Digital

What’s going on with Google Plus?

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The New York Times had a Q&A with Larry Page after the Google I/O keynote, where many people – myself included – were surprised that Google Plus was not mentioned.

Apparently, it is now a part of the Chromecast campaign.

Also, unlike what the Apple-powered press writes, Google is more committed to social than ever.

With Amazon, Apple and Microsoft out of the social game, Facebook and Google will – along with Twitter – remain the big three for a long time coming.

Here is the segment, where Larry Page reflects on Google Plus:


Q.
What’s going on with Google Plus?

A.
Mr. Page: I think there’s a lot of things going on with Google Plus. I’m a very excited user of it. You saw some demos showing how it works with Chromecast — that’s one of the things I’ve been excited about. The service has been growing tremendously. People are always like, “Oh, what’s going on?” But for us, we’re superexcited about it because it’s a big service, growing continuously, since we launched it, at a high rate, and we’re making it better and better every day.

Q.
Is “social” as important to you now as it was two years ago?

A.
Mr. Page: Yes, if anything, probably more important. We have a very excited, dedicated community. People forget we’re able to make our services better by understanding your relationships, making sharing work and understanding identity. These are deep and important things for us as a company. When people ask about Google Plus they think about it as, “I’m going to the stream.” For us, Google Play reviews are part of Google Plus, too. We see all those things growing and being important for us.

Here is an excerpt from Wired, that talks to I-want-to-be-Google-CEO Sundar Pichai, who is a little more vague in his answer.

WIRED: A couple of years ago the message was that Google + was the company core. These days it seems that Google Now is driving the company.

Pichai: Google is all about information. So the notion of using and presenting information in the right point at the right time to users is what in essence describes Google.

Also, read Bradley Horowitz (VP of Product af Google+) 3-year birthday greeting here.

On a final note: look at the huge differences in numbers between Facebook and Google Plus at three years old:

Simple Comparison MAUs

UPDATE! This infographic was just released:

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You can follow me on Google+ here and on Twitter here.

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Digital

Internet servers and Internet cables in the Nordic region have become more geo-political after the Snowden revelations

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The cool air, renewable energy and available real estate have made the Nordic region attractive for data centers, that rely heavily on natural cooling and cheap energy. Both Facebook and Google have placed strategic server hubs there. However, this relocation of server farms to remote areas requires more cabling and the arrival of the cloud, the Internet of Things and more demand for online access and speed in general add to the demand of power cabling.

But after the Snowden revelations, countries are now more aware of the threat that the U.S. is listening in on them, and local governments are now routing the cables with a geo-political approach to avoid U.S. interference. This decision also involves bypassing U.S. friendly countries such as Sweden and Denmark. Finland just decided to install a cable directly from the land of the midnight sun and the thousand lakes to the privacy conscious Germany. They did not want to pass through Sweden on their way. (Remember that Sweden is the de facto Embassy for the U.S. in North Korea and that Sweden also is controversially implicated in the Julian Assange affair).

Incidentally, Iceland is offering server farms in former NATO bases with a security policy that is seemingly more U.S. critic than Sweden. The EU has made a plan with Brazil to run an underwater sea cable between the European and the South American continents without the reach of the U.S. And the Ukraine crisis is not only about gas pipes. Internet cable structure is also a part of the complex political pathwork there.

And don’t get me started on the Bitcoin backbone. When the cryptocurrency goes mainstream and first mover countries in North Europe begin to adopt the block chain platform, the demand for cool data centers and secure international cabling will be even more critical. Already now, the availability of high speed Internet access is one of the most important parameters for a successful, modern society. Now, the demand for cheap and cool data centers for cloud computing is another important aspect. In the future, which is now, secure connections will be an integral part of that package for both governments, consumers, organizations and businesses.

And with the advent of the block chain to the masses, next generation Internet technology wil take a whole new meaning altogether.

Photography: Google promotional photo.

You can follow me on Google+ here and on Twitter here.

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Movies

The film industry distrupted by crowdfunding, digital distribution and social media

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By Ronnie Rocket

The movie industry is going through the same disruptive process as the music industry did a few years ago. The end result, or at least the new scenario, will likely reflect their audio counterpart. Fans will become producers through crowdfunding (they already are in large numbers), digital distribution will mean immediate access and more niche products and social media will change the marketing structure fundamentally.

Hopefully, the future will mean more people in the movie theaters as we have seen the live music scene boom as a side effect of digitalization. On one hand, we will have acccess to all movies all the time. On the other hand, going to the movies will be an extraordinary, social event that will be more valuable in our hectic lives.

“I learned from working closely with filmmakers like Banksy that core fans want a more direct connection to films and filmmakers. Filmmakers are now realizing, as musicians did years ago, that the key to their success lies in having a direct communication with their community year round rather than ‘film by film’.” – Marc Schiller, BOND/360

The New York based promotion agency BOND/360 just released a ‘dynamic whitepaper’ on Medium with some eyepopping findings based on big data. (My new best friend on Facebook, director/writer genius Paul Schrader, shared it on Facebook.)

Through their marketing works with movies like Senna, they have analyzed their experiences from working with independent films and published seven substantial trends:

1. Revenues from traditional marketplaces falling rapidly – self service platforms rising rapidly
2. Niche content is the new mainstream – high revenue for ‘speciality’ films
3. International sales agents in steep recline – self serving platforms released globally
4. Free marketing on Facebook is over – but Facebook is a good place to spend money
5. Social media is getting more visual – Instagram, Pinterest and and Vine on the rise
6. Crowdfunding is community building – Kickstarter and IndieGoGo more social than Facebook and Twitter
7. PR does not sell movies anymore – social sharing does

My personal notes to these findings are based on a similar attitude to not only the movie business, but to business in general.

Obviously, with digital distribution, the marketplace will be instantly global. But this will also make the local movie theater, especially art houses and state-of-the-art theaters even more valuable as social destinations. This is the storytelling that the stakeholders must use as their starting point. It is no longer the access to the specific product. It’s the social value of finding the movie, getting the tickets, watching the movie, eating the popcorn, discussing the movie afterwards. Kissing, if you’re lucky.

This is the big chance for independent films. Low cost production and low cost distrubution will trigger a punk rock effect in the movie industry. This trend began with cheap HD videocameras and will continue with cheap marketing and distribution. Awesome talent will be discovered. Not only people with access to money will make movies.

The sales process of selling anything is undergoing dramatic changes, too. The old days of doing sales at conferences and major festivals will continue but there will be a huge market and tons of deals made at new gatherings with a more technological approach. Culture and tech markets will merge with a hunger for content and platforms coming together.

The movie industry have relied too much on a free ride with promotion on Facebook, and, to a lesser extent, IMDb (the movie database owned by Amazon). They have overlooked people powered platforms like Wikipedia and Reddit. The smart marketeers will look to these services and also discover the hidden gem that is Facebook Groups (still free and uncensored).

The movie industry should know this. A picture says a thousand words. Imagine what a 20 second video clip or a gif animation can do. The curators and editors will have to take a more visual approach and the design part will be more and more important. Not only for aestethics and usability, but also for basic wow effect and marketing punch.

Along with Wikipedia and YouTube, Kickstarter is the most important thing that have happened to the Internet. Crowdfunding projects are not only changing the dynamics of the funding of ideas. They are also creating social communities that are powerful marketing orchestras.

The days are over when people will read a review in the newspaper and flock to the theater. Blog articles written by soulmates and tips shared by friends will be decisive when people choose what to do with their precious free time. There is not an industry that is not in disruption these days.

Soon, we will book our tickets on Twitter and pay with Bitcoin. But we will still hold hands after watching Love Story or Last Tango In Paris (yeah, I like 70′s movies). And the kiss will feel just as good as in the old days.

Photo: Babylon, an arthouse movie theather in Berlin-Mitte.

You can follow me on Google+ here and on Twitter here.

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Jazz

The past is DEAD – Long live SUN RA

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I have spent the weekend celebrating the 100 year of Sun Ra listening to his early albums from the fifties. This week I will study the albums from the sixties. Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth recommended the album Atlantis from 1969.

These are the liner notes.

The civilizations of the past have been used as the foundation of the civilization of today. Because of this, the world keeps looking toward the past for guidance. Too many people are following the past. In this new space age, this is dangerous. The past is DEAD and those, who are following the past are doomed to die and be like the past. It is no accident that those who die are said to have passed since those who have PASSED are PAST.



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Business

What does it take to come up with a really great idea?

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I don’t do conferences. There are so many conferences that they now have conferences about conferences. But I do respect them and I always supported my clients, colleagues and staff to attend them. I think they have a lot of value as social gatherings. Sometimes you even learn stuff.

I simply made a decision early on that I do not have time to do everything so you have to say no to some things. Conferences are some of the things I chose not to spend time on. Someone once said that they way to get successful is to work when other people are going to parties. I know it is not quite the same. But I prefer to spend as much time as possible to do actual work on projects.

I do read about conferences, though. And I manage to find inspiration from reading about them. Sometimes, I watch the odd YouTube presentation as well. But I find dialogue based Google Hangouts more inspiring than just listening to one man rambling.

Yesterday, I noticed there had been a mobile conference in Berlin. We have so many tech conferences here that they are not only every week but sometimes overlapping each other in the weeks.

A co-blogger shared the link on Venture Village to a report from the event and I noticed the pie graph above.

“The thing about collaboration is…I don’t like it,” says Christoph Niemann, world-renowned cartoonist and creator of the app “Petting Zoo”. During his keynote talk, Niemann explained to the audience why collaborating with the audience is actually what is most important to him and his work. Using humorous and thoughtful slides, videos and animations that showcased his own work, Niemann revealed how much of a struggle it is being an artist and an editor. How can you set your creativity free while maintaining simplicity? How can you bring your work back to its “essence”?

The part about staying off the Internet is healthy. It is also important to leave the office. Especially the conference room (“the graveyard of creative ideas”). I recommend art museums, libraries and the park for good creative spaces. Oh, and spas. Spas are excellent for fostering new thinking.

I agree in principle with the breakdown. And there is no doubt that effort is the driver in idea creation. However, I would allocate 10% to pure experimentation. You can keep making an effort but if you go in the same direction and things don’t work out you don’t go anywhere or, even worse, you fail.

Experimentation is a very underrated approach in business. And an openness to aleatoricism even more so. This attitude can, however, be instrumental in creating some of the most creative work. Just ask Brian Eno.

Even though I found out that he cheats with his Oblique Strategies cards.

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Digital

Martin Varsavsky introducing Gramofon in Berlin

Martin Varsavsky is not only everybody’s best friend on Twitter, he is also an entrepreneurs’ wet dream. And not only is Varsavsky a hugely successful entrepreneur himself, he also mentors and invests in other entrepreneurs as well as teaching entrepreneurship on Columbia University in New York. And he has four homes (that I know of) and six children (that he knows of)!

Yesterday, he was back in Berlin for the first of a series of global launch parties for his latest venture. Gramofon is an offshoot of his already popular Fon wifi service. It is a wifi router with embedded music services that connects your smartphone or other device with your stereo system.

And he flies his own airplane, which has become a milestone in tech entrepreneurship. I noticed he cringed a little when the moderator spent the first part of the introduction being totally in awe of the private jet status, but Varsavsky calmly explained that it is simply a result of fear of getting lost in airports. That does not happen when you fly your own plane. He also shared his classic, entertaining and intelligent stories about his professor father, the scientist Carlos Varsavsky, who is famous for inventing the six day week.

https://twitter.com/travlR/status/456448109740953603/photo/1

Before the actual introduction of the new product, Varsavsky also shared some other interesting news. He is about to join the board of Axel Springer, one of the biggest media companies in Germany based in Berlin (not Hamburg, like most of the others). This information obviously lit up the room full of young tech entrepreneurs since the possibility of a pitch session with him would be much more likely as he will now visit Berlin more frequently in the future. Varsavsky also revealed that he is an investor in The Copenhagen Wheel, an electric bike add on for bicycles. You can follow the project on Tumblr here. Incidentally, Martin Varsavsky was also an early investor in Tumblr.

Asked about which companies he prefers to invest in, he mentioned three rules. It has to be a product that he wants to use himself. He has to like the entrepreneur on a personal level. The pricing must be attractive.



The reference to the Copenhagen Wheel was the perfect introduction to the Gramofon unveiling. Martin began by explaining that Gramofon was not intended to be alternative to Sonos. It is not a stereo system. He compared today’s entertainment systems to the television sets and the stereo systems of the eighties. Today, nobody would dream of watching television on a TV from the eighties. But some stereo systems from the eighties are really excellent and a lot of people prefer to listen to their vintage music equipment. Except me, nobody in the room had a clue what he was talking about. They were all born in the eighties.

Gramofon is intended to bridge the old school joy of music with new technology and providing you with wifi at the same time. You log in with Facebook and the system automatically detects your friends on Facebook, too. This enables them not only to play music but also to share your wifi. You will no longer have to answer the annoying question of ‘what is the password to your wifi?’. Gramofon logically presumes that you want to share your wifi with the Facebook friends that you actually invite to tour private home. There is a master setting for the owner of the house and a queue function for collaborative play.

Only rich people can afford a cool DJ at home, but with Gramofon, we can all be cool DJ’s, argues Vasavsky, namedropping Thievery Corporation, and with the hotel bar DJ’s looking on with their CD’s and vinyl records.

The Gramofon is for sale now. Unlike Chromecast, it is not sold through a webshop. You order it as a Kickstarter supporter. That is a brilliant move. To use Kickstarter as a pure sales channel.

The price of the Gramofon unit is low. This is partly because the chip where the music services are embedded on is manufactured by Qualcomm, the huge CPU supplier to the mobile industry famous for their Snapdragon processors. Qualcomm is an investor in Gramofon.

This year, my home entertainment set ups will totally change. There will be a Chromecast HDMI connected to my television set. And there will be a Gramofon Ethernet connected to my stereo system.

Read more about Gramofon on Engadget here and on Techcrunch here.

Here is an Instagram of the moment before the launch of the new product:

Here is a short clip I recorded from the launch party at the Amano Hotel Bar:

The free bar menu:

The after party dinner at the Korean burger joint next door:

You can follow ME on Google+ here and on Twitter here.

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