Monthly Archives: September 2010

Apple Acquiring Polar Rose?

Rumors from 9to5Mac make it look like Apple has bought all of the shares of Polar Rose, a facial-recognition company based out of Sweden. And while this is still an unconfirmed acquisition, Polar Rose officially closed its free face-tagging service earlier this month.

So, this begs the question, is Apple buying the technology outright, or using it to upgrade their existing capabilities?

Now, facial recognition technology may sound futuristic, but you’re already using it in everyday life. Your camera probably auto-adjusts its light to faces. Whenever you tag a friend in a Facebook photo, it knows exactly where the person’s head is.

Arctic Rose offers three different products that utilize this technology, two of which (Face Cloud and FaceLib) seems to make sense for Apple’s world. But, what will Apple’s next-step be? Face technology to auto identify people for simple photo tagging and other social networking niceties.

Or a security feature that will auto-lock your Apple devices without your face’s permission?

vChatter Launches PG-Version of Chat Roulette

Chatroulette became an instant Internet sensation with its “random chat with a stranger”  technology. But, exhibitionists also found this technology exciting as well, and Chatroulette quickly got a bad rap due to their unsafe environment for children.

vChatter saw a market opportunity. Creators of a popular Facebook video chat application that lets you chat with your Facebook friends, vChatter has launched a “family-friendly” version of Chatroulette, as a stand-alone site.

So, how does vChatter filter out the inappropriate? Well, unlike the pure anonymity of Chatroulette, your vChatter chat is tied to your Facebook identity. You can be flagged, and vChatter consistently reviews screenshots as a policing effort.

And with vChatter, your chat is not quite as random as with Chatroulette. You can pick who you want to meet based on gender, age, geographic and other demographics. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’m thinking the same thing. This is bound to become a dating service, right?

Definitely. But, not yet.

Is the iPad a Notebook Killer?

Sure, the iPad is its own thing. A tablet, kind of. But, is it going to be a market killer as well?

Because people currently buy notebooks and netbooks when they want a cheap laptop they’re going to use primarily to access the Internet. So, is the iPad cutting into this market? Survey says yes. In fact, the growth of the notebook market has been slowing down every month since Apple’s iPad launch. And in August of 2010, netbook sales in the U.S. actually started declining for the first time in more than a year.

So, is this cannibalization? Perhaps. People who were going to pay $500 for a netbook probably see the iPad as a worthy alternative. Especially if portability and sheer coolness are high purchasing factors for them. But someone with a $300 budget probably isn’t jumping up to the iPad’s price range.

But, over time, the iPad or an equivalent tablet could become what netbooks promised to be. A cheaper laptop designed for Web surfing. While netbooks have fallen short of their initial price-drop promise, perhaps some of the upcoming tablet releases could fill that market gap.

The Facebook Phone is Not a Phone

For a while, it looked like Facebook was going to be building a phone. And the tech world stood on edge. Because if Facebook does something, it’s gotta be great, right? I’ll admit to being curious myself.

But now, Facebook is officially denying those rumors of a Facebook phone. So now the question becomes, should we believe them?

Well, no, probably not. Google denied their involvement with a phone before announcing Android. But, this does give us a chance to think about whether or not a Facebook phone makes sense or not. Because, after all, your phone probably already is a Facebook phone.

Facebook apps live on every single device manufacturer. So, perhaps their statement of creating “deeper integrations with some manufacturers” is the next big move. Because, they’re right. Integrating into existing platforms seems to be Facebook’s online strategy right now. And as smartphones more and more become online vehicles, this integration makes sense. It’s not about Facebook building a phone. It’s about Facebook being on your phone. In your search. Wherever you go online, your Facebook network comes with you, advising, referring and “like”ing.

And that seems like a better long-term decision than entering way late into a saturated smartphone market.

Flash vs. HTML5: Adobe Speaks Out

Ever since Steve Jobs and Apple have publicly declared their support for HTML5, there have been a lot of voices defending Flash, including owning entity, Adobe.

To catch you up to speed, the hedge of this controversy is that Flash isn’t ideally suited for mobile technology. But Adobe believes that Flash and HTML5 can live side by side as the Web continues to evolve. And specifically, they argue that flash is still the best possible option for desktop computers. And yes, I think right now, most people would agree with that. But that’s the point. HTML5 works better on mobile, the next big evolution in Web design. So, why not just learn the language that’s going to work there, when it can work everywhere? Why keep two technologies going when one can do everything?

The reality is, the future is so hard to predict. The evolution of technology. The evolution of consumer use. So, picking winners is a gamble. And Apple is gambling – putting their money into HTML5’s basket.

The Psychic Evolution Continues with Google Prediction API

Google has recently announced some new additions to their Google Prediction API, designed to help developers create new applications that predict likely future outcomes through a better understanding of Google algorithms.

Because Google has a vested interest in helping users find what they want.  That’s their primary objective. That’s the only way they’re going to make their money. These new additions include multi-category prediction, and continuous output and mixed input combinations.

So, what does this mean? Let’s say you’re working for an online news company that hopes to keep users on their site as long as possible. At the end of each article, you’d like to lead the user into reading another article. Rather than just hoping they click the “next” button on your site and land a page that will interest them, you can suggest articles based on the kinds of stories the user has read before. You can use your user’s past interests to lead them toward information you believe they’d find interesting because of it.

Personal preference. Personalized recommendations. It would almost be creepy if it wasn’t so helpful.

Seesmic Desktop 2 vs. Chrome Extensions

Seesmic Desktop has long been a favorite social media management tool for professionals. A desktop application that allows you to manage your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles all in one place.

Now, Seesmic Desktop 2 features a whole new assortment of plug-ins, allowing you to manage a potentially infinite number of social media services, all within Seesmic.

Now, this is great. Especially for social media managers. One place to organize and keep track of multiple accounts, multiple services. But, is Seesmic Desktop 2 the best choice for the average person?

I guess that’s up to the person. With social media extensions through Chrome, using Chromed Bird to manage your Twitter account is much more beneficial to the average user. You stay in your browser – the same place you’re doing most of your work each day. You don’t leave to go check out the Twitter world. You simply click the Twitter icon in your browser, and your Twitter timeline  overlays the top right of your screen. Easy to instantly check, and get back to work. Plus, the icon itself turns from red to green if something has @ mentioned you.

Seesmic Desktop 2 is great for social media pros who do nothing else. For the rest of us, check out the latest Google Chrome extensions.

PowerReviews: Facebook Social Review Integration

This is what we’ve been talking about. The social power of Facebook. The power of referral over the power of advertisement. And it looks like Facebook is making a giant leap in that direction.

PowerReviews is announcing new Facebook-integration additions to its social commerce suite. The idea is that retailers and brand management groups will be able to aggregate user reviews, history, comments and more. So, when you’re browsing a product’s Facebook page, you’ll see reviews and comments of that product, movie, restaurant or software from everyone in your network who has publicly stated their opinion.

This announcement comes just a few months after PowerReviews announced their partnership with Google, which includes product reviews integrated within Google search results, Google Product search and various Google ad programs.

This is just the beginning. But, it’s the beginning of a whole new way of how consumers make choices.

Microsoft Bing Looks to Capitalize on Internet Explorer 9

As we reported earlier this week, Microsoft has launched the beta version of Internet Explorer 9. Microsoft is clearly excited about how their search engine, Microsoft Bing, can take advantage of some of its new HTML5 capabilities. At this point, it looks like these new enhancements will be largely aesthetic.

The Bing homepage will look very cool using Internet Explorer 9. It utilizes HTML5 to replace the traditional Bing homepage image with a video or image that you can zoom in and out of.

The integrated Bing/IE 9 also offers smooth transitions from screen to screen, as you search. Image, text and video previews are bigger and bolder. And Bing’s IE9 “jump list” integrates Bing search categories directly from the Windows 7 taskbar.

Bing users should be able to preview these Internet Explorer 9 features later this month.

Facebook Integrates with Movie Review Site Rotten Tomatoes

For more than a decade, Rotten Tomatoes has been one of the most trusted resources for movie lovers – offering these cinema buffs an aggregate rating for each new release, made up of nationwide film critics. And now, Rotten Tomatoes is trying to add some social networking juice to their system.

Through their new partnership with Facebook, the movie review site will now be automatically personalized for the user if they are already logged into Facebook. You will see films your friends have “liked” prominently on the home page. You will also see personalized recommendations based on the films you’ve liked.

Rotten Tomatoes users will no longer only get to see recommendations and reviews from their favorite critics, but from their friends as well. As a movie fan, I’d like to see specific written reviews or some sort of star-rating from your social network. But, this is definitely just the beginning of how Facebook plans to utilize network recommendations to improve your online experience.