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Facebook "Deeply Troubled" By Fake DEA Facebook Account

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:31pm
Facebook

Facebook complained that the federal Drug Enforcement Agency committed a “serious breach of Facebook’s terms and policies” when it set up a fake Facebook account and impersonated a criminal suspect in order to communicate with other criminals, the company wrote in a letter to the DEA on Friday.

See also: The Feds Think It’s OK To Impersonate You On Facebook

The letter is a response to a lawsuit filed by Sondra Arquiett who was arrested in 2010 following a joint investigation with the Drug Enforcement Agency and other law enforcement agencies. Officers seized her phone and subsequently set up a Facebook account using photos that were on her mobile device, without Arquiett’s knowledge or consent, in an attempt to correspond with other criminals.

The DEA justified its breach of privacy by claiming the Facebook profile was used for a “legitimate law enforcement purpose” and that Arquiett gave the agency implicit consent to access the information on her device to aid in further investigations.

Facebook does not think the DEA's excuses are justifiable. In a letter to DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, first reported by BuzzFeed, Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer, said the company was "deeply troubled by the DEA's claims and legal position."

Most fundamentally, the DEA’s actions threaten the integrity of our community. Facebook strives to maintain a safe, trusted environment where people can engage in authentic interactions with people they know and meet in real life. Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service.

Facebook requires everyone to use their "real names," or names and identities that can be verified using identification like drivers licences or student IDs. The company recently found itself in hot water over its real names policy when a number of drag queens discovered they had been kicked out of their accounts for using stage names.

Facebook eventually acquiesced, and allowed those individuals to use their stage names, but reiterated that the policy is in place to protect people from harm, and that it's against Facebook's policy to create fake accounts using fake names.

See also: Facebook Ads Are About To Start Following You Everywhere

Law enforcement agencies are subject to the same rules as any other user, and Facebook quickly disabled the Arquiett account created by the DEA.

"Facebook has long made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies," Sullivan wrote, "Facebook asks that the DEA immediately confirm that it has ceased all activities on Facebook that involve the impersonation of others or that otherwise violate our terms and policies."

Photo courtesy of Marco Paköeningrat on Flickr

Categories: Technology

Where You Can Check Out Apple Pay Today

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:02pm

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users that update to the new iOS 8.1 mobile software, released Monday, will be the first to check out Apple’s new Apple Pay mobile payments system.

The 27 retailers listed on Apple's site spans hundreds of thousands of locations, which should give curiosity seekers numerous options to road test the new tap-to-pay features. These include:

  • Bloomingdales
  • Chevron
  • Duane Reade
  • Foot Locker (and its House of Hoops, Kids and Lady branches)
  • Macy’s
  • McDonalds
  • Nike
  • Office Depot
  • Panera Bread
  • PetCo
  • Radio Shack
  • Subway
  • Toys 'R Us
  • Walgreens
  • Whole Foods

One notable omission is Starbucks, an early partner that wound up only being able to offer a watered-down experience using the Apple Pay mobile app. Turns out, those coffee joints don't have compatible terminals, so don't bother knocking your device to their barcode scanners.  

See also: PayPal Slams Apple In Full-Page Newspaper Ads

Apple Pay will work at various e-commerce retail sites too. But where’s the fun in that? Chances are, most people will want to roll up to a counter and order a Big Mac by bopping their iPhones to a terminal. It’s like a taste of the future awaits within those combo meals, and with a side of fries to boot. 

Owners of iPhone 5, 5S and 5C will also be able to try out Apple Pay’s tap-to-pay features, but only if they buy the Apple Watch when it comes out early next year. The watch will feature the Near Field Communication chip necessary for tap-to-pay functionality, which those older phones lack. 

This launch period will be key for gauging initial interest in Apple Pay, which may offer an inkling of the initiative's potential longer-term success. However, early numbers probably won't be available in time for Apple's earnings call, later today. 

Categories: Technology

Apple iOS 8.1 Is Here—But Should You Download It?

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:04pm

As promised, Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 8.1, is now available for download. Eager iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users can grab the latest software on their devices by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update, or via iTunes on the desktop. 

Whether they should, however, is another matter. Here are a few things to consider:

Reasons to upgrade to iOS 8.1:

  • You want to try out Apple Pay
  • You miss your Camera Roll
  • You need iCloud photo library
  • You need fixes for all the bugs iOS 8, 8.0.1 or 8.0.2 rained down on your device
  • The download’s smaller than the super, mega-fat, “gigs” big iOS 8.0 upgrade. (On an iPhone 5S with iOS 8.0.2 installed, the iOS 8.1 update weighs in at 117MB.)

See also: Why Half Of iPhone Users Don’t Trust iOS 8 Yet

Reasons to wait:

  • You’ll lose your jailbreak
  • Your iPhone runs fine, and you don’t want to risk new bugs
  • You have nearly maxed out the space on your iPhone. The iOS 8.1 download may be a smaller file than iOS 8.0, but it still needs extra room for installation. If you don’t have enough space and need to make way, you might have to make some tough choices about the apps, media or other files that are currently on your iPhone.

Given the numerous and critical bugs of previous iOS 8 releases, prudent iPhone users not desperately needing bug fixes may choose to wait. But if you’re brave and grab it anyway, let us know what you think is the best and worst of the new software in the comments below. 

Images by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

Categories: Technology

Google's Gmail App Is Ready To Start Managing Your Other Email Accounts

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:47pm

Google's Gmail 5.0 app will finally provide Android users with one email management application that streamlines all their different accounts. 

According to a video obtained by Android Police, the Gmail app expected with Google's Android Lollipop mobile operating system will let users read and answer email from non-Gmail accounts such as Yahoo and Outlook. It doesn't say whether it will manage other accounts as well.

If the Gmail app will manage a variety of outside email accounts, the new app could finally give Android users an obvious alternative to bouncing around between multiple email apps. (The stock Android mail app will handle various email accounts, but it's generally sort of lackluster.) And if Google extends this feature to iPhones and iPads, it could challenge Apple's barely passable default Mail application as well.

See also: Android Lollipop Isn't Kids Play: The OS Is All Grown Up Now

The redesigned Gmail 5.0 is the latest in a number of updates to Google applications that conform to the company's "material design" philosophy in Lollipop, an entirely new design and user interface for Android devices expected to be released in the next few weeks. 

Lead image by Cairo

Categories: Technology

What's Apple Going To Do With All Its Loose Ends?

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:13pm
Thank goodness Apple didn't announce more devices. It would've ruined everything. 

To judge by its two most recent public events, Apple has three big priorities right now: Its supersized iPhones, the forthcoming Apple Watch and Apple Pay, its new mobile payments system that just launched. If nothing else, that became utterly clear last Thursday when CEO Tim Cook and other executives spent the first 30 minutes of its iPad presentation reiterating announcements they'd already made a month earlier.

Of course, Apple is a company in transition. After more than two years on what looked like autopilot following the death of co-founder Steve Jobs, Apple under Cook is branching out in a variety of new directions. It's perfectly natural that it would focus on its most important efforts. 

But that also leaves a lot of loose ends dangling around the periphery of Apple's empire. Despite rumors and hopes that the company might announce a new Apple TV, MacBook Air with "retina" display, 12.9-inch iPad and sixth-generation iPod touch, all were conspicuously missing. 

It's easy to cast them as collateral damage in Apple's campaign to reinvent itself from mere gadget maker to architect of connected life. But there's plenty of reason to think the company has grander plans than that. 

Well, for most of them, at least.

Patience, Apple TVThe Apple TV (rear), crowded in by the Roku 2 and Chromecast.

Two years ago, one of the first comments Tim Cook made as a newly minted Apple CEO was about how he loved his Apple TV and hoped to expand on it someday. Now the 7-year-old Apple TV has finally sloughed off its status as hobby and became a money maker, selling 20 million units and funneling more than a billion dollars into the company's pockets

That's plenty of incentive for Apple to refresh its only TV gadget. And yet, no new product update came this year, which seems to defy logic. Streaming media has become so hot, channels like HBO and CBS are bypassing cable bundles by offering online-only services. Meanwhile, a new set-top box just hit the scene—from Google, Apple's main competitor, no less. 

But if Apple has been quiet about the set-top box, that doesn't mean it has ignored it. 

In 2012, Cook said, "[I] always thought there was something there, and that if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling that string, we might find something larger." That larger thing appears to be Apple's new smart home system. Clues in the iOS 8 mobile software (Apple TV is technically an iOS device) point to the streaming box working with HomeKit as a remotely controllable hub.

See also: 5 Things To Consider Before Wiring Up Your Smart Home

Smart home features in the device would require some hardware changes, like antennae for Zigbee or Z-wave, short-range wireless signals often used in connected home products. Changes in the Apple TV's remote control might also be in order, possibly delaying the device. 

Apple's Craig Federighi and his spectacular coiff go over a list of HomeKit partners in June, at the Worldwide Developers Conference

A bolstered Apple TV could thus serve as Apple's Trojan Horse for smuggling smart-home features into people's homes. If they already have a control console or hub, even skeptics might be inclined to try out a product or two that hooks into it. 

The company could further boost appeal by giving the Apple TV access to an App Store. Currently, users get a few dozen pre-selected streaming channels. But they can't download Spotify, Pandora or Rdio, much less game apps or alternate streaming services, the way they can on Google or Amazon TV streaming gadgets. 

The thought of Apple opening that up would have been laughable a year ago. But now it has loosened developer restrictions for iPhone apps, making the prospect of it opening up Apple TV apps more credible. I've spoken with various developers who told me they couldn't wait to make iOS apps for the big screen. So if the company is putting some finishing touches on a software developer kit alongside its work on HomeKit integration, plenty of services will be available to tempt customers. 

In other words, this already decent set-top player could be on the verge of becoming awesome. 

No "Retina" MacBook Air For You! (For Now)

After Apple released a marginally better MacBook Air earlier this year, anticipation was high that it was saving the best for last—namely, a new update with a high-resolution "retina" display. After all, the beefier MacBook Pro got one this summer

Instead, the new, more powerful iMacs got Apple's high-resolution IPS screen—and not just any old retina display, but its next-generation "5K" version, with 5120 x 2880 resolution. Apple also announced some much-needed upgrades for the Mac Mini, including a faster processor, faster Wi-Fi, speedy PCie-based flash storage and a price cut of $100. 

What did the MacBook Air get last week? Bupkis. 

But before hopefuls despair, they should know that Apple is probably holding things up for customers' own good. These high-resolution retina displays draw a lot of power, so putting them on a laptop hyped for its battery life could potentially be a disaster. 

So if you're holding out for a MacBook Air with a retina display, take heart: Apple loves to tinker with energy optimization, so the extra time is likely going into slaying that battery dilemma. 

The Monster iPad Cometh

The iPad's market share has been plummeting recently, in part because people just don't upgrade their tablets as often as they do phones. Case in point: The 3-year-old iPad 2 is still the most common Apple tablet in use today. 

Source:&nbsp;<a href="http://info.localytics.com/blog/iphone-5-and-ipad-2-still-dominates">Localytics</a>

With consumer sales flattening out, the logical course of action is to go after business customers. 

Indeed, the office may be the tablet's greatest hope. Plenty of workers have already swapped their laptops for iPads, as tablets are more convenient on showroom floors, at construction sites and in other field or travel situations. For more incentive, Apple partnered with IBM a few months ago to offer business apps, cloud services, support and device management. 

The 12.9-inch iPad was supposed to be another carrot to dangle in front of business users, completing a troika of tablet updates. Too bad it never made it to the stage. 

Something's still missing, no?

Had it joined the updated iPad Air 2 and (very) slightly tweaked iPad mini 3, Apple would have had a three-part strategy locked in: One lightweight, world-mode tablet for globe-hopping executives (potentially as a laptop stand-in), another tiny version fit for the small carry-ons of frequent travelers, and the largest version for folks missing those larger laptop screens. And they will all transition easily between computers and phones, thanks to the newest software.

Ultimately production issues, not lack of faith, may have hampered the biggest iPad of them all. Apple reportedly focused its mighty supply chain on its new larger iPhones, relegating the tablet to a later launch date—probably in early 2015 with the Apple Watch. 

Whither The iPod Touch?

Fall used to be iPod touch season. It was the perfect schedule, as it gave people plenty of time to add the product to their holiday wish lists. 

But not this time around. Apple delivered a minor low-end summer update, but no 6th-generation model. Some think it may still come, only early next year, which makes sense if the iPod touch suffers from the same production issues plaguing the mongo iPad.

But releasing it after the holidays would set it on a strange timetable. To get back on track, Apple would have to skip a year, or launch two new versions in the same year. 

See also: What Apple Announced At Its Thursday iPad Event

The company may be in the midst of figuring out those complexities right now. Or, given its other ambitions, it might have other intentions. Here's a somewhat depressing thought: The company retired the last of its 3.5-inch displays last month. It also killed its iPod Classic. For now, no one outside of Apple knows if it's done pruning its product lineup yet. 

Even if it's not, that doesn't mean death is imminent for the iPod touch. In fact, it could linger for a while. There's even a chance that it may get the bigger screens of the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, which would certainly simplify Apple's manufacturing pipeline. Either way, it may point to the company's lack of interest in advancing any more handhelds with 4-inch screens. 

One More Thing: Apple Meets The SIMs

One of the most intriguing things to come out of Apple was something else it neglected to mention: The company built its own SIM, a tiny identification card inside phones and some tablets that allows them to work on cellular networks.

Apple's SIM is its first, notes GigaOm, and it's going into some of the LTE-equipped versions of its new iPad Air 2. The new tablet supports global LTE bands, plus older 3G, and it appears this card is how it will connect to those networks (starting with the U.S. and the U.K.).

iPad customers usually pick a cellular provider at the time of purchase (unless it's a Wi-Fi only model), and there they remain. But the Apple SIM can be programmed (and then re-programmed) to work on different networks. This means that people could buy the tablet first, and then choose carriers later. 

There's speculation that the Apple SIM may be the company's first step to becoming a cellular operator. That's pretty far-fetched. Much more likely is that Apple saw adaptable SIM cards appealing to international users and business travelers, Apple's new target audience for its iPads.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, with so few product announcements last Thursday, Apple's presentation seemed a bit dull. But it wasn't a sign of complacence. Far from it. It's clear that the work is only just beginning. So far, Apple has had a tough time maintaining equilibrium as it figures out what to let go, what to keep and how to establish entirely new product categories—some of which it has never tried before. 

It's a balancing act, and the company has already been thrown off-kilter a bit. Over the next year, we'll see how strong its footing in these areas really is. 

Apple images courtesy of Apple; SIM card photo by MIKI Yoshihito; Pie chart courtesy of Localyticsall others by ReadWrite

Categories: Technology

Spotify Will Let You Share Your Account With Family And Friends

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:53am

Now you have Spotify’s blessing to share your account with family and friends.

Under Spotify Family, users will receive 50% discounts for up to five additional people on their premium subscription. The new offering will cost $14.99 for two users per month, $19.99 for three, $24.99 for four, and $29.99 for five. A single-person premium subscription costs $9.99 per month, so adding additional users to the account costs about $5.

See also: Free Music Or Not, Spotify Still Has a Paid-User Problem

There’s always the under-the-table method of sharing your premium subscription password with people, but Spotify Family holds a distinct advantage in that it allows each user on the account to experience separate playlists and recommendations. Not to mention that this way, everyone on the account can access it concurrently. According to this forum post and many others like it, legal family sharing has been in high demand for some time.

Spotify said the new offering will roll out globally within the next few weeks. 

Photo via Shutterstock

Categories: Technology

8 Ways to Prepare for Your Startup's Next Board Meeting

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:30am

Board meetings can be incredibly stressful, but you can alleviate some of that stress by preparing ahead, familiarizing yourself with key talking points and of course, anticipating important questions about your company's progress.

Since it's an activity we all have to face at some point, I asked 8 founders from YEC about the most important thing they do to prepare for upcoming board meetings:

Test Your Equipment

A lot of people know to do your homework on the guests you have attending the meeting and to prepare any and all documents, but you should also think about tech snags. I've often waited for intercoms to work, projectors to fire up, etc.

Just taking 10 minutes before a meeting to test things out could save your entire company! You want to seem as polished and prepared as possible, so there should be no detail, no matter how big or small, that works against you in this situation. Don't assume that you've "got this" even though you've done it before; arrive early and get prepared.

Rob Fulton, Exponential Black

Make Board Preparation Part of Ongoing Activities

After hearing someone remark that they spent three days preparing for a board presentation but ran out of time in the meeting, I completely changed my approach to preparation. The company just lost three entire days of productivity from one guy, and probably weeks of productivity across the organization for each quarterly meeting.

Instead, change your process. The board presentation should be one output or use of information, but others in the company should get value from the work done. Some things are board only (e.g. key talent reviews), but most things—from forecasts to sales updates—can be used at all levels of the organization.

—JT Allen, myFootpath

Prepare Discussion Items Regarding Company Strategy

While you certainly need to be prepared to answer all questions—your board members will be presenting the status of your company—you should also be ready with high level strategic questions you want to put forward for discussion. This is your chance to get advice and input from a room full of very experienced individuals who are highly invested in seeing your company succeed.

Not only will their advice be useful, but you can also make sure that your vision remains aligned with your investors, and that their expectations have not diverged from what is practicable.

Peter Minton, Minton Law Group

Prepare With Your Team

Make sure that the entire company is aligned and everyone knows what’s going on. We run a series of mock board meetings with the management team to expose any potential weaknesses in the business or refine answers that might need additional clarity.

Not only is this communication extremely beneficial to the management team, but it helps us better maintain focus. When it comes time for the board meeting, we take a deep dive with various parts of the business. It’s amazing how in sync everyone has consecutively been.

George Bousis, Raise Marketplace

Review the Minutes From Previous Meetings

Before board meetings, I make sure to review the minutes and presentation from the previous meeting. It's important each time to showcase the progress that your company is making toward the business's milestones, and being able to quantify the progress you've made since the previous meeting is a key part of showing that trajectory and traction.

Reading through the previous meeting minutes also ensures that you will be reminded of any follow-up materials or items you may have needed to prepare or follow up on, too.

Doreen Bloch, Poshly

Send Materials in Advance

Have an agenda and communicate it in advance. Pull your numbers together into a professional and easy to read format (recent performance, milestones achieved, upcoming hurdles) and send them out in advance. Use the meeting to discuss financial and strategic topics, as well as as an opportunity to update investors on recent wins.

David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

Know Your Numbers

Know your numbers cold. When presenting to the board you will be peppered with all sorts of questions. If you have your facts and numbers straight, and are able to deliver on command, all should be well.

Joseph DiTomaso, AllTheRooms

Identify your Biggest Challenges

Board meetings are a place to step away from daily operations at your company and think strategically. They're an opportunity to decide the long-term direction of the company and what you need to get there. Identify your biggest challenges before the meeting, and use your board to ask for advice and resources. By aligning your needs regarding funding and execution, you'll make your life much easier down the road. 

Pablo Villalba, 8fit

Photo by Simon Blackley

Categories: Technology

Flickr Co-Founder Caterina Fake: Making Art And Technology Work Together

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:00am

ReadWriteBuilders is a series of interviews with developers, designers and other architects of the programmable future.

Entrepreneur, designer and artist Caterina Fake was one of the early pioneers of the Web. She was one of the first online graphic designers and a blogger before people thought it was normal to post personal information online.

Fake has spent her career creating services that change the way we use the Web—photo-sharing service Flickr, acquired by Yahoo; decision-making website Hunch, acquired by eBay; and now Findery, an app for discovering art, history and notable destinations all around you.

Findery, available on the Web, iOS and Android, is for storytelling. People can add "notes" about certain locations—for instance, detailing some history of a particular building. That lets others who are traveling or just exploring their surroundings learn things that might not be in a guidebook.

"Notemaps," or a string of notes on a similar topic, are also a way for users to share their journeys through photos, words, and location information. One notemap called "In Love" is a collection of stories about romantic journeys contributed by Findery users.

Fake said that all her businesses have something in common—they combine technology with art and community, and put the people first. And while there are now screens almost everywhere we look, Fake doesn't want people to become lost in their technology, rather use the tools and devices to amplify the present world around them.

Now with notes in 196 countries and a recently launched Android app, Findery is hoping to become a new way for people to discover the community around them through photos, community and shared stories.

Making Things Beautiful And UsefulCredit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/2662239588">Joi Ito</a>

RW: Can you talk more about how you’ve been developing for the intersection of arts and technology? What inspires you to make that connection?

CF: I’m a liberal arts major. I studied art and I studied English. I almost went to grad school to study Renaissance literature. I was trained as an artist. I was trained as an oil painter. I’ve always had an affinity for it.

See also: The Art Of Technology And Vice Versa: Polyvore's Jess Lee

I came out here as a recent college graduate. I had always had an interest in computers, and I’ve always been online—that was before 1994, before there was much activity online. I had been working as a painter in NYC as a fine artist, then I moved out here [to San Francisco] and I felt myself to be unemployable. But I had this skill in aesthetics that I could translate into Web design. I got into it really by accident.

I carried forward these tendencies I already have. I carried it into this new realm of technology and the Internet, and it became a career. I was a very early blogger also. I started in 1998, really early on, and that was a thriving community.

I always felt that was a very important part of the Internet, that people tell their stories, that there be a multiplicity of voices online and be an avenue for people to connect themselves. That’s really been something that we’ve focused on throughout all of my career. It’s been very effective for companies who build these types of communities that are arts related, and about storytelling.

Sketching Out An Online Vision

RW: Flickr was your first company, right? Can you talk about how you went from being a painter and designer to being a technical entrepreneur?

CF: In many ways it was being in the right place at the right time. 

I started doing CD-ROM educational title design. This was back in the days of CD-ROMs, before the Web really took off. I got really lucky because I was living in New York and had gotten a job as a temp in the IT department at Columbia University in early 1990s. And somebody showed me a Mosaic browser, right when it came out.

I had been online already and been very active in the bulletin-board days of the Internet. I was very attracted to and interested in all of this blooming technology. So I was in a good place at a good time. There was such a small community—there were so few people working in the industry at the time. It kind of felt like there were 300 people working in Web design at the time. I had spent time in online communities like The Well, and it just kind of evolved naturally from that.

I did Web design, I taught myself HTML and to write basic code, I published zines, I published a blog, and put up my own website. I was on Geocities. There were a lot of really wonderful, early online communities like that.

It was in '95 that I joined Organic, one of the very first Web development shops. I took it from there. It wasn’t an obvious path. It was one of those things that if you just keep your mind open, you can look for opportunities around you.

But I don’t think my parents were very optimistic about my post-college opportunities.

RW: Did you set out to build an image sharing platform that just happened to become one of the most popular photo-sharing sites on the Web?

Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/caterina/353376487">Caterina Fake</a>

CF: We were hoping it would be successful, but we didn’t really have any idea how successful it would be. There’s a lot of work that went into it, a lot of luck that went into it, a lot of things happening with just the general forces of the Internet at the time. This was 10 years ago now, and the timing was just right.

It was kind of like, blogging was seen as this weird fringe behavior. “Why would you want to put a picture of yourself online? That’s so weird.” That was changing. Friendster had a lot to do with it. In the early days, getting people getting over that hump of having a profile of yourself online. It was kind of a new idea.

The year that we launched Flickr [in 2004]—it was the first year that the majority of smartphones were equipped with a digital camera. It was also the year that more than 50% percent of all households had broadband Internet, so you could actually download a photo. So that was a huge thing.

See also: LittleBits'Ayah Bdeir: Making Hardware As AHackable As Code

A lot of things happened around that time. Another thing is that the cost of storage had been falling year after year. It used to be very expensive to operate a server, and that was dropping. It was a perfect storm of different factors ... that made it the perfect time for Flickr.

Looking at the current landscape, there are screens in everyone’s cars, in dashboards, on planes, the apple watch, google Glass, you can kind of see what’s going on is that people are no longer connected to, we still have all our phones, but we’re going to be liberated from our phones. And you know the sense of traveling with you is where things are going next.

RW: Do you think that perfect storm of factors helped with the virality of Flickr? Do you think it’s harder to go viral on the Internet now, 10 years later?

CF: In some ways, going viral is no longer the same kind of challenge it was. In some ways it’s harder, and in some ways it’s easier. 

There are all these different devices you have, and all these different contacts. The challenge has always been tapping your social network, those challenges have been made easier.

But then, there are many social networks, there are a lot more developments going on. There’s more noise—in that aspect, it’s harder.

Defining Findery

RW: Can you talk a little bit about why Findery is so unique and how you're hoping people use the app?

CF: We’ve really tried to do a couple things: We thought that location-based services were really centered around ratings, reviews and recommendations. So really about "Where should I have dinner?" or "Show me what to do here."

We wanted to get away from that sense of place.

See also: Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley: How We'll Tell You Where To Eat And What To Order

The thing we really want to try to do is bring out the meaning and history of a place. All other aspects of the place that don’t have to do with business transactions. Bringing a travel mindset local.

You know that famous slide with Steve Jobs, at the end of one of this last presentations, he was standing in front of a sign that said "Technology and Liberal Arts." That’s kind of where we feel we are. Here’s the history of a place, here’s the sociology of a place, here’s what people are saying about this place. Here are people’s contributions.

That’s what we feel we’re really good at. If you look at the companies over the years that I have been either a founder or on a board or an investor in, like Flickr, Etsy, or Kickstarter, the great common thread in them is about creativity and telling stories.

Those are some of our particular strengths and what make us different from Yelp or other things.

What’s really interesting about technology in general, when we started this company, it was very clear that things were going to be on mobile, and that mobile was what we should be developing for. Now wearables are becoming a reality. Screens are now going to be in the dashboard of your car. Screens not even confined to your handheld device anymore.

We have this space that is really expanding to include all of these screens in places that are moving, in the back of a cab, or in front of you on the airplane. As you’re flying over Greenland, wouldn’t it be interesting to see, what’s this place like now? We are designing for all of these products that are just rolling out. So I’m super excited for us. We’re in a good position to be on all of these mobile screens.

Where Technology Meets Liberal ArtsCredit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/scobleizer/2231895399">Robert Scoble</a>

RW: What were some of the most important lessons that you’ve learned after founding multiple startups? How are you applying them to Findery?

Things change constantly. I don’t think that any entrepreneur can keep doing the same thing over and over. You have to know what experience to carry forward, and what experience to leave behind.

I think one of the big challenges is actually cultivating beginners minds and making sure you’re still open to the world and continue to see new things. You can actually get jaded. You can stop seeing things that are new. You can start fearing failure. Those are the things an entrepreneur needs—an open mind and the ability to see the world with new eyes.

That’s the challenge of being an entrepreneur.

RW: How do you think Yahoo is running Flickr? Did you ever anticipate its current form?

CF: It’s funny. It’s like when your company has been acquired by another company, you can care for it for a certain amount of time, then you have to let go. You can compare it to NASA and the space shuttle. You can care for it as much as you can, then the rocket ship goes into outer space, and there it is.

I know exactly what I would do with Flickr right now, but I’m not running it anymore. So from my perspective, I’ve launched a rocket. You just have to hope that all of the stuff you put into it before it launched, works.

The thing that’s always been the strongest thing about Flickr is the community. So long as the people continue to be supported, that’s the important part.

RW: My editor Owen Thomas pointed to me about a blog post you wrote, the concept of Biz Dev 2.0. Is that something that’s translated over the years? Companies opening up their API and allowing other companies to build off it?

CF: Earlier in the conversation I was mentioning that being present on all these different platforms, being on dashboards or wearables, none of that would really be possible without an API.

That still holds true now more than ever. When we were developing products when I wrote that back in 2006, there were even fewer places that your data could appear. They’ve just multiplied. When we started Flickr, it was a pretty simple process. 

Since we’ve developed Findery, we started on the Web and mobile Web, and we had an iOS version, and now an Android version. It’s just multiplied. We were pretty much developing for a single platform 10 years ago, and you can’t do that anymore.

You can’t just be constrained to one. I think that that’s even more true than ever.

Being Present In The World

RW: So what’s next for Findery? What will success look like?

The Findery team

CF: One of the things that was really great is that we have an intern that said Findery changed her experience of the world. When she was walking, instead of looking down at her phone, she was being present to the world. Technology can remove us from the people and places around us—you can be going into some Internet world in the sky instead of being present where you’re standing.

If we’re successful, it seems like an irony for a technology company, but it would be to make people present in places where they are and the places around them

The people on the bus, or people walking down the street, the lines in the pavement and the weather, all the stuff that’s around you. Not be so involved in the virtual world. Which sounds very old-world now. That’s a term circa 1999. 

Lead image by nrkbeta; others by Joi Ito, Robert Scoble and Caterina Fake; Findery team photo courtesy of Findery

Categories: Technology

Apple iPad Sales Continue To Tank, Though The iPhone Is Doing Great

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:58am

Apple needs a serious update to its iPad line more than ever. True, it announced a perfunctory set of upgrades last week (although that included the utterly minimalist refresh of its iPad mini). But in the wake of miserable iPad sales for its July-September quarter, you have to be wondering if that's anywhere near enough. 

See also: Don't Bother Buying The iPad Mini 3

Quarterly iPad sales clocked in at 12.3 million units, a 13% decline over the year-earlier quarter. Over the trailing twelve months—from October 2013 to September 2014, a period that includes Apple's traditional holiday-quarter bump—sales declined 4.3% to almost 68 million iPads compared to the year-earlier period, when Apple sold 71 million iPads. 

See also: What's Apple Going To Do With All Those Loose Ends?

It's hard to escape the impression that the iPad—sandwiched between iPhones with ever-larger screens and ever-lighter MacBook Air notebooks—is in free fall. Because iPad sales are falling in absolute terms while overall tablet sales continue to grow, even if that pace is slowing. Gartner, for instance, estimates that tablet sales will rise 11% in 2014. 

Any way you cut it, falling sales in a growing market is an unhealthy sign. 

Plenty Of Other Good News For Apple

Of course, Apple CEO Tim Cook would rather have everyone focus on its stellar Mac sales, which came in at 5.52 million units this quarter, not to mention its iPhone business, which continues to generate big sales and associated profits for the company. 

In the same July-September quarter, Apple sold 39.3 million iPhones, up 16% from 33.8 million a year earlier. Analysts had expected sales of 38 million units. 

Apple's quarterly results included 11 days of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales. Apple's new iPads, however, won't contribute sales until later in the current quarter.

Given the dismal and declining consumer sales of its iPads now, it's clear that Apple needs a change in strategy, if it wants to save its tablet business. The company may already have a plan underway: It appears to be aiming the iPad more squarely toward business. 

iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3

The company has already announced plans to offer more business-oriented tablet software. If its much-rumored 12.9-inch iPad sees the light of day, it would give business users a laptop-like proportion for the display. 

See also: Apple's Larger iPad May Be Delayed

Should Apple debut a snap-on keyboard for that monster iPad—which seems like a must for productivity’s sake—the iPad could become a bigger threat to PCs and low-end Macs alike.

Photo by Valery Marchive; product images courtesy of Apple

Categories: Technology