For anyone looking for a new way to play video games, a man has created two very unique game controllers — one that can be controlled by your mouth and another by your rear.
Ben Krasnow, an engineer at video game developing company Valve, created the two controllers. In the videos below, he demonstrates how the two controllers work, though Krasnow doesn't say why he came up with the ideas.
The mouth controller uses hardware from a computer mouse connected to a retainer that you wear.
Krasnow points out that it would be impossible to use this to play an actual game. It's not really for precise movements but more for swiping gestures and movements.
You'd also have to wear a retainer to use the mouth controller.
The one for the rear that's made out of a bathroom scale and Xbox 360 controller let's you turn a character left or right while you sit on top of it.
It's not really clear what either of these would add to the gaming experience. It sure doesn't seem like the "rear" controller would make me any better at first-person shooters.
As silly as they look or sound, these controllers could be useful prototypes for someone with physical disabilities.
Click for sound.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick explains how the company may expand cab services to delivery, after several successful marketing campaigns of delivering kittens, roses and mariachi bands.
Produced by Kamelia Angelova, Alana Kakoyiannis and Justin Gmoser
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Apple has signed a deal to offer the iPhone on China Mobile's network, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Apple's share of active smartphones in China has slowly decreased from 19.8% in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 18% in the third quarter 2013, according to Kantar Worldpanel. The deal has the potential to reverse this trend.
With over 750 million mobile subscriptions, China Mobile is the largest mobile carrier by subscriptions in the world. The deal gives Apple unprecedented access to a huge market. In addition, China Mobile will be the first carrier in the country to offer 4G. The company's faster network will be compatible with the iPhone, in contrast to the company's 3G network. In combination with carrier subsidies, this could be enough of an incentive for Chinese consumers to open their pockets for an upgrade to a premium device.
In other news...
Apple displaced Dell to become the most desirable desktop brand during the holidays, according to Park Associates. (CNET)
As early as today, Twitter could announce that it is ready to start offering retargeted ads. There is speculation that Twitter will be the first social network to bring these ads to mobile. (TechCrunch)
China's central bank banned financial institutions from handling Bitcoin which led to a 20% plunge in the value of the crypto-currency. (Bloomberg)
A leaked screenshot of Uber's dashboard provides a window into the company's financial standing. (Valleywag)
Activist investor Carl Icahn filed a shareholder proposal aimed at getting Apple to amp up its share buyback program. (TechCrunch)
The NSA is tracking the whereabouts of mobile devices across the globe, collecting 5 billion location-based records daily. (Washington Post).
A digital publishing company is using the new iBeacon to offer location-based access to subscription magazines. (TechCrunch)
The FCC approved Verizon's $130 billion purchase of Vodafone's stake in the company. (Verizon)
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory successfully launched a drone from a submerged submarine.
This picture is a real composite of a time-lapse photo taken during the launch, of this all-electric, fuel cell-powered unmanned aerial system (UAS).
The XFC unmanned aircraft is vertically launched from a 'Sea Robin' launch vehicle attached to the submerged submarine USS Providence.
The drone autonomously deploys its X-wing airfoil and assumes a horizontal flight path — which it can sustain for more than 6-hours.
This demonstration took 6 years to produce and was significantly less expensive compared to traditional decade-long programs.
Earlier this year, the Navy successfully launched and landed an X-47B drone from the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H.W. Bush.
Dr. Warren Schultz, NRL program developer, described this new technology as "an unprecedented paradigm shift in UAV propulsion and launch systems."
Twitter added a new board member this morning, Marjorie Scardino.
She's not much of a tweeter. As far as we can tell, she sent her first tweet today.
Most of Twitter's board members are fairly quiet on Twitter, as this chart from Quartz shows.
While it's easy to think of this as a bad thing, it's probably fine. A normal Twitter user doesn't jam out a lot of tweets. They sit back and read what other people are creating. If Twitter's board members are reading Twitter like the rest of us, that's not a bad thing.
As computers and machines get smarter, many businesses that are successful today are going to have a harder time thriving tomorrow. Business owners need to think about the future now before they are overtaken by it.
In his new book, "Average Is Over," George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen discusses what a future economy dominated by intelligent machines and increasing income inequality is going to look like.
We've broken out a few of the most important lessons that will help business owners figure out how to adapt and survive.
Being able to add value to computers is the way forward.
There are going to be a limited number of ways to succeed in the future. If your company consistently benefits from technology and is able to add value to what computers already do, you're in good shape.
If a computer does things better without you, Cowen says, then it's unlikely the business will survive. Travel agencies are a good example of a field that machines have taken over.
And the worst position to be in, Cowen argues, is one where computers are helping people in China and India compete against you, areas like telemarketing, manufacturing, and document review.
Marketing is going to be more important than ever.
Income inequality is already rising, and Cowen argues that the gap will increase further as computer and technology skills become more valuable and more job functions are automated. That means that a relatively small number of people with big incomes are going to be doing a lot of the buying of consumer goods.
Excellent marketing and sales skills, particularly the ability to connect and communicate well with individuals, will be more valuable than ever.
"Despite all the talk about STEM fields, I see marketing as the seminal sector of our future economy," Cowen writes. "It might appear that a masseuse is not much affected by computers, at least provided you are skeptical about these robots that now offer massages. Nonetheless, masseuses increasingly market themselves on Google and the internet. These masseuses fit the basic model that favors people who can blend computer expertise with an understanding of how to communicate with other people."
Targeted deals are the future.
Increasingly, consumers are willing to give up some privacy in return for lower prices. Cowen gives the theoretical example of a shopping cart that uses GPS to track consumers' movements through the store and uses cameras to see reactions to products and deals in order to adjust pricing.
Pilot programs like this are already underway, and small businesses that are early adopters may be more successful at convincing people to make the trip to the store rather than ordering everything online.
"Companies have discovered that if the first product seems cheaper than expected, the customer is more trusting — and more willing to spend — for the duration of the shopping trip," Cowen writes. "So if the intelligent machines spot you coming in the door and heading to the gourmet chocolate, maybe there will be a quite temporary sale, communicated by electronic sensors."
Personal service is becoming more important.
One of the fastest growing parts of the economy is surprisingly low-tech. Job functions like chauffeur, gardener, and assistant are becoming more important because an increasingly wealthy group at the top can afford them. Companies that do a great job of providing personal service can capitalize on the trend.
"At some point it is hard to sell more physical stuff to high earners, yet there is usually just a bit more room to make themselves feel better. Better about the world. Better about themselves. Better about what they have achieved," Cowen writes.
More high earners means an increasing demand for high-end service. Companies that can truly create a positive and personalized customer experience, either by selling personal services or providing generally excellent customer service, can expect better business in the future.
Hiring and empowering good managers will set businesses apart.
"If you have an unusual ability to spot, recruit, and direct those who work well with computers, even if you don't work well with computers yourself, the contemporary world will make you rich," Cowen writes.
Managers are actually going to be more important than ever in the economy of the future. Businesses that enable them to do their jobs, making people more efficient and stringing together distant teams, are going to benefit as other businesses fall by the wayside.
SEE ALSO: 20 Bizarre New Jobs Of The Future
Just slip the keyboard onto your phone like a case and start typing away as if you had a BlackBerry. The Typo launches in early 2014.
Seacrest co-founded the company with Show Media CEO Laurence Hallier and the duo expects to invest more than $5 million to continue to create variations on the attachment, according to AllThingsD.
The idea originated because apparently Seacrest (and all his friends) used two phones: One with a keyboard for typing and correspondence and an iPhone for virtually everything else. After trying out and hating other keyboard models on the market, Seacrest and the team spent two years developing Typo.
You can pre-order it for your iPhone 5 or 5s for $99.
Check out the demo video:
Instagram will hold a press event next week, likely for a new product announcement.
We're not entirely sure what the announcement is, but based on the invitation the company sent us, we imagine it has something to do with printing out the photos you take on Instagram. Members of the press each received some pretty bow-tied boxes. Inside the box was a wooden block with an Instagram photo printed on it.
The even takes place on December 12 at 9 a.m. in New York. We'll be there covering the news live.
The sleuths at VC Experts, a site that tracks the financial information of private companies, have done it again. They uncovered a new regulatory filing that shows Snapchat is about to raise a hefty investment which is far, far less than the $200 million they were rumored to be seeking.
There isn't enough evidence to prove Snapchat sold all the shares they've authorized. But if they have, the company would be valued at about $2 billion, says VC Expert's Justin Byers. That's less then the rumored $3 billion or $4 billion bandied about in the press.
"We pulled their most recent restated certificate of incorporation filed just a few weeks ago 11/26/2013, and it shows that they have authorized a new Series C Preferred for approx. $54,542,880 (1,600,000 shares @ $34.0893 per share)," Byers told Business Insider. This could mean that the founders are looking to cash out some of their equity, he speculated.
This filing is a new round since a its huge $60 million raise from June 2013, which at that time gave it an $800 million valuation.
Two-year-old Snapchat has raised $73 million to date, according to its CrunchBase profile.
The currentinvestment round, if it happens, puts it about halfway toward these speculative valuations of the company, and it hasn't even developed a revenue model yet. However, it looks to be on its way with that. It just hired a new COO, Emily White, who was leading from Facebook's advertising efforts on Instagram.
We reached out to Snapchat for comment and will update when we hear back.
Here's the juicy part of the new regulatory filing:
Each time Spotify plays a song, your favorite singer or band gets as little as 0.6 cents, the company said.
At that rate, a song would need to be played 166 times for the artist to earn $1 in royalties (100 cents divided by 0.6 = 166).
The info comes from a fascinating — and hugely welcome — article Spotify published on its revenue model. In a single post, Spotify has done more to demystify artist royalties in streaming music than Pandora and Apple have ever done, combined.
But before you get angry at the fantastically tiny amount of cash that bands get for each song, remember that those fractions of pennies add up.
This is Spotify's revenue picture (below). The company says it has 6 million users paying $9.99 (or £9.99 or €9.99) in 2013: That would imply its gross revenues from users are somewhere north of $720 million annually:
The company also said it will pay out $500 million in royalties this year:
Spotify says it pays 70% of its gross revenue in royalties to artists. Again, that would put Spotify's annual revenue from users at around $720 million. (Spotify didn't talk about advertising revenue, which it generates on top of that.)
In terms of per-song fees, Spotify said: "Recently, these variables have led to an average 'per stream' payout to rights holders of between $0.006 and $0.0084."
Here is how that breaks down for artists over time (below). Spotify has also projected future revenue for artists if the service grows to 40 million paid subscribers:
Glassdoor, the job-hunting site where employees share inside skinny about their companies, raised a big $50 million round. That brings its total funding to $93 million.
The company will use the money to expand its international operations and also hire like mad. Glassdoor, founded in 2008, now employs 200 and will add another 100 people to its staff, cofounder and CEO Bob Hohman told Business Insider.
Hohman says that sometimes he looks out the window of his offices in gorgeous Sausalito, Calif. (just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate bridge) and ponders how Glassdoor has been a game-changer.
It was cofounded with Rich Barton (founder of Expedia and Zillow) and Tim Besse, all of whom worked together at Expedia.
"When we started this company six years ago, we thought it was crazy that you could get more information on where you should eat and where you should travel but zero information on where you should go to work," he told Business Insider.
Today, the halls of the Glassdoor offices are covered with quotes from people about how it helped them avoid a bad-fit job or land their dream job, he says.
Glassdoor has seen impressive growth. It makes its money selling recruiting services and now has:
- Data from employees on 300,000 companies in 190 countries, especially companies in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and India.
- 22 million registered members.
- 150% growth (CAGR) in revenue for three years.
- 15,000 registered employers who interact with Glassdoor "on a daily basis".
- 1,400 of those registered employers pay for the recruiting service.
- 200 employees, with goal to ramp up to 300.
For the record, Glassdoor employees rate the company 4.5 stars out of 5 as a good place to work and Hoffman has a 98% approval rating, according to its own Glassdoor profile.
The $50 million round was lead by Dragoneer Investment Group with participation from existing investors Battery Ventures, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures.
This morning there was a series of quotes that made it seem like Alan Mulally wasn't going to be the next CEO of Microsoft.
A Ford board member said,"Alan is staying through the end of 2014 and that’s all I know."
Mulally said, "I love serving Ford ... I have no change to the plan."
The board member's comment sounded like a fairly strong statement that indicates Mulally will not join Microsoft. As a result, Microsoft's stock dropped.
Well, Rick Sherlund at Nomura says, "We view these comments as non-answers to the question and appear to us to be consistent with our view that he is in discussions with Microsoft’s board for the CEO slot at Microsoft."
Sherlund also says,"If he were not in discussions, it would be easy to say I am not interested and will not go, as some other candidates have said. He does not say this."
He still thinks Mulally is "likely" to be the next CEO of Microsoft.
Mobile-based transactions, including mobile payments and e-commerce, will only account for about 2% of total U.S. credit and debit card transaction volume this year, and 4% globally, according to BI Intelligence estimates.
But that figure is going to grow explosively in the next few years, especially as mobile-enabled purchases at the point-of-sale begin to make a real dent in total transaction volume.
Mobile payments, which we define as the use of a phone or a tablet to enable an in-store transaction, whether on the merchant or consumer side, are becoming more convenient every day.
In a recent report from BI Intelligence, we find that consumer and merchant uptake of mobile payments has finally risen enough to have a major impact on the payments landscape. As the industry consolidates and awareness increases, mobile payments transaction volume will make big leaps.
Here are some of our findings on the state of the mobile payments industry today and our projections on how it will keep growing:
- The U.S. is still lagging behind, but growth is skyrocketing: Mobile transactions will account for about 2% of all credit and debit card volume in the United States in 2013. But, since 2008, mobile transactions have enjoyed 118% annual average growth. Markets in Africa and Asia-Pacific actually see a much larger share of mobile-driven transactions.
- Consumer uptake has exploded: Smartphone users are quickly adopting mobile wallets, payments apps, and QR-scanning apps to facilitate offline and online purchases.
- Merchants are rushing to incorporate card readers: Mobile device attachments can transform tablets into replacements for clunky point-of-sale systems. They're a perfect fit for small to medium-sized businesses, or SMBs.
- The industry is ripe for consolidation: Payments app developers, niche technology providers, and small payments start-ups are enjoying massive growth and helping to push forward innovation. Look for larger digital payments companies to acquire these upstarts. At the same time, mobile payments solutions continue to proliferate, so the market is no less crowded.
- The industry is still in a state of flux. New technologies are emerging, while once-promising tools are sputtering: Take near-field communication, or NFC — uptake has failed to impress. Now, Apple's Bluetooth-powered iBeacon technology may challenge NFC head-on.
We define a mobile payment as a transaction facilitated by a mobile, Internet-connected device (including tablets, smartphones, or even a watch or Google Glass) that is used in a physical store or at a point-of-sale to make a purchase. Mobile transactions are a larger category that includes these payments, but also includes mobile commerce, or e-commerce channeled by an app or mobile website (e.g., Amazon's iPhone app).
- Estimates global and U.S. mobile payment and transaction volume for 2013
- Compares the fast uptake in the international market with the relative lethargy in the U.S. and how smartphone penetration has powered global growth in mobile payments
- Assesses the various mobile payments providers and who's winning and losing market share
- Looks at usage vs. awareness of some of the main mobile payment providers
- Considers other opportunities for mobile payment technologies, including value-added services, such as loyalty programs and personalized offers
The thing that's easy to forget about Samsung is that it is not just a maker of smartphones, TVs, and other consumer electronics.
It also makes huge industrial equipment. (That's how the company accounts for something like 30% of South Korea's economy.)
Samsung's latest mega-gadget is something called Predude. Shell owns it. It's called a Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG).
It's a 600,000 ton barge that was built in South Korea and will soon float down to Australia and park there for the next couple decades. It's longer than the Empire State building is tall. It is 150 meters longer than the largest US aircraft carrier.
For an objective take, check out the BBC's segment on the Prelude.
For a more promotional take from Shell, full of pretty pictures, watch this YouTube video:
Amazon is far from the only company building drones for same-day delivery services.
Google has been toying with the idea since late last year, too, as part of its secret Google X lab that works out on all of Google's far-out projects, Seth Weintraub of the 9to5 Google blog reported back in February.
Google hopes to one day use drones and self-driving cars to deliver purchases made through its new experimental services, sources told Weintraub.
For instance, in March, Google launched a same-day delivery service in the Bay Area. Users can shop at a variety of retailers including Target, Walgreens, Staples, American Eagle, Toys“R”Us, or Nob Hill grocery stores, and Google will deliver the items. Google envisions one day making those deliveries via drones and self driving cars.
As we previously written, UPS is looking into drone delivery vehicles too.
All of this is years away. The technology has to mature enough to be safe so that all these drones flying around the sky don't crash into each other, get tangled in telephone poles, interfere with air travel, or otherwise cause trouble. In fact, automated drone delivery is currently outlawed by the FAA.
Still, as we reported in November, workplace experts predict that consumer drones will become an everyday tool for a lot of businesses, not just for same-day delivery but for other tasks, like running around warehouses.
The Daily Value Of Bitcoin Transactions Has Passed Western Union's And It's Catching Up To Paypal's (EBAY)
The value of all daily Bitcoin transactions is now just about one-third less than transactions on online pay service giant PayPal.
That's according to Coinometrics, a site that tracks digital currency data.
Around 80,000 transactions occur in Bitcoin daily. The dollar value of those transactions total around $257 million.
Compare that with $397 million for Paypal.
And that's already greater than $216 million worth of transactions conducted by Western Union, the company that Bank of America's David Woo compared Bitcoin to in his forecast for the digital currency's potential.
However, those 80,000 overall daily transactions still pale in comparison to more mainstream American companies, including Western Union, which does 633,000 exchanges a day, Coinometrics says.
The transactions include all transactions on the Bitcoin network, meaning exchanges processed by places like Bitpay and Coinbase. They do not include trades that occur at exchanges, which are off-chain transactions that do not show up on the network.
Here's the chart:
And here's the data in table form:
And here's the fun graphic:
SEE ALSO: The Most Bullish Sign For Bitcoin Yet
Earlier this year, Yahoo made a surprising announcement: Dan Loeb was stepping down from the company's board, and Yahoo was buying 40 million of its shares from his hedge fund.
Loeb, more than any other person, is responsible for the rejuvenation of Yahoo. He got Scott Thompson fired, and Marissa Mayer hired as CEO.
At the time, it looked like Loeb was just cashing in and leaving. His firm earned $1 billion on the sale of its Yahoo stock, which is an excellent haul for a little over a year's worth of work.
It turns out Loeb didn't just up and leave. According to a new report by Bethaney McClean in Vanity Fair, Mayer outmaneuvered Loeb, and essentially pushed him out of the company.
When Loeb decided he wanted to sell, he told Mayer he was planning on selling 20 million Yahoo shares, or a third of his stake in the company. Mayer countered by saying Yahoo would buying 40 million shares at $29.11 per share.
Mayer's offer was advantageous for Loeb in that he got $29 per share locked in. If he went to the open market and started selling, there was no guarantee that he would get that price. (McLean says Loeb planned to sell if Yahoo got in the $25-$30 range.)
Indeed, Yahoo's stock dropped 5% on the news that Loeb was cashing out.
At the time, our Henry Blodget argued that this was almost insider trading: "Third Point is getting the pre-resignation price for its stock, while knowing about the upcoming board member resignations. And the rest of us Joe Schmo Yahoo shareholders, who didn't know about the resignations, are now getting the post-resignation price."
He added, "I am sure that this deal was lawyered out the wazoo. So I'm sure there's some innocent explanation. But until I hear that explanation, I will be scratching my head."
There is an explanation, but it's not so innocent.
When Loeb said he wanted to sell, Mayer saw an opportunity to get rid of Loeb. By selling 40 million shares, Loeb's ownership of Yahoo dropped below 2% and he forced off the board.
Why would Mayer want to get rid of Loeb? Because, like any good CEO, she wants absolute control over her company. Dumping Loeb gave her that control.
An industry executive explained it best to McLean, saying, "She dodged a bullet ... I thought she and Dan were going to go sideways. He would have fired her. Both are extreme alphas. Dan was going to turn at some point. She ran the first gauntlet. She got him out. Dan had a gun to her head whether she knew it or not, and she orchestrated his departure."
In other words, Loeb and Mayer may have gotten along initially, but that would not last. At some point, Loeb was going to be angry with Mayer. As a board member he could have made her life miserable.
Before that could happen, Mayer pushed him out of the way, and now Yahoo is all hers to run as she sees fit.
Twitter's Mobile Ad Offerings Just Took A Huge Step Forward — And They Might Be Even Better Than Facebook's
Twitter is rolling out an advertising product that allows advertisers to target mobile users based on how they surf the Web on their desktops, a function that isn't yet fully available to Facebook's mobile advertisers.
The company announced Thursday on its blog that it will identify users by their login data to show them ads on mobile and desktop devices that are targeted to them based on cookies the users have picked up surfing the Web.
The move is a huge step forward as advertisers continue looking for ways to send relevant messages to users on mobile, where it has harder-to-identify user preferences. This is because the default settings on Apple devices turns off third-party cookies, and Android devices only track what users do in the Web browser.
Twitter's retargeting news is also important in light of the fact that it gives Twitter an increased ability to track users across devices, a major initiative shared by rivals Facebook and Google as people continue to use the Internet on a mix of smartphones, tablets, and desktops. Twitter can benefit greatly by being able to match up the mobile and desktop devices a user has logged in to and then show them ads based on the sites they visited on the desktop while they were logged in to Twitter.
By contrast, Facebook's only mobile retargeting product is its custom audiences offering, which allows advertisers to target users who have visited their own sites. Though Facebook has the login data necessary to target mobile users in the same manner as Twitter, the company has recently been working to simplify its advertising offerings and take care of one thing at a time.
Additionally, Facebook's complex privacy settings mean the company needs to take its time to make sure its eventual mobile retargeting efforts don't rankle privacy advocates who are already upset with the social network, as it did when it launched its desktop retargeting ad exchange, FBX. By contrast, Twitter allows people to simply opt out of any kind of targeted ads by clicking a box in their privacy settings.
Twitter started experimenting with its retargeted advertising program this past summer. TechCrunch reports that Twitter will work with advertisers directly on retargeted ad buys as it did during the trial program, but the company might bring in demand-side platforms to facilitate real-time bidding.
If Amazon discounts a product you just ordered, there's a quick and easy way to get your money back.
Reddit user poorsol posted an exchange with the retailer to demonstrate how easy it is to get a refund.
In a brief chat with an Amazon customer service representative, poorsol explains that the wine rack he originally bought for $28.52 has been discounted by about $8.
The rep says that the company will refund for any discounts made within seven days of your purchase:
We dug around Amazon's website and couldn't find anything about this policy, so we decided to chat customer service.
They confirmed that this is the policy:
Click for sound.
Elon Musk tells us how he tried to get a job at Netscape after finishing college, and how he bootstrapped his first company.
Produced by Kamelia Angelova, Alana Kakoyiannis and Justin Gmoser
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Imgur, The Huge Image-Sharing Site Beating Reddit In Traffic, Was Started In An Ohio Dorm Room in 2009
The Atlantic has a great origin story on Imgur, the photo-sharing site created by Alan Schaaf for his fellow picture-, GIF-, and meme-swapping Redditors.
Schaaf built Imgur ("im-uh-jer") while studying at Ohio University in 2009. He presented it to the Reddit community as "an image hosting service that doesn't suck," and it snowballed from there. Now Imgur drives more traffic than Reddit itself.
If you doubt the power of such a huge site, consider this recent romance to blossom out of it. A girl took this picture of a comically tall man watching television over a door. She posted it to Imgur, where the comically tall man recognized himself. The Atlantic goes into all the good detail, but they end up dating. Awww.
Mobile Display Advertising Is As Messy And Confusing As Ever, Here's How All The Pieces Fit Together
In the United States, mobile now accounts for 15% of overall spending on digital advertising, which is almost double the share mobile had just a year ago.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that despite some deals and consolidation, performance and prices are still uneven, tracking is tough, and mobile display advertising is as complicated as ever. Mobile ad companies promise everything to buyers or sellers, or both. Every company says it has the secret sauce, the best data, the latest targeting technologies, the greatest automated selling and buying platforms.
A recent report from BI Intelligence seeks to cut through the noise,identify the most meaningful broad shifts in the landscape, and demystify the actual role played by the different entities and technologies.
- The Ad Networks: The ad network is the traditional center of the digital ad world, but it’s under threat. Sometimes the term “ad network” is used loosely, but strictly speaking it refers to relatively old-fashioned platforms that may use proprietary technology to hook into publisher websites and apps, but still rely very much on direct human relationships and old-fashioned insertion orders, i.e. sales contracts.
- The Ad Exchanges: Similar to ad networks, ad exchanges are centralized marketplaces, where buyers and sellers meet. But ad exchanges are more tech-oriented, and have focused on real-time bidding. They also are more focused on the needs of app developers and site publishers, which traditionally turned to ad exchanges to unload ad inventory they couldn't place directly with ad networks, or agencies. To further complicate matters, ad networks sometimes buy from exchanges. Many advertisers view exchanges as long-tail solutions.
- Demand-Side Platforms or DSPs: These emerged to meet the increasingly high-tech needs of ad buyers. DSP clients are usually media agencies, or their trading desks. As ad exchanges and new techniques like programmatic buying and real-time bidding came on the scene, DSPs offered ad buyers a means to plug into the new ecosystem with software stacks that included interfaces, back-end technology, and data management tools. Many DSPs claim to have mobile expertise, but only a handful really do.
- The trading desks are specialized business units set up at media agencies to make highly targeted digital ad buys. A trading desk might work with several DSPs to access different ad exchanges and other ad sources. However, just because they operate within the confines of large agencies doesn’t mean they call all the shots. Often trading desks face the same barriers seen by DSPs.
- Supply-side platforms or SSPs cater directly to the needs of publishers. SSPs help publishers organize, manage, and track their own ad inventory, and plug into the ad exchanges.
The report is full of charts and data that can be easily downloaded and put to use.
- Clearly explains what the different players like DSPs and ad exchanges do. And how the old and new players work together — and apart.
- Sizes the mobile ad market and provides charts and data showing how that spend is breaking down in terms of format and company revenues.
- Examines the benefits and weakness of each of the different players within that ecosystem.
- Explains how programmatic is becoming one of the most important developments changing the game for ad buyers and sellers.
- Considers programmatic's limitations for the time being, and its projected impact in the future.
- Articulates the biggest consolidations and mergers within the mobile ad ecosystem and what these changes mean for mobile advertising.
Caran Johnson from Washington State avidly tweets local news and has amassed over 1,000 followers for her updates.
Last night, she took to Twitter to live-tweet a car crash in her hometown of Vancouver before learning that her husband was a victim.
It was at 2:11 p.m. PST when Caran Johnson retweeted the Columbian Metrodesk’s coverage about the accident.
As Trooper Will Finn (@wspd5pio) tweeted on-the-scene, Johnson followed his tweets and relayed what she was learning to her followers.
That's when Johnson became nervous.
According to CNN, at 2:17 p.m. Johnson posted, "I'm trying not to panic, but my husband left work early and he drives 205 to get home. he's not answering his phone."
She asked Officer Finn if there was an official description of the cars.
— Trooper Will Finn (@wspd5pio) December 4, 2013
At this point, Officer Finn stopped live-tweeting the accident.
"I didn't want someone to find out over Twitter that their husband passed away. I didn't want her to find out that way. That is a hard thing to go through," he told CNN.
At 3:50 p.m, Johnson's fears were confirmed. She sent this final tweet:
Johnson's husband, Craig, was the only fatality in the accident.
"I feel terrible. I still feel terrible," Finn told CNN. "Our hearts go out to the family. This person was a member of our community and we just lost him."
Microsoft Says Government Surveillance Is An 'Advanced Persistent Threat' That May Be Unconstitutional (MSFT)
Microsoft has again used aggressive language to suggest that U.S. government surveillance and hacking of its own citizens' email and other online accounts is unconstitutional. In a blog post late last night, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said "government snooping potentially now constitutes an 'advanced persistent threat,' alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks."
"We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution," Smith continued.
It's unusually bold stuff.
And Microsoft has done this before. Back in July, Smith suggested that the NSA's domestic surveillance program, PRISM, was unconstitutional.
The company has vowed to conduct a war on government spies and hackers, Smith said. The company will begin encrypting all email and other services, and it will scramble data passing between its servers.
And it is adding language to its business contracts vowing to notify customers of every request for information it gets from the government, and to fight every gag order in court.
Here's Smith's entire statement:
Protecting customer data from government snooping
4 Dec 2013 9:00 PM
The following post is from Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft.
Many of our customers have serious concerns about government surveillance of the Internet.
We share their concerns. That’s why we are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data.
Like many others, we are especially alarmed by recent allegations in the press of a broader and concerted effort by some governments to circumvent online security measures – and in our view, legal processes and protections – in order to surreptitiously collect private customer data. In particular, recent press stories have reported allegations of governmental interception and collection – without search warrants or legal subpoenas – of customer data as it travels between customers and servers or between company data centers in our industry.
If true, these efforts threaten to seriously undermine confidence in the security and privacy of online communications. Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an “advanced persistent threat,” alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.
In light of these allegations, we’ve decided to take immediate and coordinated action in three areas:
· We are expanding encryption across our services.
· We are reinforcing legal protections for our customers’ data.
· We are enhancing the transparency of our software code, making it easier for customers to reassure themselves that our products do not contain back doors.
Here’s a closer look at what we’re doing:
For many years, we’ve used encryption in our products and services to protect our customers from online criminals and hackers. While we have no direct evidence that customer data has been breached by unauthorized government access, we don't want to take any chances and are addressing this issue head on. Therefore, we will pursue a comprehensive engineering effort to strengthen the encryption of customer data across our networks and services.
This effort will include our major communications, productivity and developer services such as Outlook.com, Office 365, SkyDrive and Windows Azure, and will provide protection across the full lifecycle of customer-created content. More specifically:
· Customer content moving between our customers and Microsoft will be encrypted by default.
· All of our key platform, productivity and communications services will encrypt customer content as it moves between our data centers.
· We will use best-in-class industry cryptography to protect these channels, including Perfect Forward Secrecy and 2048-bit key lengths.
· All of this will be in place by the end of 2014, and much of it is effective immediately.
· We also will encrypt customer content that we store. In some cases, such as third-party services developed to run on Windows Azure, we’ll leave the choice to developers, but will offer the tools to allow them to easily protect data.
· We’re working with other companies across the industry to ensure that data traveling between services – from one email provider to another, for instance – is protected.
Although this is a significant engineering effort given the large number of services we offer and the hundreds of millions of customers we serve, we’re committed to moving quickly. In fact, many of our services already benefit from strong encryption in all or part of the lifecycle. For example, Office 365 and Outlook.com customer content is already encrypted when traveling between customers and Microsoft, and most Office 365 workloads as well as Windows Azure storage are now encrypted in transit between our data centers. In other areas we’re accelerating plans to provide encryption.
Reinforcing Legal Protections
We also will take new steps to reinforce legal protections for our customers’ data. For example, we are committed to notifying business and government customers if we receive legal orders related to their data. Where a gag order attempts to prohibit us from doing this, we will challenge it in court. We’ve done this successfully in the past, and we will continue to do so in the future to preserve our ability to alert customers when governments seek to obtain their data. And we’ll assert available jurisdictional objections to legal demands when governments seek this type of customer content that is stored in another country.
Except in the most limited circumstances, we believe that government agencies can go directly to business customers or government customers for information or data about one of their employees – just as they did before these customers moved to the cloud – without undermining their investigation or national security. And when those limited circumstances arise, courts should have the opportunity to review the question and issue a decision.
Just as we’ve called for governments to become more transparent about these issues, we believe it’s appropriate for us to be more transparent ourselves. We’re therefore taking additional steps to increase transparency by building on our long-standing program that provides government customers with an appropriate ability to review our source code, reassure themselves of its integrity, and confirm there are no back doors. We will open a network of transparency centers that will provide these customers with even greater ability to assure themselves of the integrity of Microsoft’s products. We’ll open these centers in Europe, the Americas and Asia, and we’ll further expand the range of products included in these programs.
Ultimately, we’re sensitive to the balances that must be struck when it comes to technology, security and the law. We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution. We want to ensure that important questions about government access are decided by courts rather than dictated by technological might. And we’re focused on applying new safeguards worldwide, recognizing the global nature of these issues and challenges. We believe these new steps strike the right balance, advancing for all of us both the security we need and the privacy we deserve.
Trivia app QuizUp has been on a tear lately.
In just three weeks, the trivia game for iPhone has amassed 3.5 million registered users, New York Magazine reports. On its eighth day, QuizUp reached its 1 millionth user.
Now QuizUp is being hailed as the "fastest-growing iPhone game in history."
Draw Something, one of the hottest games last year, took about nine days to reach 1 million users.
QuizUp is a free trivia game for iOS that offers more than 150,000 trivia questions in about 300 categories.
The cool part about QuizUp is that you can challenge both your friends and strangers. Players can either compete in a quiz against their opponent in real-time or round-by-round. Each quiz has seven rounds that lest ten seconds each.
While QuizUp is clearly attracting tons of users, it's not resonating with everyone. Business Insider's Alyson Shontell has a personal bone to pick with the app. QuizUp broadcasts to all of your friends just how many times you've lost. Now all her friends know, she says, that she's terrible at trivia.
Just last month, QuizUp raised $2 million led by Sequoia Capital and eVentures. It had previously raised $3.6 million from Greycroft Partners, CrunchFund, and Time Warner's Olaf Olafsson.