Daily Marauder




Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images / February 18, 2012


Whitney Houston’s funeral Saturday drew more star power than the Grammys the weekend before including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keyes, R Kelley, Bobby Brown, and Aretha Franklin. Wait, those last two weren’t there. Bobby Brown left because of a “seating incident” and Aretha Franklin had leg issues even though she performed in concert that very night. [raised eyebrows] I thought Kevin Costner’s words concerning his work with the star on the Bodyguard were intriguing. Not only were they clearly heartfelt but they demonstrated the challenges of being a worldwide star. Incidentally, both the Grammys and Whitney Houston’s funeral both clocked in at 3.5 hrs.


After being in NYC for 10 days, I attempted to mimic that city’s RIPocolypse love. From snow storms to Whitney’s death, everything on Foursquare is a RIPocolypse in New York City. I also wanted to see if a location of this nature would trend in Los Angeles like it trends in NYC. One problem. It never showed up in search results. I contacted one of the co-founders of Foursquare who told me the search results take a bit to update. 3 days later. Same issue. I know we’re on the opposite coast and a little bit farther south than where digital hearts show their affection, but damn it, we Angelinos are digital nerds too. Where is the love?!


Apart from the digital snafu, I also noticed how polarizing Whitney Houston was when I asked friends to check-in to my newly dubbed WhitneyHoustonRIPocolypse. Some were eager to jump on and some simply flat out said no, not because they didn’t want to break out Foursquare, but because they didn’t “feel the love” for Ms. Houston. I do find it intriguing that certain folks feel so negative towards the pop singer because of her demons with drug abuse. I certainly don’t condone it. That said, entertainers, while making a ridiculous amount of cash, are owned by their audience, incapable of living away from prying eyes. Entertainers have the ability to inspire so many but they are human beings like all of us. Let’s be honest, we all have our demons. So, with that, I will continue to want to dance with somebody and yes, my love is your love.


Along with the pop star’s farewell, the din of Linsanity, an homage to the popular NY Knicks player Jeremy Lin, has been reaching fever pitch. Unfortunately, ESPN made the mistake of running a racially fueled headline on Friday bringing Lin fans to punches. Thankfully for the fans, the Harvard alumnus finally joined the social network and took the dive into his first public Facebook page.


In other news, a warmer winter has slowed sales of typical winter purchases, gossip surrounding the coming iPad 3 announcement on March 7th has erupted, and Twitter gets yet another boost from Apple, this time with the release of the Mac operating system Mountain Lion. Take that, Facebook overlords.


Some more Cool Sh-t:

Beauty on the Go: Pop-Up Shopping Wall



Doug Mills/The New York Times

Good morning Giants fans. Go ahead. Lord your supremacy over us Patriots fans. I’m originally from Rhode Island and so became a full-blooded Patriots fan last night at a bar in Saratoga Springs, NY. What to do when surrounded by Giants fans? Become the #1 annoying fan and learn to avoid thrown glasses.

Being that I’m in the ad industry, my main interest in the Superbowl is the commercials and according to a study by Hanon McKendry , 54% of Superbowl watchers are just like me. For $3MM for 30 seconds, let’s give these ads their due respekt. Thus spawns, the Marauder Top 5. Unlike the USA Today Ad Meter which employs ratings from its web site or Facebook to determine a winner, I’m using a much simpler and valuable rating system: YouTube video views combined with my own opinion. To qualify those views, I am also listing out the upload date as most of these commercials were uploaded a week out from the Superbowl itself. Below my top 5, you will find the commercials I was not a fan of but listed as they pulled considerable weight in video views.

Daily Marauder Top 5: Superbowl 2012 Commercials

VW “The Dog Strikes Back”

5 MM views

Upload Date: 1/30

Kia “A Dream Car. For Real Life.”

4 MM views

Upload Date: 1/31

Chevy Sonic “Stunt Anthem”


Upload Date: 1/27

Sketchers “Go Run”


Upload Date: 1/26

Bud Light “Rescue Dog”


Upload Date: 2/3

Notable Mentions: Superbowl 2012 Commercials

Acura “Transactions”

Almost a winner until I saw the appearance of Jay Leno. Instant fail.

15 MM views

Upload Date: 1/30

Honda CR-V “Matthew’s Day Off”

Here’s the thing. “Ferris” just looks old and bloated. I felt depressed after watching it.

12MM views

Upload Date: 1/26

That said, while likability is fun to assess, it matters less in translating to brand sales. Many brands attempted to take their Superbowl ad buy one step further by creating a digital link using Shazam for TV. While many think of Shazam as a mobile app to identify what song is playing, the company recently updated to allow users to Shazam TV as well creating a digital extension both from TV episodes and commercials alike. This affords the TV commercial some digital legs allowing an easier transition from TV to digital. The best example from a brand last night came during the Toyota Camry commercial. Users could Shazam the commercial for a chance to win 2 Toyota Camrys during the game.

In other news, Facebook prepares for its IPO, Path doubles its user count to 2MM having re-launched 2 months ago, the Susan B. Komen Foundation reverses its decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood , Pinterest wears the big kid pants in the social media family, and the Grammys piles on some interesting digital extensions to their coming broadcast.

Some more Cool Sh-t:

Commercial Crashers: The Old Spice Guy



Todd Heisler/The New York Times

While the Republican candidates continue to crucify each other in debates and public speaking engagements, Twitter has become a critical tool for candidates to engage their audiences. With 10 times more users on Twitter than during the 2008 election and the sites’ ability to break news faster than major news outlets, Twitter is certainly flexing its muscles in the political campaign space.

While Twitter fist pumps in politics, the site felt some public backlash over the weekend. Forbes claimed that Twitter had committed “social suicide” when they released news that they would be withholding tweets in particular countries (i.e. China, etc) Twitter users like Anonymous planned an online revolt on Saturday January 28th claiming they would not tweet in protest of Twitter’s action (#twitterblackout).

This move by Twitter was certainly not motivated by their desire to censor but more importantly to try and infiltrate China, a market which had 485 million online users at the end of June, more than any other country in the world. Twitter is banned in China, based entirely on the fact that the company, up until now, has refused to allow the government to censor tweets. Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, has allowed open access to the government. The site is used by 250 million users. On Friday, I sat down with Ruby Zhang who moved from China to Los Angeles to study at USC’s Annenberg School. She walked me through Weibo and explained the advantages to Twitter:

  • Mainly, her friends from home all use the site and therefore the clear advantage in China is simply that it has mass scale. Twitter will have a difficult time infiltrating given this fact.
  • Images in line on Weibo.com’s home page. Many Twitter folk don’t visit the online site but instead connect through Twitter clients like Tweetdeck and others. Visuals are processed by the brain far faster than text. Twitter has made inroads to add visuals in-line but they certainly have room to grow.
  • Easier list and categorization features. When’s the last time you used a Twitter list? Fantastic feature but it has been de-emphasized in design updates.

In other news last week, President Obama’s State of the Union got a snazzy interactive update showing side-by-side graphics while the President spoke. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) may be even more insidious than the more well-known SOPA/PIPA, USA Today’s Superbowl Ad Meter will finally include Facebook ratings, Apple delivers blow out earnings proving that more iPhones are sold per day than babies born in the world, Pinterest is showing serious strength in pushing consumers to retail and Facebook plans to file their IPO next week.

Some more Cool Sh-t:
Re-Imagine: What’s Outside Your Car Window



Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Last night, the Golden Globes descended upon Hollywood. The critics’ acclaim and 3 Golden Globes for the silent film, The Artist, got me thinking about a general trend in our culture at large, something I spoke about last week as well. If you’ve seen The Artist, then I’m sure you were also struck by the sheer simplicity of the film. Make no mistake about it, I’m not saying I liked it, just that it filters to a true simplicity not seen with most other films. Love, greed, empathy, pain, these were the simple messages evoked in the movie. While watching the film, my friend commented that perhaps she was not intellectual enough to understand the acclaim driving reviews. I don’t think that’s it at all. I think the passion around this film is simply that we are overwhelmed with entertainment and messaging.

Recently, I watched a variety show from the 70’s called Soul! and was struck by the sheer number of lengthy pauses in which the silence was deafening to my modern ears. In my former 5 years as a radio DJ, I would periodically have nightmares in which I was sitting in front of a blinking sound board paralyzed with dead air blaring from the studio speakers. In the modern era, sometimes watching Gossip Girl can literally make me feel like I’m in a dance club with a strobe light. The transition between scenes is on warp speed as our collective attention span has constricted. In some ways, we’ve acclimated to become faster human engines of efficiency. In other ways, we’ve become unaccustomed to the phrase, “stopping to smell the roses.” Back to The Artist. I think the insight into this film is not that it is good or well-acted in fact. I think Harvey Weinstein, the man who purchased the first silent film in over 70 years, is simply an innovator, one who sees what we all want before we want it. We all have been yearning for the simpler life, but without someone to bring this to us in entertainment form, we did not realize it. So Harvey Weinstein, I say well done. I didn’t like The Artist, but I understand it’s inherent value and for that the Golden Globe wins seem warranted. I can’t say the same for George Clooney I’m afraid.

On to the digitalverse. This week, the largest consumer electronics show wrapped up in Vegas. As I said last week, I am not a fan as usually the show produces a compendium of crap rather than one true innovation. This assumption was proved correct. Can’t say I told sold…oh wait, I can. That said, here’s a bit of a round-up from Mashable and a note on how the word ‘ultra-book’ is nothing more than a marketing campaign from Intel. The one highlight for me is really the focus on creating ecosystems rather than attempting to force consumers to purchase new gadgets that they don’t need. In other news, the iPhone 4S helped close Apple’s gap on the Android, especially interesting to note given the number of devices running Android. On the heels of that data, a very interesting post from MG Seigler (formerly of Techcrunch) emerged on why the writer despises Android. You’ll take note of the fact that it has less to due with Apple’s user interface and more on Google’s broken promise to make the consumers’ needs most important.

In other news, Facebook launched a “Listen With” feature which the community at large immediately compared to Turntable. To contradict that theory, I think Facebook discovered a more interesting insight which is that the mass audience does not want to do the work of playing DJ all day on Turntable. They simply just want to know what their friends are listening to. Hey Facebook, I’m still not turning on my listening data in Spotify. A girl has her secrets and you’re not getting all of mine. Nice try though… In bigger Facebook news, Facebook’s IPO is rumored to be hitting late May. And finally, TED returns to Long Beach, CA at the end of February.

Some more Cool Sh-t:
From Gaming to Escape our Real Lives to Gamifying Reality

SXSW 2011: TOP 5 TRENDS by Marauder



This year’s SXSW was the largest interactive event in the festival’s history. An estimated 18,000 participants joined the conference this year up 30 to 40 percent from last year. This is my fourth year in a row attending SXSW and I consider it important both for the aggregation of innovators in the digital space, but more importantly, what that aggregation of folks causes in terms of behavior.


For example, based on the mass of digi-nerds with smart phones and a suite of applications, Foursquare was the clear winner last year in terms of what the audience was using at the conference to connect with friends and find the next drinking location (cough), I mean panel. This year, I watched carefully to see what the masses were doing, and by participating in those activities with a mass of folks, try to figure out where we’re going next in the digital marketing space.


Five trends emerged.


1) Group Texting


Group texting allows a group of people to text each other exchanging information to organize groups. The main competitors of the group texting wars at SXSW were GroupMe, FastSociety, Beluga, & Kik. Above, you can see an infographic tracking online mentions over SXSW from March 11 – March 15th indicating the winner by share of conversation.


GroupMe, the winner, launched first in August of 2009 with a simple premise of allowing a group of people to text each other. They have since added features to allow sharing of photos and location along with allowing users to join groups.


In second place, Beluga, allows users to send group messages with photos and location as well. Facebook also acquired it in March.


Finally, Kik, commenced operations as an instant messaging application but announced a group messaging feature last week and picked up a new round of funding.


In my own experience at SXSW, I started the conference using Beluga with a group of other digital folks so that we could organize our plans throughout the day both at panels and throughout the night. As I had not turned the SMS notifications off, I found my battery was severely drained as the group texted each other about every panel and party they planned to go to. I promptly turned it off after a day but noted the value in organizing a group around events like this.


2) Social TV


Social TV made a splash at SXSW with a panel devoted to the topic becoming packed 15 minutes before it even began. Jennifer Preston from the NY Times quickly organized a panel next door to the panel room dubbed #rebeltv. The panelists re-convened the following day at the CNN Grill to discuss the topic and again the panel was packed to capacity. Informally, I grabbed drinks with the CEO of Miso, the CEO of ClipSync (technology that runs the social aspects of Showtime, Epix, and CBS, and some other folks from the Social TV space.


In addition, I attended one of the most interesting panels I have seen in 4 years: Social Media in the Middle East coordinated by reporters from the NY Times and attended by MSNBC, NPR, Al Jazeera and others.


Above all, I think the message from both avenues boiled down to the fact that information and conversation is being aggregated across the web on television and in print/online news media to empower the message and the experience. Some highlights:


· People are conversing in real time while watching TV. How do TV networks access those conversations making those moments engaging like the stories on screen? Chloe Sladden weighed in on how Twitter has been integrated with TV on MTV, CurrentTV and others to promote the community conversation.

· What amount of information should be visualized on the second screen while someone is watching TV? The answer is somewhat complicated. A mobile application that will go unnamed has being doing covert tests with its audience and has found that synced content can easily become distracting from the original goal: watching a TV show.

· In essence, TV networks will continue to practice and test with their audience to figure out what works but it is clear that these conversations have a part in the TV watching experience.


3) Anonymity (Canv.as) vs. Personalization (Facebook) on the Web

While waiting for the launch of the rumored Google Circles, Google’s coming social network, the conversation swirled at SXSW surrounding the anonymity the web was founded on vs. the personalized tagging that Facebook has made popular. In other words, the 90’s were about anonymous posts on message boards and the like. Facebook, through its interests in aggregating all of this personal data, has created a network where everything is identified by the person who said and/or posted it.


Christopher Poole, the founder from a site called 4Chan, gave a keynote on the subject discussing the popularity of his site 4Chan but also the social network he’s building (Canv.as) meant to create a social network founded on the principles of anonymity. The site is still in closed beta but Business Insider offers a preview of the site.


4) Social Shopping


Social deal sites have blown across the Internet in a fury, taking with them a path of discount destruction. Groupon, Scoutmob, Livingsocial, & Gilt Groupe were all discussed in this particular panel. In addition to these sites, which create a groundswell around the time-limited deal, the “qualified recommendation engine” otherwise known as friend opinion is of primary importance. Technologies which empower the social shopping concept through mobile or online platforms include QR codes or other mobile tags, near field technology (rumored to be included in the iPhone 5 launch) and location-based services like Foursquare and others.


5) Location-Based Meets Discounts

Location-based platforms like Foursquare and others have rushed to integrate deals within the fabric of their applications. Foursquare launched an AMEX integration days before SXSW. For users who link their AMEX card to their Foursquare account and check-in at participating locations, they will receive $5 back when they spend at least $5 or donate $1 to Grounded in Music. This represents location-based gone loyalty program.


As quickly as deal sites like LivingSocial and Groupon work to integrate location, location-based sites like Foursquare and Gowalla work furiously to integrate discounts. In essence, location and discounts have become interwoven as principal reasons users integrate with these platforms.


Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare, spoke to Mashable’s Pete Cashmore in a keynote at SXSW on the topic as well as the additional features in Foursquare 3.0. Those features included an updated UI evoking more information for users when they check-in, re-enabling the gaming dynamics, and adding a recommendation engine. For example, when I checked in at a location with my friend Dan Berger, founder of SocialTables, I got a message saying that I hadn’t checked in anywhere with him in several years. Interesting data.


With all of these features, it is clear Foursquare’s ability to surface deals in a way that is organic to the user is most important. Crowley takes a different stance from a Groupon strategy in that he thinks the most important function of the app is the friend recommendation rather than the deal. I think that is true for many folks who happen to use Foursquare but not for many others.


In this same keynote, a girl from the audience asked Dennis Crowley for a hug on stage. This proves that Dennis Crowley is the Justin Bieber of SXSW. It also illuminates the digerati empowered at this event in Austin.



Taking a stance on Flipboard vs. The Daily, two iPad applications which supply news content to their audiences, highlights the friction between old media and new and distinguishes the ways two companies are bringing information to users. Flipboard is a social magazine launched in July 2010 by Mike McCue and Evan Doll touted by Apple as iPad App of the Year and one of TIME’s top 50 innovations of 2010. The Daily launched in February 2011 by News Corp., designed to be the first iPad-only newspaper.


To fully discuss the future of news, I’ve brought together a group of folks with different perspectives for the weigh-in. Below are the three main contributors. Along with these, there are several other powerful perspectives weaved in along the way.


Ashmi Dang: Digital Marketing Consultant specializing in entertainment

Caroline Giegerich: Editor of Daily Marauder, Master of whimsy

David Hayes: Digital marketer in theatrical at a studio and curator of finely wrought bytes at Stilllifewithinternet.com


The Secret Sauce



“Flipboard is the “platformifiication” of publishing, open to anyone who wants to publish through it. The breadth of content available trumps the quality of individual pieces of content, with the experience being different for everyone that uses it. The Daily is “magazines as medium”, and is a literal interpretation of what the future of magazines can be – a multi-dimensional interpretation of a formerly two-dimensional edited, curated document.” Ian Schafer, CEO, Deep Focus



Flipboard allows me to be the secret sauce by giving me control over what I read. My usage is mostly concentrated on my Twitter feeds. Pulling them into Flipboard offers me a way of stepping out of the live steam to do some social listening, as well as responding and ultimately boosting my Influence Score by having dialogue with what I’ve read. An application that simplifies the process of doing all that, through a visually pleasing and unique UI, helps feed my social-networking-news-consuming-junkie needs.


For a newspaper, the biggest draw is the editorial content. The challenge for The Daily is convincing consumers that their version of the news is worth paying for. Right now, there are five categories, one being Sports which I don’t read. Of the remaining four, I’m already able to find most through my existing news channels, and others that are of importance to me are simply not covered. The value proposition and product differentiation don’t exist in terms of my needs with The Daily.



In the days of the newspaper, the news editor was king, culling together a meticulously curated product from the ranks of the professional journalist. In the new era of social media, the control of content has shifted from ‘professional’ to everyone. Twitter, on the short form, and blogs on the long form have empowered the masses to become an army of content creators. Flipboard simply aggregates this new army of content creators to create a new breed of broadsheet. If my broadsheet could speak to me, what would she say? Well, she would most likely say something different minute by minute as the news developed. Flipboard fulfills this promise creating a lean back experience of news that has been curated by both the reader and their amalgamation of friends and contacts.


The Daily, on the other hand, is a traditional newspaper that has been re-packaged simply for an iPad product. One issue is delivered and served with the sections you’ve come to expect from a traditional newspaper. No personalization. No curation of the masses. This difference evokes the glaring friction traditional media has been battling with for so long: ceding control. Content creators no longer require journalism school or fancy degrees. Recognizing this is the secret sauce of Flipboard. Ignoring it is the Achilles Heel of The Daily.



While The Daily is attempting to recreate the experience of reading a newspaper for lean back devices, Flipboard’s aim feels more ambitious: Create a “personalized social magazine.”


Quality as News Source



Flipboard is a platform driven by my work in curating the best content for me and also offers some pretty great optional channels of aggregated content. Ultimately, I’m in charge and it comes down to my willingness to ensure that I’m reading quality information.


With The Daily, Caroline McCarthy, of CNET.com/CBS, made an excellent point while moderating a Social Media Week panel in NYC, “For The Daily to really establish itself as a long lasting fixture, its going to have to start breaking news and getting that exclusive Steve Jobs interview that Time would otherwise be getting.” Its uniqueness in this area is most critical to its success and right now, it’s just not there for me.



Here Flipboard could potentially fall flat much like Twitter. If not carefully managed, a Twitter feed can become a garbage can of ridiculous comments. Flipboard allows the user to pick the inputs from Flavorpill to the NY Times. If a user selects only entertainment outlets, the experience will be limited to that information removing the possibility that the budding protests in the Middle East will make their way through. In this way, Flipboard’s ability to present information is only as good as the human programming it.


On the flip, The Daily is collected and published in one edition and experienced as such by all users.   Flipboard is Pandora. If you decide at some point that you no longer like the blues, some energy is required to remix. The Daily is radio. I worked in radio. We DJ’s lie to you all the time about playing requests. Doesn’t happen.



The Daily is a better way to get the day’s news for the target customer, the type of person who walks by his front door and misses that familiar stroll onto the lawn to pick up the morning paper. The Daily is a newspaper dressed up to look like a spaceship but a newspaper nonetheless.


Flipboard is not a very good way to get the day’s news. Why? Flipboard is the single-most pleasurable experience I’ve encountered on a touch-screen device for…browsing, but it is not a very good app for scanning. Flipboard is both an extremely pleasurable and tiresome experience. It’s a “fifteen minute app,” both in fame and in the maximum amount of time I can stand using it.


Business Model

Flipboard: free. The Daily: $.99 per issue of $39.99 per year



Being free, Flipboard is contributing to their future success. Adoption and usage provide data necessary to understand what’s working and what’s not. Once they figure this out, they have the opportunity to stake a claim in what becomes the norm furthering investment and continued growth. I’d personally like to see an algorithm that pushes the most discussed topics in my feed’s front and center.


As a subscription-based service, The Daily is going to have to significantly set itself apart from its free competitors. More than ever, we are curating our own news. At a Social Media Week panel, Adam Ostrow, Editor-in-Chief of Mashable said, “News Corp has been one of the few companies that’s been successful at charging for content through the Wall Street Journal, and while I think its a bit of a different audience obviously, people will pay for information that moves markets.”



In typical Murdoch fashion, the price is immediate even before the quality of the content has been proved out. This is called ego and the central differentiating feature again between old media and the start-up community. Start-ups focus on the user experience almost with little to no focus on how they will prove out revenue-positive results. Traditional media focuses on how to glean immediate profits before asking consumers if they like the experience. There must be some middle ground here.



If Murdoch succeeds, he’ll have proven that people willpay for the news, even if that news is so bland that it appears to have been generated by content bots. People will pay for information online and that content doesn’t have to be Wikileaks caliber. This is because many people don’t pay for the information itself, but the experience of consuming the information. (i.e. USA Today) For a very specific, very large and very deep-pocketed user base, the experience of reading a newspaper in some version of the old way is worth paying for.


Flipboard has gone the free route and faces that long road of gaining enough users to sell ads against eyeballs. I would have charged for Flipboard. It’s the exact type of novelty I’d pay for just as I paid for FLUD and Pulse. At its core, Flipboard isn’t a magazine. It’s a feed reader, an aggregator, be they social (Facebook), Flipboard-endorsed (FlipTech) or self-curated content. This is no different from Pulse, FLUD, Feedly, Google Reader, etc. Is Flipboard one of the more unique aggregators? Certainly. Can you make real money at aggregation? Ask Google News or Tumblr. It’s tough. Content creators will give you their feeds for free but the second you try to make money off them? Watch out.



Traditional Media vs. New Media

“I’ll bet on ‘produced’ content any day. Right now, everybody aggregates the news, but few are producing. This is where The Daily stands out. It’s early, everybody is learning, but Murdoch took the right approach…conceived from the users point of view, not trying to squeeze a newspaper onto a 9 inch screen.” Rishi Malhotra, Managing Partner 212MEDIA, a NYC-based media incubator.



Flipboard’s approach is acknowledging consumer’s changing behaviors with the widespread adoption of both the iPad and social networking. The Daily has delivered an electronic newspaper in a medium that begs for innovation. Advantage, Flipboard. It is looking toward the future, not reinventing the past.



Flipboard represents a revolutionary way to consume news. The simplicity of the thinking is this: extend the aggregation of news outside professional editors and customize that curation by user. The end links could be the same. For example, my friend may post a link to WSJ which would be curated through Flipboard. Same as reading the WSJ? No. In this case, the WSJ was hand-selected by my friend for some reason, elevating its status like a highlighter elevates text. No one wants to think his or her job is not specialized. Flipboard makes us all editors which empowers us all. The Daily continues with the control traditional media clings to. Control the message. Control the power. Too bad the power already ceded to the community a long time ago. Democracy isn’t just for Egypt any more kids. The news is now ours to create. Move over Wolf Blitzer…



From its old school subscription model to its print style ads to its broad sheet page layout, The Daily is 100% about making its users feel comfortable performing an activity that doesn’t really exist in the modern world: Reading – not scanning – yesterday’s news. This is precisely why Big Media wins in this case. They get their customer’s true needs and wants and are positioning themselves for a specific group of people with a high willingness to pay. That group just might be those 76MM Baby Boomers approaching retirement and ready to unwrap their next iPad.


The startup loses. Flipboard will basically appeal to the exact type of person who understands that it would be ridiculous to pay for yesterday’s news because they read yesterday’s news yesterday in real-time, as it happened. This is the same type of person who has enough feeds to demand a feed reader and needs that reader to be built for scanning and not browsing.





Is Ping the MySpace Music Slayer?

Since Apple’s Wednesday announcement of the social network for music, Ping, the service has been called a MySpace killer. At the core of the Apple fan boy or girl, is an ethos that Apple can and will continuously do it better than the next guy. This ethos has been built on the back of the company’s ability to blow away the smartphone marketplace with one swift punch to the balls called the iPhone. As I sit with my iPhone parked next to me and my MacBook Pro at my fingertips, I certainly classify as an Apple fan girl. In Ping’s case, the assumption that Apple always draws shotgun would be a mistake. In its current configuration, Ping is not and will not be a MySpace killer. Until some major problems are fixed, it will continue to live in the shadow cast by powerhouses like Pandora and MySpace.

If the principle challenge with the MySpace platform is hyper-personalization turning the site into the bedroom of an over-eager teenage girl, the problem with Ping is the insistence on an overly simple user interface. I may not need the many bells and whistles thrown at me on MySpace daily but I do need more features than Ping is offering.

Here are a few reasons why Ping won’t crush my MySpace usage anytime soon:

1) What Do I Care About Most?

Photo Credit: Micki Krimmel

It’s the Music Stupid.

Ping seems to think the answer to this question is the sharing of music. In actuality, I care most about the music itself. I sit writing this while listening to Arcade Fire’s new album on MySpace. Currently, this band doesn’t even exist on Ping. While I sit listening to The Suburbs in full, the band gets a “No Results” on Ping. Yes, yes. I know the service is still too new to accommodate the likes of indie rock but perhaps more should have been done to draw bands into the service before it was launched to the public. Mashable posted an interesting article on the challenges bands face in entering the Ping world vs. the ease at which bands enter their MySpace communities and post at will. The Ping user needs more of their favorite bands and the bands need an easier way to access the new platform.

Above the selection of bands, what I really want on a music page is…in short, music. I want to listen to full-length songs like I can on MySpace music. I can’t even find any music to listen to on Lady GaGa’s Ping page until I click over to the iTunes store. As we all know in the online world, and for those who don’t know, shortening the click-thru stream is necessary for lazy audiences everywhere to engage with your platform. Don’t make it more difficult for me to get to what I really want: the music. And once I’m finally there, I get a 30 second nugget rather than what I really want: the full song. Let’s see a side-by-side Ping to MySpace comparison:



2) Follow?

Sir Steve Jobs attracted me to the platform with his promise that 160MM global iTunes users would be there waiting for me. I fire up the upgrade, click on the attractive Ping logo with the chat bubbles and find Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, and Rick Rubin staring back at me. Now, I love the GaGa as much as the next girl, but what about my actual friends? Where are they?

Apple promised a Facebook Connect feature allowing me to easily search for my Facebook friends. Not so much… If you haven’t seen the most recent press, Apple played a bit aggressively with Facebook and was denied access to the API. On Kara Swisher’s blog, All Things D, she spoke to Steve Jobs moments after the Apple announcements and was told by Jobs that Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to.” In essence, when Facebook’s API is called upon with over 100 million requests a day, Facebook requires a monetary agreement to handle the overload on their systems. Apple and Facebook could not come to an agreement on this and hence no Facebook for Ping.

Until this is resolved, I can only find my friends by entering in their email address one by one until I find someone. Suffice to say, this is the real “onerous” process and simply unmanageable by anyone who has a job. Yesterday, my friend from Berlin tracked me down so I officially have one real Ping friend. This is only one hiccup with the service but the most sizeable one. Until this one issue is resolved, Ping will have problems truly being a “social network for music” without connecting its 160MM worldwide users together.

3) What type of Music Defines You?

On the initial fire of the Ping community, you’re asked to pick a collection of music which will be used on your profile to define you to your friends. I don’t take this process lightly at all. Being someone who previously worked in the music industry, I take my collection and particular music taste very seriously. The user has the choice between a manual selection of music or an automatically pre-selected one chosen by an Apple algorithm. Being that this was an Apple interface, my expectation was that Apple would choose my taste better than I could possibly define my own. Yup, not the case.

Instead of looking at my music library, which would be the obvious choice, Ping seems to favor my purchased iTunes items, surfacing selections which may not be something I’d like to define my musical taste by. Selfish selection by Apple really. Imagine you buy Justin Bieber for your 12-year-old niece and all of a sudden it surfaces as your favorite music. Bieber fail. Manual entry is certainly a requirement.

**Please note: This would never happen on this MacBook of course. I wouldn’t allow this sort of download on my machine. Just sayin…

4) Sharing Begins & Ends in iTunes

Hey Apple, just want to let you know about these fantastic social networks known as Facebook and Twitter. You may have heard about them? Only about 500 MM users use the first one. Just thought I’d let you know, as you seem to care not for the likes of those little guys. You may have 160 MM worldwide users but before you get on that soapbox, Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook dominion holds down 500 MM globally. When I go to “like” something in Ping, I share that like with the Ping community alone. There are currently no sharing features with Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and with that list being the three primary social networks, seems Ping is lacking a little in the “social” department. Apple seems to be acting like a possessive boyfriend with this product rather than truly building a social experience for music.

5) News Feed Overload

After seeing a recommendation from Alexandra Petsavas, my favorite music supervisor who brilliantly filled an entire episode of The O.C. with Beck B sides, I decided to download a few tracks from the Canadian band, The Acorn. Now, my entire feed is filled with my love for The Acorn even though I downloaded a few tracks off of one album. I wish there could be more control in terms of what is surfaced and what isn’t. I don’t need every song purchase listed in my feed especially around the holidays when I decide that The Time Life Christmas CD’s are a must-have.

So is Ping the MySpace Killer? If you enjoy sitting in enclosed spaces talking to yourself about your favorite music, then yes, Ping wins.

Alright, I’m off. MySpace just threw me an “Are You Still Listening?” curve ball and I need to change this song.

“We’re sorry, the number you have reached is not in service at this time. Please check the number or try your call again.” Telephone Lady GaGa

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