Archive for category Smart phones

Taking The Internet Everywhere Changes The Communication Landscape Yet Again

Everyone knows that the ability to communicate is the foundation on which all society is ultimately built.  That’s why the Internet has made the world so much smaller than it once was – when you can communicate easily with someone halfway around the world, the distance of miles doesn’t seem nearly so great as when it was a hindrance to that interaction.  The interesting thing is that, while it’s done this, it hasn’t often done much of anything to make communication with people close to you that much easier.

Or so it would seem.  The trick here is that communication was already so much easier than when dealing with someone on the other side of the globe that the improvement isn’t all that great in comparison.  But it is there.  For starters, you do get email items a lot faster than anything through parcel post.  The improvement is still significant whenever direct personal interaction is complicated by distance or some other factor.  And then there are services like Twitter that make it convenient to send a quick message to everyone (at least everyone who’s paying attention) without having to make a lot of different calls.

With Facebook buying up Beluga, it’s likely that this is about to get a lot more effective.  Since Beluga is kind of in between Facebook for your smart phone (there’s already a Facebook mobile app, by the way) and Twitter in what it does,  it’s going to be a lot easier to maintain all of your Facebook connections while away from your computer.  So, with such a good idea being supported by the leading social media company, communicating with people near you by means of the Internet is about to become more convenient and more effective than the other methods that used to serve just as well.

For companies, this opens up a whole new facet of social media marketing.  While you’ll still need to include both main line SM and mobile systems in your efforts, you’ll be able to hybrid your efforts as well to reach people who want the in-depth communicability with the simplicity of short messages sent out to lots of people.  That makes this a real opportunity for anyone wanting to use every chance they can get to promote their companies.  This kind of innovation is why the Internet is able to reinvent society on both the global and local scale.


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Taking Care Of Your Site’s Needs: The Smart Phone

With the smart phone becoming one of the most ubiquitous pieces of personal equipment wherever you go, it’s important to make sure that your website is ready to deal with this new client base.  Yes, it does count as a different demographic from people browsing with their computers.  Here’s why:

You have to have a different website programming in order for smart phones to be able to read it.

Part of this is because of the differences of a smart phone’s screen from the average computer screen.  The smaller size means that the pages viewed have to be formatted differently so that everything isn’t  one big left-right scroll bar.  Part of it is because of the basic differences in the operational computer languages of phones as opposed to “normal” computers.  And part of it is because people are going to be more prone to make snap decisions when they’re dealing with you through their phones than they would over the computer.

The problem here is that, unless you know what you’re doing, you’re going to be hard pressed to make the changes you need without wrecking either the smart phone version or the main version of your website.  When you’ve got everything taken care of properly, though, you’ve literally opened the door to a whole new demographic – people who aren’t using their computers to look at your website.  This may not cause a dramatic increase in the amount of business you do in a short time, but it’ll still bring more paying customers to the table.

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Happy New Year, Internet!

2010 has been an interesting year for the Internet.  Google’s made several bids at major expansions – more than one of which have already proven to be complete flubs.  Facebook has faced scandal over failures in its famous privacy policy (you know that’s why it beat out MySpace).  China has all but declared war on most of the top websites.  Yahoo! has staggered along amid mockery and diminishing popularity.

SEO has changed, too.  You still need to keep track of things like meta-tags and link building, but social media marketing and even video SEO have taken up a lot of the focus that used to go into how much you could get away with without being marked as spam.  Just 12 months ago, social media was the Next Big Thing that everyone was trying to figure out how to use effectively, and now its becoming a proven method of courting return visits from people and even first time stops from their friends.

There have been virus scares on a lot of important websites.  Someone even used one to attack Iran and a number of other countries en masse!  It’s safe to say (pun intended) that the Internet has revealed that it’s every bit as dangerous as the concrete jungle.

But things aren’t all bleak.  As I just said, social media is stabilizing as a way to market your company.  Smart phones are evolving to use satellite technology in addition to cell towers.  A guy made a real fortune selling virtual real estate.  Most of the times a major site has been caught in an embarrassing situation, it’s managed to take care of things and save face.  And the Internet has really proven how it’s become the front line in freely expressing yourself.

I don’t know whether the Internet’s come a long way or whether this has all been just a small step in the grand scheme of things, but it’s been quite a year.  I’m sure that you’re looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring to the online world as much as I am.

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Brave New Online World

Well, we’ve said all along that the Internet is changing.  Now the Gartner Symposium has proven it:  they’ve pointed out how even email is changing in light of social media.  You’ve probably noticed that to some extent.  Updates on what some of the contacts in your address book are doing, perhaps?

Well, this isn’t the only way in which the Internet’s changing things.  A while back, Sococo released what’s essentially a social media program for the office.  The idea is that you use it rather than chase all over the place to find someone, and a thousand other things that it can simplify for you.

So, it’s not surprising that the standard email providers are getting on the bandwagon as well, or that SM has been trying to facilitate that blending.  The easier it is for people to communicate with each other, the more the Internet does the job it’s actually intended for.

There’s always been some level of talk that one day computers are going to be like you see in the old Jetsons cartoons, where you press a button and it’s a calculator or you press another and it’s a live video conference with your boss.  Well, it’s almost here.  The software is developing, and the hardware is so good that you can almost feel Mr. Spacely reaching out from the screen and grabbing you by the collar.  It’s just a matter of time now before everyone’s wondering why we don’t have flying cars too.

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Everyone Should Hate Spam

Anyone who maintains a blog has seen comments come in that look like they might not actually have anything to do with what you’re talking about.  “Hey, you should try this thing I found on” ring a bell for anyone?  I realize I haven’t talked about this in a while, but it’s on my mind today and I thought I’d share a few things on the matter.

For starters, anyone who actually wants their clients to do well should avoid spamming whenever possible – if a search engine tumbles to the fact that spam is being used, they’ll penalize the site that’s benefiting from it in any number of ways including removing them from a search listing entirely (the searching equivalent of capital punishment, for those who don’t think spam’s a serious matter).

It gets even trickier with the rise of social media in the online community.  People are actually using Facebook and the online games connected with it than Google and all of its subsidiary sites.  That must seem like a ripe field for black hat operators ready to do just about anything to promote their clients.  Even for the rest of us it presents a very treacherous path to walk that can easily see you sliding off into the abyss.  Learning what to look for in your own efforts is the first and possibly most important step in cleaning out the spam from your own content.

Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot you can do beyond that and just clearing your spam filter every so often so that it isn’t stacked up.  I wonder, does a link that’s stored in a spam folder still count towards the ranking of the site to which it sends you?  That would be one for the various search engines to answer, I suppose, but I still don’t want to have them just sitting there in my account.

The interesting thing, though, is that you can now get spam on your smart phone, so that there’s no waking moment when you aren’t at risk of a polluted Internet.  As soon as you open it to your homepage, you’re going to find yourself faced with a lot of links that have nothing to do with what you’re after and some that may even offend your values.  All in the name of helping some company do better online.

As search engine optimizers, it’s perfectly natural that we should want to help our clients be more visible online.  It’s even right, because that’s what they’re paying us for.  But it should never be done at the expense of the people we’re trying to get to go to our client’s with their business.  If you’ll forgive me a Star Wars analogy, black hat techniques are “quicker, easier, more seductive” but in the end will leave your clients looking all rotten and gross, cackling “good, good” whenever someone launches another spam campaign on their behalf.

That doesn’t ultimately do anyone any good.

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Smart Sat-Phone: Yes And No

Well, you can’t fault AT&T for offering their clients more products.  Even so, it sure seems like they’re putting out second rate material in the process.  On Tuesday, they released their new smart phone, the TerreStar Genus, which has some satellite phone capabilities.  They’re marketing it under the banner of providing coverage absolutely anywhere in the United States, even where there are no cell towers available for use – doing so with all the capabilities expected of smart phones.

However, there’s a big problem with it as well:  there’s only one satellite on this phone’s network.  That means that anyone trying to use it outside of normal cell coverage has to make sure that they have a direct, unimpeded line of sight between them and that one satellite, even though it’s so far away they’ll never actually see it.  Most likely they plan to launch more satellites in the future; but there’s no mention of that in the article, so it’s anybody’s guess when there will be more of them in the sky.

Setting aside how unreliable the satellite capability is, making a hybrid satellite/smart phone actually is a good idea.  Having limitations on where you can enjoy all the benefits of modern phone technology is a problem that countless people have experienced just by finding themselves outside the range of any cell towers at an inconvenient moment.  It may well be that someday we’ll be using our smart phones exclusively on satellite networks.

However, that raises another issue as well.  At what point will we become so dependent on our smart phones that we’re back to square one in terms of having a digital service watching everything we do and quietly violating our right to privacy?  Or perhaps losing our ability to look up more than just an anecdotal amount of information about anything?  We’ve already run the gauntlet on both of these at least once because of powerful search engines, so what would happen if we could check “anything” from anywhere in the globe rather than have to take the time to actually do some digging of our own?

I’m afraid I don’t have an answer on that one.  Even though Harrisburg University ran its test to see how its students would do for a whole week without social media through any of their computers, that doesn’t even begin to approach the level of change that could be brought about by irrevocably tying your cell phone and the Internet no matter where you are.

It could well be that the benefits will far outweigh any negative aspects that come about as a result.  It could be that this is going to be the event that finally brings about the technological dystopia of which so many Twentieth century authors wrote.  We’ll just have to wait for a service with more satellites in its network in order to find out.

But a question that everyone ought to be asking themselves when they look at buying one, or just any new smart phone, is how much they’re willing to deal with someone watching them while they’re doing their online business with their cell phones.  Once upon a time, everyone would get up in arms over the prospect of a phone call being “recorded for quality assurance”.  Nowadays that’s standard practice in one form or another for just about everything done through communications technology.  If satellite-based smart phones do prove to be the wave of the future, there will be practically no avoiding being recorded and followed by the Big Brothers of the Internet.

Recently both Google and the U.S. government have been accused of spying on people in the name of maintaining some sort of quality control, but perhaps they’re not the only ones who find the line blurry over what’s OK and what isn’t.  The problem with having everything networked together is that we’re all suddenly living in glass houses whether we like it or not, even though we can’t actually see into other people’s lives as easily as some can see into ours.

Ultimately, people need to stop and think about how much access to the rest of the world they need and how much they’re willing to give someone else – maybe someone they’ll never be aware of – access to them.  What would you do with a smart satellite phone?

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Would You Go Without Facebook?

This week, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology comes back from a week long blackout on Facebook and other social media.  They ran the “program” in an effort to get their students to think about how to use their time on such sites effectively and to decide whether it’s something that’s actually important to them.  Of course, it’s also worth noting that the faculty is just as happy to have their social sites back as the students are.

The fact of the matter is, this experiment has consequences that reach a lot farther than the classroom.  First off, it has obvious implications in the workplace:  social media is currently the big thing in terms of getting your name out there for both potential customers and people you’ve done business with before to see.  However, it can also be a way for employees to goof off rather than work while on the clock.

It should also be taken into account for its effect on your free time.  Some people spend hours on end (or just hours sum total) doing things on Facebook and Twitter, and other social media, rather than on the things they used to do for rest and recreation.  The upside is that they’re able to keep more thoroughly in touch with friends that they aren’t close to geographically but very close to emotionally.

It even has a bearing on advertising, because of how popular it’s been recently in online markets.  If people start spending less time on their favorite sites, all the ads and social media programs run through those sites will far less effective at bolstering business – and might even wind up being a waste of money in some cases.

That said, places like Facebook have definitely proven their worth in terms of how much they can help some people to get their jobs done.  The same people who planned HU’s blackout use social media for networking with each other and potential recruits to their university – the same is true at pretty much all other universities in the world, so it’s not likely that this experiment will be repeated in this setting very often.

However, there are already a number of companies that have banned the use of social media (at least outside of the departments dedicated to using them) form the workplace.  The interesting thing is that other companies are now starting to use their own kind of social media in order to make work easier for their employees.  Perhaps it’s all a delicate balancing act between spending one’s time on a new resource and wasting work time on some online toy.

In the end, Harrisburg University’s experiment isn’t probably going to change much of anything.  Too many people have taken a vested interest in social media, both personally and professionally, for a simple “you’re spending too much time here” to stop them from doing so – and people would just start doing the same on something else if they actually did, because that’s human nature.  It may make some people start regulating their time on sites like Facebook to some extent, but probably just as many people would use those sites with a renewed passion if they were subjected to and then released from such a blackout.

Even if people still need to get used to the idea of how to spend their time on it wisely, social media is definitely here to stay.  It’s recently been proven that people like spending time on places like Facebook than they do on the various search engines they can use.  “Don’t Stay There Too Long” isn’t going to change the sites people want to use, they’re going to have to decide through their own experiences how long is too long.

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Does Everyone Know Where You Are?

These days, you can do almost anything online, including letting people know where you are and what you’re doing – that’s a central part of why Twitter started, after all, to let people know in an instant what you’re up to.  It’s becoming a prominent part of keeping up with social media, because of how much location is a part of whatever you’re doing.  “I’m going to the mall, anybody want to meet me?” isn’t very useful without the location.

However, there are lots of people who’re just as happy to keep their location information down to a minimum, too.  People who’ve lived their whole lives in the Internet age seem to be less subject to this, but it’s still a perfectly understandable phenomenon.  There are predators online just like everywhere else, so a lot of people aren’t comfortable with the idea of making themselves easy to find for anyone they don’t already know.

Of course, there’s also the advent of pan-Internet scavenger hunts and a new kind of coupon campaign connected to this, too.  The companies that have are more active at keeping track of people’s locations are doing everything they can to encourage people to use them all the time, no matter whether they have to use incentives with retail partners or gameplay to do so.  Sites like have become very popular as a result.

Perhaps it’s just a matter of who cares whether a lot of people know exactly where they are and who don’t that will determine whether this is a trend or a turning point.  There are solid arguments on both sides, ranging from the idea that such a detailed level of info reduces the user’s safety to the point that it makes spontaneous gatherings a lot more possible.  Nevertheless, the point remains that location-based media is here to stay, whether they continue to increase in popularity or not.

With the advent of phone access to social media, it’s a safe bet that services like these are only going to become more available as time passes.  The fact that younger people are a lot more ready to use them than older people are may wind up spurring them on to greater and greater success, too (see our previous post on seniors using Facebook and Twitter).  It’ll be interesting to see where this takes social media and the Internet as a whole in the future.

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Real Time All The Time

You’ve undoubtedly heard about the heated competition between Droid X and iPhone 4.  While iPhone 4 is still working through a few minor kinks and the Droid X yet to come, the jury is still out.  Both phones are, at least to the standard of technology today, state of the art.  The original Droid tried to mimic the iPhone and the iPhone was just the iPhone. The smartphone wars going on between Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint don’t seem to have a clear winner as of yet, but it certainly becomes interesting when we see how the Droid X really does when it’s released.

But what do these smart phones truly mean for its users?  It simply means this: we as users are being used as a test pool for real time search.  Technology is getting faster and faster, and smarter and smarter.  It’s also allowing us to do more with the browser on our phones today than at this point last year.  With the implementation of Facebook and Twitter on your smartphone you can relay information anywhere you want. While this concept isn’t new, it’s refined.  Refined in such a way that the speed is quicker and the tools are more enhanced to allow us to do more with what we have—and faster, too.

Twitter and Facebook are great, but it doesn’t compare to being able to surf the Internet at quick speeds.  Find a restaurant in the middle of nowhere or search movie times when you want to catch a movie at the spur of the moment. Your options are limitless when it comes to have a highly sophisticated smartphone, but with great power comes great responsibility.

As the sale of smartphones go up, so too does the use of mobile Internet.

What does this mean to you?

It simply means real time search is real.  Many SEO experts claim real time search is overrated and that only newsworthy items apply to this.  Not anymore.  The science of it makes sense.  It’s far more convenient for people to search the Internet when they’re out and about because they can.  No more booting up computers or dealing with connectivity issues.

This isn’t to say there’s still no value in searching from your computer.  It’s still important and it’s still necessary, but we simply can’t ignore the cards that technology has dealt us. Smartphones are here to stay.  There’s no disputing that and real time search is more of a reality than people think.

It’s now more crucial to understand the market in a different way.



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