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Netflix Encodes Every Movie 120 Different Ways

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5969677/netflix-encodes-every-movie-120-different-ways

The problem with streaming video to different devices—computers, tablets, phones, and whatever else—is that they all demand subtly different streams if they’re to look their best. If you’re Netflix, which streams to 900 different types of device, that leaves you with some work to do.

According to Netflix, it has to encode each and every movie it offers in 120 different ways. Add to that the crowd sourcing of subtitles, global variation in titles and formats, and an armful of other problems, and the work Netflix has to go to makes $8 a month seem even better value. The video above was used at a Netflix recruitment fair—but gives a decent insight into how its video wends its way from Hollywood to your tablet. [GigaOm]

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Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 news No Comments

Why Many Are Unlikely To Switch To Windows Phone Or BlackBerry 10

Source: http://gigaom.com/mobile/why-many-are-unlikely-to-switch-to-windows-phone-or-blackberry-10/

The smartphone industry is at an interesting point in time. In 2007, Apple’s iPhone practically invented — or re-invented, if you will — the current smartphone age with a full capacitive touchscreen and support for mobile apps. Google Android followed in 2008 and although it was slow to catch up, is relatively on par with iOS in terms of usability and app support.

Can Microsoft and RIM succeed where others have failed?

These incumbents — Apple and Google’s Android partners — account for 89.9 percent of smartphone sales as of the third quarter of 2012, per IDC. Some alternative platforms, such as Palm’s webOS and Nokia’s Maemo software, entered the market only to disappointingly disappear: webOS is now an open-source platform and Maemo became MeeGo, which Nokia abandoned when it chose to use Microsoft’s Windows Phone software. Windows Phone has been around for two years but has relatively little in the way of sales to show for it.

Click here to read more >

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Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 news No Comments

Instagram Can Now Use Your Photos in Ads

Source: http://lifehacker.com/5969237/remains-of-the-day-instagram-can-now-use-your-photos-in-ads

Remains of the Day: Instagram Can Now Use Your Photos in AdsInstagram changes its terms of service, Facebook wants a piece of the SnapChat pie, and Rhapsody launches an iPad app.

  • Privacy and Terms of Service Changes on Instagram Effective January 16, 2013, Instagram is updating its Privacy and Terms of Service documents. The new policies, which can be read on their blog, addresses sharing user information as a part of Facebook and new spam/abuse policies. The biggest change, found in the ‘Rights’ section of the new Terms of Service, gives Instagram the right to use your photos and profile information in ads without compensation. [Instagram Blog]
  • Facebook to Launch Its Own Snapchat Competitor App Facebook is prepping to launch a service that will go head-to-head with Snapchat, a popular app that lets users send photos and short videos to one another—which are then automatically deleted after a brief increment of time. Facebook’s as-yet unnamed application will be, much like its Messenger and Camera apps, entirely self-contained and separate from the main Facebook app. Look for its release before the year’s end. [AllThingsD]
  • New Rhapsody for iPad and iPad Mini: the Fastest, Most Visually-Stunning Rhapsody Experience Yet Premium music streaming service Rhapsody has released a new iPad app. Built for the ground up for the tablet with a visual-heavy interface, the Rhapsody app comes with a free 30-day trial for those looking to give it a shot. [Rhapsody Blog]

Photo by photastic (Shutterstock), a2bb5s (Shutterstock), and Feng Yu (Shutterstock).

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Monday, December 17th, 2012 news No Comments

Social Media Is Changing How Supply And Demand Works For Big Brands

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/social-media-manufacturing-2012-12

Burberry Milan Fashion Week Menswear Fall Winter 2012 2013 Collection Runway

Many companies see social media as just another marketing and communications tool. A particularly effective one maybe, but just another of many.

According to Erich Joachimsthaler, founder and CEO of Vivaldi Partners, they’re missing out on the biggest source of value from these platforms. In a recent report, he outlines how brands can use social media to change their entire business, not just their marketing.

“Where I see the biggest opportunity is to think about your entire business model. There’s so much of this social information that is unstructured information, and consumers make 75 percent of it,” Joachimsthaler says. “If you want to think about your business, if you want to create value and competitive advantage, it’s about thinking about that information and penetrating it at every step of your value chain.”

One of the best examples of this, which Joachimsthaler has studied in depth, is Burberry.

The first thing that’s allowed them to change their business is the sheer size of their social reach. “Burberry has about 15 million — and that’s growing rapidly — Facebook likes. This is an astounding figure,” Joachimsthaler says. “This is astounding because even Nike is not as strong, and Nike is a $15-18 billion dollar company. Burberry is at about $3 billion. So it’s a massive difference, the two companies don’t compare.”

They built that following by offering something useful. People on Facebo! ok can s ee Burberry fashion shows before the celebrities who actually sit in front of the catwalk.

But what’s truly innovative is what they do with those likes.

“What Burberry does is, it has made those videos shoppable. You can click on the particular garment and you can basically make an order on the spot. So Burberry can collate the orders from 15 million people. They haven’t manufactured the product yet in China, but they have taken the orders, they know exactly how many people have ordered what,” Joachimsthaler says. “They already have my money in the bank. 15 million times $200; that’s a lot of money in the bank. When they have the orders, they can then send the order to China, manufacture it, and within two weeks they can either deliver it to your home, or you can have it delivered to a store and you can buy additional garments.”

For a taste-driven and occasionally fickle industry, this saves a tremendous amount of money. “This changes the entire value chain,” Joachimsthaler says. “The fashion business is fraught with forecasting. You forecast what will be bought in the next year, you need to produce them, manufacture them in China, there are inventory problems, there are logistics problems, then you put it in the store, the thing doesn’t sell, if it doesn’t sell you have to send it to the outlet store and mark it down.

Burberry avoids a great deal of that.

There’s huge potential here that’s yet to be realized, and it could be a game-changer for the industry. We’ve only seen the beginning, Joachimsthaler argues. Someday, companies like Burberry could operate with a fraction of their inventory, and never have to mark anything down.

It’s a tremendous innovation in operations, and one that will have a large impact going forward, possibly even beyond the fashion industry.

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Monday, December 10th, 2012 news No Comments

How the US Air Force Wasted $1 Billion on a Failed Software Plan

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5967081/how-the-us-air-force-wasted-1-billion-on-a-failed-software-plan

How the US Air Force Wasted $1 Billion on a Failed Software PlanThe US Military makes its fair share of mistakes when it comes to technology—but over the weekend, the New York Times revealed that even upgrading a single software system can go horribly wrong for it.

The New York Times describes the situation:

Last month, [the Air Force] canceled a six-year-old modernization effort that had eaten up more than $1 billion. When the Air Force realized that it would cost another $1 billion just to achieve one-quarter of the capabilities originally planned – and that even then the system would not be fully ready before 2020 – it decided to decamp.

You might expect the project to be exotic and experimental. If that were there case, the expense and failure might be understandable, if not desirable. But in fact the project was the implementation of commercial off-the-shelf software. Known as the Expeditionary Combat Support System, the plan was to improve the management of logistics using software from Oracle. Four years of development—and over $1 billion dollars—later, and neither Oracle nor the Air Force have anything to show for their labors.

So what went wrong? According to the New York Times, the plan was scuppered by constant redesigns, poor time management and lack of accountability:

[The System] was restructured many times, including three separate times in the last three years, Ms. McGrath says. “Each time, we chunked it down, breaking it into smaller pieces, focusing on specific capabilities.” But this was not enough to save the system, she says, because program managers did not succeed in imposing the short deadlines of 18 to 24 months that the department now requires for similar projects…

[A] report cited many concerns, but the main one was a failure to meet a basic requirement for successful implementation: having “a single accountable leader” who “has the authority and willingness to exercise the authority to enforce all necessary changes to the business required for successful fielding of the software.”

If anything, we should be grateful that the Air Force decided to kill the project before it haemorrhaged more cash. If you want more detail, you should definitely read the Times piece. [New York Times]

Image by expertinfantry under Creative Commons license

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Monday, December 10th, 2012 news No Comments

How Google Ruined Its First True Social Network (GOOG, FB)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-google-ruined-google-reader-2012-12

Fail, Failure, Sad, Girl

Before Google launched Google+ last year, Google Reader served as the company’s true social network.

While Google Reader never grew to hundreds of millions of users, a niche group of people found the service to be a great tool to consume and share content.

“Google had fostered a social network and earned die-hard fans in the most valuable way possible — without trying,” Rob Fishman of BuzzFeed writes

Users could easily add friends, subscribe to another person’s feed of shared items, and even comment on those items.

Google Reader even helped online friends become real-life friends. As Fishman notes, one user actually became roommates with two people he met using Google Reader.

But Google eventually decided that it needed to reshape the company by challenging Facebook.

When Google launched Google+, it heavily integrated the social network into Reader. As a result of the changes, Google Reader lost its internal social features like friending, following, and sharing. Google forced users to share strictly through Google+.

“When we heard it was going away, it was like the end of the world,” Ramey Moore, a Reader user who met his wife using the service, told Fishman. “It’s like your favorite bar and your favorite restaurant and your favorite newspaper all closing on the same day.”

SEE ALSO: The Google+ Boss Just Brilliantly Deconstruct! ed Every thing Annoying About Facebook

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Friday, December 7th, 2012 news No Comments

Mobile Accounts For Over 60 Percent Of Pandora’s Ad Revenues

Source: https://intelligence.businessinsider.com/welcome

Mobile continues to drive Pandora’s ad business.

Mobile ad revenues for its fiscal third quarter were $66 million, up from an estimated $53 million a quarter prior. Mobile accounted for 62 percent of total ad revenues, compared to 59 percent in the second quarter. 

Overall mobile revenues, including subscriptions, increased $15 million in the quarter to $74 million.

Pandora is a prime example of how mobile is transforming what were once Web-based companies. With 77 percent of usage now coming from mobile— not to mention a majority of revenues— Pandora is essentially a mobile company.  

pandora ad revenues 

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Thursday, December 6th, 2012 news No Comments

1,000 Jobs Gone At Groupon And LivingSocial; Can The Daily Deal Sector Turn It Around? (GRPN)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/layoffs-at-groupon-and-livingsocial-2012-11

Daily deals title image lifehackerThe daily deal world is in turmoil.

LivingSocial just announced the firing of 400 employees, which is about 8.9% of its total workforce.

What’s more unnerving is that over the past six months, Groupon reduced its workforce by 648 positions.

More than 1,000 reductions across both businesses is a huge deal. Those reductions aren’t all layoffs; some are through attrition.

To cap it all, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason’s job was in question all week, and he only received his board of directors’ seal of approval late Thursday.

If this was happening at Facebook or Twitter — or any other major tech brand — people would be freaking out.

So why isn’t anyone freaking out yet?

Arguably, this is a recession in the daily deal business.

It’s the industry’s first, given that it didn’t exist until about four years ago.

LivingSocial told Business Insider via email about the job cuts. “After two years of hyper-growth from 450 to more than 4500 employees, these moves will align our cost structure against our 2013 plans and will help us set the company on a path for long-term growth and profitability. Specifically, they will allow us to invest more in critical pr! iorities like marketing, mobile, and the hiring of additional technology staff.”

LivingSocial told CNNMoney that it is moving much of its customer service from its headquarters in D.C. to Tuscon, “so some job openings will be available in that area.” Sales and editorial, however, have simply been “streamlined.”

The job losses reflect the shaky economic underpinnings of the daily deal business, which Groupon and LivingSocial have yet to wrestle into control.

LivingSocial posted a net loss of $566 million in Q3 2012. $496 million of LivingSocial’s loss stems from a huge writedown of some of its acquisitions from 2011, the Washington Business Journal reports. LivingSocial’s revenue also fell to $124 million in the three-month period, down from $138 million in the second quarter.

As of market close today, Groupon’s stock price is currently sitting at $4.54, according to Yahoo Finance. The 52-week range is shocking: it reached a high of $25.84. That followed six months’ of shrinking total billings at the company. (Its American business is robust; the international arm less so.)

A Groupon spokesperson tells us that its layoffs were largely due to new technology the company invested in that made those jobs irrelevant. In fact, we’re told, Groupon has 200 job vacancies open across North America right now.

And, of course, the job cuts don’t mean that Groupon and LivingSocial are going to vanish tomorrow. They’re huge businesses after all. But they are cause for concern as they illuminate potential weaknesses in the daily deal ! business model.

The main problem is operational scale.

Both companies are dependent on large salesforces. It is very difficult for them to leverage operation scale: To sell more, they need to employ more people. Groupon historically has prided itself on the long-term relationships its salesforce builds with its merchants. They have struggled to leverage self-serve, turnkey sales the way Facebook has.

In fact, Groupon and LivingSocial aren’t even tech companies. Rather, they’re email companies. Although email is here to stay for a long time, the tidal shift among consumers is away from email to instant messaging, social media messaging, and mobile phone messaging. They need to pivot into alternate methods.

Groupon is trying just that, with Groupon Goods, which so far has been a success. And both companies need to do what Groupon says it is trying to do, which is replace human-to-human selling with tech that can increase each individual worker’s selling power.

Lastly, the downturn ask whether the daily deal business has hit one of its natural ceilings: new merchants. Both companies need a fresh supply of new merchants to offer more deals, or to re-up on repeated deals. It’s an open question that both Groupon and LivingSocial now have to prove: Is there enough new merchants or incremental repeat business from merchants for the sector to continue to grow?

A thousand-plus layoffs suggest that, for now, the question lacks a satisfying answer.

Don’t Miss: Groupon CEO Andrew Mason Keeps His Job!

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Friday, November 30th, 2012 news No Comments

This Awesome Graph Shows Just How Boring Class Really Is

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/this-awesome-graph-shows-just-how-boring-class-really-is-2012-11

This great graph, taken using a wearable sensor, shows a student’s emotional, physical, and mental arousal during all different phases of every day of the week.

The device measures what’s called Electrodermal Activity — which measures the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, best known to control the fight-or-flight response. It is activated by emotional arousal, increased cognitive workload, or physical exertion.

Spikes pop up during lab work, exams, studying, and sleep, but what’s stunning is how low activity levels were during this student’s classes. They must have been super boring.

Student brain activity week

The chart comes from a May 2010 paper via JoiIto. You can download the paper here.

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Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 news No Comments

A Day of NYC’s Public Transport, Visualized

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5963851/this-is-what-a-day-of-nycs-public-transport-looks-like

Gripe and moan about it all you like, but public transport is a fundamental part of keeping any big city running—and this data visualization shows just how complex New York City’s public transit setup is.

Put together by YouTube user STLTransit, the video is a visualization of a single day’s public transit, between 4:00am and 4:00am. It’s made possible by the open source General Transit Feed Specification data from the MTA. Personally, I love the way that the routes become obvious as the city wakes up. [YouTube via Verge]

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Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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