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January 30 2014

No Matter How You Slice It, Google Lost On Motorola
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No amount of positive spin can hide the fact that Google's acquisition of Motorola ended in failure.

Almost as soon as soon as the news broke Wednesday that Lenovo was buying Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9 billion, the rationalizations over the difference between the sale price and the nearly $13 billion Google paid in 2012 started to appear

The New York Times' "DealBook" has gone as far as to even ask if "Google really lost on its original Motorola deal?" To bolster the claim that the "loss" wasn't that bad, The Times points out that Google sold Motorola Home for $2.4 billion and is keeping most of Motorola's patents. Even taking those factors into account, Google is still losing on the Motorola deal. Read more...

More about Google, Motorola, Android, Opinion, and Patents

January 22 2014

Intel's Failed OnCue TV Service: The Apple TV That Almost Was
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Intel announced Tuesday that it sold off the assets of its Intel Media unit to Verizon, formally ending the chipmaker's forays into the Internet-TV space.

Intel Media incubated Intel's OnCue Cloud TV platform. If you don't remember OnCue, this was the elevator pitch: All of the pay-TV content you're used to getting from cable, delivered over-the-top (that is, online) and alongside web-only channels

In essence, Intel wanted to help rethink the pay-TV space, and it wanted to do so in a way that was both innovative and appealing to consumers

The Future of Television

At a dinner last May, I was part of a small group of reporters and analysts that had met with members of the Intel Media team, including the group's leader Erik Huggers. We got to preview the company's OnCue Cloud TV service Read more...

More about Intel, Opinion, Online Tv, Streaming Tv, and Media

December 06 2013

I'm on Facebook Because I'm Bored Beyond Belief
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Facebook is the fourth — sometimes the fifth — social network I check during the day. It's at the bottom of the list

Somewhere along the line, Facebook became a last resort, a platform I regretfully open when I've hit the depths of boredom. When my friend is running 20 minutes late for brunch, only after I've logged my weekly call with Grandma and checked every other app

I'd rather strike up a conversation with a stranger than browse Facebook — and I live in New York. Strangers are weird here

Don't get me wrong. Facebook itself is not boring. On the contrary, I could and have spent hours exploring all the tools Facebook offers: Facebook Subscribe, Facebook Lists, Facebook Groups, Facebook Shared Photo Albums, Facebook Pages, Facebook Gifts, Facebook Graph Search. And I haven't even mentioned the thousands of apps that "enrich" the Facebook experience. Read more...

More about Facebook, Social Media, Features, and Opinion

November 02 2013

'Controversial Dating Site' Is the Hottest New Business Model
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Carrot Dating, a new dating site that asks users to trade “bribes” for dates, is borderline prostitution. But that won’t stop it from becoming popular. After all, the business model was designed that way

The site, which gained 45,000 paid users within three days of its Oct. 21 launch, has incited the rage of many an Internet user

Wouldn't you know, that activity happened to give a nice little boost to Carrot's popularity.

Carrot Dating, the brainchild of MIT graduate Brandon Wade, allows users to “bribe” others for dates. The mechanics of Carrot Dating are simple. Log in and choose a potential date. Pick one of the twenty “bribes,” including dinner, flowers, a shopping spree and plastic surgery, then offer it to another user in exchange for a date Read more...

More about Features, Dating Sites, Opinion, Apps Software, and Contributor

September 05 2013

The Galaxy Gear Is Wrong for My Wrist and the Runway
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Samsung on Wednesday unveiled its long-rumored, much anticipated smart watch, the Galaxy Gear.

Much has been made of the Galaxy Gear's feature set, its potential pricing (global pricing is $299 but the U.S. price has not been announced) and its device compatibility. That's all interesting and valid, but what most immediately concerns me about the Galaxy Gear is how it looks

Samsung described the Galaxy Gear in its press release as an "iconic fashion accessory." With all due respect to Samsung's design team, I'm not sure "iconic" means what they think it means. Read more...

More about Samsung, Opinion, Wearables, Tech, and Gadgets

August 13 2013

I'm 15 and All My Friends Use Facebook
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Ruby Karp and I are not all that different. She’s a teenager, and I’m a teenager. So why should our opinions on teens and Facebook be so different? Quite simply, it’s empirical evidence: I’m 15, and all my friends use Facebook.

In her op-ed, "I'm 13 and None of My Friends Are on Facebook," Ruby Karp says, “If my mom saw I was at a party with drinking, even if I wasn't participating, I’d be dead.”

Sigh, if only it were possible to not have Mom as my Facebook friend in the first place. Or add Mom to a Restricted list. Or change my Timeline privacy settings so I have to approve all new photo tags Read more...

More about Facebook, Social Media, Features, Teens, and Opinion

August 04 2013

You Should Be Afraid of Artificial Intelligence
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I, for one, do not welcome our new robot overlords.

Let me elaborate

Writing about Artificial Intelligence is a challenge. By and large, there are two directions to take when discussing the subject: focus on the truly remarkable achievements of the technology or dwell on the dangers of what could happen if machines reach a level of Sentient AI, in which self-aware machines reach human level intelligence)

This dichotomy irritates me. I don’t want to have to choose sides. As a technologist, I embrace the positive aspects of AI, when it helps advance medical or other technologies. As an individual, I reserve the right to be scared poop-less that by 2023 we might achieve AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) or Strong AI — machines that can successfully perform any intellectual task a person can Read more...

More about Features, Tech, Robots, Opinion, and Science

May 12 2013

6 Internet Lessons I Learned From My Mom
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Mashable OP-ED

When I was born, the Internet barely existed. My mom likely had no idea she had brought me into a soon-to-be digital world — much less how to raise me in it

But I've come to learn that she didn't have to. Those age-old adages my mother used, passed down from my grandmother and my great-grandmother before that, were all she needed to prepare me for the web era.

Here are six lessons I learned from my mother about how to be a good Internet citizen.

1. If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.

As someone who has done her fair share of online comment moderation, I take a lot of care to follow this rule when conversing on the Internet. Personal attacks and, worse, cyberbullying are rampant. We'd all be a little better off for remembering this momism when speaking our minds on the web. Read more...

More about Features, Opinion, Mothers Day, Social Media, and Lifestyle

April 08 2013

Remembering Roger Ebert's Digital Legacy
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Mashable OP-ED

Famed film critic, Pulitzer-Prize winner and Twitter superstar Roger Ebert died Thursday, after a long battle with cancer.

Ebert is most associated with the movie industry, and for helping make film criticism accessible. But he wasn't just a film critic and acclaimed author — he was also a new-media pioneer.

At 70, Ebert was more in touch with media and how to reach his readers than critics or authors 50 years his junior

Nearly every article written about Ebert in the last week has included mentions of his prolific Twitter account and his blog, but very few have acknowledged the fact that Ebert was a digital denizen for nearly 30 years. Read more...

More about Twitter, Opinion, Roger Ebert, Entertainment, and Film

March 29 2013

Sorry, A Facebook Phone Doesn't Make Sense
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Mashable OP-EDFacebook is holding an Android-related press event next week and already the Internet is in a tizzy. Could this be the rumored, mythical, magical Facebook phone?

The truth is, I don't know. For nearly 18 months, rumors of a Facebook phone — developed by HTC and running a customized version of Android — have continued to persist. And for nearly 18 months, Facebook has publicly denied its interest in building its own phone.

Last September at TechCrunch Disrupt, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg went on at length about why a Facebook phone wasn't right for the company.

He said:

"Let’s say we build a phone. We’re not, but if we did, we could maybe get 10 to 20 million people to use it … It doesn’t move the needle for us."

"The strategy we have is different from every other tech company [like Apple] that’s building their own hardware system — we’re going in the opposite direction.." Read more...

More about Facebook, Android, Smartphone, Opinion, and Ios

August 30 2012

How Obama Won the Internet — in an Hour



Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

In the cold calculus of presidential politics, here's how things are supposed to work. You spend hours of travel time going from campaign rally to campaign rally, where if you're lucky and your staff has found a big enough venue, a few thousand people will watch you give the same old stump speech. You hope it'll get picked up in the news, even though the last thing you'll be doing is breaking news (unless it's for an unplanned gaffe).

If you answer questions, it's in a controlled Town Hall format, not a cacophonous free-for-all. You trumpet your appearances in advance for maximum exposure. And you certainly don't try for anything major during your opponents' convention.

Preside…
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More About: Opinion, barack obama, reddit


August 28 2012

Did Google Just Jump the Shark?



Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

In case you missed it, Google broke a cardinal rule of its famously clean white-space design Tuesday morning. For the first time, the company put an animated banner ad on its sacrosanct search homepage.

"The playground is open," the ad, for the Nexus 7 tablet, declares. And indeed it is -- the home page just became a playground for Google's legion of marketers. The question is, can it ever close again?

As my colleague Lauren Indvik pointed out earlier, Google has previously pushed the boundaries of its homepage design with tiny text ads.

Here is the ad for the Nexus One phone from 2010. It was relatively clean and unobtrusive. The text outweighed the icon.

It fit into t…
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More About: Google, Opinion, banner ads


August 25 2012

August 21 2012

Apple vs. Samsung: How Much Copying Is Too Much?


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Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Everyone knows the story of the Wright brothers and their historic flight in December 1903. What you may not know is that the Orville and Wilbur Wright submitted a patent for their invention months earlier, which was eventually granted in 1906. Then the airplane patent wars began.

The Wrights sued Glenn Curtiss (among others) for infringing on their patent with his company's aircraft designs. The thing was, the Wright brothers' patent was so broad, it was virtually impossible to build any kind of aircraft without infringing on it. Eventually the two sides were forced to settle their differences at the advent of the First World War, when the U.S. government stepped in and created a…
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More About: Opinion, apple, patent lawsuit, patent lawsuit theater, patents, samsung


August 10 2012

Goofing Off on a Google Doodle: How Downtime Helps Us Work Better


As many productivity experts will tell you, building a good chunk of downtime into your day isn't just helpful in recharging yourself and your creativity. It's essential.

More About: Opinion, google doodle, lifestyle


July 26 2012

How Zynga Can Save Itself: Better Games, Not Gambling




Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

For those of us who lived through the dotcom crash of 2000, plummeting tech stocks are nothing new. But I can't remember ever seeing a company lose 40% of its value in just a few hours -- and that's what happened to Zynga Wednesday afternoon.

The online gaming giant's share price, which once stood as high as $16, has been trading in the region of $5 recently -- until it released its second quarter earnings report Wednesday, and the price wilted like an untended FarmVille crop to $3 in after-hours trading.

Investors, it seemed, had finally lost patience with Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus, and his vague explanations of how the company will continue to grow.

I can't say I bla…
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More About: Draw something, Opinion, Zynga, farmville, words with friends


July 24 2012

Apple Falls Victim to Its Own Hype Cycle





Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

There are millions of people who are in the market for an iPhone, but are holding off on buying one because they believe Apple will introduce a new iteration this fall.

That's probably a good decision. Apple is all but certain to announce an iPhone 5 (though there's a good chance they won't call it that) as early as September. You'd have to be a fool to buy an iPhone 4S when the next-generation model was coming in just a few weeks.

Such a predicament isn't unique to Apple. In the auto industry, everyone knows that the new models arrive in September, so the best time to buy a car is around Labor Day, when dealers are eager to clear the old models from the lots.

But Apple's re…
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More About: Opinion, apple, iphone, tim cook


February 16 2012

February 06 2012

How to Fix Best Buy


Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Alex Goldfayn’s new book is called Evangelist Marketing: What Apple Amazon and Netflix Understand About Their Customers (That Your Company Probably Doesn’t). He is CEO of the Evangelist Marketing Institute, a marketing consultancy with clients that include T-Mobile, TiVo and Logitech.

Some people insist that Best Buy is dying a slow death.

Meanwhile, its CEO, Brian Dunn, maintains that 80% of consumer electronics sales still come from brick-and-mortar stores. But in its most recent earnings statement (for the three months ending Nov. 26), Best Buy’s net income was down nearly 30%, compared to the year prior. The company says that’s because they had to lower prices to increase sales.

Here is what I believe to be the core cause of Best Buy’s problems: There is almost nothing you can buy at Best Buy stores that isn’t cheaper and more convenient to buy online. And when you think about buying online, you think about Amazon first, and a number of other retailers second (Buy.com, Walmart.com, etc.). BestBuy.com usually doesn’t top that list.

The problems — including Best Buy’s recent inability to fill holiday season purchases — are already well-documented. Let’s focus, instead, on how to fix Best Buy.


1. Focus on the Stores


CEO Dunn stated earlier this month that Best Buy has expanded the products available on BestBuy.com and has launched a new online marketplace. This is the wrong approach. You don’t out-Amazon Amazon. I’m constantly telling my clients that they must build on their strengths, not try to overcome their weaknesses.

For example, Research In Motion spent a year of resources developing and marketing a tablet device instead of focusing on its major competitive strength, the Blackberry smartphone. Best Buy needs to focus on the asset that separates it from the competition — its physical stores.

This is urgent. For the next year, the majority of Best Buy’s investment, attention and marketing budget should go towards improving the customer experience in its retail stores.

What should it improve? That’s easy.


2. Fewer SKUs


One of the major ways retailers measure success is the sales-per-square-foot metric. This figure eliminates any differences in number of stores and size of stores; it simply measures how well a retailer performs.

According to a report from August, Apple dominated the field with a whopping $5,626 per square foot of retail space. In second place, the jeweler Tiffany’s came in at $2,974; that’s how much Apple trumps everybody else. Costco wholesale makes $998 per square foot.

Best Buy? It comes in at $831 per square foot, behind retailers like Whole Foods, Polo Ralph Lauren, Signet Jewelers and GameStop.

What do Costco and Apple stores have in common? A relatively small selection of products to buy. Best Buy should focus on the best products, not on as many products as can be crammed onto shelves.


3. Better Blue Shirts


One of Best Buy’s major advantages over Amazon is that it employs people in blue shirts who are expected to help customers. These folks are young (because they cost less this way), but insufficiently trained. Of course, Apple Stores employ young people too, but Apple’s people are empowered, no, mandated, to help people. Best Buy’s store staffers read the back of the box with you.

The sooner Best Buy can roll out a comprehensive and aggressive training program for its blue shirts, the sooner it can make people feel better about coming to its stores. Then, every newspaper with a Best Buy in its city would positively cover the store’s efforts to improve its floor staff. So, in addition to improving the customer experience and sales, this is a powerful marketing and PR strategy.


4. Better Store Layouts


Wider aisles. Cleaner spaces. Get the product packages off the shelves, because these horrendous boxes aren’t doing anybody any favors. Simply give people more space to physically try as many products as possible. After all, that’s why people go to retail. Basically, study what Apple is doing in its stores and try to apply.


5. Better Marketing


It’s time for Best Buy to go beyond its weekly blue flyer. The company needs to launch a powerful marketing and PR campaign. Find out what’s important and compelling to consumers.

I don’t know this for fact, but given the current state of its marketing activities, I can all but guarantee that Best Buy isn’t having enough qualitative conversations with its customers to uncover the language and emotion that resonates with them. My best clients have learned that deeply understanding your customers is the fastest and most direct path to effective marketing. It’s time for Best Buy to start understanding its customers.


6. Better Customer Service, Better Feelings


The 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index Report found Best Buy in the middle of the pack in terms of customer satisfaction, behind retailers such as Publix, Staples, Kohl’s and JCPenney.

If you say you’ll price match, then price match. Don’t make people stand in line to beg cranky 24-year-olds, who are trained how to best decline the price match. Similarly, if you want to compete with Amazon and Costco, then you better accept returns without question, and without an annoying restocking fee.

Instead of anticipating a frustrating experience, people need to foresee satisfaction when they think about Best Buy, as they do with Apple and Costco.

Many of Best Buy’s problems result from the negative feelings their actions and inactions have built in consumers, who have plenty of other options, as Best Buy painfully knows: “I can shop at Costco and return something three months later if it breaks, or I can go Best Buy and be out of luck.”

Best Buy literally can’t afford any more bad feelings. Over the next year, Best Buy must do everything possible for people to feel good in its stores. In fact, the majority of Best Buy’s innovation efforts — from product selection to layout, from customer service to marketing — should focus on its most powerful remaining competitive advantage: its physical stores.

Image courtesy of Flickr, staticjana, Ron Dauphin

More About: amazon, apple, best buy, contributor, customer service, ecommerce, features, Opinion, retail

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February 04 2012

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Don't be the product, buy the product!

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