This week, it feels like everyone with any interest in technology, digital media or "social" is over on Google+, talking about Google+. So I'm taking a moments break from Google+ and putting together our weekly round-up of the things you should know about the service, here are a few other stories from the digital world this week. With no more mention of Google+.
For the last couple of weeks, we had a few stories about the 'death of print.' This week, we have a couple of signs pointing to the death of a digital format, as optical discs take a couple of hits. Firstly, the in-car stereo – having moved from tapes to CDs, then to CD multichangers – appears to be going fully digital, as Ford announce that they are scrapping CD players in their cards, replacing them with a USB socket for iPods and other digital players to be plugged in, with plans to integrate an "infotainment hub" that will turn the car into a WiFi hotspot, able to access online music libraries.
Presumably, drivers of the future will be able to use these kinds of services for more than just music, as their robot drivers keep them free to see what their circles are up to.
(Sorry, sorry, sorry. No more Google+.)
Meanwhile, Apple have released some new computers. Although the MacBook Air has been around for a while now, dropping the CD/DVD drive in favour of either USB or online data transfer, the new line-up includes a revised Mac Mini which has also dropped the optical disc drive. It seems that, as far as Apple is concerned at least, shiny discs are dead – not only are they dropping the hardware, but the release of the new OSX Lion this week was only available as a download from the new Mac Apps Store. At around a 4Gb download, it might seem like an unreasonable requirement for consumers who want to upgrade; nevertheless, reports are that over a million Apple users downloaded the upgrade within 24 hours.
(Its also interesting to look at the sort of features Apple have brought back to the Mac OS from the iPhone and iPad. My theory is that an integrated system is on the way. OSX + iOS = OS Xi?)
Along with the hardware and software, Apple had their quarterly earnings call, which revealed (again) some impressive numbers. iPads are now outselling Macs (9.2m in 3 months)–and Mac sales appear to be growing within a contracting PC market. The Guardian has more here.
For Apple fans desperate to use Facebook on their iPads in a native app, it seems that the wait may soon be over. Interestingly, the news doesn't come from Facebook or Google, but from iOS enthusiasts tinkering with the code.
I'm just wondering whether we will have as long a wait for Google to get their Google+ iPad app ready. (Sorry- thats the last one; no more Google+.)
But as we have talked about here before, understanding the mobile industry and understanding the mobile media landscape are quite different – you need to understand exactly what numbers that you are looking at. For example, there is a difference between smartphone sales (new phones) and smartphone penetration (phones in people's pockets.) Looking at sales, there is a difference between sales to consumers and sales to the channel – again, the difference between phones on shop shelves and phones in people's pockets is quite important if you're looking at mobile media. So its interesting to see figures from comScore that suggest that Android about is about to overtake iOS in the UK, in terms of market penetration.
Both have overtaken Nokia's Symbian (which for several years has held the #1 spot in the UK), as 42% of UK mobile consumers now use a smartphone, compared to just 27% a year ago. Or to put it another way, by the end of the year we will be at the point where it is reasonable to expect online consumers to have access to the mobile internet as well. But its the pace of Android's growth that is really stunning. It will be interesting to see what Apple have in store this autumn for the anticipated iPhone 5, and how iOS5, iCloud, iMessage and Twitter integration will compete with Google's… er… new social services. Which I won't name here…
Moving on… and Twitter have hit a new record at the peak of the Women's world cup final, when tweets hit a rate of 7,196 tweets per second. But a number more interesting to industry watchers is the $800m Twitter raised in a round of funding, half of which will go to cashing out early investors and employees (meaning that Twitter will still be in some control of how they can sell their stakes in an organised and legal manner.) The funding puts Twitter at a value of $8bn – which is impressive for a business that still lacks a clear and solid business model (although there are some interesting numbers circulating about levels of engagement with some of their advertising formats.)
Finally, a word from the president, with some interesting analysis of responses to a tweet from "BO" earlier this month.
This was historic for two reasons: it was the first time that a President has ever posted directly to a social network from the White House. Second, it was the first time the President's directly asked for feedback from users of a social network.
The analysis looks at levels of engagement, who the people who responded are, and how different types of people are responding in different ways. It will be interesting to watch how the White House's social media strategy develops, and whether we should expect to see more direct engagement from "BO".
I wonder if anyone has sent him an invitation to Google+ yet?