Tag Archives: marketing

Microsoft’s Aggressive Platform Push


Next Story

Microsoft recently announced a number of changes to its Windows 8.x and Windows Phone platforms that underscore it is doubling down on Windows.

Breaking Friday was the news that Microsoft will lower the per-device cost to OEMs to ship Windows 8.x on less expensive devices. Bloomberg’s Dina Bass wrote that for devices that sell to consumers for $250 or less, Microsoft will charge $15 for use of Windows 8.1, a 70 percent decline on previous rates.

This allows OEMs to enjoy far stronger margins on low-cost Windows devices, making the Windows world more attractive to the ever margin-strapped device manufacturer world. Also, this brings the cost of Windows on cheap tablets more in line with the cost of Windows Phone on smartphones, an important change given the coming unification between the two core Windows platforms. Microsoft is still coy on the matter, but its executives have essentially laid the plan bare publicly.

This morning at Mobile World Congress Microsoft announced a sheaf of new product changes to both Windows 8.x and Windows Phone, including improvements to the core desktop experience of Windows proper, and aggressive moves to extend the capability of OEMs to build Windows Phone handsets.

In addition to a ready-to-go template, and work to allow Android handsets to run Windows Phone more simply, Microsoft listed off a grip of new OEMs that are on board to work on Windows Phone itself; if the platform is to live and die by partners, as it has thus far (both flavors of Windows), making the lives of those partners easier is simple calculus.

The announced Windows 8.x changes — detail remains light, expect more at Build in a few months — and the Windows Phone platform improvements continue the company’s bet on both Windows, and its ability to grow a platform of its own. This means Microsoft is wagering that it doesn’t need to retrench to lean on Android, for example, an idea that some externally have floated.

What you need to keep in mind is that work Microsoft does now to improve Windows Phone is work proper to its strategy to unify that platform, and experience with Windows RT. So, the work that the company is doing to better support keyboard and mouse users is almost separate; that work is in a different use-case silo.

Lowering the cost for Windows on low-cost devices could help the company foster a new cadre of devices that will eventually run whatever the Second Windows is; so the new OEM group supporting Windows Phone implies future hardware support for what comes next. That’s important.

All the above — and I’ll have more for you in the coming days — indicates so far as your humble servant can divine from lumpy tea sediment that Microsoft hasn’t changed its course in betting that a unified Windows experience across device classes with a firm shared application development environment is a strategy worth following.

Can Windows Phone take on Android or iOS in the short-term? No, at least not in terms of developer buy-in. But a unified Windows ecosystem that helps developers build once and deploy diversely to a growing set of devices could be something different altogether, in the medium and long-term.

Microsoft is not out of the arboreal subset, but it is wagering on building something big of its own, instead of depending on others. In the platforms wars, there likely isn’t another option. It remains a question of execution.

IMAGE BY FLICKR USER DELL INC. UNDER CC BY 2.0 LICENSE (IMAGE HAS BEEN CROPPED)

http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/23/microsofts-aggressive-platform-push/

The Essence of Wisdom2.0


Stay curious. Have a beginners mind. Know you always have a choice in how you feel or what you do. You are not your emotions, rather they are a part of you.

I was reminded of all of this as I returned to my third Wisdom2.0 conference. I wasn’t even going to go. I decided that after two years of attending, I didn’t need to attend. I’d save some money and time and focus on other things. When a ticket was gifted to me, I made the choice to go back. I was grateful for the opportunity and couldn’t believe I was going, even when I thought I didn’t need to go. I jumped at the chance and was one of the dozens of people there representing Google.

Wisdom2.0 is about connecting and learning more about how each of us, whether we work in or use technology, can make the world a little better, less stressed out, and can become more aware to give back or contribute to the world. Over 2000 of us huddled in the bowels of the Mariott Marquis in San Francisco over the course of four days. Greeting, learning, growing, listening, and teaching each other. We started as a conference, and after the three days, as Congressman Tim Ryan proposed, we ended as a movement.

Wisdom2.0 is about the people and their actions, their companies, or personal missions to give back or create. Each of us there was hungry to learn. I felt drawn to share and connect, like most of us. Others were curious, there for work or to check out what this scene was all about.

Wisdom2.0 is about learning and teaching others how to be less stressed, by staying in the moment and not freaking out about the future, or dwelling in the past. Some of the greatest teachers of our time were on hand to remind and reiterate the techniques to reduce stress, clear your mind, and feel good where you are, in whatever you do.

I continued to learn new things. I engaged with dozens of interesting and motivated like minded people. I felt re-energized to help create my vision of an authentic life where I share my mindfulness side with work and help influence others to take this on so they can live happier, fuller, less congested lives.

I was gently reminded that all of us everyday can choose to be authentic. We choose how we show up to work, to our families, or how we play and interact with others. We can buy products from companies that give back (Give-nesses as 10 year old founder of Make a Stand Lemonade Vivienne calls it) or support and build companies that aren’t serving our planet or ourselves other than to make money. The choice is yours.

Here’s my key takeaways:

Thoughts are distracting.

As speaker Loic Le Meur says in his own article on his Wisdom2.0 experience, “Mediation created a new space in my brain.” I feel the same way. I started meditating two and a half years ago, and it’s provided a way to instantly drop into stillness, and center myself. Don’t let the name intimidate, it just means to be aware. Even if it’s noticing how I walk down the street, feel the wind on my face, that counts.

We’re all in this together.

Ariana Huffington said this in her keynote speech. We are a collective consciousness. Our actions, non-actions, words, and how we chose to spend our money, time, and efforts all matter and effect many beyond just you and who you touch. It’s a ripple effect, and every single one of us has that power. If you don’t think you have it, you’re wrong. If you don’t believe it, try it. After all, what do you have to lose?

Wisdom is consciousness, the body, and authenticity.

What is wisdom? Is it passed down generation to generation? Is it what we innately know without reading a textbook or taking a class? Is it from taking a class? Is it how our body feels or reacts? Is it what we as a society have learned over time? It is all of this. It is yourself. It is everyone together. It is also your own authenticity — the ability to show up as your full self, without putting on a mask for your boss, your friend, your kids. It is feeling fear, sadness, hurt, anger, and joy, and being ok with all of it as part of yourself.

I leave the conference with ideas and courage in how I can contribute as an agent of change, my own self-declared purpose, for myself and others to lead a life filled with more engagement, happiness, and less stress. Stay curious, my friends.

Written by

Online is the New Real World: Your Digital Reputation Precedes You


With the social web and proliferation of apps, smart phones and always on internet access, we are becoming a society of accidental narcissists. I don’t believe we set out to become self-obsessed and to be honest, it’s not all that bad. Today’s digital lifestyle made self-expression not only possible but also acceptable. Selfies! What once would have been frowned upon as anti-social and narcissistic is now a form of everyday self-expression. It’s the new emoticon in many ways.

Sharing our lives is easy and it’s rewarding as friends, family and followers react with Likes, shares, comments, et al. With each update we receive positive reinforcement and are heartened to share more. We now are at the center of our own universe and with each day that passes, we share more of our lives and encouragement pushes our behavior toward extroversion. The words privacy and publicity now take on entirely new meanings as we place on display the very thing our ancestors cherished as privileged. With each update, post, selfie, we share a bit of ourselves that in their own way contribute to a semblance of our digital persona.

This though, works for and against us…

The virtual world is more real than we realize.

Online, just like in the real world, actions and words speak loudly. Unlike real life though, your digital footprints are there for anyone to find on Google, social networks, and in communities. These disparate pieces are then assembled by employers, schools, friends, lovers, enemies, and anyone and everyone who wish to learn something more about you. Whether pure, sinister or simply inquisitive, whatever the reason, today these pieces construct a semblance of you and whomever sifts through your online legacy is left to their own surmise. This is too important to leave to chance. This is your life.

Online is the new real world.

In his new book, Repped, Andy Beal reminds us of something we should think about but rarely do. We should be more methodical about what we share and why. But online engagement is teaching us to think in the moment instead of anticipating how those moments collect and assemble into something we didn’t initially foresee. As Andy defines, repped is the result of conscious contributions that are intentionally additive.

He’s on to something here. And, if we each think deeply about it, we are indeed the masters of our own digital fate by choosing what we share and how we reward those whom guide us online. At the same time, we are also the beast of our own burden by sharing whimsically. By investing in positive reputation updates, whether for you or someone else, ratings rise. Relationships flourish. Trust builds. Thus, we enhance and shape an individual’s online profile to a more deserving standing. Again, it’s intentional.

If we do nothing and continue to post along our merry way, we become the victim of chance and circumstance. What others see and assume, the impressions that form, the opinions that arise, and the decisions they make as a result, are defined for us if we do not first define and reinforce what we want them to be.

Think about it this way. When you look in the mirror, you see a reflection of who you are right now. What if you could transform that reflection each day into someone you hoped to see staring back at you. With repped, we become architects of our desired reflection. If heedful, this digital reflection will ultimately work for us rather than against us. It’s more than how we see ourselves of course. It’s the broad strokes we paint in addition to the fine detail that we dab to paint a portrait that helps us now and in the future.

What separates reality from aspiration are your actions and words. You earn what you deserve.

It is what we share and how we build relationships that communicate who we are, not only to those whom we know, but also those whom we wish to know as well as those who are seeking to know more about us. It takes work yes. But then again so does anything that matters in life. Where everything begins though is what’s important. Most jump into online engagement without taking what is quite honestly the most important first step…connecting the threads of who you are, your aspirations, and who it is you want others to see.

Take a moment to answer this question…Why do you use social networks?

Is it to communicate your life to friends and followers?

Is it a form of self-expression?

Do you cast your actions to the proverbial audience to enchant or entertain them?

Take heart in what it is that moves you and those who follow you. Consider what it is they see as opposed to what you do online. You’ll find a great divide between what you say and the intentions behind them and what someone else hears or sees and takes away from each moment. Such is true in life of course, but here nothing really vanishes. Again, everything either works for or against you.

What is it that you value and how could that change with a bit of self-reflection?

I refer to today’s value system in social engagement as the 5 Vs. With each update, we seem look for something in return and each represent a shifting balance between what we treasure and what we think we treasure. The purpose of this exercise though is to contemplate the meaning of worth and in turn put stock in what it is we value and what it is that others will value…in the short and long term.

The 5Vs

1) Vision (I learn something, I’m inspired);
2) Validation (I’m accepted or justified);
3) Vindication (I’m right, cleared);
4) Vulnerability (I’m open); and
5) Vanity (Not egotism, but accidental narcissism. I’m important),

To earn or bestow increments of repped require intent and diligence. Nothing though begins without describing what it is you want people to know and see and how that tracks toward your personal and professional goals. The 5Vs require careful balance. Sometimes its best if you audit your online behavior to see which of the 5Vs were out of balance in the past. Doing so helps align your future engagement.

Some teenagers are aware of the “drama” that arises when their posts or pictures are taken out of context. In fact, they’re smart about covering their tracks. In some ways this is a divergent strategy from repped, but its example teaches us a lesson about the importance of building online reputations over time.

Rather than intentionally construct a desired presence, they simply remove traces of their communication after initial sharing. Some “whitewall” their networks by deleting everything after immediate engagement. Others “super log off” by deactivating their accounts when they’re not online. This behavior is what inspired the rise of an ephemeral web, one that automatically vanishes after a fixed amount of time. There’s a reason Snapchat and other apps and networks like it are wildly popular.

Snapchat and the ephemeral web represent an interesting evolution in social media in that it helps people “share without care” or better manage their digital footprint. The ephemeral nature of “now you see it, now you don’t” lets users be themselves, or sometimes encourages deviant behavior, without worry of future leverage against them. This comes at a time when colleges and employers, and everyone for that matter, are reviewing social networks as qualifying criteria for consideration. With ephemerality, the challenge for you and me though is the very thing that makes it so special and that’s the temporary nature of the moment.

Among accidental narcissists however, attention, popularity, and reactions are also catalysts for open sharing. As a result, Snapchat is experimenting with a hybrid of ephemeral messaging that adds a touch of permanence, such as its Stories product. There’s a sense of narrative that tells a story the way a user defines. But they still vanish in the end.

The ephemeral web is just one of two factions of the social web evolving today. The other movement underway is that of the anonymous web thanks in part to apps cum social networks Whisper and Secret.

When I first heard of Whisper, my initial reaction was wow, that’s interesting and potentially addictive. When I then heard about Secret, I felt similarly but then added the words dangerous and finite to the list. Whisper and Secret are representatives of the anonymous social web, which is a branch of the overall private social movement. Similar to its sister movement around the ephemeral web, these apps are promoting a behavior of sharing without establishing a link between identify and legacy.

Secret is interesting in that it connects friends and friends of friends. This makes the content relevant while sparking curiosity and conversations behind the scenes, online and the real world. Because it’s someone you know or could know, it adds a layer of intrigue to the mix. By including social validation engagement such as likes and comments, users are conditioned to continually share provocative thoughts, observations, and also secrets. It’s a promising mix that will keep secret public for the foreseeable future. However, I see it as more as disruptive novelty than I do as a long term stand alone app. It’s the anonymous movement that will outlast many early players. But that’s not the point. It’s how behavior changes in how we engage and share and the levers of identity we pull to align, or chose not to, our brand with the updates we we find interesting.

The people who define the social web are fickle and suffer from extreme cases of shiny object syndrome. But, anonymity can be healthy. Productive conversations can emerge beyond the juvenile antics of immature or mean people.

As founder of 4chan moot once said in a piece standing up for anonymity, “It’s incredible what people can make when they’re able to fail publicly without fear, since not only will those failures not be attributed to them, but they’ll be washed away by a waterfall of new content.” It was his follow-on comment that struck me however, making sense of the rise of social anonymity…

Anonymous or pseudonymous posting can relieve us of the burdens of social media, and the resulting narcissistic behavior.”

The psychological conditioning of users though is shaped by how communities inside and outside of the communities react. And Whisper’s approach is among the most promising for a long-term play. As I shared with USAToday, with Gawker vial traffic czar Neetzan Zimmerman joining Whisper, the anonymous network will morph into a hybrid gossip, confessional, and allegation media network. And with Zimmerman’s first piece making the rounds that claims actress Gwyneth Paltrow is cheating on her husband, Whisper is officially on its way to competing for media and consumer attention while paving the way for anonymous social networking and sharing.

By crowdsourcing interesting revelations and curating or editing them a la TMZ, BuzzFeed and Upworthy, we may see these networks around for the foreseeable future.

We now live three lives online; one that disappears, one that is secret, and one that sculpts our legacy.

This reminds me of a poignant observation once shared by novelist and philosopher Gabriel García Márquez, “Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life.” With the likes of Facebook, SnapChat and Secret, the thoughts shared by Gabriel García Márquez is now a digital prophecy come to life.

Now’s the time to consider how you want to be appreciated. Now’s the time to consider the value of online engagement and come to terms with what you want to invest into and take out of your digital life and the digital lives of others.

An investment in your online persona will help you earn digital significance. Equally, investing in those who are important to you will also help you bestow significance unto others. The value you assign to engagement affects what you place and take out of this so-called digital life.

The value we take away must only be surpassed by what we invest. This is the foundation for your digital legacy and that of others.

This post is the unabridged foreword for Andy Beale’s Repped…published with approval.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top photo: Shutterstock

6 Keys To Striking A Balance Between Business And Family


There’s an ongoing battle that most entrepreneurs and high-flying business professionals wage within themselves. And that’s how to balance their time between their personal and professional lives.

When you’re building your own business or passionately pursuing the career of your dreams it’s all too easy to throw yourself into it all hours of the day and night, seven days a week. You become married to your work, often to the detriment of your home life—your relationships with your significant other, your family and your friends.

Let’s face it. While you obviously love your family the truth of the matter is that you also really love your work. But don’t forget the old adage that nobody goes to their grave saying, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

Later in life most executives look back ruefully on the times they missed a wedding anniversary or a special event at their child’s school because they were traveling on business or just “couldn’t get away” from a meeting or conference. Yes, you can convince yourself that you’re putting in all of those extra hours to support your family, but don’t forget that whatever sacrifices you make, your family makes also.

So what can you do to try and strike the right balance between business demands and family?

Schedule Time

Set aside some time every week that is “sacrosanct.” This is family time, no matter what. Maybe it’s all day Sunday. Maybe it’s a Friday night dinner at a neighborhood restaurant. Maybe it’s the kids’ soccer game Saturday morning followed by pizza. This is time that is a weekly event that all members of the family put on their calendar.

Plan ahead to avoid conflicts as much as possible (bearing in mind if you’re an entrepreneur that the life you have chosen—by its very nature—means there is no such thing as a routine schedule).

Make Up For Lost Time

Inevitably, there will be occasions when something business related crops up that is so critical it just has to take priority. Anyone with a commitment to success knows that there are times when your time is not your own and that you have to seize an opportunity when it presents itself.

But don’t just cancel the family get-together. Make sure you reschedule it. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.

No Distractions

Have you ever been sitting down with a group of people for lunch and half of your companions—if not more—are texting or emailing? It happens at home, too. In this digital age we’re all multi-tasking and staying connected. I sometimes joke when I see this and say, “You know there is an app for that, and it’s called Respect.”

Is it really necessary to have the phone in your hand when you’re sitting down for dinner with your loved ones? Agreed, there are certainly times when you might be expecting an urgent message that just can’t wait. But, by and large, when you’re with your family why not establish a phone-free time? All of our phones, believe it or not, can be turned off. You and the kids (if you have kids and if they’re old enough to have phones) should do just that. And have an old-fashioned conversation. Time is your most valuable asset. Go unplugged.

Be Honest With Yourself

As I mentioned earlier, many times the busy executive rationalizes cancelled family get-togethers, trips (and even vacations) by saying to himself that he’s only really doing it for them and their future—so it is OK. You can rationalize all you want, but deep down those of us who are driven to make it to the top know that it’s our passion. We have a work ethic that leads to long hours. We believe in what we’re doing and we want to be the best at what we’re doing.

So let’s not kid ourselves. We do it because we enjoy it. We thrive on it. But at the same time let’s see if we can make a commitment to ease up on those extra hours that aren’t absolutely necessary and devote them to our families instead. They refuel our will to win.

Share The Journey

Open up to those closest to you about your work life. If you’re pursuing a lifelong dream explain it to them so they have a better appreciation of what drives you and what keeps you away from them. Significant others may well be on different but equally challenging career paths—so date nights are essential.

If you have young children, nephews, nieces, talk to them in terms they will understand to explain your absence—and then make it up to them with surprise appearances and surprise treats.

Leave Work At Work

Today’s technology enables us to work anywhere anytime. In the car. On the train. At home. The boundary between work and home is fuzzier than ever. More people than ever actually work from home. So try to bring the curtain down on the business day. Keep the computer turned off and the laptop in your briefcase. It’s up to you to recreate the boundary.

Finally, just go ahead and give it a shot. You probably already feel guilty about lost family time. So make a commitment to adjust your business-family balance. Chances are you’ll feel refreshed and reinvigorated and your work will benefit as much as your home relationships.

And, if you just finished reading this, you can do something now. Go tell them how much they mean to you and how much you love them. You’ll be surprised how much energy you gain back just from that response.

Photo: melodramababs / shutterstock

Posted by:Gurbaksh Chahal


YouTube Gets Google’s Card Design And Puts Stronger Focus On Playlists

YouTube is rolling out a new design to its users today that takes its cues from the “card-like” design Google now uses on many of its other web and mobile apps. The aim of the redesign, Google tells me, is to emphasize playlists by putting them front and center in the left sidebar.

In addition, however, the company also center-aligned the site to make it look better on any screen and give it a “feeling similar to the mobile apps you’re spending almost half your YouTube time with.” This move allows it to easily employ the card look, which is clearly the main organizational metaphor for any Google product these days.

As part of this design tweak, YouTube also added new icons to the sidebar and introduced a new persistent menu button next to the YouTube logo in the top-left corner of the screen that will bring up the guide with playlists, subscriptions and everything else that’s usually in the sidebar. Overall, the site looks a bit fresher and brighter now and — thanks to some tweaks in the typography — quite a bit more readable.

As part of the emphasis on playlists, Google now shows you all of the playlists you have created and those from channels you liked in the sidebar. In addition, it now highlights playlists on YouTube channels with a new playlist tab. For those who want to create playlists, YouTube is also making it easier to do that. When you make a playlist now, YouTube will pop up a new page that lets you organize your videos.

The new design starts rolling out today, though it may take a few hours or even days before every user will see it.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 3.24.09 PM

http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/20/youtube-gets-googles-card-design-and-puts-stronger-focus-on-playlists/

TC

eDvAIe0

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Whats App, MotionLoft and The FBI – Here Are Five Stories You Won’t Want To Miss!


1.) Forget Jobs and Gates – Here Are The Tech Names You Should Know

2.) All The Major Companies Worth Less Than Whats App

3.) EU Seeks Peace As Ukraine Death Toll Hits 75

4.) Can Someone Explain What’s App Valuation To Me?

5.) Former MotionLoft CEO Jon Mills Arrested By The FBI

Real-Time Mobile Analytics Platform Amplitude Takes On Flurry & Mixpanel


Next Story

Amplitude, a Y Combinator-backed mobile analytics service aiming to take on the likes of Flurry and Mixpanel by offering advanced features at more competitive prices, is officially making its public debut today ahead of YC’s Demo Day. And the company has actually gone through this process before, as it turns out – it’s the same team from the text-by-voice Android app Sonalight, which was in the YC Winter 2012 cohort.

Explains Amplitude co-founder Spenser Skates, Sonalight did “decently” well, reaching hundreds of thousands of downloads, and some number of paying customers, but it never really became a mainstream success. However, the team, as a part of the process of building their own mobile app, had also spent a lot of time creating their own tools for analytics in order to examine their data in custom ways.

Other developers in Y Combinator were soon asking for that same product, after getting a look. So the team pivoted from Sonalight, and built what’s now called Amplitude.

Things got off the ground around a year and a half ago, says Skates. “We looked at the market, and we knew a lot of other mobile companies were really unhappy with what they had for analytics,” he explains. Companies would begin with something free like Flurry or Google, then work their way up to advanced, but expensive services like those from Mixpanel or other enterprise-level players.

But Skates thought they could do something better by building a more developer-centric service, and one that was focused on mobile only.

Today, Amplitude has grown to around 30 business customers using its platform (via its open source SDK), and has a reach of around 20,000 applications, thanks to an integration with the Corona Labs SDK. But the service hadn’t been available for public sign-ups until now.

sc2-retention3

What makes Amplitude different is not only its strict focus on mobile, but also on delivering real-time analytics for things developers need to track like funnels, segmentation, monetization, and more. Plus, it does so at a lower cost. This is especially important for new launches, says Skates. “If you’re launching a product, you need to know right away if it’s succeeding or failing. You don’t want to wait 24 hours for the data,” he says.

sc2-funnel-segfinal

Another feature that makes Amplitude stand out is that it offers direct database access to the raw data. That is, developers can connect directly to its servers and type in a SQL query on the raw data itself, and then analyze the data in any way they want, or pull it into Tableau, for example.

It’s this feature in particular that’s attracted several ex-Zynga employees who are now running their own mobile startups. A few notable customers include former Zynga GM Siqi Chen, now of Heyday; former Zynga VP Bret Terrill, now of 12 Gigs; plus Michael Carter of Game Closure; Hullabalu; LVL6; and others.

Skates says that Amplitude has been attracting customers who have “experienced the pain” of using other mobile platforms, as well as those who are looking for the advanced feature sets without the higher costs of using something like Mixpanel.

“Our costs are probably a fiftieth of Mixpanel’s,” he says. “Mixpanel keeps all data in memory to serve at query time and we pre-process it. But the hard part about pre-processing is you need to be able to predict in advance what people are going to query on, and we’ve figured out a way to do that. We’ve been very smart about how to save space, and computation in memory in order to deliver that very cheaply,” says Skates.

sc2-funnel-users

The company offers a freemium service, with plans that range from $299 to $1999 per month up to enterprise pricing. Today, Amplitude is growing at 30%-50% month-over-month in terms of data collected, and is seeing around 8 billion events per month (or around a third of what Mixpanel does, Skates notes).

San Francisco-based Amplitude is a team of four full-time, including co-founder and CTO Curtis Liu. The company still has a small amount of angel investment from its Sonalight days, but is not discussing its funding plans at this time.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/20/real-time-mobile-analytics-platform-amplitude-takes-on-flurry-mixpanel/