Archive for April, 2012

Google today announced its long-awaited Google Drive cloud storage service, providing users with 5GB of free storage integrated with Google Docs and other Google services.

Today, we’re introducing Google Drive—a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you’re working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé or tracking a budget with roommates, you can do it in Drive. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond.

Beyond the free 5GB level, Google offers several levels of paid storage up to 16 TB, all accessible via Google Docs or through clients for PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices — though the iOS app has yet to be released, Google promises it is “coming soon”. One of the biggest features in Drive is the ability to open more than 30 different file types directly in the browser, allowing users without programs like Illustrator and Photoshop to open up files and see what’s inside. The service includes extensive sharing and collaboration features, as well.


The launch of Google Drive comes as several other cloud storage services have augmented their services in recent days. Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which offers users 7GB of free cloud storage, yesterday updated its offering with an updated iOS app [Direct Link] and a preview client for OS X Lion, which allows users to manage their SkyDrive accounts directly from the Finder. Finally, Dropbox extended its file storage service with the ability to quickly share files stored on Dropbox with anyone, simply by creating a link.

Originally published on Tuesday April 24, 2012 10:14 am PDT by Jordan Golson in MacRumors.

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It’s not enough to call social media a “trend.” It’s a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, and more business owners are jumping on the bandwagon each and every day.

It’s not surprising, considering the fast-paced and often confusing nature of the industry, that myths and misinformation are prominent. Below are seven of the most common–and the most damaging:

1. “My customers are not active in social media.” Nielsen estimates that social media sites and blogs reach 80% of all active U.S. internet users. Social media isn’t limited to certain demographics. Your customers are out there–it’s up to you to figure out where.

2. “Facebook is the only social media site we need.” Facebook is an ideal platform for reaching consumers. LinkedIn, on the other hand, offers easy access to business owners and professionals. Twitter continues to explode in popularity, currently growing at a rate of 11 accounts per second. LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest all have a valuable role to play as well. Don’t limit yourself to a single social media channel.

3. “I can’t have a significant impact if I don’t have thousands of followers.” While a large audience is certainly desirable, pursue quality over quantity. A hundred Twitter followers or Facebook fans that belong to your target market are better than 10,000 who don’t. Seek to build relationships and provide value to your market; the numbers will take care of themselves.

4. “Pinterest is a passing fad… so I don’t need to establish a presence.” Actually, Pinterest is the fastest growing social network of all time–ignore it at your peril! (Here’s how to get started.)

5. “Social media is great for B2C sales… but not B2B.” LinkedIn is an incredible platform for selling to businesses. Create a profile, get involved in targeted groups and participate in discussions relevant to your industry.

6. “Our customers talk about us on social media without us–we don’t need to create conversation.” Customers who act as brand ambassadors are incredibly valuable, but if you fail to control the conversation, you are leaving the fate of your business in the hands of others. You need a presence in order to respond to criticism and consistently broadcast your brand.

7. “I don’t need a social media strategy.” Many business owners consider social media platforms to be fun and even engaging, but not worthy of a long-term strategy and a system for executing it. But in order to be effective on social media, you must be consistent. And without a systemized approach to social media, it’s impossible for a busy small busy owner to maintain a consistent presence.

[Image: Flickr user Gabe Gross]

Originally published by expert blogger JOHN SOUZA | 04-20-2012 in Fast Company

Here is why Facebook bought Instagram

Posted: April 11, 2012 by FMstereo in Android, Apple, General, iOS, Market Trends

You might have heard by now that Facebook has acquired Instagram for nearly a billion dollars in cash and stock. Incredible, isn’t it? I have received text messages of awe and shock from many people in the Valley, for no one saw this coming.

A few days ago it was rumored to be valued at $500 million. A few months ago it was $300 million. Its last round — just a year ago – valued the company at $100 million. The rising valuation of the company was reflective of the growing audience it has been garnering, despite being just on the iPhone. It had reached nearly 30 million registered users before it launched an Android app, a turbo-charging event for the company.

So the question is:  Why did Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s level-headed but mercenary founder, buy Instagram at twice the valuation that professional venture investors were putting on it? The answer is found in Zuckerberg’s own blog post:

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

My translation: Facebook was scared shitless and knew that for first time in its life it arguably had a competitor that could not only eat its lunch, but also destroy its future prospects. Why? Because Facebook is essentially about photos, and Instagram had found and attacked Facebook’s achilles heel — mobile photo sharing.

Here is what I wrote when Instagram launched the Android app.

It is pretty clear that thanks to the turbocharge effect of Android, Instagram’s user base is going to blast past the 50 million mark in a couple of weeks. Just before the company launched its app in October, I had pointed out that there was going to be a mobile-only, photo-oriented social platform that will challenge the established social giants. It will be a summer to remember for this tiny company.

Here is another little bit from one of my Om Says newletters:

The company had announced an API in February, and since then a raft of new apps have come up to capitalize on it. While filters might have jumpstarted Instagram, the company, which already has over 4 million subscribers, has to focus on its core value proposition – community and the social interactions around unique visual experiences.

I hope Instagram allows more apps to export directly to its network. By opening itself up to other apps and services, it has the potential to slowly become the hub of our mobile photo experiences. And in the end, that’s what would make Instagram so much more valuable and in the process become the Flickr of mobile photos.

In other words, if there was any competitor that could give Zuckerberg heartburn, it was Systrom’s posse. They are growing like mad on mobile, and Facebook’s mobile platform (including its app) is mediocre at best. Why? Facebook is not a mobile-first company and they don’t think from the mobile-first perspective. Facebook’s internal ideology is that of a desktop-centric Internet company.

Instagram is the exact opposite. It has created a platform built on emotion. It created not a social network, but instead built a beautiful social platform of shared experiencesFacebook and Instagram are two distinct companies with two distinct personalities. Instagram has what Facebook craves – passionate community. People like Facebook. People use Facebook. People love Instagram. It is my single most-used app. I spend an hour a day on Instagram. I have made friends based on photos they share. I know how they feel, and how they see the world. Facebook lacks soul. Instagram is all soul and emotion.

It is one of the reasons I connected with the app even before it launched. It went deeper than just a photo app. Over the years, Kevin shared his grand ambition about Instagram and building a much larger platform, so from that perspective I guess I am a little surprised – though I thought Kevin and his team would go a lot further, for as Erica pointed out last week, the best is yet to come for mobile photos.

More importantly, it cracked the code where Facebook itself failed: viral growth on mobile. From that perspective I wonder if Kevin sold too soon, though I know it is easy for me to say. But then the road from product and a platform to a business is long, twisted and full of potholes. Perhaps that explains why the Instagram team decided to cash in their chips.

Originally published by  Apr. 9, 2012, on GigaOm.