Archive for May, 2012

5 reasons everyone will be using Chrome OS in 3 years

Google’s first round of Chromebooks met with mixed reviews and far greater adoption in schools where their easy management and fast boot times made them more popular than with consumers. Google and Samsung announced yesterday that next-generation Chromebooks were rolling out, along with a major release of Chrome OS and new devices call Chromeboxes. All in all, it was a big day for Chrome OS, and yet, as Larry Dignan pointed out, the pricing on Chrome OS devices remains too high for serious consumer or enterprise adoption.

However, in computer-land, three years is forever, and in that period of time, I expect that Chrome OS will be all over the enterprise, consumer spaces, schools, and SMBs. In fact, I expect that it will be ubiquitous in the way that Linux and Java are: we don’t even know we’re using them on our phones, in our TVs, in our DVRs…everywhere. Here’s 5 reasons why.

1. It’s going to be cheap

Yes, Larry’s right. These devices are too expensive right now. But Moore’s Law tells us that this will change. Fast. And Chrome OS doesn’t need the latest hardware to run quite well, particularly now that it can take advantage of GPU acceleration. Sure, the original Atom-based Chromebooks were a bit pokey, but enhancements to the OS itself have taken big steps to address the issue. The latest generation of Chrome OS devices aren’t exactly using quad-core beasts. They’re leveraging commodity hardware, paving the way for serious price drops in the relatively near future.

Chrome OS is also being tested on ARM hardware and is unencumbered by much in the way of licensing since it’s based on the open source Chromium OS project.

2. It’s flexible

Have you used the Chrome Web Store? There’s a lot of really useful software just a click away that runs right within the browser. Whether you are using Chrome OS or the Chrome web browser, the experience is the same and the developer ecosystem is pushing hard on the boundaries of what we thought was possible in terms of web applications. The variety of applications already available in the Web Store is impressive, to say the least, just a year and half after its launch.

If Netflix, Facebook, Angry Birds, and Autodesk applications can all run happily in Chrome OS, there won’t be much to differentiate it from a full-blown desktop OS in the months and years to come. Or from an embedded OS. Or a mobile OS. It all depends on the applications OEMs choose to develop, surface, and install for users.

3. Because Chrome OS and Android will merge

As early as 2009, Sergey Brin predicted that Android and Chrome OS would likely draw closer to each other and then merge. The Chrome browser for Android is hinting that this is getting closer to reality, as are various bits of information emerging about Android 5, most of which point to at least the beginnings of unification.

Android is already dominant in mobile devices and runs on everything from televisions to refrigerators to tablets. Chrome has the largest browser marketshare now. When Chrome, Chrome OS, and Android all start looking very much like each other and all dominate their respective markets, it’s not a big stretch to start calling Chrome OS ubiquitous.

4. It’s Google

If Google has proved anything, it’s that they have enough money to keep hammering away at a market until they own it. They proved it with Android on mobile phones. They proved it with their Chrome browser. They proved it with search and related ads. They’ve had their share of missteps and projects like Google+ remain out with the jury. However, if the project is ultimately about growing their core business (namely advertising) and getting ads in front of more people, they’re absolutely dogged. And while their war chest isn’t quite up to Apple’s standards, they can win wars of attrition with just about anyone. Besides, what would you rather see on that connected television? A familiar web browser with snappy app interfaces and a cool Web Store or some kludgy Java interface that doesn’t look a thing like what you use on your desktop, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet to access content?

5. Because the web will be all you need

This is already true for most users. In developing countries, the only personal computing device that many people own is a simple mobile phone with basic web access. Elsewhere, cloud-based applications continue to displace desktop applications and increasing numbers of users spend their days staring at a web browser instead of any particular application. Microsoft’s Office 365 acknowledges the need for at least a hybrid approach to the cloud and most of the interesting software we read about now comes in the form of cloud-based web applications or mobile apps.

Even Adobe, the last reason I bother using a full-blown PC, started shipping Muse (a rich WYSIWYG web development platform) this month and, while not a web application itself, leverages the Air runtime environment to be small, light, and fast.

The next version of Bethesda Software’s massively popular and visually stunning Elder Scrolls series? An MMORPG. No, it won’t be 100% browser-based, but without the web, fans would just be sitting in front of their aging XBOXes. Goodbye game consoles, hello cloud.

This webification movement has taken off in the last 18 months. It isn’t hard to imagine what the next three years will do to the way we think about personal computing. So while Chrome OS got off to a slow start, it’s only a matter of time until Google can take advantage of this inflection point at which we find ourselves.



94% of U.S. Wineries Are On Facebook, 73% on Twitter

94% of American wineries surveyed by ABLE Social Media Marketing are on Facebook and 73% are on Twitter. The study, done in December 2011, shows that American wineries are active in social media and that it’s producing results. 47% of US wineries said that Facebook helps them generate sales (72% sell wine on their website). While this study focuses on wineries only, companies in other industries should take note of these results.

The study by ABLE covered both American and French wineries, but the French statistics aren’t as impressive. For example only 53% of French wineries surveyed are on Facebook, compared to the 94% of US wineries.

Facebook and/or Twitter?

Drilling down into the Facebook statistics some more, 50% of American wineries (but only 18% of French wineries) have more than 500 fans on Facebook. ABLE identified two reasons for the success of American wineries on Facebook:

  • 49% of American wineries (19% of French) have a dedicated marketing manager who creates and publishes content on social networks.
  • 30% of American wineries have been using Facebook ads to promote their winery (only 7.6% of French wineries).

Aside: 3.8% of American wineries listed “my children” as their Facebook managers. Goes to show that family ties in SMB’s is still important!

It’s interesting to see the wine industry using Facebook and Twitter for different reasons. According to the study, Facebook is the superior social media platform for generating sales (48% for Facebook vs. 28% for Twitter). But Twitter is seen as better at capturing media attention (53% for Twitter vs. 32% for Facebook). That kind of statistic is good news for Facebook’s IPO investors, who’ve been spooked by the media into thinking that Facebook will have trouble growing revenue.

72% of American wineries and 69% of French wineries say they will be increasing their activity on Facebook in 2012. Twitter isn’t seen as so important, with 61% of American wineries and 45% of French wineries saying they will increase their activity on Twitter in 2012.

Other Social Networks

Another interesting statistic is which wine-focused social networks US wineries use. Snooth is the most popular, with 33% of respondents on there.

Note that nearly 53% aren’t on any niche wine network. I’m somewhat surprised by that, because I’m a user of a couple of wine apps – Snooth and Drync – and I’d like to think that wineries are active on them. They should be updating their data on the popular apps and trying to woo the most passionate wine consumers (because connoisseurs are more likely to be using these niche apps than other people).

As for other types of social networks, nearly 54% of American wineries have claimed or created a profile on Yelp, 40% on Google Places and 30% on Foursquare.

285 American wineries and 243 French ones participated in the study. The full report.


Categories: Tech Tags: , , ,

Microsoft rumored to be looking at November launch for iPad MS Office

The latest reports peg Microsoft’s rumored iPad version of its popular Office suite as coming this fall to Apple’s tablet.

Boy Genius Report has the story, which cites an unnamed but trusted source who says that Microsoft is developing the Office app not only for the iPad, but also for Android devices as well. The source also suggests a November launch date, which is a new bit of information from the last time we heard about the iPad Office app back in February. The report points out that the app is called “Office for iOS,” rather than Office for iPad, suggesting an iPhone version might crop up, too.

According to BGR, the source has even seen the iPad version of MS Office running first-hand, and reports that it looks identical to the leak we saw from The Daily a few months back. At the time, Microsoft denied that the app was authentic, but if this latest rumor proves true, it seems that denial might have been more for show than anything else.

We’d heard earlier that an Android version of MS Office wasn’t in the works, but that’s no longer the case according to the latest rumors. That’s actually a good thing, because the biggest benefit of Office hitting the iPad will be the compatibility of documents between devices. Microsoft Office and its various parts – MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so on – are in use all over the world and in tons of traditional computers. Having those same programs on the iPad is going to make working on them remotely a lot easier for many people, and being able to send documents between computers, iPads and Android tabs will help to keep MS Office useful for business people, who are among the most likely to need to use it anyway.

The downside for Apple, of course, is that it’ll lose the competitive advantage it was going to gain back when it seemed Android wouldn’t be getting a tablet version of Office. Even so, the iPad and its users will benefit greatly from the functionality Office can offer, especially in making the iPad more and more useful as a content creation device, rather than simply a content consumption device.

Hopefully Microsoft will soon start to spill on the actual features that MS Office will include and put the rumors to bed. Until then, we only know that at least two people have seen the supposed app in action, and we can hope that it’s real.


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How to enhance your business e-reputation

What is the e-reputation of a business?

Your e-reputation represents the overview of your brand presence on the web. It covers your brand’s visibility across the main channels of the Internet, along with social network feedback concerning the service or product that you provide.

What to measure and how to manage your e-reputation?

A diverse range of information makes it hard to analyze. Aggregating the right data for analysis is key to monitoring your e-reputation. To manage your e-reputation efficiently you should focus on the following main aspects:

  • Search engine results – monitor the positioning and ranking of your website in search engine results. Check your media coverage and brand visibility across the digital media sphere.
  • Web analytics – analyze your link popularity, backlinks to your website, related links, and hierarchy of your website. Structure and optimize your site for better rankings.
  • Social media – see what people are saying about your business. Establish a strong connection and build positive relationships by interacting with social media users.

Setting up an alert tool for those criteria will help you monitor and detect what is said about your brand, where, and in real time, along with your current e-reputation ranking.

How important is online reputation for your business?

Recent statistics show that almost 50% of business professionals consider a company’s e-reputation before initiating business contacts with that firm. Building a strong and well known brand will consolidate your market position, increase your brand visibility and let your brand work for you. Anything you post online is instantly exposed to a community of more than 2 billion people. Benefit from a huge online audience by defining and executing your corporate media communication plans.


Polishing up your e-reputation is vital for the success of your business. Building a trusty and visible brand will boost your overall results, contributing to natural growth and to the creation of a recognizable service or product. Manage your e-reputation in terms of a positive presence on the web and let it effectively influence your business.

Social Media Platforms by Number of Users

Turn your iPhone into an instant fax machine

Following its strategy of expanding online fax services to mobile devices, the global provider of internet fax services announces the launch of its free faxing application for iPhone. Popfax now serves most of its customers’ mobile devices.

Popcompanion for iPhoneThe new application called PopCompanion increases users’ mobility and productivity by providing them the possibility of sending and receiving faxes and managing their Popfax account directly from their iPhone, anywhere and anytime. Simply put, it turns the smart phone into a pocket fax machine, which is very easy to use: no more paper and toner expenses, no more annoying fax machines, just your mobile with professional faxing solutions.

The PopCompanion is much more than a simple application for faxing from a smart phone – it is a complete unified messaging tool with a wide range of features:

– Sending of simple text faxes, browsing the file from a local folder, or sending faxes with a cover page.
– Receiving of an unlimited number of faxes for free.
– Sending SMS’s worldwide.
– Receiving voicemails and personalizing the welcome message.
– Managing the account details and settings.
– Managing the contacts and using both phone and Popfax contacts to send fax messages.

The new PopCompanion for iPhone is available in the Apple App Store. Anyone can try the application by subscribing to the Free Trial offer of 3 days with no obligation to buy.

After you make sure that Popfax mobile app is suitable for your business faxing needs, you can take the next step of choosing one of the plans available at really affordable prices.


The latest iPhone 5 rumours

Perhaps the next iPhone won’t be called iPhone 5 but the Zombie iPhone, in honour of the new spate of rumours that the late Steve Jobs is still with us in a sense, as the chief designer of the upcoming handset.

Also last week: The 4in iPhone 5 screen is “confirmed” because mainstream media reported on rumours instead of bloggers, Apple is reducing new orders for iPhone 4S so it can, um, sell more of a phone it hasn’t announced yet and all that “zazz.”

You read it here second.

iPhone 5 will be the “Steve Jobs Phone”

The iOSphere has happily concluded that iPhone 5 will be the Steve Jobs phone, because he purportedly “worked closely on the redesigned phone” before his death last October.

The conclusion is based on a Bloomberg story which cites exactly one source, someone “with knowledge of the plans,” as the basis for this assertion.

Bloomberg mentions a total of three such sources in the story, but each one for separate assertions. And the assertions don’t amount to much, as one can tell from reading the rest of the story, which rehashes some rumours about screen sizes, some generalities about the competitive smartphone market and so on.

For having talked with three people with knowledge of Apple’s plans, there’s precious little that’s new or detailed information in the story. Bloomberg claims, again from one source, that iPhone 5 will be redesigned but offers not a single detail regarding how.

Another source repeats the previously circulated rumours that Apple has placed orders for displays “that are bigger than the 3.5in size now on the smartphone,” but again without any detail as to what the larger size would actually be.

“Apple has been working on the new device since before the current iPhone 4S model was introduced last October, said one person with knowledge of the project. Jobs, who had gone on medical leave from Apple starting last January, played a key role in developing the phone, this person said.”

iPhone 5 “confirmed” as having 4in screen

Two stories this week, by The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, claim that the Next iPhone will have a 4in screen.

Immediately, the iOSphere rejoiced, saying these mainstream media stories “confirm” the larger screen.

Yet even a superficial read of both stories shows they rest on a thin foundation. Despite their length, both actually add very little detail about the purported big-screen iPhone. And both use almost identical language to describe their sources: “people familiar with the matter” and “people familiar with the situation.”

The next iPhone is “likely to have a larger display than its current models have, with the company ordering bigger screens from its Asian suppliers, people familiar with the matter said,” according to the Journal. “The new screens measure at least 4ines diagonally, the people said. … Production is set to begin next month, the people said.”

If the production schedule is correct, that would suggest the phones will be released, if not announced, later in 2012, rather than earlier as some had predicted or hoped.

According to Reuters, “Apple Inc plans to use a larger screen on the next-generation iPhone and has begun to place orders for the new displays from suppliers in South Korea and Japan, people familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.”

And, apart from both stories asserting, based on the same sources, that Apple will rely on a trio of manufacturers for the new screens — Korea’s LG Display, Sharp and Japan Display, a recent merger of the display production units of three companies — neither story adds anything more.

But that was enough for folks like Richi Jennings, who writes Computerworld’s IT Blogwatch. He concludes, “The iPhone 5 release date is basically now known. And the rumours of a larger, 4in screen are all-but confirmed.”

But as with all such “reports,” the weight to be attached to the conclusions hinges on the identity, reliability and motives of the sources. And neither Reuters nor the Journal sheds any light on these. Their sources may be from display manufacturers or they could be rumour sites that claim to have sources in display manufacturers.

Apple paves the way for iPhone 5 by reducing orders for existing phones

Apple has “significantly reduced” its iPhone orders to its manufacturers, as it “begins prepping” for iPhone 5.

That’s how Neil Hughes at AppleInsider sees it, based on an investors note from Sterne Agee stock analyst Shaw Wu.

In the note, Wu told his readers that “he has found in his checks with suppliers that Apple has reduced iPhone orders by between 20 and 25 percent from the 35.1 million units the company shipped in the March quarter,” according to Hughes.

If it’s ordering fewer phones, it will be shipping fewer phones. “If those numbers hold for the current June quarter, that would result in shipments of between 26 million and 28 million iPhones. That result would be below Wall Street consensus of between 30 million and 31 million.”

But, there are the phones already in the channel inventory. Wu estimates that there 8.6 million iPhones in the channel inventory, with 2.6 million added in the most recent quarter. “That channel inventory allowed the company to reach a supply-demand balance of between 4 and 6 weeks,” according to the AppleInsider story.

Based on past history, Apple can expect a slowdown in iPhone sales, the closer we come to the expected announcement of the next iPhone. At the same time, it presumably wants to have enough phones to meet all the demand during the run-up to that announcement, while making sure there’s manufacturing capacity to meet expected demand for the Next iPhone.

AppleInsider quotes Wu: “It appears AAPL is opting to be conservative with its suppliers to factor in a potential 2-quarter pause ahead of the refresh and also to manage inventory.”

In 2011, as AppleInsider notes, Apple reported record sales of 20.34 million iPhones during the June quarter and 17.07 million in the September quarter, “as Apple drew down inventories ahead of the iPhone 4S launch.” But that seems to assume that Apple, in effect, didn’t have enough iPhones to meet demand. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that demand for iPhone 4 fell off, especially in the second half of the September quarter, but not as much as Apple executives had feared.

Wu “believes investor expectations should be drawn in for the June quarter as well as the following September quarter,” according to AppleInsider.

Rollup isn’t a corporate inventory management specialist and Apple’s Tim Cook definitely is, but low-balling Apple sales for two quarters — half of the year — doesn’t seem like a great inventory management strategy.

iPhone 5′s iOS 6 firmware to be revealed in June

“iPhone 5 groundwork being set at WWDC,” is Chris Burns’ thrilling headline at SlashGear.

The phone itself won’t show up at Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in June. But “from what we’ve gathered over the last few weeks in leaks and tips popping up until and including today, we’ll see much of the groundwork and preparations being made for the release of that titanic smartphone release set for a late summer release, ” Burns gushes. That release will not only feature “an iCloud upgrade, improved Apple-run Maps and hardware updates galore,” but something More: It “will be strewn with next-level zazz.”

“Zazz” is an iOSphere technical term for “general, mindblowing, cool awesomeness.”

“What WWDC will hold is the cradle which will eventually surround the iPhone 5,” Burns explains poetically. And the hot air wafting through the iOSphere is the wind that gently rocks it.

With all those tips and leaks at hand, Burns doesn’t even bother to cite sources. Why slow down the flow of zazz?

“[W]e’ll see the iPhone 5 bringing on a whole new wave of connected services,” Burn reveals. “This includes the Apple-made Maps environment that will not only allow you to finally work with turn-by-turn directions, it’ll give you such realistic mapping that your eyes will bug out of your head.”

If bug-eyed mapping doesn’t get your juices flowing, you must already be dead. The bug-eye work of photorealistic 3D maps is by C3, a company acquired by Apple in October 2011. You can get a sense of the impact of its software, running on an iPad in this video.

But that’s not all! More zazz.

“Next have a peek at the next issue in the iCloud story,” Burns teases. “This next-level iCloud upgrade will be released in a iCloud Beta fashion, this tip sending fairly clear signals that it’ll be showing up at WWDC for developers.” You almost don’t feel annoyed that Burns doesn’t actually give you a peek at even a single new feature in the next iCloud.

Not one to be shy about drawing conclusions, Burns draws conclusions. “This all comes in addition to the idea that iOS 6 upgrade to both iPhone and iPad may be coming at the event as well, though such a large upgrade (whatever it might hold) does seem more likely to be released at the same time as the iPhone 5 itself — it just sounds better.”

Nothing quite sums up iOSphere rumours as well as that: “It just sounds better.”


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