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Thursday, 30 June 2011

HP working on licensing webOS to a number of interested companies

Okay, it is no secret that webOS is not the most popular mobile platform around. However, its low market share might soon be on a rise as Leo Apotheker, HP's CEO, announced that the company is already working on licensing webOS to other players on the smartphone market.

As our loyal readers may point out, the news coincides with the speculations from not long ago that HP could let other manufacturers use its mobile platform in an effort to bring the webOS ecosystem to a higher level. Which smartphone makers are interested in webOS is not exactly clear at this time, but people in the know claim that Samsung is on the list. This comes as a bit of a surprise as the company already has a number of successful Android smartphones in its portfolio while bada OS is surely not leaving the stage anytime soon. Would it make sense if a third platform makes it to Samsung devices?

As HP is still negotiating the licensing details with the undisclosed companies, there is no exact time frame given as to when we might eventually see the first non-HP webOS device hit the market.

source: Bloomberg via GSMArena

Justin Timberlake To Take Ownership Stake in MySpace

Today, we learned MySpace had been sold for $35 million to an advertising network called Specific Media. Now, the company says singer Justin Timberlake will take an ownership stake in MySpace and play a role in its future.
According to MySpace, we should know more about Specific Media’s and Timberlake’s vision for the the company later this summer.

“There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. MySpace has the potential to be that place,” Timberlake said in a statement. “Art is inspired by people and vice versa, so there’s a natural social component to entertainment.”
Timberlake and Specific Media plan on focusing the site on entertainment, aiming to make it the place to go for original shows, videos and music. They also plan on launching “socially-activated advertising campaigns,” according to the statement, which would let users share their favorite ads with friends.
We’ll have more when we hear it.
Closing another chapter on one of the Internet’s most iconic properties, Myspace has been sold to to Specific Media, an advertising network, for $35 million.
Sources close to the situation said the deal is being completed today, although it has not been officially signed. Myspace’s owner, News Corp., will hold on to a very small stake of less than five percent.
[UPDATE: It's official; see the press release and memo to Myspace employees from outgoing CEO Mike Jones below.]



The price is well below the $100 million that News Corp. had been hoping for, and a chasm away from Myspace’s one-time billion valuation.
The deal includes a halving of Myspace’s staff of 400, as well as other cost cuts. It’s likely Jones and other top staff will remain only for an interim period.
News Corp. bought Myspace for $580 million in 2005, and made that back via a lucrative advertising deal with Google when the social networking site was flying high.
But that was another time — the media giant has been trying to sell the site before the end of its fiscal year, which falls on Thursday, in order to get it off the books.
There were several other bidders in the process, including separate efforts by the two co-founders of Myspace, Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson.
More recently, the preferred acquirer was a group that included Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, but it fell apart over a number of issues.
This week, it came down to Specific and also a private equity firm, Golden Gate Capital.
According to a report yesterday in The Wall Street Journal:
Founded in 1999 by Tim Vanderhook and his brothers Chris and Russell, Specific Media helps marketers buy digital ads across the Web, online video, mobile and even the TV. The Irvine, Calif., company got its start brokering ad space for websites and quickly moved into the fast-growing business of collecting and using Web browsing, demographic, geographic and other profile information about consumers to target ads. The company now ranks among the largest online advertising networks in the country, reaching 170.9 million unique U.S. visitors in May, or about 79% of the U.S. Internet users, according to comScore Inc.
A Myspace deal would give the company access to data about Myspace users to be used for ad targeting. It also would transform the firm into a media company with its own ad space to sell instead of simply an online ad technology firm that brokers ad space on behalf of other websites.
Specific Media’s executive team includes knowledge of the inner-workings at Myspace, with two executives who previously worked at Fox Audience Network, News Corp.’s online advertising unit that sold ads for Myspace.
Specific Media has raised more than $110 million in funding, closing a $100 million round of financing from private-equity firm Francisco Partners in 2007. Since then, the company has acquired a couple of digital advertising companies, including online video company Broadband Enterprises and an Amsterdam ad technology company.
Here is the official press release and the memo to Myspace staff from Jones:
From: Mike Jones
Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 11:26 AM
To: Myspace All
Subject: IMPORTANT COMPANY NEWS
Importance: High
Myspacers,
Today, we are announcing that Myspace will be acquired by Specific Media, one of the world’s leading online media and advertising platforms. Over the next few days you will be hearing from the team at Specific, including their CEO, Tim Vanderhook, regarding their exciting plans for Myspace and how it fits in with the overall vision of their company.
In conjunction with the deal, we are conducting a series of restructuring initiatives, including a significant reduction in our workforce. I will assist Specific with the transition over the next two months before departing my role as Myspace CEO.
I wanted to take a minute to thank you all for the incredible experience it has been to lead this company and to work closely with all of you over the past several years. While I regret we won’t be working together at Myspace any longer, I am very proud of the work we have done here and believe we have performed with excellence — even under extremely difficult circumstances.
My time here at Myspace represents the most engaging and challenging time of my professional career. I have found our team to be comprised of the best people I have come across in our industry.
You can read the press release below. Once again, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.
Thanks,
-M
SPECIFIC MEDIA ACQUIRES MYSPACE FROM NEWS CORPORATION
Los Angeles, Calif. — June 29, 2011 — Specific Media, a digital media company, today announced it has acquired Myspace from News Corporation. As part of the agreement, News Corporation will take a minority equity stake in Specific Media. Additional terms of the agreement are confidential and will not be disclosed.
“Myspace is a recognized leader that has pioneered the social media space. The company has transformed the ways in which audiences discover, consume and engage with content online,” said Tim Vanderhook, Specific Media CEO. “There are many synergies between our companies as we are both focused on enhancing digital media experiences by fueling connections with relevance and interest. We look forward to combining our platforms to drive the next generation of digital innovation.”
Specific Media is an innovative global interactive media company that enables advertisers to connect with consumers in meaningful, impactful and relevant ways. Founded in 1999 by brothers Tim, Chris and Russell Vanderhook, Specific Media is currently headquartered in Irvine, CA and operates offices around the world.
(Full disclosure: News Corp. owns Dow Jones, which owns this site.)

Google Blog Introducing the Google+ Project, Real-Life Sharing

Update: For our international readers, this post is also available in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. - Ed.

Among the most basic of human needs is the need to connect with others. With a smile, a laugh, a whisper or a cheer, we connect with others every single day.

Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools.


In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.

We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests. And so begins the Google+ project:





+Circles: share what matters, with the people who matter most
Not all relationships are created equal. So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss. The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in “friend” paper—and sharing really suffers:
  • It’s sloppy. We only want to connect with certain people at certain times, but online we hear from everyone all the time.
  • It’s scary. Every online conversation (with over 100 “friends”) is a public performance, so we often share less because of stage fright.
  • It’s insensitive. We all define “friend” and “family” differently—in our own way, on our own terms—but we lose this nuance online.
In light of these shortcomings we asked ourselves, “What do people actually do?” And we didn’t have to search far for the answer. People in fact share selectively all the time—with their circles.

From close family to foodies, we found that people already use real-life circles to express themselves, and to share with precisely the right folks. So we did the only thing that made sense: we brought Circles to software. Just make a circle, add your people, and share what’s new—just like any other day:




+Sparks: strike up a conversation, about pretty much anything
Healthy obsessions inspire sharing, and we’ve all got one (or two, or three...). Maybe it’s muscle cars, or comic books, or fashion, but the attraction is always the same: it comes up in conversation, we immediately jump in, and we share back and forth with other fans. Often for hours. The trick is getting things started, and getting over that initial hump. Fortunately, the web is the ultimate icebreaker.

The web, of course, is filled with great content—from timely articles to vibrant photos to funny videos. And great content can lead to great conversations. We noticed, however, that it’s still too hard to find and share the things we care about—not without lots of work, and lots of noise. So, we built an online sharing engine called Sparks.

Thanks to Google’s web expertise, Sparks delivers a feed of highly contagious content from across the Internet. On any topic you want, in over 40 languages. Simply add your interests, and you’ll always have something to watch, read and share—with just the right circle of friends:




+Hangouts: stop by and say hello, face-to-face-to-face
Whether it's inside a pub or on a front porch, human beings have always enjoyed hanging out. And why not? It's how we unwind, recharge, and spend unscheduled time with old and new friends alike. Hanging out is deceptively simple though, and the nuance gets lost online.

Just think: when you walk into the pub or step onto your front porch, you're in fact signaling to everyone around, “Hey, I've got some time, so feel free to stop by." Further, it’s this unspoken understanding that puts people at ease, and encourages conversation. But today’s online communication tools (like instant messaging and video-calling) don’t understand this subtlety:
  • They’re annoying, for starters. You can ping everyone that’s “available,” but you’re bound to interrupt someone’s plans.
  • They’re also really awkward. When someone doesn't respond, you don't know if they’re just not there, or just not interested.
With Google+ we wanted to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and serendipitous, so we created Hangouts. By combining the casual meetup with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you're free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face:





+Mobile: share what’s around, right now, without any hassle
These days a phone is the perfect sharing accessory: it's always with you, it's always online, and it's how we stay close with our closest friends. We didn’t want “just” a mobile experience, however, so with Google+ we focused on things (like GPS, cameras, and messaging) to make your pocket computer even more personal.

+Location, location, location
In life, the places we visit shape conversations in lots of meaningful ways. If we call John from the airport, he’ll likely ask about our trip. Or if Jane texts from a nearby restaurant, we might join her for dessert. With Google+ you can add your location to every post. (Or not. It’s always up to you.)

+Instant Upload
Getting photos off your phone is a huge pain, so most of us don't even bother. Of course pictures are meant to be shared, not stranded, so we created Instant Upload to help you never leave a photo behind. While you're snapping pictures, and with your permission, Google+ adds your photos to a private album in the cloud. This way they're always available across your devices—ready to share as you see fit.




+Huddle
Coordinating with friends and family in real-time is really hard in real life. After all, everyone's on different schedules, in different places, and plans can change at any moment. Phone calls and text messages can work in a pinch, but they're not quite right for getting the gang together. So Google+ includes Huddle, a group messaging experience that lets everyone inside the circle know what's going on, right this second.




Starting today Google+ is available on Android Market and the mobile web, and it’s coming soon to the App Store.

Update: For our international readers, this post is also available in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. - Ed.

Among the most basic of human needs is the need to connect with others. With a smile, a laugh, a whisper or a cheer, we connect with others every single day.

Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools.

In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.

We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests. And so begins the Google+ project:





+Circles: share what matters, with the people who matter most
Not all relationships are created equal. So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss. The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in “friend” paper—and sharing really suffers:
  • It’s sloppy. We only want to connect with certain people at certain times, but online we hear from everyone all the time.
  • It’s scary. Every online conversation (with over 100 “friends”) is a public performance, so we often share less because of stage fright.
  • It’s insensitive. We all define “friend” and “family” differently—in our own way, on our own terms—but we lose this nuance online.
In light of these shortcomings we asked ourselves, “What do people actually do?” And we didn’t have to search far for the answer. People in fact share selectively all the time—with their circles.

From close family to foodies, we found that people already use real-life circles to express themselves, and to share with precisely the right folks. So we did the only thing that made sense: we brought Circles to software. Just make a circle, add your people, and share what’s new—just like any other day:




+Sparks: strike up a conversation, about pretty much anything
Healthy obsessions inspire sharing, and we’ve all got one (or two, or three...). Maybe it’s muscle cars, or comic books, or fashion, but the attraction is always the same: it comes up in conversation, we immediately jump in, and we share back and forth with other fans. Often for hours. The trick is getting things started, and getting over that initial hump. Fortunately, the web is the ultimate icebreaker.

The web, of course, is filled with great content—from timely articles to vibrant photos to funny videos. And great content can lead to great conversations. We noticed, however, that it’s still too hard to find and share the things we care about—not without lots of work, and lots of noise. So, we built an online sharing engine called Sparks.

Thanks to Google’s web expertise, Sparks delivers a feed of highly contagious content from across the Internet. On any topic you want, in over 40 languages. Simply add your interests, and you’ll always have something to watch, read and share—with just the right circle of friends:




+Hangouts: stop by and say hello, face-to-face-to-face
Whether it's inside a pub or on a front porch, human beings have always enjoyed hanging out. And why not? It's how we unwind, recharge, and spend unscheduled time with old and new friends alike. Hanging out is deceptively simple though, and the nuance gets lost online.

Just think: when you walk into the pub or step onto your front porch, you're in fact signaling to everyone around, “Hey, I've got some time, so feel free to stop by." Further, it’s this unspoken understanding that puts people at ease, and encourages conversation. But today’s online communication tools (like instant messaging and video-calling) don’t understand this subtlety:
  • They’re annoying, for starters. You can ping everyone that’s “available,” but you’re bound to interrupt someone’s plans.
  • They’re also really awkward. When someone doesn't respond, you don't know if they’re just not there, or just not interested.
With Google+ we wanted to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and serendipitous, so we created Hangouts. By combining the casual meetup with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you're free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face:




+Mobile: share what’s around, right now, without any hassle
These days a phone is the perfect sharing accessory: it's always with you, it's always online, and it's how we stay close with our closest friends. We didn’t want “just” a mobile experience, however, so with Google+ we focused on things (like GPS, cameras, and messaging) to make your pocket computer even more personal.

+Location, location, location
In life, the places we visit shape conversations in lots of meaningful ways. If we call John from the airport, he’ll likely ask about our trip. Or if Jane texts from a nearby restaurant, we might join her for dessert. With Google+ you can add your location to every post. (Or not. It’s always up to you.)

+Instant Upload
Getting photos off your phone is a huge pain, so most of us don't even bother. Of course pictures are meant to be shared, not stranded, so we created Instant Upload to help you never leave a photo behind. While you're snapping pictures, and with your permission, Google+ adds your photos to a private album in the cloud. This way they're always available across your devices—ready to share as you see fit.




+Huddle
Coordinating with friends and family in real-time is really hard in real life. After all, everyone's on different schedules, in different places, and plans can change at any moment. Phone calls and text messages can work in a pinch, but they're not quite right for getting the gang together. So Google+ includes Huddle, a group messaging experience that lets everyone inside the circle know what's going on, right this second.




Starting today Google+ is available on Android Market and the mobile web, and it’s coming soon to the App Store.


Friday, 24 June 2011

Facebook Experiments With Comment Ads

Facebook is experimenting with a new type of ad that invites users to comment on a question posed by an advertiser.
The format, which mirrors a status update on a branded Facebook Page, but doesn’t depend on users signing up, invites a dialogue.

The first advertiser to try the so-called Comment ads, Allstate, used the Mayhem character from its commercials, who asked “What’s the worst thing your kid’s ever done in the car?” Another advertiser, Hallmark, plans to ask, “How do you make summertime a special occasion?”
According to Advertising Age, the ad was the result of an AdExpo Facebook held last year. The Chicago ad agency Leo Burnett came out with the winning idea.
The format is the latest attempt by Facebook to adapt advertising to social media communication. In January, Facebook introduced Sponsored Stories, which show user interaction with brands in the form of checkins and “Likes” in the right-hand ad column. If a user in your network, for instance, visited Starbucks, you might see that activity as an ad if Starbucks paid for the placement.
Facebook’s new ad format comes in the same week that Twitter execs shared plans to include Promoted Tweets in users’ timelines and LinkedIn announced new ad units that included mention of users’ follows and recommendations.

Via: Mashable

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is coming to the UK on August 4

US consumers are getting their fill of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 as we speak, but as we’ve reported earlier in the month, the European launch of the Honeycomb flavored tablet has been pushed back to August due to alleged Android 3.1 issues.

Even though it’s still unclear if Android 3.1 is indeed causing a ruckus with the tablet, it’s now confirmed that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be launching on August 4 in the UK. Seeing that we’re just winding down with June and still have the entire month of July ahead of us, that August 4th release date undoubtedly appears to be lengthy – still,

both the 3G and Wi-Fi models of the tablet will be available then. However, pricing has yet to be revealed, but we’ll surely know more as the time gets closer.

Conversely, if you’re a UK consumer eying the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, it’s still on pace to launch some time later in the year – albeit, no release date is attached to it, but it’s rumored to come in September. With the wait, are you still going to be interested in either tablets after hearing about some other affordable Honeycomb options?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

AT&T sees Q1 2012 approval for T-Mobile acquisition

Because of the size of the deal, AT&T's planned acquisition of T-Mobile for $39 billion must get approval from both the FTC and the Justice Department. Those who oppose or are in favor the deal had until Monday to register their opinion with both agencies. You can be sure that Sprint CEO Dan Hesse had a few choice words to pass along to the government as he has been the most vocal in the industry against the deal.

Now that the deadline to pass along an opinion has passed, AT&T says that it is on target to receive government approval to buy T-Mobile in the first quarter of 2012. AT&T has passed along a second set of data about the deal which was requested by the Justice Department. AT&T General Counsel Wayne Watts told reporters on Tuesday that the governmental agencies have been fair and thorough and that the review has been exactly what the carrier expected. He said, "Here we are the day after those comments are in, and I can tell you I have not been surprised by anything that has happened in that process."AT&T says that it needs to complete the deal to improve service to its customers. The carrier has promised its customers that it will offer next-gen 4G service to 97% of the U.S. population.

For its part, T-Mobile says that it needs to be acquired by a company with deep-pockets like AT&T because its parent company, Deutsche Telekom AG, is unable to keep making the investment necessary to handle T-Mobile customers' never ending increase in data usage. The major complaints against the deal focus on AT&T locking up additional spectrum by buying T-Mobile, and the resultant duopoly with Verizon that could be created when the nation's number one carrier swallows up number four. Sprint, the number three carrier in the U.S., is well behind Verizon in the number of subscribers it serves.

Watts refused to discuss what kind of conditions, if any, that the two agencies might place on AT&T to close the deal. AT&T, he said, is not worried about conditions. He says the company is focusing on getting the deal done.

source: Yahoo

Foursquare hits the 10 million users milestone; releases new version for iOS

Seeing that there are many handset owners out there are embracing location based social networking, it’s not all that surprising to see Foursquare hitting a new milestone recently – in fact, they smashed pass the 10,000,000 users mark.


In celebration, they’re releasing an update for their popular iOS app that brings forth some new features and enhancements to better improve the overall experience. Specifically, you can now expect to find a faster check-in process thanks to its even larger sized “Check In” button. Additionally, there is an improved Explore tab that aids you in finding special deals with certain locations. However, they’re actually retiring their standalone shout button – albeit, it’s still attached when you check-in to a place.
Foursquare hits the 10 million users milestone; releases new  version for iOS


Naturally, iPhone owners will indeed benefit with this new software update, but Foursquare is also planning to roll out some new things with its Android and BlackBerry versions as well sometime down the road.

Via: PhoneArena

Electronic Arts to acquire PopCap Games

PopCap Games, the maker of such popular titles like Plants vs Zombies, Peggle and Bejeweled, is rumored ripe for acquisition by games juggernaut Electronic Arts for a cool one billion dollars.



Electronic Arts has been entering the casual games industry lately, and the acquisition would only solidify that trend. It is mostly known for big budget titles, rather than casual mobile gaming, so there would be good reasoning behind that acquisition, since time-wasting on your mobile is exploding in popularity.

Zynga, which was also rumored to express interest in PopCap Games, might have very well given up the race, considering the hefty price tag mentioned. PopCap makes $100 to $150 million in revenue a year, so the billion seems a little steep, but it's all just speculation for now anyway.

Nokia Windows Phone set for October launch in London

Nokia could reveal its first Windows Phone devices in October. The world's largest phone manufacturer is holding its annual Nokia World conference at the end of October this year, setting the stage for its hotly anticipated -- and desperately needed -- Windows Phone smart phones.
Nokia World takes place on 26 and 27 October right here in Britain, so you better believe the Crave team will be on hand for all the news from Nokia.

A late October launch could put Nokia's Windows Phone devices in shops in time for Christmas. Talkative Nokia boss Stephen Elop has repeatedly promised Windows Phones before the end of the year, and they can't come a moment too soon for the troubled phone-fabricating Finns.
Whenever they come, Nokia promises the UK will be first in line, along with the other big European countries that its heartland. There are also plans for ten new Symbian devices this year, so we'll probably see them at Nokia World too.
Crave toddled along to Nokia World last year, when the atmosphere was buoyant as a dramatically revamped version of Symbian arrived on powerhouse new phones, including the Nokia N8.
But the mood soured faster than the vol-au-vents dished up on the show floor, and the past year has been a series of calamities for the Finnish company: the N8 turned out to be rubbish, Symbian is just clinging to life, MeeGo is dead and doesn't even know it, and thousands of jobs have gone. But this year also saw the news that could turn things round for those crazy Finns: the adoption of Microsoft's Windows Phone software in all its smart phones.
Nokia is still the largest phone manufacturer on the planet, thanks to the sheer number of handsets it shifts, particularly in developing markets. But smart phones are the battleground of the future, and Apple and Android have a hefty head-start.

Via: Crave

Nokia's Stephen Elop demonstrates the first Nokia Windows Phone device

Wow, Nokia has been making quite a lot of headlines lately. Only days after the announcement of the Nokia N9 – a supposedly “market disrupting” device powered by the MeeGo platform, the company has lifted the veil off its very first Windows Phone handset. It was Stephen Elop himself who introduced the smartphone in front of an unsuspecting audience, after which Jukka Kiiskinen, a services sales manager at Nokia, demonstrated Microsoft's mobile platform running on the device.


The smartphone is only known by its Sea Ray codename so far, and if Nokia's plans unfold as expected, it should hit the market by the end of this year. Little details have been mentioned about the device, but what we know is that it will launch running Windows Phone with the Mango update on top, which packs goodies like deeper SkyDrive integration and Internet Explorer 9. What we also have confirmed about the smartphone is that it will boast an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and a Gorilla Glass-protected touchscreen display.

During the presentation, Stephen Elop later added that “other devices completely different from that” were already running so it wouldn't be surprising for Nokia to treat us to another unexpected announcement like today's in the near future. In the meantime, if you are curious to see Nokia's first Windows Phone device in action, feel free to check out the video embedded below where it shows up around the 2-minute mark.


via Gizmodo

Nokia demonstrates its very first Windows Phone device
Nokia demonstrates its very first Windows Phone device
Nokia demonstrates its very first Windows Phone device


If the video is taking longer than usual to start, please, be patient as the server seems to be under heavy load right now.

                            

Best Buy Lunches Cloud Music Service

The cloud music revolution has started and the options just keep growing and growing. First to market was actually Sony with its Qriocity Music Unlimited service, which had a rolling launch from December 2010 to February 2011 in various countries.

But, the first in the news was Amazon with their Cloud Drive and Cloud Player in March, followed soon after by Google Music in May. All of these services allowed users to store their personal music collection on cloud servers and stream that music to a variety of devices (the lack of this latter feature is why Apple's iCloud will not be mentioned in this article.) Now, Best Buy wants to get into the game as well, and has done a soft-launch of their competing Cloud Music service.

The Best Buy Music Cloud is just a soft-launch, so it is still buggy, and has limited features. The service most closely resembles Google Music in that it offers online storage for your local music collection and streaming of that music, but does not connect to a music store in any way. This means you will have to upload your collection, which could take a long time depending on how much music you have. It also allows for syncing, so you can listen to certain music even if you don't have an Internet connection. 

Best Buy is offering a free version which allows use of the Web player, but not mobile streaming. The free version also apparently only lets users listen to 30-second clips of their own music. In order to hear your full songs and use the mobile apps, it will cost $3.99/month for the premium package. No word yet on any storage limits for either the free or premium packages.

The service is available on Mac, PC, iOS, BlackBerry, and Android. Unfortunately, the iOS version doesn't support premium features as yet. As stated above, this is just a soft-launch so expect Best Buy to add features and clean up the problems as we go along.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Nokia officially introduces the MeeGo powered Nokia N9, the first pure touchscreen phone

Nokia officially introduces the MeeGo powered Nokia N9, the first  pure touchscreen phoneFacing a desperate situation, Nokia might have pulled a miracle out of its hat with the introduction of the Nokia N9. On Monday,
The first thing to understand about this phone is that there are no front buttons. The Nokia N9 is so intuitive that a swipe or gesture on the curved  3.9 inch AMOLED display is all you need to navigate through the MeeGo OS. To leave an app and go back to the home screen, the user swipes from the edge of the screen. The phone itself is constructed in a one-piece unibody design with the body made from polycarbonate material to improve antenna reception. Under the hood is a TI OMAP3630 1GHz CPU matched as usual with the PowerVRSGX530 GPU, Nokia's first.


Nokia officially introduces the MeeGo powered Nokia N9, the first  pure touchscreen phone
The web browser on the handset is powered by WebKit 2 which means you can access a site even while it is still loading. Switching between open windows on the browser is quick and easy and support for HTML5 allows you to see rich web applications and offers fast video playback, but there is no desktop Adobe Flash support for now from what we are seeing.

On the back of the phone is an 8MP camera featuring Carl Zeiss optics with a  super wide 28mm wide lens. The camera on the model is faster than the shooter on any other smartphone says Nokia, and captures video at 720p at 30 fps. Touch-to-focus and continuous aurofocus come standard, too. 

Nokia officially introduces the MeeGo powered Nokia N9, the first  pure touchscreen phone
Nokia N9 complete spec sheet
The newest Nokia Maps edition is on board to give you free turn by turn directions for walking and driving, without the need to be connected ot the Internet. Also, in 85 major cities, the Nokia N9 will tell you the fastest way to arrive at a location using public transportation. Along the route, there are markings for cafes, hotels, shops and more.

The Nokia N9 is NFC enabled and offers Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital Plus which makes it the first mobile phone to offer personal surroundsound through headphones. The UI arranges three home views in a carousel. One is an app to launch and organize your apps. The second shows your social feeds and notifications for calls, texts and calendar events. The third view shows all off your live apps and apps that you have recently used. Pinch and zoom to show either 4 or 9 live apps at a time.

The Nokia N9 will be available in three colors, black, cyan and magenta. 16GB and 64GB models will be available. Pricing, carrier availability and a launch date have not been announced, but rumors are that it will be available in about a month from now. Has Nokia completed a long Hail Mary pass? Certainly the no button look has a definite sexiness to it. What do you think? Is this a phone that you would consider buying? Let us know your thoughts by writing in the comment box below.

via Nokia

iPhone 4 Is Now The Most Popular Camera On Flickr

More people now shoot pictures with an iPhone 4 than the top DSLR’s from Canon or Nikon.
The new list of top cameras on Flickr is as follows:

  1. iPhone 4
  2. Nikon D90
  3. Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  4. Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi
  5. Canon EOS REBEL T1i
As a pro photographer I actually own several of the cameras on the top 10 list and I love them as incredible photography-enabling tools. But the fact of the matter is that most people are creatures of opportunity. When you’re in the moment and you want to take a picture, you’re going to grab whatever camera you have handy.
But I think that the popularity of the iPhone 4 when it comes to Flickr has a lot to do with the fact that just taking pictures isn’t enough for people any more. Most people want to share any photos they shoot immediately with friends, family or the public.

Via: TheNextWeb

WordPress Plugins From A to Z

WordPress is just a regular old CMS/blogging platform without plugins - feature-based add-ons for extending functionality. Plugins are undoubtedly the only way to really customize the experience for users and improve the visibility of a blog's Web presence. Today let's look at some of the best plugins - from A to Z.
While we could not manage to find too many plugins for X, Y, Z (and a few other letters), we hope you get the general idea. If you have your creativity cap on and can think of some categories for the letters we missed, or if we happened to miss one of your favorite WP plugins, just comment below and we'll update this post (and reference you and your site with a link).



Best Wordpress Plugins for Audio
Podcasting and the use of audio may not have the draw that it once did but it remains prevalent and is in fact used heavily in certain industries. Providing the best quality audio is only half the battle; you will also need a seamless, pleasing way to present it to users. Let these plugins support that objective.
Recommended Plugins: Audio Player, MediaElement.js - HTML5 Video & Audio Player, Audio Player Widget, Audio Link Player

Best Wordpress Plugins for Backups
When it comes to backups, it's always better to be safe than sorry. The sad truth is that the vast majority of bloggers simply don't back up, which as they quickly learn, can cause more headaches than necessary. Take a few minutes each week to backup your WordPress site or use one of these plugins to automate the task.
Recommended Plugins: EZPZ One Click Backup, WordPress EZ Backup, XCloner - Backup and Restore

Best Wordpress Plugins for Comments
One of the clearest signs of a successful blog is the number and veracity of comments from visitors. It's not easy to elicit comments but they do provide other users a sense of the value in the community. If you are considering ramping up your comment acquisition efforts, consider these WP plugins for comments.
Recommended Plugins: IntenseDebate Comments, Disqus Comment System, Facebook Comments for WordPress, Comment Rating

Best WordPress Plugins for Donations
WP is used in nearly every industry. Thanks to it's open nature, it is even quite common in the non-profit realm. Since these entities exist primarily on donations, if you are interested in requesting and processing funds from visitors, let these plugins support that objective.
Recommended Plugins: PayPal Donations, Donation Can, Donate Plus, Mingle Donations Button

Best WordPress Plugins for Email Subscriptions
Blogs and email go together like peas and carrots. Since it is unreasonable to expect that every one of your visitors will subscribe to an RSS feed or even visit your site everyday, there is no greater compliment to a weblog that a well devised email marketing strategy. Let these plugins help get you started.
Recommended Plugins: MailChimp List Subscribe Form, Constant Contact for WordPress, AWeber Web Form Plugin, WP Email Capture, Subscribe2

Best Wordpress Plugins for Forms
Every website needs a contact form and blogs are no different. Having forms for general and specific requests that can be quickly and easily created are the sign of a well-developed website. If you don't have a contact form (or two or three), stop what you're doing and get started with these WP plugins.
Recommended Plugins: Contact Form 7, Fast Secure Contact Form, Custom Contact Forms, Formiddable Forms

Best Wordpress Plugins for Images/Galleries
Photo galleries are excellent ways to increase time on site and build loyalty. When blog owners use images as assets (and more broadly, galleries as showcases of these image assets) it's easier to increase exposure for brands and increase brand interaction. Let the following plugins support that mission.
Recommended Plugins: NextGen Gallery, Page Flip Image Gallery, WP Photo Album Plus, Flickr Photo Album, SEO Friendly Images

Best Wordpress Plugins for Links
The Web is not a "web" at all without links. Maintaining the many links that bloggers create on a daily, weekly or monthly basis however can become cumbersome - even for the most organized.  Automating the maintenance proves useful in relation to customer experience and overall SEO efforts.
Recommended Plugins: SEO Smart Link, Broken Link Checker, WP Render Blogroll Links

Best WordPress Plugins for Managing Ads
Bloggers can't make money without selling something - and that includes advertising space. Managing advertising creative and placements is often best left to technology. Let the following plugins support your quest to towards blog profit with these WP plugins for managing ads.
Recommended Plugins: Simple Ads Manager, WP125, AdRotate, Ozh’ Who Sees Ads

Best Wordpress Plugins for Optimization
Everybody wants a well-optimized Web property and why not - the benefit of natural traffic is well documented.
Recommended Plugins: Platinum SEO Pack, Greg’s High Performance SEO, WordPress SEO by Yoast, SEO Ultimate

Best WordPress Plugins for Polls
If there's one tactic that works to get peoples attention and drive traffic to a Web property/weblog, it is the use of polls/surveys. While best suited to those with a large, active community, when well promoted polls and surveys are an interactive way to get site visitors involved.
Recommended Plugins: SodaHead Polls, PollDaddy Polls and Ratings, WP Polls

Best WordPress Plugins for Ratings
Search engines are placing greater focus on the presence and quality of ratings and reviews. While the introduction of schema.org and the increased demand for structured data present blog operators with a measurable opportunity, you still need comments, ratings and reviews to work with. Let these WP plugins help you begin the process.  
Recommended Plugins: Comment Rating, GD Star Rating, Star Rating for Reviews

Best WordPress Plugins for Social Media
Social media is here to stay (what form it will take in the future is another matter). Whether Facebook, Twitter, or one of the myriad smaller niche social media destinations, offering users the ability to help you spread/distribute message is standard. Not doing anything in the social realm puts you in the minority so use the plugins to help users start socializing.
Recommended Plugins: Sexy Bookmarks, Simple Facebook Connect, WP Tweet Button

Best Wordpress Plugins for Translation
The opportunities to gain new customers (and increase sales) is only possible through internationalization. While few sites delve deeper into translation than through automated means, something is better than nothing (despite those that 
Recommended Plugins:
Global Translator, Google Ajax Translation, Transposh, qTranslate

Best Wordpress Plugins for Users (Membership Community)
Successful Web enterprises have one thing in common - loyal, active communities. Start a blog with membership/community features available in the first iteration and you will be positioned well to keep growing your site, and brand. Consider the following WP plugins for your own membership-based Web property.
Recommended Plugins: s2Member, Mingle, WP-Members

Best Wordpress Plugins for Video
Video is not the next big thing - it is the channel that marketers and consumers are most excited about right now. Video can be challenging to implement and even more cumbersome to manage so use the following plugins to get started the right way.
Recommended Plugins: VideoPress, All-in-One Video Pack, WordPress Video Plugin, Stream Video Player, MediaElement.js, Embedded Video

Best Wordpress Plugins for WordPress Health
Thanks to the sheer number of WP deployments, it has become a very visible target for spammers. The health of your Wordpress installation is vitally important, so important in fact that Google has even begun sending warnings to those WP sites that may have security vulnerabilities. Stay healthy with these two essential plugins.
Recommended Plugins: WP Security Scan, Akismet

Via: Website Magazine

Monday, 20 June 2011

Facebook is the Number One Seller of Online Display Advertising in The US


Facebook has emerged as the number one platform for display advertising in the US, and it’s expected to generate well over $2bn in revenue from display advertising in 2011.
The research was carried out by eMarketer, and this means that Facebook will edge past Yahoo into pole position. It also means that Facebook has increased its revenue by over 80% in the last year, which is actually a drop in its display-ad growth.

The social networking behemoth recorded “triple-digit” display-ad growth in 2009 and 2010, and this slowing in growth is likely to continue into next year, where it’s estimated that the growth will fall to less than a third.
But the fact that Facebook is now in number one spot is a telling sign for other digital companies too, with Yahoo now falling to number 4, behind Google and Microsoft. Yahoo is still in second place in terms of total revenue, with 13.1% market share, compared with Facebook’s 17.7%.
Each of the top 5 companies increased their revenue display ad revenue in the past year as outlined in this table, courtesy of eMarketer:
Facebook Display Revenues
David Hallerman, principal analyst at eMarketer, said:
“Facebook’s supreme popularity—both in terms of numbers of people and amount of time they spend there—creates a plethora of display ad impressions, mainly for its unique form of banners. And that popularity is also boosting what advertisers will pay for its display ads.”
Google recently bought display ad optimization firm Admeld, a sign that Google will be upping the pressure on Facebook in the display-ad sphere, so it will be interesting to see how these figures actually pan out over the next couple of years.

Middle Eastern Bloggers Unite to Fight Against Sexual Harassment

Activists across the Arab world are taking to their keyboards in their fight against sexual harassment.
Using the hashtag #EndSH on Twitter, bloggers from Egypt, Sudan, Syria and Lebanon are encouraging people to take part in speaking out against harassment and gender violence.
The #EndSH initiative is the brainchild of the Egyptian startup HarassMap, but the cause has been picked up by other similar websites in the region, including Lebanon’s Resist Harassment Lebanon. RHL has also created a Facebook event for the initiative.

It’s still relatively early in the Middle East, but the tweets and blog posts have already started pouring in. Activists are coming forward with personal stories, ways to fight the stigma, as well as looking at the causes behind the problem.
Bloggers are also encouraged to post links to their pieces on the Facebook page, Blogging and Tweeting Against Sexual Harassment.
It’s no surprise that Middle Eastern activists are taking advantage of social media to tackle what is a very serious problem in the region. If Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been key tools used by activists across the Middle East to fight their oppressive regimes, it seems only natural that these same tools are a part of the arsenal in their fight against sexual harassment.

But how effective can an online campaign be in taking down a problem that is entrenched in Middle Eastern streets? A tweet from the HarassMap Twitter account explains how it can help. “So much media exposure to the cause, the buzz would create reaction. Tiny steps are important.”
The reaction by some on Twitter to the campaign has highlighted how far we really have to go, with some tweets going so far as to say that women crave verbal harassment, or that it comes down to the way a woman is dressed.
Egyptian tweeter, Safi tweets, “Do you think there are no harassers on FB & Twitter? Think again. Plus think of all the younger generations online, who will one day #endSH.”
We’ve picked out a few of our favourite blog posts that have been published so far:
An Hour in a Lebanese Woman’s Heels
My Views on Sexual Harassment
Have you read any interesting #EndSH blog posts? Let us know about them in the comments.


Via: TheNextWeb ME

TomTom Replaces Google With Launch of Local Search Engine For Devices

Dutch navigation device manufacturer TomTom has announced it will drop Google as its main provider of local search to launch its own search engine called TomTom Places, to provide information on hotels and local businesses from its navigation units.
The move will see it phase out local Google services but will not drop Google’s search entirely. It will see TomTom Places become the default local search provider for the company’s new range of navigation devices.

TomTom Places will be available in Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Portugal, followed by a progressive roll out to other countries across Europe and the U.S which will be completed by the end of the year.

Via: TheNextWeb

HP TouchPad Goes Up For Pre-Order Starting At $500, Will Be Available July 1

It's true, the TouchPad, HP's inaugural webOS tablet, won't go on sale in the states until July 1, but that doesn't mean you can't claim yours pronto. She's up for pre-order at a long list of retailers that includes Amazon, NewEgg, Best Buy, Walmart, Staples, Radio Shack, J&R, Office Max, Office Depot, Costco, Sam's Club, PC Richard & Son, Micro Center, and even Nebraska Furniture Mart.

You'll see it listed on HP's site, too, but the company's only accepting orders for businesses at the moment. As expected, the tab comes in two flavors: a 16GB version for $499.99 and a 32GB model that'll set you back $599.99. Both of 'em pack a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, stereo speakers, Touch-to-Share, a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, and, of course, a gussied-up version of webOS optimized for that 9.7-inch display. Intrigued? Hit the exhaustive list of source links below to scoop one up for yourself.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Intel’s New Campaign: You’ve Never Seen YouTube Quite Like This

We previously wrote about Intel turning your Facebook into a museum piece and now they’re back with an impressive interactive Youtube video experience called ‘The Escape’. It works by bringing the user completely into the story, with the option to connect with Facebook to further personalise the video and bring your friends in to help you save the femme fatale.

This is a YouTube experience quite unlike any other, as they have turned the takeover into a complete gaming experience, adding in user interaction along the way such as firing at assailants, combining keys to unlock a door and lots of other cool content that we’ll let you discover for yourself. This is certainly the most complex YoutTube takeover I’ve come across, and the most engaging, interactive experience offered to the user. One downside is that the channel is incredibly slow to load and seems to buffer quite a lot during gameplay. This is to be expected with something of this scale and as it’s so newly launched you would expect them to iron out these few bugs over the next few days.
Commenting on the campaign, Stephanie Gan from advertising and digital at Intel Asia Pacific says, “We wanted to connect with consumers in a personal, engaging and interactive way while demonstrating the visual capabilities of the 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family. While YouTube offered the perfect stage for creating this experience, it was important to make some of the interactions social with Facebook integration. Just as Intel’s 2nd Generation Core processors transform your computing experience, this campaign will transform the way you look at the YouTube platform. You’ve never seen YouTube quite like this,” she added.
You can access the full video experience here.

Via: TheNextWeb

Just in Time For The Election, President Obama to Begin Tweeting Personally.

The Obama campaign is about to get a lot more aggressive in its use of Facebook and Twitter to help bolster the incumbent candidate’s efforts for reelection. One of the most interesting changes to the way that the staff handles the social media updates is that President Barack Obama will begin tweeting (on occasion) from the @BarackObama account personally.
The announcement was made in a blog post on the Barack Obama 2012 campaign site.

Obama for America staff will now be managing both accounts, posting daily updates from the campaign trail, from Washington, and everywhere in between. You’ll be hearing from President Obama regularly, too; on Twitter, tweets from the President will be signed “-BO.”
In addition to the more frequent Twitter updates, the staff will also be more frequently updating the President’s Facebook page. The staff say that they are going to be using the social networks not only to report on what the President is doing, but also to ask constituents for their feedback and ideas. The staff says that they may even be retweeting your messages to the Presidential twitter account as well.
President Obama has widely been credited as a technologically savvy candidate who was elected in part because of his aggressive stance towards using the internet and technology to reach voters.
Twitter and Facebook are two of the largest ways that people share opinions online and it would be foolish for any future candidate to ignore these platforms.
Do you think that every candidate from this point on will have to make an effort to communicate via social networks, or is it still just for the tech savvy? What about President Obama, do you think that using Twitter and Facebook to communicate directly with voters is a valuable use of his time?

Yahoo Shutters its Maps API, Points Devs to Nokia’s Ovi Maps

Yahoo has found itself once again floundering with trying to figure out exactly what it is. This time, developers who have used its Maps API are in for an unpleasant surprise as the company plans on shuttering the service completely on September 13th of this year.

As part of Yahoo!’s commitment to creating deeply personal digital experiences, we have been reprioritizing our current portfolio of mapping products to refocus on a great consumer Mapping and Local Search experience.
In short, if you were using any of the following, you’ll need to make some changes to address the closing:
Yahoo does extend the olive branch somewhat, stating that its Placefinder API for geocoding and the combination of Placemaker and Local Search API will remain alive for geocaching. Interestingly, instead of pushing abandoned developers toward Microsoft’s Bing Maps, Yahoo is ushering them toward Nokia’s Ovi Maps API.
The “even worse” news? If you’re hoping to use Nokia’s product for navigation right now via a Yahoo product, you’ll have to wait a while — “This work is in-progress and we plan to have something to announce later this year.”

Spotify Closes $100 Million From High Profile Investors at $1 Billion Valuation

Spotify‘s $100 million funding round, which began in February, was just officially reported as final by AllThingsD. The investment round included DST Global, the Russian investment firm that has also taken big stakes in Facebook and Groupon, as well as funding from Accel and Kleiner Perkins.  
The funding round gives Europe’s favorite streaming music service a valuation of $1 billion.
Spotify’s existing investors include Sean Parker of Napster and Facebook fame, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing and firms Wellington Partners and Northzone Ventures. The new money will likely be used for Spotify’s much anticipated U.S. launch. According to AllThingsD, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has U.S. licensing deals with three of the four big music labels, and is in advanced talks with holdout Warner Music Group.
Spotify’s valuation and the fact that it will likely be in the U.S. and on Facebook within the year does not bode well for the USA-only Pandora that announced its IPO and whopping $3 billion dollar valuation this week. Pandora is already down to $2.1 million after getting slammed in the markets yesterday and its future isn’t looking any more promising.

Via: TheNextWeb

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Saudi Women Ready To Defy Driving Ban, Fueled by Social Media

Saudi Arabian women plan to start driving their cars Friday, one month after Manal al-Sherif — a key figure in a social media campaign against a ban on female drivers — was arrested when she posted a YouTube video of herself driving around the city of Khobar.
The mass driving campaign is the result of an online movement that began around two months ago, when Saudi women’s rights activists called for the country’s women to start driving their own cars on June 17.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prevents women from driving. Though there is no written law on the matter, religious rulings are enforced by the police, which has the same effect as a ban. Women are forced to rely on live-in drivers or male relatives for transportation.
Activists pushed the movement via Facebook, Twitter and other online outlets before some of those accounts were shut down. And al-Sherif was arrested and jailed after her YouTube video (pictured above) hit the web. Al-Sherif was eventually released from a women’s prison after nine days, pledging she would no longer drive nor take part in the Women2Drive initiative.
But online support for the campaign has lived on through copies of earlier Facebook groups. And people in other parts of the world have also taken up the cause. The Honk for Saudi Women viral campaign is one example, featuring videos of women and men from around the world, honking their horns in support of Saudi women who will drive on June 17. The campaign also has a petition on online activism platform Change.org, asking Oprah to make a similar video in a show of support.

Via: Mashable

Vancouver Riots: 8,000+ People Join Cleanup Group on Facebook


Image from yfrog/Lisa Johnson
Soon after the Vancouver Canucks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup hockey series to the Boston Bruins, rioting broke out. As the violence became more intense, we found numerous pictures on photo-sharing sites such as Twitpic and yfrog.
As you can see in the picture above and in the gallery below, a car was set on fire, a truck was flipped over, and when police entered the area of downtown Vancouver with full riot gear, crazed fans were throwing beer bottles and shoes at their plastic shields, according to CTV News.
As the rioting intensified, so did the volume of user content on Twitter and Facebook. Even the Vancouver Police Department used Twitter to express its disappointment, tweeting, “So sad watching our #VPD cars on fire and how quickly people can turn from law abiding to law breaking. #canucksriot.”
SEE ALSO: Vancouver Police Ask the Public for Photo & Video Evidence of Rioters
Via Twitter, the VPD also encouraged witnesses of the riot to hold onto their photos and videos so they can later identify suspects in them. On Thursday, the VPD plans to tweet instructions on how to submit photos and videos as evidence.
Some rioters posed for pictures that were subsequently posted on Facebook, which may allow police to catch rioters more easily in the aftermath.

Via: Mashable