Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google May Be Close to Acquiring Meebo for $100 Million [REPORT]”

Saturday, 12 May 2012 by Irwan K Ch

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google May Be Close to Acquiring Meebo for $100 Million [REPORT]”


Google May Be Close to Acquiring Meebo for $100 Million [REPORT]

Posted: 11 May 2012 09:42 PM PDT


Google is in discussions to acquire Meebo for as much as $100 million, sources have told the often-reliable AllThingsD.

Meebo was founded in 2005 as a messaging app for the browser, a product that still exists as Meebo Messenger. The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup has since developed an expanding suite of social and mobile apps for consumers as well as publishers, each designed to enable online communication.

Meebo raised $25 million in its last round of financing in 2010. The round was led by Khosla Ventures with participation from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital. The company has raised $62.5 million to date.

Neither Google nor Meebo could be reached for comment.

More About: Google, meebo

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Samsung Galaxy S III: Is the Screen Its Achilles Heel?

Posted: 11 May 2012 08:59 PM PDT

samsung-galaxy-s-iii-books-600

The Samsung Galaxy S III, due to arrive in the U.S. this summer, is the current hot Android phone of the moment. Anticipated for months and unveiled last week at a gala event in London, the latest model in Samsung’s Galaxy line of phones brings to the table many impressive features, including Siri-like voice control and auto-tagging of photos.

However, the new superphone may have one weak spot: the display. Samsung decided to give the Galaxy S III a 4.8-inch PenTile display — what the company refers to as HD Super AMOLED. The relatively new display tech works differently than other types of screens, using individual pixels in novel ways to boost resolution.

Here’s how it works: In a normal display, the individual pixels are made up of three sub-pixels — one each for red, green and blue (making them “RGB” displays). Those sub-pixels switch on and off depending on what color the pixel is tasked to display.

A pixel on a PenTile screen, however, has just two sub-pixels. It doesn’t need the third because the pixels actually work together to display visual information. If a pixel needs a third sub-pixel, it can effectively “borrow” one from a nearby pixel to render the proper color. The display is essentially doing more with less, at least in theory.

In practice, it’s much less clear. Reviewers, including Mashable‘s, tend to view PenTile displays somewhat unfavorably, believing they display some artifacts by the nature of how they work. Comparing a PenTile screen with a regular LCD rated at the same resolution, the PenTile may sometimes appear a bit fuzzy around edges. However, it’s a difficult thing to notice without really looking for it.

SEE ALSO: Is a Retina Screen on the iPad 3 Overkill?

“‘Super’ AMOLED display sounds fantastic, but a PenTile display has 33% fewer sub-pixels than a traditional display,” says Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate. “These are phoney pixels. A 1,280 x 720 PenTile display is much less sharp than a true 1,280 x 720 RGB display. ”

If PenTile displays have issues, then why does Samsung use them instead of a traditional high-definition screen? Officially, Samsung says it’s because the technology lasts longer than a regular AMOLED, according to a report from MobileBurn. Although AMOLED screens, which Samsung says are popular with customers, have great brightness and color, they tend to get worse over time.

A PenTile AMOLED mitigates that deterioration. Since it uses fewer blue sub-pixels — the ones that have the shortest life — the display will perform for longer than the 18 months people usually wait to upgrade their phones.

There may be other reasons behind Samsung’s choice, though.

“It’s a lot easier and costs a lot less to make a display with just two sub-pixels per pixel instead of the full complement of three,” Soneira says. “Light throughput is also higher. These are all ‘pluses’ for PenTile, but the minus is reduced image sharpness for the stated pixel resolution.”

With better light throughput, that would also mean a benefit to battery life, since the screen won’t need to run as brightly to have the same effective brightness. Since the demand for more features is constantly outpacing advances in battery tech, device manufacturers look for any opportunity to save power through design.

Finally, there’s the marketing answer. By putting “HD” and “Super” in the name of the product, consumers are led to believe it’s a superior technology than AMOLED. “People think they are getting a much sharper display,” says Soneira.

What do you think of Samsung’s choice of a PenTile display for the Samsung Galaxy S III? Sound off in the comments.


BONUS: The Samsung Galaxy S III in Pictures



Galaxy S III




Click here to view this gallery.

More About: AMOLED, android, samsung, Samsung Galaxy S III

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30,000 Dominoes Capture the History of Nintendo in 3 Minutes [VIDEO]

Posted: 11 May 2012 08:17 PM PDT

Nintendo has been in the gaming market for a long time. So long, in fact, you might think it would be impossible to encapsulate its many iconic characters in games in just three minutes.

One young Nintendo fan was up for the challenge. Describing himself as a “professional domino-ist” on Reddit, the 15-year-old behind the video set up 30,000 dominoes of various sizes and colors, some game cartridges and a few accessories (like a tape measure) as a tribute to the Japanese game company and its various franchises — including Mario, Sonic and Zelda.

The result is spellbinding. We particularly like the various structures that collapse slowly as dominoes from beneath are knocked over. Be sure to watch all the way till the end, where you’ll catch a slight blooper (?) as a few of the dominoes fail to fall.

More About: Nintendo, viral videos, YouTube


Break Your iPhone in This Case And You’ll Get a New Phone for Free

Posted: 11 May 2012 08:00 PM PDT


Break your iPhone in this case, and you’ll get a new one for free. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?

Meet Cellhelmet, a new protective iPhone case from a company called Cellpig. Originally started as a Kickstarter project, the cases recently went into production and are now available for retail sale.

"Originally, we wanted to create the most ‘indestructible’ case on the market, " Mike Kane, CEO of Cellhelmet told Mashable. "But, as we developed our designs, we realized that we were basically recreating something that can already be found on every shelf – a big and bulky case, which wouldn’t fit comfortably in a pocket. That idea went out the door real quick. At this point, a light went on and we thought, ‘Why don’t we design a case that is slim and sleek, with moderate protection, but get a company to back the product, saying that if the iPhone breaks inside, it will be repaired or replaced?’ Bingo – we went with it."

Cellhelmet turned out to be exactly that, a super-protective case that doesn’t add a ton of bulk to your phone. The case is backed by by Global Warranty Group, and is the only case on the market that offers damage coverage on not only the case itself but also your phone inside.

If your phone breaks in the case (excluding water damage), then the company promises to replace it for a year for a $50 handling fee, with no monthly fee for the coverage. Phones are repaired or replaced within three days of receipt and are overnighted back to your address.

The case is made of dense polyurethane rubber, and has angled edges for drop-shock displacement around the device. It be purchased and used on any iPhone 4 or 4S, even jailbroken iPhones and ones you’ve been using for a few years now.

Apple offers AppleCare+ for new iPhones for $99, and will replace your broken phone twice due to mishandling under the program for $49 — making it still probably a better bet for new phone owners. The win with Cellhelmet is going to be for people who are still using a phone where Apple Care has run out, people who didn’t sign up for coverage when they bought their Phones (most require you sign up immediately or within 30 days), and those who have jailbroken their iPhones which makes them ineligible for Apple protection.

What do you think about Cellhelmet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: apple, iphone

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#RyanKennedy Trends on Twitter But It Wasn’t His Dying Wish

Posted: 11 May 2012 07:39 PM PDT


A fourth grade boy with cancer was a trending topic on Twitter last weekend because the Twitterverse thought it was the boy’s dying wish.

But up until a couple weeks ago, the nine-year-old, Ryan, had never heard of Twitter. He does, however, have brain cancer, which he’s been fighting since the age of three. The trend began with a tweet from a friend that asked people to pray for Ryan.

A Twitter representative reportedly told the boy’s mother that #RyanKennedy stayed in the top 20 trending topics last weekend in the U.S. and Canada, and a top ten trending topic in Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, Spain, the U.K. and the Netherlands.

His mother told a local news station in Clarkston, Michigan that Ryan and his family have been grateful for all the prayers around the world.

"He is touched. He breaks down and cries and says, ‘I can't believe so many people love me and care about me,’" Ryan's mother Kim Karp told reporters at WXYZ station in Michigan. "’It just brings joy to my heart,’ he says through his tears."

After his last treatment paralyzed one side of his face, Ryan told his mother he wanted to be done with treatments. Now, he sleeps 23 hours a day and has a difficult time talking and drinking liquids. Doctors reportedly said he likely won’t make it to his 10th birthday on May 24.

The trending topic brought attention to the issue of brain cancer on Twitter, with Ryan’s hashtag trending worldwide.

More About: Children, trending topics, Twitter

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10 Ways to Optimize Your iPad for Kids With Special Needs

Posted: 11 May 2012 06:50 PM PDT


When we think about ways the iPad has changed the world, our minds usually shoot to publishing, entertainment, or mobile communication.

For the community of people living with disabilities, the iPad may have broken even more ground. The iOS device is not only cool, but provides education, therapy and, of course, entertainment.

Last summer, Mashable explored ways iPads are making these changes. Now we’re following up with Sami Rahman, the father of 4-year-old Noah and co-founder of BridgingApps, the Internet’s largest database of special needs app and reviews.

Noah began using his iPad when he was two and was assessed to be 12 months behind with language and cognition. Within four months, he was on par for his age. Now, two years since he began using the iPad, he is 15 months ahead developmentally, can read English and Arabic, and is learning Mandarin.

SEE ALSO: 4 Ways iPads Are Changing the Lives of People With Disabilities

Rahman recently released his book Getting Started: iPads for Special Needs. Rahman shared some of his insights for preparing an iPad for people with disabilities. Most of the tricks are tailored for parents or educators working with children.


1. Pick the Right Specs


One of the biggest differences between the iPad 2 and the new iPad is retina display, which can create an incredible visual experience. Most special needs iPad users will not appreciate it at all, Rahman says, unlike artists or photographers. The reason to choose the new iPad would be if you want or need 4G connectivity.

The iPad 2, however, offers a major advantage over the original iPad — cameras. A major problem for many people living with learning disabilities is learning to associate an abstract concept with the physical object. In other words, recognizing that an illustration of a tree is related to the tree outside of the window. Taking photos on the iPad can be helpful for learning to associate food as an icon with food as an item, for instance.

This can be useful in the classroom environment, where a teacher can create content on the go without going back and forth to the computer.

When it comes to choosing the right size, Rahman says most social needs apps are not too large. If your iPad is just going to have one primary user, you won’t need any larger than 32GB. However, if the device is going to be shared in a classroom, 64GB could be worthwhile.


2. Volume Control


Rahman says his wife’s favorite tip is to cover the speaker with masking tape. His son Noah, who has cerebral palsy, loves to jack up the volume on his iPad to be “blood curdling loud.”

“Because the iPad is a platform I can’t install software on to regulate the overall volume, we literally put cellophane tape over the speaker,” Rahman says.

Another option is to get a big case, which can muffle some of the sound, if you don’t want to restrict control over the tablet.


3. Explore Accessibility Features


The iPad comes with a lot of accessibility features already included, which you should explore.

Voice over is one great feature for the visually impaired, which reads what you swipe out loud when it’s switched on. You can also try “white on black” view, zoom (for the visually impaired) and assisted touch (press a button instead of shaking your iPad).

Rahman recommends setting the triple click on the home button to turn on the accessibility feature you use most regularly.


4. Try an External Keyboard


While some special needs users are great with the touchscreen keyboard, there can be two advantages to attaching an external keyboard to the iPad. First, it’s easier for people with fine motor issues to get an accurate touch.

Second, if you’re trying to work with multiple languages with different alphabets, you can attach character stickers on to keys rather than flipping between the iPad’s language options.


5. Make Time for FaceTime


For people on the autism spectrum, learning to make eye contact can be incredibly challenging — it’s also one of the first warning signs that a child may not be inputting social interactions correctly.

Using FaceTime to chat with friends and relatives outside of your home can be a great way to build those skills. The facial close-up forces kids to look into the eyes of the person with whom they’re chatting.

“For any child that has a hard time with social interactions, FaceTiming with relatives can be fun and incredibly therapeutic,” Rahman says.


6. DIY Keyguard


Keyguards are a very inexpensive way to give a voice to people who are uncommunicative and can be purchased cheaply for $20 or made by hand from foam board and an X-Acto knife.

Rahman recalls visiting with a non-verbal student in one school who used a two-button keyguard to communicate yes and no. After answering a sequence of yes or no questions, expressing his preferences for different needs and likes, the boy told a joke. Humor is, of course, a huge indicator of intelligence, Rahman notes.

“Do you have fun in school?” Rahman asked, expecting a yes, following a series of correctly answered questions.

The boy smiled, placed his hand near the yes, and then slid his finger over to the no button.

The boy again hit down the no.

“Really?” Rahman asked a final time.

The boy moved his hand over and pressed yes, indicating he in fact enjoyed school.


7. Set Boundaries


It should come as no surprise that iPads can be lots of fun for the special needs population, so parents need to set boundaries from the start.

“The iPad is totally useless without a plan,” Rahman says. “Everyone owns a hammer but few people can use it to build a building.”

Comparing an iPad to a pacifier, Rahman says parents must draw lines to prevent the iPad from becoming just an entertainer, and to ensure it is used for education and therapy.


8. Make Photo Albums


Learning to associate pictures of objects with concepts can take years for some people with special needs, but the iPad can be an important learning tool if you take pictures and organize photo albums. The tablet can become a great communicator when you view 16 icons at once, and allow the user to choose what they want.

You can give people who are non-verbal and partially non-verbal the ability to express preference by showing them, for instance, pictures of foods that they can eat for a given meal. You can also show options of activities, clothes or people.


9. Keep Cleaning


While iPads can be great babysitters, if you want to use the tablet for therapy or education you’ll need to frequently mix up the types of apps your child is using.

“If you’re not removing apps on a regular basis, you’re focusing on entertainment, not education and therapy,” Rahman says.

Parents almost always tell Rahman that they’re not removing apps from their children’s iPads, meaning they’re not letting their children flex their muscles or learn new skills.


10. Lock Screen


The constant rotation of the screen can be incredibly frustrating for some individuals with special needs. You can choose to lock the screen to prevent the display from reorienting as the device moves. This will give the user a greater feeling of control over their experience.

Rahman notes that for his own son, after two years with his iPad, it was a big moment when he learned to navigate with an unlocked screen.

“I don’t want him to just settle, I want a kid that forces the world he wants,” Rahman says.

More About: apple, features, ipad, parenting, Social Good, special needs


Enhanced Jug Sends Mobile Alerts When You’re Out of Milk [VIDEO]

Posted: 11 May 2012 06:09 PM PDT



Toronto-based Teehan+Lax Labs — a digital media company research unit that explores creative uses of technology — has developed an Android mobile app that answers the question — “Got Milk?”

Researchers developed a specialized milk jug and mobile app called “Do We Have Milk” that pushes notifications to your phone when you’re running low.

A weight sensor is attached to the bottom of the jug. When there’s only enough milk for a bowl of cereal, coffee or no milk at all, the app shows you where the closest sources of dairy are located. Watch the video above for a demo.

This is a high-tech solution for forgetfulness. For the lab, it’s a way to use technology simply in day-to-day life.

“Although this experiment revolved around milk, the idea has broader implications that extend beyond the milk itself,” the Teehan+Lax Labs team said in a blog post. “How can this idea impact the way we organize our lives and the way we interact with objects using the digital capabilities available to us? The possibilities are as endless as our imagination.”

Possible applications include food management at the household or restaurant-level, according to the developers. It also opens the door for communication with our environment — making digital connections between people and inanimate objects. This reminds us of the plant that tweets for water.

What other futuristic digital applications would you like to see in day-to-day life? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of Teehan+Lax Labs

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‘F_ck Yeah!’ The Evolution of Tumblr’s Big Trend

Posted: 11 May 2012 04:44 PM PDT

Out of the 55 million plus blogs that Tumblr is home to, more than 100 per day are part of the “Fuck Yeah” trend.

Basically, if you like something — say, cats or Jason Schwartzman — there is an entire blog dedicated to photos, GIFs and other multimedia of that one thing. (Note: there is no Fuck Yeah Cats and Jason Schwartzman as of this writing.)

Like other viral web phenomenons (“Sh*t Girls Say,” or What Should We Call Me, for example), one idea sparked a million different versions of the same general concept. This particular trend has circulated on Tumblr since 2007.

The Tumblr team created the charts below as part of its newest project, Storyboard, which highlights various talented creators and their work.

According to Tumblr, there is no exact explanation for why the trend went viral, but it seems to have spiked after Fuck Yeah Sharks. Go figure.


Image courtesy of Scott Beale / Laughing Squid.

More About: blog, infographic, trending, tumblr, viral


Facebook’s First Job, Post IPO? Fix Its Mobile App

Posted: 11 May 2012 03:36 PM PDT

facebook-mobile-app-600

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is telling would-be investors that mobile is Facebook’s number one priority.

Zuckerberg addressed about 200 investors during the Palo Alto leg of Facebook’s IPO roadshow, answering questions and laying out plans for 2012 and beyond. According to Reuters, the CEO put his focus squarely on improving Facebook’s mobile app.

This is an important pronouncement, and it aligns with what Facebook has said its in various S-1 filings. Since Facebook filed for its IPO back in February, the issue of mobile — and more specifically, mobile monetization — has come up time and again.

Although Facebook has a strong mobile presence, its app is not monetized the same way as its main platform. The advertising just isn’t there.

This has been a major problem for the social network, especially when it comes to competing in mobile-first areas such as location and photo sharing.

SEE ALSO: Why Instagram Was Worth $1 Billion to Facebook

Just days before Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, Facebook’s head of mobile developer relations told a group of reporters that “had Facebook been built today, it would be mobile.”

The challenges that Facebook faces with mobile go beyond just mobile ads and competing with other mobile-first social networks, it becomes intrinsic with the platform itself.

Facebook sends nearly 60 million people to other mobile apps each month, thanks to its newly revamped mobile platform. Still, Facebook has to be concerned about sending users out of the ecosystem.

To fix that, the company needs to make it easy for developers to build mobile-friendly or mobile-first experiences that can run in tandem with Facebook apps — or for users who access Facebook from mobile and tablet browsers.


Despite Questions, Facebook IPO Already a Hit


It wouldn’t be an IPO season without conflicting rumors and reports of the “success” of a roadshow. Just yesterday, we wrote about a report from Bloomberg that suggested that demand for the Facebook IPO is weaker than expected.

Today, Reuters is reporting the exact opposite, instead saying that the IPO is already oversubscribed.

According to Reuters, institutional investors don’t care about slowing growth, the issues with mobile or Zuckerberg’s hoodie — they want as much stock as they can get, to the point that Facebook won’t have enough to go around.

We’re sure promises of a strong commitment to fixing mobile will leave investors even more interested.

What would you most like to see changed about Facebook’s mobile apps? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ymgerman

More About: Facebook, facebook ipo, facebook mobile, Mobile

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Watch Out, Google: Bing Nabs 30% of Search Market [STUDY]

Posted: 11 May 2012 02:47 PM PDT

Bing

Microsoft’s search engine Bing now accounts for 30% of U.S. web searches, according to a Experian Hitwise report.

Bing-powered queries — made up of searches from Bing.com and Bing-powered searches on Yahoo and the websites of other notable partners — accounted for 30.01% of searches in April, according to the Hitwise report.

Bing-powered searches rose 5% and Bing.com searches rose 6% month-over-month, respectively. The number of Google searches dropped 3% from the month previous and 11% from the same period in 2011, accounting for 64.42% of U.S. searches in April. Bing-powered search, on the other hand, gained 11% in year-over-year percentages.

Bing, the second most popular search engine in the U.S., unveiled plans for a website redesign this week — aiming to make search more social.

The new social search will compete with Google’s Search Plus Your World update. Google’s integration of Google+ data into its search engine was unveiled in January.

SEE ALSO: Bing Reinvents Social Search and Discovery

Microsoft says the Bing update will introduce “a better way to search.” The update will incorporate personal search results into the search engine’s algorithm. The results will appear in a panel on the side of the page. This includes which “friends might know,” “people who know,” and related activity recently on Facebook. Microsoft announced updates would come slowly.

Do you think Bing’s new redesign will help the Microsoft search engine catch up to Google? Tell us in the comments if you would consider switching to Bing.

More About: bing, Experian Hitwise, Google, Yahoo

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Turntable.fm Makes Its Way to Android

Posted: 11 May 2012 02:21 PM PDT


Now Android users can take their Turntable.fm experience on the go with a new app for Android tablets and phones. Previously only available online and for iOS, the new Turntable.fm brings much of the same functionality you may have come to love in the web version to an app you can put in your pocket.

If you’re not familiar with Turntable.fm, the service basically involves getting groups of people together to listen to music that is being virtually DJ’d by others. A room can have up to five DJs at a time, with each DJ getting a chance to play one song at a time, rotating through the lineup of those participating.

SEE ALSO: Turntable.fm Gets Blessing of Record Labels

As each song is played, those listening (and the other DJs) can vote on whether they like a particular track. An Awesome rating will earn you DJ points that can be used to upgrade your avatar and earn street cred with other DJs. If you get too many Lame ratings, however, your song will skip and the next DJ’s selection will begin.

Rooms within the app can be sorted by Popular, Needs DJs, or Favorites. You can join rooms and listen to music, DJ, and vote on your favorites from the app as well as chat.

Initial customer reviews and our own experience, show that the app has some stability issues — particularly when trying to use the chat function which often causes the app to crash. Those issues could potentially be due the volume of people trying access it today or potentially a software glitch that could be corrected in an future update.

Have any of you downloaded the Android version of turntable.fm? What do you think of it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: android, App, online music, turntable.fm


Hiring Hustle: 5 Tips for Building a Killer Startup Team

Posted: 11 May 2012 01:53 PM PDT


Mashable’s new video series, Behind the Launch, follows Vungle on its startup journey toward a June launch. Each week on Mashable, the Vungle team will offer our readers some tips and lessons learned from their own startup experience. This week, we met Vungle, and it brought on “a closer” to try and accelerate the company’s development, so co-founder Jack Smith offers a few recruitment tips. Watch the episode above, and be sure to tune in to Behind the Launch every Monday and Wednesday.


Hiring, especially in Silicon Valley, can be one of the toughest challenges of running a startup, as there's so much competition — especially for engineers. When trying to run a lean startup, the prospect of spending 20% or more of a hire's salary on recruiter fees is not exactly appealing. But recruiters aren't your only option for hiring. There are lots of ways to hustle your hiring on the cheap — here are five tips.

Missed the premiere of Behind the Launch? Watch it here!


1. Have a Structured Recruitment Process


It's good practice to come up with a structured recruitment process, which you can evolve over time and bypass only for exceptional candidates. Having every candidate go through the same process means that you will have a level playing field on which to evaluate them; we've often found that when we've skipped our interview process for a candidate, there are glaring issues down the line that we hadn't picked up on. Here’s a good step-by-step outline.

  • Review the profile of candidates coming through and arrange a short call with the ones of interest.
  • Keep the initial call to 15 minutes and mainly focus on assessing cultural fit to figure out if you’d get on working with this person. This is also an opportunity to "sell" your startup to the candidate and get them excited about what you're working on. If the candidate is a cultural fit, then reach out to arrange a follow-up call for him to speak to one of your engineers.
  • The follow-up call with an engineer will last roughly 15 to 30 minutes and center on getting a high level assessment of the candidate’s technical knowledge. During the call, they will agree on a time when the candidate would be free to spend roughly 30 minutes completing a technical interview question.
  • Using tools such as Boomerang for Gmail or RightInbox, you can schedule to send a technical engineering question exactly at the time agreed upon with the candidate. At that point, you’ll be able to assess how fast he can problem-solve and how complete an answer they send back. For consistency, send all candidates the same technical question. A good place to look for inspiration for these engineering questions is university courses. If the candidate does well in the engineering interview, then invite them to your office for an onsite interview.
  • When the candidate comes onsite, introduce him to the whole team, then have him work with different engineers through a series of engineering questions. Then give the candidate an opportunity to hang out with the rest of the team, perhaps over lunch. Review candidates based on this onsite interview.

2. Keep on Top of Your Hiring Pipeline


It's no use having a structured interview process if you can't keep track of what stage of the process each of your candidates is at. PipeDrive is a great way to manage various candidates and keep track of their recruitment process, but you could just as easily use Excel or Google Docs.


3. Utilize Different Tools To Get the Right Amount of Candidates


It's important to balance quality with quantity when reviewing potential candidates. I would recommend setting the bar high at the CV review stage to avoid wasting time on calls with average people. LinkedIn stands out as a great tool to identify potential candidates, but there are a few other websites that are useful for identifying a larger number of top candidates, including:


4. Don't Forget to "Sell" Your Startup


It's easy to forget that an interview actually works both ways — the candidate is assessing your startup as a place to work. Show your passion for your startup, outline the challenges that you face (top candidates like to be challenged) and invest time in building a team dynamic. Company culture is important, both in the recruiting process and for employee happiness, so go on team hikes, go out drinking together and tell candidates about the sort of activities that you do as a team.


5. Don't Stop at the Job Offer



When you find someone that you want to hire, don't expect him to join just because you made an offer. There's so much competition for hires, and highly coveted people often have several options. It's likely that candidates won't make a decision of where to join based solely on the terms of the offer. It will likely come down to a few factors, such as how much he believes in your vision.

Therefore, your work shouldn't stop at the job offer stage. You should continue to work to convince the candidate that your company is the one he should join. If you have investors, you should ask them to take calls with candidates, to explain why they invested in you. You can also consider starting the person as a contract-to-hire, where possible — you’d pay the person as a contractor at the beginning, until he’s ready to make a decision. Lastly, ask any mutual connections that you might have with the candidate to 'backchannel' them to hype up how great your company is.

What are your tips for hiring? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Oxford, nullplus

More About: Behind the Launch Series, features, mashable, Vungle

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Run an NYC Startup? New Bill Would Give a Tax Credit to Your Investors

Posted: 11 May 2012 01:35 PM PDT


Good news for all of the New York City-based startups out there: A new bill under discussion in the New York State Assembly would give angel investors a sizable tax credit for investing in your company.

The Angel Investor Tax Credit, proposed by Democratic Assemblymember Micah Kellner, would give a 25% tax credit to investors who put between $25,000 and $1 million of their money behind a New York City-based startup. 60% of the startup’s employees must be based in the city for the company’s investors to qualify for the credit.

Kellner, whose district includes Cornell University’s recently announced Roosevelt Island technology campus, told Mashable that his proposed tax credit would add fuel to the New York startup scene’s fire (one recent study suggested that New York has surpassed Boston, M.A. as the fastest-growing startup hub in the country).

“If we’re going to have this amazing new technology campus, and if we’re going to be ‘Silicon Island,’ we need to make sure startups have the opportunity to get into their teenage years, so to speak,” said Kellner. “And one way to do that is to make sure there’s incentives to invest in New York startups.”

Kellner pointed out that other states which have similar incentives, such as Connecticut and Wisconsin, have seen boosts in angel investments of up to 500% over five years. He’s also worried that such incentives granted by other states — particularly those of nearby Connecticut — attract startups and investors away from New York City.

“We have great success investing in companies in New York, and we don’t want companies going elsewhere because they want competitive tax credits,” he said. “The last thing I want is the next Twitter or Facebook being developed in New York, only to be commercialized and have their company headquarters end up in Connecticut. [Startup jobs] are good jobs and I want them here in New York.”

SEE ALSO: Why Has New York Become a Paradise for Tech Startups?

Currently, the bill is being debated in the Democrat-controlled Assembly’s Ways and Means committee, which writes the state’s tax legislation.

Albany is notorious for its partisan political gridlock, but Kellner’s got an ally on the other side of the asile that should help move the tax credit forward. Republican State Senator Joseph Robach is sponsoring the bill in the Republican-dominated State Senate because, according to Kellner, Robach represents the University of Rochester, one of New York State’s most prominent technology campuses.

Kellner’s overall goal is to promote New York City’s technology startup culture and entrepreneurial spirit, which he believes is key to strengthening New York State’s economy as a whole.

“We need to diversify our economy in New York State; we’re way too reliant on the financial industry,” he said. “25% of the state’s tax revenue is generated south of fourteenth street. We need to diversify, and this tax credit is a great way to do that.”

Kellner’s bill can be viewed right here.

Are you in favor of a tax credit to promote startup investments? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, lightkeeper

More About: new york city, Politics, Small Business, Startups, US


Should Celebrities Create Their Own Branded Social Networks?

Posted: 11 May 2012 01:17 PM PDT



What’s better than having 1 million followers on Twitter? Having 35,000 followers on your own social network. At least, that’s what Grammy Award-winning producer and hip-hop artist Jermaine Dupri thinks. Dupri started his own social network, Global14, after getting frustrated by limitations on other networks. The result is a community of 35,000 members that Dupri says he is more connected to.

“I have some people come on the site and they're like, you only have 35,000 people, and they're like, that's not a lot, but it is a lot when they're all talking to you,” he says. “I think people get it twisted. If you have a million Twitter followers, you can't even see everyone who's actually speaking to you. The more followers you have, the less you actually get to connect.”

Watch more videos from What’s Trending on Mashable

Watch this episode of What’s Trending to learn more about how Dupri’s unique approach to social networking is panning out for the multitalented music star.

More About: Music, Video, whatstrending

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LinkedIn Considering Buying Monster [REPORT]

Posted: 11 May 2012 01:04 PM PDT


LinkedIn is mulling over the purchase of job site giant Monster, according to a report.

Monster, which retained Stone Key Partners and Bank of America in March to pursue the sale of the company, has since received “expressions of interest” from LinkedIn and tech-focused buyout firm Silver Lake, reports Reuters, which cites unnamed sources.

A rep from Monster declined to comment on the report. LinkedIn reps could not be reached at press time.

The report prompted a 19% jump in Monster stock Friday afternoon. At press time, the stock was up about 16%. Monster, owner of HotJobs, has seen its business suffer in recent years as LinkedIn, among others, become bigger players in the space. Monster’s revenues for 2011 were $250 million, down $250 million from the year before. The company has attempted to reverse the decline with BeKnown, a Facebook-based professional network that it launched last June. BeKnown is not the only such network on Facebook, though. BranchOut hit 25 million users in April.

LinkedIn, meanwhile, has been on a buying spree, acquiring both SlideShare and Rapportive within the past few months.

Image courtesy of Flickr, TheSeafarer

More About: linkedin, monster

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Top 10 GIFs of the Week

Posted: 11 May 2012 12:53 PM PDT


1. Obama Celebrating




Following the news that President Obama supports gay marriage on Wednesday, a Tumblr blog called "When Obama Endorsed" popped up on the web, featuring this GIF with the president, Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden and Michelle Obama riding down the street drinking orange mocha frapuccinos.

Click here to view this gallery.

We at Mashable spend long hours scouring the web for the latest and greatest memes and videos, so it’s only natural that we come across a lot — and we mean, a lot — of GIFs each week.

Today we are introducing a new feature that highlights the best GIFs we’ve seen all week. From Obama and his crew celebrating the endorsement of same-sex marriage to the Avengers, an NBA photobomb to a delightful waving elephant, here’s a roundup of our favorites this week. Check out the gallery above.

SEE ALSO: GIF Tumblr Goes Viral Over Obama's Gay Marriage Stance

What was the best GIF you’ve seen this week? Let us know in the comments.

More About: barack obama, features, GIFs, memes, trending, viral


Freddie Mercury Returns — as an Optical Illusion With Queen

Posted: 11 May 2012 12:28 PM PDT


Following the success of the Tupac 3D hologram that popped up in April at the at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California, it seems like other deceased musicians may be hitting the stage in the near future.

According to a BBC report, late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury is expected to make an appearance on stage with the band during an upcoming performance of “We Will Rock You” in London on May 14. Queen’s guitarist Brian May said that Mercury may appear as “an optical illusion of sorts” and not as a hologram.

“People will come out saying, ‘did we actually see Freddie?’” May told the BBC.

The projection is also said to be tour ready.

SEE ALSO: Holographic Tupac May Be Coming to a Concert Near You

The trend has been helped along by late rapper Tupac Shakur who appeared in 3D holographic form during a performance with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre last month. Many tweeted their reactions to the event and made the YouTube clip go viral in just 24 hours.

It’s also been reported that virtual Tupac could team up with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre later this year and hit the road. Those associated with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg are expected to discuss the potential concept soon. Besides a tour with the two rappers and holo-Tupac, there is also a possibility of involving other large-scale performers from Eminen to 50 Cent at stadium shows.

Do you like the trend of late artists showing up on stage during new performances? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Flickr, kentarotakizawa

More About: Freddie Mercury, Music

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Comedian Fake Live Tweets Obama Dinner at Clooney’s House, Fools Web

Posted: 11 May 2012 12:06 PM PDT


President Obama held a record-setting, star-studded fundraising dinner at actor and humanitarian George Clooney’s house Thursday evening. Los Angeles-based comedian Ben Hoffman was there, live-tweeting away — or so he wanted the world to think.

Hoffman was actually nowhere near the dinner that netted the Obama campaign a cool $15 million, but some of his followers bought in to his hilarious satire.

“I was just sitting at home, bored, and wanted to see if I could trick any morons into thinking I was actually at the Obama/Clooney dinner,” Hoffman told Mashable. “To do it, I had to ‘get inside the head of a moron.’ This was depressingly easy for me.”

He added that watching responses fly in from across the world asking for details about the dinner was “insane.”

“And watching reporters report my tweets as ‘fact’ was sad,” he added (at least one publication fell for Hoffman’s gag, but has since corrected its error). “And that’s saying something, since I’m as sad as they come.”

Mashable collected the comedian’s fake fly-on-the-wall tweets in the Storify below:

What’s your verdict — great satirical tweeting, or does it fall flat? Sound off in the comments below.

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, barack obama, Politics, Social Media, trending, Twitter, US


5 Android Apps for Busy Moms

Posted: 11 May 2012 11:59 AM PDT


This article is brought to you by Samsung, from the company’s website. For more information about BrandSpeak, click here.

Whether you're a working or a stay-at-home mother, you've probably got more errands and tasks than you can keep up with — doctor's appointments, school projects, shopping trips and more. Good news, tech-savvy moms: Google Play has apps that can help.

SEE ALSO: 5 Free Android Apps Your Kids Will Love

1. Cozi Family Organizer

This app helps you manage your family's schedule on the go. Keep everyone on the same page with shopping lists, to-do lists, a shared calendar and even a family journal. By organizing the calendar from a central location, everyone in the family can access it. With the Cozi Family Organizer app, you’ll also receive reminders for upcoming appointments, chores, and meetings by email or text. That way, you won’t miss a soccer practice or an important school event. And whether you use a Mac or a PC, you can still share info among family members.

Quick Tip: While you’re at the grocery store, you can retrieve a shopping list, cross off items and easily add new ones. No more coming home only to realize that you forgot to pick up what you went to the store to buy in the first place.

2. The Weather Channel

Busy moms always need to be prepared, so make sure you start the day off right by checking the weather report. The Weather Channel app features interactive weather maps that are customizable and offer the functionality of Google Maps, allowing you to display layers such as radar, clouds, UV index, rainfall and more. The notification bar displays the current temperature as well as severe weather alerts. You'll also receive detailed weather conditions and forecasts so you can plan ahead for the week.

Quick Tip: The "find me" function allows you to get weather forecasts wherever you are, or you can search by city, ZIP code, street address or landmark, in case you're traveling and need to pack the right essentials.

3. RedLaser

If you hardly have enough time to shop for your family, you probably have even less time to hunt for bargains. This app allows you to shop smarter and more efficiently by searching for the lowest prices, locating good deals locally and online. The RedLaser scans hundreds of thousands of retailers to produce the best results — including good prices from Buy.com, Amazon and eBay.

Quick Tip: RedLaser uses state-of-the-art barcode recognition that can read virtually any barcode. If you’re shopping in a hurry, let his app do some quick research so you can buy what you need without wasting time on sorting through price comparisons yourself.

4. Recipe Search

If standing in front of an open refrigerator trying to figure out what to make for dinner is a common occurrence in your household, the Recipe Search app is here to help. Simply type in the ingredients you see in your fridge, and the app will quickly find a recipe that incorporates them. With more than 70,000 recipes available, you're sure to find something great for every meal. You can also read reviews about a recipe to see if it's something you want to make, create your own recipes and share them with others, and get cooking tips and tricks in the forums.

Quick Tip: Cooking for guests or family members who have special diets? You can easily search for recipes that fit any diet, including diabetic, vegetarian and gluten-free.

5. Yoga Workout Planner

Every mom needs some private time to unwind, and the benefits of yoga are well known. Thanks to this app, you'll be mindful of your need to relax, stretch and contemplate until the next task or errand beckons. The Yoga Workout Planner app helps your body with movement and balance, and also enhances focus and concentration. Whether you’re a beginner or a longtime practitioner, this app will get you in the groove with animated yoga sessions that include detailed instructions and voice narration.

Quick Tip: You can choose a 15- or 30-minute session, so whether you have a packed schedule or a little room to breathe, there's a yoga session that fits perfectly into your schedule.


Check out Samsung’s original content about apps and mobile devices here. Android and Google Play are trademarks of Google, Inc. Other company and product names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

More About: android, Android apps, BrandSpeak, family, Moms, sponsored


Facebook’s New App Center: Everything You Need to Know

Posted: 11 May 2012 11:33 AM PDT


Facebook’s upcoming App Center may look a lot like the Apple App Store and Google Play, but it’s not exactly their competitor.

Instead of selling apps that integrate with Facebook, the new App Center will refer users to other app stores where they can buy them.

Confused? You’re not the only one. After Facebook announced the new feature on Wednesday, “I don’t get it” was a common response.

We’ve answered below some of the most common questions about how the App Center will work, what apps it will contain and why Facebook built it. Let us know if you have another question we missed.


So Facebook is going to have an app store now?

Yes, but not in the same sense that Google and Apple have app stores. What Facebook has announced is more of an app showcase. In addition to apps built on Facebook, it includes apps that use Facebook Login, regardless of whether they’re iOS, Android or web apps.

Does that mean I can buy iOS and Android apps on Facebook?

No. Though you will find iOS and Android apps in the App Center, you will be directed to Apple’s App Store or Google Play to actually download the apps.

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it will allow developers to charge for “apps built on Facebook” for the first time, but is not clear whether users will purchase apps directly from the App Center.

What are “apps built on Facebook,” and how are they different than iOS and Android apps that integrate with Facebook?

Apps built on Facebook are web apps viewed and used within the Facebook site. They get a special page within Facebook where they load. On the other hand, apps with Facebook integrations such as Draw Something and Pinterest are built on external platforms, but they interface with Facebook for login and other social features.

Couldn’t I spend money on apps built on Facebook before?

Yes. Previously, Facebook has allowed in-app purchases within these apps, but it has not allowed developers to charge for apps themselves.

Social game maker Zynga, for example, has previously been able to charge for items like blueberries or game advantages within Farmville. Now it will have the option to charge for Farmville itself.

How will I access Facebook’s App Center?

Facebook’s App Center will launch on the web as well as within the iOS and Android Facebook apps.

What will the App Center Look Like?

It will look a lot like Google Play or the Apple App Store. Each app will have a detail page, which includes a five-star user-rating system. A screenshot of the prototype that Facebook engineer Aaron Brady included in a blog post about the center includes sections for recommended apps, friends’ apps, top apps, trending apps and top-grossing apps.

“We use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Center,” Brady wrote.

Hasn’t Facebook launched something like this before?

Sort of. When Facebook first launched Facebook apps in 2007, there was a dedicated applications area where users could browse apps from third-party developers. Users currently locate Facebook apps through the same search bar they use to find people, groups and events.

Why would Facebook launch something like this?

As Brady put it in his blog post, “The App Center is designed to grow mobile apps that use Facebook — whether they're on iOS, Android or the mobile web.”

Facebook wants developers to build mobile apps that integrate with it. Reaching Facebook’s 900 million users through the App Center is another incentive for them to do so.

The showcase also makes it easier to discover apps built on Facebook, many of which integrate with Facebook’s payment system Credits. All games built on Facebook are required to use Facebook Credits to accept payments (except when they’re running on iOS), and Facebook takes a takes a 30% cut of all purchases made with Facebook Credits. That’s why as of February Zynga accounted for 12% of the social network’s revenue.

Facebook will also presumably take a 30% cut of the purchase price for upcoming paid apps built on Facebook.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, -Oxford-

More About: app center, Facebook, trending, Zynga


More Smartphone Owners Use Location-Based Products [STUDY]

Posted: 11 May 2012 11:17 AM PDT


As smartphone adoption continues to grow nationwide, nearly three-quarters of smartphone owners are accessing their mobile devices to get location-based information in real time, a new study suggests.

A new study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that about 74% of smartphone users use location-based services to find out information about what’s around them. In addition, one in five (18%) are checking in to local businesses — from restaurants to movie theaters — with geo-social services such as Foursquare.

Smartphone adoption has grown from 35% in 2011 to 46% in 2012, bringing with it more access to location-based apps and services. The amount of consumers who “check in” to certain places via geo-social services has reached 18%, up from 12% in 2011.

SEE ALSO: 5 ways to get started with a location-based marketing plan

"It has been fascinating to watch how people's physical location has reentered the picture in their communications patterns,” Pew Internet Research Specialist and report author Kathryn Zickuhr told Mashable.

“For a long time in our research, we've seen that location didn't matter to consumer’s Internet use or cellphone use. But the rise of location services and awareness has become a new part of people's use of these digital technologies. The importance of where people are is reemerging as an element of their identity and their social interactions," Zickuhr added.

Not surprisingly, location-based information services and geo-social "check-in" services are more likely to be used among young adults than older adults. And although those in lower-income households are not as inclined to use location-based information services, they are more likely to use geosocial services, according to study.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, leaf

More About: Pew, smartphones


Facebook Inches Into Craigslist Territory With ‘Highlighted Posts’

Posted: 11 May 2012 10:46 AM PDT


Facebook is testing a product called “Highlighted Posts” that potentially puts the company into the online classified ads arena dominated by Craigslist by letting users amplify their status updates.

The feature — discovered by Stuff, a New Zealand blog (which is unaffiliated with the U.K. publication of the same name) — is being tested with a “small percentage of users” right now, a Facebook rep says. The fee for using Highlighted Posts, meanwhile, runs from zero to “a couple of bucks.”


When asked who would use the product, the rep gave the example of a small band plugging an upcoming gig or someone selling their car. The latter appears to be new ground for Facebook since the company hasn’t previously offered users the ability to amplify their status updates. If the program is successful, it could let Facebook enter the online classified market, a segment that the IAB pegged at $2.6 billion in 2011.

It’s unclear how the program — which is similar to new ad products aimed at corporate users — would work and if it would function along the lines of Reach Generator, a Facebook ad product that ensures that a high percentage of people in your network see your post.

The rep stressed that Highlighted Posts is one of many products the company is testing right now.

The introduction comes a week before Facebook’s expected IPO. Facebook filed an amended S-1 form on Wednesday highlighting the fact that its advertising growth hasn’t kept pace with its exploding user base.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, tacojim

More About: Advertising, craigslist, Facebook


‘Jetpack Joyride’ Game Blasts Off on Facebook

Posted: 11 May 2012 10:28 AM PDT


Popular iOS game Jetpack Joyride launched on Facebook on Friday.

Halfbrick announced the game, which has been downloaded 25 million times from the iTunes store, has been released in beta for Facebook users. The Facebook app is identical to the iOS release; you play as mischievous Barry Steakfries as he sneaks into a laboratory to steal a jetpack. The one-touch controls have you pilot that jetpack to snag coins and power ups, while dodging a score of obstacles.

The Facebook version also includes the newest upgrades to Jetpack Joyride, released only two weeks ago. Players can use coins earned in the game to equip a variety of gadgets, such as boots with springs or missiles that are easier to dodge. The game also supports microtransactions if players want to get the upgrades a little more quickly.

Facebook's social nature makes it easier to play against your friends — no iOS Game Center accounts necessary. The game’s leaderboard loads before each attempt so you can see how your scores compare.

"The active and casual nature of Facebook gaming allows us to do even more with the beloved franchise and focus on the game's addictive competitive elements and endless replayability," said Halfbrick CMO Phil Larsen.

Halfbrick is also the studio behind the popular Fruit Ninja franchise, as well as other titles featuring Barry Steakfries.

Check out our gallery of screenshots from the Facebook game, and let us know what you think the comments.


Title Card




I'm sure the "do not steal" sign is a great deterrent for thieves.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: facebook games, halfbrick

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Facebook Co-Founder Renounces U.S. Citizenship, Lowers Tax Bill

Posted: 11 May 2012 10:01 AM PDT


Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, whom you may remember portrayed as the disgruntled friend of Mark Zuckerberg’s who smashes his laptop in The Social Network, has officially renounced his U.S. citizenship — and joined the tiny nation of Singapore.

As first reported by Bloomberg, Saverin’s name is on a Federal register called the Quarterly Publication of Individuals Who Have Chosen to Repatriate. That means he renounced citizenship before April 30, according to the IRS.

“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” Saverin’s spokesman told Bloomberg in an email. He said the switch happened “around September.”

Why do it? One word: taxes. With Facebook’s IPO approaching, the 30-year-old Saverin stands to become a very rich man indeed. He owns around 4% of a company that is set to be valued in the range of $100 billion. (And that’s his share after it was diluted by Zuckerberg and Co, which was the reason for that smashed laptop.)

The high-tech Asian powerhouse of Singapore isn’t just a nice place to settle — it also doesn’t have any capital gains tax.

Saverin will still have to give some cash to Uncle Sam in the form of an exit tax, which looks at potential capital gains on stock that hasn’t been sold.

Would you renounce your citizenship in Saverin’s position? Should billionaires pony up and pay more in capital gains? Let us know your take in the comments.

More About: Eduardo Saverin, Facebook, trending

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Who Are the Top Retailers on Social Media? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 11 May 2012 09:39 AM PDT

It’s become practically mandatory that brands incorporate social media into their business strategy, causing retailers to compete for popularity in stores and on the Internet, too.

Campalyst has provided this infographic, which covers the largest Internet retailers in the U.S., and their presence on the five key social networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest.

Victoria’s Secret is the top retailer on Facebook, with nearly 18.5 million fans, followed by Walmart with about 15 million fans. According to Campalyst, 97% of the Top 250 Internet Retailers are on Facebook, and average number of fans there is close to 1 million.

On Twitter, Major League Baseball is the leading Internet retailer account with 1.9 followers. The brand also has the most on Google+, boasting more than 600,000 followers.

Retail channels on YouTube do not show numbers as large as the other social platforms. Nike has the most subscribers with more than 200,000.

Pinterest is still relatively new to the social media game, which explains why its numbers are the lowest. It may also suggest that the platform is better for user-generated content, rather than retail. Nordstrom leads on Pinterest with more than 14,000 followers.

SEE ALSO: 8 Strategies for Launching a Brand Presence on Pinterest

The infographic also breaks down what retail industries are leading on each platform. For example, apparel/accessories average 100,000 followers on Twitter, while computers and electronics only average about 62,000 — yet computers and electronics is the top industry with subscribers on YouTube.

Take a look at the stats below and let us know what you think. Do any of the retail brands or industries surprise you? Is retail suitable for all of these platforms? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, pressureUSA

More About: brands, Facebook, features, Google, infographic, pinterest, retail, Social Media, trending, Twitter, YouTube


Is Plasma TV Dead?

Posted: 11 May 2012 08:56 AM PDT

plasma-tv-600

Panasonic, one of the last major TV manufacturers to champion plasma TVs, is now probably regretting that decision. The company just posted a $10 billion loss for the year, and one of its biggest losers is the plasma TV category, where sales fell way short of expectations.

Plasma TV sales only hit about 59% of what the company had predicted. Revenue on Panasonic’s balance sheet from plasma sets was $3.5 billion, down from $6 billion the year before.

Once the hottest kind of TV you could get, the plasma TV has seen tough times in recent years. Many manufacturers (notably, Pioneer) have abandoned the technology, noting a lack of consumer demand. After Panasonic acquired Pioneer’s industry-leading plasma tech in 2009, it began a valiant effort to promote and market the advantages of plasma TV. Looking at the numbers today, it clearly hasn’t worked.

The question remains: Why has plasma display technology fallen so far out of favor with TV buyers? A combination of factors in the industry and the consumer market have conspired to shut plasma TVs out of showrooms — and consumer living rooms.

“Plasma is a great technology that is suffering,” says Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate, a display-analysis company. “It has some advantages over LCDs but also has some disadvantages as well.”

On the plus side, plasmas can create much darker blacks, have excellent viewing angles, more accurate color and no motion blur, Soneira says. However, LCDs are much brighter, which can be an advantage in well-lit rooms, which tends to be the case at retail. They also don’t weigh as much and consume less power than plasma sets.

Besides those technical details, there’s the perception that LCD technology is newer, and therefore superior. It’s not — LCD screens had been around for years before the first plasma sets came out, but LCD technology hadn’t been adapted for larger displays until the last decade. Big-screen LCDs came to places like Best Buy well after plasma models, though, so to consumers it was the “hot new thing” — a mindset that LCD makers such as Samsung and Sharp were only too happy to aggressively exploit.

SEE ALSO: Panasonic's 103-Inch 3D Plasma Could Be Yours for $100,000

As the industry began to shift toward LCD, the technology has improved greatly since its debut, dulling if not altogether nullifying plasma sets’ many onscreen advantages. Meanwhile, the manufacturing of panels consolidated around just a few large-scale companies, making LCDs cheaper to produce for everyone.

There was also the dreaded “burn-in” issue, where customers believed watching the same material continuously (like a headline scroll on a news channel) would permanently “burn” the image into a plasma screen. It’s a real issue, but it actually takes much longer use than any normal person would watch a single image. In addition, new features on plasma sets all but eliminate the problem. Still, burn-in got a lot of press, and the damage was done.

Finally, there’s the simple fact that people don’t buy TVs that often. At this point, pretty much everyone who was going to buy an HDTV has done so, and novel technologies like 3D aren’t doing much to convince consumers to upgrade again. Even Panasonic’s LCD numbers fell about 30% short of expectations, and the size of the TV market has been shrinking from a peak of 35 million sets sold in 2009, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. There’s clearly a general cooling of the TV market in general.

However, the falling demand for TVs has hit plasma particularly hard.

It’s a shame, because even though LCD tech has shown a lot of improvement, plasma displays have inherent advantages, primarily because the tech doesn’t require a backlight — unlike LCDs, which twist crystals in individual pixels to affect the light passing through, plasma pixels illuminate themselves. Before Pioneer stopped making plasma TVs, it had demonstrated models with theoretically infinite contrast and razor-thin designs, showing off the benefits of a plasma display.

Why do you think plasma TV is on life support? Have your say in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, EdStock

More About: HDTV, LCD, Panasonic, plasma, trending

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Viddy Highlights: 10 Top Clips From the Social Video App

Posted: 11 May 2012 08:40 AM PDT


The latest iPhone app to make headlines is Viddy, a social video editing and sharing app that has just surpassed 26 million users.

Described as the “Instagram of video,” we were curious to see what kinds of clips were being created on the Viddy platform. We got in touch with the team and asked them to curate a “highlights reel” to demonstrate the wide variety of great Viddys being produced.

“From performers, to pet lovers, creative artists, skateboarders, athletes, celebrities, parents — the app is a forum for 15-second Viddyographers to capture their moments for the world,” Brett O'Brien, CEO and co-founder of Viddy told Mashable.

“It’s amazing to see the community so excited about Viddy and sharing their content with the other users, friends, and family.”

SEE ALSO: An easy guide to get you started with Viddy

So far, that community is limited to the iOS platform, but we have good news for users of other mobile OSes — other apps are “definitely” in the works, as O'Brien explains:

“We are Apple fanatics, and Apple had already built a distribution system and a set of tools that were standardized to help us get Viddy to market quickly. We spent our first year as a company focused on building a top product for iPhone users and growing our community. Now with over 26 million users and a top ranking in the Apple App Store, we will definitely look at moving onto other platforms.”

Whether you’re waiting for Viddy to hit your OS, already enjoying using it on your iPhone, or just curious to see what’s being produced on app rumored to be worth $200 million, take a look through Viddy’s varied highlights selection (complete with commentary from the team) below.

If you use Viddy, link us to some of your amazing creations in the comments below.


1. Criss-Cross Low Rider by @hectorosmand


“Who needs a third for jump rope when you have your car on hydraulics?”


2. Awesome Way to Do A Backflip by @teifiond


“Need a boost? This guy shows an unusual way to do a backflip.”


3. Kick it in the Hoop by @alex100green


“Proof that any baller needs some killer kicks.”


4. Milo & Whiskey by @Daudau


“Best friends, or enemies, come in all shapes and sizes.”


5. Fake Speed Trap by @makrambammar


“Caught riding dirty… or not.”


6. Dub Step by @joshrasco


“Dub step for days…”


7. Robotic Bottling at GE Healthcare by @generalelectric


“GE shows behind-the-scenes of packaging using robotics.”


8. Flip Over the Car by @kinghenry


“Blake Griffin watch out!”


9. How to Bake a Cake in 15 Seconds by @MassiveRoy


“Roll it, pat it, and bake it with a V.”


10. Clones Can Shuffle? by @DaMrC


“We think even LMFAO would want to rock with these guys.”


BONUS: How to Get Started With Viddy


If you’ve yet to use Viddy, check out our easy-to-follow guide to getting started below.


1. Viddy




Launched in April 2011, Viddy is available on iTunes for iPhones, iPod touches and iPads. It's free to download. The app lets you capture, edit, filter and share 15-second video clips, or "viddys." One-click share your creations to popular social networking sites, and find fresh content to watch.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: features, iphone apps, photography, Social Media, software, viddy, Video, video editing


Why Microsoft Is Being Left in the Dust

Posted: 11 May 2012 08:19 AM PDT


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. Follow him @alexgoldfayn.

There are now a number of companies — Apple, Google, Amazon, and others — that have Microsoft in their rear-view mirrors, disappearing quickly on the horizon in a cloud of dust.

That kick of dust in the company's face is being emitted by Apple's iPhone and iPad, Amazon's Kindle, and Google's search and cloud domination. Microsoft's own wild lunges into various technology segments are also contributing considerably to it being left behind. Take the company's recent partnership with Barnes & Noble, where it took 18% of the Nook e-reader for $605 million in cash and future guarantees. This was a move to compete with Amazon, but can it really compete?

If you want to know why Microsoft's share price has been flat for 11 years while Apple, Amazon, and Google shares have soared, this is why. Microsoft is not innovating aggressively. It is not leading categories or blazing trails. No, it's acquiring aggressively as a shortcut to innovation. That isn't working. Its own history suggests as much.


Microsoft Has Not Capitalized on its Partnerships and Acquisitions


Last year, Microsoft announced a broad strategic partnership with Nokia, presumably to use Windows operating systems and software on Nokia's smartphones. This was 15 months ago. But last week, a report found that Apple and Samsung generated 99 percent of the profits in the mobile phone category. Nokia, which once enjoyed more than half of all mobile phone profits, made zero.

In 2009, Microsoft acquired a 10-year license to use Yahoo's core search technology, which later became the Bing search engine. Today, Google's search market share is a dominant 66%, with Microsoft's Bing a very distant second at 15%. After spending billions building and marketing Bing, Microsoft is barely visible in Google's rear-view mirror.

Finally, what of Microsoft's Skype acquisition a year ago? It's too early to tell, but here's a fact worth noting: The Wall Street Journal reports that 85% of Microsoft's revenue comes from Windows and Office software. The rest of it? Barely a blip.

And so, Microsoft is proving, like many have before it, that acquiring companies outside your core competencies are recipes for failure. Remember when Cisco purchased the Flip video camera, at the time one of the most popular consumer electronics products on the planet? How did that work out? In 2010, HP bought Palm for $1.2 billion, but we haven't seen any industry-altering smartphones from HP.

Conversely, consider Apple's acquisition of Siri: a technology that immediately and profoundly complimented and enhanced its iPhone. It fit obviously and very successfully.


Microsoft Does Not Need to Compete with Amazon


Another major problem with Microsoft's partnership involving the Nook is that there is simply no need for it to compete with Amazon. This is like Best Buy focusing all of its efforts on its ecommerce site while neglecting its one major competitive advantage: its brick-and-mortar stores. This is also like Research in Motion spending a year building its atrociously received tablet, the PlayBook, while neglecting its core competency of Blackberry smartphones.

Microsoft dominates the competition in computer operating systems and software. Computers are dying, right? And yet, in May 2012, there is no Microsoft Office for tablets and smartphones. Millions of iPads and Android tablets are being adopted in corporate environments, and most of those customers would be happy to spend $70 on Microsoft Office for each device. Except, it does not exist.

I can only guess why: because with its many categories, acquisitions and partnerships, Microsoft is physically incapable of putting its full focus behind converting its desktop products to mobile devices.


Microsoft is Going Wide, Not Deep


Which brings me to the third and final big problem with Microsoft's Nook play. It is keeping with the strategy of going as wide as possible. Microsoft is not, and cannot be, all things to all people. In fact, no company can.

Here's the truth: The wider you go, the more priorities you focus on, the less chance you have to be successful. But when you go deep, you can dominate. (See Apple, and Amazon.) When you go deep, you can continue perfecting. You become the world's expert on a certain specialty.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft Research: Bringing Sexy Back

Apple is seen as the world's expert on smartphones and tablets. Amazon is the accepted leader in online shopping and electronic reading. It's because these two companies relentlessly focus on their strengths, saying no to nearly everything else. No. That's a word Microsoft should consider trying out before it gets left in the dust permanently.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, JasonDoiy

More About: apple, contributor, features, Google, microsoft, trending


Ruck.us Breaks Up Party Politics on the Social Web

Posted: 11 May 2012 07:45 AM PDT


The World at Work is powered by GE. This new series highlights the people, projects and startups that are driving innovation and making the world a better place.

Name: Ruck.us

Big Idea: Users are matched with politically active people that share their “political DNA,” then form groups around issues they’re passionate about and take action.

Why It’s Working: Many Americans no longer define themselves as strictly Republican or Democrat — Ruck.us gives those independents an outlet for political expression outside the binary, two-party system.


Ruck.us was launched by Nathan Daschle and Raymond Glendening in late 2010 to help people break free of what they consider a restrictive two-party political system, which they believe is no longer relevant to 21st century Americans.

“Parties are really antiquated systems,” says Glendening, the chief strategy officer. “Politics is the last sector of American culture that has yet to be revolutionized by technology. When you look around, every sector of our lives has a plethora of options except for our outlets for political engagement: We still have these two binary options.”

Ruck.us’ 20,000 users are first empowered to figure out the essence of their “political DNA,” or core beliefs. Then, they are matched with similar users to take collective action around an issue, such as deforestation or election reform. All of that action happens outside the traditional party structures, in groups called “rucks.”

“I think this is very reflective of where American society is moving,” says Glendening. “People are increasingly saying, ‘I don’t fit into one of these binary silos,’ and lifelong membership is just not a realistic view or expectation of what the consumer wants out of his political engagement fulfillment.”

Ruck.us hopes to increase its user base with the introduction of “sponsored rucks,” funded by brands such as the National Wildlife Federation and Livestrong.

Glendening’s strategy to get more organizations using the site is two-fold. First, both he and Daschle, Ruck.us’ CEO, come from the world of political campaigning, so they’ve got plenty of useful contacts that are able to make the connection. Second, and more critically, they see Ruck.us as a more comfortable and welcoming place for political discussion and action than anywhere else on the social web. Ruck.us, Glendening believes, can supply brands with thousands of ready-to-engage supporters.

Facebook, for example, is a clumsy vehicle for politics,” says Glendening. “We’re offering a group of people that have said, ‘Hey, I’m online, and I’m politically active.’ We’re serving up the very right kind of person that’s 90% of the way there for any organization to turn into a sustainable user.”

Glendening’s most proud of Ruck.us’ ability to match like-minded users.

“Any person that wants to go online and engage can go to Change.org, Obama 2012 or Romney 2012 if they’re looking for something to do online — but if you’re looking for a very dialed-in way to do politics, we’re the only place we think that you can do that effectively.”

Would you engage with other politically minded voters on Ruck.us? Sound off in the comments below.


Series presented by GE

The World at Work is powered by GE. GE Works focuses on the people who make the things that move, power, build and help to cure the world.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Pgiam

More About: features, mashable, Politics, Social Good, World at Work


Mother’s Day: 10 Digital Gifts for Last-Minute Shoppers

Posted: 11 May 2012 07:33 AM PDT


1. Customized CanvasPop Artwork




With a CanvasPop gift card, your mom can get any photo -- including images from Facebook and Instagram -- printed on a stylish canvas frame. Once you've purchased, CanvasPop will instantly email you the electronic gift card and you can either print it out or forward it to your mom.

Click here to view this gallery.

Mother’s Day is upon us once again, and you’ve left the gift to the last minute.

Don’t worry, we’re not judging you (much). We’re here to help you out. We have 10 solutions that, if you have Internet access and some kind of plastic, will totally save your bacon.

SEE ALSO: Feeling crafty? Try these tutorials on hand-made gifts for Mom

Take a look through our gallery above of great last-minute gift options for Mother’s Day. Just try harder next year, please.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Tracy Elaine

More About: features, Gifts, mothers day, online, shopping, trending


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