About Productivity, Social Networks and everything else I'm interested in

Month: June, 2011

HTC Desire to get Gingerbread—once HTC shrinks bloated Sense UI

HTC Desire to get Gingerbread—once HTC shrinks bloated Sense UI: “

HTC has decided to downsize its UI overlay Sense on the HTC Desire so there’s enough room for an upgrade to Android 2.3 Gingerbread, the company announced on its Facebook page on Wednesday. Sense includes a number of proprietary apps that are skinned versions of Web services like Twitter or information aggregators like Friend Stream, and HTC will cut some of them to let Android 2.3 onboard.

The nearly identical Nexus One smartphone, also made by HTC, received the Gingerbread update four months ago. When customers pushed for the Desire to receive the update as well, HTC declared that despite its engineers’ attempts, both Sense and Android 2.3 could not fit on the phone at the same time. Customers quickly made it known which of the two pieces of software they’d rather have.

HTC has not yet stated which apps it will remove from Sense, though the discussion thread under the announcement is full of suggestions: the Twitter app Peep, the skinned browser, or the geotagging service Footprints. A few customers want Sense chucked altogether, as it seems to slow the phone down: Electronista notes that the comparable Nexus One is “much faster with the same software.”

No dates have been announced for the Gingerbread release yet, but HTC noted that customers should start looking for status updates on the upgrade next week.

Read the comments on this post


(Via Ars Technica.)

The Science of Sharing

The Science of Sharing: “IMG_3091 - Edited

T. and F. They don’t stand for ‘true’ or ‘false’ anymore. They stand for Twitter and Facebook. They’re in the corner of every webpage we visit, alongside ‘in’ for LinkedIn, ‘su’ for StumbleUpon, and the universally recognized envelope, which represents the archaic sharing system we call ‘email’ – which still accounts for 17% of all Internet sharing.

When we’re surfing the web, we see something we like and click one or all of these sharing buttons without thinking twice. But if you’re a marketer, or a webmaster, or a blogger – anyone that has a vested interest in how many hits are coming in; sharing isn’t just the new American pastime – there are dollars at stake. And one company is attempting to help publishers better understand how encouraging sharing can increase profits.

This is the goal of ShareThis, the largest platform for sharing and influence across the web, which aims to help publishers strengthen their advertising by understanding the people who are receiving their content via shares. Sharing accounts for 31% of site referral traffic, nearly half of what search engines account for. Analyzing not who is sharing, but who they’re sharing it with gives publishers the ammo they need to secure advertisers that will profit from partnering with them.

ShareThis CEO Tim Schigel explains it as such: If I send a link about DIY furniture restoration to my cousin Susie, it says more about her than it does about me. As Susie’s cousin and ‘search agent’, I’m targeting her better than any advertiser could. If publishers understand the people who are receiving their links from sharing, they can secure more effective advertising. By tracking the path of clicks, ShareThis can aggregate pertinent information about the publisher’s audience, thus enabling them to broker more meaningful relationships between publishers and relevant advertisers. Eventually, ShareThis will be able to assign a dollar value to every share.

One website has already nailed down their share-to-dollar algorithm – Eventbrite. As Marketing Director Tamara Mendelsohn puts it, ecommerce isn’t something you’d inherently share with your network – you don’t post the $300 shoes you just purchased on your Facebook wall (or you do, if you’re gaudy). Enter social commerce. The nature of events is that they’re social – you want your friends to come along, you want to hear feedback from people who’ve attended a similar event, you want to know who’s already purchased tickets.

Add to that an interface that encourages both event organizers and ticket purchasers to post events to their social networks, and you have one of the most successful social commerce campaigns on the Internet. Facebook is now Eventbrite’s #1 referral site, surpassing Google and netting Eventbrite 11 clicks and $2.53 per share. How they got the number: “We track the total ticket volume that is driven by each sharing mechanism and divide by the total number of shares that are initiated through that mechanism on our platform. In reality the numbers are probably higher, as some people will just directly cut and paste links to share. We can’t track that, so we know our numbers are conservative.”

Of course, not every social site can be expected to provide a ROI like Facebook (an Eventbrite share on Twitter only nets 0.43). In the case of Eventbrite, this is because Facebook (and Facebook friends) are a lot more localized – your Twitter followers are likely to have a greater geographic spread than your Facebook friends. There’s also that whole “Facebook having 500 million users” part of the equation.

There’s been an undercurrent of dissent toward Facebook in the past few months; stemming from early adopters who claim it’s ‘jumped the shark’. The unfortunate truth is that it’s the most effective social network if you’re trying to garner clicks on your shares – whether you’re trying to share the cutest kitten video ever or an article you’ve mandated ‘required reading‘ for anyone who wants to associate with you.

Of 70 billion shares examined in the ShareThis study, 38% of clicks on shared content came from Facebook (Twitter was only responsible for 11%). If you don’t use social networks to promote your projects or your personal interests, feel free to deactivate that Facebook profile. But if you have even the tiniest incentive to reach an audience, it may be a while before Facebook becomes as irrelevant as some of us wish it were.

Where and how do you share content on the Internet?

(Via The Next Web.)

Meet TechStars’ Kinvey: Setting the pace for the future of mobile apps

Meet TechStars’ Kinvey: Setting the pace for the future of mobile apps: “wallpapers_space_stars_star-0005

While pursuing our passion for making things that bring value to millions of people, we built mobile apps to address the needs of non-profits, open government initiatives, etc. We realized that the apps we were thinking of creating, were in the same class as the millions of next-gen mobile apps. These apps are going to use backends because they will upload/download data, use location and social information, and buy and sell things. To do all this, the mobile app has to connect to a backend stack, but building a backend stack sucks. We decided that we were going to make it ridiculously easy for developers to set up, use and maintain backends for mobile and tablet apps. We call it Backend as a Service.

-Kinvey Founder and CEO Sravish Sridhar

Kinvey is one of the brand new companies about to launch out of TechStars, an incubator program in Boston (MA), Boulder (CO), New York City (NY) and Seattle (WA) that has helped numerous companies attract over $25 million in venture capital and angel investment. Kinvey, a company that has created a cloud backend service for mobile apps, will be graduating from this spring’s Boston class.

Kinvey pronounced like convey is a “Backend as a Service” that makes it incredibly easy for mobile app developers to focus on making beautiful, user-friendly apps. Kinvey is betting that the next generation of wireless devices and apps will empower billions of people across the world in ways that will change the face of learning, communication and commerce and that Kinvey will be the hub of that change.

Sridhar and his co-founders came up with the idea in September 2010 and started building the first version. They spoke to hundreds of mobile app developers for input and found that every mobile developer just wants an API. They don’t want to figure out platforms, stacks and tools and how to put those things together. They want to focus on the application and user interface.

Let’s say you’re a mobile app developer who wants to create a fictional app called Videogram. The developer would tell Kinvey, I want the app to take video, upload it, geotag it and then allow it to be pushed to social networks with commenting features. The developer has a a choice on whether he or she wants to store that video on Amazon, Rackspace, or any other cloud service or leave the decision up to Kinvey. In 10-15 minutes, Kinvey sets up a backend to Videogram. The ability to auto-generate those APIs from models is Kinvey’s secret sauce.

Imagine you want to paint your home. With Kinvey, you’d pick the colors, click on the walls and all of a sudden you’d see your house in various colors. Kinvey lets developers focus on writing beautiful client applications by providing a dynamic backend including data storing, location and social networking tools.

Watch Kinvey’s video for more:

“I completely bought into the fact that mobile applications are going to change the world that we live in and what mobile technology in general can do for the developing world,” says Sridhar. “Myself and my cofounders knew we wanted to take this company to the next level from day one so we decided that an accelerator program would be the best way. We got so excited when we found TechStars. The best thing about TechStars is [Director] Katie Rae. She is absolutely amazing. World-class entrepreneurs and investors in Boston spent a lot of time working with us to help accelerate our business, in large part, due to the respect they have for Katie and the reputation she has in the Boston startup community.”

The Kinvey team was new to the Boston area. In a period of just a few months, they built a network of a few hundred technical, marketing and startup gurus, who have all helped them personally and professionally. In the future, Kinvey wants to be the de facto data hub for all mobile data. Once they accomplish this, Sridhar says there will be plenty of monetization routes.

Previous to Kinvey, Founder and CEO Sravish Sridhar was a part of the founding team at United Devices and wrote software that harnessed computing power on over 3.5 million PCs to conduct cancer research. He is also the founder of We Flap, a non-profit that helps other India-based non-profits tap into the social graph. Sravish, who grew up in India, met his CTO Morgan Bickle and Creative and Marketing Director Ryan Light at the University of Texas.

So far, over 100 developers have signed-up for Kinvey’s private beta. For now, the service is free for private-beta users and they will announce pricing after going live in the fall, which could be anywhere from a few thousand dollars a month down to a dollar a day depending on the complexity of the app. Developers will only start paying when their application goes live. Not wanting developers to ever feel stuck, Kinvey will always have the option for a one click “export all data” in multiple formats, allowing the developer to delete their account (thus losing backend support) and walk away with their app, completely free of cost.

Interested in joining the closed beta? Sign up here.

TechStars’ Demo Day in Boston will take place on June 15th, 2011. As the guys have coined this term “backend as a service,” expect quite a bit of humor during their presentation. TNW’s Brad McCarty will be there to report.

Read more on TechStars, don’t miss:

An interview with: TechStars’ David Cohen on startup rockstars.

TechStars: The next great incubator unleashes 11 startups in NYC.

TechStars Boulder: Inside the magic and mentorship of the top startup accelerator.

(Via The Next Web.)

Rapportive just turned Gmail into a really useful Twitter client

Rapportive just turned Gmail into a really useful Twitter client: “birds

Gmail plugin Rapportive is already one of the most useful tools for anyone wanting to get more out of their email, showing you information from the social networking profiles of people who contact you in place of Gmail’s advertising column. However, today’s it’s added a feature that could make it essential for anyone who uses both Google’s email service and Twitter – it’s essentially turned Gmail into a Twitter client.

While Rapportive previously let you see the tweets of people who emailed you, it’s now a lot more useful. For a start, you can now reply to people via Twitter, and retweet them too, right from Gmail.

There’s even a button allowing you to follow people, whenever you receive an email from someone you aren’t already following. This is particularly useful with new follower notification emails. While Twitter sends you information from a user’s profile within the actual email, Rapportive will display their latest tweets and let you reply right away, saving you the effort of clicking away to a separate Twitter client to find out if it’s worth you following back.

As you can see in the screenshot below, new followers just got a lot easier to deal with – you can see their recent tweets and follow straight back, right from the notification email.

In short, this is a real timesaver for anyone who spends a lot of time in their Gmail and Twitter accounts. While it won’t replace your usual method of accessing Twitter, Rapportive has succeeded in bringing the most useful elements possible of the microblogging service right into your inbox.

If you’re already a Rapportive user, your account will be upgraded to include the new Twitter functionality soon, or you can force an upgrade simply by visiting this URL: http://rapportive.com/twitter. If you’re new to Rapportive, head over to that link too, to get set up with this excellent free service.

As we recently reported, Google has planted itself on Rapportive’s turf with the launch of its own Gmail People Widget. However, the small US-based startup has fought back by rapidly introducing new functionality. If you weren’t already a Rapportive user, today’s new Twitter features should give you even more of a reason to try it out.

Image source

(Via The Next Web.)

AddThis Launches New Way to Measure Social Sharing

AddThis Launches New Way to Measure Social Sharing: “

AddThis has launched a new way for publishers to track the sharing that happens in its simplest form — copying and pasting a URL from the address bar and then sharing it out to a social network, email or IM.

For AddThis, which is owned by Clearspring, that could represent a huge new trove of data that the company can provide to web publishers. Clearspring CEO Hooman Radfar says that the company has “seen up to 10x greater sharing from the address bar versus the sharing buttons.” With a network that now reaches more than 1.2 billion unique users per month across 9 million sites, that’s a ton of sharing that had previously been going uncounted.

To help make sense of that data, the company is also releasing new analytics called AddThis Live View, which shows sharing and click data in real-time. The idea, according to a statement from the company, is that “publishers can use this information to modify site layouts, editorial and content marketing tactics in response to continuous feedback about viewers’ activities.” USA Today is one of the larger publishers currently using the Live View platform.

For Clearspring, the launch follows recent news of a $20 million funding round, money the company plans to use to continue to build out tools for publishers. Radfar told me recently that, “Now that we have this massive view of what’s going on the Web, we’re looking at … how we take the power of that entire network and bring it to the individual publisher. Only a handful of companies on the web that have the reach that we do.”

Asked specifically about the company’s financials (Clearspring has now raised a total of $60 million), Radfar said, “We don’t need the money at this point … we’re using it truly and honestly for growth.” He added that an IPO at some point in the foreseeable future is, “Not out of the realm of possibilities.”

For more on how the company’s new address bar share counting and Live View works, check out the video below:

More About: AddThis, analytics, clearspring

For more Social Media coverage:

(Via Mashable.)

New Editing Features in Eclipse plug-in for Android

New Editing Features in Eclipse plug-in for Android: “

At the Google I/O conference a month ago, we demonstrated the next version of the Android Development Tools (ADT) plugin. Today we’re happy to announce that version 11 is done and available for download!

ADT 11 focuses on editor improvements. First, it offers several new visual refactoring operations, such as “Extract Include” and “Extract Style,” which help automatically extract duplicated layout fragments and style attributes into reusable layouts, styles, and themes.

Second, the visual layout editor now supports fragments, palette configurations, and improved support for custom views.

Last, XML editing has been improved with new quick fixes, code completion in more file types and many “go to declaration” enhancements.

ADT 11 packs a long list of new features and enhancements. Please visit our ADT page for more details. For an in-depth demo, check out the video of our Android Development Tools session at Google I/O, below.

Please note that the visual layout editor depends on a layout rendering library that ships with each version of the platform component in the SDK. We are currently working on a number of improvements to this library as well, which we plan to release soon for all platform versions. When we release the updates, some new features in ADT 11 will be “unlocked” – such as support for ListView previewing – so keep an eye on this blog for further announcements.

(Via Android Developers Blog.)

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Leadership and Competition | CustomerThink

Leadership and Competition | CustomerThink: ”

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Leadership and Competition
Posted by Mike Myatt on June 6, 2011 0 comments  |  104 reads
Competition is only to be feared if not understood. If understood, competition is not only healthy, but it can also be very prosperous. If you really want to understand a leader’s perspective on the market, ask them about their competition.  A leader’s view on competition will not only reveal a lot about their beliefs on current and future market trends, but also on innovation, branding, talent management, supply chain issues, constituency management, capital markets, and customer facing. Whether you want to admit it or not, competition is part of your world, and likely a bigger part than you’d care to admit. In today’s post I’ll share my thoughts on how to identify competitive t”

(Via .)

Sponsor post: PayPal X Developer Challenge Registration Reminder for Android Developers

Sponsor post: PayPal X Developer Challenge Registration Reminder for Android Developers: “

If you haven’t registered to get in on the PayPal X Developer Challenge for Android, you could miss out on prizes of up to $25,000, and industry buzz for your app. Simply add a PayPal mobile payment solution to your Android app and register. Registration is closing on June 8, 2011, so be sure to register now at x.com/devchallenge.

And there’s more than one chance to win. The top 3 selected Android apps that offer PayPal payments for physical goods or services will receive one of the following prizes: $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000.

Writing apps for Android, iPhone, or iPad?

You need PayPal’s Mobile Payments Library (MPL). MPL is fast, secure and easy to integrate. PayPal’s MPL will display an in-app UI to ask the buyer to log in and complete the payment. It’s the quickest way to add payments into your app, and you can do it without having back-end services running.

Get Started with PayPal Mobile Payment Library: x.com/mpl

Full Developer Challenge details: x.com/devchallenge

(Via jkOnTheRun.)

It’s Time for Shared Data Plans in Households

It’s Time for Shared Data Plans in Households: “

Earlier this week at the D9 conference, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega hinted at offering shared data plans in the future. That could mean one of two things: either a customer would buy an amount of data that could be used across multiple network devices, or such data could be spread across devices used by different family members. I suspect AT&T is considering the former scenario, at least initially, and that would certainly help multiple device owners. One plan would cover your smartphone, tablet and MiFi use, for example. But I’m hoping that at some point soon, AT&T — or any carrier, really — creates a shared data plan for families because collectively, a family can be overpaying for mobile broadband.

I just happened to be looking at my family’s data plan usage because my son lost his iPhone. He knows he should have enabled the “Find My iPhone” function, so we won’t go there right now. He’s thinking of switching over to T-Mobile for a Sidekick 4G, since he really liked the review unit he helped me review in April. So I went to check his data usage to pick an appropriate data plan with T-Mobile, in case we do make the switch. That’s when the potential benefits of a family data plan hit me, since we have three iPhone users in the house. Here’s a six-month look at the data usage on the three accounts:



Picture 1 of 3

Clearly, we have one data user that’s above the average if you consider that, per AT&T, 65 percent of smartphone owners use around 250 MB of monthly data while 98 percent use less than 2 GB. We also have one very low data user: my wife, and it’s mainly because she works at home and primarily uses a Wi-Fi connection on her phone. Essentially, we’re all over the map when you consider that the lowest data plan is 200 MB and the next step up jumps to 2 GB. The individual data use variance can swing widely from one month to the next and from one family member to another. But what happens when this data usage is combined?

Now the heavy data user is offset by the family members who aren’t using as much network bandwidth. With the individual plans, we have my wife signed up for 200 MB of data, which works well since she uses the least. Both kids are on the 2 GB plan because 200 MB is never enough for one and occasionally not enough for the other. A shared data plan for families could fit well in this situation, depending on the plan limits and pricing, of course. In my case, even accounting for growth, the family could easily share a 2 GB plan; instead, we’re paying for two 2 GB plans and one with 200 MB.

Based on AT&T currently offering 200 MB and 2 GB plans, the scenario is clearly one of over-subscription. Once you move past the base plan, you have access to a plan that has ten times more data to use, which is a big jump, albeit for a modest $10 more per month. A shared data plan for families could still allow AT&T to hedge against high amounts of growing data use, but give households a way to better manage data use variance among multiple family members.

I suspect AT&T will first offer a shared plan for individuals so multiple devices on a single account can share a bucket of data. But my hope is that family data plans come soon, to all carriers, just like we have for family voice and messaging plans.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req’d):

(Via jkOnTheRun.)