Google have released a product during the summer called Google Instant.

“As you start to type your search terms, Google Instant automatically shows results for a popular search that begins with those letters. If you don’t see the results you want, just keep typing and the results will dynamically update. Connect to the information you need faster, even before you finish typing your search!”. Taken From Google Instant Help Page.

 

When Google releases a new product that is related directly to its world dominating search and ad model it needs to be sure of its move. Google is like any other company in that it needs to continue to make money for as long as it can. But because of its influence through functionally / culturally and that underneath it’s one of the true online start-ups, is this new move by Google, good or bad? Well that depends on who you are?

USERS : We must always remember that the use of the Internet by your everyday consumer is still in its infancy. Users use Google because it is simple and clear, and deep down there is logic to make it work for you. But because most people do not have time to set and continually adjust their search queries, users can be at a cross roads if another option allows them to conduct a search query that shows them another way of finding what they want and finding other popular things along the way. I don’t think I would be able to turn that down especially if it’s Ajax styled and INSTANT. Please note, currently Instant is only available if you are logged into Google.

AD WORDS ADVERTISERS :  The first question that needs to be asked here is what percentage of your conversions come through users who are logged in. This is the only percentage of traffic that needs care and attention, unless Google makes a change and opens Instant up to the world. The first page of Instant is now hotter than ever. So make sure you run your campaigns as relevant as possible. Costings of some keywords may also fluctuate since certain terms would bring up certain pages. impressions will also no doubt change because this first page has been given added value, but again the refinement of campaigns should only make the number of impressions more realistic. Remember it’s the conversions that really matter and long term focus should be made on SEO.

AD WORDS PROFESSIONALS : Impressions will be a clear indicator on which keywords or phrases are affected. But on the positive this is clearly a refinement process, so negative keywords and phrase adjustment should be applied to reduce any part-formed keyword or phrase creating false impressions and part-formed keywords or phrases that may increase the chances of creating conversions, this data should be clear to see from your data analytics. Costings should also be closely watched since they will change and affect how budgets should be managed.

SEO SPECIALISTS : SEO was already vital, now it is now made more important because of Instant. Instant brings up links that should match search queries. How accurate the matching of queries amongst SEO optmised sites will take time to see but it makes sense since these sites should be aiming for as much relevancy as possible.

Google talks a lot about how much time is being saved, but we already knew this because of existing software like Inquisitor, see below, the beautiful UI styling and usefulness of this software is priceless, even tells you how many times you have visited a site from the search query…nice touch.

So unless its just a field that sits on your screen, how much time is really being saved. And if you now start looking at other things, then surely you could end up spending even more time online. Until Google unveils it’s full plans for Instant and we begin to gather data about the effects; after this time we shall see how much of an impact Google Instant is really making over the next year.

Find out more about Google Instant at :

http://www.google.com/instant/

Find out more about Inquisitor at :

http://www.inquisitorx.com

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Released earlier this year, Skype Group Video Calling, a beta version for Windows users. In order to use this software everyone in the call must all be using the same version of Skype 5.0, but hey it’s a beta.

If this rolls out to other devices then could prove to be a killer app for the mobile social massive.

Find out more at :

http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-your-computer/windows/beta/

The Magic Trackpad effectively brings the features of Apple’s touchscreens to the desktop or MacBook. Having been using the trackpad for a little while now it’s true benefits have become quite clear. Straight of the bat, it’s great to use for regular browsing habits, like websites, email, moving desktop files etc. When it comes to using tools like Word, Pages, Excel, Photoshop and Flash the mouse is still king. But there is no reason why you cannot use the trackpad simultaneously whilst using the mouse, just to balance your cursor movements.

1. RSI. The greatest benefit of the trackpad so far has been able to ease the repetitive strain injury(RSI) factor. My index finger feels like it’s on holiday by being able to use the weight of my hand to create a left or right-click. I can also use the index finger of my left hand for left-clicks, whilst my right hand manoeuvres the mouse, this really makes using the computer relaxing for the hands.

2. Wireless Bluetooth. Another great benefit is the ability to move the track pad around your work area, because the device is wireless. Working at larger distances is fine since the track pad allows users to zoom in and out of screen content.

3. Mouse Movements. Moving the mouse with just your finger can sometimes prove to be more precise. I don’t game on my computer, but it would be interesting to know if your targeting was more precise. The whole reason for the trackpad is the finger movements ; one finger(Mouse Movements), two fingers(Scrolling & Rotating), three fingers(Zooming) or four fingers(Swiping). Swiping is really a genius touch. Using your four fingers you simply swipe across the trackpad, then the programs that you are currently running are shown to you for quick access, like you can see in the image below. Although you can do this already, having the feature with the trackpad just makes it a whole lot easier, especially if your away from your keyboard or desktop.

4. Design. The Magic Trackpad measures in at approximately 5 inches by 5 inches. The door for the batteries (2x AA) is a chrome flat head which runs along the top of the device, whilst the finish of the trackpad has a gray matte look to match. The base of the trackpad houses two buttons which can be set for right and left click, these buttons are also acting as the trackpads rubber stoppers, which is why Apple is Apple. If you happen to own the Apple wireless keyboard, then this device sits seamlessly next to it.

5. Cost. Priced at $69 in the US and £59 in the UK, it’s not absurdly as expensive, but now I cannot imagine life without it, can you put a price on that?

Find out more about the Magic Trackpad at :

USA : http://www.apple.com/magictrackpad/

UK : http://store.apple.com/uk/product/MC380Z/A

In Aug 2007, I decided to leave my current 12 month phone contract and opted for a Sim only deal. Advantages included were not being tied to a contract, I got a reasonable amount of minutes for my buck, and as a bonus there was the choice of a free bolt on, like free 3G web access. But underneath I was preparing to purchase an iPhone.

When it did finally arrive on the market, and although it offered some great features, my HTC hardware was still kicking it’s butt. So began the long wait for an improved iPhone. Now that’s over …phew! It was time to try again. During the time that has passed my contract provider added an extra 100mins to my monthly allowance for free. Bonus. So now all I needed was a new Sim free iPhone iOS4.

The look and feel of this phone is second to none. From the side it looks like a very slick piece of machinery with it’s stainless silver attennaes, and in your hand it’s 149g weight feels like your carrying a mini screen computer that has a phone on it.

Slick Stainless Steel on the iPhone4Image courtesy of Apple

The only protection cover available currently from Apple is the phone is the bumpers. However they are not exactly useful when it comes to plugging in the 3.5mm, because although 90% of the jack can be inserted, the final click is impossible. Some friends have suggested I ask Mr Stanley to cut the edge of the hole. The problem here is that there really is no room for a bigger hole due to the proximity of the top noise cancelling microphone. Anyway the marketplace will soon be awash with cover after cover, and I’m sure they will take this issue into account. But this product is not worth £25, it’s only worth £5 Apple.

Returning now to the phone review…

Battery times have been reasonable so far, lasting 9-5 with a solid caning. But it does still need boosting during the day so do juice up when you can. By monitoring your apps and maybe using some battery status software you can always track your current usage availabilities and make of most of your battery across the day.

Switching to Wi-Fi on an average 5Mb download speed, the phone handles processes fairly quickly. It’s not lightening, but your not having to wait long at all. This makes the phone really useful around Wi-Fi spots in order to handle multiple tasks. I only have a 2.5Mps 3G speed right now, so it’s okay for most apps and sending video by email, however some web pages and particularly video can be extremely slow. But that’s a network issue so we won’t go there right now. Using 3G is still a battery caner, so really stick to as much Wi-Fi as you can for heavy web sites and apps.

The 5Mp camera with its 720 HD video is great and works well in good light. The flash and low light still is no match for a half decent compact. I really miss the anti-shake technology from my compact but software improvements or maybe an app can help there. Hope this is not a hardware issue.

A good part of the look and feel of this phone is due to the slick scratch resistant glass, I really would not attempt to test it since the other day I did accidentally leave a little scratch on the back. But in terms of keeping it clean, a dust cloth is proving to be sufficient.

As for the issue of losing signal, I simply have not experienced any type of issue like this. I do hold the phone in my left hand and I will continue to test this for a while and see if it really does lose signal, but 99% of the time, it’s fine. Most of the time the signal is behaving exactly as it sis on my old HTC.

Usability on screen has also proved to be very straight forward allowing you to easily add, edit or remove apps, set up emails easily, create video,  sending it in seconds via email and switching between Wi-Fi and 3G has been no issue. There are probably lots of other useful aspects to the maneuverability around the phone that I have not mentioned, simply because I am not a veteran iPhone user. Maybe in the near future and after a good few months of use I can report back and question the real limitations of Apple’s on-screen experience. The touch screen sensitivity is spot on and works really well.

Apple has done well to promote Apps and the world is now really understanding why they exist. Finding apps on the iPhone is a fairly straight forward process, but with a few tweaks it could be even better. For example, in the App store you can search for apps via the Genius section. Initially it shows you around 25 apps, then in order to see more there is a button at the bottom of the list to view another 25. However after installing an app from the second page, if you attempt to return to the list, it returns you to the first 25. Obviously this can get really annoying if you are 10 sheets down, or accidentally view an app way when you were just trying to scroll down. Therefore I have no choice but to write down names of apps I like and to search for them later. Other app sources like ‘App Search’ allow you to add apps to a favourite list, come on Apple, this one really is obvious.

This phone as Apple says really does change things and after two weeks in the world of the iPhone and about 300 apps later, it definitely is worth every penny. Human computer interaction has really taken a solid step forwards and the iPhone helps to bring both software and hardware to work seamlessly together, but then again, that’s what Apple are known for.

I am going to be gutted when the 1080HD 10Mp version arrives, and it will one day, because technology will continue to improve year on year. But I feel confident that this phone can handle most of my digital needs for at least the next couple of years and look forward to using/finding great apps which over the near future I will begin to write about.

Find out more about the iPhone at :

http://www.apple.com/uk/iphone/

Find new Apps at  :

App Boy : http://appboy.com/

App Search : http://appsfire.com/

On the homepage of this website it says that Mog is “The Most Sophisticated, User-Friendly Music Player on the Web”. So why have I not come across it before or none of my friends recommended it to me? I know now, it’s not accessible to the UK. So why do sites make statements like “on the Web” and show UK advertising, when everyone knows the web is worldwide.

Anyway, having done a search for one of my old twelves that I cannot find on Spotify or iTunes, I did find it, shame I can’t play it… doh!

Find out more about MOG if you want at :

http://mog.com/

I love my music, but I can’t always remember the words, or just get them plain wrong. So to help me I found this site called Metrolyrics, that not only does the site give you the lyrics that you need but always keeps you up to date with the latest releases, you can log in and rate albums, artists and also chat with other music lovers.

There are also apps for your i-Phone and a plug-in for your PC, although I would prefer a Mac plug-in which has not been made an option just yet.

Find the lyrics to your tunage at :

http://www.metrolyrics.com

Content courtesy of Metrolyrics :

Find lyrics to the songs in your music library using the best iTunes, WinAmp and Windows Media Player lyrics plugin available!
LyricsSeeker uses the MetroLyrics database of over 450,000 songs and 15,000 artists to match lyrics to the song being played on your desktop music player. While you listen, the lyrics to your favorite tracks are made available at the click of a mouse.

According to the latest Wiki update :

MetroLyrics is a lyrics-dedicated website that was founded in 2002, and was the 1st lyrics site to license Gracenote’s lyrics catalogue in April 2008. MetroLyrics is the No.1 global lyrics website, and with 40 million+ unique users per month it is the 3rd largest music site in the US and Globally

I got to explore Hong Kong the other week and came across this interesting in-store promotion. See image below.

It’s nice to see even small coffee stores adopting new media to engage their customers in order to drive in new business. By the way, the coffee is not bad ether.

Find out more about Graze at :

http://www.graze.hk/en

Find out more about Four Square at :

http://vy-ber.co.uk/2010/03/14/become-the-mayor-of-mc-donalds/

Some rooms could do with a little light, how about a view of the Golden Gate Bridge using a couple of plasmas. But this is not just an image or video playing. As the viewer moves position relative to the plasmas, the view changes also, giving the user a sense that the view is actually real. Nice I like it.

This technology comes from a company called Rational Craft, and the software used is Winscape :

Check out the demo below :

Not so long ago I put up a post about a music website that is powered through recommendation called MFlow. Reflecting on what I am doing here is recommending a website to anyone that maybe interested. Some days I also find people recommending to me what sites they use and the word of mouth concept generally works well.

So it’s interesting to come across a music website whose priority it is to act as a hub for all quality music websites and the users that love them.

Dreamingstreaming.info is the site and is currently in a beta phase. They aim to offer users links to the sites who only provide high quality levels of sound. With the numerous ways of finding and playing music currently on the web Dreamstreaming will definitely help those who are embarking on sorting out their music collections and/or discovering these useful links.

Again it’s hard to tell how quickly or how successfully this site can become a brand name. That will be down to the users and marketing power combined. I think this is definitely a good idea because I cannot remember the last time someone recommended to me such a hub of a music and sound centered site.

Content Courtesy of DreamingStreaming :

DreamStreaming aims to become the most respected internet music information website in the world, for all types of streaming, download and on-demand music sources offering a high quality of service and / or music content through the internet.

Find out more about Dreamingstreaming at :

http://www.dreamstreaming.info/

The other day over the Easter break my five year old nephew asked me a straight forward technology based question, he said “Uncle, can you fast forward the adverts on the television because I hate adverts, they are so boring?” When I got in front of the television, I realised he was watching live TV, and explained to him that generally you can only fast forward adverts if you are watching a recorded program, or if you have paused live TV at some point earlier and you are simply catching up to the point of live transmission. Obviously, I had to use other words and maybe showed some examples of how this would work, but I thought wow, do the next gens really hate adverts? Not really, I feel that that the next gens really don’t react to passive media because their world from day dot is all about interactivity. Therefore until the Internet has converged with the TV, (and we really are not too far away from that) then television adverts cannot create conversions like true digital advertising currently does.

During my experience of using the Internet, I realised a long time ago that adverts as a minimum need to be interactive. If I as a consumer have any interest in a company’s product or service, then what I need more than anything is an emotional interactive experience. To date, I have only come across a small number of these styles of adverts. The first was a banner advert for Gran Turismo 4. It was not just a simple banner advert, it was an invitation to interact with a brand that I love. The advert asked me to play a few videos, and position the in built camera within the video to a point that would capture, what I thought would be a great photograph. The images were then submitted into a competition. I was on that advert for 2 hours, yes that’s right, 2 hours. That is the power of digital advertising, yet still thousands of companies spend thousands of pounds on boring click through adverts.

Now Apple has announced that it is going to allow developers to create adverts that are exactly this type in nature. So when you see an advert, you know that you are not just going to click through to a boring brochure based website, but you can look forward to a fully interactive emotional experience.

Apple told the world about apps, even though Windows Mobile users were already using apps. Now Apple is going to tell the world about creating interactive adverts even though it’s nothing new. But they are going to do it on the mobile, so how long is it going to take the rest of the digital media to catch up?

Watch a demo of iAd below courtesy of lightstab :

New mobile phones tend to evolve towards becoming smarter and smarter, with better technology and a wider range of features. But earlier this week Microsoft who have teamed up with the Japanese manufacturer Sharp have decided to try a slightly different tactic. They have introduced two new mobile phones into the marketplace branded Kin One and Kin Two that have power but less features.

The angle of course is social media, because the Next Gens ( as described by Tamara Erickson in What Next Gen X ) or the younger generation who seem to be naturally socially driven. The target audience in mind is the 16-25 year olds, who spend most of their time, sharing photos, videos, location based content and other files with their friends.

The network carriers that will be introducing these phones to the marketplace later this year are Verizon Wireless in the US and Vodafone in Europe.

But how much they will cost is still a major question, since the target are clearly not the cash rich generation. Take a look at the review posted by Engadget, and you can see that the user interface is more Minority Report than Apple’s clean white approach. I admit I do like the way it looks, and have always been a fan of drag and drop features. Microsoft have also gone a step further by integrating the content simultaneously to a website, which they want users to regard as a bottomless pit for file storage, called Kin Studio, which also is a very nice touch.

Looking forward to seeing more about this, and already thinking that owning one phone is clearly not enough. Who said that this phone is for the younger generation needs to think again, because it’s really aimed at anyone who likes to create and share content.

Read the Engadget review at :

http://www.engadget.com/2010/04/14/microsoft-kin-everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know/

Twitter has now been around a few years and is utilised by Big Brands, SME’s and individuals as a very useful communication channel. You can read more about using Twitter and catch up on some case studies at :

http://business.twitter.com/twitter101

New Twitter advertising models are emerging, allowing businesses to promote their tweets above others in order to get seen by users searching for relevant information. Twitter itself has released what they call ‘Promoted Tweets’. As you can see from the image below, after doing a search for ‘Starbucks’, their tweet is shown above the others. It can be re-tweeted like any other tweet and is paid for on a cost per 1000 basis. But do I want to see these above real time natural tweets?

Not really sure yet because although the service has just been unveiled, Twitter are taking the roll out slowly in order to find out if what they have implemented is of any value, so it’s a bit if a beta test! They will looking at feedback from people and businesses to see how successful these ‘promoted tweets’ are. Personally I would prefer all paid for advertising be place in a separate part of the page, but then again, that’s just me.

In the meantime, a new site, which is not linked to Twitter, but is also promoting another Twitter Advertising model was launched yesterday. It is called Tweetup, created by Bill Gross and Idealab. Tweetup is attempting to create a ‘Google Ad-Words’ for Twitter.

With the two models in place, what’s going to happen? There are still many people who have not yet got to grips with what Twitter can offer them today …yet the ad models are now here for those wanting to get their messages above the rest. This is going to be a very interesting battle.

Btw, since creating the above image half an hour ago, there have now been 845 more tweets related to the search query ‘Starbucks’. Is this the hype of the new ads or is this just the way it is? Twitter simply is amazing …make that 1105 wow.

Find out more about Tweetup at :

http://www.tweetup.com/about

10 years ago, marketing your website required the use of simply adding a few popular key words. This was great for bringing in traffic but the conversion rates were well off the mark.

As the dot com bubble burst, website owners demanded much more justification for their marketing budgets and this gave rise to the world of SEO. Parallel to this was the rise of Google who provided a platform for SEO(Search Engine Optimisation) to work well, and although PPC(Pay Per Click) works perfectly fine in the short term, SEO provides long term relevant traffic and growth.

But what else can you do to bring in relevant traffic to your site? Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, founders of the Hubspot have written a book called Inbound Marketing which not only covers PPC and SEO, but also explains how the use of Social Media and Blogs is also now just as important. Although not the first book about Inbound Marketing, it presents today’s online marketing strategies in a simple and digestible format, whether you are a techie or not.

If you are serious about marketing on the web, and willing to put the time and effort into utilising some or all of the ideas in this book, then you will begin to see what it takes for websites need to stay on top and continue to bring in relevant traffic.

With nearly 2 billion people across the world surfing the net, now more than ever is the time to start planning where you want your site to be for the next 5-10 years, and Inbound Marketing is what you need to start investigating.

Find out more about the concept of Inbound Marketing on this post on the Hubspot Blog at :

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/4416/Inbound-Marketing-the-Next-Phase-of-Marketing-on-the-Web.aspx

Get the book on Amazon at :

In the US :

www.inboundmarketingbook.com

In the UK :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inbound-Marketing-Found-Google-Social/dp/0470499311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271112028&sr=8-1

Sony is releasing it’s new Walkman to the masses this week in the UK – the NWZ-A845. Well, what’s so good about this Walkman?

To begin with this Walkman is only 7.2mm thin, it has an OLED screen for stunning visuals,  the device can also play BBC iPlayer downloads, syncs with iTunes, has an audio play time of around 29 hours, comes with noise-cancelling headphones and weighs in at around 62g. So all in all a very nice alternative to the Apple’s Nano iPod.

Retail price in the UK is around £140, looks like Sony have got a great little product.

Watch one of the few video reviews I found below, courtesy of www.tracyandmatt.co.uk :

Read their current review at :

http://www.tracyandmatt.co.uk/blogs/index.php/sony-nwz-a845-walkman-unboxing-video

Interested in helping scientists to spot explosions on the Sun and tracking them as they travel towards Earth? Then the Solar Storm Watch could be for you, and in fact anyone can be a solar storm watcher thanks to the Internet.

Brought to you by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, The Science & Technology Facilities Council and Zooniverse, the Solar Storm Watch is using the technique of crowd sourcing to help them in a number of different ways, from data processing to spotting comets.

At the website you can find profiles of the scientists involved, videos about why crowd sourcing is required, a forum to discuss your questions and opinions, teachers resources, the all important mission briefing and more.

Content courtesy of The Solar Storm Watch :

Mission briefing

You don’t have to be a science expert to be a brilliant solar stormwatcher. But if you’d like to know more about what you’re looking at, then explore our beautiful and interactive zoomable diagrams to find out about the Sun and the STEREO spacecraft monitoring it. And check out our scientists’ profiles too.

Find out more about the Solar Storm Watch at :

http://solarstormwatch.com/

Content courtesy of Zooniverse.

The Zooniverse is home to the Internet’s largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects.

With nearly 60million classifications, Zooniverse is giving a prize to the person who discovers the 60th Millionth classification. What are you waiting for?

Find out more about Zooniverse at :

http://zooniverse.org/home