Spotify - Your Year In Music

Spotify – Your Year In Music

Spotify rolled out their “Your Year In Music” infographics to give you a glimpse into your music lifestyle.  Spotify has been in hot water lately but they understand the need “to do a better job of explaining to artists how streaming benefits them.”  Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper knows that music steaming is important to their business, but Spotify needs to figure out how to keep artists onboard.  Artists are already leaving Spotify, namely Taylor Swift with her recent launch of 1989.

Hopefully Spotify’s newest feature, Your Year In Music, brings some positivity to their service.  The goal is simple.  They want to show you, with infographics, what kind of music you are into.   Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Top Genre and %
  2. Top 5 Artists, Albums, Playlists
  3. Top 10 tracks + an option to make a playlist out of your Top 100
  4. What countries you listened to Spotify (one of my fav features)
  5. Seasonal favs
  6. How you listen to Spotify (mobile, desktop, etc)
  7. Total # of minutes listening to Spotify – I’m at ~11k minutes!
  8. Day of the week you listened to Spotify the most
  9. Play it forward list – based off your 2014 music habits, their guess at tracks for 2015 that suit you

Cool features from Spotify that will keep me listening and paying premium for.  I do hope 2015 is the year Spotify figures out how to align with the music industry.  Digitally, they have the web experience figured out.  Now just need to work on the good ol’ fashioned business relationship.

spotify day of the week

spotify day of the week

spotify

spotify

spotify season favorites

spotify season favorites

spotify world

spotify world

spotify top 10 tracksspotify top 10 tracks

spotify top 10 tracks

spotify play it forward

spotify play it forward

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android-vs-iosWho is the leading mobile company for consumers?  Is Apple still the biggest force in the industry?  Short answer for both questions:  not sure.  Now, more than ever, it’s unclear who has the competitive advantage between Google and Apple.  Apple’s iPhone used to be the “coolest” phone available–it became an accessory that everyone needed to have.

That’s until Google took the driver seat and started innovating.  With bigger screens, faster processors and cool OS names like “Ice Cream Sandwich,” Android devices are becoming a serious threat to the iPhone.  Early adopters are becoming Android curious (at least at SXSW) and even some of Apple’s “loudest” fans have made the switch to Android.

What does Apple need to do?  They need to kill it with IOS 7!  These are the key areas Apple needs to make improvements in for the next iOS:

  • Basic iOS Functionality – All phones will soon look the same and consumers will begin to make buying decisions based on operating system.  The iOS has become stagnant and boring.  Give us the ability to customize, create apps on the fly and reinvent how we use phones.  Take some notes from your Mac iOS and bring that experience to the iPhone.  
  • Siri – Siri created some initial buzz, but by now its gone.  Siri = Apple; no other device has it.  Turn this into an opportunity to make Apple a leader in technology again.  It’s not just voice recognition, but how can Siri improve online shopping (a billion dollar industy), everyday chores and even our professional lives.
  • Passbook – I love this app, its cool, different and easy to use.  But, its currently limited with the number of apps I can use it with.  Expand Passbook and let me use it for everyday purchases.  Department stores…who has a department store credit card?  I don’t but I do want a Passbook Department Card–make it easy for me to make purchases and manage spending + give me rewards.
  • Maps – Regain faith with the Maps app.  It’s a MUST.  I’m not saying we will all switch to Apple Maps instead of Google, but at least we will feel confident that Apple can create apps that will work–for now, I don’t have a lot of trust in Apple.  Trust is important.  I trust Google.
  • Look & Feel – It’s time to give the iOS a face-lift and make it “cooler.”  Android devices with retina screens look beautiful and I’ve seen what Apple can do with their desktops/laptops–let’s figure something out Apple.  Make something nice to look at.
  • Take Note From Jailbreakers – The jailbreak community has been cooking up some great apps/tweaks that Apple should look at.  There are a lot of lessons to be learned and instead of back lashing against the community, maybe there’s an opportunity to work together.  If users are taking the time to tweak their devices, it means they’re happy with Apple; why not learn from them?

The last few iPhone product launches (4S and 5) have lacked the buzz and excitement we became accustomed to.  Yet, Google keeps innovating and Android devices are slowly becoming the cool accessory.  Looking at all the leaked photos of the Samsung Galaxy S IV, I’m now curious and willing to give Android a try.

But, I’ll wait a bit on Apple, hopefully they get back to being cool again.

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Instagram Feed Facebook Web

Instagram Feed Facebook Web

Definitely looks like Instagram is working towards the mainstream audience and by their new “web feed” they take a big leap forward.  The look is appealing to newbies and definitely offers a good look into some of Instagram’s functionality, but not all.

At first glance, the new “profile web feed” looks VERY similar to Facebook profiles, which we would imagine since the tool is owned by Facebook.  Instagram is merely teasing the mass audience with this feed in hope to acquire new mobile users.  Here’s a look at the key features Instagram is offering on the web:

  • Likes:  We now have the ability to like pictures on the web, which is key to engaging new users.  Scroll bar makes it easy to browse through dozens of pictures in seconds.
  • Comments:  As you would expect, comments are enabled and this helps both ends of the user base.  Current users are always looking for more engagement, what better way than this?  For new users, this is Instagram’s way of sucking you in.
  • View Photo Page:  In a click of a button, you can easily view a user’s photo stream to view all comments/likes on a specific photo
  • Report Inappropriate Pictures:  Definitely a key feature to make sure images stay clean and safe for all audiences
  • Profile Page (screenshot above):  Current users have the ability to edit their profile on the fly and make changes.  Easy enough.

Instagram and Facebook are doing their homework and figuring out new ways to engage users.  Uploaded pictures are now part of everyone’s online identity which is very cool, but also alarming.  Now, many users will use caution when uploading new pictures–after all, anyone can see them now.

This is a giant leap forward, but what’s missing?

  1. Ability to upload photos via the web  – this IS intentional b/c its “all about producing photos on the go, in the real world, in realtime” but it may deter some users who want to both consume and produce on the web
  2. Integration with Facebook - this is a tough one, but we still have not seen any kind of integration with Facebook…will there ever be?  If Facebook can figure out how to integrate the two and it makes sense, this will be a game changer
  3. #hashtags - these are still present in pictures, but they are NOT functional on the web feed (mobile app they are).  We heard yesterday on Techmeme about the Super Bowl numbers, so we know how important #hashtags are.  The web feed is about “consumption” right?  ENABLE #HASHTAGS to help users consume data -its the future
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STwitter Hashtags Facebook Super Bowluper Bowl Spoiler Alert:  If you haven’t already seen the Super Bowl, the Ravens beat the Niners 34-31.  Aside from the big game, we learned a lot about the use of social media.  Besides text messaging, social media was the preferred way to talk about the game to peers; whether that be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

What was the top social media tool used?  How did Twitter square up against Facebook?  What did ads/commercials use the most in their strategy?

Let’s take a look at the numbers to figure out how social media played a role in the Super Bowl and what we can learn about brand strategy.

  • 75% of brands integrated social, mobile, #hashtags or apps in their ads/commercials (Source:  Jeremiah Owyang-Altimeter)
  • Twitter mentioned in 50% of commercials, Facebook 8% and Google+ 0% (Source:  Marketing Land)
  • Beyonce vs the Blackout – Beyonce Google searches rose 7236%, while “the blackout” was the most searched item of the Super Bowl (Source:  Search Engine Land)
  • #Hashtags were used in 38% of ads/commercials (up 31% compared to 2012) (Source:  Jeremiah Owyang)

Aside from Corporate URLs to continue the conversation, #Hashtags were the most used social tool throughout the Super Bowl (while Facebook was only used 7%, a mere 4% DECREASE).  The Super Bowl is one of the most watched cable event of the year with advertisers paying ~$4M for a 30 second commercial spot–you bet brands did their research and used what they feel is the best social tool.  And…I agree. 

To continue the conversation or add input, #hashtags are easy to use and easy to follow.  To find out more information about a specific topic, most search #hashtags, NOT Facebook posts.  In fact, most don’t even use Facebook search (except to find people/groups).  Facebook Graph Search usage will vary from user to user, but I still don’t see it being used to find trending topics, but instead to find people and research data amongst friends.

Facebook needs to figure out either how to utilize #hashtags or help users continue/discover the conversation.  How else can I figure out “what’s trending” on Facebook?  Try using #hashtags on Facebook posts and nothing happens.  Most people use #hashtags to find new content (its the new-age “tag”) because its easy, convenient and accurate.  How will Facebook bounce back?  We should expect them to react fast…they need to soon or else they’ll see a decrease in usage next year.

 

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Techmeme reports that TuneUp is set to provide an unlimited song identification service for FREE (and with no ads).  TuneUp is already known for its ability to correct song titles and add album work and it looks like they’re trying to venture off into another vertical.  Perhaps providing the song identification service is their attempt to lure customers in and use they other services.  It’s a good idea (free advertisement for their total package of services).  Shazaam/SoundHound should get ready for some stiff competition.

In very similar news, Shazam (not to be confused with Shazaam) is setting the stage for a possible integration into one of these song identification apps.  IDB reports that it will now offer iPad support PLUS lyrics on your TV (via Airplay).  This sounds like a potential lead into the karaoke market.  The ability to stream lyrics to my TV or even iPad is a great luxury.    Shazaam, SoundHound and TuneUp should take note and think about an integration.

It makes sense…let me identify a song that I’ve never heard of or favorite, save it and allow me to display the lyrics later on my TV for friends and family.

First song identification app to integrate with Shazam (or something similar) will take significant market share.  The race is on!

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Definitely was not aware that this could happen, but it looks like we may see more and more of this soon.  There is a fake Instagram app (as reported by USA Today)  that installs malware on your device instead of delivering the service.  It seems that attackers are looking at ways to get into your device and as more and more apps become popular, we will see this.

Advice:  Stay within Google Play or iTunes/App store and do not venture out.  Apps downloaded through google.com or any other file sharing service may result in a fake app.

With Instagram’s huge success over the past month, its no wonder this is happening.  Don’t fall for it…you now know what NOT to do.

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Facebook has took a stab at the social shopping market, but there hasn’t been much traction.  When they first rolled out “Facebook Deals” in April 2011, I was a bit skeptical and even rated the experience a 6 out of 10.

A year later and the news has broke out…Facebook Offers will be the next valid try at competing with Groupon.  CNET has a good point that with the upcoming IPO, this may be their shot at gaining some traction with their Groupon killer.  Could be…the future is in Facebook’s hands.

The idea of Facebook offers is good…the offers appear in your News Feed and give you quick call to actions to like, comment, share AND “Get Offer.”  Easy enough and the offer will be sent to you via email or to your mobile phone.

Now, I do have to admit that my recent experiences with Groupon have not been pleasant.  The buying experience with Groupon is great, but its when I present the Groupon at an actual restaurant or store.  I seem to get unpleasant service as a result…almost like they treat me bad because of the coupon.  I sure hope this does not continue with Facebook Offers.

Facebook Offers also gives people more incentive to “like” a particular company/store b/c with likes come offers…and with offers comes opportunities to SAVE money.  Who doesn’t like that?  Facebook can use their BILLION dollar user base to really become a challenger and if done right they can become THE leader.

Here’s a video showcasing the new “Offer” on Facebook:

 

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There’s a new iOS/Android app, PlaceMe, that will soon need to win the “privacy debate” in order for it to succeed – will it stand the test of time?  Robert Scoble says that this app will freak you out, but its the future.  Although, Scoble and Kevin Tofel are right, I’d argue that this app is the PRESENT.

The app uses all of the data that is captured ALREADY by iPhones and Androids and you better believe Apple/Google are already storing this data about us.  So really its nothing new, except for now “there’s an app for that.”

The premise of this app is pretty cool (not scary) since it uses anything innate within a phone to capture every place you drive to, order from or visit (home, work, school, stores and extra-curricular activities -> wink wink) without the need to check in–the cool factor = its automatic!  

[By the way, this app is FREE and available now in the iTunes app store]

There are a few key features that this app needs to either introduce or continue to build on:

  1. Reviews - Enhanced integration with Yelp!  This will help me favorite places that I’ve been to based on Yelp reviews OR write quick reviews for places I’ve visited (without a need to remember the name of the location…What was that place called again?) + AUTOMATED ALERTS that pop up if I drive by a location that fits my defined Yelp criteria (example:  restaurants with 4 star rating and two $$ symbols)
  2. Deals - Integration with deal sites like Living Social and Groupon.  Again, based on my location that is already gathered, being able to provide me with deals that are relevant to my tastes and preferences.  What better way to increase my likelihood of buying a Groupon + NOTE TO GROUPON, reach out and integrate with this app…I’d use you more
  3. Favorites - Give me the ability to favorite AND group a location I visited.  Imagine having a list of favorite destinations by:  Top Places to GrubFavorite Romantic Hot SpotsUnforgettable Wine Tastings
  4. Suggestions – Based on my favorites and defined criteria suggest new places for me to visit.  This can range anywhere from restaurants, bars or shops + ESPECIALLY VALUABLE WHEN TRAVELING, so many times I’m traveling to different cities and have no idea where to go…this app can solve that problem for me
PlaceMe could be THE app that changes how we interact with our phones and find new places to visit.  It could be a game changer and make privacy an irrelevant issue.  Heck, this app could be my new travel agent!  Or, the public at large might be too scared and instead backlash–but just remember, Apple and Google are already storing this information about you so its nothing NEW.
Here’s a demo of the app…check it out!  By the way, the app is free!

technorati token: 2PR5P5T73KQP

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Several reports suggesting that the new iPhone will have a cool 4.6 inch display, while some have shot down this rumor.  It’s safe to say that a lot will be riding on the iPhone event that could happen in June or even July.  Whereas the the new iPad announcement was nearly a refresh, the iPhone event could be the first new REAL product announcement without Mr. Steve Jobs.

Rather than a bigger display that may look nice (although not needed, I’m perfectly fine with the current 4.5 height of the iPhone 4), I’m looking for other revolutionary features.  Apple is known for their innovation and we need to see it with the next iPhone.

 

Here are some of my must-haves for the new iPhone of 2012:

  • Newest quad-core processor (industry standard)
  • 3D camera at least 10MP (industry standard)
  • OLED + Glare resistant screen (for those summer days)
  • 40% increase in battery life compared to iPhone 4  (4G soaks up a lot more battery life than 3G)
  • 4G LTE (seems like the standard even though its not available everywhere)
  • Social Media widget for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Yelp  (make social everywhere)
  • New, slick design (A MUST)

Aesthetically, when the iPhone 4 came out it was the prettiest new gadget in the tech world at the time.  Since then, several other devices have been introduced that look equally or even nicer than the iPhone.  Apple…you remember that having an iPhone has become an accessory–for some its a fashion statement just like a belt or a watch.  Make us proud Apple!

Obviously, we can’t help but hope for a new design.  Here are some concept designs that I deem worthy for the iPhone 5.  What do you think?

 

 

QR codes have been in business for a few years now, but left relatively unknown until recently.  With smartphones expanding its consumer reach to about 35% of the adult population, QR codes may generate more and more interest.  Or they could fail and be a wasted effort.

QR Code Basics

What is it?  A QR code is a matrix barcode that can be used to track inventory, hold content and promote marketing campaigns, etc.

How do you access?  A QR code can be accessed via a smartphone using a code reader.  Some phones, such as Google Androids, come equipped with a reader.  Although smartphones are the primary devices, touch pads can also be used

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Currently 5% of adults scan QR codes, which is not prime time usage but it still equates to around 14 million people.  Keep in mind, only 35% of adults own a smartphone–there’s a real chance here for QR codes to emerge.  The goal is to keep the growth of QR codes in line with the growth of smartphone usage.  If this occurs, there’s a real chance for success.

QR codes are used to keep inventory, send users to a specific website or store data about a specific product/promotion.  They’re easy to use and quick to set up, but my question is what’s the future of these?

Here are my predictions for 2012:

  1. Catalyst for Managing Subscriptions:  QR codes will be used in compliment of “subscribing” to a service or newsletter–imagine scanning a code, then receiving an automated text to “opt-in” to future updates, etc
  2. Primary Location for Dynamic Content:  QR codes will take over “micro-sites” and become the new way for storing dynamic content–the content can be changed on the go and is much easier to control compared to a webpage
  3. Bonus Features:  Most consumer products will be equipped with QR codes to deliver access to “behind the scenes footage,” “special discounts” and “future offerings”
  4. New Business Cards:  Business cards are becoming less and less important with the influx of Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn and other social media tools.  Nowadays, its almost easier to follow a new content in one of these tools than to save a business card and remember to add them later–QR codes can automatically store your own contact info, interests and social media outlets with the ability to scan, send and add the new contact info directly with a click of a button
  5. Complete Identity:  One day, QR codes will be able to store every bit of information about a person that it will become an identity.  We will be able to find out so much information about a person/place/thing with a two second scan.  Everything available on web (mainly Google) will be accessible through one bar code scan

The future is bright, but only if QR codes can stay relevant in a dynamic environment where smartphones today may be the trend but tomorrow its something else.  Integration is key in order for QR codes to stay alive.  Provide the ability to integrate and communicate with every aspect of our lives…and you’ve got a case to stick around.

So, what’s at stake? The complete livelihood of QR codes.  QR codes can benefit from the smartphone growth, BUT the reverse can also be argued.  What if QR codes becomes the next phenomena and people become obsessed with discovering the “hidden” content behind a person/place/thing?  Then, smartphones become a need instead of a luxury.   Definitely, QR codes can take the world by storm and frankly anything less is a failure in my mind.

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