Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Apple Store Down for Updates”

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 by Irwan K Ch

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Apple Store Down for Updates”

Apple Store Down for Updates

Posted: 30 May 2012 04:47 AM PDT

apple store down

The Apple Store is currently down, which could signal that new Apple products are about to be launched.

The sign on the Store says “We’re busy updating the Apple Store for you and will be back soon.”

It’s interesting to note that the “Store Down” sign has changed significantly from the sign Apple used in the past couple of years. Furthermore, the sign seems to be slightly crooked — somewhat odd for Apple, a company known for perfectionism.

Recent rumors pointed to an update to Apple’s MacBook lineup. A couple of weeks ago, we heard that the new 15-inch MacBook might be a significant departure from the current design, with a retina display and an ultra-thin profile.

After the store comes back up, we’ll let you know if we see any changes.

More About: apple, Apple Store

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Meet the Connected Car of the Future [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 30 May 2012 04:28 AM PDT

Futurists, meet your car of tomorrow.

We know plenty about how digital technology is reshaping computing, smartphones, personal relationships and business. But what about something most of us depend on every single day — the automobile? Digital tech is also changing how we use and interact with our cars, and in more ways than you probably realize.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications, for example, could help automobiles detect one another’s presence and location to avoid accidents. That could be especially useful when it comes to driverless cars — another advance already very much in development. Similar technology could help ensure that cars and their drivers slow down for school zones or stop at red lights.

And the cloud isn’t just for small mobile devices — cars also use it. Cloud computing powers much of the audio streaming capabilities and dashboard app functions that are becoming more commonplace in autos.

Your car and Internet are about to become even more intertwined, too. The new Mercedes GL, for example, will come equipped with screens in embedded in the back of the front passenger’s and driver’s seats to allow rear passengers access to social media sites. Meanwhile, GM recently demoed what it would look like if cars came equipped with 4G LTE service. YouTube videos, Yelp and maintenance-related texts from your car itself could all become standard in the coming years.

The software and cloud computing company Symphony Services scoured sources from around the web to compile all this and more into the infographic below. Check it out, then share with us in the comments — what slick tech features do you want to see in cars of the future?

More About: cars, infographics

Google Honors Peter Carl Fabergé With a Bejeweled Doodle

Posted: 30 May 2012 02:40 AM PDT

google doodle faberge

Today’s Google Doodle honors Peter Carl Fabergé, a famous Russian jeweller, best known for his Fabergé eggs.

Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Fabergé inherited the family jeweler business from his father, Gustav Fabergé.

The House of Fabergé created thousands of bejeweled eggs 1885 to 1917, made in the style of Easter eggs, using precious metals and gemstones.

The most famous, however, are the Imperial Fabergé eggs, originally ordered as a present to his wife by Tsar Alexander III. Fifty Imperial eggs were made, and 42 survived to this day, each valued in millions of dollars.

A Fabergé egg was the subject of the movie Ocean’s 12, where protagonist Danny Ocean (George Clooney) battles with Francois Toulour (Vincent Cassel) to steal the egg.

Bonus: Top 10 animated Google Doodles!

The Christmas Google Doodle

Each package gets larger with a mouse-over, and a click on it returns search results pertinent to a specific country or the particular items featured in a scene. This one is from December 24, 2010.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Google, google doodle, Peter Carl Fabergé

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Apple’s Tim Cook Hints at Deeper Facebook Ties, Enhanced Siri

Posted: 29 May 2012 09:39 PM PDT


Apple CEO Tim Cook was careful not to reveal any deep secrets in his sit-down interview with All Things D‘s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. But he did drop a few breadcrumbs for Apple speculators to follow.

Speaking about Facebook, Cook said he thought Apple’s relationship with the social network is “very solid” and that Apple could do more with the company. He encouraged people to “stay tuned.” Many read that as a hint that deeper ties to Facebook might be coming in iOS 6 — similar to how Apple integrated Twitter at the OS level in iOS and OS X 10.8 “Mountain Lion” — but Cook wouldn’t elaborate.

If Apple does strengthen its relationship with Facebook, it would be further reason for the company to finally do away with Ping, Apple’s ill-fated attempt at a social network. Cook said he had thought about killing Ping when a member of the audience asked him about it, but he also noted that some customers really love it.

Cook also suggested that Siri, the voice assistant on the iPhone 4S, would be getting some enhancements in the near future. After saying Siri proved that people want to interact with their phones in new ways, Cook said the it could be broader, and that the potential was “unbelievable.”

"I think you are going to be really pleased with where we take Siri," he said.

SEE ALSO: Tim Cook: Facebook Is the 'Closest' to Being Like Apple

Asked about product secrecy, Cook said Apple would be “doubling down” on it, while at the same time explaining Apple would behave more openly with regard to its Asian suppliers’ practices. At the suggestion of an U.S.-based Apple factory, Cook didn’t entirely shoot down the idea, but he did say there would have to be big changes for that to happen.

“Could assembly process be done in the US someday? I hope so,” Cook said. “[There] has to be a fundamental change in education system to make it possible.”

On the neverending rumor that Apple is in the early stages of making a TV set, Cook didn’t budge. While he said Apple’s relationship with Hollywood was “good,” Cook simply didn’t answer when asked whether Apple was building a television or even the more general “living room content service.”

Ultimately, Cook guarded against saying too much during the interview, apart from dropping the first public acknowledgement from Apple that Ping is a failure. However, he did reveal some more insight into his thinking, and how profound an influence Steve Jobs has been in his life and career.

What did you think of Tim Cook’s first public interview? Check out the full transcript here, and share your thoughts in the comments.

More About: apple, Facebook, iOS, siri, tim cook

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Amercia! Epic Mitt Romney App Gaffe Goes Viral Online [PICS]

Posted: 29 May 2012 09:19 PM PDT

1. @danielpunkass

Click here to view this gallery.

Mitt Romney launched an official iPhone app Tuesday night — only to find that it came with one glaring, humiliating oversight for his campaign.

Here’s how the free app works: You take a photo, then are able to lay one of 14 “I’m With Mitt” banners over the image. The banners shout slogans such as “I’m a Mom for Mitt.” Then you can post the photo directly to Facebook or Twitter, or email it to a friend. The friend then receives a message reading: "I'm with Mitt Romney in 2012. And here's a photo showing my support. Check it out!"

The problem? One of the 14 options reads, in fact, “A Better Amercia.” Yes, Amercia. A-M-E-R-C-I-A.

Just a couple hours after the app was officially announced, the Twittersphere and online peanut gallery were already having a field day with the editorial oversight. Obama supporters, media and general snarkmeisters reveled in taking photos with the glitchy app and inserting “Amercia” into some of Romney’s most memorable campaign quotes.

Tuesday was a big night for Romney, and the app’s release was intended in part to help celebrate his likely capture of the Republican presidential nomination after the Texas primary. Zac Moffatt, Romney’s digital director, told Mashable Thursday afternoon that the app was meant to be a simple way for Romney backers to show their pride as the candidate took a big symbolic step toward the White House.

"We thought this would be a fun, easy way to showcase support," Moffatt said. Instead, the app became a platform for ridicule.

Check out the gallery above for some of the Twittersphere’s best zingers.

More About: election 2012, Mitt Romney, Politics

Tim Cook: Apple Will ‘Look at’ Killing Ping

Posted: 29 May 2012 08:46 PM PDT

Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged Tuesday that Apple’s social network Ping might have not been the best idea.

“We tried Ping and I think the customer voted and said this isn’t something I want to put a lot of energy into,” said Cook in an interview at the yearly All Things Digital D Conference in southern California Tuesday evening.

When asked if Apple will kill the service, Cook responded by saying simply, "I don't know. We'll look at that."

The conversation was the first time Apple has recognized that Ping, unlike its other products, may in fact not be a success.

Apple introduced Ping along with iTunes 10 in September of 2010. The music-centric social network was built into iTunes and allows you to follow your friends just as you might on other social networks and check out what tunes they’re listening to. You can also follow bands on the service to keep track of new music, and check out album charts, concert listings, and news.

Ping surpassed over 1 million users during its first few days on the market, but the excitement for the social network quickly fizzled out afterwards.

Before answering the question Tuesday evening, Cook mentioned that he had been avoiding the topic of Ping, something that Apple itself appears to have been doing almost since Ping’s launch.

What do you think about Ping? Have you ever used the service? Would you be upset if Apple decided to give it the boot? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Tibneo, DeviantArt.

More About: apple, itunes, Ping, tim cook

Branding: How to Convey Your Startup to the World

Posted: 29 May 2012 08:45 PM PDT

Watch previous episodes of Behind the Launch here!

In Mashable‘s new video series, Behind the Launch, we’re taking cameras behind the scenes at Vungle, an in-app video advertising startup. New episodes air every Monday and Wednesday, but we’re running bonus footage throughout the series to provide a deeper look into the startup experience.

This week on Behind the Launch, Vungle unleashed its first press release, announcing $2 million in funding. But a lot goes into that seemingly simple one-page announcement. Startups teams have to craft a point of view, a voice and a personality to define the brand, and the startup needs a clear mission statement. Here, we watch the Vungle team pow-wow to throw around adjectives — from “disruptive” to “bold” — to better understand who they are, what Vungle stands for and where it fits in the tech ecosystem. How does your startup brand itself, and how did you flesh out the verbiage? Let us know in the comments.

Check out the extended footage above, and join the conversation on Twitter, #BehindTheLaunch.

About Vungle

Vungle is a San Francisco-based company that purveys mobile video ads to promote apps. Just last week, Vungle announced it had raised $2 million from big Silicon Valley and Alley names: Google Ventures, AOL Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Ron Conway’s SV Angel, Dave McClure’s 500 Startups, Charles Hudson’s SoftTechVC's, Maynard Webb, Scott McNealy and Tim Draper. Vungle also has offices in the UK and Pakistan.

Zain Jaffer, CEO and Co-Founder — A successful and zany entrepreneur since age 15, Zain launched his first Internet company and built-up an impressive list of clients, including Google, Mozilla Firefox, MTV and Hilary Duff, before his 18th birthday. British.

Jack Smith, Co-Founder — Self-described lunatic marketer and hacker. Started his career as a freelance web designer at age 13, founded a video startup, MediaRoots, in college. Met Zain at King’s College London University in 2009. British.

Bryant Chou, CTO — Full stack engineer and software architect with more than five years of experience developing mobile apps. He’s an enthusiastic traveler who’ll share his travel tales with you over a cold beer. American.

Marta Bulaich, Chief Yoga Officer — Marta’s first job was with the masterminds behind the TV infomercial legends Chia Pet and Clapper. After a career of working with various startups and venture capital firm, she came to Vungle to do public relations and center their chi in full lotus. American.

Ben Lindsey, Senior Software Engineer — A veteran of four Silicon Valley startups with experience in Internet advertising, large scale databases and agile programming. When not slinging code, you cam find him cooking organic food, listening to electronica, backpacking around the world or running marathons.

Colin Behr, Director of Business Development — Previously founded an Internet company, CyberPlanet Ltd, with Zain in 2004, and then moved to San Francisco to start another venture. Colin eventually went to University but dropped out after speaking with Zain about his new venture, Vungle.

Ray Myers, Software Engineer — 25-year-old Linux geek who loves robotics and has been programming since he was 7. Ray is a Shotokan karate third-degree Black Belt, but you can usually find him at his computer, trying to make robots bend to his will. American.

David Oh, Director of Business Development — By the power of the Force, David trained and honed his skills in marketing, game production and business development in the video game industry. He has crafted business deals with leading brands such as Ubisoft, Google, HP and Humana. David enjoys mountain biking and hiking in Tatooine, with his sidekick Sarah, Empress of Chihuahuas.

Sarah Vungle, Resident Pooch — Sarah spends her days guarding the Vungle fortress and keeping peace amongst the engineering and business tribes. She enjoys battling the evil empire and licking the soles of her paws.

Series presented by Internet Explorer


Behind the Launch is presented by Internet Explorer. Learn how IE is building a more beautiful web through hardware accelerated graphics and modern web standards like HTML5. Get IE9 today or download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which features the new IE10 to see where we're headed.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, lightkeeper

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

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Charities, Rejoice: Dideo Lets Readers Donate a Dollar

Posted: 29 May 2012 08:06 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Dideo

Quick Pitch: Add this widget to your Facebook page or website, and collect $1 donations with just a click.

Genius Idea: Organizations as well as individual donors can make use of Dideo’s widget, which makes donations super simple.

Sharing stories is simple — just click a small widget on page you’re reading to tweet to followers or post on Facebook. Now, a company called Dideo is making is easy to donate to the causes you read about in a given story. Just click on their “d” widget and donate a buck to a charity or cause mentioned in your reading material.

Dideo is for organizations who want to receive support and individuals who want to donate to worthy causes.

To set up your Dideo account, choose whether you are a supporter or receiver. If you’re a receiver, you can set up a page with video and photos to tell your story. Donors also set up accounts where they can choose how public or private they want their donations to be to other users.

Whether donors want to tout or hide their support is up to the individual user. To manager your account, log into Dideo and select the “I support” tab. Users can choose to hide all, some or none of their donations.

Setting up an account and using the widget is free. There is, however, a credit card interchange fee for Dideo donators. This way, the startup says, the entire donation goes to the cause. Nothing is taken out for processing.

The widget looks like this:

Dideo guarantees your donation will go to the intended cause. If not, the startup says it will give you your money back. All websites are vetted for legitimacy before funds are transferred. If you’re still not convinced, Dideo includes a verification information link where visitors can use their own judgment about the legitimacy of each site.

Dideo was born in 2010. The company is currently in beta stage and based in Milwaukee.

Would you use Dideo? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, JTSorrell

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, charity, donations, widgets

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Grooveshark Unleashes New Music Analytics Hub

Posted: 29 May 2012 07:41 PM PDT

Grooveshark, with a network of more than 20 million listeners worldwide, is making its user data completely public and searchable by artist.

Its new real-time search tool, Beluga, launched on Tuesday. The powerful analytics tool is driven by the listening habits of Grooveshark users since its 2007 inception.

Additional data also comes from opt-in information provided by users. While Grooveshark is a free service that doesn’t require users to register or log in, the Grooveshark team says users often take market surveys to garner points on the Grooveshark platform.

“Beluga is the next-tier of music insights,” says Danika Azzarelli, Grooveshark’s senior director of public relations. “Basically, it allows anyone in the entire world to view data about any artist and market research based on surveys on the Grooveshark platform.”

Information is available about any artist within Grooveshark. The streaming music network currently offers a catalog of more than 15 million songs.

After an artist search, Beluga displays highlights about a musical act’s listeners. This report highlights strong market correlations — the buying habits of listeners, for example — plus demographics and a map of where most fans are located around the world. A quick view of demographics shows the artist’s strongest and weakest demographic groups, along with a gender breakdown.

By searching “Scott Cooke McCreery” — last year’s winner of American Idol – we instantly found out “1 to 17-old-year females” make up the singer’s strongest demographic. The group least likely to listen to the young country star — “25 to 34-year-old males.” The market research also tells us crazy specific things about the country star’s fan base — 99% of listeners own a Nintendo Wii, 99% say they live in a “rural” area and the majority say they would pay “$26 to $40″ for a ticket to see an artist in concert.

Now artists, music labels, managers and brands can access specific user demographics and socioeconomic factors of an artist’s fan base. User data makes it easier to target new consumers, or find ways to please current fans. Labels can use Beluga to decide where to host the next concert, how much concert tickets should be and what merchandise to sell. Brands can also use the data to develop effective marketing plans or find relevant artist sponsors.

SEE ALSO: 10 Google Moog Doodle Recordings to Rock Your World

“Grooveshark believes in open music,” Azzarelli tells Mashable. “Here we have all this open music, we want to help turn around and help everyone that Beluga can possible benefit.”

The Beluga launch is a precursor to Grooveshark’s upcoming redesign, the team says, though there’s no date set for the platform’s new look.

“There will be a redesign in the works,” Azzarelli says. “It’s going to be very artist-centric, connecting artist to their fans, like Beluga. It’s definitely a step forward into openness and completely aligned with our mission.”

Do you think large social networks like Facebook should follow suit with Grooveshark and open their user data to the public? Tell us in the comments if you think user data should be public or remain private.

More About: Beluga, grooveshark, Music, online music

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Women Are Bigger Fans of Social Media than Men, Survey Says

Posted: 29 May 2012 07:21 PM PDT

If social media sites ceased to exist, you would miss them — unless you’re a man living in the U.K., according to a recent survey by British Telecom.

More than 2,000 Brits were questioned for a survey commissioned by BT about the social media habits of men and women. The results showed that more than half of the women surveyed (54%) use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, compared to 34% of men.

And of those social media users, more women than men reported they would miss those sites if the Internet ceased to exist.

SEE ALSO: How Pinterest’s Female Audience is Changing Social Marketing

The survey also debunked a common misconception about Internet usage. Turns out, slightly more women than men reported playing online games, according to this survey.

It’s no secret that women tend to use Pinterest more than men. Women are also more likely to have a blog than men. And the usage of social media by women influences advertisers and shapes web content.

Do you think this survey got it right? Is it applicable beyond the UK? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Yuri_Arcurs

More About: open social, United Kingdom

The Beginner’s Guide to Instagram

Posted: 29 May 2012 07:00 PM PDT

Even if you don’t use Instagram, we’re guessing you’ve encountered an Instagram image somewhere on the web — even if you didn’t realize it.

Instagram’s calling card is the photo filter, a digital layer that, when added to a standard photo, gives it the appearance of professional editing. Some filters enhance the colors in a photo, while other dull the light to a soft glow for an aged, vintage appearance.

But while Instagram’s filters revolutionized mobile photo editing, they’re only a portion of the appeal. The mobile app boasts over 50 million users, despite only living in iOS and Android devices. Instagram launched on Android just this year — it quickly earned 5 million downloads in six days.

Its success caught the eye of the most valuable social network in the world. Facebook acquired Instagram in April for $1 billion. Although we’ve only just begun to witness Facebook’s plans for the photo sharing app, the social giant recently launched its own filter-friendly photo app, dubbed Facebook Camera.

Instagram has surely come a long way, business-wise, since co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger introduced the app in 2010. But on the whole, the app has remained simple, straightforward and social since its inception.

We’re here to share the Instagram basics, whether you’re new to the network or need some additional tips. Better hurry, though — Instagram has undergone such changes in the past few months, who knows what else is in store.

We’d love to learn about your Instagram experiences. How do you use the app? Can you share any helpful advice or anecdotes for new users? Any predictions for the future of Instagram? Please share in the comments below.

1. Register / Setup

Instagram has always been an almost exclusively mobile platform. Therefore, you must download the iPhone or Android app to your device in order to register an Instagram account.

Instagram accounts are public by default, but you may elect to create a private account. In that case, only users who you approve may follow you and view your photos. Head to your profile tab and scroll down to "Privacy." There, you may select to make photos private.

Once registered, change your profile picture and edit your profile information, which includes a brief 150-character bio and a website. You may also edit profile information here.

2. Notifications

Since Instagram doesn't have a web-hosted feed of photos, you'll be doing most of your browsing on mobile. For that reason, you may choose to enrich your mobile experience by setting up push notifications.

Depending on your level of comfort, enable the following push notifications:

  • When a user likes or comments on one of your photos.
  • When a user @mentions you in a comment.
  • When your photo is posted to the Popular page.

To control the notifications on your iOS device, exit the Instagram app and access the Settings location. From there, find Instagram in the Notification Center and configure your app preferences.

Android Instagram users must change notification settings from the app itself. Head to Settings > Edit Profile > Push Notifications.

If you choose not to enable external notifications, Instagram will still keep you apprised of your account activity in-app. New user and comment notifications appear in the News section of the app (see above-left), which you can access via the navigation panel — the icon looks like a speech bubble with a heart in it.

3. Connect to Social

Again, because Instagram is a relatively isolated social app that lives inherently on mobile, it's important to connect social accounts to get the most out of the experience. You may choose to link Instagram to your Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr, Flickr, Mixi and Weibo accounts (the last two apply only to iPhone users in Japan and China, respectively).

To connect social accounts, head to the Profile Tab > Edit Sharing Settings, then choose the network you wish to connect.

Each time you upload a photo to Instagram, you'll have the option to share to each of the social networks you've enabled, or to none. If you choose to share to no social networks, the photo will post only to Instagram, viewable only by those users who follow you on the app. (More on social sharing later.)

Here are some examples of how Instagram has affected, and in some cases, revolutionized social media:

4. Add a Photo

The bread and butter of Instagram is, obviously, sharing photos. Before you explore much else, I suggest you test it out.

Click the blue camera button in the center of your Instagram navigation panel. By default, Instagram activates your device's camera, so you may either choose to snap a picture then and there, or choose a picture already saved to your phone. If you choose the latter, click the double-square button on the lower-left of the screen.

If you choose a photo from your camera roll, keep in mind that Instagram sizes photos to perfect squares. Therefore, if you select a photo that was originally taken horizontally (landscape), you'll have to crop some portions of the image — either that, or live with the default black border.

5. Filters / Borders

Once you've either taken or selected a photo, a set of tree icons appears beneath the image. These are the 17 famous Instagram filters which add different pre-determined layers to your photos, and give the effect that you’ve altered or professionally edited them. Many filters add “vintage” effects, which have certainly pleased many a hipster.

Scroll through the filters and experiment with the best one for that particular image. You'll soon find that certain filters work well with specific types of photos, whether outdoor panoramas, personal portraits, odd perspectives, intense colors, etc.

Each filter also has its own associated border. For instance, the Earlybird filter adds rounded edges to your photo, and Kelvin adds a rough, sandpapery frame. You may, however, choose to forego borders altogether by tapping the square “frame” on the upper-left of the edit screen.

Check out these photos, which all take full advantage of Instagram filters:

1. Circle, Indonesia

Courtesy of @bogieeryawan

Click here to view this gallery.

6. Tilt-Shift

Another celebrated editing option on Instagram, tilt-shift allows you to selectively focus certain planes of the photo, almost as if you were using a special DSLR lens. Tilt-shift gives the appearance of an altered depth of field, which can make smartphone snaps look stunning when used wisely.

Experiment with the tilt-shift feature by tapping the button above the photo that looks like a water droplet. From there, choose either the horizontal bar or the circle. The bar adds a thin field of focus across your image, which you may tap and move up and down, or two-finger tap and swivel to rotate. Or move the circle tilt-shift across your photo for a more focused effect.

You'll find that tilt-shift elevates many photos to a professional (and sometimes artistic) standard. But other times, tilt-shift can seem out of place. Use your best judgment and artistic know-how to determine the effect you're looking for.

Here’s why Android users got excited:

7. Other Options

Before saving your photo, test a few other edit options. Tap the sun icon on the lower-left of the edit screen to apply the Lux effect — essentially, an auto-enhance button that enriches the colors in your image.

Additionally, the curved arrow to the right of the frame option rotates your image, and the next camera icon flips your camera front-facing so you can take a picture of yourself.

8. Share

Once your photo is ready to go, click the green checkmark. This brings you to the social sharing screen.

If you wish, add a caption explaining what you've photographed, an anecdote, or really anything your social networks would enjoy. Feel free to add category hashtags and @mention people, especially if you plan to share via Twitter. The caption will be the text of the tweet, and the app will file hashtags and @mentions accordingly.

If you've enabled location services, you even have the option to tag where you took the photo.

Then, depending on what networks you've linked to Instagram, toggle the accounts to share across those platforms.

The way your photo appears when posted depends on the style of the social network to which you post. For instance, if you share to Twitter (see left), Instagram tweets a link to your photo, along with the text you choose as the caption. Instagram photos appear natively on, which means you don't even have to click the link to view someone's photo — you may simply expand the tweet to view directly. When sharing to Facebook, your Instagram photo will appear in the news feed with the attached caption.

You may also choose to retroactively share the Instagram photos you've already posted. Head to your profile, then select a photo. To share, click the icon on the lower-right of the screen — it has three dots. Choose the "Share post" option and select one of your networks. Or choose "copy URL" to share manually.

At this time, you may only share another user's photo if A) you use iOS 5.0, and B) you tweet the photo. Android users do not have this feature. Follow the steps to enable this capability here.

Browse some great Instagram photos here:

9. Follow Users

Now you're ready to find users to follow. Chances are many of your social media friends are already using Instagram, and on top of that, a bunch of celebrities are, too.

Head to your profile tab and select "Find Friends." You may search for friends who have connected their Facebook and Twitter accounts to Instagram, or you may input your phone's contact list to generate further connections. Or search by name, username or tag (e.g. "#skydiving").

Finally, Instagram does a great job curating suggested users and trending photos. Head to the Popular page (see right), denoted by the star on your navigation panel, and peruse photos that strike your fancy.

Once you've followed some users, you'll begin to see their photos appear in your news feed, accessed by tapping the icon that looks like a house on the left side of the navigation panel. Alongside user photos, you'll see people who have liked or commented on the photo. Add your own two cents!

Learn more about interesting Instagramers to follow here:

10. Getting Around the Web Barrier

As you've probably surmised by now, Instagram's web presence is quite prohibitive. It relies on social integration for navigation, sharing and discovery, however clunky the process may be.

In its Help Center, Instagram admits, "While we’re still developing our web presence at, we encourage you to check out third-party sites that have been created using the official Instagram API."

It highlights sites like Webstagram, Flipboard and Prinstagram for viewing photos on the web and printing photos off the web, among others.

Many users wish they could access their Instagram news feeds on the web, similar to Facebook. It stands that we'll likely see a bit more web integration now that Facebook owns Instagram, but for now, Facebook's focus is primarily mobile. Instagram may have to wait. Until then, enjoy the app and get filtering!

In addition to Instgram’s suggested third-party apps, give these a go:

More About: android, apps, Facebook, features, instagram, iOS, photography, Social Media

Chilling Footage of 80-Year-Old in Skydiving Accident Goes Viral

Posted: 29 May 2012 06:38 PM PDT

Newly released footage of a grandmother’s skydiving accident went viral over Memorial Day Weekend.

The clips show Laverne Everette grudgingly jumping from a plane before partially slipping out of her harness during a tandem skydive in California on her 80th birthday in 2011. The fast-thinking instructor grabs her to prevent a complete free fall and then immediately employs their parachute. They land safely.

Now a year older, Everette appeared on The Today Show with Matt Lauer on Tuesday morning to tell her story and respond to the viral spread of the video, which was released last week as the Federal Aviation Administration begins investigating the incident.

SEE ALSO: When Grandparents Meet Photo Booth | Hipsters From 2062 Slam Social Media

“Well, it didn’t really scare me,” Everette told Lauer, adding that she’s not sorry she tried skydiving and now wants to ride in a race car.

Lauer later asked, “You get a little nervous that 500,000 people have seen your brassiere?”

Listen to Everette’s response in the video above.

More About: Skydiving, trending, viral videos

How the Indy 500 Played Out on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 29 May 2012 06:11 PM PDT

With a final-lap finish and poignant win by Dario Franchitti months after good friend and fellow driver Dan Wheldon was killed in an on-track accident, this weekend’s Indy 500 auto race was one for the ages.

But how did the event play out on social media?

Franchitti was the big winner there, too. He was mentioned nearly 30,000 times by fans on Twitter during the Indy 500 weekend. The next most mentioned driver, Takuma Sato, didn’t even break 8,000.

Franchitti also added more than 4,700 Twitter followers over the course of the weekend. Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello, however, got the biggest boost in followers, adding more than 16,000 to his total number. Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe also added more than 1,500 followers apiece. Josef Newgarden saw the biggest bump on Facebook, increasing his audience there by nearly 30%.

Overall, the Indy 500 generated about 210,000 tweets from fans and media. Not surprisingly, the American audience was most engaged — almost 90% of tweets were in English, and 75% came from the United States. When did fans take to Twitter most? After crashes. Six accidents caused big spikes in Twitter action.

These stats are all according to research by the marketing firm ExactTarget, which tracked and analyzed social media’s Indy 500 buzz from the weekend to create the infographic below.

A major auto race being a hit on Twitter should come as no surprise, however — the sport and social media platform have a strong relationship. Earlier this month, Twitter and NASCAR announced an official partnership for June’s Pocono 400 race. Driver Brad Keselowski made a classic Twitter sports moment earlier this year when he tweeted photos from inside his car on the Daytona 500 racetrack during a fire delay, gaining more than 100,000 followers in about two hours.

Twitter is also looking for at least one sports fan to take on a new editorial role. (And reader Juan Barnett points out that NASCAR is looking for some digitally savvy new hires as well.)

Check out the infographic below for the fuller picture on how this year’s Indy 500 was discussed and followed on social media.

More About: infographics, sports, Twitter

For more Entertainment coverage:

Live Coverage of the Tim Cook Interview at D10 [TRANSCRIPT]

Posted: 29 May 2012 05:38 PM PDT


An Apple CEO on stage at the yearly All Things Digital D Conference in southern California is nothing new. The late Steve Jobs made five such appearances, most memorably opposite long-time rival Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates. Now it’s new-ish Apple CEO Tim Cook’s turn. He’ll take the D-stage tonight for the first time opposite ATD’s Walt Mossberg.

I’ve already had some fun speculating what Cook could say at the D10 event, which kicks off tonight and runs through Thursday, but soon we'll find out exactly what’s on the long-time Apple employee’s mind. He may not introduce a new product, but it’s guaranteed to be interesting.

Cook, who officially took over for the ailing Jobs last year, is a 14-year Apple veteran and an expert at operations. Expect Mossberg to press him on the controversy surrounding the Foxconn plants where many of the beloved Apple products are built. While he’ll likely be asked about the product pipeline in the post-Jobs era, it’s not guaranteed that Cook will reveal much. Mossberg will press and, if we’re really lucky, there’ll be an open Q+A session where Mashable and others can ask Cook our questions.

Cook takes the stage at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Follow along in the live blog below.

More About: apple, tim cook

Meet the Romney Campaign’s Official iPhone App [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 29 May 2012 05:00 PM PDT

If you’re “With Mitt,” the Romney campaign’s new iPhone app will let you share your support for the Republican presidential hopeful with all of your social networks.

The app, which is free, lets you add one of 14 “I’m With Mitt” banners to any photo taken on the device. The photo can then be uploaded directly to Facebook or Twitter, or sent via email. After sending a “With Mitt” photo, the app prompts users to either take another photo or donate to the Romney campaign.

“I’m with Mitt Romney in 2012,” reads an email sent with the app. “And here’s a photo showing my support. Check it out!”

(Note: Alex Fitzpatrick is not actually a “Mom for Mitt.”)

Zac Moffatt, Romney’s digital director, told Mashable that the app was a lighthearted way to celebrate the candidate likely acquiring enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee Tuesday evening after the Texas primary.

SEE ALSO: Amercia! Epic Mitt Romney App Gaffe Goes Viral Online [PICS]

“We thought this would be a fun, easy way to showcase support,” said Moffatt, hinting it would be just the first of many mobile apps to be come out of the Romney campaign in the near future.

Check out the “With Mitt” app for yourself on the App Store.

What other apps do you think political campaigns should make? Share with us your ideas in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, App, iphone, Mitt Romney, Mobile, Politics, US

Salesforce Ready to Buy Buddy Media For $800 Million [REPORT]

Posted: 29 May 2012 04:48 PM PDT

Enterprise software giant Salesforce has agreed to acquire Buddy Media — which helps brands with their Facebook Pages — for more than $800 million, according to one report.

The Buddy Media clientele currently includes such well-known brands as HP, Mattel, L’Oreal, Carnival, and Virgin Mobile and promises on its site to "turn fans and followers into real connections."

Buddy Media’s services include setting up an interactive profile for clients, publishing and moderating content across social networks, creating and deploying socially-enabled content across the web, and creating and tracking social activity from a customer’s first click on a website to when they make a purchase.

According to All Things D, Salesforce has agreed to buy Buddy — but the deal has not yet been finalized. The article cites "people familiar with the deal" who claim Buddy Media chose the deal with Salesforce over another competitive deal from Google.

Facebook and WPP (a holding company) were also rumored to be considering buying the service.

Salesforce currently works with a number of enterprise clients to help connect customers and employees to increase sales and improve customer service. The cloud-based platform will likely use Buddy Media’s existing services to help supercharge its efforts on social media sites such as Facebook and Google+.

Just last week, Salesforce’s rival Oracle snapped up Vitrue for $300 million. Like Buddy Media, Vitrue focuses on helping brands manage their social media presence using CRM-like tools and dashboards.

Is $800 million too much for a service that basically helps you manage your Facebook presence? Let us know your take in the comments.

More About: Buddy Media, Facebook, oracle, Salesforce, vitrue

‘Visual Novel’ Channels the Web, Social Media, Arab Spring

Posted: 29 May 2012 04:36 PM PDT

Kapow! By Adam Thirlwell

Could this be the craziest novel you’ll ever read in print?

The unconventional layout of Kapow!, from author Adam Thirlwell, features upside-down and spinning text. That’s intentional. It’s supposed to reflect the noisy confusion of stories from the Arab Spring, as they emerged online.

The novel Kapow! tells the story of Arab Spring in 2011. London-based writer Adam Thirlwell and the design team at publisher Visual Editions dreamed up the concept.

Thirlwell manages “to bring to paper how most of us digest on screen,” according to Visual Editions co-founder Anna Gerber.

The unusually formatted novel features large typography, pull-out pages and wordplay. The aim of these visual digressions: to represent what it’s like to follow the protests and demonstrations in the Middle East and northern Africa via links, tweets and YouTube.

“I thought it was the perfect form to describe the way you were able to find out about these things through various social media,” Thirlwell tells Mashable.

Though the book is based on real events, it’s a work of fiction. The setting is clearly Cairo, Egypt, but the city’s epicenter Tahrir Square is never mentioned.

Thirlwell’s unnamed protagonist is semi-autobiographical. The narrator is also a London-based writer learning about the revolution in 2011. The story takes off when the narrator meets a taxi driver named Faryaq whose family lives in Egypt during the revolution. He comes to learn about a “marriage that’s hijacked by public events.”

The project took six months of planning, three months of writing and three months of editing to complete. “I found it fascinating to mimic the way one’s attention is constantly being distracted or changed by what you’re looking at,” Thirlwell says.

SEE ALSO: Can Augmented Reality Save the Printed Page?

Thirlwell spent months looking at blogs featuring day-to-day updates from revolutions. He focused primarily on blogs and YouTube.

“Within the revolution they were using Facebook, Twitter and everything,” he says. “YouTube, I think, is in a way the most interesting because if you suddenly upload a video, it has an instant impact in a way that any article about that doesn’t.”

He wrote the story as the Arab Spring movement was unfolding last winter. Videos, images and blogs posts were available almost immediately after events happened.

“[The web] is working to mobilize a huge amount of people very fast,” he says. “To the bystander, like the American or British person observing the revolution, it becomes a way of actually seeing what you otherwise wouldn’t be able to see.”

Of course, Mideast revolution is still being documented online. Last week, news of Syria’s #HoulaMassacre spread widely across Twitter before news organizations were reporting about the incident. The U.N. reports 49 to 100+ residents of Houla were killed.

This Thursday, news from Egypt about the country’s presidential elections is expected to light up Twitter and other social networks.

Check out some images from Kapow! on Amazon. And let us know in the comments: would you read this? Does it do a good job of representing the cacophony of the Internet?

Click here to view this gallery.

Images courtesy of Visual Editions

More About: Arab Spring, books, Facebook, Social Media, Twitter, YouTube

Overpriced and Underpowered: Why Chromebook, Chromebox Fail

Posted: 29 May 2012 04:10 PM PDT

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

With its latest updates to Chrome OS, the Chromebook and the new Chromebox desktop unit, Google is hoping it can convince business and education customers to give its cloud-based operating system a second chance.

The problem is, Chrome OS and its hardware remain uncompetitive — not just against low-cost desktops and laptops, but against the burgeoning world of tablets.

When Google first started talking about Chrome OS back in 2009, the idea of a lightweight, cloud-centric, browser-focused operating system had a lot of potential.

The idea was simple: Most of what we do takes place in a web browser. So why not have a low-cost netbook that’s essentially a souped-up web browser, and little more?

How Chrome OS Stumbled

By the time the first Chromebook devices started to hit the market last June, Google was actively trying to position the hardware — and Chrome OS — as an alternative for educational institutions and large corporations. Don’t spend money on licensing thousands of seats for software, it said. Just use Google and our devices.

The problem was — as Mashable editor Lance Ulanoff pointed out in November — the typical Chromebook was both underpowered and priced disproportionately high when compared to other netboooks, full-sized laptops and tablets.

Moreover, education and corporate entities now have a new low-cost computing solution: The iPad.

The iPad’s rapid adoption in the workplace and in the education market has not only helped kill the netbook — it’s made Chrome OS a near-impossible sell.

A year later, nothing I see with the new Chrome OS updates or device pricing leads me to believe that Google will fare any better this time around.

Price It Low or Go Home

Let’s cut to the chase. Samsung’s new Chromebook and Chromebox are simply too expensive for what you get. The Chromebox is $329 — an outrageous amount of money for a Celeron-powered desktop.

Yes, the form-factor is small — but that still doesn’t excuse the pricing. I can get a Windows 7 desktop from Amazon for less than this with better specs, a keyboard and mouse.

The new Samsung Series 5 (model No. 550) is even worse. The pricing starts at $449 and goes up to $550 with 3G service. That puts it squarely in the iPad’s territory.

Is that a problem? Faced with the choice of outfitting an office with a suite of retina display iPads — which will be able to access 700,000 iOS apps and remain exceedingly portable — versus laptops that can’t even store a file if you’re offline, which would you choose?

If Google and its hardware partners are actually serious about moving units and building Chrome OS adoption, the Chromebox would be $250 and the Chromebooks would sell for no more than $350 at the high end.

Let’s not even try to pretend that consumers are a target for these devices — again, an iPad, Android tablet or mid-range notebook will cost about as much as the priciest Chromebook. What’s the incentive for being forced to live in a web browser?

Build a Chrome Tablet Already

I have long predicted that Google will — at some point — merge the Chrome OS and Android projects. Until then, it’s shocking that Google and its hardware partners haven’t at least attempted releasing a Chrome OS-powered tablet.

A tablet could be sold at a higher price point while still letting Google sell its cloud services to corporate and educational customers.

Even better, make an optional keyboard dock — like the Asus Transformer — to try to appeal to a broader selection of users.

To be sure, Chrome OS would still going to have to compete against Android and iOS (and soon, Windows 8) in the tablet space, but at least the tablet form factor would match the needs of customers.

By continuing to focus on a dead market (netbooks) and an even more dead market (desktops), Chrome OS severely limits its potential user base.

Would you seriously consider paying $550 for a Chromebook, or $330 for a Chromebox? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Chrome OS, Chromebooks, chromebox, Google, Opinion

Confirmed: Google Glasses Use a Trackpad [VIDEO]

Posted: 29 May 2012 03:44 PM PDT

Remember that odd-looking Google Glasses prototype the search giant has been pushing since April – and that co-founder Sergey Brin has been wearing to practically every event since? Well, now we know a little bit more about how they work, courtesy of an unusual source: California Lieutenant Governor and former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

The one big mystery about Project Glass, the internal Google name for the glasses, is how you navigate through the items you see on their tiny screen. Was the glasses technology sophisticated enough, we wondered, that it could track your eye movements and sense where you were looking? Or did it simply use a trackpad on the side of the glasses, as several sources have suggested?

Now we know the answer for sure, thanks to Brin and Newsom: it’s just a trackpad.

Newsom had Brin as a guest on his Current TV show. The episode will air this Friday, but Current has released a short extract, which you can see in the video above.

Brin takes a picture of Newsom with the glasses, and then swipes through what appears to be a picture gallery using the large black area on the right of the glasses. When he hands them over to Newsom — who just became the first known non-Googler in the world to take a look at Project Glass — Brin tells him “don’t touch the pad on the side.”

Watch closely and you’ll see the trackpad appears to swipe in two directions — side to side to view the picture gallery, and up or down to exit and enter the gallery.

Newsom was apparently impressed with the result. “The image was remarkably clear,” he told Wired. "You can easily forget you have them on, and sense the capacity of use in the future.” (He would not say, however, whether he would wear the glasses himself.)

One mystery remains: how do the Google Glasses take snapshots in the first place? What is operating the shutter? Is that, perhaps, controlled by eye movements? Newsom asked, but unfortunately Brin didn’t respond.

Does this video convince you one way or another about Project Glass? Are you more or less likely to wear this thing? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Google, project glass

Follow the Texas Primary on Social Media

Posted: 29 May 2012 03:21 PM PDT

Mitt Romney may very well mathematically seal the deal on the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday evening. The state offers him enough delegates to breach the threshold of 1,144, considered the “magic number” needed to firm up the nomination.

With all of his rivals either out of the race or not campaigning in the state, it looks as if Romney will indeed pass that mark in Texas. However, Texas Representative Ron Paul remains on the ballot and has a strong following in his home state, potentially creating a minor roadblock for Romney’s eventual nomination.

Meanwhile, a separate contest will determine the Republican candidate for an upcoming Senate race. The two major contenders are David Dewhurst, Texas’ lieutenant governor and Ted Cruz, former solicitor general. If no candidate wins Tuesday’s primary with a majority, it will go to a runoff election between the pair with the most votes.

President Obama is also facing a primary challenge from multiple candidates, including a Tennessee lawyer who got 42% of the vote in the Arkansas primary — but it’s not likely he’ll beat Obama in the Lone Star state.

Throughout the night, politicians, journalists and voters will use social media to rally support, tell the story of the Texas primary and discuss the night's events. Follow along as Mashable collects the best examples of social media use throughout primary night in Texas:

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, Henrick5000

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, barack obama, Mitt Romney, Politics, Social Media, texas, Twitter, US, YouTube

10 Must-Follow Instagram Accounts for Stylish Women

Posted: 29 May 2012 02:52 PM PDT

1. Hello Giggles

HelloGiggles co-founders, Sophia Rossi, Molly McAleer and Zooey Deschanel, provide women with a place to talk about all things girly. On Instagram, expect images of nail art, accessories, tasty food and updates on the girls' adventures.

Click here to view this gallery.

Pinterest may be known for its primarily female audience, and women may be more engaged on social media than men, but do these patterns apply to sites like Instagram?

The photo-sharing app is obviously great fun for anyone, but like Pinterest, Instagram can be a valuable resource for inspiration — especially when it comes to health, beauty and fashion. Stylists, fashion bloggers and makeup artists utilize the platform to share their favorite looks and products. Media companies and major brands use it to share glimpses behind the scenes for events like fashion shows and fitness demonstrations.

SEE ALSO: 12 Extravagant Instagram Pics by the Rich and Famous

We’ve gathered 10 female-friendly accounts to get you started. Some provide hair and makeup ideas; others share fun fashion inspiration — and all of these accounts post dynamic images that are just plain enjoyable.

What lady-centric Instagram accounts do you follow? Share your favorite in the comments.

Image courtesy of Kate Spade

More About: beauty, fashion, features, instagram, lifestyle, photography, women

Oops: BBC Mistakes ‘Halo’ Logo For United Nations Emblem [VIDEO]

Posted: 29 May 2012 02:20 PM PDT

The BBC got ahead of itself last week — by a few hundred years.

In a segment about the international community’s efforts in conflict-torn Syria, the BBC wanted to show the logos of human rights group Amnesty International and the United Nations. It got the right Amnesty logo, but in place of the UN emblem, it used that of the “United Nations Space Command,” a fictional government agency from the popular Halo video game series.

BBC News makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all images broadcast, however very occasionally mistakes do happen,” a BBC spokesperson told Eurogamer. “Unfortunately an incorrect logo was used during a segment on last week’s News at One bulletin and we apologise to viewers for the mistake.”

According to the Halo Nation wiki, the UNSC “serves as the military, exploratory, and scientific agency of the Unified Earth Government,” which was formed in the twenty-second century. In that case, the BBC should’ve saved this story for later — quite a bit later, really.

For reference, here’s the actual UN logo, adopted on October 20, 1947 — in the twentieth century, for those keeping track at home:

More About: bbc, halo, Video, viral, World, YouTube Rolls Out Confusing Redesign, iPhone App

Posted: 29 May 2012 01:49 PM PDT Redesign - 600

Link shortening and tracking service got a major makeover on Tuesday. It offers a slew of new features to help make link sharing more dynamic — from bookmarks and profiles, to its first-ever iPhone app.

Although the new tools will surely add more depth to the service, the layout has left many of its most dedicated users confused about how to shorten a link — which most of us would consider to be’s raison d’etre. — which has more than 25 billion links saved since 2008 and gets about 300 million link-clicks each day — launched a redesign to not only expand its presence but give users more curation power. Among the most notable of the new tools is a profile page and what the company is calling “bitmarks,” which are similar to bookmarks.

“Bitmarks are the interesting links you collect across the web — a hard to find recipe, an article, an awesomely hysterical video,” the company wrote on its blog. “It's anything that you find and want to save and maybe even want to easily share. You can organize them into bundles based on a theme or share them with your friends via Facebook, Twitter and email. You decide whether each bitmark gets published to your public profile or saved privately, so that only you can see it.”

SEE ALSO: The Best and Worst Times to Share on Facebook, Twitter

When searching for bitmarks, you can see instant results based on the URL, title and notes as you type in keywords. Bitmarks can be added to a personal profile and can be made private or public. You can also save and share from its new Chrome extension, bitmarklet or via its iPhone app.

The free iPhone app allows you to (finally) share and shorten links easily while on the go. The app also provides access to your bitmarks and saved pages to view in offline mode. Redesign - 600

The move is also part of an effort to see what others are sharing across various social networks such as Twitter and Facebook in one place. has already integrated those sites into the service; you have long been able to log in to by using your Facebook or Twitter account. bundles is also not a new feature — it was first introduced in 2010 as a way to curate topical or related collections of links — but now you can collaborate and edit along with friends.

Although the service’s new features will make the site more dynamic, it’s no longer intuitive to shorten a URL. Some people took to Twitter to discuss their frustration with the new layout.

To convert a link, click on the “add a bitmark” link on the top right corner of the homepage and then click “save” (or “save and share,” if you wish to share). Then click on the “i” icon under your bitmarks section to copy and paste the shortened URL.

What do you think of the new site features? Are you confused by the layout? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

More About: apps,, Facebook, Twitter

5 Reasons Recurring Revenue Models Work

Posted: 29 May 2012 01:24 PM PDT

Tom Dibble is president and CEO of Aria Systems, a provider of cloud billing and subscription management solutions. Follow Tom @AriaSystemsInc.

The Software-as-a-Service delivery model has rapidly matured in the past few years, evolving from an experimental delivery method for niche audiences to a widely-practiced business approach. Investors are clearly enamored with it, in part, because it’s helped lower the barrier of entry for filing for an IPO.

That’s certainly been the case with the recent wave of IPOs and S1 filings from the likes of Eloqua, Cornerstone, and Bazaarvoice, all of whom had annual revenues well under $100 million at the time of their respective filings.

SEE ALSO: How Mark Cuban Does Business [VIDEO]

While accessibility, cost, and ease-of-use are some of the most commonly cited factors when discussing how the "as-a-service" approach has gained mainstream traction so quickly, there's another major factor at play: recurring revenue offerings. Unlike traditional financial models, which are built around one-time transactions or upfront fees, recurring revenue business models focus on a series of smaller, ongoing, subscription-based transactions. Users can consume a service or product as much as they like in an on-demand manner, as opposed to having to buy the entire offering up-front.

While the value per transaction in a recurring revenue system can be lower than traditional business models, a recent study by the Incyte Group, an independent research group, found that of more than 1,000 U.S. businesses, nearly 50% had either adopted or were planning to adopt recurring revenue models.

With that in mind, here are five reasons you should be consider a recurring revenue model for your own business.

1. It's Not Just Tech Startups Profiting From This Model

If you're assuming that it's just newer, SaaS-based technology companies that are employing recurring revenue models, think again! Ingersoll Rand, which has been in business since 1877, is a particularly compelling example. Long known for their traditional lock and key services (remember those combination locks from middle school?), Ingersoll Rand has now introduced digital security systems for homes and offices that can be controlled remotely via mobile devices, which users subscribe to on a monthly basis.

2. It Lowers the Barrier of Entry for IPO

SaaS companies with recurring revenue models have been filing for IPOs at a higher rate lately, and it's no coincidence. Doug Pepper, a well-respected venture capitalist from InterWest Partners examined this trend in some detail in a recent op-ed. Financial analysts have also expressed confidence in recurring revenue models and their ability to not only generate but sustain long-term profits. For this reason, companies that demonstrate solid, predictable growth are in some cases finding a lower barrier to entry than the traditional $100 million run rate. Recurring revenue models give greater foresight into annuity cash flows as opposed to lump sum sales, which in turn makes it easier to model and predict future revenue growth and profit margins.

3. It Minimizes Customer Churn and Builds Brand Loyalty

Recurring revenue models provide a way to reach out to customers more frequently and build a more loyal customer base. Look at the innovation cycle for a SaaS company like Salesforce versus that of more traditional software companies. Salesforce and other leading SaaS providers generally push out four to six major upgrades per year, while product cycles for large, traditional vendors generally take 12 to 18 months. Companies with recurring revenue models can also capture data sets that track consumer trends and preferences on a much more granular level than is possible with traditional models, which in turn leads to optimization of pricing and packaging, and consequently the uptake from and retention of targeted buyers. The ability to fine tune your offerings based on this data has enabled the consumerization of many B2B offerings. In other words, they are tailored to individual preferences instead of being a fixed, one-size-fits all package and price.

4. It’s Built to Scale

To expand on the above point, recurring revenue models are also built to scale as you grow out your customer base. A classic — and very current — example is Netflix. They succeeded in disrupting the video rental industry in a remarkably short period of time by offering a recurring service for a reasonable price as opposed to Blockbuster's model of one-off video transactions. Netflix was able to effectively scale out its operations as consumer preferences were shifting from physical to digital offerings in the early 2000s. Their monthly growth figures provided a greater degree of transparency than Blockbuster's model, which in turn inspired a great deal of confidence from investors and paved the way for the company's successful IPO in 2002.

5. It Increases the Potential for Collaboration and Shared Revenue Models

Partnering models have proliferated as businesses with recurring revenue models have increasingly joined the mainstream. These models introduce a greater degree of transparency than those offered by one-time transaction models. This has in turn created a more collaborative environment between businesses. One recent example is the partnership between Microsoft and Comcast that allows monthly Xbox Live subscribers to access the HBO Go and Comcast On-Demand applications. Another example can be witnessed in the form of Box, the highly successful web-based file sharing/storage service. Their subscription business has spawned a massive ecosystem of partners – and a waterfall of revenue sharing tiers. It's incredibly easy, for example, to discover and download a useful application via Box in five seconds, and greatly improve productivity in the process. The same can be said of DropBox, the SalesForce AppExchange, the Apple App Store, and a host of others.

It's increasingly clear that we're in the midst of a major shift in the way companies do business. Recurring revenue models have gained enormous traction with the convergence of two major trends: businesses recognizing the financial benefits of recurring revenue, and their buyers demanding the flexibility and personalization these models provide.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, STEEX

More About: business models, business plans, contributor, features

For more Business coverage:

Google and Samsung Unveil New Chromebooks

Posted: 29 May 2012 01:10 PM PDT


Samsung just unveiled two new Chrome OS devices, computers that run Google’s Chrome operating system. One, like its predecessors, is a laptop design — a.k.a. “Chromebook” — while the other is a “Chromebox,” which is meant to be paired with a monitor.

Google says the new Series 5 Chromebook run up to three times faster than the first generation of Chromebooks that Google released last year. The new devices support hardware-accelerated graphics, and the Series 5 has a “built-from-scratch” touchpad that’s said to have a much faster response time.

Chromebooks are meant to be simple, yet nimble machines focused on everyday productivity tasks like web browsing and email, with a price to match. In keeping with that philosophy, both the new laptop and Chromebox are powered by Intel’s entry-level Celeron processors, with 4GB of RAM and 16GB of solid-state storage. Google says it boots up in seven seconds and resumes “instantly.”

The Chrome OS emphasizes constant connectivity, but Google is making the Chromebooks more usable when a connection is unavailable. Google Drive is integrated with the Chromebooks’ file system, and Google says it’s going to roll out offline support for the service over the next few weeks. It also says many of the apps in the Chrome Web Store are offline-capable as well.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Chromebook Series 5: What You Need to Know [PHOTOS]

There’s also a revamped media player and photo editor. And Chrome Remote Desktop (in beta) lets you use your Chromebook to securely connect to your Mac or PC, simulating the desktop experience in Chrome OS.

The new Series 5 Chromebook comes in WiFi+3G and WiFi-only versions (as a non-mobile device, the Chromebox is WiFi-only). The new Chromebook’s screen is 12.1 inches, and the Chromebox can connect to up to two 30-inch external displays. Two USB ports are on the Chromebook, while the Chromebox boasts six.

The WiFi-only Series 5 Chromebook costs $450, while the WiFi+3G version is $550. The Chromebox is $330.

What do you think of Samsung’s new Chrome OS devices? Yay or Nay? Sound off in the comments.

Chromebook From the Side

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Chrome OS, chromebook, chromebox, Google, google chrome, samsung, trending

New Pringles Ad Rips Off ‘One Tiny Hand’ Tumblr

Posted: 29 May 2012 01:02 PM PDT

This video contains some nudity and may be NSFW.

Those who are fans of the One Tiny Hand Tumblr may see some similarities in the recently released Pringles ad.

In the advertisement, playable above, anthropologists study a fictional tribe that shrinks one of their hands to better reach inside a Pringles’ can. The ad, created by agency Grey Mexico, uses image manipulation to make one hand appear smaller.

One Tiny Hand gained popularity in March after posting doctored images of celebrities that had one hand shrunk to a miniature size. The Tumblr received 800,000 hits in the first 10 days, and is still being updated daily by creators Zach Vitale, Bob O'Connor and James Weinberg.

Neither the blog’s creators or Procter & Gamble, which is in the process of selling Pringles to Kellogg, would comment on this story.

The similarity between the two media is striking, especially when the commercial even uses the phrase “one tiny hand.” Memes have been seen in TV advertisements more and more recently, but usually with the consent of the meme’s creator. Wonderful Pistachios partnered with both the creator of Keyboard Cat and the Honey Badger memes.

What do you think of advertisers using memes to make their ads? Do you think the ad above is very similar to the blog, or its just a coincidence? Should One Tiny Hand been given credit for this commercial? Let us know what you think in the comments.

More About: memes, online advertising, tumblr

7 Pianists + 1 Piano = This Cover of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Paris’

Posted: 29 May 2012 12:50 PM PDT

"Pianists in Paris"

Click here to view this gallery.

CDZA, the musical group that brought us “Zuckerberg: The Musical” earlier this month, is back with an instrumental cover of Jay-Z’s and Kanye West’s “Ni**as in Paris.”

The video was shot in one take and shows seven men in suits playing, spinning and pounding a Steinway piano to the beat of the popular hip-hop duet.

Renamed “Pianists in Paris,” the song is CDZA’s Opus 4 a.k.a. the group’s fourth “musical video experiment.”

The all-hands-on-one-instrument approach reminds us of Walk Off the Earth’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” cover in which the band plays the song on one guitar.

The group’s other three clips (see above in the gallery) take on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistling and the history of lyrics that aren’t lyrics (think 26 songs from 47 years in one video).

SEE ALSO: 'Call Me Maybe' Mashup of 75 Videos Will Haunt You | Whitney Houston’s Final Song

CDZA, a group of 20-something musicians, stands for “Collective Cadenza.” Cadenza means a standout solo at the end of a concerto.

“Ni**as in Paris” is from the Watch the Thrones album, which was released Aug. 8, 2011, exclusively on iTunes before becoming widely available elsewhere days later.

More About: Entertainment, jay-z, kanye west, Music, music videos, viral videos

Amazon Instant Video Comes to Xbox 360

Posted: 29 May 2012 12:22 PM PDT

Amazon is making its Instant Video library available to Microsoft Xbox 360 devices, widening the pool of on-demand, streaming video content for Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

Console owners can now browse, rent, purchase and immediately stream some 120,000 movies and TV episodes through Amazon’s Instant Video app in the Xbox Live Marketplace. The addition of the Xbox 360 widens Amazon’s connected device reach. Instant Video is available on the PlayStation 3, Roku and an assortment of Blu-ray players and HDTV sets.

Those who also subscribe to Amazon Prime, a $79-per-year service that offers free two-day shipping on Amazon items among other benefits, will also be able to stream around 17,000 films and TV episodes at no additional charge. That figure will likely grow if the company continues to aggressively sign on more studio partners, a roster that already includes Discovery, Fox, CBS, NBC, Sony, Viacom and Warner Bros.

As we mentioned, an Xbox Live Gold subscription is required to access the service — but Amazon is throwing in a free month of Xbox Live Gold service for all Amazon Prime members. Conveniently, Xbox 360 owners who also possess a Kindle Fire tablet will be able to switch between devices without losing their place.

The update makes the Xbox 360 an even more powerful entertainment center. In addition to Amazon’s Instant Video, owners can stream video content from Crackle, Epix, ESPN, Hulu, HBOGo, Netflix, Verizon FiOS, Xfinity and Zune, among others.

Amazon also announced Watchlist (below right), a new tool that enables users to keep track of the films and shows you want to watch on the site. Users do not need to purchase before adding a video to their Watchlists.

Do you use Amazon Prime Instant Video? What devices would you like to see the service support in the future? Let us know.

More About: amazon, amazon instant video, amazon prime, connected devices, microsoft, xbox, Xbox 360

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Online Music Campaign Takes Aim at Dating Violence [VIDEO]

Posted: 29 May 2012 12:13 PM PDT

Seven bands across the U.S. have released original songs online as part of a new nationwide campaign to raise awareness of teen dating violence.

The PAVE (Preventing Abuse and Violence Through Education) the Way Project is a partnership between Verizon Wireless and Cornerstone, a domestic violence agency based in Minnesota. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four teens will experience abuse in his or her dating relationship by age 18.

The Pave project was started to help address that issue by promoting healthy relationships — through pop music. The artists are competing to win a chance to perform on a recording of a new song written by Grammy award winner Salvador Santana, collaborating alongside his father: 10-time Grammy winner Carlos Santana.

The artists are all between the ages of 13 to 20. Most say they drew on their own experiences, and want other teens not to feel alone. It’s reminiscent of the “It Gets Better” video campaign that sprang up after several gay teens committed suicide after being bullied.

For many kids who feel they can’t talk to parents or a grown-up, music is a good first start.

“I feel so blessed to be a part of the PAVE The Way Project," Salvador Santana said in a statement. "For those who are involved, we all keep the same goal in mind — we want to continue to help raise awareness against teen dating violence, because the youth are our future.”

Beginning May 29th and continuing through June 12th, you can go to the PAVE website and vote for your favorite song and artist.

Once you do, let us know which one you chose. Do you think this is a good way to get the message out? Are there other places kids can turn to for support?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jaap2

More About: PAVE, teen dating abuse

The Censorship Game: Chinese Twitter Will Score User Behavior

Posted: 29 May 2012 11:59 AM PDT

China’s top microblogging site, Sino Weibo, has introduced a points-based system for its Twitter-style service — one that penalizes users for posting controversial content.

It’s part of a continuing effort to keep anti-government sentiment on the platform to a minimum.

Users will initially be granted 80 points. Their score will waver depending on their activity and the type of content they post, according to The Next Web.

Points are gained by taking part in community-based activities, while users lose points for various breaches of conduct, including “harming the unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity of the nation.” A low score can be revived by avoiding violations for two months.

Should a user lose all of his or her points, his or her account will be banned.

The full list of point-costing violations, as translated by a team of volunteers:

Article 13) Users have the right to publish information, but may not publish any information that:

1. Opposes the basic principles established by the constitution
2. Harms the unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of the nation
3. Reveals national secrets, endangers national security, or threatens the the honor or interests of the nation
4. Incites ethnic hatred or ethnic discrimination, undermines ethnic unity, or harms ethnic traditions and customs
5. Promotes evil teachings and superstitions
6. Spreads rumors, disrupts social order and destroys societal stability
7. Promotes illicit activity, gambling, violence or calls for the committing of crimes
8. Calls for disruption of social order through illegal gatherings, formation of organizations, protests, demonstrations, mass gatherings and assemblies
9. Has other content which is forbidden by laws, administrative regulations and national regulations

Article 14) Users may not publish untrue information. For information about what untrue information is, please see "Sina Weibo Community Management Regulations (Trial Phase)."

To enforce the new user contract, content will be moderated by a “community committee” made up of average Weibo users as well as “expert members,” tasked with weeding out “untrue information” — an ambiguous phrase in a country well known for censoring unwelcome content on the web.

SEE ALSO: China Cracks Down on Online Code Words for Blind Human Rights Activist

Weibo, which has more than 300 million registered users, has previously complied with the Chinese government’s censorship demands. Last month, messages about blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng were censored on the service, likely due to the work of state censors.

Why do you think the Chinese government finds it so important to keep a close eye on social media and Internet discussion in the country? Share with us your opinion in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, visual7

More About: censorship, china, sina weibo, Social Media, weibo, World

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