Category Archives: Google

Improving Search: Microsoft, Yahoo look to reviews, location

Yahoo is reportedly partnering with location review service Yelp to improve local search, according to @WSJD.

Earlier in the week, Microsoft made a $15 million investment in location and review app Foursquare, combined with a partnership to utilize its location data.

It’s a wonder why this didn’t happen sooner, connecting location, reviews and search.  After all, Google has its own location and reviews in Google Places, which is now a part of Google+. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer played a key role in Google Search and Google Maps while at Google.

Connecting the dots might tell us that Yahoo and Bing are parting ways.  According to CNN Money, a clause in the partnership states that either side can opt out in 2015.

Photo by flickr/stickergiant

10 Best Tech Gifts

Best Tech under $50

Google Chromecast $35

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Roku LT $49

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Blue Snowball Mic $49

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Smartouch Tech Gloves $25 

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Best Tech under $100

Apple TV $99

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Netflix $95.88/year ($7.99/mo)

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Amazon Prime $79/year

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Best Tech under $150

Google Drive Storage $119/year 200GB ($9.99/mo)

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Kindle Fire HD 7″ $139

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Pebble Smartwatch $149

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Bonus: Tech under $250

Samsung Chromebook $249

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Google Wallet Is Here

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Google Wallet Card arrived.  Google Wallet can be used to access multiple credit and debit cards you already use, as well as loyalty cards, with the Google Wallet app.

Learn more at http://www.google.com/wallet/.

Full report on Google Wallet and the Wallet Card once I have a chance to use it.

Where Google+ one-ups Facebook

There’s one thing that Google+ already does better than Facebook: engagement. It’s the backbone of Google+. The network’s social graph is either better built than Facebook or they’re playing a different game.

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Google’s mission with Plus has been to make it more like real life. Its Hangout feature is suppose to resemble a real-world encounter of bumping into someone on the street. Circles is like our own circle of friends. Its Communities resemble actual conferences, grouping together people with like interests, whether it’s Geeks, Photographers, Programmers or Artists. Even the social graph itself seems to encourage more interaction and chance encounters.

Meanwhile, Facebook has its eyes set on becoming a digital newspaper. In fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a press conference in Menlo Park the company’s new newsfeed layout will serve as a “personalized newspaper.” Facebook appears to be content with connecting friends and family. Though its goal “to make the world more open and connected” seems to ring better with Google+ than Facebook.

Shortly after its closed beta release, in July of 2011, Eric’s Ad Blog took a look at the two networks and the public opinion that I believed would follow. As Facebook becomes a place for everyone, it loses its cool. If everyone’s doing it, it’s not cool; it’s just there.

The truth is, with the launch of Google+, Facebook risks losing all of its cool factor. Google+ is following in Facebook’s footsteps, making its initial release available to a small audience in a closed beta. Facebook was at first open only to college students (Major cool factor).

Google+ is using an invitation system (Equally cool).  Those who were selected to join Google+ were able to invite other users to the network. These invite-only users are like VIP guests to Google’s party.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s busy hanging out with your mom and dad (Not so cool).

I also speculated how the 18-24 demographic would view Google+ and Facebook, particularly when everyone is on Facebook, even our parents and in some cases grandparents.

…how will the 18-24 demo, Facebook’s biggest user base, view Goolge+? (And even 25-34. Users under 35 make up more than 62 percent of Facebook users, according to iStrategy Labs.)

Very likely, they’ll view Google+ as a cool new hangout where they can connect with friends, chat, share photos and status updates without mom.

“It’s almost like they’re the only ones on there. All your relatives are constantly commenting on your stuff. I appreciate the gesture and wanting to keep up with my life, but it’s kind of annoying,” Baret Steed, 15, told TIME in “Is Facebook Losing Its Cool? Some Teens Think So,” from March 8, 2013.

Based on what we’ve seen from Facebook and the words of Zuckerberg, Facebook is a newspaper to stay up-to-date with friends and family. Google+ is more akin to a  networking convention.

Which means the two can co-exist for now.

In time, however, our friends will be on Goolge+ too.

Then things will get interesting. 

I Want My Web TV

MTV was like an underground movement led by rebels & rock stars.

The same thing is happening now with Web TV and streaming video; Though don’t expect to see a TV campaign pushing for it. At least not yet.

More than two years ago I cut cable and moved into the web TV world. What was a bit rocky at first is now a more intuitive TV experience than ever.

Technology can change a lot in two years. And not too long from today, our current Television format will seem archaic. The entire system is wrong.

Think about it: The network buys a show; it’s produced. It airs. Did you catch it? Nope? Well too bad it’s already aired. (And then networks wonder why first-run viewership is down, and then cancel the entire show.)

Web TV gives the shows a chance, gives users a chance to watch the content. Without force-feeding it down their throats. Because it’s on the user’s schedule, not the network’s.

But it’s almost crazy to think Netflix will topple the entire cable landscape. There is a more likely scenario.

Netflix and its future competitors will force cable and premium cable companies to overhaul the formula and its pricing structure.

Which will result in a Hulu-Plus-like TV experience.

I’m starting to believe the future of TV will be a mesh of live content and on-demand offerings. A show may still premier at 7pm EST, but it will be available on-demand after it’s aired.

Where will the content come from? A network? Or Netflix? Yes and yes. Netflix, or something like it, will still exist in 10 years. It’ll be the new HBO.

Comcast-like cable will be delivered via the Internet, featuring both live and on-demand programming. And the rates? Much lower. Greater value in the eye of the customer.

What sets Web, or streaming, TV apart is on-demand content. All access. Including full seasons of shows, from the first episode to the last.

What that means: more viewers for the content and the advertising. An almost unlimited shelf-life. But the ads within the content could be updated at any time.

Will this really happen? Well, Comcast began testing IPTV at MIT last year.

What it means for advertisers: proof. Like Google analytics TV.

A recent article from VentureBeat echoed my statements, also suggesting that a web-tv future would not only be more user friendly but would also make the current Nielson rating system obsolete. Allowing networks to evaluate not only viewership, but comments, likes, and other activity over a period of time.

As I’ve said all along, products, more info and purchases will be only a button-click away.

It’s a monumental time for TV. If cable is scared now, this could very well be the calm before the storm. They’ll be forced to change. Or fall into obscurity. Like a stagnant MySpace, ignorant to the startup that would become Facebook. Cable better adapt its structure and pricing soon, before subscriptions drop.

The MTV movement was iconic.

The commercials urged viewers to call their cable company and say they want their MTV.

Put to a catchy tune, it hit the airwaves. And it worked. We’re in a similar scenario with Web TV and streaming video. And the cable companies will again get calls.

Though this time the callers won’t be begging for MTV.

They’ll be calling to cancel.

5 tech predictions for 2012

Introducing FIVE TECH PREDICTION FOR 2012.

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5. Content producers skipping the middle man

Zimedium called it on May 8, 2011. In a post titled My predictions for Internet TV and the future of Cable.

“I’d watch for more studios and content owners to explore options for skipping the middle man and becoming the means of distribution for their content.” (See story May 8, 2011)

Louis CK did it seven months later — this December — for his special Live at the Beacon Theatre. Instead of distributing the video through Netflix or HBO, Louis CK put it exclusively on his website. All fans had to do was visit his site, pay the $5 price and download the special. So how’d it turn out? Well, in 12 days, Lois CK’s DRM-free video download made a cool $1 million. And it’s still going

Louis CK’s special is only the beginning. In 2012, more will follow his model. Entertainers, content providers, even premium cable channels.

4. Customized Ads… Tailored to your purchases, browsing habits, check-ins and interests

Ads customized to your interests. Google does it best. Hulu’s already doing it with in-show ads and its Ad Swap feature. You can select what you like instead of watching what Hulu thinks you’ll like. Facebook does it. Facebook displays ads based on what fan pages you like. Foursquare does it too, by offering suggestions based on where you check in. Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley discussed the company’s Explore/Recommendation engine at LeWeb 2011 in early December 2011.

“We went through about two years of Foursquare where people thought that they were checking in for mayorships and points and badges. The check-ins weren’t just for the badges,” Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley said on stage at LeWeb 2011. Every time you tell us that you like to go to this sushi place, we get better about recommending you another place to go to. Every time you tell us that…you know a lot about this area of Paris or this are of New York, we know that you’re really familiar with that neighborhood. And we can suggest other things that you may not know about. Or we know when you’re in areas that you’re not so familiar about we can start offering things that help you out.”

Ads based on what you “like,” tweet, check-in, watch. Information you provide both voluntarily and data acquired based on your actions. Get ready to not hate the ads that interrupt your programming…at least not quite as much.

In 2012, Customized Advertising will be king. Whether you’re aware of it or not.

3. Video-game consoles becoming complete entertainment hubs

We called it an entire year ago, on Dec. 27, 2010. In a post titled When will PS3, Xbox, Wii incorporate Internet TV.

“…When will Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo enter the [streaming content] game themselves? Doing so would offer another bit of differentiation, another perk for owners of each console.

“Who will be the first to fully embrace streaming content or Internet apps?

“Because it’s going to happen, and whichever is the first to act will only begin the next trend in video games and possibly home entertainment as we know it.” (See story Dec. 27, 2010)

Xbox 360 introduced its revamped dashboard one year later, in early December of 2011. The new dashboard featured Internet apps including Netflix, Epix, SyFy, ESPN, Daily Motion, NBC News, Zune, YouTube and Live TV integration if you have the accompanying cable subscription.

In 2012, Xbox will roll out more apps and the rest will follow. It’s only the beginning. The future video-game console will be a complete media hub with dozens, possibly hundreds of channels and apps.

2. Entertainment on the Cloud

I hate the term “cloud storage.” Makes me think the cloud is only for backing up files. In 2012, the Cloud will become more than a backup service. Cloud for movies…music…pictures… and our movie libraries.

(I’m looking at my collection of DVDs and Blu-rays right now.) In 2012, our movie collection will extend to the cloud. Blu-rays already come with digital copies. How about a specially formatted “cloud copy”?

1. A BIG Netflix competitor

Through a few missteps in 2011, Netflix has enjoyed practically zero competition (or at least serious competition). Its maintained the largest number of video subscribers anywhere and built up its library of streaming content. Plus exclusive content on the way.

Zimedia predicts in 2012, one new company (or a service from a partnership of companies) will emerge as the biggest competitor Netflix has seen to date.

But it won’t be the death of Netlfix. In fact, few industries survive without competition. It’s good for business. It fosters growth, sometimes re-invention, and an improved user experience.