jueves, 31 de enero de 2013

Steve Jobs’ Diet Put Ashton Kutcher in Hospital Days Before Filming Biopic

Ashton Kutcher spent time in the hospital just days before filming his movie role as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, revealed the 34-year-old actor at the Sundance Film Festival.

Kutcher was imitating Jobs' fruit-only diet to prepare for the lead role in jOBS, the indie film about the tech luminary. The biopic premiered at Sundance, garnering mixed reviews.

"First of all, the fruitarian diet can lead to, like, some severe issues," he said. "I ended up in the hospital like two days before we started shooting the movie. I was, like, doubled over in pain.

"My pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which was really terrifying ... considering everything."

"My pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which was really terrifying ... considering everything."

Jobs died from pancreatic cancer in 2011.

The movie — not to be confused with the one Sony Pictures is creating based on Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs — opens in theaters April 19. In Isaacson's book, though, the author quoted Jobs recalling one of his "fruitarian diets." Jobs described how a trip to an apple farm inspired his company's name: "Apple took the edge off the word 'computer.'"

Actors who portray real people in films often mimic their behaviors to better fit the part on screen, or even go on extreme diets to transform their bodies to look like someone else's.

Tom Hanks lost 55 pounds to resemble a stranded plane crash survivor in Cast Away, for example, while Charlize Theron gained 30 pounds to play a prostitute in Monster.

SEE ALSO: Steve Wozniak Says Scene From Steve Jobs Movie Is 'Totally Wrong'

Thumbnail image via Sundance Institute; video courtesy Chris Barrett's YouTube channel

How Long Till Facebook Clones Vine? No, Facebook Should Have Invented Vine

Facebook used to build the future, but since the mobile era began it's been chasing what's next — buying Instagram, reskinning Beluga as Messenger, copying Snapchat as Poke, and now getting beat to animated photos by Twitter's Vine and Cinemagram. If Facebook doesn't bust out its crystal ball, it could get picked apart by visionary competitors, or lose its reputation for innovation.

Mark Zuckerberg may not have invented the concept of social networking, but he sure executed on it. Facebook went on to pioneer some powerful products, including photo tagging, the relevancy-sorted news feed, the off-site Like button, and the unified cross-platform messaging system. The entire concept of a social network that used your real name and offline social graph to create an authenticated online version of your identity seemed forward thinking in the age of Myspace. These features helped Facebook blow past competitors to become the dominant social network for the whole world.

Up until the last few years, Facebook seemed to pay little attention to competitors, and its acquisitions were focused on talent, back-end technology, and patents. But since 2011 as mobile has increasingly become the access point to the web, Facebook seems to have slowed down. Many of its latest products and app launches were done first by its competitors.

Beluga Messenger DoneBeluga and GroupMe proved English-speaking markets wanted dedicated mobile messaging apps that could replace expensive SMS and let you communicate with multiple people at once. At the time Facebook offered mobile messaging, but it was buried in its bloated primary apps. It ended up buying Beluga in March 2011 and turning it into Messenger, which has been a solid success with 56 million monthly users by the end of 2012.

From there, the chase was on. Facebook launched its Subscribe feature which is basically identical to Twitter's asymmetrical following system. It bought location discovery service Gowalla and turned it into its own Foursquare competitor called Facebook Nearby. Then it acquired social gift-buying startup Karma and morphed it into its real-world e-commerce debut Facebook Gifts.

The trend was really crystalized, though, by Facebook's willingness to pay $1 billion (eventually $715 million) to buy dedicated photo filtering and sharing community Instagram. Considering tagged photo sharing on the web was what originally made Facebook go viral, why hadn't it foreseen the need for a bigger mobile-photos play?

It lucked out on the Instagram acquisition, too. Other companies, including rival Twitter, were trying to buy the startup, as well. And while it didn't get as much support due to the acquisition of already thriving Instagram, Facebook Camera finished 2012 with just 1.5 million users. If that had been Facebook's only mobile photo app, and a competitor owned Instagram, Facebook's future would be much bleaker.

Facebook's tardiness didn't stop there. Most recently it saw Snapchat growing fast as people discovered the joy of self-destructing photo sharing — a vacation from the permanence of everything shared on Facebook. So it launched Poke, a near carbon copy of Snapchat, and bragged that a small team had built the app in just 12 days.


Sure some top talent might see that news and think, "wow, Facebook's not like red tape-saddled giants like Google. It really moves fast if it can build a full-fledged app that quickly." But many other great engineers, product managers, and designers might much prefer to be at a startup inventing new ways of communicating, not fast-following them.

The talent crunch in technology is no joke. There are rock stars out there that can make or break a company. With the explosion in seed funding, it's easier than ever for them to start their own company and join a nimble new one. And with cash-rich companies like Apple and Google around, Facebook may not be able to pay the most to attract these 10x or 100x team members.

If it's going to win the best workers, Facebook has to rely on its image as a world-changing innovator that brings people closer together. It can't do that by simply buying or cloning the next big thing. It has to amp up the futurism, and think outside the blue box it seems trapped in.

We'll see how this plays out with Vine, the 6-second looping video standalone app Twitter launched yesterday. Facebook considered it a big enough threat to block Vine's access to its Find Friends API because it replicates Facebook functionality. By Poke's schedule, you could expect Facebook's version of Vine by February 5th. I'm imagining a Facebook standalone app called Movement or Moment that lets you shoot and tag friends in short animated videos. Honestly, I'd probably use it.

But Facebook can't think like that – or it can and has to think farther into the future, too. It needs to build what's at the end of the Vine, what's faster than a Snap, and what carries more weight than any Gram.

[Image Credits: Mai994 / DeviantArtJetlib]

For more on this topic, read:

Facebook Is Done Giving Its Precious Social Graph To Competitors

Facebook Clarifies Ban On Apps That Use Its Data To Replicate Its Features Or Don't Share Back

Hands-on With The Week’s Top Apps

It was a big week for apps.

Twitter released Vine, a new way for creating and sharing video content, and Temple Run 2, the app that garnered an astounding 20 million downloads in its first 4 weeks in the iOS App Store finally made its way to Android.

We saw a few new apps for reading your news, and a new app for sharing your opinion about literally everything.

Curious what some of these new apps really look like? Check out the video above for a visual run-through of our top apps from the week.

Have you given any of this week's top apps a try? Tell us about your favorites in the comments.

Mixed Reviews of ‘jOBS’ Hit Twitter After Sundance Premiere

The independent biopic about tech icon Steve Jobs premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week, and the movie as well as Ashton Kutcher's portrayal of the former Apple CEO generated mixed feelings on Twitter and in online reviews from Sundance attendees.

Titled jOBS, the film debuted not long after Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak criticized a scene, going as far as to describe the personalities and moment as "totally wrong."

The Joshua Michael Stern-directed film — not to be confused with the one Sony Pictures is creating based on Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs — will arrive in theaters on April 19.

Here are the good, the bad and the funny reviews from Sundance viewers on Twitter:





  • Eric Kohn of Indiewire: "The movie is constantly at war with attempts to provide an honest portrayal, almost as if its subject were reaching beyond the grave to steer any negativity back in the direction of a hagiography."

  • Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter: "While the film's emphasis is on Jobs' career, it also touches on less savory aspects of his personal life, including his rejection of pregnant girlfriend Chrisann Brennan and repudiation of his daughter Lisa in his early 20s. And jOBS doesn't gloss over his reputation for unwavering perfection, direct speech and temperamentalism."

  • Justin Chang of Variety: "Ultimately, jOBS is a prosaic but not unaffecting tribute to the virtues of defiance, nonconformity, artistry, beauty, craftsmanship, imagination and innovation, qualities it only intermittently reflects as a piece of filmmaking. Freddy Waff's production design and Lisa Jensen-Nye's costumes subtly capture the look of each decade; the soundtrack blares too insistently with some of Jobs' favorite artists, including Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan."

  • Main image courtesy of the Sundance Institute/ Thumbnail images courtesy of Eonline video

    America Has Hit “Peak Jobs”

    "The middle class is being hollowed out," says James Altucher. "Economists are shifting their attention toward a [...] crisis in the United States: the significant increase in income inequality," reports the New York Times.

    Think all those job losses over the last five years were just caused by the recession? No: "Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market," according to an AP report on how technology is killing middle-class jobs.

    When I was growing up in Canada, I was taught that income distribution should and did look like a bell curve, with the middle class being the bulge in the middle. Oh, how naïve my teachers were. This is how income distribution looks in America today:

    Income distribution in America, 2011

    That big bulge up above? It's moving up and to the left. America is well on the way towards having a small, highly skilled and/or highly fortunate elite, with lucrative jobs; a vast underclass with casual, occasional, minimum-wage service work, if they're lucky; and very little in between.

    But it won't be 19th century capitalism redux, there'll be no place for neo-Marxism. That underclass won't control the means of production. They'll simply be irrelevant.

    Why? Technology. Especially robots. The Atlantic is already wringing its hands over "The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots." These days robots are in factories everywhere–but soon enough they'll be doing plenty of service jobs too. Meanwhile, software is eating white-collar jobs.

    Well, at least the newly unemployed can still go flip burgers…oh, wait, robots are doing that, too. (And other machines can print the meat. No, really.) No wonder people with jobs increasingly feel they have to work harder and longer.

    Of course the robot manufacturers dispute this characterization. "While automation may transform the workforce and eliminate certain jobs, it also creates new kinds of jobs that are generally better paying and that require higher-skilled workers," says the NYT.

    That's true, and the usual retort to this kind of Luddism. But what if, as I've been saying for more than a year, technology is now destroying jobs faster than it's creating them? What if America has hit peak jobs?

    Here's your answer: that's a good thing…in the long run. Job loss isn't actually a problem in and of itself. Instead it's a symptom of something much larger.

    Step back a minute. Way back. What precisely is the purpose of technological innovation? Why do we want to make things faster, smarter, better, healthier, new? To get rich? OK: to generate wealth, and ultimately, eliminate scarcity. The endgame, where we're going as a species if we don't screw up badly and destroy ourselves or burn out all our resources before we get there, is some kind of post-scarcity society.

    Will people have jobs in a post-scarcity society? No. That's what post-scarcity means. They'll have things to do, authorities, responsibilities, ambitions, callings, etc., but not jobs as we understand them. So if the endgame is a world without jobs, how will we get there? All at once? No: by a slow and inexorable decline of the total number of jobs. Today's America is just at the edge, the very beginning, of that decline.

    Trouble is, America, more than any other nation, is built around the notion that all able-bodied adults should have jobs. That's going to be a big problem.

    Paul Kedrosky recently wrote a terrific essay about what I call cultural technical debt, i.e. "organizations or technologies that persist, largely for historical reasons, not because they remain the best solution to the problem for which they were created. They are often obstacles to much better solutions." Well, the notion that 'jobs are how the rewards of our society are distributed, and every decent human being should have a job' is becoming cultural technical debt.

    If it's not solved, then in the coming decades you can expect a self-perpetuating privileged elite to accrue more and more of the wealth generated by software and robots, telling themselves that they're carrying the entire world on their backs, Ayn Rand heroes come to life, while all the lazy jobless "takers" live off the fruits of their labor. Meanwhile, as the unemployed masses grow ever more frustrated and resentful, the Occupy protests will be a mere candle flame next to the conflagrations to come. It's hard to see how that turns into a post-scarcity society. Something big will need to change.

    Image credit: Tom Brandt, Flickr.

    Intuit’s New Payments Directions In NFC, Passbook And Facebook Revealed In 20+ New Products

    Yesterday Intuit took a step into social commerce with the acquisition of the team, technology and patents of social payments startup Payvment. Today, it's revealing more about how it plans to expand its services into new areas to complement its bread-and-butter business of payrolls and accounting software, with over 20 new products. They include those in payments technologies using NFC and Apple's Passbook, consumer-focused big data apps, and new products for its Mint financial-management range.

    A handful are getting launched this year and some tomorrow, while the rest are still in the experimental phase, Mint says.

    Although today's event is happening one day after the Payvment acquisition, Intuit tells me that's more coincidence than intentional, but taken together they point to how the company is trying to be more aggressive and innovative about how it plans to develop its product lines going forward.

    The various products were unveiled at an innovations showcase at Intuit's HQ in Mountain View. Here is a rundown of some of the more interesting among them, with some comments from CEO Brad Smith on the wider trends that they speak to:

    Facebook marketing (experiment). This is one area where Intuit may expand on Payvment's technology in  social commerce and advertising, the two services that Payvment already offered to businesses. Here the idea will be to use Intuit's mobile and online commerce platform, GoPayment, to push out discounts to customers via Facebook after they make a payment, facilitating repeat purchases.

    Brad Smith, Intuit's CEO, confirmed that Payvment's technology will be going here, but also into other areas in Intuit's portfolio. "We were most excited about exploring the opportunities," he said in an interview with TechCrunch. "We wanted to get the team on board; it was an acqui-hire in that sense. Facebook marketing is one of several areas they will work on but what I like is how they can bring the social aspect into other areas."

    Optical Card Scanning (launching on Wednesday). This is a new extension for GoPayment, where users will now be able to use a smartphone or a tablet's camera to scan cards for payment, rather than use the swiper. This is similar to the service provided by PayPal's Card.io.

    I asked Smith whether he thought the mobile payments space would inevitably consolidate, given how many players are built on the Square model of dongles-and-mobile-devices. "Mobile payments right now is not a zero sum game," he said, noting that 55 percent of businesses in the U.S. still don't accept credit cards. "We are going to have tons of category growth, but it will come down to who has the best overall value proposition. Payments have to work with banks, accounting packages, and so on. We have all that. That's why I feel good about our package. We have an ecosystem that supports payment. Consolidation will come down to a handful of people, but it will be about people who have the ecosystem and scale."

    Passbook Discounts (experiment). This will be Intuit's first foray into Apple's Passbook loyalty and coupon/ticket aggregating service. Similar to its Facebook marketing experiment, Intuit will use Passbook to push discounts to would-be customers; here the idea is to make the service location-based and send them out when they are near a particular store via geo-fencing technology.

    NFC (experiment). Yes, Intuit is looking to take the NFC plunge, but it is still in the process of figuring out if the technology is something that its customers would actually prefer to use instead of cards. "I can't say it's inevitable but it's one potential scenario," said Smith. "Whether we're looking at NFC or the dongle, we're casting all those scenarios. We need to have a bet in all of them but then let the market decide who will win. It's the power of customer data. Not opinion."

    QuickBooks Online (launching). This is one of several products where Intuit is looking to add more social services. Here, the company is expanding its invoice service QuickBooks to 40 markets, and in the localizing effort, it's adding a wiki-style, crowdsourced element to let locals contribute new data to help others in their regions. Generation Demandforce, Intuit's automated marketing tool, now will give its users access to an online community to "connect and share unique insights with thousands of other business marketers."

    "Social is huge for us," said Smith. "We are looking at trends and how they will shift in the next 10 years and how companies will operate. And what we've found is that we no longer want to be consumers. We want to be participants: we choose what we want so we have to make our products configurable from actions to interactions. When you have 60 million customers who can share their wisdom, it can help power people as individuals."

    Data Connections (experiment). The idea here is to develop a big data-based service for small businesses and individuals. Using anonymized data from across Intuit's 60 million existing customers, individuals will be able to get insights into how particular businesses or business segments are performing.

    "We see data as one of two things," Smith told me. "The first is that it helps you do more things and the second is that it delivers new insights to help you improve your life, using data to get a better return on investment. Very few people have the data we have: We process 40 percent of the U.S.'s tax returns; we pay 1 in 12 Amercians, and we're the fifth-largest bank in the nation based on bank data. So with users' permission we can produce a lot of interesting insights."

    The full list of products covered today by Intuit:
    QuickBooks Online Global
    TurboTax CPA Select
    Mint Home and Business
    Purchase Rewards
    GoPatient (a mobile companion app for doctors' patient portals that lets patients refill subscriptions, see lab results, make appointments and pay their bills)
    Data Connections
    Tablet Banking (this is taking a current iPad app to Android)
    Intuit Payment Network
    Intuit Partner Platform
    QBO Cloud Ecosystem
    QuickBooks Financing
    Snap Payroll
    Health Debit Card
    Live Customer Community
    SnapTax Expanded Capabilities
    TurboTax CPA
    TurboTax for iPad
    TurboTax Military Edition
    TurboTax Refund Tracker

    After customer goes to jail, NYC restaurant learns that social media can be unfair

    Posted 28 January 2013 16:33pm by Patricio Robles with 9 comments

    Smith & Wollensky is a high-end steakhouse located in New York City but the next time you're visiting the Big Apple, it might not be your top choice for a fillet if you're searching for a restaurant through a popular reviews service like Yelp.

    That's because the restaurant is currently suffering from a bout of social media backlash after reports that it made a very bad customer service decision.

    According to numerous news articles, after racking up a $200-plus bill at Smith & Wollensky, Italian attorney Graziano Graziussi realized that he had forgotten his wallet.

    He offered his iPhone to the restaurant as collateral. And he offered to be accompanied to his hotel by a member of the restaurant staff. The latter, it would seem, would provide a satisfactory means to resolve the matter.

    But for some reason unknown, the staff at Smith & Wollensky opted to call the police, and Graziussi's nightcap took place at the local jail.

    Thanks to the internet, a lie can travel around the world before the truth gets its tweet on

    Smith & Wollensky's apparent bad faith decision to treat a customer who made an honest mistake like a criminal was obviously a poor one, and thanks to the internet and nature of the story, Graziussi's story spread quickly.

    The result, not surprisingly, has been a social media beat-down for Smith & Wollensky. Graziano Graziussi's tale is making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, as well as on popular blogs and mainstream news outlets.

    And on Yelp, an important site for many restaurants, Smith & Wollensky has seen its rating drop to three stars, not what you'd expect from an upscale steakhouse. There are dozens of reviews lambasting the restaurant for its treatment of a tourist and while some have obviously been written by individuals who never patronized Smith & Wollensky, a number claim to be from past customers who won't be returning lest they forget their wallets.

    There's just one problem: the story that sparked this social media firestorm may not be accurate.

    According to New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, when police arrived at the scene, Graziussi had in his possession a wallet containing $118. And an Italian-speaking officer who interviewed Graziussi concluded that Graziussi "simply did not want to pay" his bill. A CBS New York article reports that Graziussi was arrested for theft of services, later released and will have to settle the matter.

    Smith & Wollensky's Facebook posted this information on its Facebook page, linking to the article containing the details. But this obviously won't eliminate the damage already done, and even if it turns out that this was truly a case of the customer being at fault, some individuals aren't willing to accept that reality differs from what was originally reported.

    Case in point: despite official statements from the New York City police department, some Facebook users simply don't believe that the story adds up. Graziussi must have been the victim and even after it has become clear that, at a minimum, there is more to this incident than meets the eye, they continue to blast Smith & Wollensky.

    Business as sacrificial lamb

    This raises perhaps one of the most difficult questions for businesses operating in the age of social media: should we do what's right even thought we know we might be portrayed as doing wrong?

    If we assume that the Smith & Wollensky incident was one in which a customer refused to pay a bill, which, as it apparently stands right now, is the official story according to law enforcement, it would seem that the restaurant's decision to involve the police was a reasonable one. After all, most restaurants are not going to let customers walk out the door without paying simply because they don't want to pay. Nor should they.

    But doing the right thing can be a social media liability, and at the end of the day, it's important for businesses owners to remember that we live in a world filled with injustice, perceived and actual. In the commercial realm, customers are frequently treated poorly, some companies do take advantage of and exploit, and so on and so forth. So when a story breaks -- inaccurate or not -- that feeds into this, businesses like Smith & Wollensky become perfect sacrificial lambs. That often leads to backlashes that are more fierce and angry than one might otherwise expect given the circumstances.

    Frankly, there is nothing businesses can do about this. There are no easy solutions, and few best practices for responding. But companies should never apologize for doing the right thing. Instead, they should continue to do the right thing because living in fear of the social media mob is no way to run a business, even if the mob is capable of taking its pound of flesh.

    7 Superb Gadgets to Encourage You to Eat More Fruit

    We all know we should eat more fruit, but sometimes it can be a struggle to consume the recommended five servings of fruit (or vegetables) per day.

    To try and encourage us all to get more fructose in our faces, we have taken a look at cool kitchen gadgetry that makes eating fruit easier, quicker and more fun.

    Take a look through our healthy options in the image gallery above. Share in the comments below any great gizmos you use to help you get your five-a-day.

    Thumbnail image courtesy of James

    Facebook Is Done Giving Its Precious Social Graph To Competitors

    Of all Facebook's data sets, it's the social graph that's truly unique. It's spent nine years getting you to confirm who you know, and apparently it's sick of handing over your friend list to competitors. This week it cut off both Twitter's new photo app Vine and messaging app Voxer from Find Friends, Facebook's API that lets you connect with Facebook friends on other apps. But this could backfire.

    Facebook knows who you are, what you're interested in, where you go on the web, what apps you use, and more. However, other companies have bits and pieces of these data sets. LinkedIn knows your resume, Google knows your web searches, Twitter knows who you follow, Apple and Amazon have your credit card number, and your phone's OS maker knows what apps you've downloaded. Who your real-life friends are, though, is Facebook's domain.
    Facebook Social Graph

    Reconfirming your social graph manually on other apps is awkward at worst and annoying at best. Think about it. If your Facebook account were reset and you had to send friend requests to all your old friends, how many do you think would confirm? Even your best friends might be too lazy to, and people who were glad to friend you when you met years ago probably wouldn't bother if they remember you.

    There's plenty of noise in Facebook's social graph. Some people blindly accept most requests they get, others send them to anyone they meet once, and all the connections grow stale over the years. Still, if you want to jumpstart a social app, Facebook's Find Friends feature is very valuable. It can be the difference between an empty feed and low retention, and a vibrant, addictive feed teeming with content from people you care about.

    Find Friends ScreenshotFacebook has offered Find Friends for years. But those were years when it was a web-based social network. It's more now, or at least it wants to be. Facebook hopes to host all the ways you communicate. That has pitted it against Apple, Google, and other companies in war for messaging that's only just heating up.

    Data portability first became a big issue in 2010 when Facebook blocked Twitter from using its Find Friends feature. Later that year it got into a spat with Google about exporting contact lists. Google was pissed Facebook was sucking in Gmail contacts but not exporting friend lists. Facebook eventually began offering Download Your Data, which included your Friend List, but only in plain text.

    More recently though, Twitter may have awoken the dragon when it cut off Instagram's access to Twitter's own version of "Find Friends." It was an understandable retaliation since Facebook had cut it off, and Twitter had wanted to buy Instagram, too.

    Now Facebook is coming out swinging, citing its Platform Policy that states "Competing social networks: (a) You may not use Facebook Platform to export user data into a competing social network without our permission."

    Last week it blocked voice-messaging app Voxer's access to the social graph. At the time, Facebook told me this was because Voxer qualified as a competing messaging platform, but also because Voxer wasn't contributing much back to Facebook. Voxer only had a buried, and largely unnecessary, "share to Facebook" option. It got an email stating its Find Friends access would be revoked 48 hours later.

    Then today Facebook shut off Find Friends for Twitter's Vine, as spotted by Jeff Martines and reported by The Verge. That makes both more and less sense. More because Twitter is a real competitor. It has decent scale and mindshare and competes for the same advertisers as Facebook. Twitter would love to know your Facebook social graph, which could help it refine its version, the "interest graph," which powers its ad targeting.Vine Blocked

    It makes less sense because Vine had a prominent "share to Facebook" option. What happened to Facebook only going after apps that don't contribute much back? Apparently that got overruled because Twitter is a more legitimate threat. So much so that Facebook employed its policy that "we reserve the right to take action against your app even before the end of this 48 hour period." It didn't want Twitter getting any social graph data.

    Enforcement of these policies could create a moat around Facebook. It creates a barrier to engagement, retention, and growth for competing companies. It will force social apps to rely on other data sets, such as your phone's contacts which may not have as complete of a social graph, though likely does include your closest friends whose numbers you have.

    That advantage may not be worth it, though. The enforcement means Facebook is not an "open platform." If companies are worried that Find Friends or other Facebook data access could be ripped away from them with little notice, it could cause a chilling effect on development on the Facebook platform. No one wants to build an app that relies on Facebook data if it could disappear.

    Facebook reaffirmed this fear this morning when it enforced its ban on exporting data for use in social networks. Russian search engine Yandex's new social search mobile app Wonder got all of its API calls blocked just three hours after launch. That's a lot of programming and product work down the drain.

    Facebook is playing with fire. It could use policy enforcement to cook competitors and shine a light on its dominance of social networking. But if this enforcement scares off developers whose apps might otherwise provide content that could be shown next to ads in the news feed and piped into Graph Search, Facebook could get burned badly.

    [Image Credits: NewscomGollum]

    What Makes Vine So Hot?

    Mashable OP-ED

    It's the kind of moment that comes rarely, but tech journalists live for it: a service is launched with little fanfare and receives a sudden, energetic burst of genuine buzz. Developers start remixing it in all kinds of fascinating ways. It's supremely easy to use, and mobile, so we get hooked.

    The technology itself is not new, but it is presented in a new and interesting form. It fosters creative competition. It starts to get traction in our lives.

    The last time the tech world could agree this was happening was the launch of Instagram in 2010. We'd seen plenty of photo services before; Flickr had been around for the better part of a decade.

    But here was one that was kind of a throwback to instant cameras, kind of something new, supremely social and creative in a quick and easy way.

    It also resolutely refused to exist as anything other than an iPhone app. If you wanted to use it, you pulled your phone out of your pocket, took some snapshots and filtered them, or browsed the work of others. The fast-loading stream of Polaroid-like shots was a perfect match for a smartphone screen.

    You hoped your gauzy efforts would rack up Likes from friends, of course. Who doesn't crave that recognition? But you also felt like you were participating in an historic, global effort to document human life, one snap at a time.

    In short, Instagram perfectly captured the ineffable shared something that 21st century Internet users have taken to calling "the now."

    Now here comes 2013's hot contender, another iPhone app: Vine. It's too early to tell if the service is going to blossom like Instagram did (the service has 90 million active users and counting, two and a half years after launch).

    Vine is currently #4 in the App Store, beating out Google Maps and YouTube. It's the top social networking app by far.

    Why Vine Will Thrive: Three Words

    One advantage Vine does have in its search for staying power is the enormous benefit of starting out with a major social service, Twitter, as a parent. (Instagram had to prove itself in the wild before it was snapped up by Facebook in a deal originally valued at $1 billion.)

    And if anything, Vine is even better at capturing "the now" than Instagram.

    And if anything, Vine is even better at capturing "the now" than Instagram.

    Like Twitter, Vine benefits from an inherent limit. The parent company won't let you transmit more than 140 characters of your brilliance at a time; Vine makes you shoot your video in six seconds or less. Those six seconds don't have to be consecutive — you just start and stop recording by tapping on the screen — which can lead to all manner of interesting stop-motion animations, such as this heroic example from Mashable's own Jeremy Cabalona.

    That means Vine is easily understandable, even mockable — as in this animation from the blog Willa's World:

    That's fine. Instagram was consistently mocked as a purveyor of food photos. Twitter was consistently mocked as a stream of short "what I had for breakfast" updates. Neither stereotype stopped tremendous growth. Indeed, they may well have aided it.

    What mattered in each case was that the service was easily summarized and differentiated. You could grok it instantly. You had a reason to try it. And here's a good rule of thumb: if you can describe what makes a service different in three easy words — "filtered square photos," perhaps, or "140 character updates," or "six-second videos" — it has a good shot at taking off.

    To put it another way, here's how top Valley VC Marc Andreessen has described his process for deciding which companies to invest in: "I look for the thing people are laughing at, but is growing like a weed."

    Or, indeed, a vine.

    Haven't We Been Here Before?

    Some argue that Cinemagram, or GIF creation tools like it, are better apps than Vine. Cinemagram has more functionality — you can, for example, create a GIF that loops back and forth in time, rather than repeating the way Vine does.

    But that doesn't really matter. Cinemagram and apps like it are riding a wider wave of animated GIFs. They've sacrificed differentiation to be part of a web trend. Can you honestly tell whether a GIF was created on Cinemagram? Do you care? Can you make the service sound unique in three words?

    Vine videos are short, but they're noticeably longer than most GIFs. There's less of that jarring ADD sensation. You can pack a surprising amount of visual information into six seconds. And because it's in a stream, you're encouraged to move on to the next one rather than stare at the same video over and over.

    GIFs are timeless; part of their appeal is they can be reused in online conversation over and over. Favorite GIFs become memes, and favorite memes become GIFs. But Vine's appeal is almost the opposite. It's raw footage, cinema verite. It's not surprising that the first news Vine, a dolphin trapped in New York harbor, arrived almost immediately.

    You can see that most clearly on a service like Vinepeek, which aggregates Vine videos in real time. The results are quotidian, but endlessly fascinating. A guy jumps for joy in a parking lot. A horse grazes in a field. Someone opens a Pop Tart. Someone bowls a strike.

    All human (and non-human) life is here. It's the now, in its purest distilled form.

    Is Vine going to keep growing, or will it wilt? Share your predictions in the comments.

    Taking charge of the Australian digital economy

    Posted 27 January 2013 22:15pm by Claire Brinkley with 0 comments

    If Australia wants to take a leadership position in the increasingly global and digital economy, corporations and corporate leaders must make changes to their business plans and direct their resources accordingly. 

    This view is expressed in a recent report co-produced by Telstra and Deloitte Digital, which discusses the expected growth rate of the Australian digital economy and highlights the best ways for corporations to cope and respond to the change that will come from this. 

    Visionary leadership

    David Thodey, CEO at Telstra, believes the big challenge for Australian businesses this year will be how to best use the digital opportunities that have opened up. M-commerce, big data, robotics, social media - every part of our economy can benefit from this new era of connectivity, but Thodey says the key will be in making the most of these opportunities: 

    We now have a new generation of globally connected consumers and businesses who behave very differently - and we must adapt to these changes and take advantage of the new opportunities.

    By the end of the decade we will have connected just about every device to next generation networks, from smartphones and offices of the future, to educational resources and digital home appliances. 

    CEO at Deloitte Australia Giam Swiegers agrees with this sentiment, saying that the choices that are being made now are crucial in determining whether Australia takes a position of leadership at the forefront of this digital change, or falls behind. 

    However, he also highlights that in order to succeed in the global economy, Australia needs to place importance on developing and understanding how to deliver existing products and services, in a way that is truly new and different, echoing issues raised earlier this year through the development of Australia's Silicon Beach

    [The] country's prosperity will depend on visionary leadership, enabling Australian entrepreneurial spirit, becoming more agile in decision-making and investing in the talent required to support the digital economy. 

    Five points of focus

    According to Swiegers and Thodey, for Australia to take on a leadership position our corporations must accept accountability and "direct their resources accordingly". In line with this, Deloitte believes that corporations will need to focus on five things if they want to succeed in the digital economy.

    These are:

    Investing in new capabilities over old business models. Which ultimately means investing heavily in digital, utilising multi-channel sales and services and taking risks instead of waiting for everyone else to do so first.

    Treasuring customer relationships. Customer relationships are the lifeblood of every organisation, but the report points out that this is often forgotten in the race to raise profits, with incumbents adding extra fees instead of focusing on improving their customer base.

    Becoming fast and agile. The digital world is incredibly fast paced and Deloitte emphasises the need to make tough, quick decisions in the face of increasing threat from digital competition.

    Knowing who the true competitors are. Knowing your competition is vital because those cheaper alternatives and products that may not have been so much of a threat in the past are now easily accessible to all consumers in the digital world. No longer will you be safeguarded by location or exchange rate or store size.

    Investing in talent. Good people do good work and businesses need talented and skilled staff to stay on top. This means ensuring the right people are hired, creating a company culture that is conducive to happy staff and making sure people are properly appreciated and recognised. 

    The future

    The digital world is still a scary place for some organisations, but 2013 needs to be the year this changes.

    As Swiegers and Thodley aptly point out, if corporations heed the opportunities that digital presents, rather than fear the change it could cause, then Australia is in for a very prosperous future. 

    Australian organisations who continue to make the most of their current business model, but also invest in new capabilities and future business models will thrive as our economy becomes ever more digital.

    Those winners are not afraid to invest ahead of consensus, and may well be rewarded with surprise successes whilst their more cautious peers may be left behind struggling with a high, inflexible cost base that is no longer supported by a leaner, faster economy.

    Customers will reward those who invest in line with their needs and expectations and punish those who believe it's enough to rest on past laurels.

    Sure, sometimes timing can be off, new products fail or take longer to take foot. But as long as these failures can be digested by an organisation's leadership and customer base, they do not become material setbacks.

    [Image credit: Johan Larsson]

    Unlocking Your Phone Is Now Illegal, But What Does That Mean For You?

    All the salacious headlines are (mostly) true — as of today, you can't unlock a carrier-subsidized smartphone on your own before the contract associated with it runs out without technically running afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Granted, I'd wager that the number of people who faithfully stick to their multi-year wireless contracts far exceeds the number of people who would unlock their phones and bail, but this is still a damned lousy turn of events for all you proponents of phone freedom out there (myself included).

    But how did this actually happen? To more clearly understand the change that went into effect today, we have to flash back to the heady days of 2010.

    In late July of that year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced on its blog that it had won three big exemptions to the DMCA. One of them dealt with the legality of using copyrighted footage from DVDs for noncommercial works of "criticism or comment," but yet another exemption made it legal to jailbreak a phone, and the final was actually the renewal of an existing exemption for (you guessed it) unlocking phones for use on other networks.

    Everything was copacetic until this past October, when the U.S. Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress spent time reviewing some of those exceptions made to the DMCA. Geekier endeavors like jailbreaking or rooting your devices are still totally kosher, but after extensive review the original exemption for unlocking phones was overturned, noting the ability for users to unlock their own phones for use on other networks just wasn't necessary anymore given the perceived ease of obtaining either a pre-unlocked phone or a carrier-sanctioned way to unlock one:

    The [Register of Copyrights] concluded after a review of the statutory factors that an exemption to the prohibition on circumvention of mobile phone computer programs to permit users to unlock "legacy" phones is both warranted and unlikely to harm the market for such programs.

    At the same time, in light of carriers' current unlocking policies and the ready availability of new unlocked phones in the marketplace, the record did not support an exemption for newly purchased phones.

    The decision goes on to say that, considering "precedents in copyright law," a 90 day transitional period would be allowed so people would have time to unlock their phones before the exemption kicked in. That period has just run out.

    The full text of the Librarian's report can be found here (the section on unlocking starts on page 16), and after taking a few moments to glance through it, the amount of lobbying and discussion that went into the process of drawing a conclusion is pretty amazing. As you might expect, one of the most vocal proponents of axing the exemption was the CTIA, a wireless trade group that counts every major U.S. wireless carrier (not to mention a whole host of others) among its members. It's no shock to see the CTIA — and, by extension, the carriers — get a little worked up over this.

    You see, shelling out a mere $99 and signing a piece of paper may seem like a trivial action for the person actually doing it, but the carriers view the situation a little differently. They sell those phones with hefty subsidies in hopes that they'll make up the difference (and then some) over the two years a customer is contractually bound. In this case, the CTIA's argument basically boils down one of money: "the practice of locking cell phones is an essential part of the wireless industry's predominant business model." Put another way, unlocking a phone can be considered one of the first steps in jamming up a carrier's revenue stream, and they certainly don't want that happening too often. In this case, carriers get some additional protection without inconveniencing their customers en masse — not a bad deal for them.

    So yes, unlocking your phone without your carrier's explicit approval is technically verboten. But let's not forget what this particular change doesn't mean — the police most likely aren't going to knock down your door because you felt the compulsion to free your phone from your carrier's shackles. It also doesn't mean that the stash of old phones nestled in your drawer can't be unlocked — so-called "legacy" devices are exempt from silly change, so feel free to take your old phones and show them a little bit of freedom. You can still buy unlocked phones from eBay and Amazon like you always could, and hey, some phones sold by carriers are unlocked right out of the box anyway.

    But all those caveats raise an even weightier question: what will actually happen if you unlock your phone? For now, it's the sort of question that comes without any clear answers — if anyone, it's the carriers who have the ability to detect and crack down on unsanctioned unlocked phones, but so far none of them seem very keen on addressing the matter. I've reached out to representatives from AT&T and T-Mobile, the two most prominent GSM carriers in the country (and therefore the two carriers that are mostly likely to deal with the issue of unlocked phones) and asked what would happen if either carrier had determined that one of their customers had illicitly unlocked their phone.

    Surprise, surprise — I was met with canned responses and unsatisfying non-answers at every turn. It seems they're angling to keep that particular card close to their chests for now. What's also unclear is whether or not intrepid unlockers (and the folks that make unlocking tools and services) will soon face any legal ramifications. Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Mitch Stoltz told Engadget earlier today that the U.S. Copyright Office is "taking away a shield that unlockers could use in court if they get sued."

    The key word in that sentence is "if" — while I doubt we'll be hearing about many unlocking-related lawsuits in the weeks and months to come, there's little denying that this turn of events has left more than a few people wondering about what it really means to purchase and own something. Some have already made their discontent known; a We The People petition imploring the Librarian of Congress to rescind the decision has already made the rounds on Reddit and Hacker News, and racked up nearly 15,000 signatures in two days.

    miércoles, 30 de enero de 2013

    Developing a multilingual content marketing strategy

    Posted 23 January 2013 12:30pm by Christian Arno with 4 comments

    For digital marketers, content marketing is top of the priority list for 2013. And as more of the world gets online, the global audience for content is growing fast.

    According to the UN Broadband Commission, a third of the world population already has internet access, and this is set to rise to 40%, or 3bn, by 2016.

    For digital marketers, content marketing is top of the priority list for 2013. And as more of the world gets online, the global audience for content is growing fast. According to the UN Broadband Commission, a third of the world population already has internet access, and this is set to rise to 40%, or 3bn, by 2016.

    More brands are realising the opportunities presented by the rapidly growing markets in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Global companies such as Coca-Cola, Nike, and L'Oreal are reaching out to these online users through social media, video marketing, and other targeted digital campaigns.

    Multilingual websites are already seen as necessary by most large companies, with one study finding that 58 per cent of Fortune 500 companies already have them. But this is just the starting point. Developing an effective international content marketing strategy involves adapting the message to different audiences, and using multiple channels to engage consumers.

    Here are four steps to taking a content strategy global:

    1. Develop a compelling core message

    Every company has a core brand image, whether it's young and cool, or conveys a sense of timeless luxury.

    Starbucks is not just about selling cups of coffee, the brand aims to create a sense of community and be a comforting "third place". It's synonymous with an aspirational Western lifestyle in China,where it's rapidly opening new stores and winning customers (despite a traditional preference for tea).

    Red Bull's brand is linked with extreme sports, and it's billed as the drink of choice of adrenaline junkies.

    McDonald's uses same basic message "I'm lovin' it" around the world, while adapting its menus and marketing to fit local audiences. Just as the menu serves pork with rice in Hawaii and paneer wraps in India, its websites and local marketing have been adapted to fit local preferences.

    2. Translate and localise the message

    English might be the most widely spoken language on the internet, but the UN Broadband Commission predicts it will be overtaken by Chinese in 2015. And research by the Common Sense Advisory shows that people are much more likely to respond to web content in their own language.

    But translation is only the start, and it's vital to localise the message. This involves considering everything from the tone of voice to references to popular celebrities or TV programs. Ideally, it should be considered at an early stage.

    McDonald's uses in-country translation and localisation teams ensure that the content strikes the right note.

    One benefit of international marketing is that content can be translated and adapted for different markets. While Google penalises duplication in English, it doesn't recognise the same content in translation. A multilingual strategy can give more value for the same content, enabling it to reach many more users.

    3. Simplify content management

    Managing websites, blogs, social media, and other digital marketing across multiple languages can be a tricky juggling act. In many cases it makes sense to outsource some aspects; for example by hiring local social media managers.

    But it also helps to have the right tools and systems to simplify the task. Many content management systems now make it easy to manage content across various languages. Joomla, Drupal and Wordpress all support multiple languages, with features to simplify the process.

    4. Develop an integrated strategy

    A strategy that uses multiple channels, and integrates content marketing with paid advertising, can be the most effective way of conveying a message.

    Pizza Hut is one global company that is successfully using multiple platforms in China: using its Sina Weibo page (the local equivalent of Twitter) to link to special offers in restaurants. It recently teamed up with Sina to feature the microblogging site in a TV advertising campaign.

    (Image credit: Cnet Asia)

    Another example is FC Barcelona, which launched a localised website and social media feed via the rival site, Tencent Weibo, tapping into a strong existing fan base in the country. It also developed a partnership with the Catalan tourist board, promoting the region at the same time.

    It's also vital not to neglect mobile phones. Ensuring content, whether that's a video, blog or website, works on the small screen, can be key to reaching a wider audience.

    Want The Best Enterprise Software? “Date” It

    Editor's note: Mikkel Svane is CEO and co-founder of Zendesk. Zendesk is hosting a panel on the consumerization of the enterprise at their HQ in San Francisco on Tuesday, January 29. TechCrunch's Eric Eldon is moderating. Follow Mikkel on Twitter @mikkelsvane.

    Dating used to be a lot harder before the Internet. Your access to information was limited by proximity effect, and your ways of communicating to people beyond who you already knew and who you were trying to get to know were few. You were restricted from true choice. Then the culture changed, and technology helped it. Today's dating world is transformed by both changes in culture and technology which lift many cultural barriers. When we talk about the "consumerization of the enterprise," similar changes have occurred.

    When online dating, you can choose anyone you like to reach out to, for the most part. It's the same when selecting enterprise software.

    There Are Lots Of Fish In The Sea

    Maybe you like someone who's elegant – of few words? Perhaps you prefer a multi-tasker with a wild color scheme? Maybe you don't know what you like, or what's best suited to you?

    Just like choosing someone to date, and knowing there are so many people in the world, there's an incredible variety of software products out there. But today, you have the power to choose whatever you like best, whatever's best suited to your needs. Previous barriers to your selection process (and ultimate happiness) have been lifted. You're free to discover a really great solution — a potential life partner — based on your own preferences, needs and philosophies.

    It's becoming rarer by the day for someone to tell you what you must choose. In other words, there are fewer "arranged marriages" with respect to your software selection. In modern companies, rarely does someone from the IT department deliver you a piece of software that you don't like but are forced to use. The obstacles that used to restrict your ability to select the software you want — i.e. whom you can date — are becoming things of the past.

    Today, real choice exists. You can find something that's truly amazing. End-users in your company — for example, your customer service team — can help you decide what software to use. After all, they're the ones using it. They're the ones taking the free trials and getting to know what's available on the market. End-users are now driving choices your organization makes about buying; it's not just a decision maker from on high who makes the call. (At least, not without major pushback.)

    Never Go On Another Blind Date Again

    But it's better than that. Just as you wouldn't want someone to tell you whom you should date, you don't want some outside authority to make a software choice for you. Now, the way you find your software can be organic. It can come from word-of-mouth recommendations.

    Today, you don't get all your information from a research company and then go buy your software based only on that evaluation. No, the software you try first — the person you decide to ask for a first date — probably came to your attention from a very trusted source, like close friends.

    Even if close friends make the suggestion to you but haven't yet made the introduction — setting up a classic blind date — there's no such thing as "blind" anymore.

    Research is fundamentally changed, and information is everywhere. At Zendesk, 15 percent of our mid-market customers make buying decisions without the assistance of a salesperson. In other words, companies today make huge buying decisions based on their own research, following "unassisted" research patterns. They can get the information they want without needing the help of another party, i.e. the traditional intermediary role of sales.

    This is true of dating, too. Even if friends set you up for a date but you haven't met the person, you still don't have to go into the experience "blind." The research tools available to you — Twitter, Instagram, Google — provide information you can use to make your choice, in addition to the advice of friends.

    This means you're in control of the partner — and software — you choose.

    Try Before You Buy

    In dating, you can take someone out and get to know him or her first before deciding on another step. Similarly, today's software environment requires that pricing be extremely flexible so consumers can try something first, see how it works and fits into their business.

    Many businesses, including Zendesk, have a free trial to start, and then offer various graded options as needs change, all for monthly subscription-based fees. You have the choice to add more features and functionality, and pay as you go. If you decide to upgrade, you do it when you're ready.

    In dating parlance, you've decided to make the relationship "exclusive." It's about getting to know someone before making bigger commitments. The point is: you can try a software product and decide after spending time with it if it's the absolute best solution for you.

    Txt me: u r on my mind <3

    Dating today without mobile is unthinkable. Texting is a completely new platform for communication, for flirting, connecting and coming together. It's exciting knowing you can communicate at any time, anywhere. A map feature helps you get to the restaurant, and your GPS could let you know your date is nearby. In fact, many location-aware apps can be used for dating, and some dating services are apps only. With mobile, the information you need is always available, and it encourages more accessible interactions.

    Likewise, mobile functionality is a top consideration for enterprise software. People are using different devices in many places, and they want access to all their information at all times.

    Happily Ever After

    It's the same revolution. In dating, traditional barriers to free choice changed as the culture changed. Suddenly, you could date whomever you wanted, if you could convince them to date you, and ultimately choose with whom to spend your time…and maybe your life. "Consumerization of the enterprise" means you're free in the same way. You can choose a software product, try it out, go at your own pace, and arrive at a solution that really works for you.

    Consumerization of the enterprise, like dating in a brave new tech-enabled world, is the way to build beautiful relationships.