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Google Launches Google+ iPhone App, Expands Critical Mobile Presence

After weeks of speculation, Google has received approval from Apple to release the Google+ iPhone app. However, the highly anticipated launch did not go off without a hitch. The first release of the Google+ iPhone app was buggy and highly unstable, frequently crashing and logging out users at random. Google quickly identified and rectified the issue, releasing an updated version of the app an astonishing 1 hour and 40 minutes after the initial launch.

Lead Project Manager for Google+ Mobile, Punit Soni, revealed early this morning (on Google+, of course) that the App Store was serving early downloaders a test version of the Google+ iPhone app.

(Some users report the Google+ iPhone app is not showing up in searches within the App Store. Here is the download link for the app, accessible through your iOS device.)

The app allows users to access their Stream, comment on and +1 other user’s posts, but the current version of the app does not allow users to re-share posts in their Stream. Soni, in response to Robert Scoble’s post reviewing the app, announced an in-stream Share feature is in the works. The app provides access to Photos from your Circles, your personal albums and all photos stored on your iPhone, and allows you to upload and geotag photos to Google+. Check out the full Google+ for iPhone review from Mashable, which includes 20 in-app pictures.

Google+ iPhone App - Screenshot

One of the key features driving the Google+ iPhone app’s utility over the browser-based version is the mobile-optimized Huddle feature. The success of Google+ will be largely driven by its seamless integration between mobile and desktop, and the two-way or group chat Huddle feature enables Google+ to become a central hub of mobile activity, replacing text messaging and additional group chat applications if the app gains widespread traction.

The brief and uncharacteristic early hiccup was positively overshadowed by Google’s quick update, and the Google+ iPhone app paves the way for Google+ to further penetrate the mobile environment, a critical battleground in the heavyweight bout between Google+ and Facebook. If Google+ can continue the growth trajectory it has enjoyed during its invitation-only trial phase, and perhaps beat Facebook to the punch with a standout iPad app, the social networking landscape that seemed set in stone just months ago will be poised for significant transformation. This competition between two immeasurably smart and talent-rich companies will only lead to stronger products and a better user experience, and that is something we can all look forward to.

Still searching for an invite to Google+? Click HERE for an invite, courtesy of @LetsChatBiz.


Rise and Fall of MySpace is A Lesson for Facebook

MySpace was the king of the early social Web, with nearly 76 million monthly unique visitors at its peak in December 2008. It spawned the careers of several music mega-stars, and brought in as much as $470 million a year in advertising revenues. When News Corp. purchased the social network for $580 million from Intermix, MySpace was poised to become the transformative centerpiece of a new media empire. Shortly thereafter, a 21-year-old Mark Zuckerberg turned down a $1.6 billion offer from Yahoo!, and the world balked at his seemingly uncontrollable arrogance and idiocy. My, how time reveals all.

This week, with the backdrop of LinkedIn, Pandora, Groupon and Zynga enjoying multi-billion dollar valuations, MySpace was auctioned off to Specific Media (and Justin Timberlake) for a paltry $35 million, shrinking into the shadows of the new era of online and social media. Facebook, once dwarfed by the size and power of MySpace, is poised to go public in the next 9 months valued at over $100 billion. It seems Mark Zuckerberg, now personally worth over $18 billion thanks to Facebook, isn’t the arrogant fool many perceived him to be.

Instead, Zuckerberg is hailed as a genius, a visionary and has been crowned the King of the Web. His company is expected to pull in $2.19 billion in revenues in 2011 and double- and triple-digit growth in annual display ad revenue has vaulted Facebook past Yahoo! and Google to the forefront of display advertising. Today, Facebook enjoys the company of over 700 million users, while MySpace continues to shed millions of users and traffic has fallen off a cliff.

MySpace v Facebook BloombergBusinessWeek

Facebook is on a tear, and at times appears unstoppable. But if there is one thing Silicon Valley and the online world has learned, things can change in a heartbeat. As Google likes to say, the competitors are always just one click away, and in social networking, any exodus almost exclusively means a total exodus. When your friends flee, you flee. Facebook must learn from the mistakes MySpace made if it wants to avoid the same fate, especially considering how poorly regarded the company’s image is in spite of its massive size and success.

Mismanagement, a total disregard for the user, an onslaught of spam, fake profiles and spammy features and an ill-fated sale to a massive old media overlord are just a few of the missteps that took MySpace from a company that could have been worth billions to a nuisance happily discarded for pennies on the dollar.

Facebook’s first achievement on this path came years ago, when Mark Zuckerberg shocked the world and turned down a $1.6 billion offer for a company with little to no revenues. MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe noted to Bloomberg Businessweek that the News Corp. acquisition deprived his company of the start-up culture upon which the company was built and thrived. A relatively slow and simple introduction of advertising features on Facebook, partnered with a voracious focus on the user experience, has kept Facebook users from feeling exploited (at least not by ads, privacy concerns are another issue.) Partnerships with Zynga (which just filed to IPO valued at $20 billion and is hoping to raise up to $1B) and search giants Bing, Yahoo! and Google have made Facebook the core of the modern Web experience.

The potential for Facebook to succeed where MySpace failed is astounding, but rather than celebrating their victories over the fallen competitor, Facebook must treasure the opportunity to explore exactly how MySpace fell short, and how they can deliver mind-blowingly positive experiences to their users every step of the way.

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Img. Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

From Avatar to the iPad 2 – We’re in an Experience Driven Economy

You know the feeling. Being so profoundly overtaken by awe, laughter, incredulity or amazement. Experiences like these tap into the deepest and purest of human emotions, and serve as powerful motivators. We are in a new economic era; an era in which savvy businesses craft their product and service strategies with the specific and overarching goal of creating compelling consumer experiences.

Hollywood was among the first industries to recognize that even the best stories need great packaging to become the mega-hits that bring swarms of people to theaters in costumes and tents, waiting for hours to experience the story. Avatar was not a multi-billion dollar smash hit because the story was particularly exceptional or because audiences were deeply committed to the film’s message of environmentalism. The film attracted an enormous and diverse audience of moviegoers craving to immerse themselves in the engrossing experience James Cameron expertly crafted. The impressive 3D effects, captivating majesty of Pandora and exceptionally-directed audio throughout the film catapulted audiences into a foreign world, allowing them to experience the story in a way that simply was not possible even twenty years ago. James Cameron isn’t just selling movie tickets. He is selling an experience. Entertainment locations like Universal’s Harry Potter theme park and Disneyworld don’t sell roller coaster tickets and concessions. They sell an experience. Starbucks isn’t selling coffee and pastries. It is selling an experience.

Avatar Movie Wallpaper

The entertainment industry was a pioneer, but new players are encouraged by the success they’ve seen and are increasing their efforts to weave the overall consumer or experience into every decision they make.

The resurgence of Apple as a beloved consumer and cultural icon can be directly linked to its insistence on providing unique and powerfully positive experiences to its customers. One only needs to step inside an Apple retail store to understand how well this strategy has caught on. Flocks of current and would-be customers seem suspended in a perpetual state of bliss and fascination as they explore and tinker with the latest iPhones, iPads and MacBooks. Even months after a product is released, Apple stores are bustling with activity and energy. Why? Because Apple created a hands-on experience and instills a sense of ownership in its customers.

But what makes Apple such a unique and powerful example of experience-driven strategy is its array of products designed to wow the users’ senses. The touch, audio and visual interactions that characterize the company’s most successful products have taken a company that was once a quarter or two away from a low-ball acquisition and made it a beloved symbol of quality, innovation and excellence. (Author’s note: I give high praise to Apple, but I’m no ‘fanboy’ – I have happily used a PC for 15 years and will critique Apple if/when necessary.)

Apple iPad 2 Customers in Store

Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and others are carefully crafting new and addictive user experiences that have led to astounding engagement and interaction metrics. The genuinely positive experience of interacting with your social connections and having the ability to share your own story is an experience we – as humans – crave.

From luxury car dealerships and IMAX theaters to retail stores and theme parks, business are trending toward products and services driven by a foundation of selling experiences. These experiences are powerful, and as technology advances even further, the experiences will become deeper, more interactive and more compelling. An incredible, truly wowing experience with a product or service is rare, but if businesses can deliver one, they are poised for transformative success.

NOTE: Visit on your iPad for a unique, Flipboard-esque experience driven by Onswipe and WordPress.

Facebook Poised to Reveal Comment Platform

Facebook is preparing to take the next step in its quest to monetize its exponential growth and continued dominance of the social Web. Reports surfaced this week that Facebook will introduce a third-party commenting platform for publishers across the Web.

The incredible success of Facebook Connect has convinced the Palo Alto-based company that significant potential lies in its ability to forge partnerships with media and content producers that integrate social connections into a wide variety of Web experiences. (Facebook has recently taken steps in courting major media publishers like Time Warner in an effort to pursue new platforms of integration and penetration.) More than two million Web properties have taken advantage of Facebook’s “Like” function to drive traffic and increase user engagement, and a Facebook commenting platform will continue to grow that number.

Facebook Like

To date, Disqus has been a fairly ubiquitous presence as the comment tool of choice for top publishers like TechCrunch, Mashable, The Wall Street Journal and many others. Users can give articles a “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down” and can comment via Disqus through their Twitter or Facebook accounts, but Facebook’s new commenting platform threatens to displace Disqus as the king of commenting.

Facebook already has nearly 600 million users; no need to set up a new account, no need to give application permissions, no hassle. Publishers can’t drive engagement if they aren’t connecting with people, and a partnership with Facebook means instant access to hundreds of millions of users and their friends. Readers can “Like” and comment on a piece of content, and the power of social proof produces a snowball effect that increases traffic and extends online reach as those actions permeate onto users’ news feeds, boosting awareness and driving new traffic to the site. Reports indicate users will also be able to vote for and against comments in a stream, and a Facebook-run moderation system may be in the works. is already using a version of Facebook’s commenting platform, and major online publishers like The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and TIME are prime candidates to adopt the service as it is rolled out.

Facebook Comments

As CNET pointed out, Facebook has developed a significant slate of new products in recent months, including Facebook Places, Facebook Deals and Facebook Questions, providing instant competition for companies like Foursquare, Groupon and Quora. While each of these products are still in their infancy, its conceivable that the rising prominence of social media in business and the utter dominance of Facebook within the social realm will force properties and publishers to adopt Facebook tools for fear of missing out on its massive and addicted user base.

The benefits of Facebook integration to publishers are clear, but why would Facebook continue to offer its API to these properties for free? In return for enabling social integration, Facebook often receives extensive data on a publisher’s audience, which can in turn be combined with Facebook’s knowledge of its users’ activities to improve ad targeting on its own network. Understanding user intent and preference is critical, and the ability for Facebook to better understand the behavior of its users away from its own network is a key factor in advancing the company’s efforts to monetize in a period of hyper growth and massive external investment.

Social integration has become a crucial part of the success of online publishers, and given the widespread popularity of early Facebook integrations, the release of a Facebook commenting platform is a significant threat to Disqus, Echo and the other startups that have led the way thus far.

Battle of the Blogs

[UPDATE 2: We’re proud to announce Let’s Chat Business has been voted the “Top Business & IT Blog of 2010” by SoftCity! Thank you for your support – we couldn’t have done it without you.

Social commerce and tech community website, SoftCity, is hosting Battle of the Blogs, highlighting the best blogs across the web in six categories. Users can nominate and vote for their favorite blogs for an opportunity to win daily prizes, including Amazon gift cards and one of six Apple iPods.

(Check out this MSNBC article showcasing the contest and the SoftCity mission.)

Let’s Chat Business is proud to be featured in the “Business and IT” category alongside web heavyweights Seth Godin and Xconomy.

Vote for Let’s Chat Business HERE for a chance to win some great prizes!

Vote for @LetsChatBiz in the SoftCity Battle of the Blogs

LCB is approaching its first anniversary, and I’d like thank you for your amazing support thus far. Your continued readership has been phenomenal, and I truly appreciate you taking the time to visit the site, share your thoughts, and push the conversation forward.

Follow @LetsChatBiz on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook.

We’re On Facebook!

As Let’s Chat Business continues to develop and expand its reach online, we’re utilizing new tools to interact with readers in more ways than ever before. You’ll find us here on WordPress, on Twitter (@LetsChatBiz), and now, on Facebook!

To “Like” Let’s Chat Business on Facebook, click here.

The growth I’m seeing is exciting and inspiring. It has been a blast building LCB from the ground up, and I’m thrilled to see how the future unfolds!

Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of you, the reader, and I would like to express my gratitude for your continued interest and support in the community we are creating together.

I hope you’ll continue to read and share your opinions as Let’s Chat Business grows and develops. If you haven’t yet – join the conversation!

Three Easy Ways to Promote Your Brand For Free – Pt. 1

The massive amount of buzz surrounding the release of Apple’s new tablet computer, the iPad, has spread like wildfire through nearly every magazine, news program, blog, and social networking site. It’s no secret that Apple has mastered the art of product promotion, brand recognition, and advertising effectiveness. Not every company, however, has the scope, resources, or skills that Apple does to generate this seemingly ubiquitous buzz about their products and services. For most businesses, especially in these economic times, it is simply a lack of adequate capital to fund a high-quality, wide-reaching marketing campaign. Alas, not all is lost!

If you take advantage of a few highly effective and readily accessible resources, you can begin to catapult your brand and your business to the next level of development and success. Over the next few days, I’ll discuss three quick, free, and most importantly, effective methods to spread your message and grow your brand awareness.

Part 1) Hop on the social networking bandwagon:

If you haven’t yet created accounts for your business on the web’s most popular social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), you are missing out on a uniquely effect powerful tool to extend your company’s reach. These sites provide free access to literally hundreds of millions of potential customers. Beyond the advertising platform the site offers, Facebook allows you to create a dedicated page for your company. Your business can directly communicate with past, current, and future customers – responding to feedback, gauging changes in attitudes and desires, and informing them of new products, discounts, and events. Create interactive platforms for users to participate in, fostering personal identification with your brand.

Twitter has become the media darling in the past two years, and you would be hard-pressed to find a celebrity, friend, family member, or colleague that doesn’t tweet (or perhaps for the less-experienced ones, “twit”) the everyday thoughts and experiences in their lives. Businesses are starting to dive into the primitive science of Twitter Marketing as a fun, fresh, and easy way to communicate their brand to their customers in 140 characters or less. Offering exclusive discounts to Twitter users not only can increase your sales, but it can foster a sense of belonging and inclusion that is vital to building brand loyalty with your customers.

Among the many benefits of Twitter is the availability of the Trending Topics tool. This week, Twitter unveiled the Local Trending Topics feature, enabling users to dial in to the hot topics in their city. Not only does this offer your business the opportunity to capitalize upon current trends to better target your products and services, it allows you access to instant market research in areas you may be looking to expand to. Remember, the more knowledge and data that you have access to, the better you can calculate your company’s strategic vision.

While it may be tempting to discount social networking as a marketing tool because of its seemingly informal atmosphere, it is important to recognize that if properly utilized, these entirely free sites offer the opportunity to spread your brand’s image, grow your customer base, and increase sales of your products and services. Sites that can be updated on-the-go like Facebook and Twitter can provide your business with increased visibility, raw data, customer interaction, and platforms for promotion – all for free! Utilize them properly and you can expand your business, big or small, faster and more efficiently than you ever thought possible.