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February 21 2014

February 18 2014

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January 20 2014

Four short links: 20 January 2014

  1. idb (Github) — a tool to simplify some common tasks for iOS pentesting and research: screenshots, logs, plists/databases/caches, app binary decryption/download, etc. (via ShmooCon)
  2. Twitter Infrastructure — an interview with Raffi Krikorian, VP of Platform Engineering. Details on SOA, deployment schedule, rollouts, and culture. (via Nelson Minar)
  3. Orbit (Github) — a standalone Javascript lib for data access and synchronization.
  4. Chromium is the New C Runtime — using Chrome’s open source core as the standard stack of networking, crash report, testing, logging, strings, encryption, concurrency, etc. libraries for C programming.

December 18 2013

Tweets loud and quiet

Writers who cover Twitter find the grandiose irresistible: nearly every article about the service’s IPO this fall mentioned the heroes of the Arab Spring who toppled dictators with 140-character stabs, or the size of Lady Gaga’s readership, which is larger than the population of Argentina.

But the bulk of the service is decidedly smaller-scale–a low murmur with an occasional celebrity shouting on top of it. In comparative terms, almost nobody on Twitter is somebody: the median Twitter account has a single follower. Among the much smaller subset of accounts that have posted in the last 30 days, the median account has just 61 followers. If you’ve got a thousand followers, you’re at the 96th percentile of active Twitter users. (I write “active users” to refer to publicly-viewable accounts that have posted at least once in the last 30 days; Twitter uses a more generous definition of that term, including anyone who has logged into the service.)

You're a bigger deal on Twitter than you thinkYou're a bigger deal on Twitter than you think

This is a histogram of Twitter accounts by number of followers. Only accounts that have posted in the last 30 days are included.

For a few weeks this fall I had my computer probe the Twitterverse, gathering details on a random sampling of about 400,000 Twitter accounts. The profile that emerges suggests that Twitter is more a consumption medium than a conversational one–an only-somewhat-democratized successor to broadcast television, in which a handful of people wield enormous influence and everyone else chatters with a few friends on living-room couches. There are undoubtedly some influential Twitter users who would not be influential without Twitter, but I suspect that most people who have, say, 3,000 followers (the top one percent) were prominent commentators, industry experts, or gregarious accumulators of friends to begin with.

Active Twitter accounts follow a median 117 users, and the vast majority of them–76%–follow more people than follow them. Which brings to mind both discussions about the mathematics of pairing and studies that suggest reciprocated friendship is both rare and valuable. Here’s the histogram from above with the distribution of number of accounts that users follow superimposed.


Not that number of followers is an indicator of quality. Twitter’s users are prone to swarms and fads; they flock to famous people as soon as they appear on Twitter, irrespective of both activity and brow height. Former New York Times editor Bill Keller amassed thousands of followers in his first months on Twitter, despite posting just eight times in 2009 (and then baffling his readers with this tweet upon reappearing on Christmas Eve in 2010). On the other end, just under one in every thousand Twitter accounts has a name that refers to Justin Bieber in some way; an additional one in every thousand refers to Bieber in its account description.

Far more inscrutable than the famous zombies are the anonymous ones, like a Wayne Rooney fan account, a skin-care promotion feed, and a fake Taylor Lautner account that each managed to amass thousands of followers with just a single tweet. (The commercial accounts of this sort are probably the result of promotions–“follow us on Twitter for a discount!”–that got no follow-up, or are the beneficiaries of bot armies hired to make a business look popular.)

Twitter is giant, and it has an outsize influence on popular and not-so-popular culture, but that influence seems due to the fact that it’s popular among influential people and provides energetic reverberation for their thoughts–and lots and lots of people who sit back and listen.

How you stack up

Percentile of active Twitter accounts Number of follwers 10 3 20 9 30 19 40 36 50 61 60 98 70 154 80 246 90 458 95 819 96 978 97 1,211 98 1,675 99 2,991 99.9 24,964

The technical mumbo-jumbo

Twitter assigns each account a numerical ID on creation. These IDs aren’t consecutive, but they do, with just a few exceptions, monotonically increase over time–that is, a newer account will always have a higher ID number than an older account. In mid-September, new accounts were being assigned IDs just under 1.9 billion.

Every few minutes, a Python script that I wrote generated a fresh list of 300 random numbers between zero and 1.9 billion and asked Twitter’s API to return basic information for the corresponding accounts. I logged the results–including empty results when an ID number didn’t correspond to any account–in a MySQL table and let the script run on a cronjob for 32 days. I’ve only included accounts created before September 2013 in my analysis in order to avoid under-sampling accounts that were created during the period of data collection.

Twitter IDs are assigned at an overall density of about 63%–that is, given an integer between zero and the highest number so far assigned, there’s a 63% chance that a Twitter account has been opened with that number at some point. That density isn’t constant over the whole range of ID numbers, though; Twitter appears to have changed its ID-assignment scheme around July 2012. Before then, Twitter assigned IDs at a density of about 86% and afterward at 49%.

With a large survey sample of Twitter accounts, I was able to project the size and characteristics of the Twitter ecosystem as a whole, using R and ggplot2 for my analysis.

This post was modified after publication in order to add the table of follower percentiles above.

December 13 2013

The birdie and the shark

While I’ve been skeptical of Twitter’s direction ever since they decided they no longer cared about the developer ecosystem they created, I have to admit that I was impressed by the speed at which they rolled back an unfortunate change to their “blocking” feature. Yesterday afternoon, Twitter announced that when you block a user, that user would not be unsubscribed to your tweets. And sometime last night, they reversed that change.

I admit, I was surprised by the immediate outraged response to the change, which was immediately visible on my Twitter feed. I don’t block many people on Twitter — mostly spammers, and I don’t think spammers are interested in reading my tweets, anyway. So, my first reaction was that it wasn’t a big deal. But as I read the comments, I realized that it was a big deal: people complaining of online harassment, trolls driving away their followers, and more.

So yes, this was a big deal. And I’m very glad that Twitter has set things right. In the past years, Twitter has seemed to me to be jumping the shark in small steps, rather than a single big leap. If you think about it, this is how it always happens. You don’t suddenly wake up and find you’ve become the evil empire; it’s a death of a thousand cuts. Watching Twitter jump the shark in slow motion has saddened me. And it’s also sad, in a different way, that we have to congratulate a large web company for listening to its users — seems that listening to users should be, well, normal. I’m much less sad this morning.

Twitter has proven that they can and will listen to their users. Not only did they listen, they acted: they didn’t indulge in a round of corporate bluster, or restore vaguely like the original behavior hidden under an inscrutable pile of personalization options. They did the simplest and most responsible thing possible: they restored the original “block” behavior.

Congratulations, Twitter. You did the right thing. And you did it quickly. I don’t think you’re off the shark, but you’ve taken a big step backward.

December 10 2013

Podcast: news that reaches beyond the screen

Reporters, editors and designers are looking for new ways to interact with readers and with the physical world–drawing data in through sensors and expressing it through new immersive formats.

In this episode of the Radar podcast, recorded at News Foo Camp in Phoenix on November 10, Jenn and I talk with three people who are working on new modes of interaction:

Along the way:

For more on the intersection of software and the physical world, be sure to check out Solid, O’Reilly’s new conference program about the collision of real and virtual.

Subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunesSoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

November 06 2013

En Espagne, l'e-mobilisation étudiante sauve Erasmus

En #Espagne, l’e-mobilisation étudiante sauve #Erasmus

Christelle Granja

C’est une semi-victoire pour les étudiants espagnols. Face à la fronde provoquée par la suppression, pour plusieurs milliers d’entre eux, des #Bourses Erasmus, le ministre José Ignacio #Wert vient de faire machine arrière.

Tout est parti d’un article du Bulletin Officiel espagnol (...)

#REVUE_DU_WEB #Étudiants #Europe #contestation #échange #Etudiant #Facebook #Twitter #université

October 03 2013

Four short links: 3 October 2013

  1. Hyundia Replacing Cigarette Lighters with USB Ports (Quartz) — sign of the times. (via Julie Starr)
  2. Freeseerfree, open source, cross-platform application that captures or streams your desktop—designed for capturing presentations. Would you like freedom with your screencast?
  3. Amazon Redshift: What You Need to Know — good write-up of experience using Amazon’s column database.
  4. GroupTweetAllow any number of contributors to Tweet from a group account safely and securely. (via Jenny Magiera)

September 13 2013

Elections allemandes : les réseaux_sociaux comptent pour du beurre

Elections allemandes : les #réseaux_sociaux comptent pour du beurre

Quentin Bisson

Les réseaux sociaux et Internet ne sont pas déterminants pour gagner une élection en #Allemagne. Nos voisins restent davantage sensibles aux #Médias traditionnels : duel TV, affiches, etc. Un constat à prendre en compte pour affiner sa stratégie de communication… tout en évitant les bourdes !

Selon une (...)

#Société #Politique #débat_télévisé #élections_allemandes #Facebook #journaux #radio #télévision #tweets #Twitter

July 22 2013

The Man Behind ‘Newsroom' Anchor Will McAvoy's Fake Tweets - The Daily Beast

The Man Behind ‘Newsroom’ Anchor Will McAvoy’s Fake Tweets - The Daily Beast

is the #Twitter handle of a 29-year-old man who wishes to remain nameless because he spends his day writing copy for a major airline.

Although “McAvoy” declines to disclose his identity, he’s hoping to use his experience to get into television writing and is already working on a spec script for a Season 3 of The Newsroom. The original impetus for his Twitter accounts was a way to get rid of writer’s block and write more like Aaron Sorkin. It is a tribute to Sorkin’s writing that the characters he created can inspire such fully-formed fan tributes that they are able to wade into online debates untethered to their maker.

« #The_Newsroom »

Série brillante et engagée sur le thème des médias, appelée « Salle des nouvelles » au Québec, « The Newsroom » plonge le spectateur dans le quotidien (plutôt nocturne d’ailleurs) de l’équipe de « News Night », le JT de la chaîne d’information en continu ACN, network qui se frotte à CNN et Fox News et qui, sous l’impulsion de Mackenzie McHale et de son présentateur-vedette Will McAvoy, entend délivrer une autre information. La série d’Aaron Sorkin mêle habilement les ressorts d’un drama bien huilé, qui tend vers le soap quand il s’agit de dérouler des intrigues amoureuses entre les personnages ou vers la comédie avec virtuosité et humour au long des joutes verbales incessantes. Dire que chaque épisode de « The Newsroom » est rythmé est un euphémisme, presque un pléonasme.

#scénariste #tv_show #hbo #journalisme #télé #temps_réel #militer (McAvoy dirait plutôt #civiliser)

July 17 2013

twitter bloque un compte néo-nazi - La

#twitter bloque un compte néo-nazi - La

Twitter a annoncé jeudi avoir bloqué pour la première fois un compte dans un pays, en l’occurrence celui d’un groupuscule néo-nazi en #allemagne, à la demande de la police locale. "Nous avions annoncé en janvier notre capacité à bloquer des contenus. Nous en faisons pour la première fois usage au sujet d’un groupe jugé illégal en Allemagne", a écrit le conseiller juridique de Twitter, Alex Macgillivray, dans un message sur son compte @amac. "Nous ne voulons jamais bloquer de contenus ; (...)

#censure #neonazi

One hell of a deal : Pope Francis offers reduced time in Purgatory for Catholics that follow him on…

One hell of a deal: Pope Francis offers reduced time in Purgatory for Catholics that follow him on #Twitter - Europe - World - The Independent

The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that rules on the forgiveness of sins, has said that indulgences may be given to those who follow the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.

The Penitentiary said that Pope Francis’ Twitter account, which has already gathered seven million followers, would be one such medium.

#pape #religion #wtf

May 31 2013

Four short links: 31 May 2013

  1. Modeling Users’ Activity on Twitter Networks: Validation of Dunbar’s Number (PLoSone) — In this paper we analyze a dataset of Twitter conversations collected across six months involving 1.7 million individuals and test the theoretical cognitive limit on the number of stable social relationships known as Dunbar’s number. We find that the data are in agreement with Dunbar’s result; users can entertain a maximum of 100–200 stable relationships. Thus, the ‘economy of attention’ is limited in the online world by cognitive and biological constraints as predicted by Dunbar’s theory. We propose a simple model for users’ behavior that includes finite priority queuing and time resources that reproduces the observed social behavior.
  2. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends (Slideshare) — check out slide 24, ~2x month-on-month growth for MyFitnessPal’s number of API calls, which Meeker users as a proxy for “fitness data on mobile + wearable devices”.
  3. What I Learned as an Oompa Loompa (Elaine Wherry) — working in a chocolate factory, learning the differences and overlaps between a web startup and an more traditional physical goods business. It’s so much easier to build a sustainable organization around a simple revenue model. There are no tensions between ad partners, distribution sites, engineering, and sales teams. There are fewer points of failure. Instead, everyone is aligned towards a simple goal: make something people want.
  4. Augmented Reality Futures (Quartz) — wrap-up of tech in the works and coming. Instruction is the bit that interests me, scaffolding our lives: While it isn’t on the market yet, Inglobe Technologies just previewed an augmented reality app that tracks and virtually labels the components of a car engine in real time. That would make popping the hood of your car on the side of the road much less scary. The app claims to simplify tasks like checking oil and topping up coolant fluid, even for novice mechanics.

May 30 2013

These are the top 20 investors to follow on Twitter? Really?

Business Insider really jumped the shark with their recent post entitled These Are The Top 20 Tech Investors You Should Follow On Twitter. It was clearly linkbait for social media rather than real advice for those looking for investment wisdom.  Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) as the top investor to follow on Twitter?  Really?  When the greatest investor of all time, Warren Buffet (@WarrenBuffet), is also on Twitter?  Sure, Warren is new to Twitter and has only posted one link (to a fascinating article about why women are key to America’s prosperity), but when millions of investors hang on his every word, you’d think he’d get a mention. Ashton is great, but is he a better investor to pay attention to just because he has more “social media pull”?

This kind of story illustrates the vapidity of so much social media reporting.  What does someone’s social media following have to do with whether or not they are worth following for investment advice?

I’d prefer to follow investors who are good investors and who share their investment strategy!  That’s why I’d probably put Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) of Union Square Ventures (who was at an inexplicable number 19 on the Business Insider List) and his partners Brad Burnham (@BradUSV) and Alfred Wenger (@AlbertWenger) at the top.  Not only are they among the most successful tech investors active today (Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, Foursquare, Etsy, Kickstarter, to name only a few of their investments), but they clearly explain their rationale for investing, their criteria, and their interests.

The other pair of power investors to follow are Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz.  They don’t really tweet, but Marc tweets a feed of his blog posts, which are always worth reading.

Next up, I’d put my colleagues at O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (@OATV), Bryce Roberts (@bryce) and Renee DiResta (@noUpside). While I have a much bigger social media following (I was number 11 on the Business Insider list), I post much more about long-term tech and social trends than about investment. You’ll get much more practical investment advice and insight into our investing philosophy from Bryce and Renee!

Speaking of practical advice, Brad Feld (@bfeld) offers a constant stream of useful advice to startups.  Eric Ries (@EricRies) is not primarily an investor, but he, too, is an amazing source of insight for anyone building a web or social media startup.

And if you are looking for the big disruptors of the venture capital industry, look no further than Paul Graham (@PaulG) of Y Combinator and Babak Nivi and Naval Ravikant of Venturehacks (@VentureHacks) and Angellist (@AngelList).

If there’s an investor to follow for a long-time horizon and a global perspective, it would have to be Esther Dyson (@edyson), an angel investor whose interests and investment choices are always light years ahead of everyone else.

And for the broad sweep of Internet industry statistics, how can you not include Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins. Her annual Internet Trends Report is one of the most hotly awaited reads of the year for any Internet investor.  You won’t find her tweeting, but her slides from D11 were all over Twitter yesterday!

I do love following some of the others who appear on the Business Insider list, like Jason Calacanis (@jason), Mark Cuban (@mcuban), Chris Sacca (@sacca), Evan Williams (@ev), Biz Stone (@biz), and Jack Dorsey (@jack), but I wouldn’t consider any of them but Jason and Mark people who primarily tweet insight for investors.  If you’re going to follow them, you should add Marissa Mayer (@marissamayer) and Sheryl Sandberg (@sherylsandberg) to the list.  Their decisions will probably shape as many venture exits as those of venture capitalists!

And even with this off-the-top-of-my-head list, I really have just focused on Internet investors.  There’s a wealth of investment advice on Twitter, but finding the right people to follow has very little to do with how many Twitter followers they have!

May 28 2013

Four short links: 28 May 2013

  1. My Little Geek — children’s primer with a geeky bent. A is for Android, B is for Binary, C is for Caffeine …. They have a Kickstarter for two sequels: numbers and shapes.
  2. Visible CSS RulesEnter a url to see how the css rules interact with that page.
  3. How to Work Remotely — none of this is rocket science, it’s all true and things we had to learn the hard way.
  4. Raspberry Pi Twitter Sentiment Server — step-by-step guide, and github repo for the lazy. (via Jason Bell)

April 24 2013

Four short links: 25 April 2013

  1. Alcatraz — package manager for iOS. (via Hacker News)
  2. Scarfolk Council — clever satire, the concept being a UK town stuck in 1979. Tupperware urns, “put old people down at birth”. The 1979 look is gorgeous. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Stop Designing Fragile Web APIsIt is possible to design your API in a manner that reduces its fragility and increases its resilience to change. The key is to design your API around its intent. In the SOA world, this is also referred to as business-orientation.
  4. @life100yearsago (Twitter) — account that tweets out fragments of New Zealand journals and newspapers and similar historic documents, as part of celebrating the surprising and the commonplace during WWI. My favourite so far: “Wizard” stones aeroplane. (via NDF)

March 20 2013

Neue Strategie: Flattr ist tot – es lebe Flattr

Der Social-Payment-Dienst Flattr steckt in der Krise. Seit dem Start ist es in den letzten drei Jahren nicht gelungen das System so stark zu etablieren, dass die kritische Masse an Nutzern erreicht wurde. Es ist ein Nischen-Payment-Dienst geblieben, auch wenn teilweise größere Angebote wie die tageszeitung (taz) den Dienst eingesetzt haben. Aufgeben ist aber nicht die Sache der schwedischen Betreiber. Mit einer neuen Ausrichtung gehen sie in die Offensive.

Das Konzept von Flattr sieht vor, dass man ein Guthabenkonto anlegt und so selbst bestimmen kann, wieviel Geld man freiwillig in Kulturgüter bzw. online verfügbare Inhalte investiert. Je nach dem wie oft man dann die Flattr-Buttons beispielsweise unter Artikeln anklickt, wird das monatlich zur Verfügung stehende Guthaben unter den Begünstigten aufgeteilt. Die Macher um CEO Linus Olsson aus Malmö haben jetzt in dem Blog-Beitrag “Launching new Flattr – Add money to your likes” angekündigt, dass Flattr nun auch bei bereits bestehenden und genutzten beliebten Online-Diensten stärker eingesetzt werden kann. Man könnte es als Extended Flattr bezeichnen, da nun Werkzeuge bereitgestellt werden, die es erlauben die Flattr-Zahlungen direkt mit Angeboten wie Twitter, Instagram, Github, Vimeo, Flickr, Soundcloud etc. zu verknüpfen.

Im Blog-Beitrag schreiben die Flattr-Macher zu ihrer Motivation:

Everyday creators post 400 million tweets to Twitter and upload 5 million photos to Instagram. For most of us the internet is our most important source for information and creative work. We are on a mission to help creators get money for the value they create for all of us. We believe that the way people pay must be in line with the way people behave online. If you think about it, we click a lot of links only to realize it wasn’t for us. That’s because we are explorers.

Ab sofort können im Flattr-Mitgliedsbereich die entsprechenden Verknüpfungen mit bereits genutzten anderen Diensten hergestellt werden. Teilweise war das bislang auch schon möglich, nicht aber so einfach und mit so vielen Auswahlmöglichkeiten für unterschiedliche Angebote. Das Blog über Fragen der Internet-Ökonomie beschreibt weitere Auswirkungen der aktuellen Änderung im strategischen Konzept von Flattr insbesondere hinsichtlich der möglichen Verlagerung von Zahlungsströmen:

Wichtig ist an dieser Stelle zu erwähnen, dass sämtliche Flattr-Buttons für externe Websites uneingeschränkt weiterfunktionieren. Zumindest nach dem heutigen Kenntnisstand wendet sich der Dienst nicht von den unter eigenem digitalen Dach kreative Inhalte schaffenden Produzenten ab, sondern verlagert lediglich den Fokus der Kommunikation. Da durch die zusätzlichen angeschlossenen Plattformen mit einer breiteren Streuung der Flattr-Klicks zu rechnen ist, könnte der Vorstoß für Blogger und die wenigen, Flattr einsetzenden größeren Medienangebote wie zwar kurzfristig mit einem Rückgang der Einnahmen verbunden sein. Gelingt es den Skandinaviern jedoch, endlich auch den Internetmainstream zu erreichen und die breite Masse zum Befüllen ihres Flattr-Kontos mit einer monatlichen Summe zu bewegen, dann würde davon mittelfristig das gesamte Flattr-Ökosystem profitieren.


In einem Interview mit PandoDaily kündigt CEO Olsson zudem an, dass auch die entsprechenden Tools für eine Anknüpfung an Facebook bald bereitgestellt würden, es hier aber aktuell noch technische Probleme gebe. Im Interview heisst es:

The only difference is that Facebook is so far conspicuously absent. (Flattr says that’s because of a technical issue related to Facebook’s API, and it is a “high priority.”)


In einer einfachen Grafik hat Flaatr hier noch einmal die Funktionsweise des Systems dargestellt:

Es wird spannend sein zu beobachten, ob Flattr mit dieser Offensive vom Mikro- zum Massenphänomen wird und es gelingt, weit über die üblichen Kreise hinaus, ein neues System der freiwilligen Zahlung für kreative Leistungen zu etablieren. Die Hausaufgaben sind nun erst einmal gemacht, jetzt müssen die Nutzer zeigen, ob sie mit den neuen Möglichkeiten zufrieden sind.

February 22 2013

Four short links: 22 February 2013

  1. Indiepocalypse: Harlem Shake Edition (Andy Baio) — After four weeks topping the Billboard Hot 100, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” was replaced this week by Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” the song that inspired the Internet meme.
  2. SplinterNetan Android app designed to create an unblockable Twitter like network that uses no cellular or Internet communications. All messages are transmitted over Bluetooth between users, creating a true peer-to-peer messaging system. All messages are anonymous to prevent retaliation by government authorities. (via Ushahidi)
  3. Disposable Satellites (Forbes) — tiny, near-disposable satellites for use in getting battlefield surveillance quickly [...] launched from a jet into orbit, and within a few minutes [...] provide soldiers on the ground with a zoomed-in, birds-eye view of the battlefield. Those image would be transmitted to current communications devices, and the company is working to develop a way to transmit them to smartphones, as well.
  4. Native iOS to HTML5 Porting Tool (Intel) — essentially a source-to-source translator that can handle a number of conversions from Objective-C into JavaScript/HTML5 including the translation of APIs calls. A number of open source projects are used as foundation for the conversion including a modified version of Clang front-end, LayerD framework and jQuery Mobile for widgets rendering in the translated source code. A porting aid, not a complete translator but a lot of the dog work is done. Requires one convert to Microsoft tools, however. (via Kevin Marks)

February 14 2013

Commerce Weekly: You can now buy stuff with tweets

American Express turns Twitter into an ecommerce platform

American Express announced an enhancement this week to its Sync with Twitter feature — users can now buy things with a tweet. Tricia Duryee reports at All Things Digital that all users will need to register to participate, even previous users of the sync feature, in order to provide a delivery address for purchased items. Once registration is complete, Duryee says, the purchasing process is pretty straightforward:

“For instance, participants will be able to buy a $25 American Express Gift Card for $15 … by tweeting #BuyAmexGiftCard25. American Express will reply via Twitter, asking the user to confirm the purchase in a tweet. All products will be shipped via free two-day shipping.”

Duryee reports that more items have been added since the launch and deals will be offered for three-week periods.

American Express SVP of digital partnerships and development Leslie Berland told Duryee that Twitter is just the beginning — the service will eventually be offered on other platforms, such as Facebook.

While fun and novel for consumers, Forbes’ B. Bonin Bough notes the value of the ecommerce partnership for participating retailers: “Having customers promote brands while buying them is a win-win situation,” he said, “and could potentially lead to incredible results — that is, if AmEx and Twitter can get this new purchasing behavior to catch on with consumers.”

Purchasing behavior may not end up being the ultimate obstacle, however. Angel Djambazov at GeekWire took a look at the potential security issues of the program, noting that “security has never been Twitter’s strong point. The platform is rife with phishing.”

Could 3D printing bring down retail?

The ForeSee Mobile Satisfaction Index: Holiday Retail Edition was released this week. The survey of more than 6,200 shoppers reviewed the consumer experience during the 2012 holiday shopping season.

One of the highlights of the report addressed the trend of showrooming. Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile at ForeSee and co-author of the report, said for the press release, “Customers are using their mobile phones as integrated parts of their shopping experience … Mobile is the ultimate companion channel, making showrooming as much of an opportunity as it is a threat.”

But it’s not as big an issue as some retailers may think. Commenting on the report, ForeSee president and CEO Larry Freed told Chantal Tode at Mobile Commerce Daily:

“The idea that everyone is going to be looking at Amazon’s app when they are in Target and Walmart is proving out not to be true, and I think retailers need to continue to focus on providing a great integrated experience between that phone and that retail environment so that there is a value add for a consumer when they are in Target to go to Target’s app or site instead of going to Amazon’s.”

Fretting over showrooming may be a bit shortsighted on the part of retailers, however — the real concern for the future of retail may have more to do with 3D printing. Dalton Caldwell took a look this week at a recent statement by Marc Andreessen that the chain retail model is “a fundamentally implausible economic structure,” arguing that few stores “can survive a decline of 20 to 30 percent in revenues.”

Caldwell says he isn’t sure he agrees with Andreessen’s prediction, but that “[i]f we accept Andreessen’s argument that most retail companies could be put out of business by a 20-30% decline in revenue, 3D printing could be plausibly be the vector by which this scenario is manifested.” He points to items such as toys and sports equipment, and home improvement items such as plastic drywall anchors.

Not everything can or will be replaced by 3D printing, Caldwell notes, but taking the things that can into consideration along with retail stores’ “revenue sensitivity caused by debt” might just lead the future Andreessen predicts. You can read Caldwell’s full piece on his personal blog.

Pay at the pump gets PayPal

PayPal announced this week that through its partnership with retail petroleum company Gilbarco Veeder-Root, it now will offer mobile payments at the gas pump.

“The initial effort will launch the PayPal payment capability to retailers with Passport point-of-sale (POS),” Lucy Sackett, director of outbound marketing for Gilbarco Veeder-Root wrote in a press release. “Future developments will bring PayPal solutions to Gilbarco’s growing suite of media and merchandising applications.”

Sarah Perez at TechCrunch notes the impact of the Gilbarco deal, reporting that “the 150-year old Gilbarco currently works with 19 of the top 20 convenience store operators in the U.S.” and that company “has installed over 30,000 POS systems across North America which will now see PayPal integrations.”

Tip us off

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.


January 30 2013


5 Tweets: Vermutlich erfolgreicher Ausgang des Volksbegehrens in Bayern gegen Studiengebühren

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