April 11, 2011
This initiative coincides with the launch of the new +1 feature. Page is asking all employees to test the new social product, tell friends and family and feedback. This tactic infuses an incentive for employees to spread word of mouth and hype about Google’s social products – after all; it could affect their pay packet!
Google’s previous attempts to leverage the social-sphere have been dubious at best. Twitter rival Dodgeball was abandoned in 2007, the ambigious Wave was shut down in summer 2010, Buzz is mired in e-commerce controversy laws and Groupon turned down Google’s $6 billion takeover offer.
It’s not ALL doom and gloom
Youtube (acquired for $1.65 billion in 2006) has continued to build a significant global community of users across 23 countries, viewing in excess of 2 billion views a day.
Orkut (launched in 2004) has a huge density of users in Brazil, although those figures are beginning to decline.
Google’s new mobile app Latitude looks promising however. The location-sharing app is similar in design to Foursquare and Facebook, however with an innovative angle – users can only obtain latitude-endorsed offers (20% off at Macy’s for example) if they unlock certain statuses i.e. Regular, VIP, Guru.
Nonetheless, the status-based offers don’t work on the iOS app and are only redeemable in the US – excluding a massive chunk of users.
Google’s social conquest remains largely dubious. Although according to DigiTimes, 20-25 million Andriod smartphones are expected to be sold globally in 2011, surpassing Symbian to become the largest smartphone platform, with emerging markets such as China accouting for 10-13 million sales. The accuracy of these predictions has yet to be seen.
Although the apple-shaped elephant in the room sold 3 times more iPads in their first week than Motorola have sold Xooms thus far according to the Deutsche Bank who got this estimate after looking at the Andriod developer website to see how many people are using Honeycomb.
You have to admire Google’s persistence in the face of consistent failure to dominate the social and smartphone markets. That said, Google have been slow to react to the actions of the organisations they are trying to contend with. Maybe Google should concentrate on what they excel at – search technology.
March 27, 2011
After becoming fed up of checking the same old websites religiously, I thought I’d try the network StumbleUpon to see what all the fuss was about. It soon became my new addiction!
The idea is simple, yet genius – users pick their interests from a lengthy list of topics from fashion to space exploration, then begin stumbling through a plethora of randomised web pages that other users have stumbled upon while surfing and felt the need to share it with fellow users.
The database of websites grows and grows as more users share content onto the network. Stumblers have the option to share content with their Facebook & Twitter accounts.
All of these qualities result in a user-friendly social network that cures boredom constructively – by allowing you to access information and media you may have otherwise been oblivious too – a far cry from ‘So Bored! 5 People like this.’
But is the seemingly lucrative fountain of knowledge a curse? Because of its simplicity and effectiveness it entices you to keep clicking the magic stumble button. The network has managed to hardness mans’ innate desire to know, and overcome man’s natural indolence.
Our techno centric culture has the potential for unhealthy obsession. Many people are self-confessed Facebook or Twitter addicts – with super-fast broadband and smart phone technology, it’s hard not be engrossed in the online culture and StumbleUpon is just another form of social-media that has the potential to make us anti-social, neglecting our physical lives in favour of this digital information goldmine.
But is this really as sinister as this image would have you believe? The thing that makes StumbleUpon different from the other fads is its insightfully interesting tailor-made content. Its nature inherently encourages the sharing of learning – for free!, which can only be a positive. I’m a keen user of the network, regardless of how long I spend glued to the screen!
March 14, 2011
Recently valued at $65 billion, Facebook has transcended beyond a social network, or a business: it’s become a global contagion – the 5th estate.
According to Facebook’s statistics, users install 20 million applications a day, 250 million people engage with Facebook on external sites 2.5 million websites are integrated with Facebook.
It seems having a Facebook account has become compulsory nowadays. If you ask most users why they use Facebook, the usual response is ‘because all my friends use it.’ Facebook is the monopoly of social media.
But is this right?
Most users are unaware that once they upload a picture onto their profile, they forfeit ownership of that image to Facebook (this may pose a dilemma for aspiring photographers!).
Facebook also provides a qualitative market research goldmine. Users are encouraged to disclose as much information about themselves, even what languages they know. The check-in feature adapted from Foursquare now means users can share virtually every move they make!
Not a day goes by when I don’t check my Facebook account at least once and I imagine most users are the same. Perhaps Facebook’s widespread success is down to its game dynamics: the more users interact with the website, the more rewards they get i.e. more friends/likes, more comments and engagement from other users and a bigger online presence or branding.
Zuckerberg (probably) isn’t a super villain on an evil conquest to take over the world, he just managed to innovate a service that people all over the world are attracted, and in some cases addicted too.
Once a Facebooker, always a Facebooker.
February 28, 2011
No-one could have anticipated the avalanche of protestation we have seen in the Middle East and North Africa since the new year, which has been aptly dubbed The Arab Spring
Ben Ali and Mubarak have been ousted from their positions of power in response to prevalent protests which were organized, co-ordinated and shared via the use of social media platforms, predominately Facebook & Twitter.
The most effective weapon in the protesters’ arsenal was the smart phone, which allowed demonstrators to capture and record the transpiring events and publish them on their various networks for the entire world to see.
The popularity of social media has effectively destroyed any notion of censorship (a fact that Gaddafi struggles to come to terms with). In this sense, social media can be regarded as a force for democracy as it has empowered the people of North Africa to receive, consume and broadcast their discrepancies directly, as well as organise and mobilize demonstrations and protests without state intervention and propaganda.
I for one find it exhilarating; yet alarming that social media has the potential to topple governments. Wikileaks savvy decision to publish cables involving Egypt & Tunisia during the protests has had influence over the outcomes as well, although the world has seen firsthand how social media can sway the future of a nation.
Revolution does not require a smart phone – the European Revolutions of 1848 needed no such technology to overthrow their regimes. However there is undeniably an inherent pro-democracy nature of social media, and dictators and despots across the globe fear its power.