Monthly Archives: September 2011

Hulu Incorporates Social Commentary Integration

Last month, we talked about how Facebook Movie Rentals had begun testing social integration, allowing users to add captions and comments to movie timelines for their friends to view when they watched the same show or movie.

Now, this Facebook integration has grown to include Hulu’s streaming media content. With this Hulu app, you will be able to provide similar commentary directly within Hulu (directly within Facebook).

Plus, Hulu Plus users get access to their entire library directly on Facebook. And you have easy control access over how private you want your viewing/commenting to be.

Expect this new feature to become extremely popular, extremely fast. I’m already excited for it.

Skype Connecting Classrooms with Classrooms

This is either a really cool online learning initiative, or the beginning of a global conspiracy to completely outsource teaching.

Skype in the Classroom has a goal of connecting 1 million teachers with teachers. Teachers can sign up and create teaching profiles that describe their classes and learning interests – and search through a directory of teachers by student age range, language and learning subjects.

A classroom in Chicago can chat with students in Chile. Boston to Barcelona. Even cities without shared alliteration.

Imagine a teacher taking advantage of resources bigger than their individual minds. My favorite part about this? Skype is doing this just because it’s awesome. Not because there’s a big profit motivation behind it.

Does New Facebook Hurt Google Plus?

People are already claiming the death of Google Plus. But, are these digital prophecies a bit premature?

Because Google Plus isn’t exactly a graveyard. It has more than 43 million users and counting. There was a desire for something different. Perhaps Google Plus’ Circles feature offered the wake-up call Facebook need to evolve. Now that they have, is Google Plus necessary any more?

Well, your mom’s not there. It’s a little better looking. It’s quieter. If Facebook evolves quick enough, perhaps they can quell the social exodus. And if they do, yeah, Google Plus might be in trouble.

Or it becomes something different. For instance, as both networks move to a profile-based experience – in the future, are you going to want future employers to see your Google Profile, or your Facebook profile?

Facebook Catches Up and Moves Fast into the Future

Facebook has officially redeemed themselves.

I’ve been upset with Facebook for more than a year now. They just weren’t innovating. Twitter allowed you to follow people without friending, which ushered in a whole world of celebrities on the Twitter train.

Facebook didn’t change. And Twitter went mainstream.

Recently, Google Plus has come out with a whole new innovation of social media  filtering. The ability to share status updates, news and video with select circles of friends – without letting other friends see. They beat Facebook to this seemingly obvious evolution of social sharing.

But finally, Facebook is catching up, and it looks like they’re moving far ahead.

At the F8 conference last week, Mark Zuckerberg shared a world of Jobs’ian beauty. It’s exciting. It’s beautiful. It gives users more control. It takes the best features that Twitter and Google Plus have to offer (following & filtering). I’m proud of Facebook. I’m excited about Facebook once again.

But, here’s my one big concern, and it’s probably everyone’s. This “semantic Web” that Zuckerberg is so excited about, and the privacy issues that we’re so fearful of. Your interaction with Facebook apps now automatically ends up in, no longer your timeline, but your ticker (the new right sidebar feature).

You don’t get to opt-in to this. You don’t get to say no. This just isn’t smart. I’m going to be self conscious about the songs I choose to listen to on Spotify now. Do I want people to know I’m listening to the new Jay-Z album? Now I don’t get a choice. If I want to do something, I am forced to do it publicly. Sorry Zuckerberg. This ain’t going to fly. Fix this. Focus on making things easier while giving us more control. And you’ll stay in the lead for good this time.

Google Panda Strikes Again?

Panda was a clever name choice for the Google Panda updates, which are algorithm updates that affect the universal search engine rankings.

But perhaps Snake would be a better name? Because it looks like a new iteration of Panda has struck again, and created side-wide ranking demotions across the Web. Individual reports have actually claimed a ranking decrease on sites with local relevance, and an increase on niche-info sites. This is interesting, because it seems like the exact opposite of what Panda was initially created to fight against?

Perhaps this isn’t a Panda bite, but a Panda revision of a previous overreach?

Qwikster Social Media Gaffe

Whenever an individual or business makes a terrible mistake using social media, we at Windy City Strategies want to make sure we call it out, in order to help us all avoid similar social media gaffes in the future.

But today’s is a weird one. It’s not a gaffe of commission, but rather, omission.

Netflix has separated the DVD-by-mail portion of their business into a new company, called Qwikster. The only problem is, it’s a new company name. And the Twitter name, @Qwikster, was already taken, and being used by a fairly lewd student, who repeatedly references sexual interests and recreational drug usage.

Oops. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise – an opportunity for Netflix to take back the  simply awful Qwikster name? But, what’s the lesson here. For years now, companies have avoided naming their company a name they can’t acquire the .com domain version of. Is a vacant Twitter name now a standard business requirement, too?

Pandora in a Post-Spotify World

Pandora has been music’s darling for years now. Arguably the best Internet radio option, specializing in music discovery.

But now that we’re living in a post-Spotify world, where does that leave Pandora? Because on Spotify, you can now stream full-length songs on-demand, nearly any song you can think of. Plus, you can send song suggestions to your friends. But although Spotify offers a social dimension to music discovery, there is no internal recommendation engine. Spotify won’t play me songs it thinks I might like based on my listening habits.

And that’s where Pandora still holds a key advantage. For the casual listener, Pandora is easier.

Although, Pandora has publicly stated its goal to expand its features into what sounds very similar to Spotify offers. And we’ll see if Spotify starts offering Pandora-like automatic play.

Google Wallet Now Available for Your Pocket

Google Wallet is officially live – for those of you who happen to have a Sprint Nexus S 4G phone and a Citi Mastercard at least.

But, the rest of us can be excited about the future. This Google Wallet app, accessible via PIN, making it safer than your physical wallet, uses near-field communication (like Speedpass at the gas station) to pay using your credit card.

Load your coupons and loyalty cards in your Google Wallet, and single tap your discounted payment.

Google isn’t the only one coming out with this type of application. But, as you well know, first to market is nearly everything. The sooner Google can roll out partnerships with the rest of the phone and credit card companies, the sooner Google Wallet will own this industry.

Magisto One Step Easier than iMovie

iMovie is specifically designed for the amateur videographer to put together aesthetically pleasing video projects. Easy to use. Intuitive controls. Designed around the basics.

A new start-up Magisto, claims to be one step easier. You give us your raw footage. We’ll make your movie for you.

Upload up to 16 video files. Add a title. Select background music if desired. And then, you’ll  receive e-mail notification within 20 to 30 minutes that your edited video is ready for viewing. The proprietary technology is designed to automatically find the best footage in your videos, based on facial recognition programming, and help the average individual who uploads 15 minute videos of his kid’s soccer game that no one wants to watch.

Worth giving it a test spin to see if it edits better than your time is valuable?

Netflix is Streaming. Qwikster is Mailing.

What an awful month for Netflix. After introducing huge price hikes on the mailing side of their business, with direct and unapologetic PR to accompany it, Netflix’s stock and active customer list tanked.

Now, Netflix has actually separated the DVD-by-mail service to a completely different name and company, called Qwikster. It would be really interesting to know if this was Netflix’s gameplan all along, or a recent need to separate itself from the now unpopular pricing structure of their business.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings explains the decision with “Most companies that are great at something…do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business.”

Netflix is obviously forward thinking. They understand the importance – the everything that digital streaming is becoming. And those of us who had already moved to the online streaming only plan thought, “it’s about time.” But there’s that remnant. The remnant that haven’t yet changed and who don’t want to be rushed into it.

Netflix’ stock looks awful right now. The PR was ridiculously stupid. Yet, this is a company who has already led two industries in the past decade. Netflix will continue to do great.