With the video on demand market growing rapidly already, but expecting to see an explosion as "connected TVs" become more prevalent, it seemed that the big players in the market were already lining up against one another; Apple with iTunes, Google with YouTube, LoveFilm (owned by Amazon) and Netflix with established DVD rental businesses expecting to transition into online (as well as the TV broadcasters, film studios etc.)
But despite their scale in selling physical media from the supermarket shelves, I don't think too many people were expecting Tesco to be a major player in the UK VOD market. But with an 80% stake in VOD service Blinkbox, it looks clear that they could be in a very interesting position to make a very powerful link between video advertising and online shopping.
Particularly interesting in light of the Blinkbox announcement are some interesting experiments in what can be done with their own broadcast channel as well, potentially turning TV advertising into a true response medium by allowing customers to respond to TV advertising by adding an item to their Tesco online shopping basket from their Freeview box.
And that isn't even starting on what could be done with their enormous Clubcard database…
If true, the service would apparently sit alongside YouTube’s existing film rental service, which allows people to watch more than 400 independent ad-supported titles. How Google would implement a payment system is currently unclear, but Google's recently announced OnePass system seems like a safe bet.
This would put YouTube into direct competition with established film-on-demand services such as Netflix and Lovefilm (who last week announced a partnership with Walt Disney to add their films to its online, on-demand service.)
Music video site Vevo has officially launched in the UK, opening up access to the website, as well as mobile and tablet apps. Although some of Vevo's videos have been available in the UK through the Vevo on YouTube channel (although not all have been accessible within the UK), access to the Vevo.com website has previously been restricted to the US and Canada.
The site is a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Abu Dhabi Media, with EMI licencing its content. (Warner Music Group — the third of the "big four" major labels — is distributing videos through the rival MTV Networks.) The site aims create an attractive environment for advertisers, providing offical, high-quality versions of the latest music videos with referral links to purchase tracks on Amazon and iTunes.
Just a few days after the "Like" button's first birthday, Facebook have launched a new button for website owners to add to their sites, enabling users to easily share links with selected groups and individuals on Facebook, but without posting it to their public profile.
The key difference between a "like" and "send" is that, instead of something that all your friends might see, users can "send" something they want to be sure will be seen by specific friends or groups. It can be implemented by website owners either as a standalone "send" button, or in conjunction with the Facebook "like" button (as you should be able to see at the bottom of this post; feel free to send this to your Facebook friends to try it out— and of course, "like" this post to see the difference!)
The button seems to be another step towards Facebook's aim at being at the centre of its users' online social activity; the company announced its social inbox last November, aiming to integrate Facebook with traditional email services.
For brands who might have previously thought that they didn't have an interesting enough profile to warrant a Facebook presence, the ability for users to "privately share" an interest should be enough to rethink the ways they are using technologies like the Open Graph to engage with Facebook's 650+ million users.
A study by London School of Economics and the European Union to inform evidence-based policy in youth usage of social networking sites has been published.
The findings were particularly surprising for the UK, where Facebook — which only allows registration for users who declare themselves to be over 13 years old— dominates social networking site usage. 43% of 9-12 year olds who use the internet said that they had a profile on any social networking site (compared to an average of 38% across all countries studied), and 34% saying that they had a Facebook profile.
Usage was even higher among older children, with 88% of 13-16 year olds who use the internet saying they had a social networking site profile (compared to 77% across all countries studied.)
The research also looked into young people's awareness of privacy settings and safety-related features, finding that 45% of 11-12-year-olds don't know how to change privacy settings (30% of 13-14-year-olds and 22% of 15-16-year-olds.)
The full study can be downloaded here (PDF)
Although it seems that the only numbers growing faster than Tablet sales are the predictions of future tablet sales, not everyone is feeling the effects of their explosive growth. According to report from AdAge, company employees at Conde Nast are "acknowledging that conditions aren't quite right yet to deliver the ideal app editions at the kind of scale that advertisers want", as publishers are slowing down their rush into tablet-specific formats.
"It's a shift," one Conde publisher said. "The official stance was we're going to get all our magazines on the iPad because this is going to be such an important stream. The new change is maybe we can slow it down. In my opinion it makes Conde look smart because we have the ambition, but we're not rushing."
"They're not all doing all that well, so why rush to get them all on there?" the publisher added.
As well as the 30% cut that Apple take, Adobe (who develop the digital publishing software used by many publishers, including Conde Nast, to develop iPad editions of their magazines) have announced a new pricing structure which includes a "distribution service fee", which has quickly come under criticism for being too expensive— especially for small publishers.
While the tablet market is still relatively small at the moment, the very nature of the tablet is a blank slate; while the size of the market is expected to grow extremely quickly, the patterns of usage that develop will depend on the types of applications that are available to them. It remains to be seen whether that will mean news aggregators (such as Zite, Flipboard and Pulse) which collect stories from the web and package them together in a customised bundle for the user), or publisher apps which combine professional content from offline publishers with rich media features (and tablet-specific advertising creative in a premium media environment.)
Figures from ComScore covering the total footprint of the major smartphone operating systems (accounting for phones, tablets and other connected media devices) reveal that Apple's iOS is twice the size of Google's Android in Europe. Although Android has been growing rapidly (as we have previously noted here), particularly over the last year, with 16.1 million iPhones across the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, Android is
These findings are in contrast to a recent YouGov study, which found that Android had overtaken iPhone users in the UK- a country which has traditionally seen particularly high iPhone takeup. However, as we noted, the YouGov survey may have had some flaws in its methodology, while ComScore's ongoing tracking study is more rigorous in its data capture.
The figures from Comscore follow their similar release last week, revealing that the iOS platform was 59% larger in the US than Android.
For anyone looking at the rapid growth of Android and wondering whether application development would be better channelled into Google's platform than Apple's, these figures give an important context to that decision. (Of course, assuming that they already have a website that is optimised for mobile phones and tablet PCs already as an essential first step.) Appcelerator-IDC Mobile Developer Survey report shows that the iOS platform is also the most popular with app developers- with Android a close second.
Is your smartphone recording your every move?
With the news coming out that iPhones are not just recording users' movements but storing them without encryption, a lot of attention in the tech press has been given to the privacy implications of the latest wave of smartphones.
Stern letters were sent to Apple demanding to know what this data was being recorded for by Attourney general Lisa Madigan and Senator Al Franken.
Then it was revealed that Android phones store similar data (although not for as long). Some took the opportunity to take a look at some apps using the microphone to record and processing that data to learn interesting things about the users' location.
It seems likely that whatever privacy hole has been revealed will be plugged by Apple's next software update (It isn't clear whether Apple's location tracking is being sent back to Apple, or merely stored on the device itself; Steve Jobs is alleged to have claimed that Apple aren't tracking users— but that Google is.)
With location-based marketing still in its infancy and privacy concerns an obvious threat to its growth, the future of "background" tracking (as opposed to explicit "I am here" signals such as checking in on Facebook Places or Foursquare) is yet to be seen.