An oral history of the many ways technology is changing the way we buy, sell, play, communicate...and live.

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The change certainly isn’t an improvement for iOS users, but it’s clear why the change has been made: Apple’s App Store policies demand that it receive a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases and subscriptions. By forcing its users to make purchases on the Comixology website, the company doesn’t have to give Apple a cut. Amazon — which just purchased Comixology earlier this month — has long played a similar game with its Kindle app for iOS, which is also missing a way to purchase new content.

Comixology removes in-app purchases to avoid paying fees to Apple | The Verge

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On Monday, Rovio, the Finnish gaming company behind the once-popular franchise, announced a more than 50 percent drop in its 2013 net profit, to $37 million, compared with the previous year.

The fall comes as Rovio tries to respond to changes in the gaming world, where the likes of King Digital Entertainment, maker of Candy Crush, and Supercell, the Finnish company behind the Clash of Clans franchise, have found success with so-called freemium games. Those companies allow consumers to play their games for free, but charge for in-game purchases, unlike Rovio, which has traditionally charged users to download its games.

Annual Profit Falls 52 Percent for Angry Birds Maker Rovio - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com

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They are aided in these efforts by the huge pile of data the company has amassed. Every element of a booking—the reservation, payment, communication between host and guest, and review—takes place through Airbnb’s platform so the company can track each stay from conception to completion. If a host uses the words Western Union in a conversation with a guest—a sign that they may be trying to route around Air­bnb’s system—the company will block the message. If a host and guest are repeatedly booking rooms with one another, it could be a scam to build up fake positive reviews. And if a new host pops up and instantly starts booking expensive reservations with a new user, that could signal something like a money-­laundering racket. Airbnb’s analytics system takes factors like these into account, then assigns each reservation a “trust score.” If the score is too low, it’s automatically flagged for further investigation. (The system isn’t foolproof. In March a comedian discovered that his house had been used for a massive sex party. But Airbnb says it is largely successful; of 6 million guests in 2013, the company paid out only 700 host claims.) In a lot of ways, this process is simi­lar to the trust infrastructure that eBay developed—a machine that assumes risk on behalf of its customers and frees them from the responsibility of assessing each other’s trustworthiness.

How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other | Business | WIRED

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The sharing economy has come on so quickly and powerfully that regulators and economists are still grappling to understand its impact. But one consequence is already clear: Many of these companies have us engaging in behaviors that would have seemed unthinkably foolhardy as recently as five years ago. We are hopping into strangers’ cars (Lyft, Sidecar, Uber), welcoming them into our spare rooms (Airbnb), dropping our dogs off at their houses (DogVacay, Rover), and eating food in their dining rooms (Feastly). We are letting them rent our cars (RelayRides, Getaround), our boats (Boatbound), our houses (HomeAway), and our power tools (Zilok). We are entrusting complete strangers with our most valuable possessions, our personal experiences—and our very lives. In the process, we are entering a new era of Internet-enabled intimacy.

This is not just an economic breakthrough. It is a cultural one, enabled by a sophisticated series of mechanisms, algorithms, and finely calibrated systems of rewards and punishments. It’s a radical next step for the ­person-to-person marketplace pioneered by eBay: a set of digi­tal tools that enable and encourage us to trust our fellow human beings.

How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other | Business | WIRED

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If Google was going to compete, it had to find a way to tie the identity of its users across all of its major platforms, building robust profiles of their usage habits and the like along the way. Google countered with Android and Google+, but of the two, only Android really had to win. Google+ was, to my mind, all about creating a first-party data connection between Google most important services – search, mail, YouTube, Android/Play, and apps.

Think about your relationship to Google five years ago – you most likely weren’t “logged in,” unless you were using a silo’d service like mail. Now think about it today – you most likely are. We have Google+ to thank for that. It’s done its job, and it’ll keep doing it, whether or not you ever use its social bells and whistles as a primary social network.

http://battellemedia.com/archives/2014/04/google-won-or-why-google-never-needed-a-social-network.php (via disruptivelifestream)

(Source: disruptedlifestream)

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Whatever the status of an official moratorium, though, the real issue with all of this is that it’s boring. It’s a technicality. Selfies have gone from an Internet art form—perhaps loathsome but still genuine—to a policy issue. And this is what happens whenever advertisers get their hands on Internet memes. A commercial that attempts to tap an Internet trend may be the thing that makes the meme uncool, or it may just be the harbinger of a trend that has already peaked, but either way it’s never a good sign.

The Obama selfie is just one example of an Internet meme ruined by advertisers.

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(via Facebook’s Standalone App Plan: Launch Betas, If They Work Grow To 100M Users, Then Monetize | TechCrunch)

(via Facebook’s Standalone App Plan: Launch Betas, If They Work Grow To 100M Users, Then Monetize | TechCrunch)

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Why the focus on growth first? Because monetizing too early can scare off users. If an app can hit a huge user count, network effects kick in to make it more useful and fend off competitors. In the case of WhatsApp, there are plenty of international messaging apps still vying to replace SMS. Rather than nickel and dime users now and increase the risk of stagnation or losing the war, Facebook wants to earn dollars later by concentrating on getting these apps to massive scale.

Facebook’s Standalone App Plan: Launch Betas, If They Work Grow To 100M Users, Then Monetize | TechCrunch

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The music business has come to terms with something that the rest of the entertainment and media world is dealing with in differing ways. Despite the repeated pieties about the magic of creativity and the special skills of writers, image makers and personalities, content is not king. Delivery has mounted its throne and has already eaten its lunch. To take an example from the Jurassic era of pop, in 1966 the Beatles were more powerful than all the record shops in Britain put together. They could, and did, reshape the processes of the businesses. No matter how popular Beyoncé may be, she’ll never be able to make YouTube or iTunes dance to her tune. She is merely furnishing a handful of the trillions of noughts and ones being ground out in their mills day and night.

Beyoncé releases an album – within a week it’s as if it had never happened | Media | The Guardian

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Daily active users (DAUs) were 802 million on average for March 2014, an increase of 21% year-over-year.

Mobile DAUs were 609 million on average for March 2014, an increase of 43% year-over-year.

Monthly active users (MAUs) were 1.28 billion as of March 31, 2014, an increase of 15% year-over-year.

Mobile MAUs were 1.01 billion as of March 31, 2014, an increase of 34% year-over-year.

Facebook Reports First Quarter 2014 Results - Facebook

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The Cupertino tech company on Tuesday ran an Earth Day ad in numerous newspapers around the world, including The Times, that challenges its competitors to adopt the same environmentally friendly policies that Apple has.

"There are some ideas we want every company to copy," the ad reads in large letters.
The ad appears to be a shot at Samsung, with which Apple is currently in the middle of a lawsuit. The two companies allege they each infringed on each other’s patents; in opening statements this month, Apple called Samsung a copycat.

(via Apple mocks Samsung with Earth Day ad, kicks off iPad trade-in program - latimes.com)

The Cupertino tech company on Tuesday ran an Earth Day ad in numerous newspapers around the world, including The Times, that challenges its competitors to adopt the same environmentally friendly policies that Apple has.

"There are some ideas we want every company to copy," the ad reads in large letters.
The ad appears to be a shot at Samsung, with which Apple is currently in the middle of a lawsuit. The two companies allege they each infringed on each other’s patents; in opening statements this month, Apple called Samsung a copycat.

(via Apple mocks Samsung with Earth Day ad, kicks off iPad trade-in program - latimes.com)

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Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. People can be independent and autonomous. They can be entrepreneurial. And if we have a company that is entrepreneurial in spirit, we will be able to take our next “(wo)man on the moon” leap. Ever notice how families or tribes don’t require much process? That is because there is such a strong trust and culture that it supersedes any process. In organizations (or even in a society) where culture is weak, you need an abundance of heavy, precise rules and processes.

Don’t Fuck Up the Culture — Medium

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(via http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=VrvtKs_PAZw&u=/watch?v=6RMZhCJG3mg&feature=share)

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Mr. Weil said advertisers could now use Twitter’s targeting abilities to aim their app install ads to particular subsets of mobile Twitter users and also serve the same ads to users of other apps that are served by MoPub. In theory, the advertisers now get access to around a billion potential viewers of their ads — roughly the same size audience that Facebook can offer. (Facebook announced in January that it was testing ways to sell app install ads that would be displayed in other apps besides Facebook.)

Whether Twitter can replicate Facebook’s success with app install ads remains to be seen. But that’s probably one area where Twitter wouldn’t mind being called a copycat.

Twitter Goes After a Facebook Cash Cow - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com

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Xiaomi is an example of a Chinese company succeeding through innovation and creativity, precisely the characteristics they’re supposed to have in short supply. The company’s phones run on Android, the operating system available free from Google and used by Samsung, among others. Lei makes his phones stand out through sleek design, software that anyone can customize and prices rivals won’t touch. He’s said that, more than revenue or profit, he wants to create products that make people “scream.”

China’s Xiaomi Plans to Give IPhone Cool at Half Price - Bloomberg

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