Category Archives: Social Networking

Apple Tops Google and Amazon on “Most Admired Company” List

In Fortune Magazine’s annual ranking of “most admired companies”, Apple has once again walked away with the top spot. Apple was voted #1 for the third year in a row in a poll of executives, industry analysts and company directors. This year, Apple actually took pole position by its widest margin ever.

Other companies that ranked high on Fortune’s list include Google at #2 and Amazon.com at #5.

Check out this video from Fortune that explains a little more about the process and provides some insights into why certain companies are so admired:

Consumer and business trust, strong customer loyalty and the ability to transform new markets are all reasons that Apple was voted “most admired.” Apple easily topped the survey by scoring 51% of the vote.

Because this survey was taken before Apple filed suit against HTC, its recent legal actions obviously weren’t taken into consideration.

Apple, Google and Amazon.com all represent strong brands and strong feelings of loyalty amongst customers — plus good business decisions and balances sheets that appeal to investors.

Tags: amazon.com, apple, branding, Google, most admired companies


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How Google Keeps Your Data Safe in the Cloud

In a blog post today, Google essentially reminds its enterprise customers that Google Apps provides an alternative to expensive, complex solutions as far as data disaster recovery goes.

Synchronous replication is a system that Google Apps uses to store customer’s info in two data centers at once, so that if one data center fails, Google says it nearly instantly transfers data over to the other one that’s also been reflecting the actions taken by the customer all along.

On the practical side this means that thanks to the cloud-based storage solution, Google customers won’t lose any data in a data center failure. Just as crucially, they are theoretically back up and running straight away — although the online giant does acknowledge that no backup solution is perfect.

This synchronous replication is applied to the entire Apps suite as well as Gmail (Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Sites), with the sales angle being enterprise-class back-up for all at a much lower cost than if companies were to provide or contract separately for their own data redundancy systems.

Google, ever keen to push its Apps suite to new corporate clients of all sizes, estimates that this kind of back up could cost up to $500 for 25GB of data from other providers, but says it can bundle it in because it’s already running large, fast data centers.

This is essentially Google reminding enterprise customers (and potential customers) about one of the significant benefits of cloud computing over traditional in-house server farm data storage. How does your business handle data backup and redundancy issues? Do you think cloud computing is the ideal solution to hardware failure?

Tags: cloud computing, Google, google apps


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How Google Keeps Your Data Safe in the Cloud

Suze Orman Advises Mark Zuckerberg Against Buying Twitter [SPOOF VIDEO]

Twitter may be valued at $1.4 billion, but it’s definitely not a smart buy in Suze Orman’s opinion. Well, that is if you’re Mark Z., a 25 year-old degree-less professional with $300 million in liquid assets, $4 billion in Facebook stock, $2,500 in monthly expenses, and no debt.

In her latest “Can I Afford It” segment, Orman strongly advises Mark Z. — an obvious reference to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — against buying Twitter. She exclaims, “You want to spend $1.5 billion on Twitter, do I have that right? … Why do you need to buy it … you know Twitter, you can get it for free.”

Of course, the video is all in jest and first aired at last night’s Shorty Awards in New York. Orman, who happened to be nominated for a Shorty Award in the finance category, agreed to film the spoof video when approached by producers. The end result is a slice of comedic genius at the expense of Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and even Chatroulette.

Check out the clever and entertaining mock segment below:

Tags: celebrities, facebook, twitter, video, viral videos


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Suze Orman Advises Mark Zuckerberg Against Buying Twitter [SPOOF VIDEO]

Yahoo Mail Makes Friends With Facebook

In December, Yahoo revealed a new strategy: lots and lots of Facebook. Today the company announced that they’re gradually rolling out the first feature to come from the partnership — Facebook Connect integration with Yahoo Mail.

The new feature means that Yahoo Mail users can now connect their Facebook accounts and integrate their Facebook friends’ email addresses into their Yahoo Contacts list. Users can visit the Import Contacts page to be guided through he Facebook friend import process.

Of course, this is just the beginning of the full Facebook Connect feature bonanza on Yahoo. You can expect functionality to be integrated into News, Sports, Finance, and even Flickr in the months ahead.

Given that Facebook is now 400 million members strong, we have to believe that there’s a significant shared user base between Facebook and Yahoo. In a perfect world, Yahoo will see those users stay on Yahoo properties and use the Facebook contact and sharing functionality to push Yahoo content out to the world’s largest social network and generate more traffic in return.

[Img credit: superfluity]

Tags: facebook connect, social media, Yahoo Mail


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Yahoo Mail Makes Friends With Facebook

Omoby: Visual Search for the iPhone

Omoby can essentially be summed up in four words: Google Goggles for iPhone. The visual search app allows you to snap a pic of any object and get back a list of convenient search results, retailer pricing, and information about that product.

The technology behind the app is visual object search, so it doesn’t require a barcode to be scanned, and can tolerate a fair amount of object rotation and general object obscurity in making an identification. In our tests oMoby fared better on some things than others: boxed media like video games or DVDs were easily identified while the Nexus One was rendered simply as “Google Android phone.”

Still, it’s a nice quick and dirty way to pull up information or do comparative shopping for a wide range of objects. The app saves a history of your visual searches too so you can reference them later. Hooking in your Twitter or Facebook allows you to share results with your friends; sharing via email is an option as well. The app is powered by IQ Engines visual search technology, which also offers an API for developers who want to incorporate image intelligence into their own apps.

So if you’re an iPhone user who has been jealous of your Android counterparts’ access to visual search, oMoby is definitely worth a look at the low, low price of free in the App Store [iTunes link]. We’ve embedded a demo video below of the app in action; if you get a chance to watch the video or try out the app, let us know what you think in the comments.

Tags: google goggles, iphone, iphone apps, IQ engines, Mobile 2.0, object search, omoby, product search, Search, visual search


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Omoby: Visual Search for the iPhone

HOW TO: Get Started With Spotify

Spotify is a free, legal, cloud-based streaming music service delivered via desktop software with a nice social twist. A Swedish start-up with offices in London, it launched back in 2008 in Europe and now boasts around five million users and around six million tracks from the major labels as well as a ton of independents.

Currently only available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK, France and Spain (technically), Spotify has previously talked about plans for expansion — including a U.S. launch later this year, the exact date of which is TBD.

The basic version of Spotify is free to use for anyone who manages to grab an invite (either via another user or through a waiting list-based e-mail sign-up), although consumers can skip the ad-supported free option and choose to sign up for its £9.99 per month (approx $15) “Premium” service that also gives you access to Spotify’s mobile apps — and more — which we’ll explore in a later post.

But for now, here’s a quick guide to getting started on the entry-level version of Spotify, taking you through the sign-up process to more interesting options such as how to start sharing your music.


Signing Up

Once you get your e-mail invite, there’s a direct link within it to set-up your account which is a standard username/password affair. However, be careful when you select your username, as it’s not possible to change it — to do so would mean you’ll have to re-register which will mean begging around for another invite.

When you’ve created an account you need to download the software (which works with Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.4.0 and up, and Linux using Wine) via the installer option which is the usual save file, double-click, choose where you want it process as far as a Windows install goes.

With a Spotify account, you can sign in anywhere via a connected computer and download the software, although you can only play music on one computer at a time.


Start Finding Music

With the simple sign-up process complete, there are now several ways for you to start gathering content. The quickest is search, via the search box which does offer fuzzy “did you mean” options if you aren’t quite sure whether it’s “Byork” or “Bjork.”

If you’re impatient to hear some tunes, you can start listening to music right away while you’re looking for more — just search, click on the track or album you want and it’ll start playing immediately.

Another option is via browsing, which is link-based, so you need to initiate at least one search before you can start surfing. But once you do, almost everything you see in Spotify is clickable — artist names, album titles, years, genres, styles, tracks, playlist titles, etc. — starting you off on a click-through-fest which could take you days to return from.

Clicking through on an artist’s name will give you that artist’s homepage which offers an “overview” including a pic, brief bio, top hits, related artists (always good for new music discovery) and then a scrollable list of albums, complete with artwork. Some artists also offer a longer biography, too.

More advanced text-based search options include the ability to narrow down your search from a general keyword search to a more focused effort. These work along the following lines — to search for a song with the word “prince” in the title, enter “title:prince,” or search for “album:prince” or “artist:prince” to find matching albums and artists.

Other ways to find music are by hitting the “Home” option on the right-hand side menu which offers a “What’s New” selection as well as “Top Lists” which lets you browse playlists, including an option to see what’s hot in your country, as well as others.


Creating Playlists

Once you have found tracks you like it’s easy to start making playlists. Just click “New Playlist” from the menu on the right-hand side and name it.

Then you can either drag and drop tracks, or you can right-click a track or an album and select “Save To” which will bring up the roster of your existing playlists. You can control and click to select multiple songs. A single Spotify playlist can store up to 10,000 tracks.


Sharing Songs and Playlists

Anyone with Spotify can listen to your songs or playlists through Spotify’s sharing options. You can either right-click on a playlist and select “Copy HTTP Link” which will generate a link along the lines of
http://open.spotify.com/user/username/playlist/692nO7eEkPIsoZiijxhlk8. When anyone clicks that link it will open Spotify and show your shared music.

You can also share through Twitter, Facebook and Delicious by right-clicking, selecting “Share To,” which will give you the three sites as clickable options.

If you want to make sharing a more interactive effort, then right-click on your playlist and check the “Collaborative Playlist” option. This means that others can add songs to your playlist by opening it in Spotify and adding tunes — this feature is impressive and works almost in real-time.


Listening to Spotify Radio

Spotify’s radio options offer the usual genres — blues, country, jazz, disco, funk, etc. — and then also offer radio stations by decade, which is a nice touch. You can select as many genres as you’d like in order to generate a combined stream, so if for some bizarre reason you fancy a mix of country and techno, you can hit both those buttons to create a custom station.

The radio player offers a visual for all the songs playing and coming next, so if you spot something you’re desperate to hear two songs along, you can skip forward, or keep clicking back if you want Suicidal Tendencies’ I Feel Your Pain repeated 17 times.

Similar to competing sites like Last.fm, you can also choose to generate a radio playlist based on a favorite artist. Just click on the artist’s name link and select “Artist Radio.” The subsequent song list is generated from your chosen artist, as well as related artists.


Buying Songs

Spotify does offer the option to purchase some songs through its download partner 7digital, although it will likely be a different company when the service launches in the U.S.

Any songs with an arrow in a circle under the “Buy” option can be purchased. Doing so for the first time generates a quick small print message to agree to before giving you the option to add credit or debit card details. At this point Spotify will give you one-click buying options, or the choice to enter your password.

The next time you want to buy a track you don’t need to enter you card details again, just click to confirm the purchase, which is devilishly easy, so do watch those Spotify spending sprees if you’re on a budget.

As well as downloading to the Spotify client, the music is also downloaded to your computer. You can set where you want it to save to in the preferences, otherwise it saves to default locations such as My Docs/My Music on a PC.

The files are DRM-free MP3s, from 192kbps to 320kbps, and can be downloaded several times (the number of which is dependent on the track and label) then transferred to an MP3 player or burned to a CD from your computer.


That’s All, Folks

That should be more than enough to get you up and running with Spotify. If you’re looking for an invite and don’t know a current Premium user to ask for one, you can sign-up your e-mail address on the Spotify site (just hit the “Getting Started” button) to go on the waiting list.

Are you a Spotify user? How do you like it? Share your thoughts about the service in the comments below.


More HOW TO resources from Mashable:

- HOW TO: Keep Your Facebook Updates Private
HOW TO: Integrate Facebook, Twitter and Buzz into Your Gmail
HOW TO: Add Captions To Your YouTube Videos
HOW TO: Create Custom Backgrounds for Twitter, YouTube, & MySpace

Tags: delicious, facebook, how to, music, social media, spotify, twitter


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HOW TO: Get Started With Spotify

American Idol Strips Contestants of Social Media Accounts

This year American Idol made headlines for pushing out individual Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace accounts for each of its 24 finalists. However, the show made a drastic change in strategy last night by consolidating all of them under the AI9Contestants username across sites.

Twitter followers of each of the individual contestants were sent the following message, “Thanks so much for following me! All my updates from now on will be on our Official Ai9 Twitter Page, please follow me there @AI9Contestants.” Similar messages were posted to Facebook and MySpace as well.

The contestants individual social media identities were stripped by the show without rhyme or reason, but The Wall Street Journal and USA Today speculate that the move was likely made because of the propensity of social media site follower counts to reveal early favorites, influence voting, and possibly remove the veil of the mystery that clouds American Idol’s typically stealth results.

The logic is sound — a contestant with more Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and MySpace friends is likely to get more votes and thus would have a higher chance of winning the competition. But in making the decision, American Idol has also made it impossible for contestants to develop that now all-important connection with their fan base, which is becoming crucial to the business side of the industry.

We should also note that while Idol’s consolidation efforts may be designed to maintain the mystery of the show’s outcome, there’s no stopping the rest us from turning to social media analytics providers to try and predict the winners and losers based on overall buzz and sentiment breakdown. In fact, we know that Philip Kaplan of Blippy has plans to do just that, indicating that he may try to ruin American Idol with a custom program that will look at who people say they’re voting for in social media channels.

Tags: american idol, social media, tv


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American Idol Strips Contestants of Social Media Accounts

Boxee Adds “Funny or Die” to Its Lineup

Boxee has added popular comedy site Funny or Die to the repository of video content offered on its cross-platform home theater software.

Boxee is a software application for home theater PCs (Apple TV, Mac, Linux or Windows) that brings web-hosted content to the TV screen and has a BitTorrent client for downloading videos to watch in the living room.

It also plans to offer a payment plan for premium content in the near future. The idea: challenge the traditional cable TV model with on-demand content downloaded and streamed from the Internet.

Funny or Die features sketch and stand-up comedy bits from both relative unknowns and stars like Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Galifianakis’ talk show Between Two Ferns has been nominated for multiple Streamy awards.

The most recent hit from the site is a a political sketch that brings together two decades of Saturday Night Live performers who’ve portrayed U.S. presidents including Fred Armisen (Barack Obama), Will Ferrell (George W. Bush), Darrell Hammond (Bill Clinton), Dana Carvey (George Bush Sr.), Jim Carrey (Ronald Reagan), Dan Akroyd (Jimmy Carter), and Chevy Chase (Gerald Ford). The site will also have its own show on HBO called Funny or Die Presents.

In case you’re wondering what kind of content you can access on your Boxee box now, the SNL presidents sketch is embedded below. Enjoy!

Tags: boxee, comedy, funny or die, gadgets, set-top box, software, television, tv, web series


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How Small Business Is Using Social Media [STATS]

The University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business looked at the relationship between social media and small businesses and found that the technology adoption rates in the U.S. have doubled in the past year from 12% to 24%.

The data comes straight from the university’s third installment to its Small Business Success Index report and is based on a December 2009 telephone survey of 500 small business owners. Adoption rate calculations are compared against a baseline report conducted in December 2008.

The study concludes that one nearly one in five small business owners are integrating social media into their business processes — Facebook and LinkedIn were the most popular sites. In fact, 45% of surveyed respondents even believe their social media initiatives will pay off financially in 12 months or less.

As the graphic below details, the small business owners who are using social media are primarily engaging in social media through company pages (75%) and status updates (69%) on Facebook or LinkedIn. What’s especially intriguing is that a much smaller percentage of respondents — just 16% — are using Twitter as a customer service channel.

Another interesting notion is that small business owners now believe social media can help them on the lead generation front, and that is the primary motivating factor for engaging in these new customer service channels. So while half of surveyed respondents found the time it takes to use social media sites more daunting than expected, 61% are still putting in the hours and making active efforts to identify new customers.

Clearly social media has become a valuable tool for small businesses, but we’re especially curious to see how Twitter adoption rates fluctuate over the time. While we expect more small businesses to use Twitter as a customer service channel in the year ahead, as it stands, Facebook and LinkedIn have become the predominant platforms for small business owners.

[img credit: mfinelydesigns]

Tags: small business, social media, stats


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How Small Business Is Using Social Media [STATS]

YouTube Down for Many Users

The world’s most popular video destination is off to a shaky start today — many users are being greeted by a “Http/1.1 Service Unavailable” message upon arriving at the homepage.

We’ve also noticed that many videos embedded on third-party sites like Mashable appear to be failing to load, though both problems seem to resolve themselves after a number of browser refreshes.

Meanwhile, plenty of people are discussing the YouTube problems on Twitter. We’ll update when we know more.

Are you experiencing issues? Let us know in the comments.

Tags: youtube


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YouTube Down for Many Users

How Companies Are Using Your Social Media Data

computerCompanies are mining the social web to build dossiers on you. Information posted publicly on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, forums and other sites is fair game. It is yet another reminder that people need to be aware of what they are posting on social networking sites and to whom they’re connected.

Jules Polonetsky, director and co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, said online users have no clue that a comment they made on a blog is being added to a database for some unknown use.

“I don’t think users expect that,” he said, and if consumers think idle chatter and casual conversation can be used against them by institutions, it’s almost certain to create a backlash, according to Polonetsky. He said the Federal Trade Commission is right now re-examining the current privacy structure in the U.S.

But at the same time, he said consumers are always very comfortable with Amazon using data to recommend books they might like. “When users are in control of it, it’s a win-win — if they feel empowered.”


How Data is Being Used

Polonetsky said aggregators like Rapleaf Inc. will collate information about individuals and sell it to companies that want to learn about those customers and what they do online.

Personal finance reporter Erica Sandberg, who covered the issue of social media datamining in a story for CreditCards.com, said that if a data mining company turns your chatter and network into a behavioral pattern, and if they can prove it has some worth, then it’s valuable to companies. Sandberg said this is just more information anyone can use to help them make a decision.

“I don’t think there’s anything scary about it,” she said. “Why wouldn’t they look at it? It’s public.” She said she is not aware of any specific examples of those who have been negatively impacted because of it.

Entities such as airlines, politicians, and even non-profits can use this data for finding new customers or targeting products to existing ones. Financial services companies such as banks and lenders are also using the same datamining services for marketing purposes and to make lending decisions. For instance, certain types of credit products, which fit your personality, could be marketed specifically to you.

“It’s a helpful tool to identify the right customers, the best customers,” Sandberg said.

She said the immediate fear is the misconception that it affects your credit report. She stressed that companies that do social media datamining do not have access to your credit report, and the act of collecting the publicly available data has no effect on your credit score.

However, she said, “it can affect the credit you’re offered, and the credit you receive.”

Social media contacts play a role in behavioral profiles as well. “I think what’s most interesting is how those in your network have an impact,” she said.

Do you know if your Facebook friends have good credit histories? Likely not, but if you associate with people who are a good credit risk, than you’ll probably be a good credit risk, according to Sandberg. “The whole idea [is] like follows like,” she said.


Learning About Customers to Tailor Experience

data chart imageAccording to a counter on their website, Rapleaf Inc. has mined social data about more than 389 million customers. They do that by crawling the Internet just like Google or Bing does, said CEO Auren Hoffman, but that they only crawl sites such as forums, social networks, review sites, newsgroups, and blogs — where information is publicly available.

He said clients they work with include car companies, airlines, hotels, banks, retailers, non-profits and politicians. If they can learn more about their customer, then they can personalize an experience for that customer, according to Hoffman. He said consumers are already expecting this high level of service, and that it’s all about the product, service, and experience that you would prefer.

“The power to personalize things is much greater,” he said.

Rapleaf’s blog links to a SmartMoney story about how banks and financial services firms limit their use of social media data to marketing departments, and not those “charged with making credit and lending decisions,” according to the post.

Sandberg said it’s up to businesses to use the information from datamining companies as they please. “This is public information. They can use it any way they want.”


Social Data Helps to Prevent Fraud

Lending Club, a peer-to-peer lending service that matches borrowers with investors, has been using a variety of tools and software to help them gather social media information for six months, according to Rob Garcia, the company’s senior director.

He said Lending Club uses social media data for marketing and operational purposes and stressed that Lending Club does not use any social media data for credit decisions and that it does not affect whether an applicant can get a loan. “We use this information to benefit our customers — to prevent fraud,” he said.

For operational purposes, Lending Club makes sure the user’s information checks out to try to protect his or her identity, according to Garcia. So they will compare application information from a credit file against information that’s publicly available. He said that if there’s a mismatch, it gives them more reason to go to more strict identification procedures.

“We have found a way to use this information in a positive way,” he said.


Credit Card Companies Turn to Social Media

credit card image

Consumers might soon be seeing more credit card offers in their mailboxes. In the last quarter of 2009, the number of credit card offers mailed were up 46% from the third quarter of 2009, according to a news release on the direct mail tracking service Synovate Mail Monitor.

Anuj Shahani, director of competitive tracking services for Synovate’s Financial Services Group, told me that the number of credit card mailings is still down 40% from the fourth quarter of 2008. He said the CARD Act, which is a new federal law aimed at better disclosure and banning unfair rate hikes, and the economy were reasons for the decrease in mailings of credit card offers.

He said that because of the CARD Act, there are restrictions on spending for credit card companies. Credit card companies will have to come up with targeting models, and data companies can help them figure out those models, according to Shahani.

“Issuers will have to come up with smarter ways to target the right audience because it is so much more expensive to extend credit,” he said. “I think one of them will be social media.”

Credit card companies are alrady using social media to launch new products. Shahani pointed out that the CitiForward credit card launched in March 2009 on MySpace.  He said that in December 2009, American Express launched its new Zync card on social media sites.

Shahani said the credit card issuer’s goal is to find the right audience and go to the right people and that’s where he expects social media would come in.


Social Media Usage Tips

Here are some tips from Erica Sandberg on the types of content to avoid posting on the social web and handling network connections.

1. Determine whether you want to go public or private with your social media profiles. If the profiles are set to be public, then be consistent with information you are posting. “The caution lies in what you say. Be truthful,” she said. For example, don’t post a status update joking that you’re filing for bankruptcy when you’re not. “It’s the off-the-cuff remarks you’re going to want to be aware of,” she warned.

2. Eliminate people and sites from your social networks that you don’t need. “Make sure people who are around you are reflective of you as a wonderful person,” Sandberg said.

3. Pay attention to your friend, invite, and connection requests. “You don’t want random associations,” she said. Sandberg recommends first checking out that person’s profile before accepting it. “I get flooded with friend requests of people I don’t know,” she said. “You have no idea who these people are. It’s a risky thing to do.”

What if opting out of being on social media is not an option? Sandberg said she’s on there for business purposes and can’t really go private. In that case, be careful what you write. “It underscores the importance of being honest and projecting yourself in a positive way,” she said.


More social media resources from Mashable:

- The Science of Building Trust With Social Media
How Twitter in the Classroom is Boosting Student Engagement
3 Ways Educators Are Embracing Social Technology
5 Ways Social Media Is Changing Our Daily Lives
How Social Media is Taking the News Local

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, shironosov, blackred

[Image Credit: Fosforix]

Tags: credit cards, data, data mining, facebook, finance, myspace, personal finance, privacy, social media, social networks, trending, twitter


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How Companies Are Using Your Social Media Data

Apple Eyes HTC in Latest Patent Lawsuit

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, gather round for the latest round of: Patent Lawsuit Theater! The players in this round are Apple and HTC. Apple is alleging that HTC infringes on 20 of its patents related to the iPhone user interface.

As in the Nokia/Apple skirmish, Apple filed its lawsuit concurrently in both the U.S. District Court in Delaware and with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

The ITC, as fans of this ongoing mobile patent circus may recall, is investigating Apple’s alleged patent infringement at Nokia’s behest.

We haven’t been able to pull the full lawsuit from the U.S. District Court, so it’s unclear what exact patents or claims Apple is claiming that HTC violates — although we highly doubt that it has anything to do with the Sense UI, seeing as that pre-dated the iPhone — but we’ll update this post with a link as soon as that appears.

The most interesting aspect of this particular case (for now) is actually in the announcement. In it, Apple CEO Steve Jobs says:

“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it… We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

Seriously, this whole game is getting ridiculous. I know these are multibillion-dollar companies, but perhaps their resources could be better spent, I don’t know, innovating their products rather than trying to sue one another into oblivion?

Update: Engadget has been given a statement from HTC that basically says this entire thing comes as a shock. From Engadget:

We only learned of Apple’s actions based on your stories and Apple’s press release. We have not been served yet so we are in no position to comment on the claims. We respect and value patent rights but we are committed to defending our own innovations. We have been innovating and patenting our own technology for 13 years.

Furthermore, Engadget is working on pulling the files together, but the full suit isn’t in the court’s system yet. Additionally, Engadget says that Apple has submitted over 700 pages of exhibits to District Court. 700 pages and that the ITC complaints call out virtually every HTC product that’s been on the market in the last eighteen months.

Kudos to Engadget and Nilay Patel for finding all of this stuff out.

(Thanks @nikf for the heads-up!)

What do you think?

[img credit: Thomas Roche]

Tags: apple, htc, ITC, lawsuits, patent theater


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Apple Eyes HTC in Latest Patent Lawsuit

CoTweet Acquired By Email Marketing Firm ExactTarget

CoTweet, the Twitter CRM tool used by several massive brands including JetBlue and Ford, has been acquired by ExactTarget, an email marketing firm.

In a statement, ExactTarget CEO Scott Dorsey said, ”By combining the power of ExactTarget and CoTweet, we can provide businesses a complete solution to tie together all forms of interactive communications and drive deeper customer engagement online.”

While perhaps not a widely known name in the social media space, ExactTarget is a major player in email marketing, generating $114 million in revenue for 2009. The company has also raised a massive $140 million in venture capital, most recently securing $75 million this past December.

Meanwhile, CoTweet has made waves as one of the first enterprise players in the Twitter space. After starting out as a free beta, the company began charging $1500/mo for its tools late last year. Now, the company will join forces with a much larger outfit that can push its software to an existing base of customers.

And that might’ve been CoTweet’s best option. While they were early to the enterprise Twitter space, they’ve since attracted some large competition. For example, Salesforce.com, already a behemoth in the CRM space, now offers its own Twitter CRM features.

Certainly, the move can be seen as further validation of the role of marketing in social media. Twitter’s COO Dick Costolo said as much in the company’s announcement, declaring that, “this acquisition is strong validation that valuable, sustainable businesses are emerging from the Twitter ecosystem.”

Dorsey and CoTweet CEO Jesse Engle discuss the deal in the video below:

Tags: cotweet, crm, exacttarget, MARKETING, software


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CoTweet Acquired By Email Marketing Firm ExactTarget

Adobe Opens Up About Apple, HTML5 and Flash [VIDEO]

Adobe Flash has been in the spotlight recently, and not for the right reasons. Now the company has opened up on the the iPad, iPhone and HTML5 debate in an exclusive interview with Mashable.

Fewer than two months ago, Apple revealed the iPad to the world. And while the company’s highly anticipated device included a lot of features, Flash wasn’t one of them.

A war of words soon erupted over the the multimedia plugin, with Flash responding to Apple and Steve Jobs ranting about Flash, stating that “the world is moving to HTML5.”

What does Adobe think of all of this recent talk? Does Adobe see HTML5 as a potential rival to Flash? What about Apple’s animosity towards Flash? All of these questions needed answering.


Notes: Interview with Aaron Filner


To get Adobe’s side of the story, I traveled to Adobe System’s San Francisco office to speak with Aaron Filner, the group product manager for the Flash platform. I’m going to let the video below do the majority of the talking, but I did want to highlight some key notes and takeaways from our conversation:

– The “battle” between HTML5 and Flash is a “misperception.” They have co-existed for a while, Mr. Filner said, and Adobe has invested in helping extend HTML’s technology.

- Adobe thinks the mobile web has gone in two directions: the open web via the browser and the application store.

- On Apple: It’s Apple’s decision whether or not it wants to support Flash. For now, it is supporting developers creating Flash-based apps for the iPhone app store.

- There has been some discussion about the Flash user experience on computers vs. touchscreens due to the lack of a mouse, cursor and the “hover effect” that some Flash apps currently use. While Aaron didn’t specifically highlight how Adobe intends to tackle that problem, he did say that the company’s playing around with potential solutions and that Adobe believes most Flash apps and videos will still work just fine on touchscreen devices.

- Expect Flash 10.1 for Android to hit in the first half of this year. In fact, we got a full demo of Flash for the Android (Nexus One), which we will be posting in a follow-up article.


Video: Interview with Aaron Filner, Adobe Flash


Tags: adobe, adobe flash, android, apple, Flash, HTML5, iphone, Mobile 2.0, nexus one


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Adobe Opens Up About Apple, HTML5 and Flash [VIDEO]

Who’s Dominating Oscar Buzz Online? [STATS]

Avatar — the biggest movie ever — is also the most buzzed-about film online. It accounts for more than one quarter of all Oscar buzz, according to new data released by The Nielsen Company.

Data encompasses online conversations related to the 82nd Academy Awards from a variety of social and news sites spanning a month-long period from January 25 to February 26.

In the feature film department, Avatar is the undisputed front runner, commanding 10% more buzz than its next closest online challenger, The Hurt Locker, which has amassed 16 percent of film-related Oscar buzz. If online buzz is any indication, Inglorious Basterds — which raked in a measly 2% of Oscar film buzz — is no contender for this year’s coveted Best Picture award.

When it comes to actors netting the most online buzz, Jeff Bridges — nominated for his role in Crazy Heart — leads both Colin Firth and George Clooney by more than a 5% margin in buzz. For the actresses, it’s a much tighter race. Sandra Bullock is on top with more than 25% of all buzz for that category, with Carey Mulligan trailing behind by a few percentage points.

As March 7th fast approaches, we expect online chatter to continue to swell, just as was the case with past awards shows. What will be interesting to watch — especially in light of the Grammys’ remarkable rating surge — is whether or not social media will significantly influence television ratings for the better. Of course we’re also curious to see if there’s a correlation between the social media winners and the real Oscar winners.

[img credit: Bob D’Amico/ABC, Oscars.org]

Tags: academy awards, celebrities, Film, Nielsen, Oscars, social media, stats, tv


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Viral YouTube Video Gets Crying 3-Year-Old Fan a Justin Bieber Visit

A viral video of a 3-year-old crying fan caught the eye of pop star Justin Bieber (and/or Jimmy Kimmel producers), who paid the girl’s entire family a visit this past Friday. He also tweeted about the meet and greet and posted a photo to showcase the tear-free face-to-face gathering with his number one fan.

Three-year-old Cody loves Justin Bieber so much so that she couldn’t stop crying over the singer, and, times being what they are, Cody’s mother took a video of the excessive crying spell and her sister Cheyenne posted it to YouTube. Nearly two million views later, the video has already become a meme in spite of the fact that embedding is disabled. Moreover, it managed to reach the star in question.

Tweets from Cody’s older sister Cheyenne confirm that the entire meeting was filmed by Jimmy Kimmel Live crew members for Monday night’s show. Cheyenne also confesses/gushes that she received a kiss from Bieber. We sincerely hope the kiss does not lead to sibling rivalry and more tears on YouTube.

The lesson here appears to be that despite what your mother told you as a child, crying will get you what you want — if those tears goes viral on YouTube, that is.

Tags: celebrities, justin bieber, tv, video, viral video


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Viral YouTube Video Gets Crying 3-Year-Old Fan a Justin Bieber Visit

Will the iPad Launch Be Delayed? [RUMOR]

An analyst has been speculating that manufacturing bottlenecks may reduce the number of iPads available at launch — or delay it entirely, according to AllThingsD.

More than a month ago, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad to the world, with an ambiguous “late March” shipping date for the Wi-Fi version of the device. In the ensuing weeks, no further information about a specific date or pre-order options (despite rumors) have been made available.

AllThingsD cites Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek as the source of the most recent rumor regarding the launch date. Misek claims that “an unspecified production problem at the iPad’s manufacturer, Hon Hai Precision” may limit the initial launch to the U.S. only. In addition, Misek claims that the delays will limit the launch to 300,000 units.

It’s important to note that the only source of this rumor — and this is very much a rumor — is Misek. The source of Misek’s information hasn’t been revealed, but given the nature of the report, our guess is someone in Asian manufacturing.

Our own sources with similar connections to the Asian manufacturing industry have not heard any information that gives any credence to these claims.

Since we’re just playing a big game of hypothetical “what if” right now, we want to know from Mashable readers: Would an iPad delay or tightened availability alter your decision to purchase? Let us know!

Tags: apple, Gadget, ipad, tech


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Will the iPad Launch Be Delayed? [RUMOR]

Sony PlayStation Network Outage Could Last 24 Hours

It may be some time until Sony PlayStation 3 owners can resume their usual online activities, according to a new blog post from Sony revealing it could take 24 hours to fix the glitch, which hit numerous users yesterday.

Sony has gone so far as to advise PS3 owners “do not use [their] PS3 system” until a fix has been issued.

News of the problem — which only affects owners of older PS3s — started to emerge yesterday. PlayStation has been keeping users updated via its Twitter feed.

“We believe we have identified that this problem is being caused by a bug in the clock functionality incorporated in the system,” explains Sony in the blog post.

As we’ve reported, the problems are related to the PlayStation Network, Sony’s online gaming service and store. As well as changing the PS3’s date, the bug signs users out of the PSN service, fails to display trophy data and also affects video playback.

“We are doing our best to resolve the issue and do apologize for any inconvenience cause,” says Sony. We will keep you updated with news on the fix.

Tags: down, outage, playstation 3, playstation network, PS3, PSN, sony, sony playstation


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Sony PlayStation Network Outage Could Last 24 Hours

Google Chrome Continues to Grow at Other Browsers’ Expense

Remember how Google Chrome’s market share grew last month, but Firefox and Internet Explorer’s shares slipped downward ever-so-slightly? That trend continued in February, according to web analytics company Net Applications. This time, however, Chrome was the only browser to grow at all (Safari moved up a little bit in January, but not so this time around).

Chrome grew from 5.22% to 5.61% (0.39%) over the course of February. Internet Explorer shrunk from 62.12% to 61.58% (0.54%), Firefox from 24.43% to 24.23% (0.2%), Safari from 4.53% to 4.45% (0.08%) and Opera from 2.38% to 2.35% (0.03%).

Here’s another tidbit: Chrome use grew among Mashable readers from 12.68% to 14.8% — 2.12%. From that you can deduce that Chrome’s adoption is (unsurprisingly) moving faster among web and tech enthusiasts.

While 14.8% among enthusiasts and 5.22% among the general population might not seem like much, it’s actually very impressive progress for a new browser. Chrome passed Safari to become the third most popular desktop browser in the world in December.

Net Applications also found that the archaic Internet Explorer 6 browser version declined another 0.24%. We’ve been saying “IE6 must die” for months now, and it looks like we’re slowly getting our wish. Expect the decline to speed up this month when YouTube drops its support.

[via ZDNet]

Tags: chrome, Firefox, google chrome, internet explorer, net applications, opera, safari, software, web browser


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Movieclips Makes Legally Licensed Movie Clips Available Internationally

Today, video-sharing site Movieclips.com is opening itself up to the world and also offering developers access to its API.

Back in December, we covered the launch of Movieclips.com — which is kind of like Hulu, but for movie clips. The site — which was originally only available in the U.S. and Canada — is unique in that it offers up thousands of searchable, embeddable, shareable legally licensed movie clips from Hollywood flicks — including films that are current in theaters — for free.

I got to talk to co-founders Zach James and Rich Raddon about the site, the new API and international availability.


Watch Out World


One of the best things about the Internet is that it can break down barriers like location. Unfortunately, when it comes to creative content like movies and TV shows, where you live often dictates what you can watch online. This can get downright ridiculous, especially when you consider how many films appear in theaters internationally — increasingly at the same time as they are released in the U.S.

Sites like SpeedCine are making it easier for international users to find movie options, but it’s still a very silly problem in the age of the Internet.

That’s why I was so impressed that Zach and Rich worked to launch Movieclips.com globally. The guys told me that it was actually feedback from the international community — movie lovers who couldn’t access the site — that pushed them to work out the deals so that no matter where you are, you can watch clips like this one:


Movieclips.com API


The other big announcement today is that developers can now apply to become an approved partner and gain access to the Movieclips API. This has some really exciting possibilities.

As it stands right now, the Movieclips team tags every single clip with tons of meta information — this includes stuff like the dialogue in the scene, the actors and actresses, the mood of the scene, the general theme, etc.

Developers can plug into this information so that they can serve not just clips from the database, but also pull up specific clips for a certain purpose. For instance, if you wanted to write an app that would generate a new clip based on certain holidays or based on a mood description, you could do it.

Likewise, imagine the kind of movie trivia games that could be aided by having access to a huge library of clips, as well as details like actor name, role, etc. I hope that some developers take advantage of this tool, because this could add some great context and functionality to movie apps.


More to Come


The Movieclips guys will be announcing more stuff at SXSWi, but in the meantime, check out the site if you haven’t already. More and more clips are being added every week, and Movieclips remains one of the best ways to legally share content online — regardless of where you live.


Reviews: Hulu

Tags: hulu, movie clips, movieclips.com, Movies, video sharing


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Movieclips Makes Legally Licensed Movie Clips Available Internationally

OK Go Allows Embeds With New Version of Their Music Video

Last month, we spoke with pop rock band OK Go about the controversy that arose when EMI put the kibosh on embedding the video for their latest single, “This Too Shall Pass.” Today, a second video for the song will premiere on their website — this time sponsored by State Farm, and, consequently, it will be entirely shareable.

OK Go has made its bones, in some senses, on the viral nature of their music videos, the first of which to hit big was their now-famous treadmill dance for “Here it Goes Again.” So it was a big shock when the band found that it could no longer employ the Internet as freely to spread the word about their new video.

Why did YouTube and EMI pull the plug? Well, for monetary reasons, of course. To put it simply: YouTube and EMI get paid when you watch a video on the video-sharing site, not so much when you watch it on someone’s personal blog. In response to the uproar, lead singer Damian Kulash posted a public explanation on the band’s blog, and even wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about how labels were screwing themselves over by bridling the shareability of videos for what amounts to a relatively small amount of cash. (NB: The video was also made shareable via Vimeo and MySpace.)

Well, now the band has seemingly bucked the restrictions of the label by creating an entirely new video for the song, this time sponsored by insurance company State Farm. The new video — which seems much more elaborate than the marching band-inspired first iteration — revolves around a Rube Goldberg machine (a contraption that is designed to perform simple tasks in an extremely complicated manner) that was created with help from SynnLabs, a team of creative engineers from NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

You can take a look at a series of making-of videos (which are — surprise, surprise — entirely embeddable) below, and head on over to the band’s website at 7:00 p.m. EST for the premiere. Afterwhich, you can share the vid to your heart’s content. Kulash will be on hand for a live chat following the premiere as well.

Keep an eye of Mashable later this week, as we plan to talk with the band further about the new video, the State Farm sponsorship and the reception of this new vid.


The Making of “This Too Shall Pass”



The Original Vid


Tags: business, EMI, money, music, OK Go, viral video, youtube


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OK Go Allows Embeds With New Version of Their Music Video

10 Reasons You Should Attend or Watch a Global Ignite Week Event

What was once just a Seattle event — first started by Brady Forrest of O’Reilly Media and Bre Pettis of Etsy.com in 2006 — Ignite has grown to become an ongoing series of International geek gatherings where the brightest minds get five minutes of stage time to make their point.

Today marks the start of Ignite’s most ambitious endeavor to date: Global Ignite Week. This week-long Ignite extravaganza has been eight months in the making and is a first of its kind.

You can find an Ignite event to attend or watch online, but either way you’ll want to familiarize with the movement that is Ignite. To catch you up to speed, we’ve put together a list of reasons why Global Ignite Week (@ignite) should be on your radar.


10 Reasons to Attend or Watch Online



1. Be a part of history in the making


While Ignite has been around since 2006, this year’s coordinated Global Ignite Week initiative is a first of its kind — with more than 12,000 people slated to attend 72 events spanning six continents — that’s bound to become the talk of the Web over the coming week, and perhaps after.


2. It’s global


We’ve already mentioned that events are taking place in six continents, but given that that Ignite is one hundred percent volunteer organized we think it’s remarkable that this single week will encompass events happening in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and even Africa. Six out of seven is no small feat, but we hear that next year we could even see Ignite events in Antarctica.


3. No keynotes


Trust us, this is a pro. Instead of putting a few special guests on a pedestal for a keynote speech or panel, Ignite events are structured such that all presenters are equal. All speakers are treated the same, alloted the same amount of time, and must follow the same set of rules. Still, some of the greatest minds from all walks of life participate and get their five minutes under the spotlight.


4. Talks are only 5 minutes (hint: you won’t get bored)


Ignite is perhaps the most structured event we know of that still manages to inspire creative thinking. Each presenter is limited to five minutes and there is absolutely no wiggle room. None. Period.


5. Presentation slides auto-advance


In order to up the challenge factor, Ignite speakers are only alloted 20 slides. The catch is that each slide auto-advances after 15 seconds, regardless of whether or not the presenter has finished their thought. This makes for an atmosphere that crackles with intensity and forces presenters to stay on topic and get their points across quickly and succinctly (or be left behind by their own slides).


6. It’s pitch-free


As conference goers, we all always fear that conference sessions will derail into tedious and unwanted pitch fests. Fear not! Ignite is a pitch-free zone and talks are guaranteed to encompass an array of topics like the above example, How To Work a Crowd.


7. There’s booze


Event organizers — volunteers though they may be — are still tasked to find venues that have bars. Enough said.


8. There’s science fair-like contests


At some Ignites, organizers will opt to include a contest portion in addition to the standard five minute talks. Contests vary depending on location but they’re meant to be activity-based exercises with rules that inspire creativity and yet make winning a challenge. Contests from years past include egg slams, Popsicle-stick bridge contests, paper airplane challenges, and cupcake contests.


9. Video is live streamed to the Web (and archived)


Even if you can’t make it out to the Ignite event in your neighborhood, you can tune into the Ignite events from all areas as each local event will be live streaming their talks to the web. You can turn to Ignite’s recently unveiled video site to eavesdrop on sessions happening around the world or catch up on popular talks from previous events.


10. You can unlock a Foursquare badge


The Foursquare badge is starting to become choice du’jour for the hidden gem of any geeky event and Ignite is no different. If you’re attending an event in person and check-in on Foursquare, you’ll be welcomed with a custom Ignite Foursquare badge. As any Foursquare fanatic knows, each badge is like a trophy that highlights your adventurous nature.

[Img credits: LaughingSquid, Yukon White LightNYTVF]

Tags: Events, foursquare, ignite, List, Lists, live video, o’reilly


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Upgrading to Windows Phone 7 May Not Be Possible

Yes, most of us want Windows Phone 7 to be very different from Windows Mobile. And Microsoft promised that it will, indeed, be different — closer to the latest generation of Zunes than to a Windows Mobile 6.x phone. But it comes with a price: Chances are owners of Windows Mobile 6.x devices won’t be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 7 software.

Up until recently, it looked as though there was a chance of upgrading; as Microsoft’s UK Mobile Business Group Director Alex Reeve said, it’s up to their “hardware partners to think about.”

But now, news comes out that owners of HTC HD2, a new Windows Mobile 6.5 device that seems more than capable of running the new software, won’t be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 7 software. Furthermore, according to APC, Microsoft’s general manager for mobile communications business in the Asia-Pacific region, Natasha Kwan, none of the current phones have what it takes.

“Because we have very specific requirements for Windows Phone 7 Series the current phones we have right now will not be upgradable,” she said.

This doesn’t mean that Windows Mobile 6.x owners will be left with dead-end devices, as Microsoft is supposed to continue support for them under the name Windows Phone Classic. But if you’re interested in upgrading to Windows Phone 7, you’re treading on unstable ground, no matter which Windows Mobile device you own.

Tags: microsoft, windows mobile, windows phone 7


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Upgrading to Windows Phone 7 May Not Be Possible

Intuit Offers a New Look at the Economy and Employment Trends

Many economists (and the President) believe that small businesses will be what reignites job growth in the US. Today, Intuit is out with a new way to track that theory – a monthly small business employment index that leverages payroll data from tens of thousands of customers to track hiring trends.

Specifically, the index measures hiring at roughly 50,000 companies with less than 20 employees that use Intuit Online Payroll. Much like Mint (which is now owned by Intuit) can shed insight into personal finance habits by analyzing customer data, the idea here is that in aggregate, Intuit’s small business customers can tell us which way small business is trending each month.

The company’s first report shows that there were 40,000 new small business jobs created in February, representing a 0.2% increase in their index. Moreover, their report shows that small business employment bottomed out in the middle of last year, with 150,000 jobs created in total since June, 2009:

How does Intuit’s data compare to that released monthly by the US Department of Labor? In its most recent report – for January – the unemployment rate dropped from 10 percent to 9.7 percent, breaking an uptrend we’ve seen since 2007.

Their number looks at overall employment though – not just small businesses – so if the thesis that a recovery starts with small business is to be believed, perhaps Intuit’s data is telling us something, especially if January doesn’t prove to be an anomaly when the Department of Labor issues its next report.

In any event, we like that Intuit is leveraging its data to provide insight into broader trends. We’ve seen companies like AdMob, Flurry, and JiWire (and even Facebook) do similar recently within their respective fields, and see it as an effective way for brands to build further awareness for their products.

Tags: employment, intuit, statistics


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Intuit Offers a New Look at the Economy and Employment Trends

We7 Gives UK Users Another Music Streaming Option on the iPhone

Peter Gabriel-backed UK music streaming service we7 just launched an iPhone app which lets Premium+ users listen to music on their iPhone, ad-free.

We7 gives several options to users: free service is ad-supported, and works worldwide, Premium option is UK-only and lets you stream music (without ads) from your PC, and the Premium+ option (also UK-only) lets you listen to “millions of songs” without ads, both on your PC and your iPhone, for a monthly fee of 9.99 pounds (roughly 15 US dollars).

With this move, we7 joins Spotify as another European provider of streaming music on the iPhone. The two apps have the same price in the UK for their premium subscription; Spotify, however, is a bit cheaper at 9.99 euros (13.6 dollars) in other countries. Spotify also has the advantage of being available in several Euroepan countries, while we7 is still limited to United Kingdom only.

As far as other mobile platforms go, according to we7’s website, Android version is “coming soon”.


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We7 Gives UK Users Another Music Streaming Option on the iPhone