Samsung’s Likely Big Year

MG Siegler has solid POV on the potential for Samsung this year. I don’t normally quote this much, but for context …

Not only is it bigger than Apple from a revenue standpoint, it’s almost twice as large as the three other “horsemen” combined ($190 billion versus what should be about $100 billion for Amazon, Facebook, and Google in 2012). And unlike Amazon and Facebook which make little or no profit, Samsung is hugely profitable. $12 billion in profit for 2011 should move closer to $20 billion in 2012. That’s not a ton compared to Apple ($55 billion in profit in 2012), but it should be roughly twice as much profit as Google pulls in for the year.

But let’s forget the money and go back to Android. Samsung is so important and deserves a place with the other horsemen because it is the most important piece of the Android ecosystem beyond Google. And it seems that the company is at least exploring the possibility of taking a step back from that ecosystem, or hedging its bet. That could be the story of 2013.

Imagine Samsung, with 40 to 50 percent of the Android market, breaking away to focus on Tizen. Or perhaps more realistically, imagine Samsung forking Android for its own purposes while exploring the Tizen possibilities. Not only can the company afford to do it, there may be several incentives to do so.

Amazon is closing in on its own phone running a forked version of Android in a similar manner to its Kindle Fire tablets. The first iterations of that tablet weren’t great, but they’re getting better. And because it now has its own forked Android app store, Amazon is going to be in control of the entire ecosystem. Samsung has no such control if it remains a loyal Android partner.

Maybe it’s okay with that, but Samsung must be looking at how profitable Apple is as a result of its total control. Shitty mobile skins only give the illusion of control, Samsung needs to control the full stack. And given its position of power, the company has the leverage to do that if it chooses to.

And it’s not just an offensive imperative, it’s a defensive one too. Google continues to say the right things publicly about maintaining distance from its Motorola unit with regard to Android. Of course, it says this with the Google X phone project well underway. A true Google phone.

Perhaps it’s a project meant less to scare Samsung and more to fight back against Google’s true bane: its carrier partners. Or maybe it’s Google hedging against Samsung’s position of power. It doesn’t matter. The Google/Samsung relationship is starting to show signs of strain, and they’re only going to get more pronounced — exhibit A.

Beyond mobile devices, the hot topic for 2013 is the future of television. Most of this is focused around Apple with a little bit reserved for Google’s TV projects. But it’s once again Samsung that is already the leader in the space. Sure, it’s the old school (shitty margin) television space, but why doesn’t anyone think that Samsung can translate its success in smartphones here as well? It simply hasn’t really tried yet.

Perhaps that’s another part of the Tizen equation. Or maybe a forked Android will find its way here as well. But Samsung has a huge head start on Apple, Google and everyone else.  via TechCrunch.

Bloomberg’s report on Samsung’s desire to launch Tizen-based handsets to push away from Android is definitely interesting.  The initial product is apparently going to NTT Docomo in Japan which means we’ll have to wait here in the US.  Should Samsung decide to release a Tizen varient of the Galaxy IV later this year, most (Samsung) consumers would probably consider it the next generation Galaxy rather than focus on the operating system.  If Samsung can successfully migrate their existing apps and deliver against some of the core Google bits they are going to have a winning hand.  This is far from simple or a sure thing …

The future of TV is a big deal. While everyone is waiting for Apple to reveal their solution, Samsung already has massive scale, huge profits to accomodate risk (like Apple) and an existing ecosystem of devices along with a brewing selection of branded apps.  Now, it’s been pointed out more than a few times, that the current Smart TV market is a complicated mess and it’s also likely to be massively expensive to get the ala carte services we all want.

This week CES will reveal some likely candidates … let’s hope they aren’t just based on speeds and feeds … we need some connected systems here to make it all work and work well.

Where’s the real Facebook + Instagram integration?

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The inevitable reality of ads appear to be en route to Instagram via the Facebook acquisition. I get it, it can’t all be free (I do work in marketing) but I was hoping there might be more attention to things like integration as a first priority.

Only recently have Facebook notifications been including Instagram content that you can actually see. For a while many of the times I’d see someone had liked a pic (via FB) and not been able to click through to the actual media. This was particularly annoying on mobile as the link would essentially be a dead end. Now, that’s fixed but those likes don’t travel into Instagram and comments are carried through two separate streams … One on Facebook and another on Instagram. Once these merge, we’ll have a single coherent thread which will be quite excellent … If people still keep sharing through all the ads of course.

Twitter photo filters go live, but why?

When I learned via The Verge that Twitter’s long rumored photo filters were live for Android, I loaded up the Google Play Store and updated my app to snap my first filtered pic. The experience was certainly functional, but that’s about it.

I don’t ever snap pics from within the Twitter app to start so that makes it a long shot right from the beginning for my usage … That said, just adding a filter doesn’t really make a difference to limited sharing experience. Instead, Twitter seems to have released a very poor man’s Instagram – and right after Instagram decided to remove it’s twitter card-based sharing.

Unfortunately for Twitter, simply adding a filter to an image doesn’t change how sharing, discussion or notifications work within their system … all critical features elsewhere. Twitter is a very real time focused zone and that’s it’s real strength. There is limited if any threaded discussion (no real threads) and certainly nothing really orgainzed fashion at the core of the service either. By comparison, when I share a picture on Facebook, Instagram, PicPlz (now dead), Google+ or others you can create social engagement around that object. Twitter does make things easy enough to link to, but there’s no sense of activity on that shared piece and no real draw back to it from those who have engaged. Those last two pieces are what twitter needs to fix … Disposable stylized media was the easy part.

It’s called Facebook

Seth, meet Facebook. Facebook, Seth.

PS If I ran Twitter, I’d build my new ad service about a socially acceptable way for corporate users to build large lists of followers, people who would give permission to get news and discounts and insights from advertisers. Twitter knows who likes what and they have permission from users to be a bridge between the user and those that might want to talk to them. That’s a powerful place to be.

Please don’t turn location updates into info spam

As more people start to use location services like Foursquare  Gowalla we are starting to see an influx of I’m here posts across Twitter and Facebook which is annoying but more importantly carries no value.

In my own usage I find that the pure check-in action stays within the location network.  Anyone who’s linked to me there can see that as desired.  By choosing not to share that simple pin on the map claim, I’m doing two things … not sharing my location directly and reserving the attention any social network friends might have for something I actually have to say.    If I have something to say about the location I’m in, I might choose to push that out to both twitter and Facebook as an update to add a bit of additional context to what I’m doing.

Location should be something of interest.  When we can connect to each other in a meaningful way, things get interesting and should add value to the potential of our conversations as well as lead to potential experiences.

Web Video War is Facebook’s to Lose

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to uploading video, but lately a few sites have upped their game and have changed how I’ve been considering even where to upload.

It has been a while since I captured HD video, but I recently received the Flip MinoHD as a gift and have been shooting a lot of clips again.  In my latest tests, I’ve tried Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, blip, Viddler and Ovi.  Facebook and Vimeo are the clear leaders for streaming quality and the edge there goes to Vimeo.  What’s more interesting though is how differently the services are used and why I think Facebook will win in the end.

If you have never worked with video, it’s important to understand that sharing is a bit more complex than photos as anything you upload needs to be converted for flash which is how just about all web video is presented.  Shooting with the Flip is great as the files come off the camera already digitized as .mp4 files which means they can be uploaded straight away if you like.  You can also use a video editor like iMovie or Final Cut to add some polish though that really depends on your need.  In previous video work I’ve done, I’ve had to first import my footage from the camera (shot on tape) which is a real-time process.  If you shoot 30 minutes, you need 30 minutes to copy it over.  Once on your computer even if you choose to dump it right back out, you need at least the same amount of time (if you have a fast computer) to create a digital file which can then be uploaded for sharing.  The flip (and other digital storage based cameras) let you just copy the files over and get going right away.

So as I had started to say initially, I’ve been shooting a some new stuff since getting the camera last week and I was looking to share easily with family and friends.  Since Facebook offers some excellent control over who sees what, I went there first and uploaded a few clips.  Facebook recently updated their video offering and my HD (720p) video uploaded and encoded quickly.  I was actually pretty impressed with how quickly the encoding process took as that’s generally another real waiting point for most video sites.  The posted video showed up on my profile and in my feed and I was instantly sharing my vacation experiences.

I’ve been seeing a lot of video on Vimeo lately and wanted to test out their HD offer to compare and so I uploaded the same HD video again.  I also posted the video on Viddler, Blip (different video) YouTube and Ovi.  The differences became apparent immediately.  Every other site needed some serious time to encode the posted content and this time took anywhere from over 2 hours (vimeo) to overnight (youtube).  When my content appeared on Vimeo it looked awesome, but I was frustrated with the time it took to actually see it.  I’m not in a race to share content, but having to wait in line to even get the encoding going is quite frustrating.  Only Blip offers the original MP4 (believe at my preference) while the flash is being encoded which is very cool.  The negative is that MP4 files do not buffer or stream with the same ease across clients as flash – regardless of what Apple says.  Ovi, by the way refused to playback my video …

Vimeo is the only site that offers a premium option and I debated it for a day before going for the upgrade.  For about $60/year you get the skip the encoding queue and are offered better quality video playback, HD embeds (with 1000 plays), and a few other bits.  Right after I paid, I uploaded another video and I have to say it looks damn good.  Compared to the Facebook version there is noticeably less digital artifacting and the playback seems a bit smoother.  All is good right?  Well …

While Vimeo offers the best playback and a community, the community aspect is minor compared to what Facebook delivers given the real connections and notifications within the FB system.  The quality is very good, totally free and if you make your video public able to be embedded on your blog or website which is a very interesting move by Facebook in itself.  Facebook’s only real flaw is that there are no statistics available for content you share.  There’s no way to see how many people have seen your video or photos which tends to be a currency on most media sharing sites.  Facebook is probably going to be the place you also first think to share video content much like people have been doing with Photos.  As I see it there’s no reason why not to use it.  TOS BS aside of course though that does seem to be behind us for the moment. I will likely continue to use a variety of sites and have signed up for Tubemogul which will let me upload a single (<100MB) file and have it shared across the sites I choose as a bonus I can see an aggregated dashboard for my views as well.  Except for Facebook …

Facebook Connects with iPhoto ’09

I don’t currently use iPhoto but this news from the Facebook developer blog makes a compelling case …

We are excited that sharing your photos with the people you care about has become even easier with iLife ’09, Apple’s new suite of applications that includes iPhoto ’09. Users of iPhoto ’09 can easily share and tag photos from iPhoto directly to Facebook. With help from Facebook Connect, photo tags from iPhoto ’09 can be added to Facebook and generate Facebook notifications. Additionally, Mac users can update Facebook News Feed and alert friends anytime they update their websites using Apple’s iWeb ’09 application. [Facebook Developers News]

Amazingly Apple has yet to roll out any real social features and Facebook seems quite content to come in and enable integration and conversation.  Connecting the desktop to Facebook is a very strong idea.  As I consider how our social sharing has evolved as more friends signed onto Facebook over the past year my Flickr usage has become more private family sharing and for my geeky screenshots and photos.  Facebook is where most of our social sharing of media happens and connecting through iPhoto is a very simple way to make that happen.

update – just noticed that Apple has a nice demo online.

Facebook Social Link Sharing

Facebook has long offered the ability to share links on your profile, wall or directly with friends though this feature seems to have taken a very nice social step forward.  I just noticed that you can now browse the off-site links while staying within Facebook as seen here:

facebook social link share

 

As you can hopefully see there’s a Facebook frame still holding the page in place which lets me continue to interact with my friend who has offered the content to begin with.  This is a terrific idea and it’s seems very well implemented as well.

The Nokia Facebook application … that’s just a bookmark

Not Facebook

If you regularly check the Download application on your Nokia devices you might have recently seen the addition of Facebook as I did. I was pretty excited to see this as I’ve been expecting something since Nokia and Facebook announced a relationship many moons ago …

To my disappointment, however, the Facebook “application” downloaded and installed yet when launched, my web browser opened and I was taken to the existing m.facebook.com site I already have bookmarked! I have to say I find this type of thing a tad deceptive as it totally misinforms the consumer experience and could probably have been solved with a tweak in the firmware update I recently completed. If the goal was to get me in the browser why not just add the bookmark automatically …

Facebook is not the first time I’ve seen this. Nokia’s own MOSH service installed in the same manner … only opening the browser. The only advantage I can see to this method of installation (ahem) is that I can choose the bookmark as an application from Handy Taskman and also easily add it as a homescreen shortcut. Of course, as expected this does not see the open tab I’ve already got going for Facebook and just opens another … further wasting my time and reducing system resources.

It’s hard not to be critical of this stuff … it’s lame.

What would Facebook hope to get from Twitter?

Techcrunch is reporting on Twitter’s decision to pass on an acquisition by Facebook and a lot of people are tracking this like a major news story.  I think it’s just the continuation of the hype machine.

I’m not the biggest fan of Twitter … I consider it interesting, yet frustrating given their sheer lack of concern for actual conversation.  While it’s been able to attract a core early adopter set and the blogger “A-List” it’s way too challenging for a mass market audience to use.  In the time since it’s launch we’ve seen the release of an API which has certainly made posting and tracking simpler, but since there’s neither threading nor notification alerts it’s quite easy to just miss a reply if you happen to look away. 

Facebook on the other hand recently redesigned their service with a focus on status updates and seems to have eclipsed the intent of Twitter with a far richer experience.  I’ve found the facebook threading and alerts to be excellent and as a result have actually found myself in Facebook far more often than I was previously.  Granted there is no public timeline in Facebook and discovering new people of interest is much harder since it tends to happen through the friend of a friend mechanism.  

Facebook has a considerably greater audience globally, an excellent mobile experience and a foundation based on sharing between friends.  Twitter has remained a glorified IRC chat room where everyone shouts and you are out of the flow if you stop paying direct attention for a few minutes.  

 

The Facebook userbase almost certainly includes most of the Twitter base so what’s really to acquire here?  The brand perhaps … I suppose there’s credibility there and the alleged offer of $500 Million even as Facebook stock has to be quite flattering.  That said, it is stock not cash and there’s certainly no certainty playing that game these days.

Yahoo! Announces OneConnect at the Mobile World Congress

Yahoo announced OneConnect an amazingly cool service today that looks like a truly killer mobile social connector.  OneConnect will allow you to view and participate across social networks in a a way much like Jaiku does now – though it seems like it will work for most of your existing social services.  It´s not ready for release quite yet and details of exactly how it works were hard to confirm, but here´s a video of what you can expect. 

I´m very excited by this and see that Yahoo! has finally come forward with something exciting in mobile.  Because the mobile is something you always have with you it´s truly the key piece in staying connected.  That the OneConnect service will work with and outside the Yahoo! ecosystem is what makes it truly compelling.  This application goes well beyond my notion of lifestreaming and looks like it will truly change the way in which we connect.