All these questions

Facebook just launched Questions so that we can get answers from the people we trust – our friends. So far I’ve been giving Quora a go. Haven’t been the best contributor though, but whatever, I’ve been finding a few decent bits of information and answers. At least Quora seems to provide you with a more qualified crowd than the average content farm type Q&A site. Quora sort of became better at what Linkedin wanted to branch out to (haha). Linkedin, that just hit 100 million members and are aiming for an IPO, has said that they don’t just want to be a career network but also a knowledge network. So maybe they should just buy Quora.

But what happens now, with Facebook Questions joining the fun? One weakness for Facebook could be that people tend to have their private lives on Facebook and perhaps not too many business acquaintances and similar peeps that might have better answers to their professional questions (Mashable writes about the effects on brands though). But for the rest, where to have dinner, where to travel, my Facebook friends might have a better answer if they are more like me than my professional network in Linkedin, or Quora for that sake. So maybe there’s room for at least two Q&As. Maybe I should ask someone on those networks?

Some comments on commenting platforms

So I switched to Disqus a little while ago, not a big decision really with the amount of traffic and comments this blog has 😉

Disqus, what the heck is that? It’s really just a separate system for handling comments on your site. I had comments before and nothing wrong with the handling of them in WordPress so why make the switch? The truth is that I’m experimenting to learn more, basically what this whole blog is about for me but I find all of these commenting systems or platforms quite interesting.

The idea is simple, with better ways to leave comments and share these with a network of friends and other interested and engaged people you get more out of whatever content you’re consuming. Haha you say looking at this place and yes, as I said, not the finest example of engaging content or rich strings of comments and reactions.

Part from Disqus there are a number other services available like Echo, used by big players like Technorati, and Intense Debate, which has been acquired by the company behind WordPress. This is only three but in my research, which was quick and dirty, I found that these are the ones most people are talking about now.

A quick check in Quora (interesting place for questions and answers by the way, sometimes I find really good answers there) reinforced my presumption: Echo seems more focused on social mentions, reminds me of BackType also worth just mentioning, while Intense Debate seemed not as innovative as Disqus and focused primarily on WordPress (yes I know I use WordPress but I’m getting to some sort of point soon, I hope).

With the idea of getting more people more involved through their networks, Facebook’s improved commenting plugin seems like a good alternative. Since almost a tenth of the worlds population is on Facebook (yes, I know, that was some horrible use of statistics) you have some interesting networks to tap into there.

However, TechCrunch’s experiences showed that it might not be so great after all. Read their thoughts here and here. Basically it is a bit exclusive, but let’s hope this improves since Facebook at least state that you can “enable users to comment using other login providers“. The Next Web also put together a pros and cons article.

And there I was, back at Disqus, hoping it will produce some more interactivity and richness to your part of this blog. But more importantly, what do you think and what are your experiences from these commenting plugins or services?

Gowalla gets an awesome update

So I just posted my views on the Gowalla vs. Foursquare battle. Functionality-wise Foursquare had some neat tricks I missed in Gowalla but the latter had me hooked with it’s sleeker look and better Swedish user base. Today Gowalla updated it’s iPhone App and it feels like a big step in the right direction.

First of all, they offer integration with not only Foursquare but Facebook Places as well! Thank you! You can see check-ins from friends that use one of the other services. Plus that now I don’t have to check in using two apps all the time (well I guess I miss quite a bit of all the things I liked about Foursquare but hey I’m lazy as everyone else). When you check in, in addition to sharing this with Facebook and Twitter as before you can now also choose to share it on Foursquare and Tumblr.

Integration in Gowalla 3Share check-ins with Gowalla 3

Secondly, you can now bookmark places. Makes it a little bit easier to find those favorites you check in to regularly. Have a look at the layout of a place below.

A place in Gowalla 3Leave notes at a Place in Gowalla 3

On the right hand side you see another new feature – Notes. Similar to the Foursquare Tips but in the end not the same thing. Check in to a place, click on ‘leave note’ and then choose which friend to share it to. Hmm, what if I want to leave a general note or tip to all my friends or even others checking in later. On the Gowalla blog they say you can leave a note for yourself but havn’t figured that one out yet.

As I said, a lot of goodies for an already Gowalla-favoring guy. Still, notes can be improved to be public or private (now they only seem private).

Gowalla and Foursquare in Sweden

So I’ve been using Gowalla and Foursquare a little while now – to experiment and evaluate, and I’m still doing just that. It feels, however, that I have managed to get a basic sense of the two location-based services (LBS). Internationally, which I interpret as in the US, Foursquare is kicking Gowalla’s butt, at least number-wise. Foursquare have as of today 4 million users while Gowalla boasts a mere 600,000. Looking at just Sweden, I’m not sure which one is the biggest. I will therefore make a very subjective assessment of the two services from a user perspective.

I really prefer the look and feel of Gowalla compared to Foursquare. Have a peek at the “front page” of the two apps below. Foursquare has a map icon but Gowalla does the feed a bit sleeker.

Foursquare frontGowalla front

Checking into places, what’s it’s all about, is also a bit different. Of course the basics are the same, where are you and what are you doing there. In Foursquare you can choose to share this with your friends or not. In Gowalla your friends get the update but you can choose to also send this update to Twitter and Facebook (if you’ve connected them). This is nifty if you sometimes, some places, what to give a shout out (or brag) to your tweeps or FB friends.

Foursquare check-inGowalla check-in

Since it’s all about places, places is a big part of the functionality. Here Foursquare beats Gowalla in my opinion. As you can see below, in Gowalla there’s often duplicates and I find myself always looking for the right spot with the most check-ins. Foursquare is more precise and usually have one correct spot, often with an address as well.

Gowalla duplicates

Looking at what businesses are doing, it’s like with the user base and thus number of friends you’ll have, depending on where you’re at. In the states more and more business are joining forces with the location based social gaming. In Sweden Ica had a Gowalla campaign with a store opening and H&M are now saying that you can unlock discounts on Foursquare. Below you see H&M’s coupon or what you can call it, next to it is what I think can be an even more fun way of engaging your fans. Svenska Spel (the Swedish state-owned gambling company) has launched a trip on Gowalla. Check in on at least three hockey arenas and answer a question to get a couple of tickets for a match, a nice and fun way to reward your fans – Sweden’s hockey nuts.

Foursquare dealGowalla Sponsored Trip

I mentioned the Trips in Gowalla and that’s one thing that I believe can bring me value from LBS. I like exploring and trips can help me discover new spots and… well trips. The hockey trip is one example but there’s a lot more, both commercial and non-commercial. You can even create your own trips and show your friends new discoveries that way.

Foursquare has an even better take on this with their Tips. On every spot you can tip your friends or other visitors on whatever you like – that special order not on the menu, or a favorite dish, best corner, well you know I’m all about eating out but you get the picture. Another neat thing is that when you check in near a place where a friend of yours has left a tip it gets displayed – like “Mr. Smith says the coffee around the corner is awesome”. You can of course list all tips nearby as well. As you can see, they also have a to-do list, nice but nothing I’m using very much at the moment.

Gowalla tripsFoursquare tips

Wrapping up I still prefer Gowalla. If they were to add the Tips-function from Foursquare and cleaned up their spots – then I’m all in. Nevertheless, in the end it all comes down to where your friends are. If one service is the shiznit but no friends are there, what’s it good for? For me, Gowalla is where it’s all at. Seems like Sweden is a Gowalla country after all, or what’s your experience?

Apple goes trick or treating?

I was sitting with some friends trying to book a fun vacation for this summer when we started talking about the ‘lost’ iPhone 4G. Yesterday I said that I didn’t believe it was a cheap publicity stunt by Apple but some of my friends didn’t agree. One of my friends, which has worked with communication within FMCG for some time now, said that the phone must have been planted by Apple. I think of my friend as quite knowledgeable in the field of PR and marcoms and it got me thinking… what if it is a new take on their pre-launch PR.

Let’s review why this might be the case. It was allegedly ‘lost’ or planted before their announcement of the new OS 4.0 and in the midst of the iPad hype. Could this be enough to force Apple to rethink their usual tactic leading up to a launch. Could the recent success of various Android phones be a factor. Some even think that the new OS 4.0 is in many parts a catch-up to Android and this could affect the wow factor of the next iPhone. But did the planting work as planned? Was it meant to take so long (was it not three weeks) before it really hit the fan? Or was it meticulously orchestrated so that it would go public after their announcements?

In my last post I did not however see this having any noticeable negative effects on when Apple announces, or more accurately sets a release date, for the next generation iPhone, so why wouldn’t they have planted this. Looks like they’ve fueled a hype around their next product already and might as well get their usual response once they roll it out for real.

What do you think of this saga? Trick or treat?

Has Apple Lost It?

I guess you’ve by now heard the story about the lost and found new iPhone prototype. Long story short, the gadget guide Gizmodo got their hands on what seems to be a new secret iPhone model, all new and considerably different from current models.

Some might ask if it’s yet another brilliant publicity stunt from Apple, or if it’s just as the story suggests – a human error. If it was planned, it stinks and seems quite desperate. And I don’t think Apple is that desperate for attention. But has this little slip-up worked for or against Apple in a coming launch of the next generation iPhone.

The debacle has generated quite a bit of publicity and perhaps it will fuel the recent talk about the coming OS 4.0 Apple announced a couple of weeks ago. But will the magic be lost at the time of the launch of the new iPhone? Apple has enjoyed tons of publicity and hype around its previous product launches but will it be the same for iPhone 4G? My theory is that there’s enough MacHeads out there for it to be as big as we all want it to be – as long as the product itself do deliver at least what we expect it to if not more.

Image by Gizmodo.

What will Google do?

I read a couple of interesting articles and blog posts recently that pointed out what could be described as Google’s Achilles heel. Apparently online ads click rates are on the decline – 8 % of all internet users account for more than 85 % of all ad clicks, it’s even more skewed than Pareto’s Law. This is a 50 % drop since the year before when 16 % of the internet users accounted for 80 % of all ad clicks.

And where does the majority of Google’s revenue come from? Ads! Have a look at this chart and you’ll see that any change in the ad market will most certainly have an effect on Google’s revenue base.

So what will Google do? Well what did Microsoft do? Have a look at the next chart and we’ll see that an OS could be a profitable venture – that is if you charge for it