What Microsoft Thinks of the iPad

What Microsoft Thinks of the iPadStarting today, the iPad 2 is finally available at an Apple store near you. The revamped device is 33% thinner, 15% lighter, and outfitted with HD cameras, improved battery life and other delights. Apple fanatics the world over are excited and ready to test Apple’s latest gadget – but what about Microsoft? Is Bill Gates intimidated by Apple’s latest smash hit? What does the Microsoft founder think of the iPad?

Well, just last year one brave soul dared to ask Mr. Gates that question after a lecture at Stanford University. The CEO did not give any indication that he was intimidated by Apple’s iPad, instead he explained that portable devices like the iPad are “great advances” for computing and said that Microsoft is still a key player in the industry.

Computing is destined in a way to almost disappear because all the walls [and] desktops around you will be capable of displaying, and you’ll be able to do input though gestures, and through voice — that’s not to say that keyboards and pointing devices will go away,” said Gates, “but they’ll be supplemented by an ubiquitous type of computing where every surface is a output and every action is an input.”

He also stressed that getting prices down, and improving the quality of content are improvements he’d like to see with portable devices such as the iPad. Mr. Gates also acknowledged that iPad computing could be key to the digital delivery of textbooks – something his foundation would regard as good for the environment.

Checkout his lecture to Stanford MBA students on ‘Education for the Real World’ – and let us know what you think of the iPad.

Google Search Algorithm Updates-What’s New

Google Search Algorithm Updates-What's NewIf you’ve got a Website or any type of Web presence, search engine rankings should be important to you. Last week Google made some dramatic changes to their search algorithm which is changing the way search results are generated – and affecting companies that invest heavily in staying on top of rankings. According to the company –

Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.
Google

Here’s what’s in and what’s out with Google Search algorithm changes:

1. Websites with “better quality content” will move to the top of search rankings.
There is much contention about what constitutes “better quality content” or a “high-quality” Website. Google is describing this as original content and information such as research, in-depth reports and thoughtful analysis.

2. Users will get the “most relevant” answers to queries.
The most noticeable updates here are location-based results, and the increasing inclusion of “Real Time” results picked up from social media Websites such as Twitter and YouTube. Also, if you have the type of name that typically deliver porn sites when Googled, those types of results will now be pushed back to 2nd or 3rd page of results – bad news for those type of Websites, good news for you (if you are not in that type of business).

3. “Low quality sites” will be suppressed in search results.
This has caused uproar in the Web development and business community because Google used information from “Personal Blocklist “, a tool that works with their Chrome browser. This tool allowed Chrome users to rank and block sites they found sub-par or sites that promoted content they didn’t agree with. Although Google say they don’t rely totally on the results from Personal Blocklist, it’s still a factor in rankings.

4. Hacked Websites and domains responsible for spam are being eliminated from results.
‘SPAM’ in this instance means repeated “spammy words “, automated content, and Web sites with too many comments that originated from content authors.  ‘Content farm’ Websites are taking the biggest hit with this update. According to CNN “..sites like Mahalo.com, Wisegeek.com, Ezinearticles.com… [are] among the biggest losers in the algorithm tweak. Google-generated traffic to each dropped more than 75%…” The bad news is that Google has not clarified why a hacked Website should be punished or how the site can get off the blacklist.

5. Copy-cat Websites will move to the bottom of the search results pile.
If you steal, borrow, take, liberate or copy content from other Websites – stop. Hire a copy writer and start over if you care about your Website’s place in search results. New changes to Google’s search algorithm are not kind to Websites mirror the content of other sites. See #1.

So what does this all mean? Content, my friends, is about to become king again!

Free Apps? Good Idea!


There are apps for almost every interest and activity under the sun – apps for products, services, games, tips, guides, and apps for keeping up with social networks. It’s true that app developers are making lots of money selling apps – but business and organizations are doing just as well by giving away free applications they pay to develop.

Three reasons free apps can be great for your business or organization are –

Service. Make your customers or constituents happy by providing apps that meet their needs and they’ll do more than thank you for it. Not sure what that app might be? How about developing an app that reminds customers of appointments, birthdays, events or updates to your Website? You can also browse an app store for ideas.

Branding. Engaging apps are great for branding. Some of the most engaging apps are those that feature a game or enable social networking – or stuff that people  spend a lot of time doing. Associating your brand with a game or a network could be a great way to keep customers thinking about your product or services.

Revenue. You can earn revenue from your free app through advertising. Most free apps pay for themselves by running ads from Google, AdMob or other networks. But best of all, a free app can bring customers to your business or engage constituents!

The fact is, people are more likely to try a great free app than one they have to pay for – consult with an interactive marketing expert to see which app could get your brand out there. Also, check out our  our webcast of the recent Google Talks event, “The App Economy: How mobile developers attract users, win fans and make money.”

Mobile apps developers discuss the app economy

Check out our webcast of the recent Google Talks event, “The App Economy: How mobile developers attract users, win fans and make money.”

Watch live streaming video from marooninteractive at livestream.com

Moderator:
Jon Potter, RPG Strategies

Panel:
Leon Palm, Developer, Google Public Sector Team
Ken Yarmosh, Analyst, Developer, & Author: App Savvy (O’Reilly Press)
David Smith, Developer, AudioBookShelf
Natalia Luckyanova, Developer, Harbor Master
Robert Sarvis, Developer, Wertago

Do you need a mobile phone for facebook?

Do I need a mobile phone to be on facebook?

2011 is a big year for mobile marketing and facebook is gearing up to take advantage of this trend by forcing users to add mobile phone numbers to their profiles.

facebook users are now being asked to enter their mobile phone numbers and enable SMS texting from the social network in order to verify their identities for simple tasks such as logging in or setting up a vanity URL. If you’d rather not enter your mobile phone number in the network’s database, you are simply told to try again “at a later time”.

There is no word from facebook to clarify what “a later time” might mean, but this is proving an inconvenience for businesses that don’t use mobile phones or people would rather not add their mobile phone number to the network.

facebook requests mobile phone number for vanity url
facebook: no mobile phone number? try again at a later time

But let’s be clear, a mobile phone is not a requirement for being on facebook and doing business in the world’s #1 social network – but it’s fast becoming a necessity.

Facebook Vanity URLs – Get your name in there!

Good vain - facebook vanity URLs
Good vain - facebook vanity URLs

There is a big difference between the URLs below – even though they take you to the same place on facebook.

  1. http://facebook.com/marooninteractive
  2. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maroon-Interactive/167733809553

The first URL is called a ‘vanity’ URL, because it gives you the opportunity to say something unique about your facebook profile and help to promote your brand in the network if you are managing a page for your business.

Vanity URL’s are great, they are –

  • Easy to remember.
  • Work better on printed materials than the long-form facebook URLs (see second example above).
  • Makes it easy to direct someone to your page or profile.

But there’s a catch – think very carefully before you set one up because you will not be able to edit or transfer your new username/URL once you set it! That said – it’s fairly easy to set up a vanity URL:

How to set up a facebook vanity URL

  1. Have a list of 3 possible unique usernames/URLs you’d like to use
  2. Go to (or click) the following link – http://facebook.com/username, and follow the steps.
  3. Check to see if any of your unique usernames/URLs are available and if they are – voila! You are ready to be just as vain as the rest of us.

Now go claim your brand name before it’s too late!

New Year’s Resolutions For Small Businesses

Get a smart phone, socialize your Website and form partnerships in 20111. Get a smart phone. This great tip appeared on the New York Times‘ list of “10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Technology“. Your clients are no longer using phones for conversation only, they are using them to find products and services, get directions,  keep track of appointments and goals. Mobile marketing is the next frontier for engaging your clients. In order to understand how your customers are using mobile phones, you need to become a user.

2. Socialize your Website. If referrals are important to your business, you’ll need to make it easy for your current clients to tell their friends about your great products and services. Subscribe to services (such as ‘Add This‘ and ‘Share This’) that allow visitors and clients to share your content with friends in their social networks. After all, your clients (and potential clients) are visiting your Website, but they are spending most of their time in social networks.

3. Form partnerships to promote your business. Although new media marketing delivers clear, track-able results, it can be costly and time consuming for small businesses. Partnering with a business that is not a competitor is one way to over come the cost and time. For example, if you are running a bakery, partner with the shop next door to retweet messages, Facebook statuses and share a marketing budget. Soon you’ll find that you are building and sharing a community of supporters for half the effort.

Top 10 Interactive Marketing Articles for 2010

2010 was a great year for us – we thoroughly enjoyed sharing the many interactive marketing ideas we published on this Website and elsewhere. Many of our articles were based on questions that came from projects and friends, and we certainly hope you keep them coming. Here’s a rundown of our top social media and interactive marketing articles for 2010 (based on visits and pageviews).

  1. Social Networks: Free R&D for Small Business
  2. Email vs. Social Media – Should you follow Ben and Jerry’s?
  3. How Much Time Should Visitors Spend on Your Website?
  4. Three Steps to Better Open Rates
  5. When your Company Name is Your Top Keyword
  6. Best Billboard? Yahoo! Mail Homepage
  7. Is mobile phone jailbreaking good for business?
  8. Yahoo! tosses HotJobs to Monster – Search Fail?
  9. How to become a “trending topic” on Twitter
  10. Facebook closing Gift Shop – but not for entrepreneurs

We hope you’ll keep coming back for more – follow us on Twitter @suzettegardner, @smmarketingtips, join us on Facebook or get fresh updates via email, the good (almost) ole fashioned way.

What’s next? More great interactive marketing tips and insights – plus an in-depth look at advertising today. Stay tuned!

Google – Teaching Parents Tech (for Product Awareness)

Google Teach Parents Tech Google has joined Yahoo! in converting its email login page into a billboard – but what Yahoo! is using as premium ad space, Google is using to promote its products through a new project called “Teach Parents Tech”. The project is a Web-based video resource that allows users to select any number of simple “how to” tech support videos and send the videos to mom, dad or just about anyone. It takes about a minute to watch any of the videos and they cover a range of topics including, how to find information, upgrade your browser or manage electronic media files.

So, how can businesses and nonprofits benefit from this great idea? Continue reading “Google – Teaching Parents Tech (for Product Awareness)”

Location-Based Mobile Ads – Advertising’s Next Cash Cow

iphone, location based advertising - what's nextIf you haven’t considered a mobile based advertising campaign for your business, perhaps these numbers will get you started. The latest BIA/Kelsey U.S. Mobile Ad Revenue Forecast (2009-2014) is predicting that mobile ad revenues will grow from $491 million in 2009 to a whopping $2.9 billion in 2014 – that’s right!

So what are businesses spending this money on? Here are some products that were included in the forecast that your business should Continue reading “Location-Based Mobile Ads – Advertising’s Next Cash Cow”