Category Archives: Mobile

Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, and Conan Share A Lyft

220px-Lyft.svgLyft is a ride-sharing app that enables users to find Lyft drivers near their location on-demand.

The San Francisco-based startup launched in 2012 and, as of June 2013, has raised $83 million from Andreesson Herowitz, Founders Fund, Mayfield Fund, K9 Ventures and Floodgate.

For the purposes of full-disclosure: I was recently hired by Lyft as a mentor in the State College, Pennsylvania market.

 

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Instagram Direct attempts to hit Snapchat where it counts

Instagram on Thursday introduced Instagram Direct, an internal messaging service. Seemingly a direct competitor to messaging app Snapchat.

Facebook failed in its attempt to acquire Snapchat, after a $3 billion cash offer was turned down, so they’ve now introduced this service within Instagram.

(Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012.)

Facebook could have just as easily rolled out this new picture- and video-messaging service within Facebook, but they understand that Instagram’s demo — and mobile-first strategy — is more in line with Snapchat, hitting Snapchat right where it counts.

After sending, you’ll be able to find out who’s seen your photo or video, see who’s liked it and watch your recipients commenting in real time as the conversation unfolds. – from the Instagram blog

It’s a similar strategy that was successfully employed with Instagram video, to combat the video startup Vine, which was acquired by Twitter for $30 million in October of 2012.

The stats
Snapchat users: 26 million
Instagram users: 150 million

Instagram Direct

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.

#1000Pitches at Penn State University [Photos]

1,000 Pitches is an annual competition at Penn State University and the University of Michigan where students pitch ideas for solutions to problems large and small, from personal safety to mopping the floor. Visit http://1000pitches.com/ for more.

5 Tech Predictions for 2013

5. Second Screen takes off – The second screen takes on the big screen.

The second screen is taking over. Users are splitting their time between the main screen and a second screen  companion devices and apps. For live shows, users turn to Twitter. For movies and streaming content, users stick to GetGlue to check-in and provide live commentary. (If you’re into streaming video like Netflix and Hulu Plus, you’ll want to check out GetGlue.) In November, GetGlue was acquired by TV-loyalty service Viggle for $25 million in cash and 48 million shares.AirPlay-like devices also allow users to stream media from a tablet or smartphone wirelessly to a television set. It opens up content from apps or the web and makes it playable on a user’s TV. Apple AirPlay on Apple TV is one of the first and best. More are on the way in 2013.
4. Facebook loses market share– due in large part to audience fragmentation.Facebook has an enormous lead when it comes to audience share among social networks because it’s always one step ahead of the competition. The same changes that infuriate some users are the ones that keep others wanting more. MySpace lost users because it was stagnant. Facebook doesn’t want to suffer the same fate.
But users will begin to explore other options in 2013, including LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, Path and others, all of which have adopted the “Newsfeed” layout. Users will spend more time on these sites, which means less time spent on Facebook. Foursquare, for example, has de-emphasized its leaderboard and put more focus on the newsfeed and its “Explore” feature. 

3. Mobile Payments become mainstream –  Square launched in 7,000 Starbucks coffee houses in November of 2012. Today, Square is processing $10 billion in annual mobile payments. In 2013 mobile payments will become mainstream.

Joining Square in the mobile payment race are competitors Google Wallet, PayPal, Intuit, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, VeriFone, among others.

2. Free city-wide Internet – Public Wi-Fi gets closer to the streets in 2013. Already available at many restaurants and stores, more hotspots are on the way. 

But more than just hotspots: Google has been working on a city-wide Wi-Fi network for some time, with the first attempt around 2007. It’s Google Fiber project seems to have taken the spotlight, as the company rolled out the high-speed broadband network in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2012. 

I feel like now is the time to break some ground on city-wide Wi-Fi. 

The Tel Aviv municipality announced in December of 2012 that it would be deploying a city-wide Wi-Fi network in Israel, headed by Motorola Solutions, that includes 80 relay stations for free wireless access. Watch for a similar service to hit the United States in 2013.

1. Big Netflix Competitor– I predicted it for 2012. Redbox Instant by Verizon launched in Beta in December of 2012. Could it be the Next Netflix? Others are rumored to be teaming up for a service. Amazon Instant Video is gaining steam, though is part of a much larger plan for Amazon. It will take a lot of financial backing which is why we’ll likely see businesses teaming up on this one. Hulu is handcuffed by its owners (Comcast’s NBCUniversal, Disney and News Corp.).
Whether it’s Redbox and Verizon, Amazon or another new service, watch for it to take off in 2013. 

5 tech predictions for 2012

Read last year’s 5 Tech Predictions here.

The Death of Physical Storage

It wasn’t long ago that we stored files on floppy disks and CDs. After that came USB flash drives and portable hard drives.

The next wave of computer storage and file backup is the cloud – and it will mean the death of physical storage, including our cherished DVD collection.

The Cloud

The cloud – or cloud computing – is really just a metaphor for the Internet and personal storage on a network. So it’s not exactly new. But increased bandwidth has made cloud storage more practical for both personal and business applications.

The cloud is like a hard drive in the sky, allowing users to store files on a computer network, accessible on-demand from any device with an Internet connection.

Users can upload documents in addition to music, photos, and video as well as use the cloud as a backup service. Files can be stored on the cl

oud rather than saving documents on a local computer – or physical forms of storage – and thus only accessible from that device and susceptible to crashes, accidental deletion or file corruption.

An Internet connection is required to access the cloud; though files can be saved from the cloud to a local device (computer, smartphone, tablet, etc) for offline access.

Services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Carbonite Online Backup save files automatically from a local computer by syncing when files have changed. Multiple users can have access – with permission – to the same cloud drive for easy collaboration on projects.

Cloud Choices

There are public clouds – also known as shared clouds – and private clouds – also called internal clouds, which feature added security and control – as well as hybrid clouds that combine the two. However, most small businesses would be fine with public clouds like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Subscription cloud services are being offered by the Internet’s biggest players including Amazon, Google and Apple. Most companies are offering a free amount of storage space to start, with premium-priced storage upgrades. Amazon and Apple cloud users can purchase music online and save it directly to the cloud or upload their own music collection. Google Drive also touts music storage with its Google Play Music Manager, a branch of the new Google Drive.

How big is the Cloud?

Want to know how big of a player it already is? How many of the digital photos you own are already stored on Facebook, Flickr or Instagram? These services are holding your photos free of charge on their servers – on their cloud. Last year, Facebook was storing a reported 140 billion user photos, at the time representing 4 percent of all photos ever taken.

Today, more than 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day by its more than 900 million users.

I predict that Facebook will introduce personal cloud storage this year, a space to store files, as well as share and collaborate on projects with team members or friends. This would go head-to-head with Google’s new Google Drive, which replaced Google Docs when it launched in April. A Facebook cloud would also go hand-in-hand with the rumored Facebook phone. Facebook did not respond to my request for comment on cloud storage.

How you can benefit from the cloud

You can sign up for free cloud storage today. Whether you want to save files directly to the cloud for safety or collaboration, or use it as a back-up service, you can get started in minutes.

The cloud isn’t limited to just documents, photos and music. Walmart has been pushing a disc-to-digital service called UltraViolet which converts DVDs to digital copies. UltraViolet, which launched eight months ago, has attracted three million users. For an extra $2 per DVD or Blu-ray title, users can purchase a separate cloud-based digital version as well as a digital copy in Walmart’s streaming-video service Vudu. The disc-to-digital conversion includes older DVDs that consumers have already purchased.

How I use the cloud: Google Drive and Dropbox allow me to work on documents from the cloud and save them directly, without downloading them to my computer. This allows me to access them at work, at home or anywhere I have an Internet connection. It also provides me with a higher level of security, in the event my laptop becomes damaged or stolen.

Since my files are on the cloud, they are everywhere I am.

The latest version of Microsoft Office is entirely cloud-based. Microsoft Office 365 combines email, calendars, documents, web conferencing and Microsoft’s full line of Office products in one web-connected cloud service for easy collaboration among team members.

Cloud storage services are in a heated battle to see who can store the most user-data. Photos and music are at the forefront. Movies are next.

What’s next for the cloud?

Say goodbye to DVDs. In the future we’ll store our home movie collection on the cloud. Similar in effect to the way we operate our Netflix library. Buy a movie from Amazon and it’s stored directly to our own personal cloud. Blu-ray discs already come with a digital copy. Soon they’ll come with a cloud copy.

Today’s products and services are geared toward mobility: laptops, smartphones, tablets and entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Slacker and Spotify. Mobile is taking over.

The cloud is the next logical step in connecting our content to our devices for business and entertainment.

The next five years will lay the foundation for cloud storage. As broadband speeds increase and high-speed Internet becomes ubiquitous, the cloud will play host to all of our digital lives and make physical storage obsolet