Category Archives: Technology

Did Google create a better Facebook?

Facebook has been rolling out change after change in the last few months, coincidentally all of these changes seem to be spawned by the release of Google Plus. Is that odd timing or did Facebook realize that having a major motion picture about your founder is not enough to keep people happy.

When Google Plus launched, they had a feature set that blew Facebook out of the water, most notably was the video chat function that users had been begging for for years. The only problem was that Facebook had and still has the audience. Its not easy to move your social habits from one platform to the other when all your friends are still using the platform you left.

Facebook seems to have realized that they were falling behind when it came to features. To try and keep their audience happy they went into a spree of new updates with Facebook places, photos and their team-up with Skype for video chat. They also included a redesign of their site that left most users with an awful taste in their mouth. This UI mistake and the recent opening of Google + to everyone (with or without an invite) could lead to more users jumping ship to G+, or at least trying it out. That only bodes well for Google.

Facebook hasn’t stopped though. They’ve already started working on a new feature called, ‘gestures’ where users can instead of ‘liking’ something, click a ‘watched’, ‘read’ or ‘listened’ button to help increase user interaction and reduce the anxiety of promoting something with a ‘like’. Odds are that Facebook won’t go the route of MySpace and more than likely will correct their mistake and launch a UI fix and even more features to solidify their stronghold in the social media market. Regardless of how they end up, Google needs to start promoting their product if they want to stay in the race. In the meantime, I think we can all thank Google for a better Facebook.

Netflix Forgot Convenience!

Qwikster

As of late, Netflix has been dealing with quite a bit of customer backlash. When they raised their prices, nearly doubling the price for their service, a rash of customers dropped the service and the stock price has crashed. To try and cushion themselves from this negative press the Netflix CEO sent out an email to all of the customers and posted the email on their blog explaining their rationale and some new changes. What they may have overlooked however is what made them so appealing in the first place…Convenience!

In the interest of full disclosure, I use Netflix. Even after the price increase, I’m still using Netflix and probably will not be switching anytime soon. When they decided to increase their pricing structure, I was angry, of course. Who wants to pay more for the same product? Definitely not me, but I also understood, it was an incredibly cheap service and still is even after the price increase. It’s still only $18 a month!

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, sent out an email trying to better explain why they had to increase the prices.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

Hastings also went on to explain that they are splitting the existing Netflix business into two separate entities. Quikster for DVD’s by mail and Netflix for the online streaming movies. Customers will now be billed separately for each service and most importantly, the two services will no longer be integrated through the same website! Everything up to this line seemed ok. Obviously the backlash from customers and stockholders has pushed Netflix to try and salvage their reputation but why would you take away what really made Netflix great? The convenience!

People loved Netflix because Netflix did all the work. They mailed you the DVD and allowed you to stream movies without leaving your house and all on the same website. It was easy to use! Now I’ll be billed by two seperate companies and I’m going to have to log into two different sites to setup my queue? So what happens when a movie in my DVD queue comes out in streaming format? Instead of selecting to move it to my online queue do I have to remove it from my DVD queue, log out, log into Netflix and search for the movie in Netflix and add it to my stereaming queue? That’s too many steps for a modern web user, it’s not convenient! It’s taking Netflix back a few years and removing what made them so appealing. It’s all about convenience!

Spotify

I was recently ‘one of the first members to join spotify’ as they make it sound. I liked how they made it sound like i was joining an elite club. Somewhat taking a page from Google+ and how they made their membership restricted by invitation only. It makes the user feel like they just joined a very exclusive club when its really just a good marketing/PR tactic. It makes you feel like you have something no one else has, and everyone else will want it!

As for what Spotify delivers. Its a solid product. Amazon and Google may be fighting to keep your library of music online and available while Spotify and Pandora are fighting each other to make your personal online radio even better. For me, Spotify is a more controlled version of Pandora and a way to test out an album before I spend the money to actually download it…if its worth downloading. I can’t say how this compares with google music, as I haven’t tried it out yet, but I think it is a nice accompaniement to Amazon cloud drive/music player. I personally buy music through amazon and then listen and then use Spotify to find new music. I haven’t even touched Pandora recently and that used to be my go-to service.

One thing that was interesting to note about Spotify, according to this report the Free membership only lasts for six months. After that you’re limited to 10 hours per month and only five listens per song per month. That puts a bit of a damper on things but keeping in mind that it is a free service, it is a small price to pay. The biggest downfall for Spotify is that you can’t use it on your mobile unless you have a paid version of the service. Regardless, this is a nice addition to the music streaming programs that are currently available. In my mind, this is a perfect accompaniment to Pandora’s recommendation engine.

Google to Buy Motorola | A Big Move For The Mobile Market

Google to Buy MotorolaThis week amid a terrible a terrible financial forecast Google announces that they plan to purchase Motorola Mobility. At first glance this seems like an interesting move for Google, purchasing one of their largest partners for Android powered cell phones. Apparently however, the main reason Google made this purchase (assuming it gets approved) is to own all of the patents that Motorola owns (roughly 17,000 patents). Google hopes this will now keep companies like microsoft and Apple from suing or threatening to sue Google and their partners. This may also be why HTC and Samsung have said that they are behind this purchase. At least for now. Here is an interesting story from NPR that illustrates the patent suing game as a cold war standoff.

With all of that patent talk aside, the really exciting piece to this story is how this is going to affect Android smart phones and tablets in the future. An article recently came out from Fast Company, talking about how companies like Apple have done so well innovating new products because they were able to learn from manufacturing their own products. Could this move also put Google in that category? I think it might. It also might be the key to making Android even better than it already is. Previously Google would launch new flagship phones (G1 and Nexus specifically) without having spent as much time ensuring that the device itself stood up with the software it was running. Motorola should be able to provide the necessary help to ensure that Android devices, at least those made by Motorola, compare with the iPhone and any other mobile devices out there…Including tablets.
Google and Motorola

Google says it will remain ‘open’ but how long can that really last. Not necessarily on Google’s part, but looking at this through HTC and Samsung’s eyes, Motorola is now essentially a competitor who is trading with insider info. How long before they decide that its not worth the struggle to keep up? And Where do those manufacturers head if they decide its not worth it to stick with Android? Windows mobile? Thats a much more expensive operating system to run (Android is free). This would probably make Ballmer pretty happy because HTC makes great phones and if Windows could get their hands on a deal with HTC or Samsung, it would make their mobile operating system look a little better to a lot of people. Although the odds of that happening are slim to none.

The last piece to this puzzle are Android tablets and Google TV. Tablets are a no-brainer. Motorola could help make Android tablets THE tablet to buy in the same fashion as Andoid mobile devices, relegating the iPad to Steve’s fanboys. Google TV also stands to gain some ground as Motorola is actually a maker of many of the set top boxes. Their insight into improving the all-but-defunct Google TV could bring this idea back into living rooms across the country.

So what do you think about this purchase? Do you think it will even go through? And what about the future of mobile technology? let me know in the comments field below or send me a note on Twitter.

Looking for some more info on the purchase of Motorolla? Check out these articles.
Fast Company Reaction

TechCrunch Live blog of announcement

Where Does Google Plus fit in?

Google Plus

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard all about Google+ and you’ve probably also read all about how great it is. I’d have to agree, I think Google+ is great. I also love Twitter and I use it a lot. The problem I’m finding myself in is that I also use Facebook, but I’ve never been a huge fan of it ever since I graduated from college (even though I constantly find myself checking my wall on my phone). This is primarily a result, not of Facebook but of the vast amount of people who use Facebook (which of course is the real value of any social network).

Now that Google+ has been released into the wild and millions of users are flocking to it, how do I incorporate this new social network into my social media world? More specifically, how to manage all of my audiences? Before Google+ I’ve been pretty consistent about keeping my personal (Facebook) and professional (Twitter) lives separate with a few exceptions and overlap. Now with Google+ jumping into the mix, how can I maintain a separation of my ‘lives’ AND maintain the audience for both (and in the future, all three?) networks without annoying the handful of people who follow me on both (and potentially all three).

What I mean is that I don’t want to blanket all networks with the exact same posts, every time I post. I’ve never been a fan of sharing everything to both (or all) networks with no regards for the audience. My Facebook friends are quite different from my Twitter followers and the message typically doesn’t resonate with both audiences. But even when it does, the people who do follow you on both networks could easily get annoyed from seeing the same things over and over no matter which platform they were looking at. So with respect to the many audiences, how can we fit in this third network?

Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter

The easy solution, like many people have done and endlessly argued is to simply abandon Facebook. This sounds great as I don’t really feel connected to Facebook like I do Twitter, but the Facebook audience is not automatically transferred to Google+ and most likely won’t for a long time (I’m thinking specifically about certain non-tech-friendly people who use Facebook constantly). Those people still need to be reached.

The thought of a 3rd network to manage seems exhausting and even more confusing in trying to decide which articles/updates/opinions/posts to share with each group. Google+ allows you to group all of your friends and followers into Circles, but there isn’t an app to post updates to certain circles to your Facebook friends (unless you want everything emailed to them). So you’re left managing three separate networks

So how are you incorporating the ‘Facebook killer’ into your social media world? let me know, cause I could use some help.