sábado, 31 de marzo de 2012

Twitter Takes Tweetdeck Offline After Apparent Bug Opens Up Access To “Hundreds” Of Accounts [Back Now]

Twitter has taken its Tweetdeck app offline after an apparent bug has possibly given some Tweetdeck users access to others' accounts.

A Sydney, Australia-based Tweetdeck user named Geoff Evason says he discovered today he was somehow able to access hundreds of other accounts through Tweetdeck. In an email to TechCrunch, he explained the situation like this:

"I'm a tweetdeck user. A bug has given me access to hundreds of twitter and facebooks account through tweetdeck. I didn't do anything special to make this happen. I just logged in one day, the account was was slower than normal, and I could post from many more accounts."

He provided more details in a follow-up email:

"I normally use the tweetdeck web client. A few days ago it started freezing when I logged in. Today I downloaded the native mac client, and it crashes too, but not before it shows me some streams and lets me post.

He also Tweeted about the situation here:

And demonstrated that he could access another account by sending this Tweet:

Other accounts may well be affected, as Twitter quickly shut off access to Tweetdeck entirely to "look into an issue." They've offered us no comment other than their Tweet:

Tweetdeck is an app beloved by the "power user" set for posting and managing messages to Twitter. Tweetdeck was previously a standalone company before it was acquired by Twitter in May 2011 for some $40 million.

Update: The company now says it's back online with minimal damage.

  TweetDeck is now back online.

As soon as we learned about the issue today, we took TweetDeck down to diagnose the situation. We discovered a bug that caused a very small number of TweetDeck users to have access to other TweetDeck users' accounts. (The accounts that could be accessed were random; it was not possible to select specific accounts and access them.)

No one's password was compromised, and we aren't aware of any instances where this access was used maliciously. As a precaution, we removed account credentials associated with affected TweetDeck users; they will need to log in to authorize the TweetDeck application to access their accounts.

Ingrid Lunden contributed reporting to this story.

Twitter, founded by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March 2006 (launched publicly in July 2006), is a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to post updates 140 characters long. Twitter "is a real-time information network that connects [users] to the latest stories, ideas, opinions, and news." The service can be accessed through a variety of methods, including Twitter's website; text messaging; instant messaging; and third-party desktop, mobile, and web applications. Twitter is currently available in...

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TweetDeck is a Twitter client for desktop, web, and mobile devices. TweetDeck was originally an Adobe Air desktop application, designed with a unique columned user interface. Its goal was to be a realtime application that allowed users to monitor that information in a single concise view. TweetDeck integrated services from Twitter, Twitscoop, 12seconds, Stocktwits and Facebook. In 2011, Twitter acquired TweetDeck and rebuilt the application in HTML5.

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Is Adobe trying to kill Flash with premium features?

Posted 29 March 2012 16:51pm by Patricio Robles with 0 comments

For many, Flash is the bane of the web and its death will be a cause for celebration.

A more balanced perspective is that Flash was at one point incredibly useful, but like many useful things, it was overused and abused and will increasingly have less and less utility as newer and better web technologies let us achieve things we once had to turn to Flash for.

One might assume that Flash's decline is bad news for Adobe, the technology's maker. But increasingly it seems that Adobe is doing everything it can to ensure that Flash is marginalized -- even in the markets where it doesn't need to.

The latest example of that: premium features for Flash game developers.

Arguably, if there's room for Flash on the web going forward, one of the places it can still play an important role is in the gaming vertical. Yes, there's a lot of potential for HTML5 games, but HTML5 isn't there yet and Flash still offers a number of advantages. Advantages which Adobe seems to be minimizing with the launch of premium features, which Adobe just announced:

The premium features tier is intended to benefit game developers interested in creating the most advanced, graphically sophisticated, next-generation games for the web. The combination of hardware-accelerated Stage3D with domain memory enables the use of advanced compiler technologies like the Adobe Alchemy compiler, and other advanced game engines like Unity's. Check Unity's technology blog for more information.

The premium features enable these existing C/C++ codebases to run sandboxed across browsers in Flash Player. C/C++ developers, and developers using other languages who build on native middleware/engines, can now join ActionScript developers in benefiting from the ubiquity of Flash Player. And ActionScript developers benefit from now being able to leverage millions of lines of existing optimized C/C++ code in their ActionScript projects.

Sounds good, right?

There's just one problem: if you want to use these premium features to build better, more sophisticated and performant games, Adobe wants 9% of your pie if your game generates over $50,000 in net revenue. There may also be a "nominal program fee."

Games developed before August 1 won't be subject to the revenue sharing requirement, and many developers won't hit the $50,000 threshold. But even with these caveats, Adobe is providing a perfect case study in why revenue sharing often sucks.

Game developers monetize through a variety of means, including advertising and sponsorships, in-app purchases and subscription fees. For each of these, there are often third parties, like Facebook and Apple, taking a cut of the action. And, of course, game developers, like everyone else, pay taxes.

To calculate net revenue, which Adobe defines as revenue "after taxes, payment processing fees, and social network platform fees are subtracted", developers will essentially have to open their books to Adobe. Needless to say, the specter of an Adobe audit which requires sharing everything about your business, including your earnings from a variety of partners as well as business tax returns, isn't all that appealing.

One might chalk up Adobe's licensing terms for premium features to greed, but that's being too generous to the company in my opinion. The only way to describe this is pure foolishness.

The sensible solution Adobe should have adopted: set a price for a license. It's how most other software companies license their technology, and if premium features are as important and attractive as Adobe thinks they are, developers won't hesitate to pay up, just as businesses pony up for expensive software licenses from companies like Microsoft and Oracle.

By adopting the most ridiculous type of licensing terms imaginable, Adobe is giving one of the last groups of developers with reason to embrace Flash a good reason to eagerly anticipate the day they won't need it anymore. If Adobe keeps at it, that day may come sooner than many of us expected.

Facebook's six tips for Timeline transition

Posted 30 March 2012 12:08pm by David Moth with 1 comment

Facebook's brand pages will transition over to the new Timeline layout later today, and data from Vitrue suggests that brands could see fan engagement decrease if they are not properly prepared.

The data shows 52% of brands that initiated the switchover before today's deadline saw a reduction in engagement rate.

However, 27% saw greater than a 20% increase in engagement when implementing best practice for brand pages.

Vitrue defines best practice as having sharable content, improved visuals that take advantage of the new layout and prioritised content for brand milestones.

Earlier this week we highlighed 10 excellent examples of Facebook Brand Timelines, and Facebook has published the following six tips for taking advantage of the new features within Timeline.

1. Upload an eye-catching Cover Photo 

"The new Cover Photo captures the culture and essence of a brand and can showcase its products – it's the first thing people will see when they visit a brand's page.

Time Out London's cover photo is great for creating a good impression of London as a city people want to explore."


"Brands can change it as often as they like and use it to engage fans through creative, stimulating images that will catch people's eye."

2. Use a clearly branded profile picture 

"This is the best spot to use a picture that visibly identifies their business. 

Since the profile picture represents a brand's page on other parts of Facebook as a thumbnail (such as in ads or news feed), a high quality image (such as a logo) that people associate with their brand should be used."

3. Add milestones to the page's Timeline 

"Businesses can now take advantage of larger photo, video and link stories to visually engage fans. 

To ensure fans see the best posts, posts can be featured on the timeline so fans can engage with a post past the time it's in the news feed.  

Milestones can also be used to define key moments in their company's history, allowing fans to interact with a business beyond the present. 

BA has created a timeline that goes back to 1919, meaning fans can learn more about BA's history and look at how flying has evolved since the first transatlantic flight by a UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1942."

4. Pin a post a week 

"Businesses can anchor the most important story to the top of their page for up to seven days so that fans don't miss the best content." 

5. Arrange views and apps 

"A brand's photos and custom apps will appear at the top of its page and can be reordered at any time. 

Brands can also create custom thumbnails to highlight what matters most to it – whether it's events or custom-built apps for specific products or promotions. 

O2 is a great example of a business that displays its custom photos and offers at the top of its page – the O2 Just Ask and Gurus panel for example are easily accessible so people can quickly find what they need."

6. Manage your page 

"Administrators can now easily manage their page through the Admin Panel, which gives them a high-level dashboard where they can edit content, track new activity and respond, and view Page Insights."

David Moth is a Reporter at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter

Five rules for boosting mobile app user retention

Posted 29 March 2012 15:07pm by Patricio Robles with 0 comments

With smartphone penetration rising and more and more consumers turning to the mobile web, the opportunity to get your mobile app into the hands of those consumers might seem to be growing by leaps and bounds.

But getting the users you acquire to stick around is proving challenging -- perhaps even more challenging than on the web.

As the CTO of CBS Interactive, Peter Yared, recently pointed out in a blog post, mobile analytics provider Flurry has found that iOS and Android apps typically retain just 20% of their users after four months, and a paltry 4% after 12 months. For obvious reasons, this makes building a mobile app that's successful for the long haul a tall order.

The good news is that maximizing user retention in a mobile app doesn't require magic. Many of the lessons of the web are applicable, and when a concerted effort is made to keep users around, mobile app developers can beat the odds. 

Here are five rules for doing just that.

Rule #1: KISS.

One of the biggest mistakes businesses, developers and entrepreneurs make when creating mobile apps is that they make their apps too complex. Yes, it's tempting to think that you can fit a ton of functionality into a mobile app, but the reality is that the best mobile experiences are generally the simplest. Knowing this, it's typically easier to build a mobile app that users will want to keep using if you keep things simple and do a few things really, really well.

Rule #2: Give users a reason to come back.

It should go without saying but the more you can do to make using your app an attractive proposition, the better off you'll be. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to encourage frequent use. Obviously, what's appropriate will depend on the nature of your app, but there are plenty of ways to keep users engaged. For instance, push messaging solutions like Urban Airship make it easy to provide push notifications, while ad networks like Kiip can provide users with 'rewards' for their in-app accomplishments.

Rule #3: Focus on building solutions, not apps.

If you're focused on building an app so that you can cash in on a flurry of 99 cent purchases or mobile ads, it's easy to fall into the type of 'gold rush' mentality that emphasizes getting rich quick over creating lasting value. The better approach: build something that solves a painful problem and apply mobile to your solution in a useful way. In the end, you'll be far more likely to build something valuable enough to produce repeat use.

Rule #4: Remember that mobile is just another channel.

It may seem like mobile is where the action is at, but don't fall into the trap of believing that mobile apps are the end all and be all of delivering information and functionality today. We live in a multi-channel world and although mobile has fast become one of the most important channels in many industries, it's not the only channel.

Assuming you've followed Rule #3 and built a solution, it's important to evaluate other channels through which your users would want your solution delivered. Chances are there are multiple channels of value, and by making your solution available through them in a thoughtful, integrated way, you can build long-lasting relationships with users through multiple touch points.

Rule #5: Be trustworthy.

In the age of the acquihire, users are increasingly finding that the services they love can be shut down in an instant - even if the startups behind them are well-financed and/or apparently successful. Recently, for instance, there was a lot of discussion when Digg founder Kevin Rose shuttered his latest company's first mobile app, Oink. As it turned out, the death of Oink was the result of Google acquihiring Rose and part of his team.

It's not clear whether the growing number of 'disappearing startups' will destroy the willingness of mainstream users to try new services, but certainly they can't help. So if you're building a mobile app and want users to invest their time in using it, it certainly can't hurt to persuade them that you're invested in it too.

Shoptiques Lets You Shop Boutiques Like a Local

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Shoptiques

Quick Pitch: Shop local boutiques online.

Genius Idea: Brings an offline industry online; lets you shop by neighborhood.

It all began with Paris and a shoe.

While shopping in France's capital four years ago, Olga Vidisheva stumbled across what she describes as a "tiny, one-location wonder boutique with the friendliest, most stylish owner." There, she found a pair of suede sandals unlike anything she'd ever come across in a department store, which she promptly purchased and packed into her suitcase home.

Vidisheva says she has wanted to go back to that boutique ever since, but has never been able to. Since that time, she's discovered some fantastic boutiques stateside, picked up a MBA from Harvard Business School and is now on a mission to make the experience of browsing and buying from boutiques available to everyone everywhere through her newly launched site, Shoptiques. The sites lets you buy clothing and accessories from 50 boutiques with one flat shipping and return fee.

Shoptiques isn't the first business that's attempted to bring the boutique industry online. London-based Farfetch.com, which raised $18 million in January, has made the inventories of some 200 boutiques available for online purchase. Backend solutions like Shopify have also made it easier for small businesses to set up storefronts on the web.

So what makes Shoptiques different? The biggest differentiator is product. Farfetch focuses on upmarket brands and products with pricetags not infrequently in the high hundreds and low thousands. Brands aren't a focus on Shoptiques, and products are priced between $50 and $300.

Shoptiques also invites you to shop differently: that is, like a local. Shops are organized by neighborhood, so you can pull up all the inventory from Brooklyn, for instance, or West Hollywood. From there, you can filter by color, price, size and style. You also have the option to browse across cities by category, just like any other apparel retail site.

Shoptiques is a recent alum of Y Combinator's accelerator program and has raised an initial seed round from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Benchmark Capital, General Catalyst and SV Angel, among others. The startup takes a "healthy cut" of each sale made on the site, Vidisheva tell us. Everything sold online is brought in and photographed by Shoptiques. Once a sale is made, the boutique is responsible for shipping it to the customer and keeping track of remaining inventory.

Inventory and sales growth are top priorities for Shoptiques going forward, as are further curation and personalization features, Vidisheva says. "If your style is classic, and mine is edgy, we should experience the site in a different way," Vidisheva says of Shoptiques's plans for personalization. "Perhaps we'll start shoppers with a quiz, recommend that they follow a few boutiques and go from there."

Mobile is also on the roadmap, with an emphasis on bridging the online and offline shopping experience. "We want to become a destination for boutique living and shoping," Vidisheva explains. "If you're on the streets of Nolita, we want to tell you which boutiques near you have stuff. We really see our boutiques as partners, and we want to drive traffic to their offline stores as well. We benefit because they'll be in business a long time, and we want to work with them for a long time."

All that's very promising, but we still feel one element is missing from the shopping experience: the interaction with that friendly, stylish boutique owner Vidisheva met in Paris. Phone numbers for each of the boutiques are provided on the site so that shoppers can ring when they have a question about styling or fit. But we'd love to be able to jump in a video or even an SMS chat with boutique workers while we were shopping, or see how a particular piece has been styled on a store mannequin.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Alija

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

Facebook unveils new ad tools to European marketers at fMC London

Posted 29 March 2012 10:39am by David Moth with 0 comments

Facebook's Marketing Conference stopped off in London yesterday afternoon following similar events in New York and Tokyo.

The focus at fMC was very much on how brands should be using the social network to create an identity and tell stories through engaging content, with global brands such as Unilever and L'Oreal giving insights into how social fits into their marketing strategies.

Facebook VP of business and marketing partnership David Fischer introduced three new products to European marketers during an opening keynote: reach generator, offers and premium ads, but this was more of a recap of what had already been announced at fMC New York.

Also, exact details of how much the new tools will cost and when they will become available (four to six weeks is the official line) are still a bit woolly.

The main attraction for attendees was the breakout sessions, with Unilever's senior director for global media innovation Debbie Weinstein outlining how social fits well with the company's philosophy of putting people first.

We want to put the power in the hands of consumers so they create our brands with us. We want to hear their stories and how they want to engage with us.

Using the example of Dove adverts that have used a consistent message since the 1950s, she said that the key to encouraging interaction and sharing among fans is creating emotional content rather than cold brand messages.

And it is down to Unilever's brand managers to create that content.

Brand managers have to have something interesting to talk to consumers about – if not they shouldn't be the steward of that brand. In order to succeed brands have to have products people can buy and ideas that consumers can buy into.

Brand managers for Domestos and Ben & Jerry's will be pleased to hear that Weinstein singled them out for praise for their respective involvement in Facebook campaigns for World Toilet Day and Britain's same-sex marriage debate.

We need people who are willing to take risks and try new things, then we can cascade that learning back into the business.

The emphasis on telling stories was echoed in a panel discussion hosted by Facebook VP of EMEA Joanna Shields and featuring L'Oreal CMO Marc Menesguen, Aegis UK CEO Rob Horler and DDB UK CEO Stephen Woodford.

Menesguen revealed that L'Oreal has a team of 400 staff working in social media who post new content on Facebook everyday.

It's a lot of work and requires a lot of commitment. The digital revolution is on at L'Oreal and we are integrating digital and social as early as possible in the marketing process.

But while content and engagement is important, he said that the focus always remained on sales and monitoring how social media can aid the sales process.

Woodford highlighted Volkswagen as a brand that integrates social into every aspect of the sales process.

They use it for customer research, after sales, every part of their business. They are looking for a connected journey from the TV ad through to the sale.

He said that in order for companies to build relationships with their Facebook fans they must think about their brand as a person, with the keyword being authenticity.

What makes you authentic is honesty, and that is critical in any medium. We find that the key to honesty in the Facebook environment is opening up, and the degree of opening up that you do.

These same fundamentals are true even as Facebook evolves and becomes a more sophisticated ad platform.

Marketers must think of something that is inspiring about their brand and give fans personal motivation to share and engage.

But this is often easier said than done.

Horler said that while the power and reach of Facebook is irrefutable, brands still had work to do to understand how to use that power for marketing.

We have to get better at measurement and understand how scale and engagement drive sales. But that is not necessarily for Facebook to tell us, we need to figure it out.

David Moth is a Reporter at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter

Review: Traintiles


With stunningly clear animated graphics, Traintiles is an increasingly frantic 'arcade puzzler', seeing you rotating track segments in order to keep various trains running smoothly and headed towards their destinations. It's immaculately (and cutely) presented and just about the only negative I can throw at it is that the levels get very hard very quickly - if you have a quick enough mind and quicker fingers then Traintiles is a must-buy.

Author: Mobiteos

Buy Link | Download / Information Link


From splash screen to 'About' screen, it's clear that Traintiles has been something of a labour of love by the developers. Atmospheric, attractive:


Traintiles has a similar overall arc to Angry Birds - the now well established packs of levels, set in different parts of the world, gradually getting unlocked as you progress. Curiously, only part of each area has to be solved, though this does happily get round the situation where you're stuck on one level and can't unlock the next area until you get past the problem one.


The idea in Traintiles is that the track is made up of straight and curved (and 'crossroad') pieces, arranged on a grid. Tapping a track piece rotates it, as shown in the first of several tutorial animations below. 


As you might expect, the first few levels are easy, introducing the track pieces and ways in which you'll need to rotate them in real time, but things quickly get much harder. Multiple trains running at the same time, to multiple destinations, as shown below:


It soon becomes apparent that most central pieces of track need to be used several times per level in different configurations, usually with some split second timing to switch a curved section a split second after one train has used it and just before the next train needs it - to go in a different direction.


Add in more and more trains. Add in the possibility (or, in the case of the puzzle designer here, likelihood) of a crash between two trains. Add in ever more complex layouts, and you can see where all this is going. Classic game territory, that's where. 

As with other arcade puzzlers (e.g. Flight Control), there's a "Oh heck, here comes another train, I'm still juggling two others as it is" degree of increasing freneticism, plus the enticing sight of a 'replay'/'retry' icon when you fail ("Surely I'll get it right this time", etc.)

Within each level pack, you do have to solve every puzzle in order to unlock the next one, but a) you can go back and replay earlier, easier levels if you want to remind yourself of some of the techniques that got you so far and b) as mentioned earlier, other level packs get unlocked before you've finished the current one, so you can simply jump packs for an easy change of scenery.


Talking of scenery, it's immaculate here. Around the central train animations, track segments depress as they're being used, trees wave gently in the wind, birds fly overhead, and more... All this graphical action has meant that only the GPU-accelerated Symbian^3 generation of smartphones are supported, but you can see where some of the processor power is going, at least.

There's excellent sound too, with train 'chuffing' (of course), atmospheric musical jingles, wind noise (appropriate to the pack being played), crash effects, brake squeals, and so on. It's very immersive. My only complaint would be that there's no volume control - sound is either on or off.

Perfectly implemented, great fun to play, even a £3 price tag doesn't stop me recommending this as one of the very top Symbian game titles. If you have even the slightest interest in puzzle games then run, don't walk, to buy Traintiles. It's that good.

Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 30 March 2012

Reviewed by at

7 Tools to Generate Your Random Mega Millions Numbers

Lottery Tickets

Here's a hypothetical situation: You're offered a lot of money — say, $640 million, give or take — and you can do anything with it. Buy a mansion. Invest in Apple. Donate to charity (that's first on your list, right?). Everything's at your fingertips. There's just one catch — you have to pick the six perfect numbers first.

People in the U.S. are buzzing about the record-high Mega Millions lottery jackpot. Maybe you've bought countless tickets, coaxed your coworkers into getting in on the action, or tried to lessen the competition by convincing people that the lottery was cancelled altogether. You've even imagined headlines in your honor ("Mashable Intern Wins Mega Millions [EXCLUSIVE])." Hey, I can dream too.

The most important aspect of getting your hands on all that dough, of course, is picking the winning numbers. But how do you choose? What if your lucky numbers just aren't working, or what if you're buying so many tickets that you just want the numbers chosen for you? And what if you don't trust those lotto machines?

We've found seven random number generators that could help you select lotto combinations. Because we care about our readers at Mashable, we'll tell it straight: You're not going to win. These numbers are random. They will not increase your odds of winning. But hey, in case you do, remember to give us a cut of the winnings. *It's only fair.

*Not really.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, davidf.

Will Microsoft beat Apple and Google to make Connected TV work?

Posted 30 March 2012 15:24pm by Sam Dwyer with 0 comments

Microsoft and Comcast recently announced that Xbox Live users will now be able to stream on-demand Comcast Xfinity content through their gaming consoles. It's been insinuated by some that Microsoft is making some form of payment to Comcast for the deal.

This doesn't seem outlandish. The 20 million paying Xbox Live users (out of 66 million Xbox 360 units sold) now spend slightly more time streaming content than they do playing video games. Microsoft will keep stoking this trend, pushing its hardware further into the profitable mainstream of entertainment content consumption.

But, will the Xbox grow up to become a more dominant mode of delivery?

Getting into the living room has been a priority for Microsoft since it's acquisition of WebTV in 1997. That product, which attempted to establish an entirely new category, never took off. Gaming consoles, however, were popular, and Microsoft has been able to piggyback into the living room using that form factor. To ensure that the Xbox would break into the market, the hardware in 2002 was superior to Sony and Nintendo's products, and was sold at a loss.

Microsoft has a significant head start on Apple, and any of the other big tech competitors like Google who want to move into the living room. Even though it's selling more briskly than it was several years ago, AppleTV is still referred to by the company as a "hobby."  As for Google, large hardware partners of Google TV have abandoned the technology as a failure while Google readies a new tablet.

Microsoft's ownership of Skype, and history of successful partnerships with Facebook, indicate that the company has a potential to powerfully and deeply integrate the (currently) most popular social nexuses with its hardware. If Windows 8 and the partnership with Nokia takes off (i.e. they can create a must-have device and content network that is more attractive than Apple's), it could trigger a big shakeup in tech. An integrated digital environment that spans multiple form factors (laptop, phone, tablet) is coming. But at present it still seems unlikely that Microsoft will be the one to create it.

Are we ready for connected TVs?

The living room may not be changing along the trajectory that Microsoft and its content partner Comcast are anticipating. First of all, the Xbox is a gaming console, and is purchased as such. While Microsoft is no doubt deeply pleased that entertainment streaming through its box is taking off, the fact remains that only ~30% of the console's owners bother to connect it to the Internet.

While not abysmal, Microsoft's numbers are a little boring. If this product is the future, why are people so unexcited about it? They have the hardware – why won't they connect? Jeremy Toeman recently tried to parse this same question in the Guardian with regards to Connected TVs, which have a low connection rate of 15-20%:

Other than Netflix, there isn't a strong consumer-facing value proposition for any of the smart TVs today. … It remains highly unclear as to why things like Facebook and Twitter even belong on or anywhere near a TV. As a second screen (mobile, tablet, laptop) experience, sure, but on my television screen? I've yet to meet someone outside of Silicon Valley who thinks seeing a Facebook feed scroll down the side of their living room TV set sounds like entertainment. 

The reason that the Xbox Live usage won't take off in a bigger way is similar to the reason that Connected TV's aren't being connected: people still buy TV's to watch TV, and they buy gaming consoles to play games. Presumably, most everyone who's buying a Connectable TV or an Xbox 360 also has the other digital gadgets that provide far better Internet experiences.

Multiscreen viewing is on the up

It's the "other gadgets" that are successfully encroaching upon the TV/Console model, not the reverse. TV viewing is down for the 12-34 year old age bracket. Internet consumption is up, and time spent on the Internet occurs concurrently with TV viewing. 43% of iPad users claim to watch TV and surf the Internet simultaneously "all" or "most" of the time. It's estimated that by 2014 there will be 61 million iPad owners in the US – 19% of the population.

Multiscreen viewing is popular right now amongst first adopters because the experience of watching television, while interesting, isn't as captivating as the Internet. Television networks have tried to spin multi-screen viewing as positive –viewers can interact with ads and buy things on the spot! But the truth is probably that most of the time viewers are looking at a smaller screen because they're bored with what's on the big one – and they're not accustomed to being bored.

Can TV ever replicate the hypermedia experience?

The Internet works because of hypertext – links that endlessly connect pages together. Because of hypertext, web viewers can explore knowledge nonlinearly. Hypermedia is the seamless combination of text, images, audio, and video. The Internet as we experience it today is hypermedia: an endless sea of on-demand content that maintains a state of continuous engagement. This experience is superior to any other atomised content consumption modes, and it's what we've come to expect. 

Apple's iPhone and iPad are hypermedia devices. They dissolve the walls between nearly every known medium this side of holograms. The experience of using them is unlike what has come before – and that's why they're so successful. The very idea of TV + Internet is flawed. TV on the Internet isn't really TV. It's just a large video file, in an immense ocean of other video files. The Xbox, frankly, is a legacy device, still trying to bring the old dream of WebTV alive. That could change, but right now there's little indication it will.

Sam Dwyer is an Analyst based in Econsultancy's New York office. He can be followed on Twitter @sammydwyer.

Here Are The Women of Y Combinator And They Are Awesome

I would normally rather have a root canal instead of write about the issue of women in technology. I just find most essays on this really tedious and obvious. (Sorry Alexia.)

But I do want to point one thing out. When I went to my first Y Combinator Demo Day three years ago, there was one woman. At this week's Demo Day, there were six companies with one or all female founders among the 66 startups in the class.

I'm going to keep this post simple. No complaining. Less navel gazing. Just more role models. So here are the women of Y Combinator and they are awesome. (Update: We're missing two at the moment, but they will be added soon hopefully. They are Tracy Young of PlanGrid and Somaira Punjwani of MedMonk.)

And ladies, if you're interested in joining the next class, the deadline just passed. But there are two classes a year, so the next one will come up soon.

Nikki Durkin, 99Dresses

Durkin wrote her first business plan when she was eight years old. As a girl growing up in the Australian countryside, she desperately wanted a horse. After begging didn't work, she biked down to her local co-op, determined the price of hay, calculated out operational expenses and wrote a cost-benefit analysis, even sticking in a risks section just in case the horse died.

"Ever since then, I've been pretty good at figuring out how to get what I want," she said.

At 15, she and her thirteen-year-old brother started their first online business called KultKandy, where they designed T-shirts and drop shipped them from China.

While in college, she came up with a concept around dress swapping. She put her idea on Facebook and sent it out to friends in Sydney. In less than three weeks, suddenly 20,000 women signed up from around the country.

"It wasn't really planned out to the nth degree, but it really resonated," said Durkin, who is now 20 years old. "Girls absolutely loved it."

The idea was to have a market where women post pictures of their clothing and swap it. The seller would set the price and handle shipping costs. Instead of using a real currency, Durkin wanted to use a virtual one so that the experience would really feel guilt-free. She asked the community for a name for the virtual currency, and they came up with "Buttons," for which she now charges $1 a piece.

Within four months, women had uploaded 4,500 dresses and sold 3,500. She hadn't even heard of Y Combinator until a business adviser Matt Barrie, who is the chief executive of Freelancer.com, told her about it.

"I told him that I'd love to get into the American market but I didn't have any of the connections or a tech team," she said. She rounded up a technical co-founder, applied, got in and moved all the way from Australia to the Bay Area. "There's a lot of potential here," she said.

Olga Vidisheva, Shoptiques

After making her way to the U.S. as a teenager from Kyrgyzstan and Moscow following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Vidisheva didn't have much money to pay for living expenses and tuition at pricey Wellesley College. So she modeled on the side, doing everything from wearing Ben Sherman to appearing in vacuum cleaner ads.

Little did she know, that experience would pay off years down the road. Today she's running Shoptiques, an e-commerce play that brings high-end boutiques online. Even before Demo Day, the company's seed round was snapped up by three of Silicon Valley's top tier venture firms including Greylock Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Benchmark Capital.

Vidisheva's modeling helped her understand how to present merchandise and do high-end photography for her clientele.

"Very highly curated models can work well," she said, pointing to models like Fab, a design-centric flash sales site. "We're creating a market for tastemakers."

Shoptiques handholds sometimes very tech shy fashion boutiques onto the web. Vidisheva's startup eats the up-front costs of building the e-commerce presence and photographing the apparel. The company sends these shops the shipping labels, provides the tracking analytics and handles payment processing. Naturally, Shoptiques intends to make its money back through a revenue share on sales. It's just launched with 50 stores around the U.S.

Vidisheva isn't just a pretty face. She graduate Phi Beta Kappa and was one of two women out of around 100 men in her investment banking group at Goldman Sachs. In business school, she researched the plan for what would become Shoptiques for well over a year.

"I saw this huge gap in the market," she said. "I wouldn't have been able to breathe if I wasn't doing this business."

Paul Graham, Y Combinator's co-founder, paired her with some alums who were behind Anyvite, an events invitation startup that came out of a mid-2008 class. Dan and Jeff Morin were thinking about next steps with their company, and Graham suggested they meet Vidisheva. After trial run where they worked together for a few weeks, they joined full-time on the startup.

"PG is amazing at figuring out people who will work well together," she said.

Elli Sharef, HireArt

Growing up in Colombia, Sharef was lucky to have a strong female role model right by her side. Her mother had a Ph.D. in economics

"She's a strong figure with opinions and she was an intellectual," Sharef said. "I never thought about being a man or woman. She just told me to be ambitious, to do my thing and try and build something good for the world."

Sharef's company is attacking the HR and recruiting space. She's a co-founder of HireArt, which is trying to ease that first step of sifting through an impossible number of resumes.

HireArt has job candidates actually perform a series of tasks or do video interviews. For example, if an interview candidate says they are an expert in Excel, they can demonstrate their skills on HireArt by creating an Excel model using a dataset.

"I saw how hard it was to hire the right person. Everyone knows that the right person can 10X your team," she said. "At the same time, it's equally bad when you don't hire the right person. It can be really terrible."

HireArt's site is growing 40 percent week over week and currently has 238 open positions. The company earns revenue every time a candidate is successfully placed, the way a good recruiter might earn a fee or a salary percentage if they find a good hire.

To get into Y Combinator, Sharef came together with a few friends from her university days at Yale: Dain Lewis and Nicholas Sedlet.

There's a question of how easy it will be to scale HireArt's model given the idiosyncrasies of hiring and finding a good cultural fit between employees and employers.

Sharef says that over time, the company will collect more and more data from employers about interview questions or tests that are strong predictors of success.

"We really try to work with data to understand which questions work the best. You can think about it like designing the SATs for different jobs," she said, pointing out that one of her co-founders has experience working with huge data sets as a commodities trader and quant.

Kathryn Minshew, Alex Cavoulacos and Melissa McCreery of The Daily Muse

This trio met on their first day at consulting giant McKinsey. After finding that they worked well together through their two-year analyst stint, they started thinking about what to do next.

"While we felt like we got a lot of great training at McKinsey, we felt like there wasn't a go-to resource for young women who wanted career advice," McCreery said.

They had worked on a previous startup before, but then decided to start over with a new concept called The Daily Muse, a career resources destination for high-achieving young women. They packed it with advice on salary negotiations, interviews and how to manage people for the very first time.

But there was a lucrative piece that was missing — job search. Because the site had started attracting a small, but valuable audience of young women from top-tier universities, employers reached out wondering how they could recruit some of these visitors.

"Talented people choose jobs, not the other way around. So we realized there was a need for us to profile awesome companies," she said. "Women and men look at things differently. Women will go to a store and browse. But job search is built around knowing what you want and going after that."

So The Daily Muse has these immersive company profiles, which tell the story of the company's culture and explain what it's like to work there. There are video interviews with current employees and professional photos of the office space. "We want to be the go-to career resource for young, professional women, and now we're also helping them discover cool places to work," she said.

McCreery says that The Daily Muse already has 25 paying companies. Monthly fees are variable, but a ballpark range puts them around $1,500. Then there are another 70 companies that are on the waiting list.

Admittedly, any content-centric play is going to have issues scaling. But McCreery says the team has experience. "We've never seen ourselves as just a media company and we've done scaled content before," she said, saying that the site the team last worked on had 200 writers and a full-time editorial staff of five. The company is working on training three full-time employees to make the company profiles.

Q&A: Rovi's David Jordan on the future of digital entertainment

Posted 30 March 2012 11:09am by Vikki Chowney with 0 comments

At Mobile World Congress this year, digital entertainment specialist Rovi announced a partnership with Dixons Retail that would see the British company use its technology to power an "over the top movie service" called KNOWHOW Movies.

This is the first time a UK brand has used Rovi Entertainment Store, a white-label product, to give consumers access to films and TV shows via a digital store.

But Rovi has fingers in many pies, from entertainment discovery, to distribution and advertising.

We sat down with David Jordan, Rovi's VP of Marketing to talk about developments in this space, the opportunity for marketers and what it means for consumers.

Everyone's talking about the now very real potential of two-screen and media stacking (whichever buzzword you want to use), but what's your take on it? Where does Rovi fit in?

We see tremendous potential in the second screen for delivering a highly personalised and dynamic consumer entertainment experience.

We're already serving this market today through our white label product TotalGuide xD, which service providers Bend Broadband (in Bend, Oregon) and Armstrong (in Pennsylvania) are rolling out in the US. The product will be branded by the service providers and deliver a companion discovery experience to their subscribers.

This means that the application (an iPad app at first, but could be tailored for Android tablets and phones) will provide information about broadcast television. This includes times and channels that shows are on, a more in depth discovery experience with pictures, biographies of actors, descriptions of shows, and recommendations based on basic information like similar shows. Then there are more personalised recommendations based on a subscriber's favourite actors or genres.  It also provides the ability to remotely manage the set-top box for things like changing the channel or setting recordings for a DVR from a remote location. Plus, it displays targeted advertising to drive additional revenue.

This basically connects and extends the experience you get from set-top boxes to multiple mobile screens, including tablets and smart phones. It allows people to control (set a recording, channel tune, etc) and enhance their living room experience by easily searching and discovering meaningful content from a range of the sources.

Trends are likely to be based on the time and place for using the second screen. For example, it may be a companion when used at the same time as watching a broadcast or VOD (video on demand) programme on a larger screen in the home; or the second screen may be used for the viewing device depending on the location, such as at the gym or on a train; or it may be a "controller" to set a remote recording or to use as a remote control. The trend is to watch the content on the best screen available, and use the smaller screens as companions, controllers or viewing devices when it makes sense.  

Similarly, in Japan, we offer G-Guide EPG for iPad, which is a direct to consumer offering that provides an in-depth view into Japanese TV programme information. People see the time and channel grid, and can also access detailed information about the shows. It is similar to TotalGuide xD in the US, as outlined above, but is branded as G-Guide (a brand that gets its technology from Rovi and its distribution from IPG) in Japan. Informed by social networks and individual preferences, these applications for the second screen give consumers a personal and streamlined view into the entertainment they love without disrupting the "main screen" entertainment (or disturbing that experience for others).

Based on personal preferences or higher level market info, personalised entertainment platforms can be utilised by brands and marketers to deliver enhanced and relevant advertising to consumers. 

What about monetising this? 

One way to monetise this second screen experience is through advertising.  

For example, there are several technologies that connect the second screen to the primary screen for advertising purposes.

This could leverage something like audio recognition during an auto commercial to direct your mobile device right to a website that lets you configure your favourite car model on a tablet based on an advert that is playing on the large screen.

Or maybe it's a sponsorship opportunity, where for example someone is watching a cooking TV show that is sponsored by a condiment like Heinz Ketchup; in this case a mobile device (second screen) might be used to deliver a recipe that uses the condiment.  

I'd then have easy access to my shopping list when I go to the supermarket and will remember to buy the branded condiment that was part of the ad.

As a marketer, where's the opportunity?

Again, there's potential in advertising. For the near term, this could be something as simple as a banner advertisement within a second screen TV listings grid, or perhaps in-app advertisement linking to a dedicated advertisers' portal with rich multimedia and graphics.

In the not too distant future this could evolve very quickly to something far more targeted and advanced.

For example, if the living room TV is displaying a national Ford commercial, the second screen could recognise this and deliver a more personalised ad to the second screen (i.e. a younger demographic receives a Mustang ad; a demographic living in a rural area gets a truck commercial, everyone gets a personalised offer to test drive at a local dealership). The sky really is the limit here.

Is the TV guide eventually going to become obsolete? As people look to each other more for recommendations?

If by 'guide' you mean the TV listings grid, then we'd say not anytime soon. Like it or hate it, the grid is the universally understood way to navigate TV content.

We see how people interact with these guides and based on Rovi's set-top-box reporting sample we've found that: 90% of the homes with a guide access the guide on a weekly basis, guide users visited the guide an average of 15 times a day and spend an average of 17 minutes in the guide daily - and one third of viewing choices are a result of choices made from the guide. 

You sell data to the likes of iTunes, Netflix and co - but who are you backing in the streaming race? 

As a white label provider for the industry we are not backing any particular provider, but rather the broader market shift to digital entertainment delivery. We expect the number of 'over the top' providers to continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

Bottom line in the streaming race is that we remain neutral. We truly just want streaming digital media to take off. We pretty much have a "powered by Rovi" strategy. We provide all the parts to make it happen (as mentioned above from the encoding, to the video delivery) so we are backing anyone who wants a great streaming experience. From an industry perspective, there are a few things that may cause a tipping point for streaming entertainment to take hold.  

One is the quality of the experience. Consumers are used to the DVD or Blu-ray experience today, so they don't want the streaming content to get stuck buffering - they want it to play well and deliver a high definition experience – look for adaptive streaming technology to deliver this.  

Also there is an opportunity to deliver high value features like directors' commentaries, alternate audio tracks for alternate languages, subtitles, smooth fast-forward and rewind. This may sound basic, but it is actually difficult in the streaming world.

A second element is getting existing content in the cloud. This was a significant factor in getting the music industry to switch from physical to digital sales. Once I could get my collection of CDs digitised, I started buying new music in digital format.  This is likely to happen with video content.  

If I can have all of my movies available in digital format in the cloud and be able to access them anytime and anywhere, then I am more likely to buy new content digitally. Look for "Disk to Digital" or "Digital Copy" solutions to deliver this change.  

How is Ultraviolet (the unified 'digital library' that's supported by Rovi) going to change the way people consume content?

If nothing else, UltraViolet (UV) will help raise consumer awareness about the benefits and convenience of digital entertainment, fuelling the shift from disc-based entertainment.

For digital to completely replace physical disc distribution, the value proposition needs to be strong. Consumers need to feel confident that the content they purchase will be easily accessible to them across a range of digital devices.

In other words, digital has to offer the same portability and universal playback capabilities as DVD and Blu-ray Disc. UV is a major step in this direction. The other part of the value proposition is quality.

We believe there's still some work to do here in order to deliver the quality of DVD and BD in a digital environment.

What does that mean for consumers interacting with video, and what does that mean for brands?

The broader market move to digital content delivery is resulting in consumers having complete control over their entertainment experience.

Consumers now have the ability to enjoy what they want, when and where they choose. For brands this poses both a challenge and an opportunity.

Brands can no longer rely on a 30-second spot to reach their target market. They need to seek advertising options that reach consumers across the many platforms and devices they now use to consumer entertainment.

They also need to think more about the form and manner in which they engage consumers as one size no longer fits all.

8 Crazy Gadgets to Buy If You Win Mega Millions

What would you buy if you won Friday's world-record $640 million Mega Millions jackpot? That's this week's thought-provoking question being thrown around online and offline across the U.S.

You can purchase plenty of things with the half a billion dollar prize, including the eight gems we rounded up in the gallery above. "Mega Millions" is currently number one on Google's hourly updated list of top 20 trending topics, so you're not alone in wanting to get in on all the action.

SEE ALSO: 20 Over-The-Top Tweets About the Mega Millions Jackpot

Lottery tickets cost $1 per play. To win, a player must match all of his or her six numbers on a ticket to the numbers picked during the drawing. The jackpot is paid in 26 annual payments or in a smaller cash option. The cash option this go-around is $389 million.

SEE ALSO: 7 Tools to Generate Your Random Mega Millions Numbers

How many tickets did you buy? Would you snag any of the gadgets in the gallery?