Tweets Near Me is a location-based Twitter application for Windows Mobile phones that shows real-time postings of tweets in and around your current location. Using the drop-down box at the top of the app’s main window, you can specify the radius for what tweets it should display (e.g., those within 10 miles, 25 miles, etc.). You can also search the stream by keyword.
Even if your phone doesn’t have GPS, the app still works – it will use your cell phone’s tower data to determine location instead.
Other than that, the app is pretty basic. It’s not a fully functional Twitter client that lets you see your own messages, mentions, favorites or lists. You’ll still need something else for that. But it is a handy way to quickly see what’s going on around you.
You can download the app for free from here.
There’s a new iPhone app out now called the “Top 100s by Year – by Bing” which lets you listen to the top 100 songs from every year starting at 1947 and going up until last year, 2009. The app, a partnership between Bing and digital music provider Melodeo, features a list of years to pick from after which the top songs from that time frame will stream in a random order.
You can also preview a list of songs from any given year and listen to short previews. Plus there are options to buy the song from iTunes, search Bing for the Artist or Lyrics or download the full Bing app from iTunes.
This app was originally $1.99 when it launched earlier this year but now, thanks to the Bing sponsorship, it’s free.
Fresh on the heels of Microsoft Tag’s debut in Woman’s Day magazine, the mobile barcode reading technology has now arrived in Entertainment Weekly magazine. As an EW subscriber myself, I was pleasantly surprised to see the tags featured throughout their new Summer Movie Preview issue which gave readers early looks at the upcoming movies due out this summer. Using the free Microsoft Tag scanning software for mobile phones, you could scan the tags next to the articles in order to launch the trailer for the film in question. There were tags available for sixteen of the movies featured in the issue. In addition, several advertisers included tags alongside their ads including Absolut, HBO, The History Channel, Honda, and CTAM/Movies on Demand.
I thought this was a great way of using Tag in real life – augmenting the printed page with more information. This issue of EW is available on newsstands now.
AuthorStream.com is a Powerpoint-sharing platform, similar to Slideshare where you can upload your slideshows to the web and share them with others. Just recently, the company launched a new tablet-ready version of their site which should work on any mobile device, even those (like the iPad) which don’t support Flash. Now, using your computer, tablet, or mobile phone, you can browse the shared presentations in a format that renders them using HTML code instead of Flash.
The website will automatically detect your device and direct you to the appropriate version. I just tested it on my mobile phone and it worked just fine, although I do wish it was a fully mobilized site when arriving from a small-screened device.
The company has actually beaten the better-known Slideshare to the punch in being the first to launch a Flash-less site, so it may have an advantage for now since many people want to share their slideshows in a native PowerPoint format on their new mobile devices.
Long Zheng recently uncovered an app called “Tabbles” which brings some of the features of the now canceled WinFS project back to Windows. Created by a small dev firm, this application lets you organize your desktop files via “tags and relationships,” says Zheng, via “a relational file management tool designed for the Web 2.0-era.”
According to the company’s website, the system lets you auto-tag your files based on folders, user-defined rules or manually and lets you use virtual folders and regular folders together. You can also manage multi-file projects on network drives, find and remove file duplicates, search files based on what they’re related to, access files via different paths and combine virtual folders to filter your files.
If you want to try it yourself, the application is a free download for up to 1000 files. There’s a portable version, too. You can grab both of them here.
(img credit: iStartedSomething)
Part of my job at ReadWriteWeb is tracking mobile trends. If you follow this subject too, you may be interested in the following posts, aggregated below. If you’re interested in subscribing to my ReadWriteWeb RSS feed containing just my articles, you can do so here.
Android Usage Increased 200% Over Past 3 Months
According to new data from ChangeWave Research, both usage and consumer sentiment towards Google’s mobile operating system Android has increased over the past several months. As of December 2009, the research firm’s survey shows that 4% of all smartphone owners now use a phone running some version of the Android OS. That’s an increase of 200% since the previous survey released in September… Read More
App Stores Are Big Business: $7 Billion in 2010
According to the analysts at research firm Gartner, mobile application stores are expected to generate revenues of nearly $7 billion over the course of this year. That figure is a combination of the $6.2 billion spent purchasing the mobile applications themselves combined with an additional $.6 billion generated through advertising revenues from in-app ads. Not surprisingly, Apple dominates this market, accounting for 99.4% of the market as of last year, states the report.
Over the course of 2009, mobile application download revenue exceeded $4.2 billion, with eight out of every 10 apps downloaded offered free to end users, says Gartner. Going forward, the analysts predict mobile application stores’ revenue will grow to $29.5 billion by the end of 2013. That revenue, again, will be a combination of paid applications and free applications running ads…Read More
Acer Launching App Store for Windows, Android, Windows Mobile and Chrome
Have we reached app store saturation yet? Apparently not. PC manufacturer Acer has just announced plans to launch its own application store designed for all the operating systems is supports, including Microsoft Windows, Windows Mobile, Google’s Android platform and Google Chrome. The new store will launch mid-year for the first three platforms listed, with apps for Chrome set to launch later on. Although no exact time frame was given, the Chrome apps are likely to appear by the third or fourth quarter of 2010 to coincide with the debut of Acer’s line of Chrome OS netbooks, a group that will account for 10% of Acer’s ultra-portable PCs…Read More
Mobile Ticketing Taking Off: 15 Billion Sold by 2014
Buying and selling tickets is another business that’s slowly being migrated over to our mobile devices. Whether it’s a movie ticket, concert ticket, plane ticket, or something else, there are a number of companies now offering digital alternatives to the tree-killing paper printouts of days past. In a new study by Juniper Research, analysts predict that the market for mobile ticketing will reach 15 billion delivered tickets by the year 2014.
According to Juniper, a little over 2 billion tickets were sold this past year. That makes the forecast of 15 billion by 2014 a notable jump which points to consumers’ ever-increasing desire to perform business transactions like mobile ticket purchases using their mobile phones and other handheld devices… Read More
Mobile Data Traffic Surge: 40 Exabytes by 2014
In only four short years, the worldwide mobile data traffic will reach 40 exabytes per year. This is according to new research from Cisco which sees the traffic jumping from 0.09 exabytes per month in 2009 to 3.6 exabytes per month by 2014. And in case you don’t know what an exabyte is, it’s 1 billion gigabytes. That’s one quintillion bytes.
It appears that not only does the mobile web have a future, the mobile web is the future.
Global mobile data traffic has increased 160% over the course of the past year and is now at 90 petabytes per month, or the equivalent of 23 million DVDs, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Forecast for 2009-2014. By 2014, it will have reached 3.6 exabytes per month, a 39-fold increase…Read More
MeeGo: A New Linux OS to Fight iPhone, iPad and More
Nokia and Intel have just announced the creation of MeeGo, a new Linux-based operating system designed for portable devices including netbooks and smartphones as well as other non-desktop platforms like connected TVs and vehicles. The new OS is a combination of Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin, both Linux-based computing environments. This partnership is notable not just for combining two different Linux platforms under one roof, but for its cross-platform support of both Intel and ARM chips, the latter currently popular in mobile devices like Apple’s iPhone thanks to its low power consumption needs.
The MeeGo operating system is designed to let developers write once and then deploy to a number of hardware platforms including everything from smartphones to netbooks and more, a popular strategy these days in an increasingly fragmented mobile world. The same strategy has also been recently embraced by Adobe, who now lets their developers write once and then deploy their Flash apps to any operating system, both desktop and laptop-based or mobile…Read More
The Truth about Mobile Application Stores
At the recent Mobile World Congress 2010, Dutch app store analytics firm Distimo presented their findings on the six largest mobile application stores in existence today: the iTunes App Store, BlackBerry App World, Google Android Market, Nokia Ovi Store, Palm App Catalog and Windows Marketplace for Mobile. In their presentation, they analyzed everything including store size, store growth, the most popular applications and where you can find the best deal. They recently shared some of the highlights from that presentation by way of a slideshow embedded on their blog.
For mobile industry insiders, some of the findings won’t be all that shocking, just common knowledge paired with statistics. However, there were a few surprises that caught us off guard, maybe they will you too…Read More
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It annoys me when I write a big post that doesn’t get read. I’m reposting here for those who might find the time. Comments are closed on this post. If you want to respond, please visit ReadWriteWeb for either Part 1 or Part 2.
Here’s a little secret about Twitter that you may not know: some people are getting paid to tweet. We don’t mean it’s their job to Twitter as the PR front-end for some large corporation, either. They’re actually getting paid to post advertisements to their Twitter stream. When their followers click though, the end result is cold, hard cash.
The Twitter ad industry, an experimental playground where new ideas about making money on the Internet flourish, is made up of a handful of companies who work with advertisers to run in-stream Twitter campaigns. Surprisingly, it’s not as unseemly as it sounds. For the most part, tweets are disclosed, backlash is minimal and the so-called “publishers” – the Twitterers, that is – are making a decent bit of pocket change. Just don’t count on banking 10K per tweet like Kim Kardashian allegedly did.
Diluting the Stream?
Twitter ads are 140-character missives posted to Twitter that link to an advertiser’s product or service. Some companies allow their users to craft the ad’s text itself while others insist on the advertiser’s own wording. But the end result is the same: someone clicks the ad, the Twitterer gets paid.
When first introduced, the concept of in-stream ads was met with backlash and disgust from many in the Twitter community. Advertisers were charged with “diluting the stream” with these irrelevant, unneeded posts. But these days, the backlash seems to be nearly forgotten. Anyone who was offended by someone tweeting ads simply unfollowed them and went on with their life. In fact, that’s the beauty of the Twitter system – if you don’t like what someone says, they’re gone with a click of a button. And when it comes to ads, the reality is that enough people don’t mind (or perhaps don’t even notice) to make the occasional promotional tweet worthwhile for publishers using these systems.
Beyond Kim K: Real Users are Making Money
There a good handful of companies where a Twitter user can sign up to start advertising to their friends and followers including Twittad,Magpie, Sponsored Tweets, and Ad.ly to name a few. Since the influx of celebrities to Twitter, these companies have become more prominent – Ad.ly and Sponsored Tweets even list some of their celeb publishers right on their homepage. Those lists include everyone from reality stars like Audrina Patridge to artists like Soulja Boy. Take a quick dive through their publisher lists, and it almost seems as if there isn’t a single celeb who hasn’t signed up somewhere to monetize their fanbase.
But a celebrity and their 1.5 million followers isn’t the average user of these services. Instead, the average user is relatively popular within a niche crowd. For example, Magpie reports their average user has follower counts in the three or four digits. Sponsored Tweets says their average user is right around 2500 followers. Obviously, these folks have more than a handful of close friends watching their streams, but they don’t come anywhere near celebrity status.
Yes, but How Much Money do People Make?
But the real question everyone wants to know is what do people make? Real people? The answer to this question isn’t as simple as quoting an industry average figure. Reports of the $10,000 tweet from Kim Kardashian have people salivating, yet this is far from reality. (Side note: Ad.ly, the company behind that tweet, doesn’t actually disclose what their users make per tweet. Sean Rad, Ad.ly’s CEO, will only say that publishers “can make as much as five figures.” Sponsored Tweets, meanwhile, boasts of a $20,000 payout.) However, outside of Hollywood starlets, musicians and other famous figures, tweeting for cash isn’t some get-rich-quick scheme.
Sponsored Tweets says their average payout is $10 per tweet and a user usually gets just a couple of offers per month. Magpie says their users can earn three-figure amounts per month, most in the $100-$300 range. Twittad says their average payout is $15-25 per week. None of these payout amounts are enough money to quit your day job over, but they can easily add up to tidy second income for their users.
And if you grow your Twitter following, you can earn even more. John Chow isn’t exactly a Hollywood celeb, but he does tout a follower count of over 50,000. While nowhere near Kim K. numbers, it was enough for his first tweet to earn him $1000 when he signed up with Ad.ly. But simply boosting your follower count isn’t enough to be the next John Chow or Jeremy Shoemaker who claims he earned 14K in a month – it all depends on who follows you back and how engaged they are. Without active followers clicking through on your ads, you’ll be lucky to earn a dollar.
You can get paid to tweet. Average, non-celebrity users are making some decent pocket change using Twitter ad services like Twittad,Magpie, Sponsored Tweets, and Ad.ly. And while reports of $10,000 tweets abound, average users are pulling in much smaller amounts, usually three figures at most.
But aren’t these programs rewarding scam artists who boost their follower count through artificial means or sneak in ads that look like regular tweets? Surprisingly, for the most part, the answer is no.
Paid Tweets: Not a Gold Rush for Most Users
Janet Thaeler only has around 7400 followers on Twitter which puts her far from celebrity status. Occasionally she’ll tweet a relevant ad to her engaged followers, averaging around two per month. They’ve never brought her big bucks, though. The most she’s ever been paid is $20 per tweet.
Tim Kissane is in a similar boat. With only around 6000 followers, he’s not tweeting to a massive crowd. The least he’s been paid is $2 per tweet; the most is $38.50. Tim says that none of the services he’s tried, which include Sponsored Tweets, Magpie and Twittad have earned him any “significant revenue” and dubs his payouts “chump change.” Tim says that’s he’s disappointed with the services. “Unless I drop my price significantly, I will receive no offers,” he laments. “For instance, Twittad estimates my ad value as ~$471/month.” However, “the few offers I get average $8-$12/week. And even those are scarce.”
But perhaps Tim, like many others, was expecting paid tweets to serve as a steady source of secondary income when it is, in reality, no more than the Twitter equivalent of an online display ad similar to those you would see on someone’s blog.
In fact, that’s the very model that Ad.ly hopes to reproduce with their system. Instead of promoting the whole “conversational marketing” mumbo-jumbo which purports that people will buy from companies their friends recommend, Ad.ly says their system is the Twitterized version of the already successful display ad model. As with bloggers hosting ads on their site, Ad.ly thinks that Twitter users should be able to monetize their content too. However, unlike display ads, Twitter CTRs (clickthrough rates) are much, much higher. Five times the industry average, says Ad.ly CEO Sean Rad.
Other Twitter advertising companies report similar high levels of engagement. Magpie even claims their average clickthrough is the unheard of 2%. Twittad says their click to conversions (aka “call to action”) is well above 8-10%.
Rewarding Engagement, Not Just Numbers
A consistent factor among the majority of the companies is the use of systems and algorithms that take into account not just raw follower counts, but the engagement levels of those followers. Ad.ly’s algorithms, for example, look at the quality of someone’s followers to determine what prices to pay. Too many spammers and bots following you and the payout goes down. And if you’re a spammer – in other words, tweeting out too many ads yourself – the price goes down even further. So far, in fact, that you probably won’t even find using their system worthwhile. Magpie and Sponsored Tweets, too, say follower counts are not how they determine success. Twittad’s formula also looks beyond follower counts to see how active a certain Twitterer is before determining their payout amount. In other words, you can’t simply turn on auto-follow via a third party service and boost your follower count to high levels and then expect to start earning money. Only real, engaged users communicating to a real, engaged following are rewarded via these programs.
Disclosure: Are Ads Sneaking into Your Stream?
Another surprise is how strict many of the companies are about following the rules of disclosure – that is, making sure tweets are labeled as ads in some way, shape or form. Each company involved has their own method for this, however, some are more obvious than others.
Magpie requires their users to choose between #ad, #advert, #sponsor, etc. until a definitive recommendation from either the FTC or WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Assoc.) is established. Sponsored Tweets uses a disclosure engine that makes their users choose from a set of options, too, which includes #ad and many others. Ad.ly users have “(ad)” placed in their tweets for them and, even better, their ad messages can’t be rewritten by their users – the system automatically sends out the tweets, disclosure and all. Twittad, on the other hand, doesn’t require disclosure but uses a “sponsor URL” of http://spon.in. Click through on any Twittad link and a banner at the top of the page appears reading “providing disclosed sponsorship in updates.”
However, there are still ways around some of these disclosure systems. For example, prolific Twitterer John Chow notes that with Sponsored Tweets, you can reword the ad however you want. Since they allow you to use “brought to you by” as one of the disclosure mechanisms, you could write: “Hey guys! I found this great $1.99 web hosting deal bought to you by bluehost. Go check it out. URL” and get away with it.
This tricky workaround to the disclosure requirements, not too mention the various methods employed by the companies to meet disclosure requirements, are one main area that needs improvement. Consistent guidelines for paid tweeting should be established and adhered to by all companies involved. Without standards, it’s a lot easier to mistake an ad for a regular tweet if you’re not paying careful attention.
Companies are Paying, but Issues Remain
Despite the grumblings in the Twitter community about how paid tweets will start mucking up the stream, advertisers haven’t been afraid to get on board and give pay-per-tweet ads a shot. The Twitter ad companies have all worked with major brands including Sears Holdings (Twittad), Hershey’s (Magpie), Sony Playstation (Magpie), LG (Sponsored Tweets), Volvo (Sponsored Tweets), Talbots (Sponsored Tweets), Sony Electronics (Ad.ly), Ralph Lauren (Ad.ly), Bing (Ad.ly) and Bookrenter.com (Ad.ly), just to name a few.
Still, not everyone is happy with their results. Deborah Blake with IntroSpectrum has just started using Sponsored Tweets and Magpie. With Google AdWords, she’s seeing right around $.50 CPC (cost-per-click) but through Magpie she’s seeing about $3 CPC. Sponsored Tweets is about the same, she says. Also, Magpie reports 0.65% CTR for the campaign, but the company’s own analytics indicate a much lower rate. She can’t be sure if their internal analytics are missing some clicks or if Magpie is over-estimating, though. However, the CTR is much lower than Magpie’s claimed average of 2%.
However, even Blake is willing to give the Twitter ad agencies the benefit of the doubt. “I want to emphasize…this is a pretty small sample size so far, and besides that our AdWords campaigns have been optimized over the course of many months…,” she notes. “We can’t draw any firm conclusions yet, but my expectations are that quality traffic through Twitter advertising will be significantly higher cost than traditional online channels.”
In the end, it’s probably still too soon for advertisers to truly get a grip on whether the quality traffic from Twitter ads is worth the price. While it’s one thing to track clickthroughs and conversions, it’s much harder to track the positive or negative feelings generated by ads that may impact sales further down the road. For now, though, it seems some advertisers are willing experiment, some Twitter users are willing to tweet for pay and surprisingly, some Twitter users are willing to follow those that do.
Recently, Google announced an update to their Google Docs solution which now allows you to upload any type of file, not just office documents. Many are calling this “GDrive” after the long-rumored service which is supposedly a cloud-based storage solution from Google.
Although the news got a lot of coverage from the blogosphere, few sites bothered to compare Google’s latest offering with SkyDrive, Microsoft’s service which has been around for a couple of years now.
SkyDrive wasn’t always the robust service it is today – over time, it has grown in both size and features. And it’s growing still with the upcoming launch of Office Web Applications (currently in beta).
As of now, the SkyDrive service provides 25 GB of free online storage space in the cloud. Compare that to Google’s 1 GB. Anything over a GB and you have to pay. While that may be handy for those needing to grow a lot and are limited by the 25 GB from SkyDrive, most users will find 25 GB to be more than sufficient.
In addition, SkyDrive users have long since been able to upload different types of files to the service including things like PDFs, videos, MP3s, you name it. This is nothing new.
Another plus for SkyDrive is that it’s completely integrated with Windows Live Photos. In other words, when you add photos to SkyDrive, they’re in the Live Photos service and vice versa. It’s all the same thing. And it’s all accessible from one portal: home.live.com. Oddly though, with Google’s service, photos can be uploaded to Docs or they can be managed via Picasa, the services are separate but the storage used is not. For example, when I uploaded a photo to Google Docs it didn’t show up at Picasa Web Albums or the other way around. But the storage space Google offers for a fee is shared between Picasa and Docs (and Gmail)! So why wouldn’t the services be integrated through one portal or one centralized dashboard? Personally, I find that confusing.
Google Docs Pluses
Google Docs is largely known as an online office suite with collaboration features and at the moment, it’s one of the best out there. If you also use Google’s other products and services (like Gmail and the Chrome browser, for example), Docs is well-integrated with the company’s many offerings. Although Microsoft’s online office suite (still in beta testing) is extremely promising, Google has the more complete solution when it comes to online office utilities.
The collaboration capabilities of Docs are stellar, too. Plus, you can do things like real-time editing, share files and folders with others, hide files, search documents and templates, sort and filter your list of files and more. You can even import online data into your Google Spreadsheets.
In addition, because Microsoft’s web office suite hasn’t yet launched, Google Docs is the only service of the two that actually lets you go to one portal right now and simply create or upload a file from its easy-to-use interface.
Office Web Apps to Compete?
However, Microsoft’s Office Web Applications may soon be a real competitor in this area. And like Windows Live Photos, it too, will be a part of the SkyDrive service, all seamlessly integrated.
The great thing about Office Web Apps is that it works perfectly with the desktop versions of Office. There are no nasty file conversions where uploaded files lose functionality, features, or formatting. This is a bigger deal than you may think. In fact, as I sat at Starbucks recently (interviewing nannies for my new arrival), I couldn’t help but overhear an interesting conversation from a group of college professors sitting nearby. They were discussing the problems with Google Docs and how their documents and spreadsheets were “messed up” when they tried to use the service. With Office Web, you won’t have those sorts of problems. And if you do find yourself in need of more robust Office features, they’ll be available in the web service, too.
My Complaint with SkyDrive
The only thing SkyDrive really needs now is a desktop tool that lets me sync my local files with the SkyDrive cloud automatically. (Live Photo Gallery has an upload feature to Windows Live Photos, but it’s not automatic). The SkyDrive team should release an API!
There are already a number of apps that do this for Google Docs so Microsoft will need to catch up here, too.
In January, CNET broke a story that had everyone talking about the hidden “god mode” in Windows 7 (It was discussed on Channel 9 here, too). This secret mode is actually just a hack that lets you access Control Panel tools and settings all within one folder and group them by type (Administrative Tools, Autoplay settings, etc.) It’s definitely handy for those of you who aren’t fans of the default Control Panel layout and want a slightly geekier look-and-feel for these settings.
If you found god mode useful, you may be interested in adding it to your taskbar or context menus, too. Thanks to the site Tweaking with Vishal, there are now tutorials on how to do exactly this. Using registry hacks and other tricks, you can do the following:
- Add God Mode to your My Computer context menu
- Add a God Mode shortcut to your Desktop context menu
- Pin God Mode to the Taskbar
Just click on the link above for the appropriate instructions.
(img via askvg.com)
The new Garmin-Asus M10 is the second-only Windows Mobile 6.5.3 device to hit the market (the first being Sony Ericsson’s Aspen). As the name implies, this phone’s best feature is its built-in navigation software. However, the M10 does more than just simple turn-by-turn directions – it integrates location-awareness into several of the phone’s frequently-used applications, including the calendar, contacts, email, internet browser, and messaging.
The phone’s hardware includes 512 MB RAM and ROM, 4 GB of storage, a 3.5-inch touchscreen, full QWERTY keyboard, HSDPA wireless and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi support, and a 5-megapixel camera that automatically geotags your photos. You can then upload those geotagged pics using the built-in Facebook app or email them to your friends or colleagues with the messaging system which offers support for Microsoft Exchange.
This phone will launch in Europe and Asia in the first half of this year.
(via Business Wire)