Five Digital and Social Media Stories Worth Reading This Week

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Here are five stories pulled from the headlines to get you up-to-date this week on digital and social media news. I’ve done the research for you. You can thank me later.

It’s the year of the “Influencer.” IBT: In Search Of The Real Thing: Why Global Advertisers Like Coca-Cola Are Ditching Celebs For Little-Known Instagram ArtistsPULL QUOTE: It was all about selfies for Christine Adelina, until May 1, 2014. That’s when the 22-year-old student and obsessive Instagram poster from London learned her large following on the photo-sharing app could translate to some decent income. After attending a meetup for Instagram “influencers,” she switched from bedroom and bathroom selfies to artistic portrayals of the world around her, now spending at least three hours a day on the app. And brands are gawking — handing over ad dollars to Adelina and other so-called influencers, anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars depending on the deal, to join their marketing campaigns. While some sponsorship deals simply reward users with gifts for sending out company-related Instagram posts, others are contracted. Take Nabisco’s #PuttingOnTheRitz campaign, for example. That marketing strategy to promote new Ritz Crisp and Thin crackers — to which Adelina and a handful of other contracted influencers submitted two photos for this June  — reached 7.5 million people. One post from British blogger Tanya Burr, who boasts 2 million Instagram followers, drew 110,000 likes.

It’s the latest sign that Madison Avenue and its counterparts worldwide are recognizing the pitch power of organically born social media stars like Adelina and Burr. They can be just as influential, or even moreso, as celebs like the Kardashians. Consumers, the thinking goes, may connect more readily with individuals who lead lives like their own. “For ‘Putting on the Ritz,’ we were very interested in getting people involved. The campaign seemed more real,” said Jana Soosova, social media campaign manager at London-based PHD Media.

instagram ritz

While Instagram influencer Christine Adelina’s post was not the highest traffic-driver for the #PuttingOnTheRitz campaign, Nabisco paid for and endorsed the submission as part of its marketing strategy.  – Instagram Screenshot 

Earlier this month, Instagram introduced its first ad product for businesses. The system allows companies to quickly create standard ads, target them to selected users and include direct-response buttons (like “Buy Now” as seen on Facebook, Twitter and Google). The move will spur more ads on the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app — and fuel Instagram’s predicted rise to $2.8 billion in revenue by 2017.

Marketing jobs have gone digital and they are asking for a lot from their employees! MarketingProfs: The Most In-Demand Digital Marketing SkillsPULL QUOTE: The most in-demand job titles identified by the analysis were digital marketing manager and marketing manager. Those roles may be especially hard to fill given the wide range of skills required: Companies seeking marketing managers tend to look for proficiency in several disciplines, including social media marketing, SEO, PPC, content marketing, Google Analytics, and digital marketing. Other digital marketing job titles with a high volume of listings are digital marketing specialist, marketing coordinator, SEO specialist, Web developer, account executive, and social media manager.

If you’ve paid attention today, you’ll see Kanye West trending on Facebook (kill me now). What does it take to becoming a trending topic on Facebook? IBT: In Search Of The Real Thing: Why Global Advertisers Like Coca-Cola Are Ditching Celebs For Little-Known Instagram Artists – PULL QUOTE: But how exactly does Facebook decide what to put in the Trending queue? And why is it that trends sometimes show up hours if not days after they may be trending somewhere else? Facebook shows you things in your Trending line-up the same way it shows you things in your News Feed: Algorithms. It takes into account a few personal things, like where you live and what Pages you follow. But primarily it looks for two broader signals: Topics that are being mentioned a lot and topics that receive a dramatic spike in mentions. You can’t have one without the other. For example, Kim Kardashian is mentioned often on Facebook, so the total volume of mentions is always high and isn’t a good indicator of whether or not she’s part of a trending topic. Instead, Facebook looks for a spike in mentions relative to the normal chatter around Kim and other celebrities, too. Things that trend aren’t just the most highly mentioned people or topics. They have to be tied to some kind of relevant event.

Right now I’m rocking a Misfit. I ‘m using it as a replacement to my UP24 because I can swim with the Misfit. Am I missing out on not having an Apple Watch? ReadWrite: The Wearables Market Is Exploding, And Apple Is Stealing The Show – PULL QUOTE: Second only to Fitbit, Apple Watch rules the smartwatch scene.  A new report published by IDC paints an intriguing picture of the wearables market as it looks in the middle of 2015. The market grew 223% over the course of the previous year, and Apple—new to the sector and with only one wearable to its name—was bested only by Fitbit, in terms of devices sold during the last three months. That puts reports of rather underwhelming Apple Watch sales into perspective. (Apple hasn’t released official figures of its own, of course.) While the smartwatch has yet to make an iPhone-like splash so far, with nearly 20% of the market, but it’s already threatening to dominate the nascent wearables movement.

I’ll admit it, I’m developing Snapchat campaigns and have totally forgotten about Vine. Apparently, that is not a good thingQuartz: Vine is a sleeping giant (while everyone is focused on Snapchat)PULL QUOTE: A funny thing happened to Vine, Twitter’s short-form video app, after its initial buzz wore off: It kept going. If you haven’t checked lately, Vine, launched in early 2013, is still a thing. It has evolved from a social “Instagram-for-video” built atop Twitter into a unique mobile entertainment platform with its own style, format, and celebrities. And as mobile video continues its long-awaited rise, Vine has built and maintained an impressive audience. Vine serves more than 100 million people across the web every month, according to the company, delivering more than 1.5 billion “loops”—its term for video views—per day. Meanwhile, comScore says Vine reached 34.5 million unique visitors in the US in June across desktop and mobile—roughly the same as Snapchat, which has grown rapidly over the past year and is valued by investors at $16 billion.

 

Stories Making Headlines in Digital and Social Media News This week

3I pulled the social and digital media headlines from across the interwebs so you wouldn’t have to. Here’s what you need to know to get up to date this week..

Fast Company: How Periscope, Meerkat, and Snapchat Will Change How TV Covers News, Sports, and Weather – The $70-billion-a-year television business (in the U.S.) has been under attack from all sides—Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, and other services are all stealing attention (and revenue). But amid the shift to on-demand entertainment, traditional TV has doubled down on what only it can offer: live events, particularly news, sports, and weather. Easy-to-use, mobile live-streaming services could upend what has been the last sacrosanct aspect of the TV industry. This doesn’t necessarily mean doom and gloom for TV networks; in fact, it creates a universe of fascinating possibilities for them to reimagine their businesses. [ED NOTE: Just last week my media partner and I did a Periscope, Meerkat and LiveStream event for a Baltimore Reporters Roundtable. These easy to use platforms made the programming accessible and allowed my Digital Media Mavens partners and I to share our content across platforms in ways that would have been impossible just a few short months ago. You can watch an archive of the live stream here.

CopyBlogger: The Disgustingly Simple Rule for Web Writing That’s Often Hard to Swallow – Web users are mission-minded. Cramped for attention. Bent on standards. And uninterested in learning new navigation methods. What you have to remember is that people don’t go to the web to window shop. They go there to drive 60 miles per hour — and look at billboards. Thus, there’s only one good reason why you should learn how to write clear, concise and compelling copy for the web… [ED NOTE: If you need some tips who writing for your blog, you can check out my blog post, I BLOGGED FOR 21 DAYS STRAIGHT. HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED]

Mashable: Facebook Messenger now gives context about the people contacting you. – To make new connections less jarring, Facebook Messenger is introducing a new feature on Thursday that gives you bits of information about someone messaging you for the first time, whether the person is one of your Facebook friends or not. The Messenger team is rolling it out to iOS and Android users in the U.S., UK, France and India over the next few weeks. [ED NOTE: That’s not creepy. Not creepy at all. You know I’m kidding… right]

More of Facebook, because, well, it’s FACEBOOK!

Re/code: Microsoft, Facebook, Google And The Future Of Voice Communications – All of a sudden, it seems like Facebook, Google and Apple are climbing all over each other to own the voice interaction, and specifically, the phone conversation. They’re in a race to compete in the most valuable part of “social” — as if they’ve forgotten, until now, just how much humans ultimately value one-on-one conversation.

Cutting The Strings: The Push To Go Wireless – My MacBook Review

Mac 

CNET reports that Apple is once again shaking things up and changing the computer game.  

“Ready or not, Apple’s new MacBook is cutting the computing industry’s cables.

The slim laptop has just a single USB port, the new tiny Type-C variety that’s slowly popping up in devices this year. It’s a multipurpose port that connects to external devices like hard drives, runs video to TVs and external monitors, and supplies the laptop with power when it’s charging time.

The new USB port is remarkably flexible, but it’s still just one port. For those who need to attach printers, Ethernet cables, external hard drives, cameras, monitors, keyboards, mice, TVs, game controllers and tablets, that might seem confining”

UPDATE: So, I got the sexy, gold MacBook. Here’s my review:

When I moved into my new workspace I bought the new iMac. Love, love, love it.  But to not be tied to my desk, I needed a light weight laptop. Now, my MacBook pro is a BEAST, but it’s heavy and not the best portable option. After a lot of research and comments from friends, I decided on a brand new MacBook. I landed on the gold one because I like to be different and it matches my iPhone.

So here’s the thing. The MacBook is small, portable, light laptop. That alone gets five stars from me. Sometimes I need a break from my office to chill on the rooftop of the office building or if I’m at home, I often like to work in my backyard. I also will work just about any place that has free WiFi. Having something lightweight is a must. Portability aside, the speed, memory and battery life on the MacBook is superb and the retina screen anti-glare is everything. But this is a portable laptop. It should not, in my opinion, be your one and only computer. If you are only going to buy one, get the MacBook Pro. I know it’s heavy, but it’s a BEAST and you cannot… simply can not… beat the speed and functionality for the price. Mine is three years old and it is still going strong. Now, it’s an old 17-inch (funny how three years is old in the lifetime of a computer) so it’s heavy as crap. That’s why I got the sexy, light, MacBook.

In regards to not having a dedicated USB port, I have to admit, I’m not in love with that concept yet. I find myself transferring files back and forth via the Mac AirDrop even though I know the intention is to get us to use the cloud services more. I’ll get there. Baby steps.

FullSizeRenderUPDATE TO MY UPDATE: I’ve had my sexy MacBook a month now. I. Love. It. The battery life is killer. It’s lightweight enough to take everywhere and while my iMac and MacBook Pro remain my work horse computers, I’m all in with this MacBook.

The Big Four Tech War

As the Holidays near and the four powerhouses of tech, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are fighting for position in the tech wars and holiday season sales.  This is a tech war like none other.

“It’s the biggest, most intense battle in tech history,” said Ted Morgan, chief executive of Skyhook Wireless, a firm that provides location-based technology for mobile devices. “It’s so much bigger than even the Microsoft, Apple, IBM battles of the 1990s.”

Here’s how the four shake out:

Google

  • Makes money selling ads that appear alongside its search results.
  • Developed the Android software to run on phones built by others, including Motorola, Samsung and HTC.
  • Looking to acquire cell phone-maker Motorola Mobility Holdings.
  • Recently released Google Music

Apple

• Built success by selling computers, phones and tablets that work seamlessly with the company’s software programs.

• Announced that more than 25 million people have downloaded iOS 5.

• Recently shared iCloud, a brand-new service that lets you store your emails, music files, videos, and more on an Apple-controlled remote server, and access the data from any other device with iCloud support.

As a side note, the passing of Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs has the entire tech community wondering how his absence will impact the company he co-founded.

“Since Jobs passed on the baton to Tim Cook in late August this year there has been concern among market watchers that an Apple without Steve Jobs at the helm will not be the same. However, some believe the skeptics might be underestimating Apple’s bench strength. “This is something they’ve been planning for and thinking about for a long time,” David Riedel, President and Founder of Riedel Research Group, said.  “One of the qualities of a good CEO is that he can pick the right people, and Jobs was such CEO, Jeff Ebersits, CIO at Shareholder Value Management.” Source

Facebook

• The baby of the bunch, Facebook is the world’s most popular social network. But founder Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitions are grander – and they run directly into those of the three other Titans.

• Facebook hopes to be an alternative way to organize the Web, a platform for consumers to spend their time online. Instead of using Google’s algorithm to search for news and information, Zuckerberg envisions a future in which people consult their network of friends.

• Most critically, content on Facebook is out of the reach of Google’s search engine. And the more time people spend on Facebook, the less time they are looking at ads on Google, which recently launched Google+ as a rival social network.

• Facebook is beginning to bump into Apple’s business of selling apps on its devices. Zuckerberg’s company has quickly become a powerful player in the booming market for social games, such as the popular FarmVille.

Amazon

• The world’s biggest online retailer.

• Benefiting from growing sales of its Kindle e-book reader and digital media, including books, movies and music, putting it in competition with Apple’s iTunes.

• Like Google – is shifting toward Apple’s territory of making devices. Not only does Amazon have the Kindle, but they recently released the Kindle Fire to rival the iPad.


Steve Jobs – Gone Too Soon

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When you visit the Apple.com home page you see this image of Steve Jobs. Under his name is written, “1955-2011” marking the beginning and the end of an amazing man’s life. It’s simple, classy, and powerful.

As the world morns the passing of a great innovator let us remember what a force Steve Jobs was while on planet earth. He changed how we viewed the world around us, how we connected to each other, and how we integrated technology into our ever day lives. As I type this post on my Mac Book Pro, with my iPad and iPhone charging, I wonder what my life would have been like were it not for the creativity of Steve Jobs. I decided I didn’t want to know such a world. Thank you Steve Jobs for all you have done for us and may you RIP.

“The people who think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do” ~ Steve Jobs

Apple Sends Ripples Through Tech World

According to Wired.com, Apples earnings are “staggering”. They reported “Apple posted March-quarter revenue of $24.67 billion — meaning the company is well on its way toward exceeding $100 billion in sales for the full-year. In the last three months, Apple earned a whopping $5.99 billion. Both the revenue and earnings figures were new records for Apple.”

“With quarterly revenue growth of 83 percent and profit growth of 95 percent, we’re firing on all cylinders,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, in a statement. “We will continue to innovate on all fronts throughout the remainder of the year.”

Apple is clearly the one to beat and just in case you are keeping score, below is a look at how some of the other companies are doing in comparison.

Amplify’d from m.apnews.com

NEW YORK (AP) – Consumer technology companies reporting financial results this week are looking like rowboats bobbing in the wake of Apple Inc.’s supertanker.

Close to oblivion in 1997, Apple is now the world’s second-most valuable company, after Exxon Mobil Corp. On April 20, it reported net income of $5.99 billion for the January-to-March period, nearly double that of a year ago. It shipped a record 18.65 million iPhones during the quarter. Its iPad tablet computers are so popular, the company couldn’t make enough.

Apple’s ascendancy has produced many losers and a few winners, as underscored over the past two weeks:

– Microsoft Corp.: loser.

Apple dethroned Microsoft as the world’s most valuable technology company a year ago. In its mid-fall report, it surpassed Microsoft in quarterly revenue. In the January-March period this year, it surpassed Microsoft in net income, too.

On Thursday, Microsoft reported that revenue from the Windows operating system declined for the second straight quarter because people are buying fewer Windows computers.

Some prospective buyers are going to Macs instead – Apple reported that it sold 28 percent more units. Others are going to iPads. Goldman Sachs now believes that more than 30 percent of iPads sold may be replacing PC sales. In the 90s, the trend was the opposite, as Windows PCs were crowding out Macs.

– Nokia Corp.: loser.

Nokia said this week that it will slash 7,000 jobs through layoffs and outsourcing. It still sells more phones than anyone else, but it’s losing share to Apple, especially when it comes to smartphones.

Research firm Strategy Analytics also said revenue from Apple’s iPhone sales surpassed that of Nokia’s phones in the January-to-March period, as iPhones are much more expensive than the average Nokia phone. That makes Apple the world’s largest phone maker by revenue.

To better compete with the iPhone, Nokia is ditching its old Symbian software and adopting Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. But the transition will take time; the first Windows-powered Nokia phones aren’t expected until late 2011 or early 2012.

– Research In Motion Ltd.: loser.

The maker of the BlackBerry is in a predicament that’s similar to Nokia’s. RIM warned Thursday that net income, revenue and unit sales for the quarter ending in May will come in below its previous forecast.

The company’s high-end phones are looking old compared with the iPhone and ones running Google Inc.’s Android software. They aren’t selling as well as the company expected.

RIM promised investors that new phones with revamped software will bring sales roaring back in the latter half of the year, but investors are skeptical, sending RIM’s stock down Friday.

– HTC Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.: winners, indirectly.

Although all three companies compete with Apple’s iPhone, they are doing well. Unlike Nokia and RIM, the three are betting on Google’s Android system, which comes the closest to mimicking the look, feel and functions of the iPhone.

Motorola Mobility is a shadow of the old Motorola, once the world’s second-largest maker of phones. But its focus on Android-powered smartphones is showing signs of success. It reported on Thursday a near-doubling of smartphone sales in the first quarter.

HTC of Taiwan has been making smartphones for a decade, and sales are really taking off with the help of Android. On Friday, it reported selling 9.7 million in the first quarter.

For South Korea’s Samsung, smartphone sales were a bright spot in the first quarter as overall phone sales declined and other electronics were weak. The company is embroiled in patent litigation with Apple.

– Verizon Wireless: winner.

The No. 1 U.S. cellphone carrier posted a jump in new contract-signing customers – the more profitable kind – after it introduced its version of the iPhone on Feb. 10, which ended AT&T Inc.’s exclusive grip on the device in the U.S.

(Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. of New York and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain.)

– AT&T and Sprint Nextel Corp: mixed.

Verizon’s new subscribers came at the expense of AT&T and Sprint Nextel Corp. But neither carrier saw signs of current customers moving to Verizon for the sake of the iPhone. Rather, it seems customers weighing between carriers were more likely to go to Verizon because of the iPhone.

AT&T appeared to be splitting new iPhone customers evenly with Verizon Wireless.

Read more at m.apnews.com

 

iPad 2 Picture Getting Clearer as Rumors Ramp Up

Here is comes folks… the iPad… only better. That’s the rumor anyway. We’ll have to wait to see if any of these things actually pan out. One thing is for sure, Apple consistently delivers a product that’s much better than the one that preceded it. The other thing I know for sure, I’m very glad I waited for the iPad 2 and the iPhone 5. Yes Apple, you have taught me patience. Strange how that works… I’ve been trying to master patience and delayed gratification all my life. Niow, when are these new versions coming out already?!?! I’ve been waiting long enough. Maybe I have a little more work to do.

Amplify’d from gigaom.com

The iPad 2 is said by some to be arriving as early as February or April (at least in the U.S.), and as is always the case when Apple hardware nears the end of a product cycle, the rumor mill starts working overtime. As consensus grows and independent reports start coming in from multiple sources, we end up with a much better picture of what to expect from Apple’s next iPad.

SD Card Slot

The latest rumor making the rounds is that the iPad will indeed have an SD memory card slot. This isn’t the first time such expansion is a possibility for the iPad 2, but now it’s been reported by a “trusted source” talking to Engadget, and it’s showing up in case designs from multiple manufacturers, as identified separately by AppleInsider and MIC Gadget. Since Apple already offers a way to access SD cards via the iPad Camera Connection Kit, there’s no good reason the company would object to building in the same functionality. In fact, it’s possible the only reason an SD slot wasn’t included the first time around was that it wouldn’t fit in the case.

Mini DisplayPort

The same case designs that back up the SD card slot rumor also indicate that another port will be introduced at the top of the device. The cutout for this alleged port is quite small, leaving few options for what it might be. Mini DisplayPort is a likely candidate, since even though it would eliminate the need for the iPad dock connector-to-VGA adapter, Apple could still sell various Mini DisplayPort converter accessories. A far less likely possibility for the spot is a micro-USB port, but there’s no way Apple would include that and still keep the dock connector.

“Retina” Display

The iPhone 4 introduced the world to the Retina Display, a 960×640 pixel screen with 331 ppi, a pixel density apparently beyond the threshold of human detection that makes for super crisp text and graphics. According to recent rumors stemming from resources found in the latest version of Apple iBooks app (1.2), the iPad will get twice the resolution it currently enjoys, bringing the total from 1024×768 to 2048×1536. As Kevin notes, that only adds up to a pixel density of 265 ppi, which, while not at the same level as the iPhone, is still a massive improvement, and will probably still be granted the “Retina” from Apple’s marketing department. Simply doubling the display resolution makes sense, since it’ll allow existing iPad apps to be compatible with the iPad 2 through zooming, though image quality will be somewhat degraded.

Front and Back Cameras

If there is any “sure thing” for the iPad 2, it’s that it will have two cameras: one in front for FaceTime, and one in the back for… well, actually, on a 9.7-inch tablet, probably mostly for occasional FaceTime use, too. Using it for general photographic and film-making seems incredibly awkward, even if the iPad 2 does sport a lighter, smaller body design.

Lighter, Smaller Body Design

Case designs and an actual iPad 2 mock-up used by a developer at CES earlier this month seem to support the idea that the next iPad will be smaller and slimmer than its predecessor. This is a standard improvement for new iterations of Apple gadgets, and it could help appease customers asking for a 7-inch iPad, something the company seems unwilling to provide. AppleInsider recently reported on an Apple patent that would allow the company to reduce the thickness and power consumption of capacitive touchscreens, which could be partially responsible for a new, smaller physical footprint in iPad 2.

Improved Processing and Graphics Power

The iPad 2 (along with the iPhone 5) is expected to get a new version of Apple’s custom A4 system-on-a-chip. According to a source talking to AppleInsider, the new version will have dual graphics cores to support the new Retina Display, and to allow for 1080p video playback (the current version tops out at 720p). The new graphics cores support OpenCL to share the burden of general purpose computing tasks with the GPU. The new chip will also pair the dual graphics cores with a dual core ARM Cortex-A9 chip for general processing. With a huge crop of potential iPad competitors unveiled at CES, these kinds of performance improvements are almost a necessity, but as is always the case with Apple products, hardware specs take a backseat to actual user experience, so if we see more modest improvements I won’t be surprised.

Read more at gigaom.com

 

Publishing Companies Prepare Tablet App Store… notice I did NOT say iPad Store

If you can’t beat ’em… join ’em. Here’s how newspapers and magazines are competing in the eMarket while snubbing Apple’s iPad.

Amplify’d from www.mediabistro.com

Time Inc., Condé Nast, Hearst Corporation, and Meredith Corporation are adding the finishing touches to their tablet app store. Morgan Guenther, the Chief Executive of Next Issue Media (NIM), the new venture owned by the publishing companies, says that it should launch within the next few months.

He says that when the store launches, it will feature at least two titles from each of the companies, and by this summer, every magazine will be available. Guenther also says that News Corporation’s (another owner of NIM) newspapers will be available by then.

For now, the app store will only be available on Android tablets. This is because NIM is the result of publishing houses not wanting other companies (read: Apple) to dictate how their products are distributed.

For NIM, its success comes down to one thing: Will people snub iPads in order to get their favorite magazines on a tablet? Right now Apple has the advantage because the iPad has been out for so long; not to mention the cool factor that comes with the brand.

We’re guessing Apple will win this battle, because being cool is very fun, even if it does mean missing out on tablet versions of O: The Oprah Magazine. Besides, we can probably guess who’ll be on the cover.

Read more at www.mediabistro.com

 

Move over Apple, you may not be the sexiest phone afterall!

As the smartphone wars continue, it looks like the iPhone (my preference for it’s integration into all my other Apple products) is getting some stiffer competition. Will Apple’s culture hurt the iPhone?

Amplify’d from www.nytimes.com

If you want a smartphone powered by Google’s Android software, you could get Motorola’s Droid 2 or its cousin, the Droid X. Then there is the Droid Incredible from HTC, the Fascinate from Samsung and the Ally from LG.

Paul Sakuma/Associated Press -Steven P. Jobs, in 1984, presented the new Macintosh personal computer.

 

That’s just on Verizon Wireless. An additional 20 or so phones running Android are available in the United States, and there are about 90 worldwide.

But if your preference is an Apple-powered phone, you can buy — an iPhone.

That very short list explains in part why, for all its success in the phone business, Apple suddenly has a real fight on its hands.

Americans now are buying more Android phones than iPhones. If that trend continues, analysts say that in little more than a year, Android will have erased the iPhone’s once enormous lead in the high end of the smartphone market.

But this is not the first time Apple has found itself in this kind of fight, where its flagship product is under siege from a loose alliance of rivals selling dozens of competing gadgets.

In the early 1980s, the Macintosh faced an onslaught of competition from an army of PC makers whose products ran Microsoft software. The fight did not end well for Apple. In a few years, Microsoft all but sidelined Apple, and the company almost went out of business.

Can Apple, which insists on tight control of its devices, win in an intensely competitive market against rivals that are openly licensing their software to scores of companies? It faces that challenge not only in phones, but also in the market for tablet computers, where the iPad is about to take on a similar set of rivals.

“This is a really big strategic question,” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein and Company. “No one knows whether openness will ultimately prevail as it did on the PC.”

Apple declined to comment on the issue.

By some measures, the competition Apple faces this time is even more formidable than it was in PCs. In addition to the Android family, Apple already competes with Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry.

And the iPhone will soon have one more powerful, and familiar, foe: Microsoft. That company’s well-reviewed Windows Phone 7 software will appear in as many as nine new smartphones beginning next month. Others like Nokia cannot be counted out.

Read more at www.nytimes.com

Apple-Facebook Friction Erupts Over Ping

As if Steve Jobs fights with Adobe Flash aren’t enough, now he’s in the ring doing the tango with Facebook. This time regarding Ping, his music social networking site.

I joined Ping last week after I sat in on the much anticipated live, world-wide Apple press conference. I am not happy with it because I find it to be… well… not very social. I have NO ONE checking me our or my music. At this point you can color me red hot. I LOVE music and I LOVE sharing my tastes with others so you know I’m just a little salty about this. Meanwhile, I see some Ping members with over 30,000 followers already and they aren’t even musicians, I mean really… it’s been less than a week and 30K followers already… how can this be… where are my people? But I digress…

I joined Ping because I wanted to commune with my fellow music lovers. I signed up and then waited for the thousands of people Jobs said would be flocking to my side out of the 160 million iTunes users. You know what I got? Not one single person following me. Wait, that’s not true… ONE person is following but he hasn’t engaged with me and we don’t share the same share the same tastes in music so there you go.

Could it be that Apple really needs the Facebook interface? Will I have better luck out of a pool of 500 million users rather than a mere 160 mill? Or, will Goggle and Facebook continue to join forces in an strange sort of combined power play to push Apple and Ping out of the way for good. Will Johnny get Adobe Flash on his iTouch? Will Sally be able to share her songs from Ping on her Facebook page? Will Danielle get any followers on Ping? These and other important questions will be addressed next week on “As the Social Network Turns”.

Amplify’d from bits.blogs.nytimes.com

If it is true that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, then Apple and Facebook ought to be friends. Their common enemy, of course, is Google.

But Apple’s entry into social networking with the iTunes music social network Ping on Wednesday, has made them frenemies (or friend-enemies). And like with all frenemies, issues need to be worked out.

After introducing Ping on Wednesday, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, was asked why Apple built its own social network, rather than, say, build services on top of Facebook, as other music sites have done. Mr. Jobs, who was strolling around a demo room where reporters could try Apple’s new products, said that Apple considered that and held discussions with Facebook, but that the social networking company’s terms were “onerous.”

Still, Apple used some of Facebook open programming interfaces to allow users to find their Facebook friends on Ping. But that stopped working on Thursday.

Why? Facebook blocked Apple from that because Ping had the potential to send so much traffic Facebook’s way and cause “site stability” and “infrastructure” problems, according to people familiar with the situation, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because they did not want the friction between the companies to escalate. Facebook insists that businesses that send a lot of traffic to its servers first work with the company to make sure those problems can be handled smoothly, these people said.

In a statement, Facebook said: “We’re working with Apple to resolve this issue. We’ve worked together successfully in the past, and we look forward to doing so in the future.” Facebook did not specify what the “issue” was.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ITunes has 160 million users, according to Apple. But since only a small fraction of those users have enrolled in Ping, it is not clear how Apple could have exceeded Facebook’s limits for traffic. In its Developer Principles, Facebook says that developers who exceed 100 million calls every day must contact the company because they may be subject to additional contract terms.

It is also not clear why Facebook did not call Apple to resolve the issue before it pulled the plug on Ping connections.

In the meantime, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has been testing Apple’s social network, opening his own account on Ping. So has another Mark Zuckerberg, whose profile says “It’s true, I invented Facebook.” One of them is fake. From the looks of it, the one that doesn’t have a picture and doesn’t boast of having invented Facebook is the real one, as that user is connected to at least one other Facebook executive, Bret Taylor. Mr. “I invented Facebook” appears to have no connections to other Facebook execs.

Read more at bits.blogs.nytimes.com

Apple iTunes 10 and Ping: Problems… and then some…

OK Steve Jobs, you can’t have this world-wide press event, open it to the public, get us all jazzed about the new Apple offerings then have the new apps crash on us, have your new music social networking site… well… not be very social… and then have new features cause more harm than good.

I’m ready, let the Apple bashing begin (I still have your back Jobs.. but let’s work out some of these issues in the testing phase before it’s rolled out to the world… I’m just saying…)

Amplify’d from reviews.cnet.com

With any program being updated, there will be a few quirks at first while the new features get used in various people’s setups and configurations. The same goes for iTunes 10, where people are finding a few oddities that seem to be feature changes or bugs that need to be ironed out.

iPhone 4 apps causing crashes
Some people have been experiencing crashes in iTunes 10 when connecting theiriPhone 4 devices and selecting applications to transfer. If this happens, try resetting the iPhone and also try removing iTunes’ preferences (called com.apple.iTunes.plist and stored in the /username/Library/Preferences/ folder). You can also try launching iTunes in Safe Mode by holding the Option-Command keys when launching iTunes.

Album lists no longer resize
Album artwork resizing in list views is no longer possible. The only way to have resizable artwork is to use the sidebar’s album viewer window and then optionally click the artwork to open it in a dedicated window.

Removing “Ping”
Though social networking is a popular Internet development that companies are eager to take advantage of, it is not for all of us and many people prefer to avoid it. You have the option to ignore Ping in the sidebar, and you can also remove it by disabling the iTunes Store (provided you do not purchase items through the Store).

To do this, go to the iTunes preferences and in the “Parental” section select “Disable iTunes Store.”

AirPlay not working
A few people have reported the iTunes AirPlay feature is not working as it did in older versions of iTunes. For some their AirPort Express devices are selectable but no sound seems to be coming out of the unit.

If this happens, try setting the master volume in iTunes to its highest level, and do the same for your various wireless AirPort devices in iTunes. This can be done in the “Multiple Speakers” window (available from the “Window” menu). If your AirPort Express devices do not show up in iTunes, try unplugging them and shutting down your computer for a few minutes, then plug them in and start everything back up. Sometimes a quick reset like this is the easiest way to force-detect items and have them show up again.

“Nathan Volker” being followed in Ping
A few people have found the name “Nathan Volker” to be in their Ping profiles, and have wondered what is going on. Apparently this person created an account with the name “Steve Jobs” and then changed the name, resulting in some odd behavior. The account has been removed by Apple and should not affect anything. You should be able to stop following this account in Ping if you see it appear.

Read more at reviews.cnet.com

Here’s How Apple Can Recover From The Snowballing iPhone 4 Disaster

So glad I waited to jump on the iPhone 4 bandwagon!

Amplify’d from www.businessinsider.com

Apple has spectacularly botched the response to complaints about the iPhone 4 antenna problem.

The simple solution to the problem was to fess up that yes, there’s a slight problem with the hardware design of the phone, but it only affects a few people. Then slash the price of iPhone cases that solve the problem.

Instead, Apple tried to spin the flaw as a meaningless software display problem, which Consumer Reports and others say is bogus.

Now, even Apple’s most ardent supporters, are admitting Apple has blown it

The timing for Apple couldn’t be worse. Apple’s enemies were waiting for the company to finally screw up.

In the days leading up to the iPhone

being released, the New York Times wrote, Apple “is seen by competitors and other industry players as a bully,” rather than the “perennial underdog” it used to be seen as.

Beyond the rhetoric of the Times, the iPhone faces its stiffest challenge yet from Android, a mobile operating system that’s nearly as good as Apple’s, and available on Verizon, a better network than AT&T’s. (The iPhone problem is giving Android fans a great opportunity to kick Apple, left and right. )

Read more at www.businessinsider.com