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World Tech Update Video – Dec 2014

IDG News Service

Coming up on World Tech Update this week Google creates a new kind of CAPTCHA, Amazon hires some robotic help for the holiday season and an e-ink smartphone goes on sale.

Google News: still a major traffic driver

Digiday

Publishers may increasingly focus their traffic growth on optimizing their content for social networks, but the Google News’ influence on traffic is still hard — and foolish — to deny.

On Thursday, Axel Springer, Germany’s biggest news publisher, said that it’s rolling back its two-week experiment that prevented Google from using excerpts of its content within Google News listings. While many European publishers have bristled at Google’s ability to freely use their content on its own sites, CEO Mathias Doepfner said preventing Google from indexing its content was tanking its traffic numbers: Traffic from Google dropped 40 percent during the experiment, and 80 percent from Google News.

The continued influence of Google News on publishers’ traffic might come as a surprise considering all the attention paid to the traffic coming from social channels like Facebook, Twitter and, most recently, Pinterest. Publishers today are spending far more time trying to get social readers to click and share than they are on landing Google searchers or Google News visitors.

“I’ve heard people call SEO dead literally since I started writing about it in 1996 — no joke. It’s sure taking its time dying,” said Danny Sullivan, founding editor of SearchEngineLand.

But it wasn’t always this way. The 2002 birth of Google News also launched a cottage industry of tactics and techniques aimed at helping publishers land the site’s top spots. Publishers knew that scoring a single story on Google News could help drive more traffic than any story could get organically. But Google News has always been a black box, and while publishers did their best to get in Google’s good graces, it was never a sure thing that Google would respond the way they wanted.

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B2B Buyers Purchasing Online

MediaPost

According to the Acquity Group’s annual State of B2B Procurement study of corporate business procurement professionals in the U.S. with annual purchasing budgets in excess of $100,000, 68% of B2B buyers now purchase goods online, up from 57% in 2013.

Additionally, business buyers’ purchasing habits and preferences included in the report show that:

  • The number of respondents who spent 90% or more of their budgets online in the last year doubled from 2013, increasing from nine to 18%
  • 44% of respondents have researched company products on a smartphone or tablet in the past year, compared with 41% in 2013
  • 30% of B2B buyers report they research at least 90% of products online before purchasing, up from 22% in 2013

Although buyers are researching and spending more online, suppliers are not capturing a large enough share of the market, says the report. 57% of business buyers have made an online purchase of $5,000 or more in the last year, and 66% of business buyers say they make a major purchase of $5,000 or more (online or via print, or telephone) at least once per month. But only 48% of respondents purchase goods online directly from suppliers, opting instead for third-party websites and other purchasing channels.

17% of B2B buyers use Amazon Supply, the most popular third-party website from which to make a business purchase regularly, and 38% of B2B buyers make a purchase using the service at least once per quarter.

The B2B Procurement study uncovered massive growth in online research and spending by B2B buyers across multiple devices. Study highlights include:

Electronic Purchasing Platforms In Which Users Participated

Platform

% of Respondents

Supplier’s website

48.2%

Sap

13.4%

Oracle procurement

7.4%

Amazon supply

16.6%

Do not purchase online

31.6%

Other

9.4%

Source: AquityGroup, October 2014

B2B organizations are undergoing a major shift in customer behavior, marked by a steady increase in online research and browsing across multiple sources before purchasing. Overall, 94% of B2B buyers report that they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product, while 55% of B2B buyers conduct online research for at least half of their corporate purchases.

Additionally, procurement teams are spending more time researching products and comparing prices online for goods at all price points. 40% of buyers research more than half of goods under $10,000 online. 31% of buyers research more than half of goods costing $100,000 or more online. For larger corporate purchases of $5,000 or more, 34% spend more than three hours researching products.

Most Popular Online Sources Used To Make A Purchase Decisions (% Using)

Online Source

% of Respondents

Google search

77%

Supplier’s website

83.4%

3rd party website

34%

Userreview of products

41.8%

Blogs

10.8%

Social media

8.6%

Do not participate

6.4%

Other

7.4%

Source: AquityGroup, October 2014

Although, according to 83% of respondents, supplier websites are the most popular channels for conducting research online, only 37% of B2B buyers who conduct research through a supplier’s website said it was the most helpful channel for this purpose.

According to the report, these findings reveal a significant gap between the information procurement officers want and the content that B2B websites currently provide, despite the fact that many suppliers appear to be adapting to changing preferences among B2B buyers.

71% of respondents prefer to conduct research and purchase on their own with access to a sales representative via the phone or online chat when needed, demonstrating the importance of a highly integrated, omni-channel eBusiness approach to sales and marketing. Respondents reported:

31.6% said Research and purchase on my own online, but would like phone support with any issues

  • 16.2% want to speak to someone directly via telephone to discuss options and walk through the entire process
  • 15.8% research and purchase on their own online, but would like live chat support with any issues
  • 13.4% like to do their own research, but talk through purchasing on the phone
  • 12.4% would like to speak with someone directly in person to discuss options and walk me through the entire process
  • 10.5% research and purchase on their own online, no sales person necessary

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How to get your mobile marketing strategy ready for the holidays

CITEworld

October is here and, simply put, if your holiday marketing plans are not finalized and ready to be executed, you are sunk.

That said, it seems that every year marketers let the same small details fall through the cracks. With that in mind, we’ve put together a checklist for companies as they run down their last minute planning for mobile campaigns — an area that still seems to be hit or miss for many retailers.

Remember — email marketing messages can be opened on mobile devices.Often they are only opened on mobile devices. Make sure messages are optimized for smartphones and during the holiday season especially, make the headline simple and short — and easily searchable. Consumers pull up their messages looking for offers while actually shopping and needless to say, their inboxes are bulging this time of year.

Optimize your mobile site. Why, oh why, retailers, are you ignoring the biggest subtrend in e-commerce, which is mobile commerce? Too many retail sites are still not optimized for mobile devices, a process that often requires an entirely new ground up development project but is well worth it in the end. Web optimization company Yottaa found that many of the top 500 e-tailers use unique m-dot sites, according to MobileCommerceDaily. These URLs redirect users an average 3.03 times before taking them to the right site, resulting in a poor user experiences and ultimately, lost retail sales. As MobileCommercialDaily noted, research has found that just a one-second delay in site response time can reduce conversions by 7 percent. Another data point is provided by The Search Agency, which reports in its latest quarterly report, “The Mobile Experience Scorecard — Restaurants & Catering” that the top 50 restaurant and catering companies’ mobile sites were very slow to load (on average over 70 seconds) and 40 percent don’t have a button to click to order or reserve. Some 32 percent of the sites analyzed use Responsive Web Design — Google’s recommended format — but no site serving the updated format were able to pass the page speed test, with average page load time over one minute, according to The Search Agency.

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Android One: Google’s push to rule the smartphone world

CNET

Google just took an important step toward cementing its dominance over the world with its Android mobile operating system.

In the wee hours of the morning on Monday, almost 8,000 miles away from its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Google launched its Android One initiative in New Delhi, India. The project, originally announced at the company’s I/O conference in June, is essentially a way for Google to guide handset manufacturers in bringing affordable smartphones to emerging markets.

The initiative is designed both to reduce the ultimate price tag of Android smartphones, giving more budget-conscious consumers a chance to try out the devices, and to bring a more consistent Android experience, ensuring that those consumers are using Google services. That the Internet giant is making so much noise out of Android One underscores the importance of those markets, which are a critical source of future user growth — and where Google isn’t the only company looking to plant its flag.

Android One is first rolling out in India, then in Indonesia, the Philippines and South Asia by the end of the year. For the launch, Google has partnered with three Indian device makers — Micromax, Karbonn and Spice — to create three $100 smartphones, as well as teamed up with the wireless provider Bharti Airtel, the largest mobile carrier in India, with 40 percent of smartphone users in the country on that network.

Phones made under the Android One rubric will also run “stock” Android, an unmodified version of the software, without the technical and user interface flourishes that manufacturers such as Samsung or HTC typically add to make their smartphones stand out from the competition. The company has already designed its most current version of Android, called KitKat, to run on low-cost hardware.

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IFA September 2014: World Tech Update

IDG News Service

From Samsung’s new curved Note Edge to the flurry of Google Android Wear watches from LG, Sony and Asus, we’ve got you covered on the hottest products launched at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

World Tech Update- August 29, 2014

IDG News Service

Coming up on WTU Instagram brings Hyperlapse to the iPhone, Microsoft cuts Surface 2 prices and Google reveals its secret drone delivery program.

 

Why Microsoft Azure could have the last laugh in the cloud wars

CITEworld

Venture capitalist Brad Feld recently wrote an interesting post predicting the end of Amazon’s dominance of the cloud computing market, and concluded, “it’s suddenly a good time to be Microsoft or Google in the cloud computing wars.”

I’d go one step farther. Using Feld’s arguments, I’d say that Microsoft is in the driver’s seat.

First, the price war. Microsoft and Google are on approximately equal ground when it comes to cutting prices — both have highly profitable core businesses that they can use to subsidize a price war in cloud infrastructure, even to the point of sustaining losses for a while to gain market share. Amazon does not.

Second, the quality argument. Like Feld, we’ve also pointed out that there are niche cloud providers that do a better job than the big guys at providing infrastructure-as-a-service for specific verticals, but when you move all the way up the stack to full software-as-a-service applications, Microsoft has an edge among the big three with Office 365. Google has been making inroads into smaller businesses with Google Apps for almost a decade now, Microsoft remains the standard in the biggest and most profitable business customers — as this recent investigation from Dan Frommer at Quartz showed, only one company in the Fortune 50 uses Google Apps. (That company happens to be Google itself.)

The third argument, support, is mostly a wash. While Amazon’s support may be terrible (I have no evidence of this, but I’m taking Feld’s word for it), Microsoft and Google and their respective ecosystem partners do a decent job of supporting customers on their stacks. This hasn’t always been the case — Google used to treat support as an expensive afterthought — but in the case of Google Apps, at least, the company and its partners have stepped up significantly.

But then comes the fourth argument. Feld points out that once companies get to $200,000 per month of cloud-infrastructure spend, it’s actually significantly cheaper to build their own data centers.

Microsoft is the only one of the big three players with an on-premise offering — Windows Server and the rest of the Microsoft infrastructure family. Maybe the exact break-even point will change as the cloud price wars continue, but Microsoft has the most pieces customers would need to move from all-cloud to a hybrid or on-premise solution. Or, for that matter, for existing on-premise customers to begin experimenting moving some workloads to the cloud.

There’s one more point favoring Microsoft. Google’s core business is selling online advertising. That business makes up about 90% of Google’s revenue, and it has enviably high operating margins — around 30%, based on Google’s 2011 financial report. (I picked 2011 because that was before Google bought Motorola Mobility, which changed the margin structure.)

It’s unclear how the Google Cloud Engine helps that business. Are customers using Google’s cloud somehow more likely to advertise with Google? I don’t see it. Are Google advertising customers demanding to run other workloads on Google technology? I don’t see it.

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Why I’m Already Giving Up on Android Wear

Mashable

I believe in wearable technology. From Google Glass to smartwatches, the idea that you can have access to useful and essential information right when you need it — without digging a smartphone out of your pocket — is compelling. Once you have that convenience, you don’t want to go back.

That’s why it’s so jarring when that ability disappears after you’ve grown used to it. Ever since Google I/O in late June I’ve been wearing an Android Wear smartwatch, the Samsung Gear Live, fairly regularly. But too often I’ve picked up the watch from my desk or nightstand only to be greeted with a dead screen where my faux-sophisticated digital watchface is supposed to be.

It’s technically my own fault. This happens whenever I take off the watch and forget to put it back in its charging cradle. Android Wear smartwatches are designed to provide “all-day” battery life; the device expects — in fact, depends upon — me to remember to recharge it every single night, or else it reverts to what I like to call bracelet mode.

This is why Android Wear stumbles so badly right out of the gate. Although it feels logical to expect users to simply mirror their nightly smartphone recharge habit with another gadget, as I’ve discovered, that’s a wrongheaded assumption.

While a smartphone is easy to keep in a pocket in almost all situations, I often find the watch inconvenient to wear while playing with my kids (who are still young enough to be picked up) or, say, cooking. In those cases, off it goes to the coffee table, kitchen counter or nightstand — usually for the night.

That habit is deadly to an “all day” smartwatch because of its secondary role. For my smartphone, I will almost always remember to charge it because it’s my primary window into my digital life; if I forget to juice it up, I’ll be cut off from what’s now a fundamental part of the way I (and millions of others) live.

Smartwatch habits

For a smartwatch, though, things are different. While its notifications are convenient, they’re not always essential. I really only “need” the notifications when I’m working and tend to mute them at home. Add to that the expectation created by decades of wristwatches that a watch can be put down for days, weeks and even months and still just work (“Take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’,” etc.), and you practically guarantee that all but the most anally retentive will occasionally forget to charge their smartwatch.

Android Wear does give you warnings when the battery is running low, but given the poor battery life you probably won’t see them in the case of a forgotten overnight charge. If you’re at, say, 30% when you go to bed, the 20% alarm won’t trigger until a little later, and by morning the watch will probably be completely dead — especially if you have the watch face permanently displaying the time.

It certainly doesn’t help that most smartwatches require a cradle to charge, which usually means there’s no way to quickly recharge it with any cable you have conveniently lying around the office.

Pebble Chief Evangelist Myriam Joire recently said battery life was the biggest challenge facing wearables, and she’s dead right. Wisely Pebble built its smartwatch to run for several days at a time, which I now regard as table stakes for any device in the market.

Battery futures

There are more than a few positives about Android Wear — the gesture-based UI is quite good and setup is nice and simple — but the poor battery life is such an issue that the platform should never have been released in its current form. I have high hopes that future models (including the beautiful Moto 360) will last longer, but the first two products hint that that’s probably unlikely. After all, if it were possible to create a lightweight smartwatch with four- or five-day battery life using Android Wear, why didn’t Samsung and LG do that in the first place?

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If you can’t check in, is it really Foursquare?

IDG News Service

Foursquare unceremoniously dropped its “check in” feature this week.

Now, the service has been re-created as a third-rate Yelp instead of a first-rate Foursquare. Check-ins are now done via Swarm, a new app launched recently by Foursquare.

The trouble with this is that, for many of Foursquare’s most loyal and passionate users, checking in to locations is what Foursquare has always been about.

This kind of late-stage pivoting is something of an unhappy trend. I believe the cause of these strategic errors by companies is a combination of taking longtime and passionate users for granted while simultaneously coveting thy neighbor’s business model.

That’s a risky strategy. A company that goes that route could fail to succeed with the new model and also fail to hang on to its most passionate users. Then it could be acquired by Yahoo, never to be heard from again.

Twitter trouble

The poster child for this kind of error is Twitter.

People who love Twitter fell in love with it when it was a hyper-minimalist, quirky, secret-code-controlled text-centric microblog. It was minimalism that made Twitter great.

But Twitter got a bad case of Google andFacebook envy. The company redesigned its spare minimalism to look almost exactly like cluttered Facebook. The CEO of a company called Berg illustrated this perfectly by putting his Twitter and Facebook profiles side by side. The redesign is part of a larger direction for Twitter streams to move from text-based to picture-based. Twitter is joining Google+ and Facebook in the arms race that has broken out as people use images, rather than words, to compete for attention.

Twitter also embraced the card interface, which Google has rolled out to multiple properties, from Google+ to Android Wear.

Twitter has recently been testing a feature called “retweet with comment,” which gathers up the original tweet in a card and essentially attaches it to the retweet. This moves Twitter away from its core idea, which is forced brevity.

Of course, new features can fail their tests and may never be rolled out. But the nature of Twitter tests suggests that the company is making the dual mistakes of taking its core user base for granted and simultaneously flirting with the business models of competitors.

For example, Twitter tested a feature that causes a link to a movie trailer to automatically appear when a user types in a hashtag for that movie.

Twitter is even considering dropping both the @ symbol, for identifying and linking to specific user accounts, and the hashtag, for linking to specific kinds of content, according to some testing it has done.

Over time, Twitter is evolving from something that people loved to something that is just like other services and has has few differentiating features.

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