Apple and Twitter and Snapchat use human editors, but Facebook doesn’t – Fortune

Apple and Twitter and Snapchat use human editors, but Facebook doesn’t – Fortune.

Using human beings to do curation or aggregation works for some purposes, but not for others.

It’s gone from one or two examples to a bona fide trend—which, as any journalist knows, occurs whenever there is least three of something. The trend in this case is the hiring of human editors to filter through the news, music, and other forms of content that are being produced and/or hosted by a variety of platforms. So Apple is hiring editors for its News app, which it announced at its recent developer conference, as well as editor/DJs for the streaming music service the company is rolling out soon.

Meanwhile, Snapchat is also hiringjournalists to report and edit content related to the upcoming U.S. election, and Twitter is looking to add editorswho can filter and aggregate tweets and links related to trending topics on the network, as part of what the company calls Project Lightning. LinkedIn also recently announced it is adding human editors to its Pulse news-recommendation feature, and Instagram has started doing some curation for its new Explore page.

There are a couple of big names missing from this list that are pretty influential when it comes to news: Namely, Facebook and Google. Facebook is launching a new featurecalled Instant Articles with partners like the New York Times, but the site’s staff won’t have anything to do with the selection of stories that become part of the program—and the choice of who sees them and when will be left to Facebook’s all-powerful algorithm. Much like Facebook, Google’s services are also powered completely by algorithms.

Of course, algorithms aren’t autonomous robots, but software that is written and programmed by human beings to have certain attributes. So in a sense, the “humans vs. algorithms” debate is based on a misconception. But it’s probably fair to say the human input in an algorithm-driven model is one step removed from the action, compared to human editing.

So if Apple and Twitter and Snapchat and LinkedIn see the value of having human editors selecting news or curating content of various kinds, why wouldn’t Facebook and Google do the same? Because each of the latter two companies are involved in content that’s on a completely different scale than Apple or Twitter—and human beings don’t scale very well.

Technology analyst Ben Thompson made this point in a recent blog post, entitled “Curation and Algorithms.”There are some things that human curation is good for, and some things that it isn’t, he argues. For example, music and other emotional forms of content can be good candidates for curation because human beings perceive things about that content that algorithms might miss. So when Jimmy Iovine talked about the launch of the new Apple Music service, he said:

“The only song that matters as much as the song you’re listening to right now is the one that follows this. Picture this: you’re in a special moment, and the next song comes on… BZZZZZ, Buzzkill! It probably happened because it was programmed by an algorithm alone. Algorithms alone can’t do that emotional task. You need a human touch.”

But there are cases in which curation done by human beings simply doesn’t work, Thompson says—and Google and Facebook are two examples of that, but for very different reasons. Google’s job is to filter through all of the billions of webpages and content on the web and find the one thing that a user needs or wants to find, and that’s a task that would be impossible for even a gigantic group of human editors to accomplish (although Google does use small teams of humans to check link quality). That’s why Yahoo stopped trying to run a human-edited directory.

Facebook, by contrast, isn’t trying to filter all of the world’s information—or at least, not yet. It’s trying to find the right combination of text and photos and links and video that will appeal to every one of its billions of users, and get them to engage with the site as much as possible. So unlike Google, the supply of information it is trying to filter may not be infinite, but the personalization of that content for each of its users involves so many permutations and combinations that it would also be almost impossible to accomplish with a staff of human editors, even a large one.

“Google is seeking the single best answer to a direct query from an effectively infinite number of data points… For most queries there is one right answer that Google will return to anyone who searches for the term in question. In short, the data set is infinite (which means no human is capable of doing the job), but the target is finite. Facebook, on the other hand, creates a unique news feed for all of its 1.44 billion users… what is infinite are the number of targets.”

The news, by contrast, is something where human editors can perform a fairly useful function, and even add things that algorithms can’t, Thompson says (which is one reason why Techmeme founder Gabe Riverastopped using only algorithms to power his news portal in 2008, and started hiring human beings). The pool of information isn’t infinite, as it is with Google, but neither is the personalization required for the potential audience, as it is with Facebook. That’s why newspapers existed.

As Thompson notes, however, the risk is that human-edited services face—rightly or wrongly—much more criticism when they make decisions about what to show and what not to show than algorithm-powered networks. So Facebook and Google can to some extent argue that they don’t control what gets displayed directly, it’s just the algorithm (although there are a lot of problems with this defense, obviously).

If Apple’s human editors remove news stories about specific topics, there’s going to be a lot of negative attention. What journalistic considerations—if any—do platforms like Apple and Snapchat and Twitter have when it comes to the news? As distribution shifts to these large-scale networks, those kinds of questions are going to become even more important.

GAFA: The Future Of Amazon, Apple, Facebook And Google – Forbes (Steve Dening)

The Future Of Amazon, Apple, Facebook And Google – Forbes.

In one of the most energetic and entertaining presentations I’ve seen in a while, Scott Galloway, Clinical Professor of Marketing, NYU Stern, Founder & CEO of L2, business intelligence firm serving prestige brands. spoke in Munich about “The Four Horsemen of the digital economy“: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Galloway starts out like a whirlwind, declaring that he has 90 slides and 900 seconds and wisely warns listeners to fast their seatbelts. He and his team at NYU Stern have developed an algorithm that looks at more than 800 data points across four dimensions—site, digital marketing, social and mobile—and across 11 geographies. They applied this algorithm against 1,300 brands, thus providing the basis for predicting winners and losers. They see themselves as “trainspotters.”

Galloway argues that it’s as important to talk about the losers in this fast-moving marketplace as much as the winners. Galloway declares two winners—Apple and Facebook—and two losers, Amazon and Google. By “winners,” he means companies that will increase in influence and value. Losers are those that will decrease in influence and value. His valuation is relative: any of these giants could lose for the next ten years and still be terribly important. They are all, he says, “amazing companies.” He points out that these four firms are so dominant that their combined market cap is greater than the GDP of South Korea (US $1.3 trillion). They have a market cap of $5 million per employee.

Galloway’s winners: Apple and Facebook

Apple is a winner for Galloway. It is dominant both on-line and in stores. It’s vertical and global. Its future is strong in part because it is becoming a global luxury brand. That, he says, is good thing because rich people all around the world like the same things. Apple has all the elements to make a luxury brand work: craftsmanship, an iconic founder, exceptional price point, expanding margins, vertical control of distribution, and globally recognizable. It’s on the way to becoming the world’s largest luxury brand with the help of former CEOs of Burberry and Yves Saint Laurent, Angela Ahrendts and Paul Deneve. Apple is completing its transition to luxury with the iWatch, predicted to have more sales than any other watch company in 2015. Some apercus from his talk:

“The expensive watch that I wear has nothing to do with telling the time. It signifies that I am more likely to look after your offspring than someone wearing a Swatch watch.”

“There are three things we do in business. Help people survive (head). Help the ability to love (heart). Help your desire to bear offspring (propagation). As you move down the torso, the margins get better and the business gets better. Luxury is in the business of propagation.”

“Tesla is not an environmental car. It’s a man’s attempt to tell people he can afford a $120,000 car.”

“Women pay $600 for ergonomically impossible shoes to try to solicit inbound offers from men who buy such cars.”

Facebook, says Galloway, is the platform people of all ages spend the most time on. Reports of Facebook’s decline in popularity among young people are “hogwash.” It is also doing well in Europe with around 90% share of social. Facebook has the ability to track users by their identity, something only Google is able to match (through Gmail). It successfully pulled a bait-and-switch by convincing brands to invest in building Facebook communities, and then charged for access. Galloway applauds the acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp, as Instagram is growing faster than any other social platform in the world, except WeChat.

“The primary drivers in social are mobile and images.”

“Facebook is pulling away. The world of social is becoming ‘Facebook and the seven dwarfs.’”

“Facebook has relationships with 2.4 billion users. The Roman Catholic Church 1.2 billion. Facebook has more relationships on the planet than God.”

Galloway’s losers: Amazon and Google

Galloway sees two major flaws at Amazon. One is that Amazon is single-channel retail. Galloway believes that the future lies in multi-channel retail. He says single-channel retail will disappear, whether it’s pure e-commerce or brick-and-mortar without an online presence. Apercus:

“Amazon cannot survive as a pure-play retailer.”

“Stores are the new black in the world of e-commerce. We have discovered these incredibly robust flexible warehouses called ‘stores.’”

Amazon’s growth has slowed, as brick-and-mortar stores have begun matching prices and providing instant pickup. He announces the funeral of e-commerce companies like Fab.com, Gilt, and Net-a-porter. For Galloway, the winner will be Macy’s, which has successfully gone online, and e-commerce players like Rent the Runway and Warby Parker that are opening up stores.

The other flaw at Amazon is shipping costs. According to Galloway, in 2014, Amazon received $3.1 billion in shipping fees and spent $6.6 billion on delivery. This, he says, is unsustainable. Some apercus:

“Free shipping is a race to the bottom.”

“Uber will be the most disruptive force in American retail. Drivers from firms like Uber are going to disrupt Amazon.”

“Drive-through pickup points have exploded in France from 1,000 to 3,000 in just the last year.”

“Retailers are not sitting around like passive prey, waiting to be disrupted. The retailer of the future is Macy’s. Macy’s is a metaphor for what’s happening the economy. It is closing stores and investing in on-line. $40k-80k sales jobs are being replaced by $20k-$40k factory and fulfilment jobs. There are some fantastic jobs at the high end, but the real employment growth is at the low end.”

“The smart-phone economy is going to be wonderful for employment, but terrible for wages.”

Google has several flaws, according Galloway. First, although Google is dominant in search, other brands are cutting into Google’s share. Facebook now has 1 billion searches compared to Google’s 3 billion. Second, two-thirds of product high-value searches—product searches–are happening on Amazon. Third, Google has yet to master mobile in the same way it mastered computer search. Fourth, Google had major failures in Google Glass and Google+, As a result of all these factors, Google’s revenue growth is slowing down. Apercus:

“Google + is dead already.” It has had a “98% decline in engagement rate, year-over-year.”

“Google Glass is a prophylactic that ensures that you won’t conceive a child because no one will ever go near you.”

What Galloway may have gotten wrong

Galloway says that he hopes that most of what he says is right, but he knows that some of it is wrong. Let’s look at where he might be wrong.

Galloway may be too quick to write off Amazon. If having physical stores becomes key, Amazon could easily solve it, as Galloway himself predicts, by acquiring of a brick-and mortar chain. And the issue of Amazon’s shipping costs should not be looked at in isolation from the overall shopping experience at Amazon. If “free” shipping for shoppers who subscribe to Amazon Prime makes Amazon the primary search destination of most shoppers and so trump Google search in this high-value search arena, the cost of “free shipping” may be a smart investment, both cheaper and more effective than, say, buying advertising for the Amazon brand. Just as Tim Cook declared that he “doesn’t care about the bloody ROI” of individual business activities, what matters is the overall contribution to the customer experience.

Galloway’s commends Apple for its journey towards becoming a luxury brand raises questions. Yet in the past, Apple has succeeded by producing products that are simple, easy, elegant, useful and affordable. Straying into the field of $10,000 watches is taking Apple into the domain of the useless and the unaffordable. The gains from this excursion are likely to be small in relation to the scale of Apple’s gargantuan business, while also being a distraction from what have been the keys to Apple’s remarkable success from delighting a huge number of customers with products that are low-cost to produce. Apple’s continued exponential growth ultimately depends on producing products that will make most people’s lives truly simpler and better. It’s not obvious that luxury objects like a $10,000 iWatch, even once its current obvious flaws, like limited battery life and annoying alerts, are solved, is part of that future of making many people’s lives better..

Facebook has so far done a remarkable job of mastering mobile. Facebook’s knowledge about its users’ behavior is a big advantage. Facebook ad re-targeting works across multiple devices without dependency on third-party cookies that expire or get deleted. These are great strengths. So far, Facebook has been able to live with the contradiction of a business that appears to offer the personal and the social, while behind the scenes it is ruthlessly exploiting users’ personal information for commercial purposes. Facebook says it doesn’t pass this information on to advertisers, thereby eliminating liability for privacy protection. One has to wonder how long this contradiction can be maintained and remain acceptable, as users experience the creepiness of a commercial “Big Brother” listening in on personal conversations and immediately deluging those users with ads about subjects they discussed in conversations they thought were private.

Google has enjoyed remarkable financial success. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests that Google has become hard to do business with, as a result of a certain arrogance in dealing with business partners. This may indicate that it is becoming that worrying creature, “the highly-successful process-driven company.” A process-driven company has short-term commercial advantages. With a leading share in its market, minimal thinking is required to continue on that path. Few mistakes are made. It is efficient. Its optimized processes were a good fit for its existing market. But efficiency can trump flexibility. When the market shifts due to new technology or competitors or business models, the finely tuned processes become a prison. Now that Google’s market has shifted, will Google be able to adapt quickly? Or has it become a prisoner of its existing processes? If process adherence is the overriding value system, Galloway may be right and Google may grind steadily into irrelevance. If Google can recover the focus on delighting customers that made it successful in the first place, it may go on to even greater success.

Google turned millions of public photos into timelapses showing how Earth changes

This is a brilliant way to use the millions of free public domain images that are just sitting around.

Researchers at the University of Washington and Google created more than 10,000 timelapsevideos using millions of free photos available online.

source: http://grail.cs.washington.edu/projects/timelapse/

Time-lapse Mining from Internet PhotosRicardo Martin-Brualla1     David Gallup2     Steven M. Seitz1,2
1University of Washington     2Google Inc.
The team analyzed 86 million photos from social sites, including Flickr and Picasa, and grouped them into landmarks. Then they sorted them by date and “warped” individual photos onto one viewpoint, retouched them a little, and created a stop-motion video showing how a particular landmark has changed over time.

The videos were stitched together from completely unrelated photos, taken by different people, but they don’t look all that different from conventional timelapses. They do, however, reveal processes that would be hard to capture with a single camera, such as seeping water affecting a sculpture or waterfall streams emerging and drying up.

Le partage social dope les ventes en ligne

Le partage social dope les ventes en ligne.

Tout est dans le titre ou presque : le partage de contenus sur les réseaux sociaux booste le e-commerce. Selon une étude conduite par AddShoppers, un internaute américain adepte de Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest et tant d’autres dépenseraient en moyenne 8,2% plus qu’un visiteur “non-engagé” sur des plateformes sociales. Inutile de préciser que les chiffres présentés ici diffèrent d’un site à l’autre. Facebook est évidemment le réseau plus efficace du fait de son nombre élevé d’utilisateurs. Le site de Mark Zuckerberg entraine des revenus dans 69,10% des cas, devant Twitter à 12,11% et Pinterest à 7,73%.

Pour faire simple, les acheteurs qui cliquent sur une publication liée à un site de vente en ligne dépensent 126,12 dollars sur une période de trente jours. Les autres acheteurs, qui ne passent pas par les réseaux sociaux, consomment un peu moins ; soit 116,55 dollars sur une même période. Pour cette étude, AddShoppers a analysé les achats d’internautes provenant de mail, de Facebook, de Twitter, de Google+ ou de réseaux sociaux à vocation commerciale comme Polyvore et Wanelo.

Il n’y a rien de magique dans l’utilisation des réseaux sociaux. Pour en arriver à ce genre de résultats, 10 000 sites de e-commerce ont été analysés. En fonction des situations, du marché et surtout de la clientèle, de grosses différences existent. On découvre ainsi qu’un courriel peut générer 12,41 dollars d’achats supplémentaires tandis que Pinterest ne génère que 0,67 dollar. Google+ lui peut rapporter en moyenne 5,62 dollars, là où un tweet a seulement une valeur de 1,03 dollar. Attention, il ne s’agit pas de coter tel ou tel service pour en connaître son poids en terme de revenus créés. La part de Facebook est par exemple évaluée à 0,80 dollar par acte de consommation, seulement voilà, Facebook est le réseau social le plus utilisé. Ce dernier a donc un impact des plus important.

Plus de trafic. Plus de clics. Plus de dépenses.

Dans un premier temps, les réseaux sociaux sont à l’origine d’une augmentation du trafic. Logique ! Viennent ensuite les ventes. Pour bien comprendre les chiffres présentés ici, il est important pour les boutiques et les marques de comprendre ce qu’implique le partage social. Sur Facebook, il est possible de partager de l’information et/ou des produits. Là, un “like” n’équivaut pas à un partage. Ce dernier a un taux de conversion 5,4 fois plus fort. La vente de produits ou de services en ligne ne s’acquiert donc pas si facilement. Les boutons sociaux sont les outils de base pour permettre aux clients de promouvoir à leur tour des produits. L’acheteur devient annonceur et c’est toujours le vendeur qui rafle la mise. Une fois dans un flux Facebook ou Twitter, le contenu partagé gagne en visibilité ce qui le rend logiquement plus attrayant aux yeux des autres internautes, qui peuvent à leur tour le partager via d’autres boutons…

Enfin, le rapport constate que chaque fois qu’un consommateur partage un produit sur Facebook, il en résulte un taux de clics moyen de 1,1. Les autres réseaux sociaux sont en dessous du social network avec : 0,98 clic pour StumbleUpon, 0,97 clic pour Twitter, 0,94 clic pour Wanelo et 0,87 clic pour Pinterest.

42% of Organic Search Visits Now Coming Via Mobile Devices (US)

According to the Digital Marketing Report Q4 2014, a quarterly digital marketing analysis produced by search marketing agency Merkle|RKG, mobile devices are now delivering 42% of the organic search traffic across the three major search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing.

The report also notes that mobile organic traffic grew 54% in the fourth quarter of 2014 from the same time period one year ago.  In addition, more than half (52%) of all visits to social media sites are from mobile devices(smart phones and tablets).

To anyone paying attention to consumer habits these days, this should come as no surprise.  Nor should it be any surprise that you are missing out on a big chunk of traffic for your website if you don’t optimize it for mobile.

Here are some more reasons you need to go mobile with your online marketing presence:

Mobile users are different.  Mobile users want information in quick, digestible bites so your mobile design should match how they will be using your site.  For more law firms, it is essential to provide an easy way to contact you — a click-to-call button that the user needs to merely tap to initiate a phone call.  You want to include essential information only on your mobile site, and keep the design simple.  Good load speed is critical — 57% of mobile users will abandon your site if they have to wait three seconds for it to load, according to research by Strangeloop Networks.

SEO.  Search engines are now penalizing sites that are not optimized for mobile, so you could see your search rankings suffer if you don’t have a mobile site that works on iOS and Android platforms (smart phones and tablets).

Lead conversion.  Mobile users are much more inclined to take action than desktop users, so your calls-to-action should be highly conspicuous on your mobile site.  If you are using email marketing for lead conversion, realize that 26% of all email is opened on a mobile phone and 11% is opened on a tablet.

Engagement.  Mobile users accessing a standard website will not engage when they have to pinch or zoom to find your content.  If you provide them with a good mobile experience, they are much more likely to return to your site later on a desktop (Google reports that 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal).

Loss to competition.  Google says that 41% of mobile users will go to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience!

9 most used Mobile Apps are offered by Facebook or Google (Nielsen Tops Apps of 2014 – US)

Tops of 2014: Digital.

From videos to banking to online shopping, digital was top of a lot of marketers’ and consumers’ minds this year. To wrap up 2014, Nielsen looked at some of the top trends in digital including the latest top U.S. smartphone apps and operating systems.

Consumers seemed to place a premium on the Internet’s social space this year, with a big portion of the top smartphone apps centered on connectivity—be it with friends, loved ones or cat videos. In fact, the app with the most year-over-year change was one designed to continue the conversation: Facebook Messenger use has risen 242% since 2013. Facebook held the No. 1 ranking as well with its social network app, which had over 118 million average unique users each month. Google Search came in second with about 90 million average unique users, followed by YouTube with 88 million average unique users.

Smartphone penetration grew from 69% at the start of 2014 to 76% of U.S. mobile subscribers by October 2014, and a majority of subscribers used Android (52%) and iOS (43%) devices to access their apps. Three percent of U.S. smartphone owners used a handset that operated on a windows phone, followed by 2% on a Blackberry.

TOP SMARTPHONE APPS OF 2014

Rank App Avg Unique Users YoY % Change
1 Facebook 118,023,000 15
2 Google Search 90,745,000 14
3 YouTube 88,342,000 26
4 Google Play 84,968,000 11
5 Google Maps 79,034,000 26
6 Gmail 72,405,000 8
7 Facebook Messenger 53,713,000 242
8 Google+ 48,385,000 78
9 Instagram 43,944,000 34
10 Music (iTunes Radio/iCloud) 42,546,000 69
Source: Nielsen. Note: The list is ranked on average unique audience, which is the average of January 2014-October 2014. The year-over-year percent change represents the unique audience of October 2014 compared to the unique audience of October 2013.

METHODOLOGY

Nielsen’s Electronic Mobile Measurement (EMM) is an observational, user-centric approach that uses passive metering technology on smartphones to track device an application usage on an opt-in convenience panel. Results are reported out through Nielsen Mobile Netview 3.0. There are approximately 5,000 panelists in the U.S. across both iOS and Android Smartphone devices. This method provides a holistic view of all activity on a smartphone as the behavior is being tracked without interruption.

Data based on Nielsen’s monthly survey of 30,000+ mobile subscribers aged 13+ in the U.S. Mobile owners are asked to identify their primary mobile handset by manufacturer and model, which are weighted to be demographically representative of mobile subscribers in the U.S. Smartphone penetration reflects all models with a high-level operating system (including Apple iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry).

Top 3 Mobile Advertising US (2014): Google (37%) Facebook (18%) Twitter (4%)

Publicité mobile : Yahoo ! dépassera Twitter en 2016 aux Etats-Unis.

En 2014, Google trustera aux Etats-Unis plus du tiers (37,2%) des revenus publicitaires sur mobile, devant Facebook (17,62%) et, bien plus loin, Twitter (3,56%), selon une étude réalisée par eMarketer. Derrière un intouchable duo de tête, Yahoo! se positionne à quelques encâblures de Twitter, avec 3,18% des revenus pubs mobiles outre-Atlantique. A l’horizon 2016, Facebook et Twitter devraient perdre un peu de terrain, avec respectivement 33,21% et 14,64% du marché, alors que Yahoo dépasseraient cette fois Twitter (4,19% vs 3,77%).

Toujours selon l’étude eMarketer, LinkedIN devrait enregistrer aux Etats-Unis une croissance de ses revenus pubs mobiles de plus de 800% en 2014 vs 2013 quand Amazon afficherait plus de 600%, Facebook 118,4% et Twitter 111,4%. Google devrait quant à lui se « contenter » de +75,8%. Si en 2015 LinkedIN poursuivra sa progression (+111,3%), Amazon ne serait pas en reste en 2015 et 2016 (+85,1% et +62,6%) quand Facebook et Twitter montreraient un ralentissement dans la progression de ces revenus pubs mobiles.

Gartner Predicts Live Video Broadcasting Will Be the New “Selfie” By 2017

Connected-Home Experiences Will Center on Video and Apps

Video and visual technologies are becoming increasingly important for interacting with customers and each other, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner predicts that by 2017, live video broadcasting will be the new “selfie” and recommends that product managers start creating a “visual” strategy straight away to accommodate this trend.

“The next generation of consumer services and products has one main theme in common and that is video,” said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. “This means incorporating live video or other real-time technologies into products to engage users in live events and enable more personalized communications, providing better customer support, and offering best-of-breed video and TV experiences to connected homes.”

Over the next four years, Gartner expects a noteworthy shift from static photos to video, with live video becoming as important a medium. This will be a significant development as in 2014 alone, more than a trillion photos will be taken, uploaded and shared daily, and the sharp rise in the popularity of online photos shows no signs of slowing. Although live and user-generated video is still less accessible than static photography, it is also growing in popularity.

Beyond its potential to be a richer medium for self-expression, live video’s use cases surpass what static images and prerecorded video can accomplish. It can be used for remote monitoring (of a baby, or of the security of a company’s premises), remote doctor-patient consultations and remote collaboration (via shared workspaces), and for improved customer service. As live video technology becomes more accessible, it will appear in many contexts, from mobile apps for consumers to customer support services. To benefit, users will need robust bandwidth, devices and cameras, as well as apps and services that capitalize on video’s communicative power.

Gartner made a number of further predictions about the connected home, including:

By 2018, 76 percent of connected-home apps will be accessible from smart TVs.

Smart TVs are fast becoming mass-market products. Gartner’s 2014 consumer survey indicates that almost 25 percent of U.S. households own a smart TV. In Germany, the figure is 32 percent. Gartner forecasts that worldwide, 87 percent of the TVs shipped annually will be smart TVs by 2018. This will result in such devices becoming very common in homes.

Gartner Predicts Live Video Broadcasting Will Be the New

“Despite the typically slow replacement cycle for TV sets, smart TV penetration is growing steadily,” said Fernando Elizalde, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Smart TVs are already central to the provision of connected-home entertainment. These devices can serve as access points for the control and management of other connected home devices. Applications to control and monitor home security cameras, door locks, thermostats and other connected devices are just some of many connected-home applications that could work well through smart TVs.”

Recent industry developments will bring management and control apps to smart TVs. However, the fragmentation of smart TV platforms makes it difficult for connected-home device manufacturers and app developers to focus on this “fourth screen” for access and management apps — except for media and entertainment devices. Nevertheless, as connected devices slowly gain momentum, and as an app presence on multiple screens becomes first a differentiator and then a must-have feature, smart TV apps for connected devices will reach parity with smartphone and tablet apps.

By 2018, connected-home services will cost 50 percent less than they do now.

Price could be a major factor in low adoption rates of connected-home services. Although current pricing plans offered by providers are relatively reasonable, they are additional costs for consumers on already stretched telecommunications budgets.

Providers of connected-home services that charge monthly service fees may struggle to compete with those that do not, such as home energy management providers like Hive in the U.K. and Nest (now owned by Google). Additionally, electronics stores are creating in-store connected-home areas where consumers can get expert advice on creating their own connected-home platforms. In order to offer similar experiences to their customers, service providers would need to invest in both retail space and staff education.

“The connected-home market is showing the usual signs of nascency: low penetration, high interest mainly among technology enthusiasts, and high prices,” said Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner. “For mass-market adoption, prices need to come down, but lowering prices won’t suffice on its own. The current lack of interest from most sectors of the public also indicates that people do not see the immediate advantage of connected home services. Embracing a strategy that offers in-store expert advice could therefore be the way forward.”

More detailed analysis is available in the Gartner Special Report “Predicts 2015: Connected-Home Experiences Will Center on Video and Apps.” The report is available on Gartner’s website athttp://www.gartner.com/document/2913417.

Rather Than Opt-Out Of Google, German News Publishers Demand 11% Cut Of Revenue

Rather Than Opt-Out Of Google, German News Publishers Demand 11% Cut Of Revenue.

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German news publishers are picking up where the Belgians left off, a now not-so-proud tradition of suing Google for being included in its listings rather than choosing to opt-out. This time, the publishers want an 11% cut of Google’s revenue related to them being listed.

The news comes from Jeff Jarvis, who writes that a group representing about half the major news publishers in Germany have a started an arbitration process demanding that Google pay 11% of revenue related to listing links to and descriptions of their content.

The actual suit (in German) from the VG Media industry group is here, which demands up to 11% of all gross sales worldwide (plus VAT!) of revenue related to its content, as of August 1, 2013.

Beyond What Leistungsschutzrecht Allows?

From Spiegel (again in German, and working off a Google translation), VG Media includes twelve publishers including giant Axel Springer. The story also suggests that the publishers feel they have a right to demand license fees because Google’s use goes beyond a new German copyright law created last year.

That law, referred to as “ancillary copyright” or “Leistungsschutzrecht,” allowed search engines free use of single words or very small text excerpts. Apparently, the VG Media group still feels there’s use happening where payment can be demanded.

The move produced two major absurdities. First, it’s incredibly difficult to even know how much revenue would be generated, if any, by these links.

The Difficulty In Calculating A Publisher’s Cut

Within Google News itself, there are no ads. So as Jarvis writes, “Are the publishers seeking 11% of 0?” But news content does appear outside Google News, within regular Google searches, where ads can be present.

To figure an 11% payment here, the publishers would apparently want to know any time their content appeared with ads on search results pages. Then, if any of those ads produced revenue, they want 11% of that.

It’s a difficult but not impossible task for Google to figure this out. It already tells publishers through Google Webmaster Tools what the visibility of their pages are like. It could clearly tell for a particular publisher if pages are showing in the top results.

More work would be required to tell if a publisher was present where there was an ad click. There’s an even bigger debate on whether a publisher being one of 10 to 30 links that might appear on a page should be given the entire credit for a click and thus 11% of revenue earned by it.

Publishers Aren’t Forced Into Google

All that is likely to get argued in arbitration. But that leads to the second big absurdity. Google isn’t forcing the publishers to be in Google at all.

Let’s do a little history.

Back in 2006, Belgian news publishers sued Google over their inclusion in the Google News, demanding that Google remove them. They never had to sue; there were mechanisms in place where they could opt-out.

After winning the initial suit, Google dropped them as demanded. Then the publications, watching their traffic drop dramatically, scrambled to get back in. When they returned, they made use of the exact opt-out mechanisms (mainly just to block page caching) that were in place before their suit, which they could have used at any time.

The case carried on for six years in total. In the end, it was settled in what’s become common when Google is in disputes with publishers. Google pledges some nebulous collaboration that will support the industry. See also the €60 million “Digital Publishing Innovation Fund” it created for France last year.

With the German papers, they can opt-out of being in Google just as easily as the Belgian papers could have done back in 2006. They even have more granular control, where Google gave assurances to Italian publishers in 2011 that opting out of Google News didn’t mean they’d be dropped from Google entirely. But even before then, to my understanding, it was always the case you could request to be dropped from Google News but still be in Google Search in general.

In short, if the German publishers feel Google is unfairly infringing on their rights without payment, Google has a good argument that they’ve been failing to prevent this using industry-standard practices that every one of those publishers absolutely has to know.

And Some Publishers Work To Increase Their “Free” Visibility

Indeed, Axel Springer’s Bild publication — one of its largest — makes use of Google publisher code to assist its appearance in Google search results:

Elsewhere on the site, there’s code showing that Bild is explicitly telling Google to “follow” links within its site in order to index them, as well as providing news keywords specifically meant to increase the chances of ranking better in Google:

bild seo

This type of thing — along with any evidence that any of these publications are using Google sitemap lists, implementing Google Authorship or making use of Google Webmaster Tools — will go to demonstrating that the publishers aren’t somehow being swept up into Google’s results against their wills.

Rather, they show the publishers are actively trying to leverage Google for free traffic — and after gaining it, demanding that Google also pay them for the privilege.