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Bin Laden's Death, Mobile and Social

May 2, 2011

In the wake of bin Laden's death it is worth reflecting on how consumers learned about the incident which was first live reported by Sohaib Athar - an unsuspecting bin Laden neighbor who tweeted the fact that he heard a helicopter and a subsequent window-shaking bang - a rare event as he called it.



Later, a commenter @naqvi on Twitter made the connection to these events and the Obama press conference which confirmed what had happened.

Of course later - the hard news and analysis did come from the mainstream media (MSM) - with lots of commentary from the social world. GigaOm has thoughts on how social and the MSM are connected.

What is most interesting to me however is the cheering which took place at a baseball stadium when the crown learned about the bin Laden news - specifically there was TV coverage of how people in the crowd were scanning their cell phones for the news and sharing it with others in the crowd. The video below gives you a small idea of other coverage I have seen.

The concept of news circulating via social faster than TV is not something we haven't discussed before - but this this stadium example of a large group learning about an important event via people at the center of informal social circle shows you how news dissemination and the web has evolved over the years.











Apple Responds to Locationgate

April 27, 2011

With the controversy surrounding the data being gathered by smartphones with Apple and Google operating systems, Apple has decided to come out with an explanation of what exactly it is doing and why. Here are the salient points of what they call a location Q&A:

  • Apple says it does not track the location of your iPhone, and it never has or will do so.
  • The reason this has become an issue is companies such as Apple haven’t done a good job explaining the complex technical issues at work.
  • Apple is maintaining a database of WiFi hotspots generated by tens of millions of devices sending encrypted information regarding the location of hotspots so as to be able to provide accurate location information when GPS satellite tracking information is not available. It cites usage in a basement as an example of why it needs to do this.
  • This crowd-sourced database is too large to fit in an iPhone but a subset of it is stored on iPhones and can be encrypted or not – based on user settings in iTunes. Researchers were confused by this data which was being backed up onto local PCs – but Apple plans on updating its software soon and at this point it will stop backing up this information.
  • Apple cannot locate a user based on its geo-tagged WiFi information.
  • Apple has been storing up to a year’s worth of location data and the company says this is a bug and going forward they will only store seven-days’ worth of location information.
  • Another bug according to Apple is the device continued to update WiFi and cell tower data from the crowd-sourced database even if location data was turned off.
  • Apple is collecting crowd-sourced traffic data in order to provide accurate traffic data for its users.
  • Apple provides anonymous crash data to third-party developers and the company’s iAds platform allows anonymous geotargeting of ads but requires user approval before sharing location data with an advertiser.

eBay Buys Where.com for Hyper-Local Deal Offers

April 20, 2011

In the race to become a leader in the local deal market – companies seem to be tripping over one another. This includes Google who is working organically while making an unsuccessful bid for Groupon. Twitter and Facebook play in this market as well and eBay just acquired Where.com, a Boston-based local-deals and location-based services company for $135M.

PayPal’s Amanda Pires explains they plan to integrate PayPal into the WHERE mobile app to make it even easier for customers to take advantage of the local deals.

President Obama Needs to be at ITEXPO

April 15, 2011

I recently learned that President Obama isn't happy with the old White House telephone. According to Fox News he said:

The Oval Office, I always thought I was going to have really cool phones and stuff," he said during a small fundraising event at a Chicago restaurant. "I'm like, c'mon guys, I'm the president of the United States. Where's the fancy buttons and stuff and the big screen comes up?



Is Android Security Really an Issue?

April 15, 2011

Yesterday I showcased an interview with investing legend Roger McNamee, managing director and co-founder of Elevation Partners but what I didn't mention was the following comment he made, "I don't trust Android because some 16-year-old kid in the Eastern Bloc presses a button and erases everyone's hard drive."

McNamee also made a call to short Google as a pairs trade with buying Apple the day before the stock of the search leader dropped almost $50 or 8% after missing their earnings number.


But just as interesting is another big piece of news which has to do with Skype responding to an Android vulnerability which has to do with unencrypted SQLite information on the device which can be accessed by malicious software. Of course the challenge is - what software is malicious - it certainly isn't advertised as stealing data in its description in app stores. Moreover, in this case, the issue seems to be Skype not setting file permissions appropriately to avoid data from being hijacked.

Of course when I read about the controversy I thought of the comments about the 16-year-old kid.

And at a time when Android is so popular - in fact in South Korea there is an antitrust complaint against the company - one wonders, what happens if McNamee is right and the platform isn't so secure?

But then again, any platform with a degree of openness and massive adoption is a major target of hackers and if our experience with Microsoft products is a solid guide, we can expect more Android vulnerabilities to surface and potentially frequent patches to be released to counteract them.












HTML5 to Allow 15-year Post Internet Boom Mega-Cycle

April 14, 2011

Investing legend Roger McNamee, managing director and co-founder of Elevation Partners was interviewed on CNBC this morning and explained why he is bullish on the tech sector. He goes on to say Apple is winning and tell us why. He continues by saying companies are trading down from Windows to tablets and saving thousands per year on support. This will free up $100B worth of revenue per year in this category.


Moreover, there is a titanic clash for Internet control - will it be app stores or HTML5?


Bing For iPad: You Can Check Out But You Can Never Leave

April 8, 2011

Bing for iPad Home Page


The iPad gained a very valuable information portal today in the form of a new application from Bing which has impressed me a great deal. What is different about this software is it borrows from other well-designed apps and isn't afraid to throw in its own improvements and graphically appealing glue to tie it all together.

When you enter the app you are presented with the Bing image of the day and underneath the graphic are widgets which give you information about the weather, news, maps, movies, trends and finance. Many of these areas update, making this program a truly functional portal.

Bing for iPad Movies


You also have access to other information presented when you click at the top right of the menu. Some of these are repeats of the bottom widgets but items like images, shopping and history are unique.

Bing for iPad Map of TMC HQ Building


I've always been a fan of the Bird's Eye view of Bing Maps and you can use your iPad to pinch and zoom your way around the map like you would a mouse on a PC.














Important HD Voice Research Report Available

April 7, 2011

You probably know I have been a huge proponent of HD voice as to me it’s an inevitable outcome of transitioning away from the PSTN to IP-based networks which allow us to upgrade CODECs without having to downshift our conversations to technology which was invented many decades ago. When I was a kid, television was an 11 inch black-and-white screen which seemed to always have Walter Cronkite on it and changing the channels was a manual and rotary process.

Yet, the incredible tech advancements we have seen in the television space haven’t yet fully materialized in the world of telephony. Sure, I can have high-quality conversations if a call stays on IP networks and there is no need for transcoding or jumping onto the public switched telephone network.

11 Reasons Why Google Needs Retail Stores

April 7, 2011

It is becoming clear the world is gravitating towards everything Apple sells and even worse for the competition is Cupertino is setting the tone for product launches, making the rest of the tech world play perpetual catch up. Even worse, Apple is buying up all available inventory on components forcing companies as big and mighty as RIM to push back the launch of their PlayBook tablet! Of course one of the most important parts of Apple’s success is the stores – those minimalist tech nirvanas attracting people of all ages to literally trip over one another as they touch and feel the latest gadgets and computers connected to huge flat-screens with the latest in audio equipment.

Brady Bunch Videoconferencing Goes Mobile Thanks to fring

April 6, 2011

fring has launched a Beta app for mobile devices allowing Brady Bunch-style conferencing with up to four users at once. The importance of this announcement is that anyone can now take advantage of advanced video communications which until recently was not even available in an office without a high-priced videoconferencing solution with dedicated bandwidth and specialized equipment.

Indeed, the power of mobile devices has grown substantially over the years and soon dual and eventually multicore processors will be the norm. And as this evolution in mobile horsepower continues, apps like this one will continue to proliferate.

We have signed up for Beta accounts and I look forward to trying this app out to see how well it performs when all four users are moving around. I also wonder about screen lag and synchronization between audio and video.

The question now is how popular will video become on mobile devices and will the experience become compelling enough to make video the default for phone calls?





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