen snaps neatly onto a grid.

5. Faster Connectivity

Some carriers began deploying 4G networks last year and continue to expand their coverage areas. The speed of 4G will make watching live steaming video on mobile a much more common activity. Video eats up a lot of bandwidth, so expect phone plan pricing structures to continue shifting away from paying for minutes to paying for data usage.

6. More Free WiFi Hotspots

rim-playbook1.jpgThe dream of being able to find free WiFi anywhere is still a ways off, but 2010 marked the first time the U.S. saw more free WiFi hotspots than paid ones. Carriers with heavily burdened cellular networks are diving into WiFi with the hope of easing their mobile data loads. AT&T is expanding its WiFi hotzone program, especially in New York and San Francisco, where its network is under the biggest amount of stress.

7. Serious security threats

Up until now, smartphone users haven't had much to worry about in terms of viruses. Smartphones are mini-computers, however, and malicious hackers are beginning to target them. McAfee put mobile on its forecast as one of this year's top security threats.

Even feature phones could be attacked. Researchers recently demonstrated how a single text message could take down an entire network by utilizing phones' vulnerabilities.

8. Greater Awareness of Privacy Issues

Several popular mobile apps, including Pandora, MySpace and Paper Toss, were caught secretly passing personal information including age, gender and location, to advertisers without users' consent. The Mobile Marketing Association took notice and announced that it will work on a new set of guidelines to protect consumers' privacy. Most people consider their devices to be very personal, and growing awareness of potential privacy breaches could help keep developers and marketers honest. Regulators' efforts in other areas, like the "Do Not Track" database, could be extended to mobile as well.

h2.9. Device-To-Device Communication

Berg Insight calculated that 2 percent of mobile network traffic last year was between machines, including devices like digital picture frames, e-book readers and smart energy meters. Automotive brands including Ford and BMW have launched apps that let you send driving directions to your car from your phone before a trip, and turn your car's radio into a player for your favorite web radio service.

10. M-Commerce Growth

Savvy shoppers are using smartphones to save money. Barcode scanning apps like RedLaser search the web for a product's best price, enabling consumers in a store to buy a product online for less before leaving. At this point most people have yet to make a large purchase via their handset, but as mobile devices become more like -- and are perceived more like -- computers, mobile shopping will be on the rise.

Matylda Czarnecka is a mobile, green tech and tea aficionado in New York City. She is an alumna of NYU's Studio 20 graduate program, which focuses on innovation in digital journalism. She has written about GreenTech for TechCrunch, oversaw mobile and mapping as product manager at the Bakersfield Californian, and helped shape the Durango Herald's online strategy. Matylda is the founder and CEO of "Love Your Layover";http://loveyourlayover.com/, a web- and mobile-based resource for travelers who'd like to escape the airport during lengthy layovers.

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October 25 2010

17:26

“DEAD ON ARRIVAL” TABLETS: TOSHIBA FOLIO 100

Steve Jobs announced the launch of many new “Dead On Arrival” (DOA) Tablets.

So, let’s check the best candidates for this funeral ranking.

First one: Toshiba Folio 100

An Android 16GB tablet to be launched in November (UK) with these Pros & Cons.

PROS:

Bigger touchscreen than the iPad (10.1 inches)

I doesn’t quite have the resolution of the iPad (1024 x 768)

A 1.3 Mp web-cam for video calls.

Displays Flash animations.

Cheaper (329 GBP): 100 GBP less than the iPad.

USB 2.0 port (not in the iPad or Galaxy).

CONS:

Less intuitive operating system (FroYo).

Less sophisticated design.

Plasticky-feeling chassis

Access to less apps, many of them designed for Android iPhones, so not optimised to run on big-screen devices.

Only seven-hour battery (40% less than the iPad)

Only wi-fi version (3G option later).

Heavy: 750g.

IN A FEW WORDS:

Big but not sexy.

More movie-centric than media-centric.

Not an iPad killer.

AND REMEMBER:

“It’s the wine, not the bottle”.

So, hurry up, and register in the INMA/INNOVATION Harvard Tablet Summit.

The deadline is coming.

October 15 2010

15:00

This Week in Review: The iPad’s pay potential, Chile miner over-coverage, and another Murdoch paywall

[Every Friday, Mark Coddington sums up the week's top stories about the future of news and the debates that grew up around them. —Josh]

Advances for paid content on the iPad: We start this week with a whole bunch of data points regarding journalism and mobile devices; I’ll try to tie them together for you the best I can. Conde Nast, one of the world’s largest magazine publishers, has done the most thorough iPad research we’ve seen so far, with more than 100 hours of in-person interviews and in-app surveys with more than 5,000 respondents. Conde Nast released some of its findings this week, which included five pieces of advice for mobile advertisers that were heavy on interactivity and clear navigation. They also discovered some good news for mobile advertisers: The iPad’s early users aren’t simply the typical tech-geek early adopter set, and about four-fifths of them were happy with their experiences with Conde Nast’s apps.

MocoNews had the most detailed look at Conde Nast’s study, arguing that the fact that iPads are shared extensively means they’re not being treated as a mobile device. Users also seemed to spend much more time with the mobile versions of the magazines than the print versions, though that data’s a little cloudy. NPR has also done some research on its users via Twitter and Facebook, and the Lab’s Justin Ellis reported that they’ve found that those listeners are generally younger, hardcore listeners. Together, Facebook and Twitter account for 7 to 8 percent of NPR’s web traffic, though Facebook generates six times as much as Twitter.

There were also a few items on newspapers and the iPad: Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici reported that the New York Post will become the first newspaper without a paid website to start selling an iPad app subscription. The subscription is only sold inside the app, a strategy that The Next Web’s Martin Bryant called a psychological trick that ”makes users feel less like they’re paying for news and more like they’re ‘Just buying another app.’” The British newspaper The Financial Times said its iPad app has made about £1 million in advertising revenue since it was launched in May, but as Poynter’s Damon Kiesow noted, local papers have been slow to jump on the iPad train, with only a dozen of launching apps so far.

Meanwhile, GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram ripped most magazine iPad apps for a lack of interactivity, openness or user control, saying, “the biggest flaw for me is the total lack of acknowledgment that the device this content appears on is part of the Internet, and therefore it is possible to connect the content to other places with more information about a topic.” But some news organizations are already busy preparing for the next big thing: According to The Wall Street Journal, some national news orgs have begun developing content for Samsung’s new tablet, the Galaxy, which is scheduled to be released later this year.

Too much of a good story?: Regardless of where you were this week, the huge story was the rescue of 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped underground for more than two months. The fact that it was such an all-encompassing story is, of course, a media story in itself: TV broadcasters planned wall-to-wall coverage beforehand, and that coverage garnered massive ratings in the U.S. and elsewhere. (We followed on the web, too.) With 2,000 journalists at the site, the event became a global media spectacle the likes of which we haven’t seen in a while.

The coverage had plenty of critics, many of them upset about the excessive amount of resources devoted to a story with little long-term impact by news organizations that are making significant cuts to coverage elsewhere. The point couldn’t have been finer in the case of the BBC, which spent more than £100,000 on its rescue coverage, leading it to slash the budget for upcoming stories like the Cancun climate change meetings and Lisbon NATO summit.

The sharpest barbs belonged to NYU prof Jay Rosen and Lehigh prof Jeremy Littau. “The proportion of response to story impact is perhaps the best illustration of the insanity we seen in media business choices today,” Littau wrote, adding, “I see an industry chasing hits and page views by wasting valuable economic and human capital.” Lost Remote’s Steve Safran pointed out that the degree of coverage had much more to do with the fact that coverage could be planned than with its newsworthiness.

Rupert keeps pushing into paywalls: After his Times and Sunday Times went behind a paywall this summer, Rupert Murdoch added another newspaper to his online paid-content empire this week: The British tabloid News of the World. Access to the paper’s site will cost a pound a day or £1.99 for four weeks, and will include some web exclusives, including a new video section. PaidContent gave the new site itself a good review, saying it’s an improvement over the old one.

The business plan behind the paywall didn’t get such kind reviews. As with The Times’ paywall, News of the World’s content will be hidden from Google and other search engines, and while paidContent reported that its videos had been reposted on YouTube before the site even launched, the paper’s digital editor told Journalism.co.uk that it’s working aggressively to keep its content within the site, including calling in the lawyers if need be. The Press Gazette’s Dominic Ponsford argued that the new site formally marks Murdoch’s retreat from the web: “Without any inbound or outbound links, and invisible to Google and other search engines, the NotW, Times and Sunday Times don’t really have internet sites – but digitally delivered editions.” British journalist Kevin Anderson was a little more charitable, saying the strategy just might be an early step toward a frictionless all-app approach to digital news.

As for Murdoch’s other paywall experiment at The Times, two editors gave a recent talk (reported by Editors Weblog) that juxtaposed two interesting ideas: The editors claimed that a subscription-based website makes them more focused on the user, then touted this as an advantage of the iPad: “People consume how you want them to consume.”

News orgs’ kibosh on political expression: NPR created a bit of buzz this week when it sent a memo to employees explaining that they were not allowed to attend the upcoming rallies by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (unless they were covering the events), as they constitute unethical participation in a political rally. The rule forbidding journalists to participate in political rallies is an old one in newsrooms, and at least eight of the U.S.’ largest news organizations told The Huffington Post their journalists also wouldn’t be attending the rallies outside of work.

NPR senior VP Dana Davis Rehm explained in a post on its site that NPR issued the memo to clear up any confusion about whether the rallies, which are at least partly satirical in nature, were in fact political. NPR’s fresh implementation prompted a new round of criticism of the longstanding rule, especially from those skeptical of efforts at “objective” journalism: The Wrap’s Dylan Stableford called it “insane,” Northeastern j-prof Dan Kennedy said the prohibition keeps journalists from observing and learning, and CUNY j-prof Jeff Jarvis made a similar point, arguing that “NPR is forbidding its employees to be curious.”

A closer look at Denton and Huffington: In the past week, we’ve gotten long profiles of two new media magnates in a New Yorker piece on Gawker chief Nick Denton and a Forbes story on Arianna Huffington and her Huffington Post. (Huffington also gave a good Q&A to Investor’s Business Daily.) Reaction to the Denton articles was pretty subdued, but former Gawker editor Elizabeth Spiers (who wrote the Huffington piece) had some interesting thoughts about how Gawker has become part of the mainstream, though not everyone agrees whether its success is replicable.

Figures in the pieces prompted Reuters’ Felix Salmon and Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici to break down the sites’ valuation. (Salmon only looks at Gawker, though Bercovici compares the two in traffic value and in their owners’ roles.) The two networks have long been rivals, and Denton noted that thanks to a couple of big sports-related scandals, Gawker’s traffic beat the Post’s for the first time ever this week. Also this week, Huffington announced she’d pay $250,000 to send buses to Jon Stewart’s rally later this month, an idea the Wrap said some of her employees weren’t crazy about.

Reading roundup: Busy, busy week this week. We’ll see how much good stuff I can point you toward before your eyes start glazing over.

— A few follow-ups to last week’s discussion of Howard Kurtz’s move from The Washington Post to The Daily Beast: The New York Times’ David Carr wrote a lyrical column comparing writing for print and for the web, PBS MediaShift’s Mark Glaser interviewed Kurtz on Twitter, and former ESPN.com writer Dan Shanoff pointed out that the move from mainstream media to the web began in the sports world.

— An update on the debate over content farms: MediaWeek ran an article explaining why advertisers like them so much; one of those content farms, Demand Media said in an SEC filing that it plans to spend $50 million to $75 million on investments in content next year; and one hyperlocal operation accused of running on a content-farm model, AOL’s Patch, responded to its critics’ allegations.

— Two interesting discussions between The Guardian and Jeff Jarvis: Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger posted some thoughts about his concept of the Fourth Estate — the traditional press, public media, and the web’s public sphere — and Jarvis responded by calling the classification “correct but temporary.” The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade also wrote about his concern for the news/advertising divide as journalists become entrepreneurs, and Jarvis, an entrepreneurial journalism advocate, defended his cause.

— Three other good reads before we’re done:

GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram told newspapers it’s better to join Groupon than to fight it.

Newspaper analyst Alan Mutter laid out French research that illuminates just how far digital natives’ values are from those of the newspaper industry — and what a hurdle those newspapers have in reaching those consumers.

Scott Rosenberg looked at the closed systems encroaching on the web and asked a thought-provoking question: Is the openness that has defined the web destined to be just a parenthesis in a longer history of control? It’s a big question and, as Rosenberg reminds us, a critical one for the future of news.

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