posted 7 days ago on gigaom
Many smartphone users both take and display photos pretty much solely on their mobile device, which means there’s room for a easier way to catalog and share those photos apart from the endless river of the camera roll. Enter MyRoll, which used to be called Flavyr: A prettier, smarter camera roll that just could find a place on your home screen. The first thing you notice when you open up the MyRoll app, which is available for both iOS and Android, is that certain photos are larger than others — it’s not a wall of small thumbnails. There are two primary views: A gallery view, which has an endless river of photos, and moments, which, like the iOS 7 feature, organizes photos into galleries based on time and location the image snaps. But unlike Apple’s implementation, MyRoll draws your eyes to the photos that are most likely to matter to you. MyRoll’s gallery curation engine The way MyRoll does this is by predicting which photos are most likely to be interesting. For instance, its algorithm looks for smiling subjects, which a good sign that the photo is probably worth highlighting. If the user swipes or shares a photo, that also makes MyRoll more likely to enlarge that specific shot — so say, if you’re constantly showing friends the same picture of your kid, that photo is more likely to be highlighted. On the other hand, photos that are blurry are less likely to get marquee treatment. MyRoll’s sharing features are also very nice: in addition to being able to share galleries through email or text messages, MyRoll also allows to upload an entire moment to a Facebook gallery easily, which is very handy. There’s also an option to create a gallery on a webpage, with a URL that’s easy to share. Unfortunately there is no cloud component at the moment, which is a missed opportunity. Other companies — including giants like Dropbox and Google –  are exploring similar gallery ideas, but pairing them with cloud storage, sometimes even in unlimited amounts. There’s also no camera feature, which means you’ll be taking photos with your favorite camera app and then viewing them in MyRoll. Although the iOS photos app now sorts your photos into “moments,” there’s still a lot to be desired in the implementation. MyRoll is a simple solution. Instead of replacing multiple aspects of smartphone photography — the camera, storage, processing — it focuses on one thing: organizing the photos on your device and making them easy to show off. It’s currently available and free for iOS and Android devices. Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How the tablet will create better productivity in the enterpriseSponsored Research: How empowering workers enhances business communicationHow enterprise mobility management will shape the future of work

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on gigaom
I’m pleased to introduce the newest Gigaom reporter cranking out stories in our new digs in SoMa: Carmel DeAmicis, who you might have noticed writing about Product Hunt a little earlier today, plans to start officially with us on Monday covering social media and web startups. If you’ve been following this kind of stuff you’ve probably noticed Carmel’s writing over at PandoDaily over the last year or so. I’ve been impressed with her ability to write with voice and candor about the San Francisco startup scene, and am very pleased she’s agreed to contribute that voice to our site on a full-time basis. As you might have noticed, we recently decided to call out Social & Web as a distinct channel on Gigaom, something we honestly should have done years ago but which nonetheless reflects our desire to bring the same level of coverage you’ve come to expect from our coverage of cloud, data, mobile, science, and media to the hugely important world of social media and the web in general. As I wrote recently, the gatekeepers of the 21st century are as likely to be the social media and web powerhouses of our time as they are the broadband ISPs and personal computing vendors. We need to make sure we are watching the impact of these companies. Carmel will have the tough but important job of covering the big established companies on this beat — Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others — as well as the emerging contenders and startups that continue to define this area. You can follow her on Twitter (@carmeldea) and you can contact her here.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Frenemy mine: The pros and cons of social partnerships for online media companiesHow to compete with Facebook in 2013How businesses can provide mobile application discovery and promotion

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on gigaom
Of the 18,000 jobs Microsoft will cut in the upcoming year a good chunk — 12,500 — will come from “aligning” the Nokia Devices and Services business Microsoft bought in April. So, what other groups are in jeopardy? Insiders have been handicapping that for months now and the consensus is that folks working in the new designated “core” areas — those run Scott Guthrie and Qi Lu — are safer than others. Guthrie, EVP  of  enterprise and cloud, is a both a Microsoft vet and a rising star under new CEO Satya Nadella. He “owns” Azure cloud infrastructure, Windows Server, SQL Server database, Active Directory, .NET and the systems center management tools franchise. All key backend stuff that will act as foundation for the companies plan to support service delivery to all manner of devices — even those not running Windows. And, Qi Lu, EVP of applications and services, per his corporate bio: “sets the vision, strategy, and overall direction of the Applications and Services group, and is responsible for all of the research and development teams across Microsoft Office, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Yammer, Lync, Skype, Bing, Bing Apps, MSN and the Advertising platforms and business group.” He spent a decade at Yahoo! and also worked at IBM research before joining Microsoft. And, as we’ve seen from Nadella’s memo last week and his Worldwide Partner Conference keynote Wednesday, Microsoft is all about providing productivity across multiple screens. He said: “We are going to have our experiences on all platforms. That means every home screen out there. Our aspiration is to have one or many Microsoft icons, Microsoft digital experiences. They’re all entry points for us as an ecosystem. So that means we get to have an opportunity to be able to have anyone entering from any device into our ecosystem. That’s our promise with which we’ll move forward. “ Extrapolating from that, insiders said folks in Terry Myerson’s org should be wary.  Myerson is EVP of operating systems including Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox, according to his bio, but that may change with the latest shakeout. Stay tuned for more reverbs in upcoming days but if you want to hear more about Guthrie’s world view, check out the video of his recent Gigaom Structure talk below: Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How to cost-efficiently increase efficiency in the data center3 strategies for for defining your mobile-content management approachThe importance of benchmarking clouds

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on gigaom
In a mobile world dominated by Android and iOS, how can Microsoft gain market share with its Windows Phone devices? It’s not a new question, and hints of the answer have been around for the past year or so. Now the strategy is available in public view via Executive Vice President, Microsoft Devices Group, Stephen Elop’s message to employees explaining both staff reductions and future plans: “In short, we will focus on driving Lumia volume in the areas where we are already successful today in order to make the market for Windows Phone. With more speed, we will build on our success in the affordable smartphone space with new products offering more differentiation. We’ll focus on acquiring new customers in the markets where Microsoft’s services and products are most concentrated. And, we’ll continue building momentum around applications.” Microsoft has been happy to tout how well its Windows Phone handsets are doing in particular regions. At this week’s Windows Partner Conference, the company reiterated data from earlier this year saying Windows Phones are outshipping iPhones in 24 markets. The platform also holds the no. 2 spot in these 14 countries: India, Mexico, Italy, Chile, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Ukraine, Hungary, Finland, Czech Republic and Greece. Look at the bestselling phone, though, and it’s not a device that competes with the iPhone or a comparable Android handset based on price: It’s the Lumia 520, which is the cheapest Windows Phone device and has the most meager hardware components. Look also at the first phones to ship with Windows Phone 8.1: The Lumia 630 and 635 which are also inexpensive; you can buy one outright on pre-paid service for $99. Stephen Elop, executive vice president of devices and services at Nokia, introduces the new Nokia 930 during the 2014 Microsoft Build developer conference on April 2, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Now that Microsoft has effectively killed off Android as the software on the inexpensive Nokia X handsets, it’s clear the company thinks it can provide solid Windows Phone experiences for a low cost. And according to Elop’s note, that’s where the focus will be going forward: In the budget-friendly segment, particularly where the company already has a market-share foothold. Does that mean we won’t see high-end Lumias? Of course not: The new Lumia 930 available around the globe — but not in the U.S. — is a perfect example to suggest otherwise. Photo by Kevin Tofel/Gigaom But my guess, based on Elop’s note and the company’s actions leading up to it, is that we’ll see far more of a push in the lower-cost Lumias. These will likely launch first in the areas where Windows Phone is already on the rise and slowly filter to the regions where iOS and Android dominate (and probably without much fanfare there). It’s a smart strategy, and at this point in time, it may be the only one that can work. It’s easier to acquire customers in this market as opposed to consumers in smartphone-saturated markets who have been using alternatives for the past few years. Application lock-in costs are a barrier to switching platforms, for example. Why not target markets that are not just the fastest growing right now but are also ripe to get customers locked in to Windows Phone apps? Once these customers are ready to step up to a better phone, Microsoft will have a mid-range or high-end Lumia waiting for them.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What to expect for the mobile OS market in 2013What the global tablet market will look like by 2017How to manage mobile security through productivity

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on gigaom
The new favorite tool of Silicon Valley’s early-stage investors — Product Hunt — plans to announce Thursday that it has been accepted into Y Combinator’s summer 2014 batch. The news wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy, except for one questionable element: There’s a conflict of interest between Product Hunt and YC. Product Hunt is a rival of that beloved YC entity: Hacker News. In fact, when I wrote the first-ever media story about Product Hunt last December, I chose the headline, “Can the democratic power of a platform like Hacker News be applied to products?“ For those unfamiliar with Product Hunt, it’s sort of like a Reddit for finding new tech apps, tools, and hardware. Users post one-line introductions to early stage companies, sometimes weeks or months before the tech press gets wind of them (see: Yo and Product Hunt). As you might imagine, Product Hunt content overlaps with plenty of Hacker News posts, particularly given that Hacker News has its own tag for flagging product launches for readers — Show HN. Hacker News isn’t a for-profit endeavor with startup scaling ambitions, so in that way the two content companies are in entirely different categories. But in Product Hunt’s current iteration, Hacker News is certainly a competitor, jockeying for the eyeballs, time, and attention of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs, investors, and developers. In terms of the division of labor between YC and Hacker News, the line is a blurry one that has only become less defined in recent months. In March, YC founder Paul Graham announced that some YC partners, like Kevin Hale and Kat Manalac, would be personally working on the site. Hale has also advised Hoover throughout the summer’s YC program. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to presume the same advice he feeds Hoover about Product Hunt, and the ideas Hoover generates during YC, could end up changing the way Hacker News is run. Absolutely not, Hale said in an interview. “The way we see it is they occupy different spaces,” he said. “The Hacker News crowd is a community of hackers, builders, makers, great for people to get feedback on early prototypes. The Product Hunt crowd is more naturally consumers, potential customers, people who want to get early access.” In July, for the first time ever, Hacker News rolled out a feature for filtering “Show HN” posts. As mentioned above, “Show HN” is the time-honored Hacker News way of flagging to the community a new product presentation. In the past, such links were mixed in with the other Hacker News posts, so product fans, aficionados, and potential investors couldn’t easily sort them out. At the time, Hacker News users — who didn’t even know Product Hunt was going through the YC process — pondered how the Show HN filter could impact Hoover’s company. “Is this going to be the killer of Product Hunt?” one wrote on HackerNews. The likes of Path CEO Dave Morin, Circa founder Matt Galligan, Twitter senior product manager Michael Ducker, and REDEF’s Jason Hirschhorn rose to Product Hunt’s immediate defense. “You can’t “kill” an authentic community,” Morin tweeted. For his part, Hoover is not concerned. He agrees with Hale that the two organizations have such different trajectories that they’re not in conflict. “Over time well be looking to other communities, other verticals, other types of people,” Hoover says. “I don’t imagine Hacker News will be serving Middle America or middle-aged moms.” But for now, there’s undeniable overlap between the two organizations, and the timing is rather auspicious. One month into Product Hunt’s time at YC, and Hacker News’ starts taking a page out of its books? YC claims the addition of the Show HN filter was not motivated in any way by Product Hunt’s growing success or participation in the accelerator. “We had planned the Show HN stuff for awhile before talking to Ryan,” Hale said. He pointed to the fact that Hacker News has filtered out “Ask HN” posts for a long time as proof that the Show HN filter was not a new idea. Have the group and Hoover chatted about the potential conflict of interest? “I haven’t talked to them about it, no,” Hoover admitted.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What developers should know when choosing an MBaaS solution

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on gigaom
In the memos written by CEO Satyella Nadella and mobile device chief Stephen Elop announcing layoffs at Microsoft, both executives also announced a subtle change in strategy: Microsoft is planning to change the operating system of its Android-powered Nokia X line to its own Windows Phone. Shocker. According to Elop, Microsoft will continue “to sell and support existing Nokia X products” but plans to immediately shift “select future Nokia X designs and products to Windows Phone devices.” The Nokia X1, which was released earlier this year, was likely conceived and developed before Microsoft officially took over Nokia. The Nokia X2, its successor, was announced by Microsoft last month, and it will still run Nokia’s version of Android, but future low-cost devices most likely will not. The Nokia X line of devices was always aimed at emerging markets, as a low-cost device, usually retailing under $100. And it appears to be a success, judging by its 1 million pre-orders in China. But Microsoft and Windows Phone are well capable of powering low-end devices — either Nokia’s own Lumia 635 or through a new Microsoft initiative to waive OS licensing fees for certain handset makers, leading to a plethora of inexpensive devices for emerging markets. So Android didn’t fit into the plan because phone sales alone are not Microsoft’s end goal, as it was at Nokia. As Elop writes, “Whereas the hardware business of phones within Nokia was an end unto itself, within Microsoft all our devices are intended to embody the finest of Microsoft’s digital work and digital life experiences, while accruing value to Microsoft’s overall strategy.” That’s hard when you’re selling devices running a competitor’s operating system.    Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Gigaom Research predictions for 2014What developers should know when choosing an MBaaS solutionWhat to expect for the mobile OS market in 2013

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on gigaom
The internet champions “permissionless innovation,” the ability to develop new services without tedious negotiation and approval. As the Federal Communications Commission makes its third attempt to develop a fair, coherent, and lawful regulatory policy for the internet’s broadband on-ramps, it can either apply this principle or it can adopt Title II — a contrary rule that once limited the pace of innovation in the historic telephone network. Much of the internet establishment, many ordinary citizens, and even some cable network comedians urge implementing Title II without acknowledging the harm it’s likely to cause. The father of net neutrality, Columbia law professor Tim Wu, is an exception: he admits that “excessive regulation can stagnate an industry” even while preferring monopoly-style regulation for increasingly competitive broadband networks. A historical precedent There is no clearer example of stagnation than traditional telephone service. Since the passage of the Communications Act in 1934, telephone service has remained remarkably constant. While telephone operators gave way to automatic switches and rotary phones were replaced by touch-tone, the nature of the telephone call itself hardly evolved: there was no migration to high-definition calls, video calling, or calling on the go until broadband and mobile networks took over. Restrictive, monopoly-oriented telephone network regulation effectively preserved the status quo in the face of massive upheavals in technology, many of them created by the phone company itself. Unlike the telephone network, the internet was not designed for the purposes it serves today. Its original “killer app” was computer time-sharing, an application driven by the economics of computing in the 1970s. Before the PC, mainframe computers cost millions of dollars. They had to be intensely shared by many to justify their price tags; the internet made this possible, but it didn’t stop there. Broadband technology allowed the internet to become a Swiss Army knife, nurturing an expanding range of applications beyond time-sharing from email to web surfing, mobile calling and messaging and many audio and video uses. Despite the internet’s essential indifference to the phone call, it massively outperformed the telephone network as a medium for personal communication. Technology trumps regulation Capitol Hill taken by Songquan Deng via Shutterstock. Technology is clearly a more powerful force for progress than regulation. For example, tone dialing was invented in the 1940s, but it didn’t make its way to the consumer until the 60s and didn’t serve more people than rotary dialing until the 80s, an astonishing four decades to reach mainstream status. This slow diffusion was all because of regulatory overhead. In the overall scheme of things, tone dialing is a minor feature that’s dwarfed in significance by innovations offered through the internet on an almost daily basis without regulatory approval. If eBay had been subject to telephone-style regulation we’d still be waiting for the first online auction. The internet has succeeded because it’s flexible and open to new applications, new users, and new networking technologies, not because it’s rigidly confined to a regulatory box with an established history of stifling innovation. Technology has an affinity for competitive markets: it provides entrepreneurs with an edge that can help them stand out from the pack, and it enables them to constantly improve products and services to stave off competition. Highly regulated industries and public utilities never quite seem to know what to do with technology other than apply it in small ways to increase efficiency. A blank slate for innovation Photo courtesy of Flickr user Think public. But the most dramatic consumer benefits actually stem from re-imagining the big picture. The interstate highway system forced the railroads to realize they were transportation companies with an intrinsic interest in integrating their operations with those of truckers and manufacturers. A similar dynamic is afoot in entertainment, where internet-based middlemen such as Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube are beginning to realize that their continued success depends on constructive partnerships with both creative industries and broadband services. Understandably, all three industries beseech Washington DC and the states for a thumb on the scale. All play important roles, as do their counterparts in consumer electronics, technology R & D, and venture capital. But recent history underscores the fact that technology-driven innovation is too rapid and unpredictable for micro-management. No matter how strongly we may be drawn to neat and tidy utopian visions, the future always zigs where we think it should zag before exceeding the scope of the overseer’s imagination. Technology regulators must be humble, only intervening in commercial squabbles as a last resort. For all its warts, the permissive broadband approach to internet regulation is the better way forward. The FCC should free broadband networks from the specter of telephone-era regulations and nudge them in the direction of even higher performance, including expedited delivery services for applications that need them, such as immersive video conferencing, HD voice, and other real-time applications. Networks need the freedom to improve The argument for applying telephone regulations to broadband is typically cast in terms of fears about “fast lanes” that are blind to the way the Internet operates. I have offered a rebuttal to this thinking in my comments to the FCC. Expedited delivery is also important for voice and other real-time applications that can’t be helped by CDNs which are better suited for web sites and video streaming. Plus, expedited delivery of real-time applications is unlikely to affect the performance of web sites at all. The single most important question for internet policy makers today is not how to keep the internet “the way it’s always been” — it’s how to make it a better platform for more applications. The answer is to allow more experimentation – with appropriate oversight – not to fossilize it in its current, essentially accidental form. Richard Bennett is a network engineer, co-inventor of Wi-Fi, and a Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile spaceConnected-consumer second-quarter 2014: analysis and outlookHow public policy changed the consumer tech space in first-quarter 2014

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on gigaom
Open-source platforms such as OpenStack, OpenShift and Cloud Foundry have emerged as the best and brightest platforms for networking, data storage, compute horse power and secure distributed infrastructure needs of enterprises big and small. These tools provide tremendous flexibility through the power of open-source innovation and their respective communities. The overriding reason for using open source is to avoid vendor lock-in. Most businesses that are lured to open source don’t realize that there are almost 500 knobs that need to be tuned and set in place to build open-source-based IaaS and PaaS solutions. Furthermore, most companies do not have the technical expertise and resources to build open-source clouds. With the complexities and resource-intensive nature of open source and the reality that Cloud Foundry projects are too far out, production-ready options that provide a much higher return on investment (ROI) are an attractive alternative. CIOs like the less capital intensive nature of the no-compromise turnkey approach.  In this webinar, our panel will address these questions: What are the benefits and ROI of a turnkey IaaS and PaaS solution? What are the ideal use cases for utilizing a production-ready IaaS and PaaS solution? What are the key issues faced by enterprises who build and maintain their own infrastructure utilizing open-source technologies? What are the cost considerations associated with building and maintaining an open-source-based infrastructure? What can businesses learn from early adopters in the space? What are the cost considerations associated with building your OpenStack, OpenShift or Cloud Foundry platform? What systemic qualities to look for in your provider of IaaS and PaaS solutions? Why vendor lock-in should be a key requirement when selecting your IaaS and PaaS solutions? Speakers include: Barb Goldworm, president and chief analyst, FOCUS Marc Staimer, president and chief dragon slayer, Dragon Slayer Consulting Janakiram MSV, principal analyst, Janakiram & Associates John Derrick, CEO, Jelastic Register here to join Gigaom Research and our sponsor Jelastic for “Turnkey IaaS and PaaS: business benefits of build vs. buy,” a free analyst webinar on Tuesday, July 22, 2014, at 10 a.m. PT.    

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on gigaom
The ax will drop at Microsoft on Thursday, according to several sources. The company, as reported, needs to slim down after its $7.17 billion buyout of Nokia and to focus on key “CloudOS” and productivity tools across devices. The cuts are expected to be substantial — insiders expected up to 10 percent of employees will lose their jobs, which would be a deep cut for Microsoft. Speculation has been off the charts for more than a month — with one recently departed employee saying that insiders immediately scrutinized and worried about Nadella’s recent marching orders memo and the diagram depicting Microsoft’s “core” (shown below.) “The amount of texts and emails this morning has been shocking,” he said via email after the memo went out. “Apparently this has been in the works for over 2 months. And if your product group isn’t in that circle he drew, it is likely done … and ‘combined engineering’ everywhere — which is a good thing [is big.] No separate test teams [going forward].” This story will be updated as more details become available.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How the customer experience can help businesses build applicationsApplying lean startup theory in large enterprisesThe rebirth of hardware demands new definition of design

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on gigaom
Do you remember The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs? Also known as the Fake Steve Jobs blog, took the world by storm starting in 2006. Bounties – and iPods – were offered for anyone could unmask the anonymous scribe. Dan Lyons, aka Fake Steve Jobs. FSJ mania reached its fever pitch in May 2007, when Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates kicked off a historic joint appearance with (real) Steve Jobs at the All Things D conference thusly: “Well, first, I want to clarify: I’m not Fake Steve Jobs.” FSJ, who was subsequently outed as tech journalist Dan Lyons, is now writing for Silicon Valley, Mike Judge’s very funny take on on our favorite set of zip codes. And Fake Steve, er, Dan, has lots to say about Hollywood’s obsession with the cradle of tech innovation. Warning: some language may be NSFW, but hell, if you watch HBO, you can take it. So if you’re a FSJ or a Silicon Valley And, as usual, Derrick Harris and I chit chat about this week’s news, including the new IBM-Apple enterprise mobility partnership;  Microsoft headcount today vs. tomorrow, and robots, robots, robots.       SHOW NOTES Hosts: Barb Darrow and Derrick Harris Download This Episode Subscribe in iTunes The Structure Show RSS Feed PREVIOUS EPISODES:   Solomon Hykes on the tricky balance of being Dockers’ benevolent dictator  Why you should know about DigitalOcean if you don’t already Is the Mapreduce era coming to an end? Maybe says one of Spark’s founders What’s up with Google and Microsoft clouds? Hear from the execs in charge Want the latest on what’s hot in IT and IoT infrastructure? Listen up.  Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Gigaom Research predictions for 2014How the mega data center is changing the hardware and data center marketsWhat mattered in social business in the first quarter of 2014

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Media theorist Clay Shirky isn’t the only one telling newspaper companies and print-oriented journalists that they need to wake up and pay attention to the decline of their industry before they run out of time. Former Seattle Times editor Dean Boardman — who also happens to be president of the American Society of News Editors — wrote in a recent essay that the newspaper business spends too much of its time sugar-coating the reality of what’s happening. Boardman described listening to a presentation that the president of the Newspaper Association of America gave at the World Newspaper Congress in Turin, Italy. In her speech, Caroline Little painted an uplifting picture of the state of affairs in her industry, a picture that Boardman called “a fiction where papers could invent a new future while holding on tightly to the past” — something similar to what Shirky called “newspaper nostalgia,” in a piece he wrote recently. In his post, Boardman took each statement made by Little and presented the opposite viewpoint, or at least put each in a little more context: for example, the NAA president noted that total revenue for the U.S. newspaper industry was about $38 billion in 2013 — but what she didn’t mention is that this is about $12 billion or 35 percent lower than it was just seven years ago: “What she said: The printed newspaper continues to reach more than half of the U.S. adult population. What she didn’t say: But the percentage of Americans who routinely read a printed paper daily continues its dramatic decline, and is somewhere down around 25 percent. ‘Reaching’ in Little’s reference can mean those people read one issue in the past week; it doesn’t mean they are regular daily readers of the printed paper.” Should newspapers stop printing? In a separate post, Allan Mutter — also a longtime newspaper editor who writes a blog called The Newsosaur — collected some of the depressing statistics about the decline of print, most of which were also apparently never mentioned by Little, including the fact that combined print and digital revenues have fallen by more than 55 percent in the past decade, and the industry’s share of the digital advertising market has been cut in half over the same period. The American newspaper industry decline, by numbers: bit.ly/1t3fh0c h/t @mathewi http://t.co/5eQF72AZoM— Henry Taylor (@henryctaylor) July 16, 2014 What’s Boardman’s solution? It’s not one that most newspapers will like: He suggests that most should consider giving up their weekday print editions altogether at some point over the next few years, and focus all of their efforts on a single print version on Saturday or Sunday, while pouring all of their resources into digital and mobile. Weekend papers account for a large proportion — in some cases a majority — of the advertising revenue that newspapers bring in, so giving up everything but the Saturday paper wouldn’t be as much of a loss, he argues. In a recent piece at the Columbia Journalism Review about the New York Times, writer Ryan Chittum argued that the newspaper can’t afford to simply stop printing because the physical version brings in so much revenue. But could it stop printing everything but the Sunday paper? Chittum thinks it might be able to, and so does long-time online journalism watcher Steve Outing. Perhaps new digital-strategy head Arthur Gregg Sulzberger — a co-author of the paper’s much-publicized “innovation report” — is already crunching those numbers for a presentation to his father, the publisher, whose family controls the company’s stock. Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Thinkstock / Janie AireyRelated research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Frenemy mine: The pros and cons of social partnerships for online media companiesDemand Media: Search Spam or the Future of Content?Real-Time Advertising: How to Get in Early

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Every bank robber or mob enforcer has faced the following dilemma: You want as many hands holding guns as possible to pull off your heist or gangland-style execution, but you always need to designate one lead-footed thug to drive the getaway car. Fear not, criminals: technology will shortly have an answer to your woes. According to the FBI, driverless cars being developed by the likes of Google, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Audi will soon alleviate the need for someone to keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road. Instead, that passenger can focus on shooting at pursuing police cruisers or gunning down government informants. Google’s new self-driving car prototype can’t exceed 25 mph. (Source: Google) Sure, I’m joking, but apparently the FBI is not. The Guardian obtained an FBI report though an open records request that details how the autonomous car could be put to work in criminal capers. From the Guardian’s report: In an unclassified but restricted report obtained by the Guardian under a public records request, the FBI predicts that autonomous cars “will have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and its adversaries can operationally do with a car.” In a section called Multitasking, the report notes that “bad actors will be able to conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road which would be impossible today.” To be fair, the FBI also points out many ways that driverless cars could benefit law enforcement and emergency services, from preventing accidents during high-speed chases to automating surveillance. “… algorithms can control the distance that the patrol car is behind the target to avoid detection or intentionally have a patrol car make opposite turns at intersections, yet successfully meet up at later points with the target,” the report stated. As far as the potential for criminal mischief goes, I think the FBI’s concerns are a bit overblown. While we tend to think of driverless cars in terms of convenience, the auto industry and smart transportation policy makers are designing them with safety and efficiency in mind. Vehicle networking technologies developed by Cohda Wireless would let cars “see” around corners. (Source: Cohda) Self-driving cars will be programmed to obey traffic laws and slow down for obstacles. Google’s new prototype self-driving vehicles won’t exceed 25 miles per hour. Autonomous driving is a bit of misnomer because the cars involved will engage in a kind of group-think in order to coordinate their driving on the road. That’s hardly conducive to perilous high-speed flight from law enforcement. If you want to run that stop sign, you’re going to have take over the wheel yourself. Sure, a driverless car can be hacked, but transforming a docile automated family sedan into a self-aware danger-seeking getaway car isn’t as simple as hot-wiring the ignition. The artificial intelligence that governs the way a car behaves on the road would have to be completely reprogrammed. Maybe someday some big criminal syndicate with the resources of a Google X will develop a Steve McQueen or Jason Statham persona that they can inject into a stolen vehicle’s on-board diagnostic port (Think, an Automatic for evil-doing). But until then, the world’s getaway drivers will continue to see gainful employment.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Why we must apply big data analytics to human-generated dataSponsored Research: How story-driven video is poised to take offHow streaming data and machine learning impact the bottom line

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
High above us in Earth’s orbit, Planet Labs‘ growing constellation of 43 mini “Dove” satellites are busy snapping images of our always-changing planet. The startup released the first pictures from its newest 11 satellites today, and they reveal everything from shifting agricultural practices to the comings and goings of boats in the Suez Canal. The first image shows more than the pretty patchwork of Earth’s surface: It depicts crop growth in June just north of Rio de Janeiro. Tracking crop production can give private and public agencies advance warning of shortages or other logistical information. Planet Labs can also track water levels, which can impact harvests. The July 1 image below shows a reservoir in Minas Gerais, Brazil, where years of drought have resulted in dramatically low water levels. Planet Labs tracked the reservoir over a period of seven days, during which it captured 30 images. The same technique captured a changing landscape in a new city in China, where rice fields were replaced with irrigation systems likely used to grow soy crops. The number of residential and industrial buildings grows while a lake shrinks. In Egypt, Planet Labs’ flock was able to capture images of the Suez Canal. The Doves’ cameras are accurate down to the 3 meter level, which makes it easy to spot individual boats moving between Great Bitter Lake and the canal. Planet Labs has said from the beginning that its images will be used for many applications — from tracking a shipping container across the ocean to measuring deforestation. Another 28 Doves went up this month and are scheduled to be released from the International Space Station in just a few weeks, further expanding the number of pictures the startup can capture each day. “I really want this company to not just show people what is changing about the world, but show them how they can help,” co-founder Chris Boshuizen told me last summer.

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Google announced Android One at its I/O conference in June, and at the time it was introduced as a program to seed Android reference designs to low-cost manufacturers in emerging markets. But the program appears to involve more than low-cost handsets running stock Android: according to a new paywalled report in The Information, the program will focus on India to begin, it will include a $1 billion advertising component, and Google is even willing to subsidize handsets to get them under $100. At I/O, Google revealed a Micromax handset and mentioned that it had a partnership with Karbonn, two device makers largely unknown in the United States but more prominent in India. The report adds Spice and Celkon Mobiles to the Android One roster as well. Those device makers will be the beneficiaries of a huge “Apple-like” advertising campaign, as Google plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to promote Android One devices starting this fall. There are still some hurdles to getting smartphones in the hands of Indians who currently use feature phones. For instance, 3G and 4G coverage is spotty outside of the major metro areas. Considering that the Android One program includes a requirement that its devices come with “reasonable data plans,” it appears as if Google is going to need to cut deals with Indian wireless carriers, who are themselves hamstrung by inconsistent regulation and spectrum allocation. India is also near and dear to Android head Sundar Pichai’s heart, beyond the huge market opportunity it represents. He was born in Chennai, and Google reportedly describes the program internally as a way to “bridge the rich-poor digital divide.” Hundreds of millions of people in India are expected to get their first smartphone — and therefore their first computer — in the decades to come. Samsung is already a big force in the Indian market, selling 38% of smartphones in India in 2013, and Motorola announced last week it sold 1 million Moto devices in five months. Chinese handset makers are launching phones on the subcontinent as well. Google’s long-run strategy doesn’t involve revenues from device sales; it wants Indians to use its services, whether they happen to be using an affordably-priced Android One device or not.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How businesses can provide mobile application discovery and promotionWhat first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile spaceWhat the global tablet market will look like by 2017

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Cord cutters rejoice: DirecTV is finally making the NFL Sunday ticket available to football fans without a pay TV subscription. The satellite TV provider is about to launch a new online service, dubbed NFLSundayTicket.TV, that will offer access to NFL games that were previously only available to DirecTV subscribers. However, it looks like eligibility is limited to people who can’t get DirecTV. The new service will be available in three service tiers when it officially launches in September: A $200, season-long package will give users access to live, out-of-market games on computers and mobile devices. A $240 package lets you watch games on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3 or Playstation 4, and a $330 package includes both mobile and PC as well as game console access as well as other exclusive features. On the mobile front, the service will offer apps for iPads, iPhones and a variety of Android devices, but iOS users will apparently not be able to use AirPlay to watch games on Apple TVs. The bigger drawback of the service is that many sports fans won’t have access to it. Prospective buyers have to enter their home address to see whether they’re eligible, and many are turned away, just like I was when I tested it with my San Francisco Bay Area address. It looks like DirecTV is checking whether applicants live in single-home residencies, which could theoretically get satellite TV, or apartments, where satellite dishes are often blocked. Two of my co-workers who live in apartment buildings were told that they’re eligible. NFLSundayTicket.TV also offers price-reduced packages for college students, but the list of eligible colleges is fairly short as well and includes Ohio State University, University of Southern California, Havard University and Syracuse University along with a few others. And like most sports streaming packages, the NFL SundayTicket.TV still comes with blackout rules for local games.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How public policy changed the consumer tech space in first-quarter 2014How Content Bundles Could Make Cord Cutting MainstreamWhy the TV industry matters for Google

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Long before Google announced its Android Wear smartwatch platform, I said that the first company to put Google Now on my wrist would get my money. We now have two companies offering such a device, with a third one on the way soon. So will I put my money where my mouth is? After using a loaner Samsung Galaxy Live smartwatch — I chose it over the LG G Watch — for the past three weeks, the answer is “most likely,” although I plan to wait and see what the attractive, round Moto 360 costs. The more important question, though, is: Should you buy one? Given my desire for a smartwatch built around Google Now, you’d think I’d say yes. And if, like me, you rely heavily on Google Now, I would say yes. But for everyone else, I’m not sure there’s a compelling reason yet to plunk down $199 or more for an Android Wear smartwatch. What is it and what does it do? Android Wear itself is a platform that will run on any smartwatch hardware from Google’s partners. That means any company making an Android phone or tablet today could conceivably create an Android Wear watch. All are likely to have touchscreens and rely heavily on voice for input. Google won’t allow partners to create software skins, so the general interface of all Android Wear watches will be the same, meaning partners will have to compete based on their smartwatch design. The Samsung Gear Live looks just like the company’s older Gear smartwatches: A little bulky, but they feel good on the wrist. It has a 1.63-inch 320×320 resolution AMOLED touchscreen display and a built-in heart-rate monitor. The overall design is why I opted to borrow a Gear Live over an LG G Watch: The latter has a lower-resolution display, is flatter on the bottom so it doesn’t fit me as well and can’t monitor heart rate. (In its defense, the G Watch has a larger battery than the Gear Live.) You can swap out the watch band with something more traditional if you’d like. These watches always show the time, as you’d expect. The Gear Live is often in a low-power mode that dims the display, but you can still see what time it is. The exception is in bright sunlight, where it’s pretty difficult to see the screen, particularly if you use a dark-style watch face. Android Wear watches come with various faces to choose from by long-pressing the display and we’ve already seen some interesting third-party options available for download, particularly if you’re a Star Trek fan. How well does it work? Using the Android Wear app on my Android phone, I was able to pair the watch with my handset over Bluetooth. I rarely had connection drops between the two, even when I walked away from the phone and around my house. You’ll need that strong connection because much of what Android Wear does relies heavily on the web. The watch also acts a second screen of sorts, displaying notifications from your Android phone. That can be a bit annoying at first, since you’re getting lots of pings from two devices at the same time. Dig into the Android Wear app settings on your phone, however, and you can configure which apps you want to allow notifications from on your watch. Gmail is a bit of a tricky beast because, let’s face it, not every email is important enough to appear on your wrist. My recommendation: Go into your Gmail settings and consider setting app notifications on a per-label basis. I use Priority Inbox with Android Wear, for example, to minimize this. Dismissing a notification from the watch will immediately dismiss it from your phone as well, thanks to the Bluetooth connection. You can also control music playback on Android Wear, although the music is playing on your connected phone. Some notifications don’t provide much value at all; I actually disabled notifications for Google+ as I could only read comments on posts, but not respond or +1 them. Lift the watch up — or tap its screen — and the watch is listening for your spoken action. This works just like Google voice search on many devices: You simply say “OK Google,” and speak a command. From here, you can ask for your calendar agenda, dictate a note, set a reminder, send texts or emails, see how many steps you’ve walked in a given day or set an alarm. You can also do a basic Google search. Results appear on the small watch face and while sometimes you can get what you need this way, you can also tap the watch to send the results to your connected phone. You can do the same for many other options as well. Therein lies a key challenge for Android Wear: How do you put enough useful information on the small screen that you don’t need to pull out your smartphone? Some of the notifications work just fine on a watch because they have limited information: Think of your calendar events, for example. Notifications that have more text — incoming email is a perfect example — don’t fit, but you can tap the watch and scroll (and scroll) to see the full message. Google Now is the core experience, but apps are vying for screen space Overall — once I quieted the notifications by judiciously choosing which apps could show them — I found Android Wear to be pretty useful. Incoming calls and texts appear on the wrist, making it easy to accept or ignore them; calls still take place on your phone. In the case of Gmail, I could actually triage my messages faster with the watch than I can with my phone. At a glance, I can generally tell if the message is useful or not, and with one swipe, I can dismiss it for later reading, archive it on the spot or — if I keep it short — shout out a quick reply. Information I rely on Google Now to surface appeared at the right place and time. The Gear Live would tell me when a package shipped, for example, or suggest that I leave early for an appointment due to traffic. Those are super-helpful contextual nuggets that are just a glance away — handy on the wrist but, of course, also available on my phone. That’s the type of information that only Google can and does provide at the moment. While Google Now is the front-and-center feature of Android Now, third-party apps are also available – about 30 at the time of this writing. These are mainly extensions of the Android apps you would typically install on your phone, although they can be a standalone watch app. I use RunKeeper on my phone to track my running, for example, and I can now view my pace and distance in real-time on the Gear Live. The app is still primarily running on the phone but can output data on the watch. I also used Glympse on my wrist to share my location with my family. Again, the bulk of the lifting is done by Glympse on the phone; the watch provides me an easy interface to start sharing my location with certain contacts. Whipping through a recipe using Allthecooks was fun, as well: Swiping a completed instruction on either the phone or watch moves you to the next step on both devices and you can set timers within the app. Convenience vs. necessity What problem does Android Wear solve? Smartphones solved a big problem, by freeing users from always being tied to a physical location for computing activities. They solved what I’ll call the “20-mile issue”: you can be 20 miles away from your desktop or laptop and still be connected to the web, getting things done with a smartphone. Android Wear solves the “2-foot problem,” if there is such a thing. Everything the watches do can be done with the smartphone that’s just two feet away from your wrist and in your pocket. For that reason, the devices right now are more of a convenience than a necessity. I love the idea of glanceable notifications and I’m getting benefits from them. I suspect I’ll see even more utility as additional Android Wear apps arrive in the Play Store as well; the platform is just getting started. I’m just not sure most mainstream consumers who own Android phones will gain enough to justify the current costs and general bulkiness from this first iteration of devices. I’m also expecting to see competing devices — namely from Apple and Microsoft — take a different approach that might resonate more with consumers: Their devices might focus more on health-tracking rather than apps that you can already run on a phone.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile spaceWhat to expect for the mobile OS market in 2013How companies can grow by moving into newer, bigger markets

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Airbnb was founded and is run by designers. That makes them hyper vigilant of the company’s brand and overall design, and now the company is getting a visual upgrade. On Wednesday Airbnb revealed a new symbol that it says represents Airbnb’s maturation and growth: they’re calling it the Bélo, “the universal symbol of belonging.” What do you think of it? Valleywag has its own hilarious take. And some peeps on Twitter pointed out it looks a bit like this logo. Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.The risks and rewards for the ride-sharing market in 2014Gigaom Research predictions for 2014What investors should know about policy and the share economy

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
An ebook subscription service, available on any device including your Kindle: That appears to be what Amazon is planning, but is it worth $9.99 a month? What kinds of books are available and how do authors get paid? Here are a few more details about what we do and don’t know about Kindle Unlimited: Amazon has so far not responded to my requests for comment. First, here’s a video about Kindle Unlimited that we were able to pull from Amazon’s website: The video doesn’t provide a lot of details about Kindle Unlimited beyond what we reported earlier. Through the service, the video’s narrator says, you’ll have “the freedom to explore over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks in the palm of your hand,” plus “unlimited reading and unlimited listening on any device for $9.99 a month.” There’s also apparently a 30-day free trial. What ebooks are included? There were 638,416 available ebooks listed on a page on Amazon’s website that was live Wednesday morning that has been taken down since we first reported its existence. None of the books appeared to be from Big Five publishers — HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan and Hachette – suggesting that, at least initially, many of the most well-known bestsellers wouldn’t be available. However, I saw titles from smaller publishers like Algonquin, Bloomsbury, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Workman. The most well-known titles that appear to be included, and are also featured in the video above, are the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games trilogy and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In addition, as you might imagine, many books from Amazon’s own publishing imprints are included: One page lists 989 “KU Exclusives,” consisting of books from Amazon’s publishing divisions. Also, as noticed by the users of Kindle Boards Wednesday, books from Amazon’s KDP Select program appear to be included. KDP Select gives self-published authors promotion and other perks in exchange for making their ebooks exclusive to Amazon for a set period of time. Can you get it on a Kindle e-reader? It looks like it: Beyond mentioning that Kindle Unlimited is “on any device,” the promotional video shows it on a Kindle e-reader, an iPad, an iPhone and what appear to be a Kindle Fire tablet and a Fire Phone. It certainly makes sense that Kindle Unlimited would be available through all of Amazon’s own devices. What’s the difference between this and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library? Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is a perk available to Amazon Prime members who own Kindles: They can borrow one ebook a month from a library of 615,038 titles. Kindle Unlimited, by contrast, appears to be a standalone paid service that, as mentioned in the video, offers unlimited reading and also audiobooks. Based on my preliminary research, however, it doesn’t seem as if the two libraries — Kindle Unlimited and KOLL — are very different. What’s the competition? Amazon would have two main competitors in the ebook subscription space: Oyster and Scribd. Oyster, which launched in 2013 and is available for iOS and Android (and Kindle Fire), is $9.95 a month and includes access to over 500,000 ebooks, while Scribd is available on a number of platforms (including iOS and Android and Kindle Fire) and includes access to over 400,000 ebooks for $8.99 a month. Oyster and Scribd both have deals with Big Five publishers HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, meaning that many well-known bestsellers are available through those services; Kindle Unlimited, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to have secured deals with those major publishers. But Oyster and Scribd’s libraries are also filled with a lot of self-published ebooks via a deal with self-publishing site Smashwords. What are the biggest differences between Kindle Unlimited and the competition? So far, the differences appear to be that Kindle Unlimited has no Big Five titles and Kindle Unlimited includes audiobooks. One major difference is that Kindle Unlimited will likely be available through Kindle e-readers. That’s not true for Scribd or Oyster. And it would be a big reason for avid Kindle e-reader users to choose Kindle Unlimited rather than Scribd or Oyster: If they are already using their e-reader all the time anyway, and can now access more books through it via a subscription, that would be a big perk. How do authors get paid? It depends on who your publisher is. Publishers Lunch reported Wednesday (subscription required) that publishers participating “via direct agreement” — which appear to be Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Bloomsbury, Open Road and Workman, among others — will be paid an ebook’s wholesale price when a reader completes a certain percentage of the book. That’s the same way that Scribd and Oyster operate. Then there are those well-known “big” books also included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, like the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy: Amazon has a separate Harry Potter deal that presumably encompasses (or was changed to expand to) Kindle Unlimited as well, while in the case of the Hunger Games, according to PL, “Scholastic will get paid their full wholesale price every time one of their ebooks is opened by a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.” If you’re a self-published author participating in KDP Select, however, it looks as if your book can be included without your explicit permission simply under the terms and conditions you already agreed to: According to one poster on the Kindle Boards, “Books in Select will automatically be enrolled. Like the KOLL you won’t be able to opt-out if you’re in Select. You will be payed [sic] if you someone reads 10% or more of your book. The payment will come out of the same KOLL fund, just as if it was a borrow.” That “same KOLL fund” is a set pool of money from which self-published authors are paid each time their book is borrowed. Its amount changes every month but in July the total fund was $1.2 million.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How streaming data and machine learning impact the bottom lineHow the health care industry can benefit from open dataWhy the virtual desktop now matters to the enterprise

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Police in upstate New York arrested 49-year-old David Beesmer  for unlawful surveillance this week after they observed him flying a drone outside the windows of a medical facility as staff examined patients. A police account, reported by the Smoking Gun, says patients and staff observed the drone flying 10 to 15 feet from the windows. In a Facebook post, Beesmer described the incident as a “huge error in judgment” and said he took the footage after dropping his mother off for a doctor’s appointment. He claimed that the drone’s cameras can’t see inside windows. Beesmer’s Facebook page also shows photos of what appears to be his drone: The device is the popular DIJ Phantom 2, which is the same model my colleague Signe Brewster used to take beautiful photos of San Francisco. Police released Beesmer to face the felony surveillance charge at a later date. The incident is likely to provide more grist for the debate over how to regulate unmanned aircraft, which have the potential to reshape a range of industries, but are also touching off privacy concerns.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.A look back at this year’s CES and what it means for tech in 2014

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
For 53 years, humans’ travel to space has worked in generally the same way: astronauts climb into a cramped cockpit high up in a giant rocket and then take a shaky ride through Earth’s atmosphere. But many of the emerging generation of private spacecraft targeted at the (rich) layperson throw out the vertical rocket design in favor of ships that look very much like airplanes. They take off and land on runways and sport comfy seats more reminiscent of Air Force One than Apollo 11. The United Kingdom is planning to build a spaceport that can provide the same polished experience that the private space industry plans to offer in-flight, and it looks a lot like any airport. A report published this week names eight potential sites for the spaceport in England, Wales and Scotland and plans for an opening in 2018. A mockup of the planned UK spaceport. Photo courtesy of the UK Space Agency. The spaceport could also serve commercial interests, which are likely to be even more successful given that private companies like SpaceX are slowly taking over tasks like ferrying cargo to the International Space Station from governments. Europe already has a commercial spaceport, but it is located in the northernmost town in Sweden — 62 miles north of the Arctic Circle. “It’s great to see the U.K. establishing itself in the human spaceflight arena,” Bigelow Aerospace head of operations Mike Gold told New Scientist. “Nations that ignore new opportunities developing in both suborbital and orbital space transportation run the risk of being left behind.” The U.S. already has a spaceport in New Mexico. SpaceX is also in the process of building its first 100 percent commercial spaceport in Texas, and as the number of private launches grows, the number of countries with their own ports will also continue to expand. The U.K. report notes that Virgin Galactic and Xcor both plan to launch their first flights in the next few years and currently have few options for places to take off on a runway. The decision between the eight potential locations will come down to factors like weather, remoteness and proximity to a coast. There also needs to be room for extra-long runways. New Scientist notes that the political situation in Scotland, which is home to six of the eight proposed locations, could come into play.

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
The second quarter of 2014 saw several major developments in the ongoing restructuring of the pay-TV business but there was little for those banking on a disruption of that industry to cheer about. Table of Contents

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Casting web videos to the TV just got a bit easier for iPhone and iPad users: The latest version of Chrome for iOS now includes Chromecast support, which makes it possible to cast videos from any mobile site that has added support for it, according to a post published on the Google Chrome releases blog. The changes, which are coming to Apple’s mobile devices with the release of Chrome 36 for iOS, mimic what’s been possible with Chrome for Android for some time. However, Chrome for Android is also capable of simply sending any web-hosted MP4 to Chromecast, regardless of whether the website hosting it officially supports Google’s cast protocol or not. That doesn’t seem to be the case on iOS, leaving some users over on Reddit confused. The best way for iOS users to try out the new feature may just be to go to Google’s just-launched new Chromecast app directory and specifically search for web apps supporting Google Cast.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How mobile will disrupt the living room in 2014Why the TV industry matters for GoogleHow streaming data and machine learning impact the bottom line

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
There are new details available about a landmark settlement in which Apple has agreed to end a long-running legal fight over its role in brokering a conspiracy among big publishers to fix the price of ebooks. A new court filing, which provides details of a sealed settlement announced last month, shows that Apple will pay $400 million to consumers plus another $50 million to state governments and class-action lawyers. The deal is contingent, however, on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a lower court’s ruling against Apple. If the appeals court sends the case back for a new trial, Apple will pay $70 million plus $20 million in legal fees, and if the appeals court reverses, Apple will pay nothing at all. What does this mean for consumers? According to a key sentence in the new filing, the payment arrangements will be modeled on earlier deals under which most consumers received a credit to their Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble based on how many books they bought. The per-book credit was significantly higher if the book in question was ever a New York Times bestseller. The new payments, however, will likely be significantly higher because Apple is paying more to settle than did the publishers, who together paid around $160 million. That publishers settlement resulted in top payments of around $3 per book  – so, based on the $400 million number, payments could be up to $6 per book. (Another way to look at it is to see if you received an earlier payment, and do the math). The refunds only apply to books purchased from one of the big 5 publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin or Macmillan — between April 1, 2010 to May 21, 2012. The credits will appear in the account the retailer from whom the consumer bought the book to begin with, which will typically mean Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple or Google. The deal also says that consumers don’t have to spend it on ebooks, but can spend it on anything the retailer sells. The new filing also refers to “checks,” meaning consumers could seek to receive the payment in cash. Based on the other settlements, however, that process would likely be far more complicated for consumers. As for when the payments will arrive, that will depend on the outcome of the Second Circuit ruling. The court hasn’t even heard oral arguments yet, and so a decision (which will determine the amount of the payout) may not arrive until 2015. The settlement also refers to the Supreme Court, though it’s unlikely the process will get that far. Here’s a copy of the filing: Apple eBook Settlement Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Smartphones Didn’t Kill Flip, Cisco DidNew E-book Monetization Models Set to Finally GrowThree Ways Barnes & Noble Can Prosper In the E-book Era

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Sometimes it seems as though the future of online media is a fairly bleak one: an ocean of clickbait and shallow pageview-driven articles, all of them chasing the dwindling juice that social-network algorithms provide, with scattered chunks of longform journalism drifting aimlessly, unable to get the attention they deserve. But is that a realistic picture of where we are? Betaworks CEO John Borthwick says it isn’t — and says he has the data from services like Chartbeat and Instapaper to prove that things aren’t as bad as they seem. As Borthwick notes in a post on Medium, the most recent debate on this topic flared up a couple of months ago, sparked by a post from Facebook product manager Mike Hudack that lamented the state of online media, and how much of the content that was being produced even by “serious” media outlets was shallow clickbait: “Personally I hoped that we would find a new home for serious journalism in a format that felt Internet-native and natural to people who grew up interacting with screens instead of just watching them from couches with bags of popcorn and a beer to keep their hands busy. And instead they write stupid stories about how you should wash your jeans instead of freezing them. It’s hard to tell who’s to blame. But someone should fix this shit.” Mike Hudack, Facebook product manager Partly Facebook’s fault, but not completely In the hue-and-cry that followed, a number of journalists, bloggers and others (including our founder Om and me) noted that Facebook was part of the problem that Hudack was complaining about, since its algorithm has become one of the central points of control that determine what kinds of news people see online. And for all of the effort that the giant social network has put into trying to focus on promoting “high quality” content, the reality is that much of what people like to share just happens to be shallow, click-driven content. @mhudack We should talk about your take on news. My perception is that Facebook is *the* major factor in almost every trend you identified.— Alexis C. Madrigal (@alexismadrigal) May 22, 2014 In his post, Borthwick — who has been involved in tracking the social web and online media world from a variety of perspectives, by investing in or starting services like Bitly, Chartbeat, News.me and Digg — described one recent cautionary tale: the story about how a piece of software had beaten the legendary Turing test, by pretending to be a 14-year-old boy. As it turned out, the story was fatally flawed to the point where it was essentially not true, but by the time anyone pointed this out it had been shared and tweeted and linked to hundreds of thousands of times. As the Betaworks CEO notes (and as Om and I have pointed out a number of times), the social-distribution system that has been built up around the news — a system that is now arguably as important or even more important than search –favors shareability, not analysis. That’s why Om has argued that we all need to be aware of what we share, and take the time to think about whether it deserves our attention or not. Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile has pointed out that his data shows that much of what people share is content that they haven’t even read. As Borthwick notes: “We have a dominant social distribution system that favors sharablility… it is biased towards speed, and that bias is short circuiting fact checking – as the Turing example shows. And in the case of Facebook it’s mediated by algorithms that aren’t transparent. Algorithmically created news stories, mediated by algorithms, shared by people, people who are barely reading these posts. If we can all just get services like Socialflow to do our sharing – we humans can completely quit this loop.” Algorithms creating and sharing content Algorithmically created news stories — thanks to services like Narrative Science and Automated Insights, which AP is now using for earnings stories — mediated by the black-box algorithms of networks like Twitter and Facebook, shared as quickly as possible by people who haven’t even read them. It may not be Orwell’s “boot stamping on a human face forever,” but that’s a pretty bleak vision. But Borthwick argues there is still some reason for optimism about media. According to a chart from Upworthy, which tracks a metric it calls “attention minutes,” there is a significant burst of sharing that comes from people who have barely read a piece of content — behavior that is likely driven by short-term effects such as a clickbait headline, catchy video clip or GIF, etc. Then there is a low point where many people don’t make it all the way through a piece, and don’t really share it much either. But there is also a large upswing on both reader attention (or time spent) and sharing that occurs at the far end of the graph, something Borthwick calls “the hill of Wow,” as opposed to the “valley of Meh.” There is still the hill of Wow What this seems to show is that a significant number of people are willing to spend significant amounts of time with articles that are relatively long, and are willing to share them — in other words, there is a demand for things other than just shallow clickbait. And looking at the data on the number of articles that are saved to Instapaper (which Betaworks acquired last year) seems to support this conclusion, Borthwick says: “What we saw is interesting. Reads are increasing over time for all domains and for some domains they are increasing a lot. This suggests that the Wow hill of the curve is increasing, ie: some people are reading more, not less.” So what we really have are two versions of the online-media world, both of which exist at the same time: one is the noisy, click-driven, social-sharing ecosystem, which favors speed and shareability — and is more noticeable because of all the Like buttons and Favorite meters and other share-tracking widgets — and the other is a deeper and less noticeable ecosystem of longform articles that people actually read, and likely get shared through slower forms of media such as email newsletters and what some have called “dark social.” Borthwick argues (and I share this view) that businesses or people who focus on the right-hand side of the chart embedded above — the “hill of Wow,” in other words — may not rack up the huge pageview numbers or highly-visible sharing statistics, but ultimately they will build stronger businesses. As Betaworks data scientist Suman Deb Roy puts it in a quote that Borthwick includes: “The landscape of media content diffusion… is a hill-valley-hill of attention, and you’d probably do better sitting on the right hand hill. People sitting on the left hill appear to be more visible, but there are people on the right hill too. And the latter is growing.” Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Shutterstock / Lenar MusinRelated research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Frenemy mine: The pros and cons of social partnerships for online media companies

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on gigaom
Sprint and SoftBank have sent every signal short of an official press release that they want to acquire T-Mobile US. Once the official Federal Communications Commission filing comes down, though, the three companies will be presented with a very interesting problem. While they go through the merger process, the FCC will conduct a key spectrum auction in the 600 MHz band, the results of which could dictate U.S. carriers’ mobile network plans for years to come. The problem is that with a merger deal pending, T-Mobile and Sprint wouldn’t be able to coordinate their activities in any way. Japan’s SoftBank Corp. founder and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son aims to merge the third and fourth largest carriers in the U.S. As part of that plan he is said to be willing to fund a joint venture that can bid in the upcoming incentive auction. (Photo: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images) So how do collude with actually running afoul of anti-collusion laws? Why, you form a joint venture of course. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint and T-Mobile plan to form a separate bidding entity – funded with 10 billion of SoftBank’s dollars – that would allow the two companies to participate jointly in the auction. This acquisition could easily face regulatory scrutiny for over a year, and there’s a good chance either the FCC or the Justice Department – or both — will reject it as they did AT&T-Mo. The incentive auction is scheduled for mid-2015, meaning Sprint and T-Mobile could be forced to bid in the auction without knowing their eventual fate. Spectrum joint ventures are nothing new. The big cable operators and Sprint formed one in 2006 so they could bid jointly on a nationwide Advanced Wireless Services licenses (airwaves they sold to Verizon in 2013), and the major operators often participate in auctions under separate bidding entities. But a Sprint/T-Mo bidding entity would be unique. It would act in the auction presumably in the best interest of a combined carrier, but there’s no guarantee that those two carriers wouldn’t remain direct competitors after the auction ends. When the final auction gavel bangs, Sprint and T-Mobile might not know if they will share their winnings or be forced to split it If the merger fails, Sprint and T-Mobile would have to divide up the spoils, and the Journal’s sources were at a loss at exactly how that would be handled. What happens if the JV only gets a single 10 MHz license (the minimum for an LTE network) in New York City or San Francisco? They can’t split it down the middle. This is a big fight waiting to happen, but T-Mobile and Sprint probably feel it’s worth the risk. The incentive auction won’t just hand out any old spectrum. The 600 MHz UHF broadcast frequencies are low-band airwaves that propagate far and wide and can punch through barriers that T-Mobile and Sprint’s current mid-and high-band frequencies can’t penetrate. Perhaps there’s little need to coordinate or collaborate on license-by-license or market-by-market basis. Both carriers probably figure that their goal in the auction is to get as many 600 MHz frequencies as they can afford.Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What first-quarter 2014 meant for the mobile spaceWhat You Need to Know About the SoftBank-Sprint MergerGigaom Research predictions for 2014

Read More...