Yes the new MacBook Pro is impressive, but what else would you expect from Apple? A lame laptop? They are expected to innovate in this space, and honestly it doesn’t feel that mind blowing compared to where their OSes are going. Here are my reasons why social took a giant leap forward at WWDC:
1. OpenStreetMap integration in the new Maps app. A community-run website to provide the data? I would love to see if Apple, in any way, is going to monitor this data source. #Socialmediawin
2. Yelp reviews with Siri. If this isn’t incentive for people to write Yelp reviews, I don’t know what is. The more Siri “learns” = the more she integrates with popular social media services. #Socialmediawin
3. Big pseudo-vote of confidence for Facebook coming immediately after their maligned IPO. Facebook share and post system-wide integration with contact list, music store app and sharing directly to FB itself is much more substantive than Twitter’s integration. #Socialmediawin
4. Rotten Tomatoes reviews. User created reviews of movies? Yes, AppleTV already had this, but another #Socialmediawin
5. Easier image & video posting to Craigslist and Ebay from Mobile Safari. Just in time for those summer garage sales. 😉 #Socialmediawin
6. Yelp integration in the Maps app to display restaurants and shops.
One non-social media note: Sports scores appear to be coming from Yahoo!
Yesterday’s WWDC announcements were at times fascinating (airplay sync’d gaming & Siri updates) and wildly boring (Reminders). Who would have guessed that social media had a shot at stealing the show? There were many important social media-related bits presented during the show that, honestly, seemed a little uninteresting to the people who were presenting them (listen for the “bright idea” comment during the Mountain Lion segment). To the general public, however, they will have a profound effect on their near term social experiences. Below are my personal opinions. I have no official or inside knowledge at Apple or Facebook.
1. The Ping Bang
I’ve written about how Apple’s avoidance of Ping during earnings and WWDC events was a bad sign. Now Facebook integration is coming to the iOS and it’s the dagger in Ping’s heart. If Apple’s claims of “deep integration” are true, I hope the music app on my iPhone becomes aware of the artists I’ve already Liked on Facebook. Will Apple keep their own tally of the Likes just in case Apple wants to learn more about it’s customers? Who knows. From what I recall, access to user data was the big sticking point between Apple and Facebook in the past.
All this Ping news reminded me of this “Top Secret” movie clip:
2. The Official Approval of Facebook and Disapproval of Google+
Steve Jobs’s war cry against Google is still echoing in the halls of Apple. Notice how Google+ wasn’t included in the iOS 6 update? Unless hell freezes over again AND Google+ can demonstrate engagement and audience numbers equivalent to Facebook, it will not be integrated into the iOS system anytime soon. The concerted effort to remove all traces of Google tech (Google Maps & G+ snub) is well underway. What’s left to pull? Gmail/Calendar support? I doubt that would happen any time soon.
3. iAd and Facebook
Facebook needs mobile ad dollars. I’m sure they are close to a solution, but it’s potentially one of the most sensitive updates they will ever have to launch. If people don’t respond well to their method of delivering mobile ads, I think Apple is going to be in a prime position to come to the rescue. Apple is not dependent on advertising revenue, but would love to grow it while learning more about their customer’s social preferences. If a revenue sharing model could be reached, I could see iAds running in the Facebook app. Who knows what level of data could be tracked by Apple to better target their iAd offering.
4. How Passbook and Ping Passed Like Ships in the Night
Concert tickets are a wonderful memento, and based on what I’ve seen on Facebook, get posted there regularly. I can’t help but wonder why concert tickets weren’t included in Passbook. Possibly because they’re not barcodes, but so what? Let’s say Ping wasn’t really slated to be killed. I think Passbook could be connected to Ping and iTunes in a way that would drive conversation and lure people back. Especially if a financial incentive was offered, like free music downloads or content for those who either attended the show or participated in the conversation on Ping.
Why Ping Failed
This wasn’t part of the show but let’s talk about it anyway.
Assuming the All Things D report of Ping’s near-term demise isn’t true, here are my top 5 reasons why I think Ping needs to get pulled back into Apple for rethinking:
1. No ability to upload images or videos. Photos and videos from concerts are a compelling source of content for social networks, but Ping didn’t allow it. All you could do is write a text note.
2. Poor store integration. If you look at the Ping front page, it’s all about what music your friends have purchased. And that’s it. A long receipt of their purchases in chronological order—not very compelling. If you click into an album that a friend has purchased, you see the typical album page in iTunes and your friend’s content is buried in the left column of the page.
3. Apple doesn’t understand how music fits into the larger content consumption by their customers. People don’t obsessively discuss music on Facebook. They also don’t want to do it in the confines of a store like iTunes. Music to many people on Facebook is like an FYI. It’s not the majority of compelling conversations or interactions.
4. Lack of persistence to bring me into the fold. The setup process and pressure to add friends or go find artists is lacking. People need prodding to make a social network work for them. Ping didn’t do that. Once you passed the basic setup process, you were left with your friend’s shopping receipt.
5. Lack of response from friends. The typical display of the receipt shows no reaction or rating of the album or song your friend purchased. That lack of return experience really makes the place feel dead. I would love to know what my friend thought of the record or song. I would also love to know if they included it in a playlist. I think Spotify does a great job of this.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Facebook engaged in the following activities:
In December 2009, Facebook changed its website so certain information that users may have designated as private – such as their Friends List – was made public. They didn’t warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance.
Facebook represented that third-party apps that users’ installed would have access only to user information that they needed to operate. In fact, the apps could access nearly all of users’ personal data – data the apps didn’t need.
Facebook told users they could restrict sharing of data to limited audiences – for example with “Friends Only.” In fact, selecting “Friends Only” did not prevent their information from being shared with third-party applications their friends used.
Facebook had a “Verified Apps” program & claimed it certified the security of participating apps. It didn’t.
Facebook promised users that it would not share their personal information with advertisers. It did.
Facebook claimed that when users deactivated or deleted their accounts, their photos and videos would be inaccessible. But Facebook allowed access to the content, even after users had deactivated or deleted their accounts.
Facebook claimed that it complied with the U.S.- EU Safe Harbor Framework that governs data transfer between the U.S. and the European Union. It didn’t.
This has resulted in a staggering settlement:
Under the terms of the settlement Facebook must obtain approval from users before making changes to the way their personal data is shared on the network. For the next 20 years, Facebook must also submit to scheduled checkups by “independent, third-party auditors” to ensure that the company’s privacy policies and practices do not violate users’ rights.
One has to wonder just what the harsher side of the settlement deal was from the FTC, assuming this is a middle ground. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out not just in Facebook, but also Google+.
When I watched the Andy Samberg comedy intro and obvious entrance by Mark Zuckerberg, I was struck by the strangely long delay before the audience began to applaud his appearance. I think of that now on the day after Steve Jobs passed away, and can’t help to compare their vastly different audience reactions when their own shows. Am I wrong in this? It really felt like people didn’t want to naturally clap but then joined in only after a few brave souls took the lead.
Today, with the noticeable numerous UX changes on Facebook, many people I’m directly connected to or read about via 3rd party social media news websites seem to be more upset about those changes than others in the past. I think I might know why.
Dealing with Change
Last night I was watching What Not to Wear with my wife and noticed a connection between two pretty disparate things. If you’re not familiar with the show, an individual is “nominated” by their “friends” to participate because the poor soul has a horrific wardrobe and can’t/won’t/doesn’t realize she needs to change. The participant then agrees to bring her full wardrobe to NYC for an on-camera evaluation by 2 stylists. The evaluation ALWAYS ends the same: with a large trash can full of the entire wardrobe after a funny yet somewhat harsh review of the clothes and the participant’s verbal explanation/rationale for dressing the way she did. Sometimes people cry when their clothes are thrown in the can. Others get mad. A very small number of these people are genuinely happy and prepared for the journey ahead.
From a logical point of view, getting $5,000 for an entirely new wardrobe with the help of professional stylists sounds amazing, right? Emotionally, people’s identities are being thrown in that can. They’re being ridiculed; made into fodder for us to laugh at and say “What was she thinking?” The emotional bond all people have with their curated physical identity (their clothes) is very similar to the digital identity they’ve created: their curation of friendships and ways of navigating the Facebook environment.
It’s In the Delivery
Software companies like to update their products. On the iOS platform (iPhone/iPad), it’s usually a “good thing.” People are excited to see an update. They’re generally happy with fixes, are easy to install, and ultimately feel better off for doing so. On a bigger scale, the Mac OS updates have historically had more hoopla. More of an explanation of the changes that are about to occur, and most importantly, the litany of benefits to be had by the user. The biggest thing to note about an iOS update is that it’s optional. Theoretically, a user never has to update an app if they don’t want to. They can continue to use it as is for eternity because they enjoy the benefits the features and user experience (UX) affords them.
Facebook isn’t like that at all.
Facebook changes happen overnight. They happen with no warning, and they also happen with no backward path to the experience you had before. It’s very darwinian, and to me, would measure very low on an emotional intelligence scale.
Of the numerous similarities between a computer’s operating system and the Facebook UX, one stands out to me today. It involves the handling of a user’s personal data. I’m not talking about privacy settings. I’m talking about the general user experience one has with the pieces of information they’ve either created or accrued over time. That data tends to be irreplaceable. Just ask anyone who’s suffered from a hard disk failure.
It seems to me that Facebook might not fully grasp, or at least heavily factor into it’s decision making process, the type of data they’re addressing when making these changes. (I’m sure if someone from Facebook reads this, they’ll dispute it. To which I will say, let me sit in on a meeting and we’ll see…)
I think Facebook should try to incorporate a new way of feeling about UX.
To me, Facebook needs to understand that their UX decisions are directly connected to a person’s emotional understanding and organization of their social network. People spend time in Facebook making sure they see what they want to and who they don’t. They’re not doing this to “streamline their UX,” but to help recreate the mental image and feelings they have about the people they know.
Should Facebook be more open about it’s plans? I think we have enough examples of this “launch and don’t look back” approach to say yes. A simple heads up and potential for a backwards path or delayed upgrade will help users understand where things are headed. It will also help calm the regular threats of defection to Google+ or outright calls for mass “Facebook suicides.” Those options are not in their brand’s best interest.
Maybe an Apple-like presentation about the upcoming changes would be good to introduce them. Walk people through the rationale behind the updates and how it’s better. After the show, there could be this interesting dialogue where not only users could discuss them but Facebook could LISTEN and LEARN from those comments. Maybe expand this conversation online? Somewhere these people already are…where they could feel safe and like they’re being heard….Surely there has to be a place for this, right?
Events like those unfolding in Japan put things in perspective for me this week. SXSW seems so hard to think about when a Tsunami wave from Japan was captured on video in our backyard of Emeryville, CA:
Case in point but on a much smaller scale—a short blog post by Seth Godin also put things in perspective for me this week. He describes how the “drive-by technorati” regularly announce the death of different technologies. Yet, they generally aren’t involved in the “real work of creating work that matters and lasts.” It’s hard not to agree with Mr. Godin. You certainly can innovate in old spaces—for example: coupon delivery.
Thanks to Groupon, digital coupons have become the hot topic. But is this really the space in which Facebook should innovate? Coupon delivery? Social media’s most predominant and powerful platform could be thinking about new ways to make technology more personal, how to affect real third-party change in technology so that it is more social and, hopefully, useful to people. Would Steve Jobs, after hearing about the Facebook announcement, sit in his office and think, “Good thing they really get the idea behind the iPhone.”
Facebook has the potential to radically change our national education system, the ability to fundamentally alter how democracy in the United States works to serve the citizens, and the reach to inspire millions of people to do more good in the world than they do right now.
Too lofty? I don’t think so. Look at the recent effort by Craig Newmark with his newly announced Craigconnects project. Or what Twitter co-founder Biz Stone will take on with his new role as “strategic adviser for social impact” across the Huffington Post Media Group and the rest of AOL’s assets by developing a platform to help people share their work in their local community. He will create a video series about people and companies at the “forefront of philanthropy and corporate responsibility.” To quote Arianna Huffington, “Since one of our key goals is to explore and spotlight innovative ways that our company – as well as others – can do good, I’m thrilled that Biz Stone will be our strategic partner in this important endeavor.”
Mobile will play a massive role in getting big ideas off the ground. There is real innovation yet to come. I love the energy around social and mobile technology. This week just has me wishing for something bigger than a mobile coupon.