Posts tagged Thing

It May Have A Billion Users, But YouTube Isn’t A Sure Thing Just Yet

Since it launched to the public at the end of 2005 (the very first video is still online), YouTube has come to dominate online video in a way that few businesses manage to dominate anything on the Web. Today, it boasts more than a billion users, who are uploading more than 300 hours of video every minute and generating billions of views every single day.

So far, so rosy—but YouTube isn’t exactly the home run that these figures might suggest it is, and it’s facing increasing pressure from all sides. Last month the Wall Street Journal reported that YouTube was only just breaking even; this month, Facebook unveiled a host of new video features designed to steal away a large chunk of YouTube’s share of the market.

See also: Facebook Is Coming After YouTube With Embeddable Videos

Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the only one who wants some of those YouTube eyeballs, either.

A Changing Landscape

Mark Zuckerberg is coming for YouTube

The 360-degree, 4K video uploads YouTube allows today are a world away from the grainy, blocky, buffering clips that appeared in the early days of the site. But it’s not just the technical aspects of online video that have come on in leaps and bounds.

We’re all watching more video than ever before, for example; movies and television shows are available on-demand over the Web in ways that would have been hard to envisage a decade ago; and services like Spotify (launched in 2008) have changed the way we think about content streaming.

Music is an interesting case study for those looking to chart the evolution of YouTube. It was something the video site stumbled into almost accidentally, providing an online, instant access, personalized version of MTV that connected with music lovers (especially younger ones). Before YouTube, there wasn’t really a way to find good-quality music videos online in any great number—today it hosts audio and video for millions of tracks.

Along the way, music on YouTube has become a professional, money-making business through partners like Vevo. But is it making enough? Bar an advert or two, all this content is free to access, and as rumors circulating around Spotify suggest, that’s not a model the record labels are particularly keen to see continue.

Enter YouTube Music Key, which provides ad-free tunes with a few extras thrown in if you pony up $9.99 a month for a Google Play Music subscription (you get both services whichever one you sign up for). From free to ad-supported to subscription in the space of ten years—that’s a substantial evolution, and one that makes you wonder how many more subscription services YouTube has up its sleeve.

See also: YouTube May Be Winning The World And Losing Its Soul

YouTube personalities who produce videos about tech, make-up, cooking, video game  and just about any other topic under the sun are another booming area of business for the channel. That’s no doubt why big names like Facebook and small startups such as small startups such as Vessel are looking to prise these stars (and their audiences) away from Google’s grip.

In the coming years, any big name video personality or successful music artist is going to have more choices than ever for hosting their material. So what does YouTube do next?

A Changing YouTube

Hits like Gangnam Style took off on YouTube.

Google faces a battle to both hang on to the core pillars of YouTube’s popularity as well as expand into more lucrative areas. One of those areas is likely to be video-game streaming and e-sports, a part of the market YouTube has yet to make a mark in (largely thanks to Amazon’s Twitch game-streaming site).

See also: Video Games As Spectator Sport—Why Twitch Is Booming

The Daily Dot reported this week that YouTube is preparing to dust off its live streaming ambitions and make esports the focus. Insider sources suggest Google has already started putting together a team and working on preparing the ground for such a move, with an announcement expected in June.

Live streaming of traditional sports could also be a potential goldmine—this is an area YouTube has dabbled in before, but most of the key events and leagues are tied up in several layers of television rights contracts. It seems it will take a TV-to-online shift in mindsets, like we saw with music, before live broadcasts of the NFL and its ilk can become a reality.

Then there’s the idea of YouTube pulling a Netflix. This is an idea often rumored and half-confirmed by YouTube’s head of content, Robert Kyncl, last month. In short, pay a monthly fee and never see an advert again—presumably a very good deal from YouTube’s perspective as it looks to finally get in the black and stay there. There’s potential too in a closer relationship with Google Play, providing a Web-based streaming equivalent to iTunes.

What’s certain is that YouTube can’t stand still, even with a billion user accounts to its name. If it’s going to be prospering at 20, then it’s will have to be significantly different from the YouTube of today.

Mark Zuckerberg photo by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite; other images courtesy of Google

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Understand This One Thing About Google, And Your SEO Will Be Easy – Business 2 Community

Understand This One Thing About Google, And Your SEO Will Be Easy
Business 2 Community
I hate to break it to you, but you've probably got Google all wrong. Most people got it wrong and in doing so, they ended up floundering with poor rankings and terrible websites. SEO companies got it wrong. Marketers got it wrong and businesses got it

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What’s The Most Searched Thing On Google? Turns Out It’s “Google”

Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes said the most searched term on Google is “Google” itself during SMX West session.

The post What’s The Most Searched Thing On Google? Turns Out It’s “Google” appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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This Small Business Redesigned Its Website & You Won’t Believe What Horrible SEO Thing Happened Next

Columnist Andrew Shotland took on a client who’d lost rankings as a result of a site redesign. Here’s what he did to help them recover.

The post This Small Business Redesigned Its Website & You Won’t Believe What Horrible SEO Thing Happened Next appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Facebook Drops Microsoft’s Bing to Do Its Own Search Thing

Facebook’s relationship status with Microsoft’s Bing has changed to “it’s complicated.”

View full post on Home – SearchEngineWatch

Microsoft’s Future Remains Cloudy—And That’s A Very Good Thing

Increasingly, Microsoft is looking like a successful cloud-services company that also happens to sell software, a game console and some other devices.

Of course, that’s not apparent at first glance. In Microsoft’s latest earnings report, covering the July–September quarter, it pulled in overall revenue of $23.2 billion in revenue and earned a net profit of $4.5 billion. Its “commercial cloud” revenue, which includes cloud-related revenue from its Office productivity software as well as its Azure public-cloud server business, amounted to just $1.2 billion—a mere 5% of the software giant’s overall sales.

See also: Azure Is Helping Microsoft Catch Up In The Cloud

But take a closer look. Microsoft’s commercial cloud revenue grew 11 times faster than that of the company as a whole, more than doubling in the quarter compared to the year-earlier period. Overall company revenues rose just 11% over the same timeframe. (That’s excluding $2.6 billion in July–September phone sales resulting from Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s phone unit earlier this year.)

What’s more, the gross profit associated with Microsoft’s cloud and “enterprise service” operations almost tripled in the quarter. That profit jumped 194% to $805 million in the quarter. Overall, Microsoft’s gross profit barely rose at all, edging up only 8% (again excluding the Nokia handset business).

Head In The Cloud

All of which is to say that the long-held view of Microsoft as an old-school software business dependent on Windows and Office is due for an upgrade. 

Windows and Office are going to remain key to Microsoft’s operations for years to come; they’re still enormous, after all.

See also: What Microsoft’s Fiercest Critics Forget: Azure

They’re just not growing. Microsoft’s “devices and consumer licensing” revenue—i.e., Windows for consumer PCs and other gadgets—actually dropped 8.7% in the quarter, primarily reflecting the ongoing consumer shift toward tablets and phones away from PCs. Its “commercial licensing” business—read: Windows for business—bumped up only 2.7% in the quarter.

Both segments remain hugely profitable, with gross margin in the range of 92% to 93%. But profits in the two segments combined rose only 1.5% in the quarter. 

True, together they accounted for almost $14 billion in revenue and $12.9 billion in gross profit—that’s basically the definition of “cash cow.” But these cows don’t seem likely to get much fatter; in fact, the opposite is much likelier over time.

And while straight-line extrapolations are usually wrong, consider this for perspective. Should Microsoft’s cloud business keep growing at this rate (which it almost certainly won’t), it could eclipse the company’s entire Windows business in just four years.

Microsoft, of course, continues to do a variety of other interesting things, although they’re likely to remain sidelights in business terms. Revenue from sales of its Surface tablet more than doubled to almost $1 billion in the quarter. Total Xbox unit sales also doubled, although Microsoft still doesn’t distinguish between the older Xbox 360 and its newer Xbox One, suggesting that the latter isn’t yet something it wants to brag about.

But the cloud remains its real future.

Lead image by Robert Scoble

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One Thing Is Missing From Facebook’s Research Guidelines: Respect For Its Users

When Facebook announced changes as to how it will conduct online research, there was one glaring omission in its new guidelines: There’s no mention of how the social network will treat its users moving forward.

Facebook faced quite the backlash from its emotional manipulation study published earlier this summer, in which it deliberately showed some users more positive or negative posts to see how they affected mood. In an effort to placate its critics with more transparency, the company issued new guidelines on Thursday to help it conduct online experiments more responsibly.

The framework includes a a more thorough vetting process for research proposals; a review panel that includes “senior subject-area researchers” and members of multiple teams at Facebook; a six-week training program to educate employees on research practices; and a new research website to publish Facebook’s academic studies.

See also: How To Opt Out Of Facebook’s Mind Altering Experiments

Facebook wants you to blindly trust it to be better, and not to worry about potentially becoming a participant in an experiment you didn’t sign up for. But Thursday’s blog post doesn’t instill that much confidence.

“What’s glaringly missing in this statement is the word ‘ethics’,” said Reynol Junco, an Iowa State professor and faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Center, in an interview. “There’s really no discussion of how they’re going to address the ethical concerns, and who their ethical experts are going to be, and what their ethical review process looks like.”

I spoke with Junco earlier this year, and he said the problem with the Facebook study—and what made it different from the research other companies conduct as a form of A/B testing—was the potential for harm in its experiments. As he said at th time:

Is what you get from the research worth doing the intervention, and if the answer is yes, what are you going to do to minimize the effects?  

Facebook is silent in this regard.

Clickwrap Consent

When Facebook first published the emotional contagion study, one of the biggest concerns was that the company did not get informed consent from users—meaning people had no idea they were a part of an experiment. Facebook manipulated people psychologically without getting their consent first.

The mood manipulation study may have been legal, but perhaps not ethical. According to The Atlantic, the experiments took place before any of the researchers consulted an institutional review board, which exist primarily to ensure the protection of human research subjects.  Facebook’s recent blog post says it will engage with the academic community, but doesn’t say if it will seek approval from review boards before doing similar research. 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy watchdog organization, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming Facebook broke the law when it ran the experiment. That’s because the social network didn’t state specifically in its data policy that user information could be used in research. 

Facebook has revised its policy since, although it’s not yet clear whether it that change sufficient “informed consent” for future research purposes.

“The devil’s in the details—it’s a nice statement, but how is this going to work in practice?” Junco said. “I don’t see any talk about how … strong the user protections are going to be. They don’t really say how this isn’t going to happen again—is it just going to happen again, and they’ll say, look, we have clear guidelines and we have a panel?”

The guidelines are a good start, though, and increased transparency is at least somewhat promising sign. Facebook plans to apply the guidelines to both internal and public-facing experiments, for what that’s worth.

Lead photo by Robert Scoble

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Dear Barry Bonds: Stop Trying To Make “Glassing” A Thing

Silicon Valley Street Style is a weekly feature that looks at the intersection of fashion, technology and taste.

Barry Bonds uploaded a photo on Twitter on Monday in which the former big-league superstar looked over the city of San Francisco—coffee cup in hand, Google Glass on his face, deep introspection in his eyes. 

“I’m glassing,” reads the superimposed caption. 

It’s a message I imagine said in Bonds’ voice, as if he were looming behind me and whispering “I’m glassing” into my ear with hot breath. 

And yet … why? 

Google, as we know, is doing its darndest to make its face computers socially acceptable to the masses, yet according to the myriad of flummoxed users, Bonds has nothing to do with the anti-Glasshole campaign. 

Bonds, it seems, is doing a solid for his pal, “visual storyteller” Anthony Phills, the guy behind “I’m Glassing,”  a project and magazine about the wearable—a project not sponsored by Google. 

Glassing is a term referring to wearing and using Google Glass, a word that Phills is trying to force into the modern day lexicon—joining the ranks of tech-words-turned-canon like “Googling” and “tweeting.” 

Phills and Bonds have a tough road ahead of them. What is the consensus about people wearing Google Glass? Google Glass has become the symbol of privilege and shamelessness, and willing to wear the device on your face conveys a sense of pseudo-intelligence, pseudo-clout.

From The Daily Show ripping apart Glass-wearers to the emergence of the term “Glasshole”, people who wear Google Glass are now seen as more of a punchline than anything. A person wearing Google Glass in public, especially in the Bay Area or at a tech event, exudes some sort of invisible people-repellant force that just makes everyone hate you. Everyone except your fellow Glassholes, that is.

Still … I think it works on Bonds. 

As a guy who is not of the tech world, he’s trying. I’ll readily roll my eyes at the people already invested in the Silicon Valley tech lifestyle who throw on a pair of Google Glass like a sign that says, “I know tech. And I’m wealthy.”

But Bonds is just getting into the whole social media thing, slapping Google Glass on, adapting to the times. As a figure so very integral to San Francisco culture, I feel as though Bonds is adopting Google Glass as if it were a peace offering to the city’s techie landscape. And I can’t fault him for that. Our tiny Silicon Valley bubble can be an angry, elitist bully sometimes and frankly I just want to take Barry Bonds by the hand and let him inside. 

Looking at this picture, I get the exact same feeling I get when I see old people who are happy. My heart swells. I tear a little. 

So “Glassing” is not a thing. So “Glassing” is a made-up term that Google doesn’t even want to associate with. So “Glassing” could already be in reference to totally unrelated things like using glass bottles as weapons or an attack move in Halo

So what? There’s a mixture of enthusiasm and being so out of touch that is reminiscent of every #dadjoke that’s ever been told. I have my doubts, but I support you, Barry. Keep on doing what you do. 

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The Most Important Thing To Do Before You Switch Mobile Carriers

The darker the shade, the better the service on Sensorly’s crowd-sourced service map.

With so many shiny new phones on the market this week, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’re thinking about switching mobile carriers for your next device.

See also: What Apple Announced: The iPhone 6, Apple Watch And More

If so, the most important thing to know before making the switch is whether that mobile carrier adequately serves your area. Sensorly and OpenSignal are both services that offers an unbiased take on whether it does or not.

Just put in your ZIP code and cellphone carrier (or prospective carrier) and either site will feed you a map. The deeper the color in your area, the better the service. Alternatively there’s Dead Cell Zones, which highlights just the opposite.

Of course, like with any free service, there is a catch. Sensorly is crowdsourced, so it’s only as accurate as its range and number of users: “Since our data is 100% user-generated, the more people who join the Sensorly Crowd and use the app, the more precise it gets.” OpenSignal is the same way, collecting anonymous data from its app users to create its maps.

See also: Motorola Launches A Phone For Your Budget

So when your options are this or your mobile carrier’s take, Sensorly and OpenSignal are certainly less biased than the alternative. Crowdsourced mobile maps are just another tool to consider if you’re in the market for a new phone.

Screenshot via Sensorly

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The Only Thing Samsung’s Not Into Is Restraint

Samsung’s much-anticipated Galaxy Note 4 was the least exciting announcement at its latest Unpacked press event this morning. 

The presentation, held in conjunction with the IFA show in Berlin, didn’t waste much time before unveiling a dizzying collection of other gadgets: A Note variation with a curved display called the Galaxy Note Edge, the Galaxy Gear S smartwatch, and the Gear VR virtual reality headset. 

See also: Galaxy Note 4 Rolls With An Entourage

Taken altogether, the message seems pretty clear: Standard smartphones and even phablets, those huge mash-ups of phone and tablet, are staid—boring, even. But don’t fret. Samsung’s here to change up that stale old mobile experience, figuring that at least one of its new gizmos is bound to be the next big thing in mobile.

Let’s take a look.

Galaxy Note 4

The Galaxy Note 4 is no slouch. It’s stronger and lighter than the Note 3, with metal framing, more durable glass and, by all accounts, an even nicer looking 5.7-inch screen.

The previous Note offered a 1920 x 1080 resolution, full HD super AMOLED screen; the new version delivers a Quad HD super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440, 30% more pixels.

The battery only got a slight bump from 3,200 mAh to 3,220 mAh. Samsung has borrowed power-saving features from the Galaxy S5, though, and claims that battery life has improved by 7.5%. It also souped up the charging time, giving the Note 4 the ability to charge to 50% in 30 minutes, not an hour.

The S Pen stylus now has double the pressure sensitivity of the previous stock stylus in order to make it feel more like writing with a real pen. Luxury pen maker Mont Blanc even created two special styli for the Note 4 called the Pix and the e-Starwalker—the company’s first digital writing implements that can also write on screens.

Other improvements: Better cameras in front (16 megapixels) and rear (a 3.7 megapixel front selfie cam with an F1.9 lens) that offer enhanced image stabilization and better low light performance, enhanced multitasking, and three new microphones that capture sound in eight directions. The idea is to improve noise cancellation, for clearer phone calls. (That’s right—some people still use their smartphones as phones.)

Note 4 users will choose from black, white, gold and pink when it lands on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular in October. Bling lovers can even pick up a Swarovski crystal studded back cover. 

Galaxy Note Edge

Samsung wants to “change what consumers expect in a smartphone, all over again,” said company executive Gregory Lee. And thus, the company came up with the Galaxy Note Edge. It’s essentially the same phone as the Note 4, with an important difference: a curved display that yields an extra flap of screen on the right side.

Samsung has played with the notion of extra screen real estate before—the doomed Samsung Continuum from four years ago comes to mind. This time around, the separate screen sits under a continuous piece of curved glass. Indeed, the company looks like it just back-bended the existing display, which is possible due to the flexible screen technology it has been working on for years now.

To offer the extra screen space, the Edge shaved a little room off the side, measuring 5.6 inches instead of the Note 4’s 5.7 inches. What you end up with a single piece of glass curved at the side, that can show notifications, an app carousel, stocks or news tickers.

With this, the premise is to let users carry on with their primary screen activities, without alerts, news or incoming calls hijacking the main display. Instead, they appear unobtrusively on the side. So far, reviewers seem to be impressed.

But what really matters is what users think, and they haven’t embraced secondary displays in the past. Whether they will now depends a lot on developers, and whatever they can dream up for that extra sliver of screen. (Samsung is launching a software development kit to help them along.)

Like the Note 4, the Note Edge will hit all the major U.S. carriers, excluding US Cellular.

Samsung Gear S

Samsung’s increasingly crowded range of smartwatches got a new addition last week when the company announced the Gear S. Today, the public finally got to see one out in the wild—or at least onstage.

See also: Samsung’s New Gear S Smartwatch Looks Great

The company put some heavy emphasis on the fact that the Gear S has its own 3G cellular radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS location tracking. Once you’ve set it up (which requires a Note or Galaxy), you can use the watch alone for step tracking, running apps or placing calls (assuming you have the Gear Circle wireless headset, which was conspicuously absent from today’s events).

Samsung also made a big deal out of its health features—the Gear S comes with a heart-rate sensor, and can also track your steps and sync your activity to the cloud. But if the extraneous S Health features on Galaxy phones are any indication, Samsung’s take on fitness and health monitoring probably won’t make or break this device.

What might is the smartwatch’s design. Sure, the Gear S is huge, at 2 inches, but the curvature of its screen gives it an elegant and stylish appeal. In that way, the size works for it, turning the watch into a sort of fashionable cuff. 

The other crucial factor is what people will be able to do with the watch. The Gear S runs on Tizen, the company’s own operating system for mobiles and wearables—not Android. Potential customers may be concerned about a lackluster app inventory, but Samsung says more than 1,000 apps are ready for it.

The Gear S can hold up to 4GB of data and reportedly offers 2-day battery life. I’m a little skeptical about the latter, though, considering the meager 300 mAh power cell. It’s smaller than the LG G watch, and I was charging that thing every dang day.

Samsung Gear VR

Apparently the enemy of Samsung’s enemy is its friend. 

Samsung has been inching away from Google, trying to break free of its the golden handcuffs of the Android operating system—the search giant’s mobile software with millions of die-hard fans. It’s the reason the South Korean tech company developed and installed Tizen on several of its Gear watches, why it’s working on a Tizen-based smartphone, and likely factors into its decision to partner with the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift on these goggles.

Google looms large on this device for more reasons than one. Google Glass gets credit for accelerating the race for our faces, a competition that Facebook seems to have joined this year when it bought virtual reality startup Oculus Rift. Now the new Samsung Gear VR looks like a polished version of the cardboard VR goggles Google gave out at its I/O developer conference this summer.

It works pretty much the same way too. Just pop your Galaxy Note 4 in the front of the eyewear, and the goggles riff on the crystal clear super AMOLED screen to create an immersive virtual environment for the wearer. With the right software, the Gear VR can even offer a 360-degree view, processing and rendering the environment in less than 20 milliseconds. According to Oculus CTO John Carmack, the power, speed and beauty of the super AMOLED display is key for virtual reality, as they help reduce things like motion blur.

Like with most of the other gadgets, apps will be key here as well. What’s the point of virtual reality, if there isn’t much for you to see? Gaming seems like a natural fit for these goggles—with a phone seated inside, there aren’t even any cords to get tangled in, after all. But that’s not the only scenario.

With the Gear VR on, the user gets a viewing range akin to a monster 175-inch display. It’s like the biggest TV you can imagine, without the actual television. Samsung’s touting it as the Oculus VR Cinema, and as an initiative, it will live or die by the entertainment it can deliver. 

So far, Samsung has been working with a line up of partners, including Marvel, IMAX, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, Vevo and others. But it needs Netflix, Hulu, HBO and other streaming heavyweights, otherwise it has little chance of taking off. 

Still, with these moves, Samsung’s clearly making a plea: If you’re bored with the current pace of mobile innovation, hold tight. We’ve got lots of exciting things on the way. (And maybe more importantly, please don’t forget us next week, when Apple’s press event takes place.)

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