Tag Archives: Google

Zimedium Podcast Ep 5

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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

Google Wallet Is Here

13 - 1

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.

google_plus_music

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. 

The re-branding facelift, when logos go under the knife

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?

Pepsi

Left: 1987 to 2008 / New Logo: 2008 to Present

Walmart

Left: 1992 to 2008 / New Logo: 2008 to Present

Best Buy

Left: 1987 to 2008 / New Logo: 2008 to present

NFL

Left: 1980 to 2008 / New Logo: 2008 to Present

Holiday Inn

Left: 1952 to 2007 / New Logo: 2007 to Present

Google

Left: 1999 to 2010 / New Logo: 2010 to Present

iTunes

Left: 2008 to 2010 / New Logo: 2010 to Present

Gap

Left: 1986 to 2010 / New Logo: 2010 to 2010. One week after introducing the logo, Gap returned to the previous logo

Starbucks

Left: 1987 to 2010 / New Logo: 2010 to Present

YMCA

Left: 1967 to 2010 / New Logo: 2010 to Present, with different color variations for different programs

Comedy Central

Left: 2000 to 2010 / New Logo: 2010 to Present

Wikipedia

Left: 2003 to 2010 / New Logo 2010 to Present

msn

Left: 1999 to 2010 / New Logo: 2010 to Present, though the old logo is still used as a “secondary” logo

DELL

Left: 1984 to 2010 / New Logo: 2010 to Present

Playstation 3

Left: 2006 to 2009 / New Logo: 2009 to Present

Discovery

Left: 2000 to 2009 / New Logo: 2009 to Present

Animal Planet

Left: 1996 to 2008 / New Logo: 2008 to Present

Red Lobster

Founded in 1968, Red Lobster introduced its new logo in 2011

Google Chrome

Left: 2008 to 2011 / New Logo: 2011 to Present

Petco

Founded in 1965, Petco introduced its new logo in 2011

Cinemax

Left: 2008 to 2011 / New Logo: 2011 to Present

StumbleUpon

Left: 2001 to 2011 / New Logo: 2011 to Present

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

Top 5 tools for Mobile Productivity

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
*Subscription required for Netflix

4. MyFax

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.

5. Netflix

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.


Tech companies battling for customers

This is a great time to be a consumer. Companies are battling to release the next greatest advancement in technology — whether it’s NFC, Cloud Storage, Streaming Video or even Social Networking — and the consumers are ready and waiting. The instant a company releases a new product or service, the competition follows suit.

And that makes today’s consumer more connected than ever.

Brand extensions are to blame for much of the competition in technology today. Foursquare brings about Facebook Places. Skype leads to Google Hangouts. Square brings mobile payment to the forefront, with PayPal and Google following closely behind. Facebook (and MySpace before that) brought the rise of the social network; Google is now employing a brand extension with Google+.

A Brand Extension is when a company known for a particular good/service attempts to extend its services to another business category beyond its initial range.

Now, the current landscape:

Social Networking

Facebook vs. Google+

Facebook has been king of the social networking world since it overtook MySpace in 2008. MySpace was recently sold to Specific Media and entertainment artist Justin Timberlake. It’s future is still uncertain.

In the limited beta release of Google+, Google goes head to head with Facebook. A similar scenario to its battle with MySpace, only Google+ seems better equipped.

Google+ invites are on the streets as the company seems to be opening up its social network to more users. It’s limited beta at first offered only short windows for invites from current users. The service already is reported to have users in the millions, after a little more than one week on the market. Facebook, meanwhile, recently confirmed it has acquired 750 million users.

Mobile Payment

Square vs. Google vs. Paypal

Mobile payments are a hot topic, and the most popular service is likely Square, which hit $1 million in processed payments after less than a year in business. Square was launched by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in May of 2010.

Square allows users — whether it’s for personal or businesses use — to accept credit card payments using a smartphone and Square’s free mobile payment device, through which users swipe their actual plastic cards. (Square does not use NFC technology.)

Google unveiled its Google Wallet offering, a partnership with Citi, MasterCard, First Data, and Sprint. Google Wallet is an Android app that makes your phone your wallet. It accomplishes this by storing virtual versions of your plastic cards on your smartphone.

Using Near-Field Technology (NFC), users will be able to pay via their Google-Wallet equipped smartphones simply by tapping the phone on a checkout reader, available at many merchant locations.

And most recently, PayPal bolstered its mobile offering on July 7 with the $240 million acquisition of mobile-payment service Zong.

Zong partners with hundreds of mobile phone carriers around the world and allows users to enter their mobile phone number to make purchases. The charges are then applied to the user’s monthly mobile-phone bill.

Zong was eBay’s second mobile acquisition. The first was Fig Card, a Square-like device that allows users to accept payments with credit cards by swiping them through Fig’s USB-powered reader.

Check-ins

Foursquare vs. Facebook

Location-based applications allow users to ‘check-in’ via smartphone and share their location with other users of the service or other social networks. Users are able to see who else is checked in at a given location (from all users) or friends in nearby locations. By checking in, users receive points and/or badges and can unlock certain specials determined by the retailer.

The most publicized of these location-based apps is Foursquare. Today, there are a reported 8 million Foursquare users, up from just one million a year ago.

With the introduction of Facebook Places and other location-based services like Whrrl, which was acquired by daily deals service Groupon in mid-April, companies are copying Foursquare’s model. And vice versa, as evidenced by Foursquare’s recent inclusion and emphasis on its Yelp-like service directory Explore. Brand extensions are on display everywhere we look.

In June, Fast Company took a closer look at Foursquare vs. Facebook Places.

Video Inside Social Networking

Google vs. Facebook

With Google+, the company introduced Hangouts, a video-calling service. One week later, Facebook announced a partnership with Skype, allowing users to make video calls over the social network.

Facebook Video Calling will feature one-on-one video calls to your friends, a stripped-down version of Skype from what I understand. (Note: that’s not me in the screenshot; it’s a Facebook promo screen.)

The biggest advantage with Facebook Video Calling has when compared to Skype is that users don’t have to sign-up and login to Skype to chat; they simply do so through Facebook.

Google+ Hangouts allows group video chats with up to 10 participants, a sort of live chat room among your friends.

When Google+ Hangouts feature is launched, you can choose whom to invite in the video chat or simply alert all friends (or any other Circle) that you’re hanging out. And then wait for someone, among the Circle you’ve selected, to respond. (Note: that is me in the screenshot below, chatting with no one.)

As you can see at the bottom of the chat window (above), YouTube is also accessible via Hangouts.

I haven’t really discovered how YouTube can be used inside Hangouts. But I did watch Cake’s The Distance. I guess if my friends were on there we could have all watched it together…and then checked all of our reactions?

Google+ Hangouts and YouTube might be useful for work-related presentations. This service encroaches on GoToMeeting‘s territory. Now I’ve just got to find some people who want to have a meeting about Cake.

Cloud Storage

Amazon vs. Apple

On the Cloud, users can store music, videos, photos, and documents, which are then accessible from any computer or device with an internet connection and access to the cloud.

Amazon starts users off with a free 5GB of storage space. The 5GB of free space is about enough space, Amazon says, to store 1,000 songs. This first tier is free and you’ll never be charged for it. If a user purchases a digital album from Amazon’s mp3 store (amazon.com), it’ll upgrade your 5GB of free storage to 20GB. Other pricing/storage options for the Amazon Cloud range from 20GB to 1,000GB of space.

Apple iCloud operates in the same way as the Amazon Cloud Player, with iTunes integrated into iCloud. Everything purchased on iTunes is automatically accessible on the iCloud, in addition to other apps, photos, books and documents.

Streaming Music

Some companies like Amazon and Apple have tied their digital music services directly to Cloud Storage. Others like Slacker and Pandora are offering a more entertainment-centered approach.

Pandora makes things easy for listeners: subscription free and on nearly every device you own.

Pandora got its start on the computer. But the company is making even bigger leaps away from its traditional home on the PC; Pandora is now available on smartphones, tablets, televisions and a select number of automobiles.

According to a published report from Advertising Age, more than 50 percent of Pandora listening accomplished on devices other than the PC.

Slacker, however, is beginning to outshine Pandora in both integration and subscription options. Slacker offers three ways to listen. The first tier, like Pandora, is free of charge (but with ads) and allows users to create a custom station based on a particular band or song. The second is a paid subscription plan that provides unlimited song skips and is ad-free; Slacker Radio Plus is $3.99 per month.

Slacker also has a partnership with ABC News, with news breaks at the top of each hour for subscribers of either Slacker Plus or Slacker Premium Radio.

Slacker’s newest subscription is called Slacker Premium Radio. At $9.99 per month, this service includes everything available in Slacker Radio Plus as well as on-demand music, allowing listeners to search for and play songs on-demand, or songs from a particular artist. Slacker Premium Radio encroaches on MOG’s and Rdio’s territory — a brand-extension of sorts — by offering on-demand music.

It’s an exciting time for both consumers and businesses. Each service is experiencing tremendous competition — which only fuels innovation — as companies vie for the consumers’ time, interest and money.

The customers ultimately decide which products succeed and which ones flop. Therefore the success of these businesses relies much on us, the consumers, and in our experiences with these products and brands and how seamlessly we can integrate them into our lives.

The best technology becomes second-nature, like a brand extension of ourselves.

Source: PC Magazine, cbsradio.com, siriusxm.com, pandora.com, slacker.com, usatoday.com, cnet.com, radioink.com, Ando Media, Mashable.com, Mediapost.com, TechCrunch, Tech Crunch TVFast Company, Mashable, Techmeme, CNet, ReadWriteWeb, GigaOm, Engadget, CNN Money, MacWorld, AdAge, All Things Digital, The Next Web, Foursquare, Google, Facebook, Pandora, Slacker, Square, Paypal, Amazon.