Friday, 14 September 2012

People are being killed for it. Embassies being burned for it. A YouTube video. See it here.

So there you have it - people are dying for a YouTube video.

This week I seem to be blogging about censorship in the 911 anniversary week and not the usual social media stuff - even overtaking the Iphone 5 launch (which by the way, was considered kind of underwhelming).

This is important though.

The US Ambassador to Libya was killed along with 3 other staff members; in Yemen they attacked an embassy; in Cairo they're out on the streets. Over this film.

It's spreading to Iraq and Iran.
To Bangladesh.
Muslims don't like it.

If you look at the YouTube video, you might go on to read the comments, fairly awful as they are. You'll note a consistent attack on "Jews" when complaining about the film. Which is just like attacking Muslims isn't it? Anybody get it?

Hilary Clinton on Sky news called the video "disgusting and reprehensible" in a pretty appalling political attempt to limit the protests, which are expected to break-out again today, after Friday's prayers. Prayers? Irony of ironies.

But the video continues to be broadcast on video sharing sites.

Putting their offices at risk and putting their staff at risk.
And nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with offence, but to do with freedom of speech. The right to express your view within the general law, which this is. Social Media allows everyone to do that, like it or not.

Google owned YouTube have left it up.
Good on them.
And so have I.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Iceland now considers online ban of porn of gambling. Vodafone considers it too.

I've blogged before about countries trying to restrict access to online and Social Media largely, for political purposes. China obviously restricts Facebook and recently, those two great bastions of democracy - Eygpt and Turkey - have done the same.

It follows on from Social Media playing a key role in revolutions and overturning Governments. Governments, that is, that they don't like.

Now, for different reasons, Iceland is in on the game.

Their two largest ISP's - Vodafone and Siminn - are looking to shut down porn, gambling and wait for it, "other questionable content". Would that be the Russell Brand site? Because I'd be in favour of that. But once you hear a loose statement like that - "questionable content" - you know you're in trouble.

The reason is of course, like Turkey, Eygpt and China have their reasons, to "protect" Icelandic citizens from "viruses" and "malware". Indeed. Kind of like concerned parents.

In April of course, the UK blocked sites like "pirate bay" to stop illegal downloads - to protect their citizens I guess....or is that to protect multinational companies? I'm just not sure. They are actively considering a ban on porn applying pressure on ISPs according to The Sunday Times.

Worse still, they've almost introduced, as part of their 'cyber security strategy', a ban on "criminals" and "cyber bullies" online. Worrying stuff because loose definitions allow abuse. Are Scottish nationalists "cyber bullies"? 

Perhaps Vodafone and Siminn would like to return the profits they made from allowing access to porn and gambling? Nice signal of sincerity I'd have thought. And of course, this is exactly the ban that Mitt Romney wants too. Australia is also actively considering it and extending it to "terrorist sites". Hmmm, they'd be the sites the Australian government don't like. Aboriginal sites perhaps?

If a stance is going to be taken that gambling is "wrong" online, then it should proceed surely, to horse racing, football betting, and so on. Yet I don't hear calls to ban that. Why? Because this is a focus of all things online. This is an attempt to restrict online access because Governments don't like it.

They control media through licensing or judicially in the offline world. It is an outrage that in Ireland, you need a Government approved licence to broadcast a radio station. Outrageous.

Whether you like people to gamble or to look at porn is not the point. Once you allow someone else to start closing down sites, at their discretion, you are now into censorship of online. Perhaps consider closing alcohol sites because they might lead to drink driving or because you're Muslim? Or political sites that eschew revolution and anarchy? Or whatever.

I'm surprised at Vodafone particularly. Their concerns on "malware" and "viruses" seems only to apply to the good citizens of Iceland. Why not extend that concern to their global offices? Does that concern not outweight their financial gain I wonder.

You're allowing some balding, middle aged bloke, with his shoes on a big desk, in a grey suit, decide what you should and shouldn't see each morning. And that's wrong.

There's a start of censorship here, to control the media - which is more and more online. To control your voice.

As someone wise once said - I don't agree with what you're saying, I don't like what you're saying, but I'll fight to the death for your right to say it.

Personally, for example, I think the US ban on online ammo sales is probably a "good thing". But don't fall into that trap. Because someone has a different radical view than you, or you don't like their religion, or their politics, or just because they're different, don't deny them their rights - within the law. 

And this is not about that, trust me.
It's about trying to get on top, to control, Social Media.

Let people be heard.
All the people.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

App downloads doubling but 89% are free. 3 Dollars looks like your maximum pricing.

The App market, largely developed and driven by Apple, continues to explode. Facebook App store and Amazon's similar offering, are coming up on the rails though with Facebook having the power to take a greater hold on the Apps market.

However, interesting fact is that it's driven by Apps that are free. 89% of them. This year they expect about 46 billion app downloads - nearly double the 2011 figure - and the price for those that do charge is circa 3 dollars (the cost of 90% of "paid for" Apps).

What all that means is that App developers need to think of other, new ways to make money than purely the cost of the download. Perhaps generating subscriptions or getting margin from purchases using the App.

Worse still, advertising.

In line with that, Google's YouTube have just launched an Iphone App in the Apple store. For the first time they're generating Advertising through pre-rolls on the App which they share (small share as it is) with the video owners. It's also going to be a better experience with "finger slide" making it easier to switch from channel to channel. They also have better sharing from Google+, email and text as well as the old reliables.

So whilst the App market remains buoyant and increasing dramatically, the lesson here is to go free and then generate money some other way. It would seem that a price point of 3 Dollars is about as high as you'll get if you decide to ask for the App to be paid for.

More and more models are being built around advertising revenues.
Which means, more and more hands in the jar.
Which means less and less money to be shared.
Which is exactly what happened in traditional media.

Advertising money is one way to run your business, your App, but increasingly it's becoming difficult. Better models, such as margin on third party sales, are well worth considering as core revenue. Or at least, have two income sources.

Forgive me for linking an Irish App developer whom I have no idea about but no harm to support because it looks imaginative 

46 billion downloads.
That's a lot of cut through and imagination you'll need.
There's an App for that.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Today 11th anniversary of the bravery of NYPD officers. A fitting tribute on Social Media by the NYPD and FDNY is underway.

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on The World Trade Centre, Pentagon and Flight 93.

The New York Police Department are using Social Media this year, to commemorate their fallen colleagues. Or should I say, heroes.

Since Saturday, they've been tweeting the names, one an hour, of those who died from the NYPD from their official Twitter account (@nypdnews). The tweet then links back to a Facebook page where you can view the officer's photo and details. The names will then be read at a memorial service today.

It's the first time it has been done and the NYPD only decided to go online with Twitter and Facebook, earlier this year. Families of the fallen are also supporting the memorial by retweeting and feel it brings the names back to a reality. 

It's all searchable through hashtag 'neverforget' and The Fire Department are using Social through their Twitter page (@fdny) by sharing thoughts and memories.

It should also be noted that most people under 20, won't directly remember the attacks whilst this Social campaign will involve them and bring it into their memory. It's a great way to educate younger generations about 911 and also to engage them. It's a positive use of Social Media and some healing for their families to know they're not forgotten. In fact, it's hard to think of Social being used in a better way.

When you imagine the bravery of these men and women who showed no concern for their own lives, in the service of others, it's fitting that they are remembered - albeit on Twitter and Facebook.

We should not forget. 
And Social Media used in this way, will help us to remember.

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends

Monday, 10 September 2012

Apple Iphone 5 about to launch. Their secret Iradio launched discovered. And this is much, much bigger.

Next week, Apple's CEO Tim Cook will unveil, what we now know, will be called The Apple Iphone 5. This is Apple's next generation phone to compete with Samsung's Galaxy S3 launched earlier in June and of course, facing possible bans in the US after Apple's victorious court case which I blogged about here: . 

It will also be compared Nokia's Lumia 930, launched this week, although the mobile phone pioneer, Nokia, has had its shares cut to "junk status". So hardly a competitor.

What we didn't know, was that Apple was secretly working on the launch of iradio, as big a gamble as itunes - but more of that in a minute.

The Apple Iphone 5 we know very little about except strong rumours. 

It's going to be taller than the current iphone with therefore, a taller screen and about 30% thinner. The connector gadget is getting smaller, with the connectors getting better, giving much faster wireless and ultimately, quick 4G connections. It's likely to have more RAM and a faster processor - so generally just a better phone.

More importantly, reports strongly suggest that Apple is planning its own internet radio service allowing it to compete in the music streaming business against people like Pandora, We7 (UK owned by Tesco) and Spotify.

What would happen is that people select tracks from a 'catalogue' and play them continuously via an internet feed or, more likely, it will feed you music based on your interests (as distinct from actually picking the track).

Rather than owning them or downloading them as in the itunes model, you get continuous radio based on what you like. 

Depending on whether Apple choose to go for the model where customers pick their tracks or instead, feeding them music based on interests, they will be a direct head-to-head with Pandora/Spotify. 

Spotify (where you pick your own tracks) loses money quite heavily due to music licensing issues whereas by feeding out music based on listener interests (Pandora), it has been much more successful.

Most of us know the type of music we like but don't know what we want. So developing internet radio based on a indication of preferences, seems to make sense. 

Other similar business saw share prices fall dramatically Friday, on foot of the news. Apple is such a good company, nobody wants to see it enter into the same space and even talk of Apple entering into online radio saw Pandora shares drop 18%. I think the radio option makes more sense (streaming you music based on your preferences) and indeed it's not that long ago when I chatted to Irish radio businessman, Dermot Hanrahan, who outlined exactly the same vision. Yet again, ahead of his time.

Online radio, iradio by Apple, will be a world beater and by being deeply integrated into their products, such as the Iphone 5, will guarantee distribution. Furthermore, if they get a lot of listeners to their iradio, it will also generate sales on itunes, as when listeners hear a track they like, they might want to buy it.

Great business.

Unlike the giants of old, Microsoft as a clear example, Apple do not sit on their hands. Innovation and invention precedes their greatness.