Google Glasses Stunt Redux

Yesterday Google introduced the crowd at Google I/O to Google Glass by having people wearing the glasses jumping from a plane, biking across the roof of Moscone Conference, and rappelling down the side of the building.  Well in the words of S.R. Hadden from the movie Contact:

First rule in spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?

So today we were treated to a second attempt at the stunt. While the crowd in the convention center may have been rolling their eyes at seeing the stunt again, I was in a very different location. By chance I was walking back from a meeting at the StumbleUpon offices when I noticed the same blimp hovering above Moscone. A minute later the sky divers jumped and by the time I made it back to the convention center I watched two people rappel down the side of the building. Here is what the stunt looked like from outside the convention center.

The Blimp over Moscone

Sky Divers on their way down

Sky Divers Approaching the Roof

Getting Ready to Rappel down the Building

Rappelling down the building

It was a lot of fun to watch.  Also worth mentioning today Google opened up the goodie bag again today and gave everyone a Chromebox.

Chromebox from Google

Thoughts on Day 1 at Google I/O 2012

Google’s developer conference is known as Google I/O and in its 5th year Google uses this event to launch new updates to products such as Android and to introduce new technologies such as Google Glass.  It has been a couple of years since I was at Google I/O so I was glad to be walking through the doors at Moscone West to see what the 2012 version of Google I/O had to offer.

I was not very impressed with the first half of the keynote. The crowd was very tepid, not a lot of clapping and the speakers on stage seemed to be impacted by the lack of energy. It doesn’t help that Google’s team lacks to bravado of some of Apple’s exec team either. What started off weakly finished on a very strong note.

Vic Gundotra was in the middle of introducing an update to Google+ when Sergey Brin updated the presentation to introduce Google Glass. This wearable computer and the way it was introduced will go down as one of the best product intros. Google Glass allows the person wearing the glasses to broadcast a 1st person experience, and in this case a blimp high above the city set the stage for a live Google Hangout of a sky diving team to broadcast their dive from the blimp to the roof of Moscone. Incredible.

The keynote wrapped up on a high note with Google giving all the conference attendees a free Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q and Nexus phone. I left the keynote with a positive vibe after the initial letdown early on.

Google Products for All Attendees

Google Glass
Why does Google Glass matter so much to me? Everything Google announced today aside from Glass was a retread idea. Tablet? Yawn…we have seen a few tablet announcements this year. Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean? Yawn…with the number of Android devices stuck on old operating systems how excited could I be knowing that only a sliver of the Android users will actually get this update. Google+? Yawn for the most part…Events was interesting. Google Glass? Awesome…something innovative and different from all the rigamarole from Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. We need to move the needle and even if Google Glass is not it, projects like it are great to see us as a human race trying to solve.

Bullish on Google
I won’t hide the fact that I am an Apple fanboy. I have an iPhone, iPad and numerous other Apple hardware. After today’s sessions, Google continues to be dedicated to Google+, continues its transformation from a software company to a software AND hardware company, while continuing to innovate on new projects.

My Personal 2011 Infographic

We had a great idea back in September when we were creating the 5th Birthday Infographic for AddThis, and planning the year end infographic we release in December each year, that wouldn’t it be great if we could give our publishers their own infographic.  The design and development team of Jeff, Foo and Aaron did a great job of getting these graphics out to our publishers this week.  Now publishers who use AddThis can have a nice recap for their 2011 that they can post on their blogs  Here is mine:

WordPress or Tumblr, Which Is the Right Blog Platform To Get Visitors?

A few friends recently have asked which platform they should use to start a blog.  Invariably the decision comes down to WordPress or Tumblr.  Currently I am using WordPress that I have hosted at Dreamhost.  I have used both blogging platforms extensively and have observed some really big differences in each platform’s ability to help you get visitors.  Here are some observations I have made using my own blogs’ data and from data we have internally at AddThis.

  • According to Google Analytics, my Tumblr blog has no Search Engine Optimization (SEO) juice.  I have almost zero referrers from a search engine.  This means the only way Tumblr gets me new visitors is from social traffic or people manually typing in my address.  WordPress does a great job with SEO, and with the All in One SEO Pack making sure my posts are crawl-able is very easy.
  • Visitors are more likely to share from WordPress blogs than they are from Tumblr.  WordPress’s platform is easier to customize where the sharing buttons appear on each post increasing the likelihood to share.  Shameless Plug:  AddThis supports both WordPress and Tumblr and we give you tips on how to get the most out of sharing with each platform.
  • When sharing from Tumblr does occur, it delivers social traffic, and in one specific case it delivers a knockout.  When I see someone share my Tumblr blog post to StumbleUpon, it is amazing to see how much traffic that arrives on my site from StumbleUpon.  A single share drives on average, 500 views, which is amazing.  On WordPress a single share to StumbleUpon drives 3 views on average.  I have asked people at StumbleUpon and Tumblr why that may be and neither company could explain it.
Tumblr’s popularity continues to grow, and if they can get me more SEO juice the platform would be attractive.  In the meantime, WordPress does a better job at delivering all three types of traffic (direct, social and search).  If your audience skews younger, and if you don’t care about SEO juice, Tumblr is your platform.
If you want to move your blog from one platform to another here are two tools I recommend:

Using Social Media Trends to Help You Get A Job

On November 15th, I am going to be speaking at the University Club of DC on behalf of Syracuse University about how social media is changing the way we network and get jobs.  I participated on a panel back in April on a similar topic at American University’s Social Learning Summit.

About 3 years ago, companies started wising up to using social networks to promote their brand and connect with customers.  These channels opened up a new form of 2 way conversations, whether companies wanted that or not.  The exciting thing about this new way of interacting with customers was that it created entire new teams within companies usually led by someone with the title “Social Media Manager.”

Fast forward 18 months, and these same channels are no longer for B2C companies to connect with customers.  These social channels have given companies or brands the ability to reach customers with offerings, loyalty rewards, even the ability to view job postings.  On the other end of the conversation is you.

When you create a profile on a social network, you in effect are creating a brand.  My Facebook profile, my Tweets, this blog, it is a representation of me and my brand.  Your online brand can work for you or against you, and knowing how and when to use it can greatly improve your chances at making key connections and getting a job.

I can’t wait to share my insights on the tools we use and the trends we see in when it come time to getting a job and networking.  To register for the event click here.  If you can’t make it out to the event, you will be able to follow along on twitter via #SUDCSocialMedia.

Importing Facebook Friends into Google+ and Instagram too

Importing Facebook Friends into Google+ and Instagram too.

When I first started using Google+ two nights ago it was a little bit of a ghost town.  With the exception of my friends who work at Google and a few members of the Silicon Valley elite, I could not find anyone else to friend.  Last night Google turned on invites which turned the ghost town into a little bit more engaging community.  The challenge is to find people you are already friends with on other social networks and add them to your Google+ circle.  Thank goodness for Yahoo (I can’t believe I just said that).

Over a year ago, Yahoo enabled importing contacts from Facebook into Yahoo Mail, and with Google+ you can import your Yahoo contacts and find your friends on Google+.  The steps to enable this are to log into Yahoo Mail, assuming you have an account.

* Import Your facebook friends via Yahoo:

* Then connect your Yahoo account to Google+ here:

To get your Instagram photos imported:

I could not believe how Google+ invites were flying around last night it was insane.  Google has turned them off for now.

Haters Gonna Hate — But Google Wallet is Significant

Google announced their Google Wallet program today where your phone is now your wallet.  This is made possible thanks to Near Field Communication, NFC, which I wrote back at the beginning of the year was key to so much of what Google was up to.  The test will begin this summer and run in 4 cities, and expansion to other cities will follow.

One particular “early review” from Jay Yarow at AlleyInsider says that adoption will be slow because using a credit card is too easy.  I think that is really near-sighted and here is why:

  • Security of your credit card in public places continues to be a problem.  In the UK for example, when you pay for a meal at a restaurant, they bring the credit card reader to your table so you can watch them scan the card.
  • Not everyone has the ability to have a credit card, as rules tighten around credit, and I assume they will continue to do so, Google Wallet gives parents the ability to distribute money to their kids to use.
  • Local deal and advertising via Google Wallet is going to be huge thanks to Google Offers.  While it is not a Groupon killer, Google has a head start on getting deals out to Android/Wallet users.
  • 5 years from now will we think about carrying a wallet, or will a single device do it all?  I am guessing/hoping it will be a single device.
  • Google just sent a huge shot across Apple’s bow with this feature.  I believe Apple will make some kind of NFC announcement at WWDC in 10 days, how can they not?

So haters can hate, but Google moved the ball down the field today with this announcement and for the first time since getting an iPhone 3+ years ago, it makes me question whether it’s time to switch.

AIM and Google Talk Federate…Off with the Multihead

Can we finally put to rest the multiheaded IM clients that require me to log into 5 different services?  My former colleagues at AOL finally turned on federation with Google after 4 years of Google running an AIM multiheaded server in their data center.

The Old AIM GTalk Multihead Logo

Turning off the multihead unwinds one of the most over engineered solutions in the history of messaging.  When AOL and Google did the original deal around messaging in 2006, we were not ready to do federation, so we proposed a multihead.  At the time the negotiations started Google only had a desktop client, but soon after we started talking Google unleashed something called Caribou on us.  Caribou was the code name of Gtalk in GMail, and needless to say it threw a wrench into our plans.  In the end Google wrote a server side multiheaded experience using a client side library that had to handle 1000s of threads.  It was a miracle it worked, and a lot of great engineers made it happen.  Thank goodness we can turn it off now.

With federation comes the hope that we can break down the walls of the IM networks that have existed for 12+ years.  For users they get the ability to talk to their friends regardless of networks and use the application they like best.  For the networks, federation means an application battle royale.  Personally, I will use GTalk when I am at my laptop at work since we use Google Apps here at Clearspring.  For my iPhone and iPad I use AIM because Google’s mobile experience on iOS is lacking.

Let’s hope that the other networks can figure out how to federate with each other and we can all stop using clunky multiheaded IM applications.

[iPhone vs. Android] Sometimes Better Does Not Beat Popular

We have two distinct camps in the Clearspring offices.  Our CEO, Hooman Radfar, and a few others believes that Android will dominate and clean up the mobile phone market, while a large contingent believes that iPhone might not lead in market share but they will continue to be the phone that leads innovation and is the bright shiny object in the sky for many.

Last Monday a study came out that showed one third of teens wanted to buy an iPhone “soon.” That number is on top of the 17% of teens that already have iPhones.

The technorati has been quick to point out how Apple may be making the exact same mistakes as it did back in the 1980s as it pertains to their iOS platform strategy.  Experts will tell you by creating a walled garden for application developers and having a singular hardware and software platform, Apple is opening the door for Android to be the operating system for every other carrier and phone.  The one problem with that theory is demand.

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s the purchase of personal computer purchases was price driven.  Back then Macs routinely cost over $2000, so when  competitors started building inferior machines for half the cost, Macs lost market share and the rest is history.

The mobile space is different.  First, the phone itself is cheaper as hardware in 2011 is a commodity.  Second, consumers have more purchasing power than they did back in the 1990s, and that despite a major recession in 2008-09, consumers seem to still be buying electronics and cutting back in other areas.  Third, consumers, and especially teens and young adults, want the cool and hip product, device or technology.  Even if Android is a better platform built on a better device, people think the iPhone is a status symbol.  Much like the BWM 3 series, there are better built cars for the price in the market place, but that does not stop people from buying the car because it is a status symbol.

So where does that leave us.  Sometimes a better technology is not preordained to be the most popular or the coolest.  If the teens of America have any say, Apple is going to have a hard time replicating the failures of the late 1980s, simply because the brand is considered hip by youth.

Google goes all in on WebM

I really applaud Google for pushing all their chips into the center of the table on ON2 VP8 (otherwise known as the CODEC that powers WebM) rather than continue to support H.264 in Google Chrome.  I know a lot of those in the tech community think Google is crazy to do this.  However, when you stop to consider the cabal that the patent holders of H.264 have enjoyed, it was time someone stepped in to break it up.

The move does not come without risks.  One of the main reasons H.264 was adopted as the standard was, believe it or not, the porn industry.  As soon as Adobe added H.264 decoding in its Flash Media Player 9, video could be consumed at a super high quality and done so cheaply.

In the last 12 months Google has purchased ON2 technologies to compete on the CODEC front and Global IP Solutions (GIPS) for video and audio processing.  Wiring this all up Google can offer real time peer-to-peer audio video sessions to go up against Skype and Apple in the space.  We have to assume that Google has crunched numbers and that using ON2 plus HTML5 is cheaper to serve video up as well.

As I mentioned late in December with the Skype outage, the battle ground is shaping up quickly between Google, Apple, Skype, and to a degree Microsoft and Mozilla with their browsers.  With H.264 going royalty free until 2015, in the end the user wins as more HD video is available on the internet, unless you are still using Chatroulette, because no one wants to see that in HD.