Tag Archives: Mobile

How Yahoo Can Make Money From Tumblr

This week Yahoo acquired the popular blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Writing for the business and investment site Minyanville, Carol Kopp discusses the likely business model for Yahoo’s newest content creator.

“Here’s a little dose of financial reality for Tumblr users who are upset that their free-to-use, nearly ad-free little corner of the Internet has been bought by big, bad corporate Yahoo: One way or another, probably sooner rather than later, you’re going to pay for your free blog,” she remarks. And that dose of financial reality will come in the form of ads.

“Advertisers are willing to pay a premium to advertise to a small but self-selected group of people with an expressed interest in golf or puppies or movies.”

It’s important to mention that in March Yahoo gobbled the start-up Summly for $30 million. That company offered readers computer generated summaries of news articles, another kind of content that helps Yahoo boost its traffic.

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Xbox One Faces New Array of Rivals

“The new console, the Xbox One, will enter a market very different from the one its predecessor, the Xbox 360, entered nearly eight years ago, when there was no iPad, smartphones had keyboards and mobile gaming devices were primitive at best,” writes Nick Wingfield of the New York Times.

“Today, video games can be played almost anywhere, on any device, with the biggest possible audience of online friends and without the aid of a costly gaming console.”

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White House Reverses Its Stance On Cell Phone Unlocking After Citizen Petition

After being interviewed on Monday by Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now!” the political activist and former GOP staffer, Derick Khanna received a call from the White House. Khanna was told that the Obama administration would change it’s stance and come out against the Librarian of Congress who, in January 2013, decided that cellphone unlocking was a criminal offense.

The Administration said it will also put forth its own legislation that will decriminalize cellphone unlocking and would be in favor of tablet unlocking as well (so long as the consumer owns the device, and is not under contract by a carrier).

Khanna, along with Sina Khanifar, collected over 114,000 signatures on their online petition at “We The People,” a website run by the White House.

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Foursquare Offers Personalized Coupons

Hamish Mckenzie writes on PandoDaily

The company is doing a trial with about 25 paying customers, including Best Buy and Old Navy, to see if users respond to sponsored results. “The point now is not for us to be generating a ton of revenue,” he said. “It’s to learn how these tools are supposed to work and to learn how the users are responding to the experiment of these promotions.”

Ultimately, he said, Foursquare’s proposed monetization scheme looks a lot like Google AdWords, but “targeted just at local, and exclusively on mobile.” The goal is to be able to let merchants target a specific 20-percent discount promotion to a specific user set, such as only the most loyal customers.

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Beyond The Check In: Foursquare And Social Cartography

On your foursquare social map your preferences are the topography, your friends’ tastes, the contours.

Drew Olanoff writes on TechCrunch

Partnering with the reservation service, OpenTable, foursquare’s “explore” feature allows users to quickly find a restaurant nearby, check what their friends have said about it, and then snag a reservation without leaving the app.

As I’ve said before, I’m using foursquare way more than I use a service like Yelp to find new places as I explore new cities. Explore is even handy in San Francisco, where there are hundreds of restaurants that I haven’t even discovered yet. Bringing all of this functionality into one place is a brilliant move by foursquare, and makes other services obsolete. Throw in tips, photos and past check-in information from your friends and this whole thing is really shaping up to be huge.

As I’ve written, these new features represent a trend away from the Facebooky check-in, and towards something like a personalized search engine.  Foursquare wants to be the interactive guide to your your social scene.

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Check Ins Are For High Schoolers, Pussy Whipped Boyfriends, And For The Old Foursquare… What’s The Future Foursquare?

Think for a moment on the concept of “checking-in.”  “Call me when you land!” mom says.  “Let me know when you’re on the road,” your girlfriend commands.  “Text me when you get there,” you’re annoying, psuedo-friend from college begs, because he knows that you’ll inevitably flake, but it doesn’t really matter because you’ll just say “sorry, I was totally smashed” the next time you run into him.

Most view these kinds of check ins as cumbersome chores, annoying reminders that your tab is being kept, that your leash, however long and unseen, is still snugly fastened.

I used to think foursquare was a horribly shitty, pointless app.  I used to think that their kinds of check ins involved vexing friction like calling dad after his 3rd “Are U OK? I miss you” guilt-text.  But it seems that the company wants to head in a different direction: One in which your phone, and its GPS technology, becomes a passive, ambient, knowing-guide to your social life.

While foursquare’s 25 million users continue to check in, the discovery company’s co-founder and CEO, Dennis Crowley, sees a trend in the way new users interact with the service. In an interview with Om Malik of GigaOm, Crowley talks about a future for foursquare.  Where the companies initial user base actively checked into restaurants, bars and coffee shops, many new users sign up with no intention of checking into establishments.  Instead, these people utilize foursquare as a guide to their local social scene. Where’s a good sandwich place around here? What bar is gonna be crazy tonight? Which bookstore did my roommate recommend?

With over 2.5 billion check ins already logged, Crowley believes that many people simply want to “consume” the reviews of their friends rather than checking in and creating their own.

Moving from active usage, explicitly stating to the digital public where you are and what you thought of a particular steakhouse, Crowley believes future foursquare will be a passive, ambient service, like your phone unobtrusively suggesting a sushi place that your girls love.  Or, you’d receive notice of a hilarious happy hour special because your foursquare knows, from previous experience, that you are a self-sabotaging, Jager-bombing binge drinker.

Alluding to Harry’s Potter’s, Marauder’s Map, the GPS geek complains about the sad state of map apps.  They are blank, Crowley says.  You are a pathetic, lonesome dot.  Why not populate a map with many other dots representing your friends?  You could see where the bros are draining Sunday pitchers, what club all the high heels are click-clacking towards.

Foursquare wants to become a hyper specific search and discovery tool, an app that uses your  friends’ taste (your trust) to become “contextually aware” of your preferences.  The company could be your silent cartographer, your local search engine who knows, without you saying, just where you want go.


I’m upping my Internet game.  If you enjoyed my style come feast on my tweets.  @PlanetHozz

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Pandora’s Predicament: Music Discovery and the Future of Internet Radio

Portrayed by a slick and forcible Justin Timberlake in The Social Network, Sean Parker first gained notoriety for his work with Napster. The file sharing program no longer exists at the tech-forefront, but the site disrupted the industry with lasting impact. In fact, piracy remains the dominant mode of consumption. Realizing music’s need for a legal and innovative business model, the enterprising Parker declared last year, “I’ve dedicated the rest of my career to fix what I broke.”

Enter Spotify.  Parker is banking on the popular European streaming service that has just pierced the American market.  Compatible with Facebook’s interface, and with a colossal click and play library, the British based company is poised to blaze through the States.  Industry observers believe Spotify’s expansion will crowd out the music streaming leader, Pandora.  However, the internet radio company should not be counted out.

Pandora’s appeal has always been its focus on music discovery. Personalized radio exposes listeners to new music better than anyone else. It gives Pandora its competitive edge.

The founder of Pandora, Tim Westergren, began with the idea that music could be categorized and organized using a mathematical algorithm.  The Music Genome Project, the heart of Pandora, is an extensive library that genotypes songs, assigning tracks over 400 traits.

Musicians at Pandora listen to every new song and catalogue its features.  The result, as stated in their Form S-1 to the S.E.C, is a “proprietary personalized playlist generating system.”  Pandora makes customizable radio stations based on users’ tastes.

Listeners begin by creating a station based off a song or artists, the station’s “seed.”  From there, songs are played that demonstrate similarities to the seed song or artist.  Users can give a streaming song a thumbs up or thumbs down, offering their radio station insight to their preferences.  Since the company’s inception in 2000, Pandora has collected over eight billion thumbs.

The beauty of the Pandora experience is the exposure to music that is both familiar and fresh.  A mixture of acoustic and electric in Bon Jovi’s “Livin on a Prayer” leads the listener to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” which may lead to a lesser known Def Leppard track and eventually to a brand new artist shaped by British heavy metal.  The exhilaration of discovery, of finding another favorite band, ties the user to Pandora.

Critics of the company argue that music discovery is unnecessary if users have access to an immense collection of songs.  Pandora’s library totals 800,000, dwarfed by Spotify’s 15 million. Westergren addresses this issue by differentiating Pandora’s service.

In an interview with TechCrunch, he said a listener “would find some songs they like on Pandora, and then go buy them on iTunes or listen to them on demand via Rdio or Spotify and use them in tandem.”  Where Spotify is a limitless iTunes library, Pandora informs how preferences and playlists are made.

Another criticism leveled at Pandora is the company’s ad-based business model.  Listener growth is exploding, reaching 80 million users this summer, however the costs of licensing music mounts higher.  Rather than focus on a subscription based model, like Spotify, Pandora offers its users free, limitless streaming with visual and audio ads.  This strategy maximizes user growth while it forgoes revenue from subscribers.

The challenge Pandora faces is converting its popularity into revenue from advertisers.  Although 70% of audio streaming takes place on mobile devices, less than 1% of total ad dollars are spent there.  As a warning to potential investors, the company emphasized it has yet to make a profit.

According to Businessweek, Pandora plans to overcome these obstacles by expanding its ad sales force and by growing its user base through automobile integration.  By 2015 advertising dollars spent on mobile devices is expected to multiply by 12.  In addition, Pandora radio will be found in the 2012 car models of General Motors, Ford, and Toyota, including the Camry. Businessweek reports that by rapidly increasing its user base now, Pandora will be positioned to receive mobile ad dollars in the near future.   Once ad agencies decide to aggressively court mobile audiences, Pandora can offer millions of eyes and ears.

Facing a new competitor in Spotify and lackluster revenue from smart phone ads, many have dismissed Pandora’s potential.  However, with a loyal, growing fan base Pandora hopes to leverage its free and limitless listening to cash in on the future of mobile streaming.  Pandora offers a service that is not simply the music people enjoy, but the unearthing of something new.

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Place-Based Advertising

We now gaze at our phones more than we do at print media, but ad dollars spent on mobile is a measly one percent of total ad spent.  With precise metrics available and the ability to cater content to specific eyes, the mobile ad market is severely underdeveloped.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, LocalResponse and RMG are experimenting with place-based advertising. Mobile users can now receive ads depending on his or her geography.  Using data collected from review websites and foursquare, companies now can engage customers using location as the context.  The venues, shops, and restaurants where people spend their time become useful guides on how to better target consumers.

This new frontier of geographical based ads increases efficiency by targeting interested viewers, upping the ROI for brands.  Creative technology like this helps companies spend ad dollars in places that work. It’s futuristic, innovative, and compelling.

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