In ZimediaumPodcast 1 we discuss: New Facebook News Feed Coming March 7, Amazon Instant Video scores deal with Scripps Networks, Netflix House of Cards – Most-watched program on Netflix since launch, YouTube and Netflix eligible for Emmys, Yahoo changing work-from-home policy, Andrew Mason out at Groupon.
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 – 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.
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
Streaming television services like Netflix and Hulu Plus are gaining momentum, moving along the adoption curve – working their way through the early majority – still years ahead of technological laggards.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on StateCollege.com in Tech Talk, a biweekly column by Eric Zimmett. Click here to view the original column. Eric Zimmett is a tech writer and small business consultant who works at StateCollege.com assisting businesses with how to navigate today’s difficult marketing and advertising landscape.
A Nielsen study revealed that about one-third of Americans have streamed a TV show or movie through a paid subscription service like Netflix or Hulu Plus. And a majority of Netflix users have the service connected to their TVs.
Streaming TV is the biggest threat to the pay-TV model since TiVo, poised to make prime-time television irrelevant and turn the pay-TV model upside down.
Two years ago this month I cut cable and moved into the streaming TV world. Which at first was a bit rocky, but is now a more intuitive TV experience than ever.
With Netflix and Hulu Plus, when I want to watch a particular show, I watch the show. Whether it’s 7 p.m., 9:36 p.m. or 2 a.m. The Colbert Report; Saturday Night Live; Lie to Me; 30 Rock; Weeds; American Pickers; MasterChef; Mad Men; The Office; SportsCenter and ESPN on Xbox 360; or even NBC News, CBS, ABC on Roku Newscaster.
As well as older TV shows like Arrested Development, a new favorite of mine even though the show concluded in 2006. I had never seen it. But with streaming TV, I started with season 1, episode 1 to the last. Netflix announced in November that it is resurrecting Arrested Development in an exclusive deal featuring new episodes of the critically acclaimed series, which was canceled by Fox.
Streaming, on-demand, content increases the shelf-life of television, therefore increasing the benefit to the show and its advertisers. What this means: more viewers for the content and the advertising. An almost unlimited shelf-life. Streaming TV puts the entire television experience – Movies, News, Sports, TV shows – on the user’s schedule, not the network’s. It’s like everything has been TiVo’d for you.
TiVo released data that revealed only 38 percent of viewing by its users was live TV. The rest was recorded video and online streaming content like Netflix, which is now available through the TiVo Premiere box. It won’t be long before streaming content overtakes recorded content, like the two have done to live TV.
Most Netflix and Hulu Plus users are between the ages of 18-34 – dubbed Generation C – according to the Nielson study released in February. The second largest group is users between 35 and 49, then 50 to 64. Which mirrors the adoption curve developed by Joe M. Bohlen, George M. Beal and Everett M. Rogers at Iowa State University in the 1950s. The curve illustrates the adoption of new products and innovations through five stages: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggards.
Netflix has more than 20,000 titles available to stream instantly and is working to increase its number of television shows, an area in which Hulu excels. Hulu is jointly owned by Comcast’s NBC Universal, The Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and global private equity investment first Providence Equity Partners.
Netflix has inked exclusive content deals including Lilyhammer, which debuted Feb. 6, featuring Sopranos star Steven Van Zandt. Horror series Hemlock Grove, scheduled for early 2013. Orange is the New Black, a comedy project from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan. As well as House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey. To acquire House of Cards, Netflix outbid HBO for the series.
And now dozens of devices are available to stream content, including Blu-ray players; video-game systems like Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii; Boxee Box; Apple TV; Google TV; TiVo Premiere; and Roku. Read my review of the Roku streaming player here. In most cases, users buy the streaming boxes; versus renting a box from cable or satellite TV companies.
Subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video provide unlimited streaming content for a fixed monthly price. Some cable companies have now started to offer their own streaming content as a companion to subscription offerings, like Time Warner On-Demand, Comcast On-Demand alongside a subscription to their services; or premium cable like HBO GO and Showtime On-Demand. Strictly video-on-demand (VOD) services like Vudu are essentially today’s Pay-Per-View, with each movie available to rent or purchase.
This doesn’t mean an end to live TV content, however. Live TV will be delivered through the Internet and available on-demand after it airs.
Comcast, the largest cable operator, announced in May of 2011 it would begin testing IPTV or Internet Protocol TV. The same content, only, delivered through the Internet.
Comcast began testing IPTV at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and in February introduced XFINITY Streampix, a Netflix-like video service offered as a companion to XFINITY TV.
IPTV can be used for live video, streaming and delayed programming like a DVR. The same technology used by Netflix, Hulu Plus, Roku, live-streaming services like U-Stream and Live Stream.
What IPTV will one day mean for advertisers: data. Think Google Analytics for TV.
The writing is on the wall.
Netflix and its competitors will force cable, satellite and premium cable companies to overhaul the formula and their pricing structure. Turning the entire landscape upside down. Lower prices, more content, delivered IPTV-style.
It’s a monumental time for TV. If cable and satellite TV are 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.
Streaming content has transformed the way I watch TV and will soon change TV forever.
The cable and satellite networks can fight all they want. TV 2.0 is coming. Their efforts are only delaying the inevitable.
Pepsi, tell me what you don’t like about yourself.
For companies, re-branding with a new logo or fresh look provides a sort of facelift. (Really takes years off their life.)
Some get over-the-top PR, other re-brands slide in under the radar.
Zimedia has compiled a list of popular re-brands in the last four years, roughly 2008 to present. For many, it’s the first re-design in years.
Is there a downside to all this brand surgery?
Subtle re-brands are my favorite. Maybe freshen up the colors or soften the edges. Minor stuff. In and out in less than an hour.
We all need to reinvent ourselves from time to time. Re-evaluate our image and our focus. Brands are no exception. But there’s value, too, in brand recognition. Years of building a brand through products, advertising and generations of customers. Only to change things up in the fear of becoming stale.
There’s something to be said about an old brand. It’s got character, and it’s often packed with emotion and memories. Well-built brands are more than just a logo. And a botched re-branding can really look bad.
It’s not as easy as it looks on TV.
Just ask GAP.
Sources: The Logo Factory (thelogofacory.com), Brand New (underconsideration.com), IMDB
Mobile is looking like Web 3.0 with the emergence of mobile devices like the iPad, Kindle and Nook; the rise in smartphone usage; and the explosion of mobile apps. It’s not just for work. Mobile is taking over our lives. Work and play.
We’ve compiled the Top Five tools for Mobile Productivity, from the workplace to strictly entertainment.
Top Five tools for Mobile Productivity
1. Cloud Drives
Storage & Music
Standalone Cloud storage services like Dropbox receive most of the press. But Amazon’s variety comes with a music store.
Amazon is also a great place to store your music. Music purchases from the Amazon mp3 store can be saved directly to your cloud. And thus can be accessed anywhere and with a growing number of devices including smartphones and tablets. Start off with 5 GB of free storage. Just sign in, sign up for your free 5 GB and start uploading files for backup, storage or to listen to your tunes without taking up space on your mobile device.
Hundreds of companies trust Amazon Web Services for their storage and hosting needs, including Netflix — which accounts for 25% of US Internet traffic — Yelp, Foursquare, PBS, Washington Post, Razorfish, SEGA, Urbanspoon, Tweet Deck, Airbnb, Harvard Medical School, NASA, Virgin Atlantic and more.
2. Google Apps
Calendar & Google Docs
It’s time to move on from Outlook, people. Google is the place to be. When I use Outlook for email or the calendar, it feels like I’m navigating a rotary phone…plus it’s tied to a machine. Google Calendar and Docs, as well as gmail, is tied to nothing; it’s all on the cloud. Access all of it on any computer, any smartphone, tablet or mobile device. Get calendar reminders on your smartphone.
With Google Apps (formerly Google Docs) user can save Documents, open Office products like Word and Excel — with or without Microsoft Office. When you save documents in the cloud — like resumes, presentations, pictures — they’re always with you.
Google’s smartphone apps — and native integration with most mobile devices — make all of your documents, calendar appointments and messages accessible anywhere with an Internet connection. Save documents, presentations or pictures as a backup or for instant access on any of your devices.
To get started, just sign up for gmail and click “Documents” at the top. [Note: if by the time of this post, Google has changed its navigation bar to a drop-down menu, just click the drop-down and find Documents.] Then start uploading files or Create a new document.
3. Smartphone Apps
There’s an app for that. It’s not just a saying. There really is an app for everything. News, Shopping, Books, Movies, TV, Social Networking, Checking in and just about anything else you can think of. Some of Tech Weekly’s favorites free apps for productivity and entertainment on the go:
- Pulse News Reader – News from all around the web in one place
- QwickMark QR Code Reader – Scan QR codes with this free app
- ShopSavvy – Scan product bar codes to compare prices online and stores near you
- Netflix* – all of Netflix instant streaming on your smartphone
- Crackle by Sony – Free movies and TV on your smartphone
- NFL Mobile – NFL News, Highlights and Live Streaming video
- Amazon – Browse and buy everything Amazon on your smartphone
- Amazon Kindle – Kindle’s library at your fingertips
- Amazon mp3 – Listen to your library of songs from Amazon’s cloud drive
- Slacker – Slacker Personal Radio on your smartphone
- Foursquare – Check in to earn points, become mayor and unlock specials
- Twitter – Follow your interests or tweet on the go with Twitter’s mobile app
- Facebook – Update your status, check the newsfeed, check in or chat with friends
- Shazam – Can’t name that song on the radio, just click Shazam and it’ll tell you
- Flickr – Take photos and upload them to Yahoo’s Flickr
- Yelp – Check reviews or find a new place to eat with Yelp’s smartphone app
MyFax makes having a fax machine unnecessary. In fact, MyFax improves upon the old-school fax and then some.
No download necessary, just sign up for a MyFax account and you’ll be assigned a MyFax number. (You can pick the area code.) Once you’ve signed in, just click “Send a Fax.” Then enter the recipient’s fax number and attach the document you’d like to fax. Either scan the page to your computer and attach to the MyFax interface OR if the file is already on your computer, just attach. MyFax comes with some cool features including Cover Page Style; Status Flag for Urgent, Review, Comment, etc; and a Message Box. The recipient receives the fax in his/her fax machine, just like a normal fax.
Receive faxes right in your MyFax inbox as PDF or JPEG files. MyFax alerts you immediately via email. In fact, you can view the fax in your email inbox. If you’ve got email on your smartphone, you can view the fax right there. MyFax is a must for mobile work.
Send 100 faxes per month and receive 200 for only $10. Other options include Send 200, Receive 200 for $20. Or Send 400, Receive 400 for $40. Or an unlisted option of Send 50, Receive 50 for $5 per month. The plans can be changed at any time, though you’ll have to call MyFax to do it. Ironically, for an online fax service, you can’t change plans online. Though email is taking over, many businesses still fax documents. So ditch the fax machine and extra phone line and give MyFax a look.
Netflix is the best thing to come to TV since color. It’s move to mobile only strengthens its hold on streaming movies and television content. And once you’ve got a Netflix subscription, it’s free on an unlimited number of devices. Use your one Netflix subscription on TVs, tablets, smartphones, etc. At home and on the road.
Until you’ve streamed Netflix content on a mobile device, it’s difficult to understand. A library of more than 20,000 titles available instantly with the tap of your finger. It’s as close to a dream as you’ll get.
To get started, just sign up for Netflix (streaming subscription starts at $7.99 per month after 1-month free trial) and download the Netflix app for your smartphone or mobile device. You’ll only have to sign in the first time after you download the app. From there on out it’s blue skies and smooth streaming.
Netflix is available on more than 700 devices including PCs; Macs; Internet-connected TVs; video-game consoles; Blu-ray players; Internet video players like Roku and Boxee; iPhone; iPad; Apple TV as well as Android and Windows devices…and more.