Posts tagged Streams
As streams of information become more popular on the Web, we need better ways to consume and manage them. Apps that allow you to aggregate content from different sources – Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news websites and more – may become very popular. That’s if they can overcome the increasingly walled gardens of Facebook and Twitter. Which makes creating a streams app a risky proposition, because there is no guarantee they’ll be able to access all of a user’s social data. A new service called State is trying, though. It came onto my radar this week and it passed my initial “I’m still using it after 30 minutes of tinkering” test.
State is currently in private beta. At first glance, it looks part FriendFeed, part TweetDeck, part iGoogle, and part something wholly new.
In an email to me, co-founder Joshua Lewis explained that he and his business partner Galen Wolfe-Pauly built State to try and answer the question of “what the future of the web looks like when you replace static content with streams of data”.
I mentioned a few services that State reminded me of, but for the founders it’s more like “the Photoshop of cloud data.” Lewis said that State is “a general purpose tool to manipulate, filter and publish streams of data.” Incidentally, State’s founders are already worried about the future of Twitter integration in State. It added App.net support soon after, partly as a hedge against Twitter pulling its data completely.
How State Works
You can add streams of content from up to four services (so far): Twitter, App.net, Instagram and Dropbox. This is the part that reminds me of a start page, like early Netvibes or iGoogle, because you end up with panels of content across the web page. You can also connect to Instapaper, enabling you to save content for later reading.
Then, like TweetDeck, you’re able to view various aspects of the stream. For Twitter, you can select to view content by home timeline, mentions, user, place, tag, search and list. The same principle applies to content from App.net and Instagram.
While State only connects to five services so far, you can imagine it eventually hooking into many more. This is where State reminds me of FriendFeed, the early feed management service acquired by Facebook just over three years ago. At the time it was acquired, FriendFeed could connect to 58 services.
One feature I really like in State is the ability to “follow” a page of streams that someone else has created. The State team has created several of these pages: News, Magazines, Food. Each page – or “workspace” to use the service’s parlance – is made up of many different streams of content. The Magazine one features the Twitter streams of various magazine publishers. There is limited ability to filter – for example, you can select to view only images from a stream. But I imagine more filtering options will be added over time.
By default your pages are private, but you can choose to share or make them public.
It’s clearly early days for State, but already I’m enjoying playing with it and building pages of streams. Keep an eye on this young service.
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Weekly Wrap-Up: The Future Of Streams, Facebook’s New iOS App, Why Topic Pages Are The Next Big Thing0
The future of Twitter streams, Facebook’s new iOS app, and why topic pages are the next big thing. All of this and more in the ReadWriteWeb Weekly Wrap-up.
After the jump you’ll find more of this week’s top news stories on some of the key topics that are shaping the Web – Location, App Stores and Real-Time Web – plus highlights from some of our six channels. Read on for more.
One of the five reasons why Web publishing is changing is the emergence of streams of information, The Future of Streams: Twitter Looms As Biggest Obstacle.
More Top Posts:
Facebook released a completely rebuilt version of its iOS app for iPhone and iPad today, changing a fundamental aspect of the company’s mobile strategy, Why Facebook Ditched the Mobile Web & Went Native With its New iOS App.
Chronological and real-time consumption of content just doesn’t work anymore. It’s time for topic pages to add a layer of organization on top, Why Topic Pages Are The Next Big Thing.
At the annual Gartner Catalyst conference this week in San Diego, top companies like Genentech, Eli Lily and Northern Trust Bank shared some of the secrets behind their impressive app portfolios, How 3 Big Enterprises Are Building Their Own Internal iPad Apps.
Evernote signed a treaty with Moleskine Friday at the Evernote Trunk Conference, formally declaring a truce in its war on paper, Evernote & Moleskine Merge Paper & Pixels in “Smart Notebook”.
In the past, content creators on YouTube couldn’t make money from traffic coming in through tablets or smartphones, YouTube Finally Offers Mobile Ads .
PayPal’s new deal with Discover Financial Services may have just opened the door for the payment service’s users to pay for goods and services in seven million Discover card locations, but there are big questions whether this deal will really accelerate the future of mobile payments, Will PayPal’s History Derail Its Discover Card Deal?.
If Kickstarter met the adult-entertainment industry and they fell in love, this would be their child. Meet Offbeatr, a crowdfunding site for the adult community, Offbeatr Wants To Be The Kickstarter For XXX Startups.
Nikon just launched the first-ever Android-powered point-and-shoot camera. It’s a smart move designed to make the company’s line of consumer products relevant in a world of ubiquitous phonecams, Nikon’s Android-Powered Bid to Change Mobile Photography.
Facebook said this week’s problem, which had users sending and accepting friend requests they did not initiate, was a result of users using contact importer, What To Do To Keep Your Facebook Account Secure [Update].
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One of the five reasons why Web publishing is changing is the emergence of streams of information. In other words, a constant flow of information ordered chronologically and (ideally) topically too. In the near future, the theory goes, it won’t matter where you enter content – a blog platform, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etcetera – because all of it will be accessible to other people as a stream. Yet this rosy future may not happen, if Twitter and Facebook have their way.
The key about streams is that they are much more than a static web page. In the near future, your stream may be delivered in any number of ways: as an RSS feed to your Reader of choice, a Reader app built using App.net, or even through a good old web page.
The Present: Simple Streams, Twitter Features
Much of the vision about streams is currently either experimental or hasn’t been built yet (like the App.net example I mentioned). But as it happens, there is a good early example of streams from a mainstream publisher: The Wall Street Journal.
On a blog post by streams evangelist Anil Dash, provocatively entitled Stop Publishing Web Pages, Laura Holder from The Wall Street Journal left this comment:
“Although of course still publishing traditional articles, at The Wall Street Journal we’ve started opening streams around event-based news topics, such as Apple Keynotes, Olympics, Campaign 2012 and a 24/7 Markets Stream, compiling a dynamic river of topical articles, tweets, live blogs, photos, videos. They work on mobile, engagement is high, filtering will come, and I suspect advertising integration will evolve.”
The election stream is mostly made up of WSJ news articles and tweets from WSJ staff. There is the odd video too, plus sharing options to Facebook and Twitter.
Probably the best feature is that it’s easily digested via mobile.
This is early days for streams and The Wall Street Journal’s effort is fairly basic, although very nicely implemented using WordPress.
The Future: Twitter & Facebook Don’t Want You To Control Your Stream
So what can we expect of streams in the future? It’s difficult to say, because there is no guarantee that popular publishing services will even support streams in the future. We’re looking at you, Twitter.
There is a battle going on in this era of the Web for control over user content. The most popular social services, Facebook and Twitter, are both trying to keep a hold over their Walled Gardens. Neither company wants their users to have control over their own content. That makes it difficult for third party developers to build stream apps (in other words, interfaces to view streams), because they won’t necessarily be able to access all of your content created in Facebook and Twitter.
This is where App.net is potentially an important development. If it can become a defacto stream for microblogging, then App.net combined with RSS – the syndication format supported by almost all publishers nowadays – may become the default standard for streams.
But not if Facebook and Twitter have anything to do with it. So it will be an interesting to see how streams evolve over the next couple of years. Let me know in the comments how you think this will pan out.
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Large companies often have trouble breaking into new revenue-generating vertical markets. As Facebook barrels into its much-anticipated initial public offering today, the question for investors and analysts will be: How does Facebook start making money from its huge mobile presence? While it may seem like Facebook has completely dropped the ball on mobile monetization, there is plenty of time and avenues for the social behemoth to make money from its mobile eyeballs.
To understand where Facebook is with its mobile products, one must understand the problems that big companies deal with in rolling out new revenue-generating products. There are four phases, which author Geoffrey Moore calls “horizons,” for revenue-generating products at any given company:
- Horizon 1: Established products that are generating revenue.
- Horizon 2: Go-to-market products that are out of the research and development phase and are making the painful birth into a new revenue category for the company.
- Horizon 3: Products that are in R&D and may or may not constitute the future of the company.
- Horizon 4: End-of-life products that have long been revenue generators for the company but may have outlived their usefulness.
Right now, the challenge for Facebook is to take its mobile monetization strategies and any resulting new products out of Horizon 3, see them through Horizon 2, and firmly establish them as Horizon 1 products. Many large companies struggle with Horizon 2 because of the need to allocate resources to a project that may not see actual revenue any time soon. It is a critical stage for a company as it looks to expand its categorical product portfolio.
In its initial S-1 filing for its IPO, Facebook identified making money from mobile as perhaps its biggest risk. We analyzed the avenues that Facebook could take to make money from mobile and found that there are several distinct directions the company could go, from direct and indirect ad placement, to creating an application store, to payments (Facebook Credits). Most of Facebook’s mobile monetization will come from advertising in one form or another.
“Mobile should be a huge priority for the Facebook team, especially given the IPO. Traffic to social media sites on the Jumptap network from January 2011 – January 2012 grew 107% and had a 28% uplift in CTR for ads on the channel when combined with outside data sources. The social networking channel remains one of the most popular for our top verticals, including auto, retail and CPG,” said Paran Johar, CMO at Jumptap. “There is an incredible opportunity for Facebook to monetize their massive mobile presence. Thirty-three percent of their traffic comes from mobile devices, and 85% of their $3.7 billion in revenue comes from advertising; monetizing mobile is a billion-dollar opportunity.”
Where Facebook Can Take Mobile
There are several different types of advertising that Facebook could implement in mobile. The easiest would likely be interstitial and banner ads within Facebook’s native apps and mobile Web presence. That should not be a problem for the company on larger mobile screens, like the iPad, but creating effective ads for screens smaller than five inches has proved problematic not just for Facebook, but almost every other mobile ad network as well.
Facebook can also capitalize on the “interest graph” it has created through its social graph platform and its newer OpenGraph applications, such as The Washington Post Social Reader or SocialCam. This is essentially what Facebook is doing on its desktop platform – targeting ads to people based on their interests. How to achieve that on mobile while still optimizing screen real estate and not alienating users (or infringing on privacy) will be the hardest part for Facebook.
The most alluring prospect for Facebook may have to do with location-aware push notifications. Facebook has recently started adding location to users’ posts on both desktop and mobile platforms. This feature can be turned off, but the way Facebook pushed it out recently to users shows that it is deeply interested in associating location with user updates. A recent Facebook acquisition, ambient social location startup Glancee, could prove very useful in this area. Glancee knows where you are, runs in the background of your phone and tells you when a friend of yours is nearby. When integrated within Facebook, that could be a powerful tool. Thinking a step further though, Facebook could also use Glancee’s technology to connect not just people to people, but also people to stores, merchants and restaurants. All Glancee needs to do is treat physical locations like it does people and add some type of incentive for the user to go to that business, with which Facebook has presumably cut a deal. That could be a location-aware push notification based on your interest graph. For instance, I like sports, I am passing a sports bar that is offering happy-hour specials, I get a push notification. Facebook makes money, the location makes money, I get beer. Everyone is happy.
Then there are the apps. A good portion of Facebook’s revenue is tied to apps in one form or another. The most lucrative of those are games, as Zynga has shown by riding its partnership with Facebook to its own IPO. Facebook’s original intent with its apps ecosystem was to let users spread apps through viral channels in much the same way that Farmville and MafiaWars became popular. That worked for a while and still has potential to be a good source of app enlistment for the company, but Facebook apps needed a boost beyond viral community growth. Hence, the social platform unveiled its App Center last week to act as a central repository for apps tied to the Facebook platform.
The App Center will prove pivotal in the way Facebook approaches mobile monetization. The center can sell mobile Web apps and bolster Facebook’s Credits program, but it also can extend Facebook’s presence in both the Apple App Store and Android Google Play. There is an interesting advertising opportunity here, as well. What if Facebook were to tie all of the apps that use its platform to its own advertising service? Then, if I am playing Draw Something and seeing ads, those are Facebook ads, not just ads served from some random ad network to which the developer tied its app.
The ability to unleash interest graph-based mobile ads outside of Facebook’s actual owned and operated properties could have great potential both for social app developers and the social platform. Think of it as Google’s AdMob program, but tied to mobile social apps.
The challenge for Facebook now will be to take these varying initiatives (like Glancee, App Center and even Instagram) out of Horizon 3 and push them through Horizon 2. Moore cautions companies that going to market with new categorical revenue generators is extremely difficult and should be done one at a time, so that each can be done right and done quickly. Going to market with new products one at a time has never exactly been Facebook’s strong suit. It likes to, “build fast, break things and fix them” as quickly as possible.
Facebook does not need to institute every idea it has for mobile monetization right away. It just needs to take its best idea, make sure it is as strong as possible and unleash it on the public.
If Facebook can ever figure out how to really make money off of the hundreds of millions of people that use its mobile platform, then there is definitely sunshine on the horizon.
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The role of using content to boost an affiliate site’s profitability can’t be underestimated. This article takes an in-depth look at tailoring content which will help engage and guide your users toward making more transactions on your site.
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest
Google’s new suite of Social reports within their Analytics platform launches tomorrow. Among the new features, users can compare last-click to assisted conversions, see Social Visitors Flow, view select social streams in Analytics, and more.
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest
If you are in the market for an enterprise social networking tool and haven’t yet considered Yammer or Jive or Socialtext or the dozens of other competitors out there, there is a new version 3.0 of Neudesic Pulse that might be worthy for you. It will be announced next week at the Microsoft Convergence conference, and the reason is clear: they offer the best integration with a variety of Microsoft services to their social streams. (We noted that Yammer had SharePoint integration for more than two years here.)
The idea is to establish an enterprise-wide social fabric that connects workers and enhances their ability to work together efficiently by sharing whatever tool each user is most comfortable with, at least in theory. Besides TeamSite, there are integrators with SharePoint and Dynamics CRM services too, so you can place activity streams inside their interfaces. There is also integration with Microsoft Lync, so you can send IMs from within Pulse. Pulse also has native apps on all three mobile platforms:
Android, Blackberry, and iOS.
What is intriguing about the product is that you can follow all sorts of things besides people in your activity stream, such as groups that are setup around specific topics, or even documents in your SharePoint repository. A few other social networking services have begun offering this flexibility, such as Yammer Files for example.
Pulse comes in both on-premises (with typical prices ranging from $8-$10,000 for a one time license with annual maintenance extra) and cloud versions. The private cloud version is $12 per user per month. One nicety is that there are no add-on costs for the various integration services.
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It used to be that Netflix account holders could share their logins with friends and family, allowing multiple people to stream content from the same account simultaneously. That may not be the case for long, at least according to consumer advocacy blog Stop the Cap!
Some users reported recently that their attempts to stream content to multiple devices simultaneously were met with an error message telling them they weren’t allowed to do so. As it rolls out its controversial pricing plan changes, the company may be tightening the screws on viewers who abuse the system by piggybacking on somebody else’s subscription. The change will also have an impact on families, who often share the same Netflix account across devices.
Netflix has denied the claims, saying that any users who experienced trouble trying to initiated concurrent streams were experiencing a bug, which they promised to fix. To test it out, we tried streaming an episode of “Mad Men” from our laptop while starting up an episode of “Parks and Recreation” from an iPad. Both shows streamed without a problem.
Technically, Netflix has long had these limitations in their rules, but they’ve never enforced them. Customers with either the one-disc-at-a-time or streaming-only plan are supposed to be limited to streaming from one device at a time. Pricier plans that include multiple discs also enable concurrent streams, starting with the two disc plan for $20 per month.
This being the case, Netflix wouldn’t be totally out of line in enforcing its own rules. That said, now is probably not the best time to do it. The company has already outraged customers by increasing its rates and recently disappointed investors by losing a vital content licensing contract with Starz Entertainment.
In many households, multiple people use the same streaming service on multiple devices, especially among families. A plan that enables four simultaneous streams from the same account costs $30/per month. When combined with other streaming service plans, the pricing can begin to approach the cost of a cable subscription.
It appears that the the streaming limitations experienced by some users are not a widespread issue. It’s possible that Netflix was experimenting with such a change, but quickly backed away, realizing that it probably can’t afford even a few more irritated customers right now.
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Twitter may start putting ads in user streams, according to a report from the Financial Times. “Promoted tweets” would appear in the main flow of tweets on the Twitter homepage, likely as an extension of the company’s current “Promoted Products” format – trends and accounts.
Reporting from advertising conference Cannes Lions in France, The Financial Times says that Twitter executives have been meeting with ad executives “on the fringes” of the event this week. Other reported options Twitter could use to help monetize the service are Groupon-syle daily deals as well as instituting some type of “QuickBar” on its home page, much like the one that caused an uproar when the company put it in its mobile applications.
What will tweets within users streams look like? Twitter needs to find a balance between allowing tweets in the main fire hose of user updates and not overwhelming the stream with what basically become officially sanction Twitter spam. A couple possibilities: Twitter could allow one or two companies a day to place ads into users’ streams on a scheduled basis. For instance, Twitter could allow two “promoted tweets” into the stream per hour. A company could buy inventory for every hour of a particular day, or every other hour etc. For users that follow a lot of accounts, two tweets advertising related tweets per hour would not be too painful in a river of other updates.
In terms of deals, Twitter has tried that route before and it did not go well. @EarlyBird sputtered out almost as soon as it got off the ground. One of the problems with @EarlyBird is that it was not targeted well enough to users who actually cared about the deals. A similar false start for Twitter was the “QuickBar,” better known as the #DickBar. Users found it to be so irritating and obtrusive that it quickly became a Twitter meme and the company was forced to take it out of the companies official mobile applications.
Twitter can take two tracks when it comes to advertising – blunt volume in in all users’ streams or targeted or specialized, targeted ads aimed at interested consumers. Promoted tweets placed directly in the timeline would be a volume play, aimed at getting as many “impressions” as possible. Specialized promoted tweets would be harder to pull off and require Twitter to analyze user accounts to determine what kind of accounts they follow. As such, Twitter could create an internal classification of users and sell ads against categories like “book lovers,” “tech enthusiasts” or “sports fans.”
According to an anonymous advertising executive in the Financial Times report, Twitter is “going to get much more commercial.” It looks like the first steps are currently being taken.
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Real-time analytics company Mixpanel is rolling out a new feature today to give Web administrators a better sense of what’s happening on their sites.
Like many analytics companies, such as Chartbeat, Mixpanel offers analytics that give people a macro view of what’s happening on websites. But the new feature, launching today, gives insight at a micro-scale.
The new feature auto-generates names for each visitor, making it easier to then track that person’s actions. There are also a number of filters that you can toggle, so that you can view individuals as they interact with a particular link or button.
According to Mixpanel co-founder Suhail Doshi, this new feature is something that the startup’s customers have frequently requested. Even better, Streams is free.
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