Another wrap up of the stuff that caught my eye this week. (Again, not necessarily stuff that was new this week, so not necessarily news…)
Facebook Home hijacks the Android experience
The thing that I think we will look back on as being the big story must be the launch of Facebook Home. Don't be misled by the idea that this is a "Facebook phone" in the sense of a piece of hardware — this is a Facebook app that takes over Android, turning it from a Google experience into a Facebook experience. The friction between Google and Facebook might make developments interesting — two companies very publicly committed to "open" (which of course means they benefit from other people being "open"). Matt Drance has a piece on Apple Outsider where he makes the point that;
…the Google – Facebook war is sure to be more vicious than the Google – Apple war because Google and Facebook have the same customers: advertisers. Users are their currency, and Facebook is about to rob the bank.
More importantly, it's just the beginning — version 1.0. Lots has been written about what people think about it by people who haven't seen it, let alone lived with it, so I'm not planning to add to that chatter. Suffice to say that the idea of spending 8 hours a month on Facebook (an approximate average for the desktop site), Home users will be spending more like 8 hours a day on Facebook. I assume that as time goes by, we will be seeing more about "frictionless sharing" and data collection from the app. Also, it will be interesting to see how the networks handle it — I can well imagine Facebook-only data being bundled with mobile contracts separately from web data.
Wired.com has an interview with [Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook Home, Money, and the Future of Communication](http://www.wired.com/magazine/2013/04/facebookqa/ ) which is worth a read. If you are more interested in the advertising side of things, then there is a brief overview on the Spreading Jam site. Key point;
Facebook has committed to displaying ads on Coverfeed, but it remains to be seen how fans react to brand messaging on the very face of their mobile.
Speaking of mobile, I've been wrestling with the challenges of getting a meaningful understanding of how people are actually using their smartphones at work recently. Hopefully, I'll have more to share about that soon(ish), but for now here are a couple of stories I've seen a few times that highlight the problem;
According to the latest report from Net Applications (via All Things D), Apple's Safari continues to be the top mobile browser. Safari for iOS was responsible for 61.79% of total mobile internet traffic during the month of March, an increase from 55.41% in February. Safari's closest competitor for mobile browser dominance was Google's Android browser, which had a 21.86% share of Web traffic in March.Opera Mini came in third with 8.4%, Chrome registered 2.43%, and Microsoft Internet Explorer was the final major contender, with 1.99%. Net Applications includes traffic from both smartphones and tablets, and the data that it collects comes from more than 160 million visits to 40,000 websites each month.
So- a 3:1 ratio between iOS and Android's native browsers, based on visitors to a sample of websites.
Today, the U.S. consumer spends an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes per day on smartphones and tablets. 80% of that time (2 hours and 7 minutes) is spent inside apps and 20% (31 minutes) is spent on the mobile web.
So —80% of all "mobile time" is in apps, and just 20% in browsers. 12% of that 'mobile browser time' is in Safari (4% 'Android Native') — so the 3:1 ratio seems consistent. (This is despite Android numbers being far higher than iPhones.)
But coming back to Facebook for a moment - 18% of all 'mobile time' is on Facebook — making it a more popular 'browser' than iOS and Android's browsers combined.
The bit that I don't understand— how Flurry actually measure this? I need to do some more digging, but as I understand it, there isn't a good way to measure Safari browser usage unless you are tracking the websites being browsed (Flurry's product is app Analytics.) Which also means that they have a reason to tell the "apps more important than the web" story. So I'm taking those numbers with a pinch of salt for now.
More when I figure it out…
Loudness Measurement: Improving sound for the BBC and other broadcasters. I find it weird that the 'music industry' has been pushing to make music sound louder so that it cuts through better over the radio, when radio is becoming less and less important in the world of record sales. Surely there is a story waiting to be told about mastering music for the listeners instead of for the airwaves… anyway, if you're interested in the "loudness wars", you might be interested in this article.
The profound joy of getting rid of stuff — I'm going through an "organising" phase at the moment, and this does a good job of summing up what it is that I'm chasing when I'm ripping my DVDs, scanning old paperwork and generally digitising things so I can throw them away. (Or at least stash them in the attic — I haven't got round to actually addressing my hoarding instincts yet; just managing them…)
An interesting look at the OUYA reviews, who appear to missing the point that this is a games console that isn't supposed to be competing with the PS3 (or 4) or Xbox 360 (or whatever's next.)
Kind of reminded me of the reactions when the Nintento Wii came out — complaining that it didn't have HD graphics or a DVD player, and completely missing the fact that it was going to appeal to a massive market who really couldn't care less about those issues.
Also, it occurs to me that Android has become something much bigger than the new mobile operating system — it now seems to be the new GNU/Linux. Which is something that will mean nothing to anyone who doesn't know/care what GNU is (clue: GNU is Not Linux), but might be upsetting to people who care about a particular type of Free software…
Writing and thinking
Sponsors Now Pay for Online Articles, Not Just Ads — been reading a bit about this idea of "native advertising" recently, where companies pay to have their articles published by major websites/blogs. Not only does it strike me as a little strange that a publisher would compromise their own brands so willingly by publishing someone else's story like this, but it makes me wonder about the future of publishing in general. If media is getting more fragmented, with smaller and smaller audiences, while being funded by advertising who are paying to reach (large) audiences, I don't see this trajectory being anything other than a self destruct course where they end up competing directly with brands who are making their own content themselves. (I guess it saves the effort of just rewriting corporate press releases…)
It feels a bit wrong to boil an article like this down to a couple of sentences and a pithy quote, but this is a great article about what is great about the tiny minority of online writing that is "of value to the intelligent general reader". A strong argument about why the rise of both the power of the reader and the writer means less importance for publishers, and on why we overalue 'new' writing.
"Come the 19th Century, the English poet William Barnes was still fighting the "ink-horn" battle against such foreign barbarities as preface and photograph which, he suggested should be rechristened "foreword" and "sun print" in order to achieve proper Englishness."
A lovely look at why people get cross about changing language.
The Question All Smart Visualizations Should Ask - Michael Schrage and Visualization as Process, Not Output — two great articles at Harvard Business Review on data visualisation. (A topic I'm going to be diving deeply into at work over the next month or so…)
A couple of posts on the subject of why eBooks aren't moving past just being books and onto becoming their own unique medium; [Why Do We Keep Making Ebooks Like Paper Books?](http://gizmodo.com/5993800/why-do-we-keep-making-ebooks-like-paper-books ) at Gizmodo, and [The problem with eBooks…](http://memex.naughtons.org/archives/2013/04/06/18272 ) by John Naughton.
The reaction to the Philpott case this week got under my skin — particularly the idea that what seems to be very obviously an outlier is an illustration of what's wrong with the welfare system. Not really a topic that I want to dwell on (personally, I'd draw the connection between his violent past and the fact that as a soldier, he was a state-trained killer.) But here is a post on The Daily Mail front page you will never see, which probably does a better job than I would.