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Google Drive is not Ready for Primetime

April 28th, 2012 No comments

The dust on the Drive has settled — Google Drive, that is — and users finally have the chance to play around with the company’s new cloud storage system, one that’s designed to, “work seamlessly with your overall Google experience.”

Seamless, perhaps. But perfect? Google’s arrived a bit late to the cloud storage game and, like a pinch hitter facing a run deficit in the seventh inning, the company needs to knock one out of the park to pull people’s loyalties away from their favorite cloud storage services.

It feels as if general reactions to Google Drive have been good, but not great: That Google’s service is a fine player among its peers, but not noteworthy enough to generate a massive, digital rush to Google’s servers. We’ve rounded up some of the larger criticisms that might be keeping Drive from dominating, all areas that Google could stand to work on if it wants the prettiest cloud in the sky.

1. Size

How many of you have ever run out of space on your Gmail account? We’re willing to bet that it’s a rare occurrence for all but the most popular of Gmail users, makes one wonder why Google is so generous with its email capacity (10GB) and so seemingly stingy with its Drive storage (5GB).

“For cheapskates or freebirds like me, you’ll be better off turning to (or remaining with) Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which offers 7GB of free storage; Google Drive offers five. (SugarSync, which I’ve also used, does as well.) Microsoft also gave existing SkyDrive users 25GB of free storage. Google, however, would like you to pay them for the privilege of mining your files,” writesPCMag.com’s Mark Hachman.

2. Cross-Platform Support

And the mobile war continues: Google Drive is fully supported on the Android platform with a native application (go figure). Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS systems can all download a dedicated Google Drive app as well — in fact, it’s the only way you can access your cloud. As for iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone owners…

“GDrive, meanwhile, includes an app for Android. Everything else must use a browser to connect to Google Drive, although there are reports that Google will be releasing iOS apps for GDrive at some point. Other mobile devices will have to continue to use their respective browsers, but it’s worth noting that not all browsers will work. According to Google’s information for GDrive, some older versions of Android won’t work with the Drive, even using the browser.” — eWeek’s Wayne Rash

Of course, it would also be nice to be able to edit non-Google-Docs files or move anything around in one’s Google Drive via the corresponding mobile app, but step one is acquiring working mobile apps in the first place.

3. Offline Editing

Throw a typical Microsoft Word document into your Google Drive and you’ll be able to edit it online, right? Wrong — you can only view it online. You have to convert the file to a Google Document in order to edit it via Google’s Web app. But here’s the rub: You can’t edit Google Docs in your Drive cloud from an offline computer; you can only view them. For novice cloud users, the relationship between Google Documents and offline documents can be pretty confusing.

“There are a couple of ways to work around this issue. First, you can configure your Google Docs for offline access, and you can use Google Chrome browser extensions to enable you to edit Google Docs files offline. Another solution would be to save the file back to its original format after editing it online so that it will open locally in its native application as mentioned above.

That brings us to the other potential issue–file fidelity. Google has gone to great lengths to maintain formatting when converting from Microsoft Office formats to Google Docs and back again, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. For basic documents that just have text, with maybe some bold, italics, and underlining, or simple bullets, it may not be an issue. However complex documents that include things like a table of contents, footers, headers, and footnotes are likely to get mangled and require a lot of manual repair when switched back to their native format.” — PCWorld’s Tony Bradley.

4. File Hosting

“Files hosted publicly in Google Drive should be usable anywhere on the Web.

Anyone can already download the files manually. Google Drive could have a huge advantage over its competitors if you could permalink to those files. If Imgur can host images for other sites, why can’t Google? And Google Drive can understand over 30 file types. Why not PDFs and audio files, too?” — ReadWriteWeb’s Jon Mitchell

Makes sense to us!

5. More Security

As Discovery News’ Rob Pegoraro points out, your files within Google Drive are only as secure as your Google password. That’s not only a great plug for enabling two-way authentication on one’s Google Account, but it also highlights a key difference between Google’s cloud service and that of one of the company’s chief cloud rivals.

“Like SkyDrive but unlike Dropbox, [Google Drive] doesn’t encrypt files stored on its servers; you can use third-party tools like the open-source TrueCrypt to scramble files before uploading, but that’s more work,” Pegoraro writes.

That said, Google execs have said that encrypting files on Google’s servers would prevent features like Google Drive’s OCR engine from being able to scan them. Worse, users would also lose out on being able to preview files within Drive’s Web app.

6. The Dreaded ToS

Much has been written about Google’s Terms of Service for Drive. But you shouldn’t be as concerned about Google “stealing” your information or displaying your publicly available content in a Google Drive advertisement (or what-have-you). Rather, you should be more annoyed if you’re one of the users ponying up additional cash for expanded Drive storage.

By David Murphy

For more tech tidbits from David Murphy, follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@thedavidmurphy).

Article originally published in PCMAG.com

http://www.pcmag.com/article/print/297230

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The 12 Best Free Mobile Apps for Commuters, 2012 Edition

April 23rd, 2012 No comments

Many of us spend hours getting from one place to another every day. Your smartphone can help you cut down on your travel time, or at least make the most of it.

For example, Waze is a popular tool that aims to help you spend less time in traffic. The app automatically reads the GPS location and speed of every person using Waze, and reports that data back to other users who might be traveling in the same direction. Users can also report accidents, heavy traffic, and police speed traps, and you can ping users on Waze to get real-time updates. You can find the app for iOS and Androidphones, and a beta version is available for BlackBerry handsets.

Trapster is another iOSAndroid, and BlackBerry app that pools information from drivers to help other drivers. Users report on police speed traps, enforcement cameras, and road hazards so that you can scan your potential route and avoid dangers. Android-only app Scanner Radio is also useful for avoiding traffic accidents and road snarls. Using the app, you can listen in on hundreds of police and public-transportation dispatches, so you can find out where the toughest traffic jams are. (Alternatively, if you’re driving through a particularly boring stretch of road, you can use the app to pretend that you’re a hard-boiled rogue officer with an axe to grind against the system.)

NextBusOf course, if you’re a public-transit rider, you have your own set of headaches. When will the bus come? Is the subway broken?NextBus has a fantastic website that’s also optimized for use in a mobile browser, and it gives updated arrival times for transit lines in 31 regions of the United States and Canada. No download required–just go straight to nextbus.com in your phone’s mobile browser. It even uses your phone’s GPS function to locate the nearest bus stops.

When you do get on the bus, you might wish to pass some time chatting with your friends. The Imo app for iOS and Androidsyncs with your contacts on AIM, Facebook chat, Google Talk, MSN, and more, and is an easy way to keep in contact with people on lots of instant messenger services. If voice messages are more your style, Voxer for Android and iOS lets you send audio messages over a data signal, so you don’t waste precious voice minutes on short calls.

PulseAnother great Android and iOS app to check before you leave the house is WeatherBug, which gives you all the standard weather-app fare but also updates information based on your location. For other news, check outZite (for AndroidiOS, and WebOS), which builds you a personalized magazine based on topics of your choosing, or on what you’ve clicked through your Twitter account. Pulse is another beautiful resource for current news if you have an iOSdevice or an Android phone. This app gathers streams from many of your favorite websites based on category, and then updates the stories in each stream every time you open the app. Reading stories on Pulse means you don’t have to deal with annoying ads or the sometimes awful layout of websites not optimized for mobile browsers.

If you spend a lot of time sending text messages from your Android phone on your commute (not while you drive, of course), you may want to back up those text messages on your phone’s external SD Card so that you don’t lose them and can take them with you to your next phone. SMS Backup and Restore will do the job easily, and doesn’t require you to root your phone. If you want to send a file to your Android phone from your computer before you run out the door, use the Software Data Cable app to transfer a file without a USB cable; note, however, that you will need an FTP client to transfer files over the wireless network you’re connected to.

Lookout Mobile SecurityFinally, no commuter who uses his or her phone heavily should be without a security app. Lookout Mobile Security is a highly trusted name in mobile malware protection for iOS and Androiddevices, and if you’re an Android user you can use the app to remotely lock and wipe your phone if it is lost or stolen. Lookout can back up data and scan your device for malware automatically, too.

By Megan GeussPCWorld

Bee Media Acquires Adcentricity To Unite Location-Based Advertising & Mobile Shopping

April 23rd, 2012 No comments

Bee Media, the makers of a mobile shopping platform that serves location-specific offers and info to mobile devices, today announced that it has acquired Adcentricity, a similarly location-focued digital media startup. Under the terms of the acquisition, Bee Media secures rights to the Adcentricity name and will operate as Adcentricity going forward. Doug Woolridge, the current CEO of Bee Media will take the helm of the joint venture as its new CEO, while Adcentricity CEO Rob Gorrie will become a senior strategic advisor. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

So, why did the two companies agree to enter into the deal? Gorrie explains that there is a plethora of companies currently targeting different pieces of the shopping pie, whether it be local, marketing, mobile, in-store radio and video networks, all of which has led to a fractured landscape that limits their ability to grab the attention of (and find adoption by) big brands. The two companies believe that, in combining their assets, they will be able to more effectively target and distribute content across any digital channel with location attached to it. This includes mobile shopping apps, which Bee Media has been building over the last year.

Said another way, Bee Media has built expertise in consumer mobile apps, whereas Adcentricity specializes in the location-based delivery side of marketing, so together the two give brands, advertisers, and retailers a more unified platform that makes it easy to create, launch, and measure hyper-local mobile marketing campaigns.

The new Adcentricity aims to help brands execute and respond to localized events and activities, and to easily scale communication and campaign creation to include thousands of places and big customers bases. To do this, it will be leveraging existing products (and continue to offer ADCentral, a hub for venue-specific planning, targeting and content creation) and in turn is today announcing two new products, ADMobile and ADFormat, designed to give brands access to new channels and functionalities in one platform.

ADMobile, for one, offers brands and advertisers to use a single platform for creating location-based mobile shopping experiences, which includes mobile interfaces, shopping tools, location services, mobile payment, content management, analytics and reporting. Its second product, ADFormat, builds on the service’s customizable shopping experiences with an automated content generation tool which enables advertisers to easily create customizable campaigns, be they video, copy, images, or graphics, for any screen. Those campaigns can then be uniquely messaged to any market or location.

Adcentricity has already worked with brands like Toyota, American Express, GM, Samsung, and more, and will be looking to capitalize on its strategic partnerships with The Nielsen Company, Polk, Environics Analytics, Computer Sciences Corporation and PwC, and build upon those. It hopes that an integrated platform that enables the creation, localization, and distribution of ad campaigns to any and all location-based digital media will have the appeal to do just that.

Categories: mobile, startups Tags:

The Mobile Paradox

April 15th, 2012 No comments

Google’s stock declined by over 4% yesterday. Many have put this down to the company’s decision to create a non-voting class of stock as part of a control-retention exercise as the founders sell shares. But more is going on here.

In the same week Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion as part of its efforts to be more relevant on the growing mobile platform, Google, for the second consecutive quarter, suffered a decline in “Cost Per Click” rates that is in large part attributable to the shift in traffic from the desktop/laptop to the mobile platform.

wrote about this last quarter. I also posted on my personal blog in between quarters.

I believe what we are seeing here is the start of a secular trend that represents nothing less than the end of the web 2.0 era where we all consumed services through a browser on a computer. Replacing that era is a new, app-based, message-centric mobile Internet. In this new era the essential unit of advertising (a page based ad, whether text, display or anything else) is simply the wrong monetization vehicle. Something new has to emerge.

It is worth examining the earnings call in detail because these points were clearly articulated on the call by all Google executives.

Patrick Pichette, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Google, speaking on the company’s quarterly conference call this week, said the following:

“Aggregate cost-per-click growth was down 12% and down 6% quarter-over-quarter.”

The statement represented the only negative on the call which had generally reported a very strong financial quarter.

Pichette was compelled to explain:

“So given the recent trends in CPCs and clicks, allow me to spend a bit of time today addressing this. The most important thing for you to understand is that our business is healthy. We believe that shifts in CPC and paid clicks taken independently really do not reflect the fundamental health of our business.”

What? This was a huge quarter and the CFO is almost pleading with the listening analysts to believe that Google has a healthy business. A cynic would quickly draw the conclusion that there is smoke here, and so – most likely a fire.

So Pichette explained more:

“Now allow me some details on this. In general, we attribute these trends to a combination of really 5 core factors. Those include FX, and then there’s 3 mix effects. For example, the mobile versus tablet versus desktop shifts, emerging markets versus developed markets shifts and even the basics of google.com versus our network. And then finally, ads quality changes which is also a huge factor.”

“Many in the financial community have tried to isolate or often I hear pick one of these among these factors as the primary driver for CPC or click trends. Some even say it’s about — all about mobile. Others suggest that it indicates weakness in demand for Google advertising. Well, on the latter point, I want to be very clear that that’s not the case.”

On the latter point indeed. What about the former point? Let’s repeat it: “. Some even say it’s about — all about mobile.” 

Count me in the camp of the “some”. I don’t say this in any negative or gloating spirit. But isn’t it obvious? As Android, iPhone and other mobile platforms grow we are moving away from the page based Internet. The new Internet is app centric and often message-centric. The number of users engaged in this app-centric and message-centric Internet is both huge and their use is growing. People used Instagram for images, not Flickr or Picasa. They use Foursquare for checkins not Facebook. And they do so in large numbers and they do it a lot.

In this world, page-based ads, interstitials, pop-ups; pop-under; pop-over; and most of the other web era advertising units make absolutely no sense. And this is irrespective of whether they are text ads or display ads. Sure some will attract clicks, but for the most part they are ignored or worse still hated. And advertisers will not see the ROI in being in the mobile world using those methods.

As a web-era company, being heavily invested in a web-centric content and application ecosystem is becoming a liability. Facebook is challenged by this shift – hence Instagram; Google is also challenged by it. Yahoo has effectively been killed by it.

Listening analysts on the call didn’t miss the opportunity to focus on this point. At about the 35 minute mark on the call Mark Mahaney from CitiGroup asked:

“And then just real quickly on the mobile CPC issue. Can you just comment again on over time, over what period of time you would expect mobile and desktop CPCs to merge or do you think that’s a realistic expectation? What would cause that to happen or not?”

Pichette answered:

“Think of it as so much upside for us because essentially mobile is exploding in query growth and the formats themselves are just adapting already a lot and from a relatively crude base to so much more in the future. So that you’re absolutely right that right now, they don’t monetize as well because we’re kind of in what search used to be in 2002, 2003, 2004. So as these formats kind of continue to get better and better, we’d expect much better performance on them.”

Larry Page, possibly perturbed by that answer, intervened:

“This is Larry. I’ll add something, Mark. I think the mobile CPCs — I mean, people always spend their most effort on the major — whatever the major source of traffic or revenue is, and those are growing really quickly, albeit currently, obviously, there’s more on desktop. … The fact that you spend most of your money locally, I think that over time that may actually reverse and the CPCs action may get better. But I think we’re very bullish about that. We’re making a lot of investments in that area, in things like Offers and so on and Wallet. And we’re very, very excited about the potential there, and also Click-to-Call and other things that we do.”

The final question on the call at about 58 minutes was asked by Anthony Di Clemente from Barclay’s:

Just one question for Nikesh or whomever wants to answer it. It seems like even though as you’re shifting to mobile, you have this presumably double-digit pricing step down for CPCs. But in the Display world, certainly, that pricing difference could be even more dramatic. In some cases, by half or 2/3. Prices getting cut on that shift to mobile. And so you guys at Google have the unique ability to compare and contrast the difference in price between like Search and Display and how the two are monetizing relative to desktop. And so any color on that comparison would be appreciated because I think there are folks out there that have a view that actually Search, core Search, monetizes better on that shift to mobile than Display does, and I would love to just understand that better.”

Nikesh Arora, Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer responded:

“Yes, I mean, I guess — let me try to just explain to it from the advertiser perspective. So what we’re striving towards is advertisers are interested in ROI. Advertisers actually are not interested in whether they’re on the mobile product, the Display product, the Search product on the Web or the Search product on mobile. So what we are fast converging towards is we’re basically sitting down and understanding ROI targets of our advertisers. And then we have immense amounts of inventory at our behest, whether it’s mobile inventory, on Display or Search or desktop inventory or even inventory to our network. And what we are trying to work towards is being able to dynamically allocate across these various products, what allows them to get the maximum ROI.  … In the long-term, we think mobile will monetize better. And we usually don’t see the difference happening on Display and Search as you alluded to. Larry, you want to add something?”

I will leave it to the reader to draw your own conclusions here. But one thing is for sure: Something big and dramatic is happening. Expect a lot more movement in the mobile space as the desktop giants get a better sense of the issues. And as for that Facebook acquisition of Instagram, it may not impact the real threat that mobile represents to Facebook – the threat of falling monetization due to the impracticality of delivering ads derived from the web era to a mobile audience.

Editor’s note: Guest author Keith Teare is General Partner at his incubator Archimedes Labs and CEO of just.me. He was a co-founder of TechCrunch. Follow him on Twitter @kteare.

For information on how drive ROI with your digital media and mobile strategy, contact us at Meticul Solutions.

Categories: google Tags:

15 Ways Mobile will Change our Lives

April 9th, 2012 No comments

NEW YORK, NY - JWT, the world’s best-known marketing communications brand, explores the emerging trends and insights coming out of the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month.

“If one thing’s clear, mobile will disrupt it all, and earlier than we could have expected. The pace at which technology is reshaping the world will only speed up, and many innovations that we may believe belong to the future are here already or even in our past,” said Alex Pallete, JWT Planning Director. “Online ubiquity provides the catalyst for a new understanding of what mobile means, what mobile does and how it is experienced.”

JWT’s “15 Ways Mobile Will Change Our Lives” outlines key takeaways based on the hundreds of panels, keynotes and exhibitors from Mobile World Congress, providing real-world examples to illustrate the ideas.

Executive Summary:

1. Everything Is ‘Smart’: It’s no longer just our mobile phones that are getting “smart”—that is, gaining access to the Web and the ability to communicate wirelessly. All kinds of things, from cars to refrigerators and entire homes, are getting connected in this way as well. Down the road, as more manufacturers embed WiFi, SIM cards and other technologies into more products, expect anything and everything to link in to the intelligent Internet of Things.

2. Widening Access: Internet access is incredibly important to people around the globe. Mobile providers are expanding infrastructure in rural areas and bolstering existing systems to ensure that more people can communicate, while manufacturers are producing low cost devices that will open up Web access to millions.

3. The Humanization of Tech: As voice and gesture control become more common, our technology (mobile included) will adapt to us, rather than us adapting to it. Our digital experiences will become simpler and more user-friendly.

4. Mobile Device as Wellness Guru: Smartphones will help people lead healthier lives by providing information, recommendations and reminders based on data gathered through sensors embedded in users’ clothing (shoes, wristbands, etc.) or through other phone capabilities (motion detectors, cameras, etc.).

5. Mobile Device as Lifesaver: Internet-enabled mobile devices are becoming important tools in broadening access to health care, diagnosing diseases and saving lives in crisis situations.

6. Smartphone as Everything Interface: The smartphone will become the key interface between connected devices and products (the Internet of Things) and their users. Among other things, people will use the device to remotely control household appliances, interact with screens and automatically adjust car settings to their preferences.

7. Seamless Living: As all kinds of devices get connected to cloud services, mobile technology will help us navigate the world more seamlessly. And as key players like Microsoft, Google and Apple expand their product lines across devices—from televisions to tablets—we’ll see more unified experiences across platforms.

8. Mobile Identity: The mobile device will become a summation of who we are all in one place. It will be packed with personal information and images we’ve accumulated over time and serve as our mobile wallet and keychain, enabled by secure and seamless technologies such as Bluetooth and NFC (near field communication).

9. Friction-free purchasing: The smartphone will become a passkey to the retail experience. QR codes allow smartphone users to shop anytime, anywhere, as we’re seeing with the rise of retailers’ coded out-of-home displays. The integration of NFC in handsets will enable fast and easy mobile payments. And as e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailing integrate and overlap, shopping may entail simply snapping a photo or tapping a sensor, then collecting the order or having it immediately delivered.

10. Media Multitasking: The mobile is becoming a complement to or distraction from most other types of media platforms and content. Consumers are hopping between screens (and the printed page), toying with their tablet or smartphone as they watch television, play video games, work on their computer and so on.

11. Access Over Ownership: With the proliferation of cloud-based services and Internet-enabled devices, consumers will shift from owning media to accessing it through subscriptions however they want (via various connected devices) and wherever they want.

12. Hyper-Personalization: Mobile devices will increasingly use the data they’re privy to—from purchases made to social interactions to location—to offer information tailored to the user. They will analyze past and current behavior and activity to provide recommendations on where to go, what to do and what to buy.

13. The Data-Sharing Debate: Mobile owners are growing more aware of the value of their personal data. While third parties will seek access to more data (location, browsing history, social graph, etc.) in order to fine-tune personalization engines, people will increasingly think more closely about what they’re willing to share.

14. Security Consciousness: App usage, mobile browsing and mobile payments all put personal data at risk, and security threats are rising. We’ll also see a rise in cloud security concerns and claimed solutions as people share more personal data with third parties and as more businesses store customer and proprietary information in the cloud.

15. “NoMoPhobia”: This term for “no mobile phobia” refers to the fear people feel when separated from their mobile device. With the mobile in particular, our attachments are deepening as the smartphone evolves into an indispensible Everything Hub and as it becomes more closely linked to our identity. Increasingly, going without this appendage will provoke real anxiety.

Report Shares Findings From GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

Additional knowledge and research on JWTIntelligence.com includes recent trend reports on food, music, social commerce and the travel sector, 10 Trends for 2012 and 100 Things to Watch in 2012.

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