Posts tagged STORE

The Coolest Objects For Sale In Amazon’s New 3D Printing Store

If 3D printing doesn’t take off, it won’t be for Amazon’s lack of trying. Last year, it created a dedicated retail section to sell 3D printers and materials. Now it’s at it again, this time pushing actual 3D-printed goods—and feeding an ongoing debate about the role 3D printing should play in our lives. 

Amazon’s new 3D Printing Store launched Monday with a distinct focus on people who want to buy, not build, 3D-printed wares. Amazon already had a “3D Printers & Supplies” department which sells 3D printers, plastic filament, parts, accessories and software—stuff which will only be of interest to you if you want your own mini-factory in your house.

Shoppers can now browse through more than 200 3D-printed toys, jewelry, home goods, and other tchotchkes from vendors like Sculpteo, Mixee Labs and others—no printer required. 

Some items sold in Amazon’s store are customizable—like Mixee Labs’ toy figurines—while others have set designs, but offer a range of colors or exceedingly intricate detail.

3D printers—desktop machines that can produce three-dimensional objects from digital designs—have a direct and obvious appeal for designers, inventors, hobbyists and other “makers.” They’ve been less successful with mainstream shoppers, however.

If there’s one thing Amazon knows, it’s shopping. The site makes it easy for customers to discover, search and preview products (even in 360 degrees), while letting vendors offer their own wares by enrolling as an Amazon Seller.

If Amazon does this right, it could capture profits on both sides of the 3D printing business, by helping equip would-be creators and by providing them a place to sell their wares.

3D printing has been a subject of fascination for the technology sector and maker communities, but it’s still a hard sell for your average consumer. That’s one reason 3D-printing marketplaces shifted focus from offering 3D-printer blueprints to stores with completed products. Early pioneers Shapeways, Thingiverse and 3DLT got in on that action, inspiring newer competitors such as Threeding, Layer by Layer and Cuboyo. Even online auction site eBay and Etsy, the sellers’ site for hand-made goods, sell 3D-printed items.

With Amazon plunging further into this niche, it could spark mainstream interest in 3D-printed goods. That may ultimately be good for all players.

Some of our favorites in the new store:

“Create Your Own” Mixee Me

Some people find hyperrealistic 3D-printed figurines kind of creepy (and expensive). But this adorable “Mixee Me” doesn’t overdo it with the details, allowing it to ship quickly in just 6 to 10 days and at just $30. 

Fractal Leaves iPhone 5 Case

This fractal leaf could be your meditation on the fragility of life—or the fragility of your phone. Either way, this $28 bumper case is uniquely pretty and offers some protection for that handset without totally covering it up. 

HP Lovecraft-Inspired Cute Gameboard pieces

Put a little Cthulhu into your Chutes and Ladders. I can’t wait to see these little Lovecraftian gamepieces trounce across my chess board, and every other game I own. 

Unisex Space Invader Ring

You can wear your gaming cred on your sleeve, but why not on your finger? This blocky little ode to Space Invaders can appeal to retro gaming geeks as well as modern-day Minecraft fans. 

Chaos Table Lamp

The most expensive product on this list, the Chaos Lamp will wreak havoc … on your wallet. The $740 price point is steep for any kind of lamp, 3D-printed or no. But oh, if money was no object, having a sculpted art piece that’s also functional would be really appealing. 

 Images via Amazon

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3 Tests to Determine if Mobile Ads are Right for Your Online Store

Mobile is big, and getting bigger. But are mobile search ads a good investment for your site? Ask these questions to help determine your potential for mobile success, and Google Analytics reports you can run to help answer those questions.

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Apple Services iOS Developers With New App Store Analytics

Apple will soon give developers more tools to help them make money. 

At its Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday, Apple announced an update to iTunes Connect, its dashboard that helps developers manage apps, advertising campaigns, bug testing, banking, in-app purchases and more. Apple will update iTunes Connect with a fresh look later this year as well as provide a new analytics dashboard to track users visit and downloads.

“Most importantly, we are adding variable analytics,” said Apple’s apple vice president OS 10 platform experience Andreas Wendker at the WWDC Platforms State Of The Union address. “These analytics will tell you how many people visited your App Store pages. How many users went on and purchased your app, how many remained active over time. And best of all, connecting all of this information displayed right to iOS and is completely automatic. There is no need for any special libraries or code on your part for analytics.”

Wendker’s announcement drew applause from the developer crowd at WWDC, showing just how lacking Apple’s iTunes Connect has been in the area of analytics. Many app developers, studios, marketers and publishers have implemented third-party app analytics software into their apps, usually via a small software development kit and library. Apple’s new App Store analytics will not necessarily displace third-party analytics though, which tend to track user interaction and behavior within an app and across platforms.

Since the App Store was born in 2008, companies like Flurry, Localytics, MixPanel, New Relic, Apsalar, Upsight (formerly Kontangent/PlayHaven) and others have made decent businesses providing app analytics that include user retention and engagement to developers and marketers. 

“This is very different from app analytics,” said Henry Cipolla, co-founder and CTO of Localytics. “This focuses on performance of the app in the store. This is helpful for users trying to optimize their app store SEO and understand which apps are driving the most purchases. App analytics are more focused on what users in the app are doing and providing tools to engage with these users. App store analytics are a great compliment to usage analytics as they provide a view into what users do before they download the app.”

Catching Up To Google Play

iTunes Connect has long been Apple’s oddly named developer portal into all the background functions that app maker’s need to conduct business. iTunes Connect is where developers can submit apps to the app store and set up payments to their bank accounts. But, despite Apple being the biggest and most prestigious of app stores, iTunes Connect has long been a sparse collection of bureaucratic forms and fields. Outside of getting an app on the App Store, some basic analytics and getting paid, iTunes Connect did not have much use for developers.

See also: Making Android Pay

“This announcement is great news for developers working on improving their app store conversions,” Cipolla said. “This is surfacing a lot of useful information that was previously unavailable. However, as app owners look at their app as a cross platform service there is a need for services like App Annie/Distimo to collect a cross platform view.”

Put iTunes Connect into contrast with how Google has updated its Google Play Developer Console over the last two years at its own I/O developer conference and the differences are dramatic. The Google Play team led by the likes of product manager Ellie Powers and director Purnima Kochikar have added robust analytics integration into the Google Play Developer Console as well as features like human-contracted translation so developers can target native languages to specific regions. Google also added optimization tips, staged alpha and beta rollouts (which Apple just announced with TestFlight) and referral tracking at I/O 2013 to help developers optimize their apps and make money across the world. With Google I/O 2014 coming at the end of June, expect the Android maker to rollout more resources in the Google Play Developer Console soon.

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Finding Great Software In Apple’s App Store Will Soon Get Easier

With over 75 billion applications downloaded and more than 300 million people visiting the App Store every week, it’s easy to argue that Apple’s marketplace for mobile software is working well.

Yet consumers and app creators still often feel its too hard to find the right iPhone or iPad app. New features Apple announced Monday morning at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco should address some of that pain.

A Glut Of Apps

It’s easy to argue that Apple’s conundrum is a problem of success. As more and more applications launch on iOS, Apple’s software for iPhones and iPads, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find the app you’re looking for.

At WWDC, Apple’s annual event for developers, the company introduced an overhauled App Store that will help app makers get more exposure and present their apps in more appealing ways.

The feature developers will most likely be excited about is the ability for users to purchase multiple apps from the same developer in one bundle. (This gap was highlighted when Microsoft introduced Office for iPad as a family of apps that users had to download one at a time.) 

A new “Explore” tab in the App Store is supposed to help you discover new apps, with multiple categories and subcategories you can select that fit your specific interest. A “trending searches” feature will help users find what apps other people are looking for the most at a specific time, and app listings will now feature video demonstrations next to screenshots.

Videos are increasingly popular on app developers’ websites as a way of easily explaining how an app works, so the video feature will likely see a lot of use as people upload videos they’ve already created. 

Apple also introduced an “Editors Choice” feature that will display a small logo next to apps that Apple’s App Store managers deem worthy of highlighting. Apple is known for highlighting apps that it likes on the home screen of the App Store and in category pages, particularly if they’re exclusive to iOS or make use of its features. The new logo makes that stamp of approval more obvious in searches.

The company also launched a new version of TestFlight, a tool for distributing early versions of apps to testers. (This new version of TestFlight is the result of Apple’s acquisition of Burstly earlier this year.) Now, developers will be able to invite users to test applications and see results directly in the TestFlight app.

All the App Store updates will be released to the public with iOS 8 in the fall. In the meantime, developers will be busy updating their app listings to take advantage. 

Image via Apple

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ASO is the new SEO as App Annie adds free app store optimization, plus ad … – VentureBeat

ASO is the new SEO as App Annie adds free app store optimization, plus ad
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App Annie Adds New Tools For Better App SEO, Paid VisibilitySearch Engine Land

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Why Microsoft’s Universal Windows App Store Is Huge For Developers—And Consumers

Windows is now truly one operating system, whether you’re on a smartphone, tablet or PC.

Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 8 RT and Window 8.1—that is, the phone, tablet (sort of) and PC flavors of Windows—are no longer distinct operating systems that largely look alike but vary wildly under the hood. Microsoft has spent the last couple of years updating its disparate Windows versions so that they work together with the goal of letting developers write one app and deploy it—after some tweaking to the user interface—to Windows PCs, tablets and smartphones.

True, Microsoft’s operating system naming conventions are still awful. But that shouldn’t obscure the major step forward this code-base unification represents to developers, nor the benefits that will flow to users as a result.

All three flavors of Windows now run on a common software core, or “kernel,” with a common runtime (i.e., the set of tools necessary to run programs). The major remaining differences between them have mostly to do with how they handle user-interface issues across a variety of devices, input methods (think touchscreens vs. mouse and keyboard), hardware (not just CPU and memory, but graphics processors, accelerometers and other sensors) and screen sizes.

Microsoft knows that those differences still present obstacles for developers, and hopes to address many of them with an update to its integrated developer environment, Visual Studio 2013, which it announced at Build 2014 this week.

Kevin Gallo, Microsoft’s director of the Windows Development Platform, describes it in a post on the Windows blog:

We’ve designed Windows for the long term, to address developers’ needs today, while respecting prior investments. We do this with one familiar toolset based on Visual Studio 2013, with support for C#, C++, JavaScript, XAML, DirectX, and HTML. The tools and technology stacks already used by hundreds of thousands of developers extend app development across Windows devices. Developers who have built apps for Windows 8.1 will find it fairly easy to reuse their work and bring tailored experiences to Windows Phone 8.1. Windows Phone 8 developers can use the same code, and also access new features, when they develop for Windows Phone 8.1.

Write Once, Deploy To All The Windows

The Visual Studio update allows developers to port existing apps across devices and their specific versions of Windows. For instance, if you have a Windows 8.1 app, you can use settings in Visual Studio to target smartphone-specific capabilities in Windows Phone 8.1. Visual Studio is designed to let developers use the same basic app code across different devices and Windows flavors, and allows them to emulate how an app will behave in each case.

From Microsoft’s perspective, the two most important takeaways for developers are these:

  1. You can build universal apps and share all the code while just making tweaks to the user interface
  2. Visual Studio offers a variety of diagnostics tools to optimize apps for use on different device—smartphones running Windows Phone, laptops running Windows 8.1, etc.

Essentially, Microsoft wants to make it as easy as possible for developers to build Windows apps. Given Microsoft’s minuscule share of the mobile market to date, you can hardly blame it.

In practice, this means Windows Phone developers—and you know who you are— essentially have three options. If you’ve built your apps using the Silverlight Phone 8.0 development tool, you don’t have to do anything; they’ll continue to work as is on Windows Phone 8.1.

Alternatively, you can update your apps to Silverlight Phone 8.1 to access the new features in Windows Phone 8.1, such as the Cortana personal assistant and customizable homescreens. Or you can migrate your apps to the universal Windows app platform with the new tools in Visual Studio. Of course, if you prefer, they can also just start from scratch and build a “universal” Windows app to Microsoft’s specifications, which would theoretically optimize it for the new unified Windows code base.

One of the biggest bits of news is that Microsoft is encouraging developers to use whatever tools they want. Whether a developer chooses to use C# or Visual Basic (VB)—or C/C++—to write native apps, it’s all good. Microsoft is also actively encouraging developers to build cross platform apps with JavaScript and HTML5/CSS and has promised an update to Internet Explorer 11 with hardware accelerated graphics support that takes advantage of a device’s GPUs while leaving the CPU untouched. 

Buy Once For All Of Your Windows

For consumers, Microsoft aims to make the process of buying an app easier. If you buy an app for your Windows 8.1 laptop, you can automatically download it to your Windows Phone or vice versa. Microsoft insists that you won’t need to buy separate apps for separate versions of the operating system because, essentially, Windows is now all one big operating system now. The same is supposed to hold true for in-app purchases within these apps—they should migrate from laptop to tablet to smartphone as well.

Apple doesn’t do this. If you buy an app on Mac OS X for your iMac or MacBook, you will still need to download or buy the same version for your iPhone or iPad. Google doesn’t do this, either. If you buy an app or extension for Chrome OS, you will still need to buy that app for Android on Google Play.

Some individual apps for Android and iOS, of course, do let customers download versions for different devices—for instance, via a subscription service or universal login. But that’s up to the app developer. It’s not required by Apple or Google.

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Moving Towards Local Store Marketing And Advertising For National Companies by @smartfinds

National companies have been struggling with a significant change to branding, marketing, and advertising over the past few years. Search engines, the mobile industry, and consumers are looking for businesses, products, and services in their area using local search. This puts the need for digital branding, marketing, and advertising to the store, office, franchise, or […]

Author information

Melih Oztalay

Melih (“may-lee”) Oztalay is a veteran of the Internet with over 20 years experience and expertise. He is the CEO of SmartFinds Internet Marketing located in Birmingham, Michigan, providing Internet marketing solutions and services to businesses. The agency’s recent focus on Geographic Marketing solutions for multi-location business to reach local consumers through web and mobile searches. Some of SmartFinds’ clients include ComForcare Home Care, Proforma, Ziebart Inernational, Kaydon, Soave Enterprises, Delphi, Guardian Industries, McCann Erickson, Wendy’s and more.

The post Moving Towards Local Store Marketing And Advertising For National Companies by @smartfinds appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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How Apple TV Can Win: Make A Netflix Out Of The iTunes Store

Shortly before he died in 2011, Steve Jobs uttered four exciting words to his biographer, regarding Apple’s plans to revolutionize the television experience: “I finally cracked it.”

Since his death, everyone’s been guessing what exactly “it” was—or is. Year after year, analysts continue to believe Apple will build a physical television set, but as CEO Tim Cook says repeatedly, Apple already has a television solution. It’s called Apple TV.

Originally designated as a “hobby” project called “iTV” when it debuted in 2006, Apple’s set-top streaming media center hasn’t changed much since its second generation model debuted in 2010. But the next update, likely due later this year, might just turn out to be the television experience Jobs had envisioned.

The current-gen Apple TV functions like most set-top boxes: It streams movies, TV shows and music from providers like Netflix, HBO, ESPN, and even Flickr and Vevo. But if Apple’s $99 black box is going to distinguish itself from countless similar streaming offerings—especially Google’s $35 Chromecast—Apple needs to take a page from a different pioneer in order to offer something truly different.

Taking A Page From Netflix

How did Netflix’s streaming service get so successful? It didn’t just offer instant gratification—it offered low risk instant gratification.

For a monthly membership fee, Netflix customers get a no-hassle to browse through movies or TV shows. Unlike other online movie services that force customers to pay for each movie or program they rent, even if they don’t like it, Netflix subscribers can start watching a movie, change their mind, and start watching something else—without paying twice for it.

Netflix doesn’t always boast the most popular or critically-acclaimed movies, though its selection is improving as the company signs more streaming deals with studios and distributors. But customers love Netflix anyway because they can watch as much as they want without repeatedly taking out their wallets. And that’s the key.

How iTunes Can Transform The Apple TV

Apple doesn’t own Netflix, but it does have its own secret weapon: iTunes.

People already use iTunes, the most popular media player in the world, to store their music, movies and TV shows, but iTunes also houses the biggest multimedia vendor in the world—the iTunes Store.

That isn’t to say it’s intuitive to use. Both iTunes and the iTunes Store are available on the Apple TV, but the iTunes Store is divided into three separate apps for “Movies,” “TV Shows” and “Music.” This fragmentation is both unnecessary and confusing, especially since Netflix has been able to consolidate its offerings in an easy-to-use manner.

But Apple has a bigger problem to fix. And that’s its pricing structure.

Let’s say you want to watch a newly-released movie on your Apple TV. Currently, new movies from the iTunes Store cost at least $20 to own or $4.99 to rent. But if you rent a movie, you have 30 days to watch it, and once you start watching it, you only have 24 hours to finish it. Compared to Netflix, which allows you to watch as many movies as you want—as many times as you want—at a much more reasonable price ($7.99 a month), the iTunes Store is downright medieval. 

Of course, that sort of pricing structure made sense back in the days of Borders and FYE, when DVDs sold in stores for about $20. But those stores went out of business for a reason: We aren’t living in that age anymore. With torrent files and P2P services, people can download movies or TV shows in minutes, for free, and own them forever. It’s mostly not at all legal, but it is difficult to stop without policing the Internet to a degree that just about everyone but Hollywood executives finds distasteful.

The iTunes Store’s 99-cent songs proved an excellent deterrent to online music piracy when it they debuted in 2003. Apple needs to push ahead with a similarly revolutionary pricing structure for streaming media. It needs to embrace the Netflix model to make the iTunes Store—and, by proxy, the Apple TV—a winner in the streaming age.

How It Could All Work

Imagine this: For $10-12 a month, your Apple TV gives you total access to the entire iTunes Store. You get all the new movies and TV shows right after they air, and you can watch them as many times as you want. No more rental rules and restrictions. You still have the option to purchase these titles and keep them in your personal iTunes library, but your monthly fee just lets you stream those titles whenever you want.

If this were main feature of the next Apple TV, would you pay for it?

That would be a great start. But the next-gen Apple TV also needs improved, simplified software and the ability to connect to more platforms. The key to all of it, however, is search.

The biggest problem with the Apple TV—and possibly the reason why there’s no available Apple TV API or software development kit for developers yet—is there’s no way to efficiently search everything that’s available on your Apple TV. Currently, if you’re looking for a particular movie or TV show, you have to search every applications separately, which is a big time-waster.

Apple has the technology in hand to fix this, not least thanks to its 2012 acquisition of the app search engine Chomp. But Apple could also easily take a page from Microsoft’s Xbox One and enable voice search functionality with the aid of Siri. It could even take things a step further and start offering cross-service recommendations to users, much the way Netflix does for its customers.

Apple TV also needs to expand its media offerings. While it offers 40 different “applications,” the platform is still essentially closed. Opening it up via an “App Store” for the Apple TV could lead to a flowering of entertainment options for users, similar to the way the iOS App Store surprised users with what you can do with an iPhone or iPad.

The Unveiling And Release Strategy

A new Apple TV, with a revamped iTunes Store and overhauled search system, might be unveiled in March or April, but it sounds like Apple will wait until September or October to release the new hardware. That’s a good thing, because it can definitely use a long window like that—not just to build anticipation for the system, but also to ratchet up the pressure on reluctant movie studios and pay-TV distributors.

Here’s the problem: Apple has been reportedly trying to close deals with these companies for almost two years now, so far without success. Apple faced similar resistance among music studios wanted to introduce the iTunes Store—particularly with Sony Music, was the final holdout among the five major record labels.

In the same way Sony stubbornly refused Steve Jobs’ initial offer to join the iTunes Store, pay TV distributors know they have the same kind of leverage against Apple—they own the rights, after all. Today’s negotiations with cable providers are further complicated by Comcast’s bid for Time Warner Cable, which would create a single pay-TV behemoth that would undoubtedly rather call the shots than dance to Apple’s tune.

But that’s why Apple might be willing to introduce the new Apple TV service before all of the deals are signed and sealed. If Apple introduces the service and it’s an immediate hit, that’ll put pressure on the remaining holdouts to get in while the getting is good. And it could be at least seven months between the unveiling and release dates for the Apple TV, which is a long time for any resistant company to refuse an offer from Apple.

Booting Up The Next Apple TV

The next Apple TV might not be the ultimate TV experience at first. According to the Wall Street Journal, cable-company resistance might force Apple to settle for offering only the five most recent episodes of current-season shows and blocking users’ ability to fast forward through those programs for three days after they air. (Apple originally asked for full seasons of TV shows as well as live programming.)

But any deal is a move in the right direction for the Apple TV, which has remained static for so long. As Netflix demonstrated, it’s not necessary to offer every movie or show on Earth to succeed. The most important factor is a financial model that makes sense to people and respects their desires as consumers. 

Apple already owns a broad multimedia platform, connections with all of the “right” movie and TV companies, and a piece of hardware to fit it all. With improved search and a revamp of its archaic rental model for movies and TV shows, Apple could finally inch closer to the living room experience Steve Jobs once dreamed about.

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Microsoft Will Allow Foreign Customers To Store Data Outside The U.S.

In response to massive surveillance concerns stemming from reports of the National Security Agency’s monitoring of foreign citizens, Microsoft is offering its foreign customers the ability to store personal data on servers outside the U.S. 

According to a report in the Financial Times, other tech companies were not in favor of the idea, but Microsoft felt it necessary to implement the changes following leaks that the NSA was spying on foreign citizens in dignitaries in countries across the world. 

“People should have the ability to know whether their data are being subjected to the laws and access of governments in some other country and should have the ability to make an informed choice of where their data resides,” Brad Smith, general counsel of Microsoft told the Financial Times.

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Search In Pics: Google+ Keychains, Instagram Printer & Google Wear Retail Store

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have, and more. Print Your Instagram Selfies: Source: Google+ Google Developer Group Chefs:…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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