Apple May be Ready to Compete with Pandora

apple streaming musicAccording to reports from the New York Times, Apple is getting ready to dive into the internet radio pool. Having supposedly already sealed a deal with Warner Music, Apple is in rights negotiations with other music providers to launch a music streaming service with content variety that could rival its own iTunes library.

Rumors say Apple wants to release the service (which, like market leader Pandora, would be free) as a mobile app in its upcoming iOS7 operating system. The service would support itself from in-app ads, which seems to be standard practice for “internet radio” services.

If you use Pandora, would you jump ship for an Apple-branded service?

New Internet Trends Report

As an Internet service provider, we’re passionate about the Internet and work hard to keep up with what’s new and stay informed about trends that are affecting the direction of the Internet. And we like to keep our Internet access customers informed, as well. So yesterday was a big day.

internet-trends-report-2013On day two of the AllThingsD D11 conference, Mary Meeker, partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, presented her latest annual report on Internet trends.

You can find the full Internet trends presentation (117 slides) on the KPCB website or watch the full video of the D11 presentation (about 24 minutes). But we’ll save you some time by giving you the highlights.

  • The Internet is still growing – fast. EarthLink has been in the Internet access business almost 20 years, so to us it often seems such a mature, established industry. But it is still growing 8%, driven by emerging markets such as China, India, Indonesia, Iran and the Philippines (see slide 4).
  • The U.S. still dominates the Internet. Of the top 10 global Internet properties (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.), eight were “Made in the USA.” Interestingly, while 80% of the sites are U.S.-owned, traffic to them is 81% international users. On the mobile side, 88% of smartphone operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) are U.S.-made (see slides 6 & 7).
  • Sharing is skyrocketing. The amount of content created and shared has grown by 9x in five years and shows no sign of slowing down (see slides 11- 23).
  • Facebook still rules…but for how long? The top social media sites were Facebook (#1 by a significant amount), YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn (see slide 27). Facebook’s users, however, were reported to have declined from 2011 to 2012.
  • U.S. smartphone users are pretty darn happy. Users report feeling “connected,” “excited,” “curious/interested,” and “productive” about social and communication activities on their smartphones (see slide 31).
  • Mobile Internet traffic is growing and growing and… In some countries (notably China), mobile Internet access has surpassed desktop/PC access. Mobile is growing for both commerce and social sharing sites (see slides 32 – 37).
  • Tablets have grown even faster than smartphones. Global shipments of tablets actually surpassed desktop PCs and notebook/laptop computers in Q4 of 2012 (see slides 44 – 50).
  • Wearable tech devices with sensors are next in line. Expect hands-free, wearable devices such as wristwatches, bracelets, glasses and more (see slides 52 – 55).
  • China: the case study. Sure, they’re growing because they’re the biggest country. But they are also innovating in some interesting ways (see slides 67 – 73).
  • Immigration fuels U.S. tech … but not enough. Sixty percent of the top 25 tech companies in the U.S. were founded by 1st or 2nd generation Americans. But immigration policy means there’s a shortage of high-skilled technology workers needed to grow the industry (see slides 84 – 90).

Let us know what Internet trend you are most excited about, or if you see other trends.

Living with Social Media

Social media has completely permeated our culture.  No one will be mad if you pass up using super-specific social networking sites and apps (like Pinterest), but you’ll definitely get sideways looks if you tell people you’re not on Facebook.

It’s odd that, with all the popularity of social media, theredon’t seem to be any tips sheets or guides on how to “properly” use it. And that’s exactly why EarthLink has put together a quick cheat sheet to help you with the basics:

BE YOURSELF

When the internet was newer, anonymity was key.  Disguising your true identity with usernames like “HappyMom97″ was a socially acceptable way to communicate through your computer.  This is no longer the case.  People want to find you (actual people from your past and present, like your friends, relatives, and coworkers), so it’s expected that you will now use your real name and a real photo in your social media profiles (some sites, like Google+, even require it!).  That being said, please NEVER including sensitive information like addresses, phone numbers, or even your current and past employment (the one exception is LinkedIN, a professional social site where it pays to show off your resume).

WRITE FOR YOUR MOTHER

If you wouldn’t want your mother to read it or see it, don’t post about it or upload a picture of it.  Only share photos of yourself that you’d be proud for an employer to see (the number of employers using social media to check up on applicants and current employees is on the rise), and try to avoid heated discussions.  Those conversations always work better face-to-face, and people reading it can easily take what you say out of context, no matter how well-worded or thought-out it is.

BE FRIENDS WITH…FRIENDS

Only “friend” people you know in real life.  If you get a message from a stranger, feel free to message back (most sites allow messaging…like an in-social-media email…between non “friends”), but don’t “add” them until you’ve met or spoken outside of social media.

KNOW HOW TO COMMUNICATE

  • Send a message if you want it to privately talk to someone
  • Post on a friend’s wall if it’s for a specific person, but one of your or their friends might enjoy what you’re sharing (like a recipe or a video of a sleeping cat)
  • Post a status about something general that all your friends might enjoy (like the deal on lunch you discovered)
  • Only comment on a post or status with something relevant (Example: if the original post is “I adore ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE by The Beatles,” comment “Me too!” and not “I miss you…how are you?”  That’s better for a separate wall post or message.

Use these as a jumping off point to get yourself settled into communicating through social media.  It’s meant to be a fun way to represent yourself online, so have fun with it!

Internet Access Plays a Part in Purchasing Choices

Internet Access became an American need for people to have access to email, news, games, and (more recently) social media.  Being able to shop online is also a large positive of internet access, but a recent Nielsen survey shows that the internet may play a deeper role in purchase choices than we initially thought.

According to the survey, people were most likely to make a purchase based on (in order): advice of family/friends (around 77%), physically seeing a product in-store (72%), free samples (70%), searching the Web (67%), expert advice (66%) and TV and radio ads (59%).

Breaking it down by product categories, consumers replied that internet access is either “very” or “somewhat important” when making purchase decisions for electronics (81%), appliances (77%), books (70%), music/clothing (69% each), and automobiles (68%). At least 60% said it also influenced the buying of food, hygiene products, over-the-counter medicine, and hair care.  And while social media was built as a way to connect with friends, the Nielsen survey discovered that 1/3 of U.S. consumers are actively researching products on social sites like Facebook.

So the internet isn’t just a place to come to buy a product; internet access allows you to take the entire shopping process (research, comparison, decision, and purchase) out of the retailer and into your home.  One wonders if eventually we’ll need to leave the house for anything!