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November 5, 2015Published by: Drew

Facebook’s new data dump: up to 1.55bn users, Instagram 400m, Whatsapp 900m, Messenger 700m

New Facebook Q3 numbers

Facebook last night released its new results for the last quarter, and the user numbers are worth brushing up on. Facebook has grown by 60 million active users in the last three months, still by a long shot the biggest social network globally. It now has 8 million daily video views, which has doubled in the last six months, 1.007 billion active users every day, and as many are shifting from the public news feed, ie traditional part of Facebook, over to Messenger, ie the private part, this is where a lot of the action is. Having opened up Facebook Messenger as a platform, there is a huge amount of activity and growth there too.

The full stats are worth a read, especially because WhatsApp and Instagram are part of the quarterly update too.

Image via Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook. 

June 1, 2015Published by: Charlie Sharpe

Can the BBC iPlayer creator help us find what we actually want to know on social media?

A clear problem is emerging with social media; it doesn’t tell us what we want to know. On Facebook we only become friends with people we know and like pages that fill our timeline with vaguely irrelevant spam about the Kardashians, on Twitter we follow users we find interesting but they don’t post the content we want to see - too often I will follow somebody I found interesting only for them to start retweeting generally uninteresting content. The key problem appears to be that social media platforms are people focused not content focused, or at least that’s how the creator of BBC iPlayer Anthony Rose saw it. People need to be able to go onto a social media site and look at content they find interesting and then go on to meet new people who share their interests.

Rose saw this issue as a mere challenge to overcome and his (I think excellent) response is the topic-based social platform 6Tribes, which launched at the end of May. 6Tribes is currently only available on IOS in the UK but will be released to a wider audience soon. The app collates posts from a variety of users based on the groups or “tribes” they follow. If users can’t find a tribe that interests them, then they can also create their own; this will allow the creator to manage all content in the tribe and assess what is or isn’t relevant through the “bump” system.

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Tribes are small communities on the platform dedicated to a certain topic (e.g. sports, films, television, music, tea), within each tribe people can post relevant content for other followers to see with a “bump” system (similar to Reddit’s voting system) to filter the content. Once users have joined a variety of Tribes all posts will come through on the user's’ feed to provide a completely content focused and personalised news feed. At first glance, it’s great. The feed is specific to any topic you choose and provides interesting and relevant updates and overall the app is really smooth, very simple and good looking.

“Close to launch we have close to 100 tribes” said Rose, however alongside of new Tribes run by the platform users can also create and manage their own Tribes, sharing content on any topic that takes their interest. The beauty of this new platform is not only in the content but the way you can meet other users. Because all of the groups are topic-based and not user based it’s a good way to interact with new people who share your interests. I think it has to be said, Mr Rose has done a good job. With the potential for serious expansion over the coming months 6Tribes could be a promising guide for social platforms to come.


April 17, 2015Published by: Sharmin Cheema-Kelly

Ofcom considers deregulation to take growing power of internet into account

The shift to digital in recent years has meant an uphill challenge for British communications regulator, Ofcom, as it seeks to adapt its own regulations to the changing media and telecoms landscape.

Credit: Ofcom

Picture Credit: Ofcom

In her first interview since being appointed as Ofcom's chief in December, Sharon White said that deregulation and a lighter approach needs to be considered to reflect the tectonic shifts in how people read and watch content, as well as talk.

Ofcom has just begun its first review of the British communications market in a decade to take into account the burgeoning impact of the internet, and whether market definitions and regulations need to be redrawn. Ofcom would also need to consider the intersection and blurring distinctions between traditional telecom and media companies.

Live streaming services such as Meerkat and Periscope both present a challenge to the paid-TV world especially with the increasing costs of football rights, for example. While Ofcom traditionally appointed the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) to regulate broadcast advertisements on its behalf, YouTube advertising also falls under the ASA's jurisdiction - the roles both perform and the areas overseen need to be made clearer in this era of greater convergence.

Ten years after its last review and in the age of the internet, the time is now ripe for Ofcom to reconsider regulations especially when changes are unprecedented and happen at much greater speed. It's exciting times ahead for the tech, media, and communications industries and we can't wait to see what happens next.

 

June 11, 2014Published by: Drew

Sony enters the streaming media market with PlayStation TV

Screenshot 2014-06-11 14.31.53

For media and entertainment companies, the streaming media market is very attractive and with good reason. Recent research from Park Associates reported that 20% of U.S. Broadband Households now have a streaming media player. Google Chromecast is the current market leader with Apple TV and Roku not too far behind.

However the current state of the streaming media market may change as another entertainment company is launching its own streaming media service which could potentially disrupt the market. At this year's E3, the largest annual trade show for the computer and video games industry, Sony announced that it was introducing its streaming box for its PlayStation 4 console aptly named "PlayStation TV." 

Already out in Japan but launching in the U.S, Canada and Europe this autumn, Sony's PlayStation TV streaming box enables users to stream content from any device onto their TV set as well as play games on any television set as long as they have a controller at hand.

People's television viewing habits have changed dramatically since the introduction of streaming media. The fact that Playstation TV allows consumers to stream content onto any TV set in a household and Sony is producing exclusive content for the platform indicates that Sony's streaming box could not only disrupt the market but potentially usurp Apple TV and Google Chromsecast as the market leader.

The revolution, in this case, will be streamed, not televised.


April 22, 2014Published by: Drew

Man United fans learn of Moyes sacking on Twitter first

Screenshot 2014-04-22 15.59.14

Football is often an unpredictable sport filled with drama, heated skirmishes and last minute comebacks. However, for beleaguered David Moyes, the writing was already on the wall. This morning, much to the prediction and jubilation of many Manchester United fans, David Moyes' short-lived managership at Old Trafford came to an end as he was sacked by the club's board.

Whilst Moyes' dismissal doesn't come as much of a surprise, what is noticeable is that Manchester United announced Moyes' termination on its Twitter page seemingly without issuing a press release to media outlets. Although the club does trade on the New York stock exchange so an official press release may not have been distributed for legal reasons. Having said that, there is no denying that social media has become a crucial platform for brands and companies when delivering important news directly to consumers and the media.

Twitter has become the de facto online space for expressing opinions on major news. This is no more apparent than in football where several prolific pundits such as Michael Owen and Robbie Savage have shared their opinions on Moyes' fate from their twitter accounts. Such is the acceptance and value of Twitter that, instead of contacting sport pundits directly for comments, big media sites such as The Guardian, have simply quoted their tweets in their news reports.

In terms of the reaction from their international fans and followers, the word Moyes was mentioned more than 1.5 million times today and #Moyes #MoyesSacked and #MUFC were among just some of the hashtags that have been trending as a result.

Once again, this demonstrates the undeniable importance of Twitter as the ultimate breaking news source and is testament to its power to share stories instantly, globally and with the intent of collating social opinion quickly.

March 26, 2014Published by: Drew

The implications of Facebook purchasing Oculus

Facebook buys Oculus Rift

It seemed no one in the tech space saw it coming. On Tuesday the 25th of March 2014, Facebook announced that it had purchased Oculus, developers of the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, for $2bn. According to Oculus' company statement on its website, Facebook "understands the potential for VR" and the social networking giant can see "virtual reality’s potential to transform the way we learn, share, play, and communicate."

Despite some excitement at the thought of Facebook entering the VR market, not everyone in the VR industry was enthralled by the acquisition. Noticeably, Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft who is planning a Oculus Rift version of his sandbox game, posted a particularly scathing view on the whole deal. In his blog, he mentions that he finds Facebook "creepy" and is unsure of the social network's motives.

Regardless of the negative and positive reactions Facebook's acquisition of Oculus is bound to receive, there is no denying that it presents opportunities for brands, education and the way we consume social media.

Brands 

Apart from simply creating more immersive gaming experiences, VR provides opportunities for brands as well that goes beyond gamification. According to Marketing Week, Facebook entering the VR space enables marketers to take on a more indie games developer role, developing immersive gaming content for their audience.

Additionally, VR on social networks presents marketers with the opportunity to create even deeper brand experiences for their target market. Mobile operator and England Rugby sponsor 02 is already being a first mover with the Oculus Rift by offering fans a chance to go behind the scenes with the England Rugby squad.  With this acquisition, we're bound to see more brands, who already have a strong presence on Facebook, experiment with VR.

Health

Virtual reality has huge implications for the real world - one of the most important areas being health. The Oculus Rift enables individuals to rehabilitate from experiences physical and mental as well as to experience things which they may not have otherwise been able to due to limitations. From a more in-depth perspective, the Oculus Rift enables health professionals to more deeply study organic matter and perform research, insights or study things which might be difficult to do in previous tech environments.

Education

Where education has been based around broadening the horizons of the young and old, virtual reality adds a layer to the toolkit of professors and teachers around the world. From a research perspective and a teaching point of view, Education fulfils this remit to broaden horizons and provide access to parts of the globe which were not accessible before. A PhD student can explore relevant elements of their study in the OR, or a teacher can show students a part of the world they're studying. Facebook wants to tap into this and become a 'go-to' source for knowledge, plus an incredible medium to view it on.

Photo courtesy of Kotaku


March 24, 2014Published by: Drew

Project Morpheus: Sony’s new virtual reality headset

During GDC 2014, Shuhei Yoshida, Head of the Sony Computer Entertainment arm, announced Project Morpheus-the head mounted, virtual reality prototype built for the Playstation 4. A release date wasn't announced however Mr Yoshida did state that the device would be made available for game developers.  The prototype  currently features  specs which include 1080p display and full 360 degree positional tracing and Mr Yoshida wasn't sheepish in believing the device could "shape the future of games."

Sony's Project Morpheus isn't the first VR headset announced which aims to offer gamers a more immersive gaming experience. Occulus VR, which managed to raise $2.4 million dollars from crowdfunding site Kickstarter, is developing its own VR headset called Occulus Rift. Currently, the technology is only available to developers through a dev kit. At this year's GDC, Occulus announced a second dev kit for developers with the consumer version of the VR headset expected to be released in late 2014 or early 2015.

As wearable tech continues to capture the public's interest with the likes of fuel bands and smart watches, it's looking increasingly likely that, with the Occulus Rift and now Sony's Project Morpheus, virtual reality may be the next technology to captivate consumers.

 

February 4, 2014Published by: Drew

Facebook turns 10: what’s next?

Screenshot 2014-02-04 15.47.07(4)

Today marks the 10th birthday of the social network. The site many like to bash as uncool, on it's way out, a twitching corpse has gone from unique to ubiquitous in a way goes beyond all sense of normal scale. 1.23 billion users, 5% of all digital advertising, 20% of all time spent online, a share price double what is started at when it floated (yet still only one tenth the size of Google), and with London the only English-speaking city in its global top 10, you might say that Facebook is only just getting started.

I for one think Facebook has a bright future, through diversity and innovation. I think what we will see in the future is a web where mobile innovation leads to a number of different must have apps and social networks. Our smart phones will brandish social networks like a Swiss Army knife, and whilst Facebook might not be the new kid on the block any longer, the social web has grown up and there is plenty of room for everyone.

For Facebook as as a business, not being cool amongst a growing, influential youth demographic is a big deal. And that's what many are saying about it right now. So we should expect Facebook to be moving at full speed with its new product development and acquisitions this year. It's new mobile app Paper has just launched in the US, Facebook Messenger has become the phone book for a generation, and Instagram which Facebook acquired nearly two years ago is just getting started.

So for me, there's plenty of life in this old dog yet.

Battenhall's Drew Benvie appeared on BBC World News today, discussing this topic and putting forward his views opposite Professor Daniel Miller.