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Gartner Says by 2014, 80 Percent of Current Gamified Applications Will Fail to Meet Business Objectives Primarily Due to Poor Design

November 28th, 2012 No comments

STAMFORD, Conn., November 27, 2012— Article re-published from Gartner

As gamification moves from the leading edge to more widespread use by early adopters, now is the time to understand and evaluate this important trend, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gamification is currently being driven by novelty and hype. Gartner predicts that by 2014, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily because of poor design.

“The challenge facing project managers and sponsors responsible for gamification initiatives is the lack of game design talent to apply to gamification projects,” said Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner. “Poor game design is one of the key failings of many gamified applications today.”

“The focus is on the obvious game mechanics, such as points, badges and leader boards, rather than the more subtle and more important game design elements, such as balancing competition and collaboration, or defining a meaningful game economy,” Mr. Burke said. “As a result, in many cases, organizations are simply counting points, slapping meaningless badges on activities and creating gamified applications that are simply not engaging for the target audience. Some organizations are already beginning to cast off poorly designed gamified applications.”

Gamification is the use of game design and game mechanics to engage a target audience to change behaviors, learn new skills or engage in innovation. The target audience may be customers, employees or the general public, but first and foremost, they are people with needs and desires who will respond to stimuli. It is important to think of the people in these target audiences as “players” in gamified applications.

While game mechanics such as points and badges are the hallmarks of gamification, the real challenge is to design player-centric applications that focus on the motivations and rewards that truly engage players more fully. Game mechanics like points, badges and leader boards are simply the tools that implement the underlying engagement models.

Gamification describes the use of the same design techniques and game mechanics found in all games, but it applies them in non-game contexts including: customer engagement, employee performance, training and education, innovation management, personal development, sustainability and health. Virtually all areas of business could benefit from gamification as it can help to achieve three broad business objectives 1) to change behavior; 2) to develop skills; or 3) to enable innovation. While these objectives are very broad, more opportunities may emerge as the trend matures.

Changing Behaviors - The most common use of gamification is to engage a specific audience and encourage them to change a target set of behaviors. By turning the desired behavior change into a game, people become engaged and encouraged to adopt new habits. For example:

  • Brands can leverage gamification to engage consumers to better understand their products, and become advocates for the brand to provide product endorsements, and drive customer loyalty.
  • Companies can use gamification to improve employee performance and to motivate adoption of new business processes.

Developing Skills - Gamification is increasingly being used in both formal education and in corporate training programs to engage students in a more immersive learning experience. While many approaches are being used, they can generally be divided into two categories:

  • Building a game layer on top of the lesson material, where competition and/or collaboration between students is encouraged with game mechanics such as points for actions, badges for rewards and leader boards for competition.
  • Turning the lesson into a game, where in addition to the game layer of points and badges, simulation and animation is used to immerse the studentS in the environment and allow them to practice new skills in a safe, virtual environment that provides immediate feedback.

Enabling Innovation - Innovation games are typically structured quite differently than games designed to change behavior or develop skills. Innovation games use emergent game structures that provide the goals, rules, tools and play space for the players to explore, experiment, collaborate and solve problems. Innovation games generally use game mechanics to create a more engaging experience, but the key is to engage lots of players, solving problems through crowdsourcing.

“As gamification moves from being leveraged by a limited number of leading-edge innovators to becoming more broadly adopted by early adopters, it is important that CIOs and IT leaders understand the underlying principle of gamification and how to apply it within the IT organization,” said Mr. Burke.

Additional information is available in the Gartner Special Report “Gamification: Engagement Strategies for Business and IT”. The Special Report can be viewed athttp://www.gartner.com/technology/research/gamification/, and includes links to reports and video commentary that examine the impact of gamification on enterprises.

Mr. Burke will provide additional analysis during the Gartner webinar, “Gamification Trends and Strategies to Help Prepare for the Future” on November 28 at 8 a.m. and 11. a.m. EST. To register for this complimentary webinar, please visithttp://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=202&mode=2&PageID=5553&resId=2191918&ref=Webinar-Calendar.

 

Contacts:

Christy Pettey
Gartner
+1 408 468 8312
christy.pettey@gartner.com

Rob van der Meulen
Gartner
+44 0 1784 267892
rob.vandermeulen@gartner.com

About Gartner:
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner to clients in 12,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 5,000 associates, including 1,280 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, www.gartner.com.

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Google Fiber!

September 14th, 2012 No comments

Google’s highly-anticipated plan to build an ultra-fast city broadband network kicked into gear Monday with the search giant’s announcement that it will begin laying miles of fiber-optic cable across Kansas City, Kansas and neighboring Kansas City, Missouri. Google said it aims to create a new “high speed infrastructure” that will allow local citizens to enjoy data speeds 100 times the national average. Google’s goal? To show off its telecom engineering chops and showcase next-generation web-applications. Oh, and maybe shame the big national broadband providers into improving U.S. Internet service speed, which currently lags behind many other countries around the world.

 

Google’s Kansas City network is not just a stunt: the company is implicitly making a broader point about the lack of broadband competition in the U.S., which is one of the reasons broadband is slower and more expensive here. If Google is successful, it could embarrass  — or at least call out — existing ISPs once it becomes clear that much faster broadband speeds are possible in major U.S. cities. For comparison, Verizon’s ultra high-end FiOS plan tops out at 150 megabits-per-second. Google’s Kansas City network will boast blazing speeds of 1 gigabit-per-second, or nearly seven-times that of Verizon. (HD streaming-video to the living-room, anyone?)

Google first announced the project in February of 2010, saying it wanted “to make a meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone.” Over 1,000 cities expressed interest, and last year, Google selected Kansas City as the first city for the test program (and later expanded to neighboring Kansas City, Missouri). Google spent several months hammering out the details with local officials, including where the company could hang its fiber cables on city utility poles. Now, all systems are go, Google’s Kevin Lo wrote in a company blog post. Google isn’t saying how much the network will cost, only that it will offer the super-fast broadband service at “competitive” prices for consumers. But let’s face it: Google isn’t going to match its sky-high search ad profits with this venture, and may actually lose money in the short-term. So what’s Google’s game here?

(MoreGoogle Taps Kansas City for Crazy-Speed Internet)

Google wants more people online with faster connections, in order to better provide and expand its web-based services around the country. That’s why Google has traditionally advocated for open, high-speed networks and complained about U.S. broadband speeds. “By several measures, no matter who you ask, the U.S. in far too many places still lags behind many countries in Europe and Asia in terms of broadband speed, availability, and uptake,” Richard Whitt, Google’s top D.C. telecom lawyer, wrote when the company’s initiative was first announced.

Google is not alone in its concern. Last year, a study found that U.S. broadband speeds ranked 26th in the world, far behind South Korea, Romania and Bulgaria. Nearly one-third of U.S. residents, meanwhile, or 100 million Americans, don’t have high-speed Internet access at home, compared to Singapore and Korea where the adoption rates are over 90 percent, according to the Federal Communications Commission. What’s more, studies have shown that U.S. broadband service costs more than in other countries. Of course, it’s much easier to wire South Korea, with its relatively new infrastructure, than the U.S., which has a vast and often rugged geography. But that’s not the only reason U.S. service is slower and more expensive.

Lack of competition is also a problem. In many markets, there are only two options for broadband service, and without more competition, the companies that offer it have little incentive to improve service or lower prices. “Without a major policy shift to increase competition, broadband service in the United States will continue to lag far behind the rest of the developed world,” Yochai Benkler, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has written. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has embarked on a high-profile plan to improve the state of U.S. broadband, in part by using the $8 billion Universal Service Fund to help expand broadband access in rural, under-served areas. But real improvement will only come with more competition.

Enter Google. This isn’t the first time the search giant has used its clout to try to nudge the incumbent broadband providers. Google owns vast swaths of so-called “dark fiber” — unused cable that it picked up for cheap after the dot-com bust, and in 2008 the company bid $4.6 billion for a highly-valuable chunk of wireless spectrum known as the 700Mhz C Block. Verizon Wireless ultimately snagged the spectrum for $4.7 billion, but Google’s bid triggered FCC “open access” provisions that the search giant favored. Many analysts view Google’s ultra-high-speed broadband initiative in a similarly strategic light. In the end, it’s highly unlikely that Google will begin offering fiber-to-the-home broadband on a nation-wide basis. But Google will have made its point.

Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/02/07/why-googles-insanely-fast-kansas-city-network-could-shame-u-s-isps/#ixzz26TH67M4A

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Mobile Apps – Fun or Functional?

May 7th, 2012 No comments

Latest research shows how preferences for apps differ for smartphone and tablet owners.

London, 3 May 2012 New research by leading online research provider, Lightspeed Research (part of Kantar and WPP) shows social apps such as Facebook are used most frequently by smartphone owners with almost three quarters (73%) accessing social networks through apps daily and a further 19% at least weekly. By contrast, tablet owners are more likely to use functional apps such as business apps (63%) or finance / banking apps (56%) daily rather than social networking apps (32%), indicating that usage patterns of smartphones and tablet users are different.

Fun or functional?
The top three most used kinds of apps on a smartphone are social networking, news and weather. By comparison, for tablet owners the top three are games, business, and finance & banking.

Paid-for apps in demand, particularly by iPhone owners
Smartphone users are still willing to pay a premium for apps with 48% of all smartphone respondents reporting a mixture of both paid-for and free apps. However when this is split by device, iPhone users are significantly more likely to have a mixture of paid-for and free apps than Android users (71% v 35%).

Amongst those who have at least some paid-for apps on their phone, two thirds (66%) have paid for up to 30% of their apps, but only one in five (23%)has paid for 50% or more of their apps.

The most popular app price point is £3 or less
More than two thirds (69%) of smartphone or tablet owners who use paid-for apps have paid not more than £3 for an app. However the research reveals that one in ten smartphone or tablet users has paid more than £5 for an app, indicating that there is some level of demand for premium priced apps. Tablet owners spend more on apps than smartphone owners: 19% had spent more than £30 on them in the past six months. Just over one in four (42%) tablet owners had spent less than £10 in total buying apps over the past six months.

Multiscreen use increasingly popular
Nearly a third (31%) of smartphone or tablet users agree that they’re less likely to be paying 100% of their attention to the TV when its on – they’ll normally be using their smartphone or tablet at the same time, indicating that advertising on the variety of screens available to consumers is increasingly important for brands.

Ralph Risk, Marketing Director Europe says “It is clear that smartphone and tablet users are multi-taskers, with many using their devices to browse the web and update social networks whilst taking part in other activities, like watching TV. But with the different content usage and take-up rates on smartphones compared to tablets, brands and marketers need to ensure that they are providing apps that meet the different needs of consumers when using those two devices, be that business, gaming or social. ”

Ends

For press enquiries please contact:
Ralph Risk, Marketing Director Europe – Lightspeed Research
rrisk@lightspeedresearch.com Tel +44 (0)20 7896 1950 / +44 (0)7876 507689
Lucy Green, Greenfields Communications
lucy@greenfieldscommunications.com T: 07817 698366

About Lightspeed Research
Lightspeed Research is part of Kantar, the information insight and consultancy division of WPP.Lightspeed Research delivers valuable data to help clients make informed business decisions. With proprietary online panels throughout the world, our verified, engaged, and deeply profiled survey respondents can support research studies that vary in scope and complexity. Lightspeed Research’s expert Client Operations Team offers data collection services including survey design, sample management, programming and reporting. The company has offices throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

For more information, please visit www.lightspeedresearch.com.

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Mobile Security’s Future: 4 Expert Predictions

September 28th, 2011 No comments

Mobile Security’s Future: 4 Expert Predictions

Despite gloomy predictions, the amount of malicious software affecting mobile devices today is miniscule, primarily because mobile app stores act as a first line of defense against the pernicious programs. Also, criminals have not seen massive potential for profit on the devices–yet.
“The bad guys care about money, like credit-card information,” says Charlie Miller, principal consultant with security compliance firm Accuvant. “Phones are full of personal contacts and embarrassing stuff, but not things that are easily monetized.”
Traditionally, IT works in a break-fix mode within operational silos.

Discover the benefits of a holistic approach to IT management.
The lack of obvious ways to profit from hacking phones has left them fairly free of attack. Yet, the historical lack of malware looks ready to change, which means that users will not be able to solely rely on app stores to protect them. Here are four predictions for the future of mobile security.

1. More Alluring Means More Threats

Charlie Miller, principal consultant at Accuvant, says certain characteristics of smartphones have dissuaded criminals from focusing on attacking the devices. They include the fact that smartphones have not historically accounted for a large share of the mobile market, that there are a handful of platforms, and the data on the phones has never been that valuable.

Each of those points is now changing, and that means that workers and consumers can expect their phones to be targeted, he says.

“As more people put sensitive data on their phones or use their phones to do sensitive things, like banking or shopping online, then slowly the malware authors and cybercrminal-type guys are going to go after the devices,” says Miller, who successfully compromised an iPhone 4 at this year’s Pwn2Own competition at CanSecWest. “Smartphones are a little more locked down then PCs, but the bad guys will be able to exploit them.”

[ See how one company provides security for Android smartphones ]

The introduction of a number of digital wallet programs that allow users to pay for goods using their phones is likely to attract more attention from criminals, he says.

The code review carried out by Apple eliminates many threats to that company’s iPhones and iPads. Even in the absence of code review, Google’s Android Marketplace, the open-source equivalent to Apple’s closed-source store, can quickly remove any malicious apps and remotely delete them from users’ devices. Yet, mobile-device users should not merely rely on the software ecosystem to keep malware off their phones, Miller adds. Even though Google has the ability to remove malware from a phone, the program could still do bad and irreversible damage in a short time.

“While you don’t have worry about the [malicious] app being there forever, the bad thing is that someone might have all your data, at that point,” he says.

2. Work Separates From Play

William Enck, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University, says another major change in the way people interact with their phones will be the introduction of ways to separate work applications and data from a person’s personal data and programs. Enck co-authored a paper presented at the USENIX Security Conference on Android security.

“You are running business software on this phone that you are doing personal stuff as well–that’s a concern for companies,” Enck says. “There is a need for providing systems to create some separation between the apps you are running personally, and the apps you are running for business.”

While some consumers will only want one instance of some programs, such as the address book, other programs have specific business functions. Virtual private networking software, data viewers and visualizers that handle corporate data, and collaboration software could all be run in a separate virtual instance on the device to protect the applications and data from unauthorized use, he says.

“Phones may, in the future, have the ability to give certain guarantees of confidentiality for certain data, while allow other applications to interact as necessary,” Enck says.

RIM’s Balance for the BlackBerry separates the personal and work aspects of a phone. VMware has teamed up with LG to sell a smartphone with two virtual instances on it–one for business use and another for personal use. VMware has broader plans for mobile, as well.

3. Patching Becomes Quicker

Tim Vidas, an Android researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, notes that the chain of software suppliers for most smartphones is a long list. Once a vulnerability is spotted, it has to get fixed by the developer, added to the latest Android operating system by Google, recompiled into the manufacturer’s version of the firmware, and checked by the carrier. In all, it can take months, if not years, for a security patch to reach the user’s phone.

Patches have to come faster, so as not to leave phones vulnerable to attack via known flaws, says Vidas, a PhD student in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the university.

“You could differentiate the patch cycles for security versus features,” Vidas says. “Then, when Google makes a security patch available, that could go directly to the phone.”

Google has not commented on its plans to speed patching, except that it is working with handset makers and carriers on the issues. Apple is moving to over-the-air updates in iOS 5, which will increase the likelihood that a patch will actually be installed on a user’s phone.

Until then, mobile device management companies will have to find ways to protect the phone even if a patch is not available.

4. Location Tracking Does More

While location-based services have become common for mapping applications and some advertising services, they also may start becoming a way to automate security.

Wiping a phone that is lost or missing is only the most basic version of this capability. Some mobile-device management and wireless-security applications can change which applications can use the Internet based on whether an employee is in the office or at home. Stock brokers on the trading floor, for example, would not be able to use social-networking applications.

“We want to them to have full functionality when they are in their home or in the parking lot, but when they are in the company, we don’t want any third party that has a footprint on the device to listen in,” says Tom Kellerman, chief technology officer of wireless security firm AirPatrol. “We can triangulate the specific location of a device and push that information to be acted on by various other services and software.”

Paired with the increasing ability of mobile devices to segment work and personal data, these applications could prove even more helpful to enterprises.

Security pros weigh in on major trends that will change the way enterprises handle mobile threats, such as separate personal and work spaces on devices and faster patching.
By Rob Lemos, InformationWeek
September 28, 2011
URL: http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/mobile/231602227

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Google Pushes Mobile Site Optimization

September 27th, 2011 No comments

Google will introduce mobile optimization of Web sites for AdWords campaigns to drive mobile search traffic. On average, Google expects the ads to accelerate mobile traffic at lower costs.

The move follows last year’s decision to limit ad serving on high-end mobile devices when pointing to landing pages with Flash-heavy content. Both changes aim to give consumers better experiences on mobile devices. Sixty-one percent of users who participated in a recent Google study said they are unlikely to return to a Web site they had trouble accessing from their phone.

Sonja Lee, Google product marketing, said Wednesday that more than 925,000 mobile devices are activated daily. Mobile queries on google. com during the holiday season grew nearly three times from 2009 to 2010, and the company projects much higher growth in 2012. Google estimates that 44% of all shopping-related searches in the U.S. will come from mobile phones during the holiday season.

Developing a mobile site requires that goals be defined to support everything from an informational landing page to a product-specific microsite. Marketers need to analyze Web site tracking to see how mobile visitors interact with the desktop site.

A key foundation for mobile strategies includes setting up separate mobile-only campaigns and thinking local. Separating mobile ads improves click-through rates, on average, of 11.5%, according to Google. Once mobile campaigns are in place, optimize and set bids.

While ad space is limited on mobile phones, they are more prominent compared with desktop search. Marketers need to bid for either the first or the second position. Anything else serves up below the organic search results. Google released a new optimizing tool to adjust bids and analyze performance. When possible, provide a call to action appropriate for mobile users, such as “Call today for a quote” or “Browse our catalog from tablet.”

Creating mobile campaigns may require using a mobile-specific keyword tool that can help to find mobile-specific keyword ideas and traffic estimates. Local interest enhances mobile advertising. One out of three searches on mobile has local intent on google.com. And Google research shows 61% of users call the business after finding it from a search on a mobile ad, and 59% visit the physical location.

W3C Validator: A Spell & Grammar Checker for Website Code

August 19th, 2011 No comments

W3C Validator: A Spell & Grammar Checker for Website Code

To make a good customer impression on the web, businesses owners need to ensure a clean and clear website. One way is by using a W3C validator. Think of it this way; if you were writing an important report or a letter to a customer, you would want to use a spell and grammar checker to catch unintended errors. Website markup also has a syntax and grammar that needs to be checked. Business owners need to be sure that they have not overlooked potential flaws in the markup code. Similar to word processing applications, web browsers do not distinguish invalid from valid statements. As a result, your web sites may look fine at first glance but have compromised functionality. For example, people may not be able to find information about a product because the link is missing or there is some invalid text. Using a W3C validator helps reduce this risk.

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German court bans sale of Galaxy Tab 10.1, says Apple

August 12th, 2011 No comments

A German court has issued a temporary ban on the sale of a Samsung digital product in every single EU member state with the exception of the Netherlands, according to media reports.

Apple was successfully granted the injunction against the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the UK and every other EU member state apart from the Netherlands, the reports said. The tablet computer product is a rival to Apple’s iPad.

Apple alleges that Samsung has violated its Community design rights over the way the Galaxy Tab 10.1 looks, according to a report.

A registered Community design is a monopoly right for the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials of the product or its ornamentation.

Applications are filed at the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market. Approved Community designs cover all 25 member states of the European Union.

In order to qualify for Community design rights, designs must be new and have individual character. To be new, the design is required to differ from known designs by more than “immaterial details”. To have individual character a design must create a different overall impression on an informed user. Although a design application can be filed up to one year after the design has been made public, it is preferable that a design application is filed as soon as the design is created.

Community design rights can last up to 25 years, although the designs must be renewed every five years within that period.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban is in place with immediate effect, an Apple spokesman has said, according to the report.

“It’s no coincidence that Samsung’s latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging,” an Apple statement said.

“This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple’s intellectual property when companies steal our ideas,” Apple said.

Samsung said it was “disappointed” with the decision of the Dűssledorf district court, according to Reuters.

“The request for injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung,” Samsung said, according to the Reuters report.

“We will take all necessary measures to ensure Samsung’s innovative mobile communications devices are available to customers in Europe and around the world,” the statement said.
Copyright © 2011, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Source:http://www.theregister.co.uk

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Facebook Phone

July 7th, 2011 No comments

On Wednesday Facebook and Skype announced that you can now make free video calls to friends in Facebook. It radically simplifies the process of conducting video conversations and will enable even the most gadget-challenged to use this sophisticated modern technology. And it points toward a near future when Facebook becomes even more embedded into the fabric of modern life.
Facebook and Skype are natural partners. Facebook operates what is essentially a directory of humanity—an index of 750 million people identified by their real names and photos. (CEO Mark Zuckerberg today confirmed that figure for the first time.) Skype, for its part, operates the largest network for online voice and video calling. Doesn’t it make sense to combine them to create a better way to find the people we want to talk to?

Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz used to rant against something he calls “representational identity”—associating people with numbers, for example, instead of their names. Why should I have to keep track of someone’s home number, cell number, work number, Skype address, email address, IM account, Twitter name, and all the other ways they have to label themselves? Why shouldn’t we instead be able to simply click on our friend’s name and connect to them? That is the breakthrough today’s Facebook-Skype announcement points toward, though it by no means gets us all the way there.

After today’s announcement, representatives of Skype gave Business Insider the news that the next move for the Skype-Facebook partnership will be to enable you to dial any offline phone number from inside Facebook. This again will make unnecessary the downloads of Skype software and setting up of accounts, which has been required up to now and which surely deterred many millions from trying this useful service. And here Skype will begin to see a financial benefit from its partnership with Facebook. While the new video chat feature is free and is not even branded “Skype,” it will cost money to dial a regular phone from inside Facebook, just as Skype today charges a few pennies a minute for dialing outside numbers using its regular service. Facebook will likely require users to pay with the internal Facebook currency it calls Credits, bolstering that product’s usefulness.

Another inevitable development in the near-term will be enabling us to make voice or video calls to anyone on our Facebook friend list—or potentially anyone at all inside Facebook—merely by clicking on their name. This will strike another major blow against “representational identity” and when it happens will almost certainly be wildly popular. Such a move would effectively convert Facebook into a better interface for Skype, but make unnecessary those Skype addresses and the hassles of setting up an account. And of course this will be most useful when it is possible not just on our PCs but on our mobile phones, where we are all increasingly doing all our calling. And that, too, is just a matter of time.

It’s a clubby deal. Skype is about to be acquired by Microsoft. Microsoft and Facebook are longtime partners. Both Microsoft and Facebook fear and increasingly loathe Google. The Facebook-Skype nexus makes possible features and functions for communication that Google can only dream of. Thus there is great incentive for Skype’s new owner to encourage an ever-tighter connection between Facebook and its division.

How all this will eventually dovetail with Microsoft’s new partnership with mobile phone maker Nokia and Microsoft’s evolution of its own Windows 7 Mobile phone software is anybody’s guess, but mark my words—it will somehow dovetail. Perhaps someday soon we will have a Facebook phone manufactured by Nokia powered by Windows that is especially tuned for Skype.

Facebook is becoming a central facility for communications of many sorts—a new kind of telco, you might say. It is a far cry from being merely the Website your kids use to arrange to meet at the mall.

But today it remains trendy for supposedly sophisticated adults still to pooh-pooh Facebook, especially in developed countries like the U.S. and in Western Europe. “It’s just a plaything for kids,” they say. Or “I don’t have time for another form of communication. Why do I need Facebook?” Once Facebook and Skype broaden and deepen their partnership and Facebook becomes the easiest and cheapest place to make any kind of call, that kind of talk is likely to just slowly die away.

Source:http://powerwall.msnbc.msn.com

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Firefox 5 Beta 2 Lands, Opera Mini 6 Released for iPhone, iPad

May 25th, 2011 No comments

These days the Mozilla Foundation is feeling the heat.  Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has delivered a surprisingly sporty and compatible Internet Explorer 9.  And Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Chrome browser is becoming the first new browser in some time to gobble up a significant market share.

I. Firefox 5 Blazes Ahead on Schedule

But nothing lays concerns to rest better than adopting an aggressive schedule and sticking to it.  That’s exactly what Mozilla did, with the release of Firefox 5′s second beta.

Delivered right on schedule, the new build features speed improvements and a number of new features, including:

  • Added support for CSS animations
  • Added support for switching Firefox development channels
  • The Do-Not-Track header preference has been moved to increase discoverability
  • Improved canvas, JavaScript, memory, and networking performance
  • Improved standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL, and canvas
  • Improved spell checking for some locales
  • Improved desktop environment integration for Linux users

The inclusion of CSS animations support was particularly important, as the Webkit source (which Chrome and Apple, Inc.’s (AAPL) Safari browser are based on) already supports it.  Mozilla and its collaborators also made some tweaks to the GUI art, which they say are subtle, but will be noticed if you return to FF4.

Aside from new functionality and speed-ups, the beta also resolves many stability issues and other bugs that cropped up in Firefox 4.  A full log of these changes is found here.  Full release notes can be found here.  And last, but not least, the download can be found here.

Firefox 5 is scheduled to release June 21 — less than a month from now.  It will contend with Internet Explorer 10, which is currently being previewed, and Chrome 12, which is currently being beta tested.

II. Opera Mini 6 Hits the iPad, iPhone

Yesterday also saw the release of Opera Mini 6 for the iPad and iPhone.  The first major release for the iOS platform since its launch title — Opera Mini 5 — Norwegian software company Opera Software ASA (OPERA) is hoping to replicate its previous success.  Opera saw 1 million downloads of Mini 5 for the iPhone/iPad in a mere 24 hours after its release.

Available on the iTunes store now for free, the new browser features:

  • Much faster and smoother panning and zooming
  • Share buttons which are compatible with My Opera, Facebook, Twitter or vKontakte
  • A new” jazzed-up” skin
  • Redesigned Opera menus

It also reportedly gives the browser a healthy injection of speed.

Opera’s, CEO Lars Boilesen compared the release to a rock concert, stating, “I would compare it to walking onto the stage and hearing the roar of the crowd. We have put in a lot of rehearsal and clever thought behind the new experience. The Opera Mini browser has always kicked up the tempo when downloading pages; now the browsing flows along to a smooth, easy beat.”

While Opera is seeing a bit more competition these days — namely from the Firefox Mobile browser for Android — it’s still makes the most used mobile browsing pair in the world, Opera Mini and Opera Mobile.  These mobile browsers are unique in that they leverage heavy server-side compression, something the competition still hasn’t embraced. The net effect for users is that in areas with poor signal or low data speeds pages load much faster in Opera Mini/Mobile than in their competitors.

Source: DailyTech LLC

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