Today in a post on his personal blog, Google developer Tim Bray wrote elliptically of a project he’s working on that could—if he means what I think he means—radically change our experience of using the Internet—for the better.
“Logging in is annoying and slows you down. My job these days is mostly about reducing that pain, ideally to zero by eliminating it. Google really wants this to happen.”
Logging in is annoying. Between your various online banking passwords and user names, Amazon, eBay, every social network you belong to, Netflix, however many accounts you have with online retailers like ShopBop or Sephora or Petco or where ever—it can be a sort of nightmare trying to keep track of all your passwords and user names.
Sure, it isn’t sooo bad, now that more sites will ask if you’d like have them remember your password for future visits. But still.
What an Internet free of log-ins would look like, exactly, it’s difficult to imagine. Just how literally does Google want to execute this plan? At this point, it’s all speculation off an early-stage project. But if Bray’s post is any indication of where Google is in fact headed, we certainly have something to look forward to. [BGR]
Not too long ago, Samsung faced a big loss against Apple in court, and now, it’s just sat through the announcement of the new iPhone, which sold out its preorders in a matter of hours. What’s a rival manufacturer to do? That’s easy; if you’re Samsung, you attack.
Samsung has crafted a pretty aggressive ad comparing Apple’s flagship iPhone 5 to its own Galaxy S III. You can guess who comes out on top. While the lion’s share of the ad’s criticisms are fair—the S III does have NFC while the iPhone 5 doesn’t, and the same goes for removable battery and microSD storage—the bit referring to Apple’s new connector comes off as a bit snide. But you didn’t expect this to be civil, did you?
Adorned with the clever (admit it, it’s clever) tagline “It doesn’t take a genius,” the ad is due to roll out a bunch of newspapers tomorrow, where it will doubtlessly reach the sort of people who still read newspapers. Clearly Samsung isn’t about to take anything lying down, and who could blame them? The question is, will it work? [CNET]
Here’s an incredible chart from Microsoft’s last earnings report that didn’t get the sort of attention it deserves. The Server and Tools division generated more revenue than the Windows division in the last fiscal year.
The Windows division is still much more profitable, earning $11.5 billion compared versus $7.4 billion for Servers & Tools. And one of the reasons Windows generated less revenue than Server & Tools is that Windows 7 is at the end of its run.
However, this chart is illustrative of a two big trends for Microsoft. First, while Vanity Fair wants to call it a lost decade for Microsoft, it clearly wasn’t all lost since it built a third huge new business division. Second, while people worry about the future of Windows, and whether or not it gets disrupted by iOS and Android, the truth of the matter is that Microsoft is more than just Windows.
Tech entrepreneur Filip Kesler and Cornell professor Trevor Pinch, found that more than 80 percent of the reviews on the site were positive all because 85 percent of prolific reviewers receive free stuff to review. (Hey, everyone loves a freebie.)
“Amazon’s top reviewers do receive some sort of direct material reward, however small, for their endeavors,” wrote the authors.
This was particularly true in the book realm. Reviewers in the top 1,000 rank told the authors they received a large number of Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) of books from small agencies and self-published authors. Those in the top 500 rank said they received even more, and so it went up the totem pole.
One member of Amazon Vine, the site’s members-only review program, described how his rank attracted more freebies in the study:
“I started getting offers at about rank 800 (Classic Rank). When I got to 500, the offers increased, but I did not get many until I got to about 250. Under 150, it increased some more. At that point is was an average of one offer per week (not including Vine). When my New Rank appeared, placing me in the 50s, I started getting several offers per week, mostly for books.”
For consumers looking for a deal and great products, it might be better to go the old-fashioned route, i.e., asking family and friends for suggestions.
Hospitals are increasingly milling their patients’ confidential medical records to target their promotional mailings for services, reported Phil Galewitz of USA Today.
It’s not illegal, but the practice doesn’t sit well with consumer advocacy groups who point out that many health care providers are choosing to ping patients with better insurance coverage.
That creates a sort of indirect discrimination, as hospitals make it harder for consumers with less insurance to learn about services they may very well need.
To target the ads, hospitals determine the likelihood that patients would need certain services based on age, income and insurance status. Hospitals have said they target patients with private insurance because the companies tend to pay higher rates than government-backed plans like Medicare and Medicaid.
The mailings also advertise a variety of tests, such as screenings for cancers and cholesterol, which are generally more expensive.
As record numbers of Americans go without health insurance, hospitals targeting consumers who are more capable of shelling out money for services has been an inevitable outcome, along with soaring health insurance premiums (Read why the rich are building their own hospitals.)
To make matters worse, employers are also reducing health insurance benefits in the workplace.
As we recently reported, one in five Americans are experiencing difficulty paying off their medical debt, while 25 percent have considered filing for bankruptcy because of rising medical bills.
Though targeted mailings might place others without insurance at a disadvantage, hospital officials insist they target patients who pay more to make enough profit to serve everyone.
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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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