We at Google… Search]ology

•05/12/2009 • 1 Comment

Google is holding one of our Searchology events this morning, to discuss “an insider’s perspective on Search including recent innovtions.” Speakers will include Vice President of Search Products and User Experience Marissa Mayer. You can actually watch the event yourself on the Google site, which makes the act of liveblogging seem a little redundant. But hey, for folks who don’t want to watch an entire 90-minute presentation, I’ll try to relay the highlights.

10:05am: Gabriel Stricker, director of search communications, takes the stage. Housekeeping: You can send your questions in via the webcast, linked to above. This will be a “State of the Union” into search at Google. Web and users are becoming more sophisticated. Users demands and expectations are increasing. Fundamental task: To deliver the complexity of the web to users in a way “elegantly simple and straightforward.”

10:07am: Udi Manber, VP of Core Search, takes the stage. Humanity now in a position to shift attention from controlling nature to understanding people. “It’s more important.” So he calls search “a new rocket science … but it’s a quiet kind of rocket science.”

10:09am: Effective web search is very hard, but you take it for granted. “And that’s the way we like it.” The real goal of search, is to solve the users’ problems. “If users can’t spell, it’s our problem. If they don’t know how to form the query, it’s our problem.”

10:11am: Some examples of how you take search for granted, but it is rocket science. Visiting a university website: There’s a link in the search results just to skip the site intro. Also, a search for IRS shows a table of contents for the site. A search for an address or for plumbers will bring locally-relevant information.

10:15am: Manber says search traditionally was focused on limited by technology (storage, etc.), now it’s more focused on understanding people. And, um, now he’s juggling eggs “to highlight beginnings.” It only lasted about a second, though: “I had to do it quickly, otherwise the PR people start breathing.”

10:18am: Patrick Riley, engineer in search quality, says he’s going to give us a “ground level view” of the “Did you mean?” feature. As an example, he describes a search result for “labor” that could mean different things: Department of Labor vs. giving birth. The second, alternate meaning is highlighted in a different set of search results further down the page.

10:20am: Now looking at how to use that idea with with alternate spellings. Google developed “spellmeleon” project to return alternate spelling results, but was a huge tax on Google’s computing infrastructure. Engineer in Tokyo office decided it made sense to put those alternate results at the top of the page. It was a controversial decision, because it involved using “prime real estate” in the search results.

10:25am: Search results for “Macy Ray.” Did users want results for someone named Macy Ray, or for the singer Macy Gray? Lots of time developing the user interface. On the main results page: “We really care about every pixel on that page.” Settled on interface that reminded user both at beginning and end of “Did you mean?” section that these aren’t normal results.

10:29am: Scott Huffman, Engineering Director of Search, takes the stage to talk about mobile search. “What’s so interesting about mobile, besides that it’s got a mobile screen?” Well, for one thing, mobile search is growing faster than search from PCs. Also, Google needs to support hundreds of mobile devices with radically different capabilities. Also, it’s harder to type searches on a mobile keyboard. Lastly, mobile search is local.

10:31am: Google’s goal is to make mobile search a daily activity. “We’re not quite there today.” Three things need to happen: Mobile search needs to be complete, it needs to be easy, and it needs to be local.

10:32am: Highlighting a few examples of how Google changes the search experience for mobile. Creating a button allowing users to call businesses with just one touch. Allowing users to swipe through image search results on a touchscreen. Summarizing product descriptions, then allowing users to drill in deeper.

10:35am: In other countries, there are more sites that are either primarily accessed via mobile devices, or are mobile-only.

10:37am: Easy: Upcoming feature involves sharing queries between desktop and mobile environment, so that for example if you search for a flight on your computer, you can check it again on your mobile phone when you’re heading to the airport.

10:40am: Marissa Mayer on-stage, going to make some announcements, but first looking at what’s been accomplished. At a dinner, man told her about searching for “how to tie a bowtie” and getting helpful videos and diagrams in the results, rather than incomprehensible text descriptions. Illustrates the benefits of universal search, which was launched in 2007.

10:43am: In the past two years, the amount of rich media included in the results has proliferated. Universal search runs in 175 countries and triggers in one in four search results.

10:44am: Using “the bento box” as an illustration of delivering lots of media and information in a compact form.

10:45am: Discussing SearchWiki, allowing users to edit and annotate the search results. “It’s been a really big success for us.” Search improvmeents today are built around more interactivity and more rich media.

10:47am: Problems: Finding the most recent information. Finding just a particularly type of search result. Knowing which results are best. Knowing what users are looking for. Moving beyond keyword-driven search.

10:49am: Launching a product called Google Search Options. Going live today. Example: Search for Hubble Space Technology. You can bring up a Search Options panel that allows you to “slice and dice” results. You can view results by genre, most recent, images, timeline. and wonder wheel.

10:51am: You can also combine different options — limiting search to results from the past week, then drilling down further by seeing images in those results.

10:53am: Another example: Searching for solar ovens. If you just wanted to see videos, you can just click on videos without switching sites or contexts. Then you could switch to just seeing forum posts.

10:54am: In the reviews section, Google uses “sentiment analysis” to determine whether a review is positive or engative, then trying to show a snippet that captures that sentiment. It’s a different snippet than what you’d see in a normal search result.

10:56am: So what is the wonder wheel? It’s a visualization for exploring your search results. In the center, you see your query, then there are related topics clustered around it. The search results, meanwhile, are shown in a column on the right side of the page. As you click on related topics, you can jump between different wonder wheels.

10:58am: Search Options is also a convenient way to introduce new features to search, becomes they can be added into the existing interface, rather than creating a whole new section.

10:59am: Next project called Google Squared, which is coming later this month in Google Labs. Example query: Small dogs. Automatically builds a “square” of information — basically a spreadsheet with information for Google search results. Finds meaningful facts around names, pictures, descriptions, etc.

11:01am: You can add new rows to get information about a specific type, say adding a specific beed of small dog, or new columns to get new categories of information. You can also choose alternate values from the search results, if the given information doesn’t seem correct.

11:04am: What are some of the challenges in Google Squared? For example, in a search for “vegetables,” it returns information about squash the sport, rather than squash the vegetable. (Incidentally, I noticed that Mayer is keeping her famous laugh under control during this speech, but a few giggles escaped here.) You can also save a square for future use.

11:05am: Next product: Rich snippets. The rich snippet shows extra metadata beyond just a text excerpt. such as the number of user reviews in restaurant search results.

11:06am: Another example: Searching for an electronic device, the snippet also shows when the review was conducted. A third example: Searching for a person, you can get metadata like their location, which helps you figure out which person is the one you were looking for.

11:10am: How does this work? Google will now supporting two different open standards for annotating a page to show meaning: RDFa and microformats. “This is a step towards making the whole Internet smarter.” For example, you could use these tags to render information differently on a mobile phone.

11:11am: Last demo, “which is about the stars.” Huh?

11:14am: Showing off an Android app for viewing the stars. Pan, zoom in, zoom out. But why is this better than a paper star map? Uses GPS to produce a star amp that’s local to your location on Earth, and the stars that you would see.

11:17am: Android also knows which direction you’re looking, and as you turn, the map changes with the phone. “Can you do that with a piece of paper?” You can also search for a specific star, which delivers an arrow, pointing to where your star is in the sky.

11:20am: Mayer: Google has long joked about locating physical objects. Now with Android, it’s starting to do that (although searching for stars isn’t the most practically useful thing to find).

11:21am: Question and answer session. Q: As Google becomes more semantic, will Google start selling semantic keywords? Mayer: No plans to change how Google sells keywords, and she also resists the idea that Google is becoming more semantic.

11:23am: Q: What can you say about Google’s international support? And are search engines only useful on the web? Manber: Google is committed to international support, though that doesn’t mean it can release all produts in all companies. Mayer: Google has focused on online search, and is now trying to bring offline information online.

11:25am: Q: Can you talk about meaning extraction for some of the new features? Manber: No. Mayer: “I think we can open the kimono a little bit.” It’s “totally amazing.” Google Squared “really, really blew me away.” Basically, it looks for structures on web that seem to imply facts. Corroborating those facts by see if those structures repeat across pages.

11:28am: Q: Stephen Wolfram expressed a lot of dissatisfaction with information you get in databases to build Wolfram Alpha. Does Google feel there is enough satisfactory information in databases? Manber: You have to corroborate the information you find. Sergei Brin and Manber did see an early demo fo Wolfram Alpha, by the way. Mayer: Google is optimistic about information on the web, and how information gets corrected quickly.

11:31am: Q: Are there risks of copyright infringement with Squared, since it doesn’t point to the web pages where it’s pulling information? Mayer: Well, Squared may provide information in a more useful way than the original website, but Google will still cite its sources.

11:32am: Q: What is exposed via APIs? Especially rich snippets. Mayer: Yes, it’s an open API.

11:33am: Q: How important is it to search within videos? Mayer: Voice is much further along than video. “But that’s just my personal opinion.” Video search is very important, though. Manber: We don’t have to make a distinction between specific areas in determines of importance. “They’re all important.”

11:36am: Q: When will Google Squares be available? Mayer: Later this month.

11:37am: Q: Include all sites with rich snippets? A: Limited amount of sites initially, and sites can sign up to be indexed as well. Q: Is there any way to opt out? A: Since it’s information that’s added to the HTML, any site can choose not to provide that information. But no guarantees, since Google will be using its own algorithms too.

11:39am: Q: How much closer do today’s announcements bring Google to becoming a perfect search engine? Mayer: Search is still in its infancy, and today’s announcements just reinforced that for her. Search is a “90-10″ problem (variation on the more common “80-20″ description), so that the last 10 percent that’s unsolved will require 90 percent of the work. Huffman: Mobile search is even further away from completion. Manber: To me, every five years in science fiction. Head of US Patent Office in 1860 said: “Anything that can be invented has been invented.” Which was, um, wrong.

11:43am: Q: How have law enforcement agencies changed their attitudes towards Google’s data? Mayer: We’re very sensitive to users needs in this area. We want to provide best possible service, but want users to offer information in areas where they think it’s worth it. Can’t specifically comment on legal cases.

11:44am: Q: How will desktop queries linked to mobile phone? A: Linkage is only there if you’re signed in to Google account. When you delete things from desktop browser, it will be deleted on your mobile browser, vice versa.


Google Declares Mobile Jihad

•05/12/2009 • 2 Comments

Support the Web, but Live with the App

Google declaring Jihad: ROFLCOPTER

Google declaring Jihad: ROFLCOPTER

Over the last year, it has become clear that Google has a bigger mobile war on its hands than it had anticipated. Its principal antagonist is Apple’s sexy Apple iPhone, which has seriously disrupted Google’s ambitions to turn the mobile industry into a Web-based world.

With its iPhone and the App Store, Apple has suddenly made it easy for people to download and install mobile apps. Now other big players are scrambling to follow Apple’s lead: Nokia, Samsung, Microsoft and Research In Motion among them. In the meantime, Google has fired back, with a surprising set of new web technologies that seek to make the Web even more compelling for mobile: By transplanting the richness PC browsing experience onto mobile device, Google may yet have the winning hand. For now, the war wages on.

In some ways, oddly, Google and Apple are fighting together. Even Apple’s rich native applications will need to draw from the Web. Google, meanwhile, says it supports the rush to build rich mobile applications (and its delivering ads within iPhone apps). But by tying its apps into a deep integration within its device and operating system, Apple makes it harder for publishers to simply transfer their existing Web content to mobile — and that’s the conundrum for Google.

Web dominance?

Google’s past — as well as its present and future — lies on the Web. It has been beating rival Microsoft because it bet big on the Web, while Microsoft has remained tied to high-cost software downloaded to the computer.  Google embarked four years ago to start building Android, a new open mobile operating system for phones. Google makes billions by serving ads to the web pages served to your PC Web. Android was designed to help Web sites serve up web versions tailored to mobile phones, so that Google could make money from Web ads there too.

Just a year ago, it looked like Google’s vision would win. But since, users developers have fallen in love with the iPhone in a bigger way than expected and shifted their resources accordingly. Google can’t as easily dominate advertising there.

Mobile is especially hot right now. Everywhere, people are suddenly embracing smartphones, Amazon’s Kindle book-reading device, and other intelligent phones or devices with more intimacy than ever before. Hell, I even tuck my phone into bed with me some nights. It follows that mobile advertising is booming. U.S. advertisers will spend at least $200 million on mobile advertising this year, or 43 percent more than last year, according to studies. Add to that the hundreds of millions more in search ads, subscriptions revenue, virtual good revenue and other mobile services. True, while ad growth has slowed somewhat in the downturn, it’s expected to resume next year, according to a report by Magna, a unit of IDG — citing the expected addition of Google’s Android phones to the market, which will join the wildly popular Apple iPhone,

However, if you own an iPhone, you may be doing some surfing on the Safari mobile Web browser to check out web sites, but there’s actually a better chance you’ve fallen for some applications built especially for it. Take Facebook’s iPhone app, for example. Launched a year ago, it has 7.5 million users. While that’s a lot fewer than the 30 million users of the mobile web version across all other phones, it’s a huge number considering how small a market share the iPhone still has.

For CBS, a major developer of mobile sports and other content (TV.com, GameSpot.com, etc), there’s just no comparison. Jeff Sellinger, a Vice President of Mobile at CBS, said the company officially has a “neutral” policy in the Web vs. app debate. But it’s the iPhone applications that are winning hands down in terms of user interaction. IPhone apps are seeing anywhere from “five to ten times” the level of engagement by users, he said. And so the iPhone has become a large focus for CBS’ development efforts, even though the number of iPhone users is still relatively small compared to some other platforms such as Nokia or Blackberry. “That’s where you can push forward in innovation,” Sellinger said. Specifically, he raved about the CBS’ March Madness app for the iPhone, which provides live stats at the top of the screen while you watch the game (you simply tap on the screen, and a stats box comes up).

Whose dominance?

Still, the battle is far from over.  Google’s latest move with Android is impressive. Using standard open web technologies, developers can create mobile sites that look and feel almost identical to applications. Google demonstrated that when it launched a new Gmail site for the iPhone and Android using HTML5 and Gears, and aggressive caching. All of this makes the browser experience so much more powerful than the typical mobile sites you’re used to. Impressively, it can be used offline too — you can compose, open and read emails when offline. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said last month he expected Android to have a “very, very strong year,” saying a number of wireless carriers and hardware makers will be announcing new Android phones by the end of the year. For some, this all means that the battle between Web and App is over. “Both won,” writes Olof Schybergson, chief executive of Fjord, a leading mobile design agency. The distinction is indeed getting lost. For example, music company imeem built a native application for Android, but that app fetches some web pages. So developers are making decisions on a case-by-case basis: Imeem poured its resources on Android perhaps because competitor Pandora had moved quickly to dominate the iPhone. But the question now is how quickly Google can get publishers to reform their offerings to work within Android’s browser experience, which requires deeper integration (and thus more work) with the mobile device than traditional mobile Web pages have needed. Google also can’t expect advertisers to be content with the existing state of affairs. Ads on mobile versions of PC web sites just aren’t performing very well. Advertisers require the rich information that comes from user engagement in the apps of the new iPhone and Android devices.

This all still creates significant fragmentation for mobile developers. They have to decide where to pour resources, and those decisions will help or hurt Google. Even Google’s HTML5 hasn’t been accepted by most mobile browsers. Existing browsers such as Java J2ME, Symbian, Windows Mobile don’t support it yet. Gears, too, will have to fight for acceptance. There maybe less at stake for Apple. It doesn’t lose, if mobile were to become more of a Web world. It just wins more if mobile remains application-centric. Apple is making big money on license fees. This subsidizes other things. And Apple lost the first historical battle, when its closed proprietary system on the Mac was vanquished by Microsoft’s more open and extensible Windows — and software developers flocked to Windows. Could this happen again, as Google offers a more open platform on mobile? In another twist, Apple and Microsoft are almost allies in some ways: Chris Capossella, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Information Worker Product Management Group (which includes Office) points to the popularity of the Facebook iPhone app as evidence that downloaded applications still provide a better experience than the Web. He’s biased, of course, because that’s been Microsoft’s argument all along when it comes to software on your PC.

Dimitry Ioffe, founder of The Visionaire Group, a creative agency in LA that advises companies where to develop ads for phones, says he’s advising mobile content companies to first make sure they target mobile web (namely, the WAP protocol, which allows a Web page to be reformatted easily to adjust to a mobile screen), because it can reach any phone with a browser. After that, he says, mobile publishers should design a site to run on the Web browsers for specific smartphones (safari for iPhone for example, and Webkit/Android for Google phones, for example). Only then should companies pour resources into building an application specifically for the iPhone, in part because of the extra cost. And while the iphone has greater interaction per user, the existing ways to monetize (through Web ads) the mobile web still outweigh that of the iphone, he says. Still, even after this advice, his customers are “finding it hard to resist,” the iphone, given its superior levels of engagement, he says.

Meanwhile, mobile ad serving companies such as Admob are tilting toward apps, after once having downplayed their significance. Admob chief executive Omar Hamoui was previously quite vocal about how the Web would win. Now Jason Spero, vice president and general manager at Admob, says his company is investing where the users are. And those users are “in apps on the iPhone and they are consuming everything from movie reviews to games to Mr T. sound bytes (iPity – check it out),” he wrote me in an email. “Add to this that the app environment enables rich functionality and tight integration with maps, commerce, etc. and ads perform terrifically in apps.” Still, that doesn’t mean apps on Android isn’t changing the game. Admob threw its initial development efforts on iPhone apps, and is just now turning to Android.

Admbo’s Spero says the struggle will play out over the next 3-5 years. “What’s exciting,” he says, “is that the user benefits from the competition, as both offer great mobile-specific data experiences.”

Techoogle: The Commercial

•05/12/2009 • 1 Comment

Here you have it folks, the video to start all videos. Not to mention the man behind the posts. Starting soon, there will be video reviews, better quality video and sound, and just some nifty little new toys I’ll be trying out.

Feedback is VERY welcome, let me know what you think! Comment away!

All Your Marketshare Are Belong To Android

•05/11/2009 • 1 Comment
All your Marketshare are belong to Android

All your Marketshare are belong to Android

Google’s initial success with its Android mobile operating system will continue-and in a very big way. That’s according to research firm Strategy Analytics, which predicts that global shipments of Android-based smart phones will grow a stunning 900 percent this year. The second fastest-growing smart phone operating system will be Apple’s iPhone, which will have a healthy 79-percent growth rate, the report predicts. “Android has fast been winning healthy support among operators, vendors and developers,” said Strategic Analytics senior analyst Tom Kang in a statement. “Android is now in a good position to become a top-tier player in smart phones over the next two to three years,” he said. The first Android-equipped phone, the T-Mobile G1, has been a big hit. G1 sales hit one million in the first six months after the phone’s October 2008 debut. The secret to Android’s success? “A relatively low-cost licensing model, its semi-open-source structure and Google’s support for cloud services,” have combined to make the mobile OS appealing to major handset makers and wireless providers, including HTC, Motorola, Samsung, T Mobile, and Vodafone, Kang says. In addition to the G1, other Android devices are starting to appear. In late April Samsung unveiled its first Android phone, the I7500, which will be available in Europe next month. Acer plans to launch an Android phone later this year, and is reportedly working on other Android-equipped devices as well. And ongoing industry rumors speculate that Android may soon muscle its way into the burgeoning netbook computer market, where Google’s OS could prove a formidable challenger to Microsoft Windows. Certainly, there are many unanswered questions about Android, such as how well it would perform across a range of portable devices, including smart phones, netbooks, game controllers, and even medical monitoring tools. Some analysts believe the Android user interface still needs work, and question whether the OS is ready to move beyond smart phones, where it has performed well thus far.

Windows 7 Will Never Outshine Vista

•05/11/2009 • Leave a Comment

‘The Most Significant Product Launch in Microsoft’s History’. So ran Microsoft’s hype: rammed into every media outlet in the known universe by The Most Capslock-Heavy PR Machine in History, on the occasion of Windows Vista’s 2006 birth. Significant… how exactly?

Make such a claim, and you’re a hostage to fortune. Short of doing your ironing and cooking your tea, Vista could never match its billing. But significant Vista’s launch truly was.

To discover why, I invite you to consider the computing world BV (before Vista), and then today.

In late 2006, you’d hardly choose a laptop to replace a desktop PC. For an OS, Microsoft was the only real option.

Netbook? Whatbook?

To make Vista a ‘must-have buy’, Microsoft simply threw features its way – it had worked in the past, after all.

Fast forward to 2009, and you choose hard- and software according to need. Want a cheap, portable workstation? Linux netbook it is. Going gaming? Vista desktop, sir. And if you’re running an office from home, but travel to clients, you’ll want a Vista laptop. Or a MacBook. Or a BlackBerry for the road and a desktop at home. And an iPhone.

Look, it’s your computer, you decide.

With the explosion in mobile computing, and laptops running OSes from Linux to Windows to Google Android, this diaspora of choice is unlikely to shrink. Vista’s heavy featureset and sys reqs arrived just in time to seem bloated and unecessary. Hence the perceived failure, and the thirst for change.

So by representing the zenith of big-feature, Windows-only desktop computing, perhaps Vista really did change the world.

Compatiblity issues, so prevelant in 2006, have now been brushed aside by the unifying force of the web as an OS. Third-party apps work online, not on Windows.

And unlike the big brash launch of Vista, Windows 7 arrives stable, solid and good to its mother. It will be the best option for PC users, but no more. The Windows PC is no longer the only game in town, and for that we can thank Vista. Significant indeed.

Wireless Charger to debut with Palm Pre!

•05/10/2009 • Leave a Comment

While Palm plans a return to relevance in the technology world with its upcoming Palm Pre smart phone, the device is not the only hot-shot product the company is launching in the next month.

Palm will be the first major phonemaker to integrate wireless charging into its products with the release of the Touchstone, an accessory charging pad for the Palm Pre. The move is poised to usher in an era of wireless charging and bring attention to a technology that is ready for takeoff.

Wireless charging has been with us for years – think of electric toothbrushes that rest on chargers with no wires connecting them. The charging happens through magnetic induction.

An alternating current in a coil embedded in a charging pad generates a magnetic field which induces a voltage in the device’s coil, supplying energy to the device’s battery.

The process, which can reach across several inches, is safe for users but sacrifices about 10 to 15 percent of efficiency compared to a wired solution. But for end users, the benefit is easy charging for varied gadgets on one pad without the tangle of wires. The idea is to create wide standardized pads that can charge a handful of devices at one time and be built into homes, offices and other environments.

“The potential for wireless charging is tremendous,” said NPD analyst Ross Rubin. “Virtually any surface could be turned into a charging pad – a whole desk, a conference room or walls. It could really usher in a whole new level of convenience and extension of battery life as products are charged passively.”

Palm’s implementation initially will work with only one device, the Pre. But the system will serve as a lesson for many consumers and electronics companies about the benefits of wireless charging.

Consumers can recharge a Pre by placing it on the Touchstone, a small charger shaped like a puck that holds the device in place with magnets. The device can tell when it’s being charged and will offer a speaker phone option for incoming calls. Pick up the phone and the phone converts it to a regular call.

Scott Eisenstein, vice president of marketing for wireless charger Powermat, said he’s excited by Touchstone, which validates the progress made by Powermat and others in the field. Later this year, the Israel-based company is releasing a range of charging pads that can support up to six devices charging at the same rate.

Users will need to equip their phones, MP3 players and laptops with cases, adhesive discs or dongles that can communicate with the pad and draw power. But when they do, they can enjoy an easy charging process for their devices that does away with proprietary cords.

In the future, homes could be built with embedded pads, letting homeowners put lamps, TVs and other appliances anywhere without regard to sockets. Even electric cars could eventually be recharged in this manner.

“That’s the future, an environment without wires where power is at your finger tips,” Eisenstein said.

To achieve its full potential, early advocates agree that wireless charging will have to be built into gadgets without the need for a case or dongle. A handful of technology companies including Texas Instruments, Sanyo, Phillips and Olympus last year formed the Wireless Power Consortium with the goal of developing a technology standard for magnetic induction, which they hope will convince other device manufacturers to take the plunge. The group hopes to have the standard set later this year with embedded products hitting shelves by next year.

Texas Instruments and Fulton Innovation, are working together to shrink the necessary components for magnetic induction so devicemakers can easily and cheaply include the option for wireless charging in devices.

“If you can get a standard, that enables everything from furniture and infrastructure all the way to handheld devices and beyond,” said Dave Baarman, director of advanced technologies for Fulton Innovation. “There are a lot opportunities for where we charge, how we charge and how we use our devices.”

Menno Treffers, chairman of the Wireless Power Consortium and senior director of standardization at Philips Electronics, said wireless charging also provides environmental benefits. He said consolidating charging for multiple devices on one pad can eliminate the need for separate chargers which often draw standby power when plugged in. A wireless charging pad, however, can be built to enable the flow of electricity only when it recognizes a compatible device.

“It replaces several wall cords and the overall system efficiency goes up,” said Treffers. “You actually save power.”

He said wireless power won’t replace wired chargers anytime soon. But it gives people a convenient option and a glimpse of a much less wired world.

“Right now, we’re always fiddling with wires,” he said. “We want to get rid of that.”

Twitter Tweeter Retention Not Flying So High

•05/10/2009 • Leave a Comment

Though Oprah Winfrey has had a galvanic effect on Twitter’s popularity, many of the microblogging site’s new users are signing up, then demurring.

Hitwise, an Internet traffic monitor, reported that Ms. Winfrey’s first tweet and show about Twitter, on April 17, increased Twitter’s share of United States Internet users by 24 percent over the previous day and 43 percent over the previous Friday.

However, a report from Nielsen Online suggests that most users are tempted by Twitter’s novelty, then lose interest. For most of the last year, Twitter’s audience retention rate — users who return the next month — was below 30 percent. At similar levels of Internet reach, both Facebook and MySpace had retention rates of more than 60 percent.

Nielsen projects that Twitter’s retention rate, now 40 percent, limits a site’s overall Internet reach to 10 percent (Twitter’s is now about 1.7 percent, compared with more than 17 percent for Facebook and about 5 percent for MySpace.)

David Martin, vice president for primary research for Nielsen Online, said that despite these pessimistic figures, Twitter’s retention has roughly doubled since December, and “when really interesting content such as Oprah and the major news publications are posting, that’s not to say that many people won’t be attracted back.”