Category Archives: Trends

Well, it’s over. Or almost. Everything you think you know about the next five years at least is over. Decisions have been made — in reality a mini-revolution has occurred — and yes, it includes you and that little palm-sized gadget you’re married to. This revolution is all about you, requires your participation, and will fundamentally shift everything about your life. It’s happening — the train has left the station — and you’re an unwitting passenger.

Now that we’re on the cusp of a majority of Americans owning a smartphone, the sleeping giant of big business is starting to wake up and realize that their future profits rely on generating revenue from the little devices. Have they been slow to figure out how to monetize them? Yes. But now they have a few years of data on how you use your device, what you want from it, what you expect from it, and what you may be willing to do with it.

This mini-revolution revolves around what is called social commerce. ‘Cause what we definitely need is another term with the word “social” in it. But listen closely — social commerce is important — both for the web and the mobile marketplace. Social commerce is being ushered in by smart, one-tap types of companies: Open Table, Uber, Solo, First Dibs, and to some extent even the grand-daddies like Twitter. Social commerce is all about providing you a service that is defined by simplicity — the greatest, most successful apps are the simplest to use — and the data shows you are willing to pay for ease of use. Those that turn your smartphone into a remote control for your life are the ones that succeed: with Uber, tap a button and a car comes to take you away — are we living in nirvana? Your mobile behavior has told the marketplace that you will engage in social commerce with apps that add value to your lifestyle — your credit card is on file.

What does this say? It says that as businesses transition from the desktop/PC era to mobile, they should have both a short-term and long-term goal: in the short-term they should focus on developing a compelling user experience to gain and retain a diverse user base. Long-term they must monetize their service: once you’re hooked into their user experience, and you’ve made it a part of your life, you’ll pay for it. Simple. However, monetization must be more than just jamming ads into the feed. Ads alone will carry a company in their transition to mobile for 2-3 years, but there’s a tipping point when too many ads will degrade the user experience. The bottom line for the long-term view is there needs to be a reason to pay for the service.

The device in your hand is altering your life. And once companies transition to full-on mobile services, you will have more options to add one-tap experiences that enrich your life. You’re on the train, so hold on — it will be a bumpy ride — but you’re the central focus. It’s gonna work for you one way or another. That’s been decided.

Gangnam Startup Style (photo via Michael O'Donnell/ZatPhoto.com)

One of the hottest songs to hit the airwaves over the past few weeks is not something you think would become mainstream. “Gangnam Style“, a song with a rocking beat by the South Korean artist, Psy, has become such a sensation, it’s even been performed by Psy himself on the Today Show during their Toyota concert series. After more than 215 million views on YouTube, this pop sensation has definitely opened itself up to a myriad of spoofs and parodies, including this Chatroulette version and the creative wedding version.

Being here in the tech capital of the world, I suppose it was only a matter of time that it would become a huge hit…and the community definitely did not disappoint.

Organized by Refer.ly co-founder, Danielle Morrill, the startup community put together their own version of “Gangnam Style” and today it was released to the world for everyone to see. It’s a mish-mash of footage from both people who videoed themselves doing the dance and also when Mrs. Morrill’s camera crew went around town collecting footage. But just who in the tech world would best portray the indomitable spirit of Psy? There are obviously a few good choices, but in the startup parody, it actually was a bunch of different people just having fun doing the horse-riding dance and everything else.

SXSW 2012 - Samsung TechSet Blogger LoungeHave you ever wondered what people were talking about when they were saying “Honeybadger don’t care” or “Double Rainbow!” or perhaps are at a loss when people as you if you saw the Internet blow up when Congressman Todd Akin made a controversial statement or what people are talking about when they refer to #NBCFail? Well one clear source for the latest trends happening on the Internet just happens to be the original web series “What’s Trending” hosted by television personality, actress, and blogger, Shira Lazar.

Each week, this one-hour program airs to share with the Internet community the latest and greatest things happening so you’re aware of the trends that technology is having on our lives. Sure, it might not affect you directly, but let’s face it, the world is moving at much faster pace with the increased usage of the Internet and one simply cannot reply on watching the regularly scheduled news at 10 or 11pm to find out what’s happening…so it falls to services like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and other creative services to help fill that goal to share the wealth of knowledge in order to get you up-to-date on the happenings affecting your life. Would the world known so much about the internal conflicts of the Arab Spring had it not been for the Internet? What about results and news of the London 2012 Summer Olympics? Occupy Wall Street movements? A lot more have become aware of not only world events, but also cultural and societal news that have helped to shape the world as we know it.

A screen on a smartphone showing a text message to an AT&T customer, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)Confession time: I recently decided to upgrade my phone and picked up the iPhone 4S with Verizon Wireless.

As some of you may know, for the past couple years, I had been an Android user, absolutely refusing to upgrade to the iPhone. Why? It wasn’t because of pure hatred of iOS or its applications, but because I wasn’t so sure about whether I really wanted the iPhone. Sure, a lot of people have told me that if I wanted to sample the latest applications that are out on the market, then I needed to be able to be on the iPhone. I suppose that I thought I’d be able to temporarily supplant that need simply by using an iPad, but eventually I gave in and went with the iPhone. But it wasn’t a smooth of transition as one might expect.

The last Android device that I had was the HTC Thunderbolt, which was on Verizon’s 4G network and I really liked. It was somewhat big in size and took some getting used to, but I liked downloading the different apps and was even happier when “new” apps came to Google Play, after spending months or years being available in the Apple store. Nevertheless, I had been experiencing some signal and data issues on my Thunderbolt recently and after being instructed to do a factory reset in the hope that it would resolve the issue (which it didn’t), I was told that I could either have Verizon send me a new Thunderbolt and still be month-to-month on my plan or renew for another two years. Now, normally this wouldn’t be something to write about…I mean, why would you care about my data plan? Well, turns out that because Verizon recently updated their data plans and no longer have unlimited data, I was in a bit of a pickle. You see, it turns out that I’m one of the above-average data users–each month, I’m averaging about 3 GB of data being used. So if I rolled over to Verizon’s new plans, I would be paying a bit more than what I’m currently doing now.

Uber DCI can’t tell you how much I love riding Uber. Ever since I’ve moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve been hanging out downtown and other neighborhoods until late at night when there’s either no bus service readily available or a scarcity of cabs and in desperate need to get home. My problems continue when there are cabs available and either (a) don’t stop, or (b) do stop and tell me that they can’t take me to my destination. Why? I have no idea…but while some might decide to wallow in their desperation about just how they can get home, thankfully I have Uber to come in and save my day. While I’m not enjoying the fact that it’s quite expensive over the course of time, every now and then, I find it necessary and that even worth spoiling myself over just to call on Uber to get me home or wherever I need them to take me.

So you’ll understand my excitement when I travel to another city and discover that Uber is there as well–just this past weekend, I was in Los Angeles and decided to venture out from my hotel to a bar to hang out with my friends. Normally I would probably hop in a cab, but after finding out that Uber was servicing the area, I decided to go that route and was pleased with the response.

Unfortunately, my experience with this great disruptive service isn’t necessarily shared by everyone–not every really cares for what Travis Kalanick and Ryan Graves has done, and there are some that are trying to stifle it in favor of continued promotion of a traditional system and favored industry. In Washington, DC, a town with a growing tech community, the city council recently debated over an amendment to their city that would revolutionize their dilapidated cab service, but punish Uber’s DC service. Why? No one really seems to know the truth to why the DC city council would go that route, but some may speculate that the taxi industry is a powerful lobby in the city. Even politicians have tried to punish the startup–in early January, DC Taxicab Commission chairman Ron Linton used a sting to try and claim that Uber’s operations in the nation’s capital were illegal. Other cities have been hammering on the service as well. But what do they have to fear? Another method for people to get around? Something ingenious that uses technology to help provide better response? An even easier method that would help expedite payments? Who knows, but it seems to have gotten worse for Uber…