Thursday, November 13, 2008

OpenSocial Turns One!

Today, Google's OpenSocial platform marks its 1st birthday with an event bringing together some of the platform's top developers at MySpace's San Francisco office.

According to the OpenSocial Foundation, the OpenSocial platform has been deployed by over 7500 developers, reaching a staggering total of 600 million users!  This includes 315 million application installs across the social networks including MySpace, Orkut, Bebo and Hi5.

For further details, see
OpenSocial: State Of The Union Presentation.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Guidelines for Creating Social Networks

People use social networks to meet new people, stay in touch with friends and even make business connections. Additionally, a social network is used for building a community based on common interests, where many people can share their knowledge, opinions and interests.

Here are a few guidelines that provide "cool" things to include and pitfalls to avoid when creating a social network:
  1. The social network must be capable of making and organizing connections.  This is a primary required feature within any network.  The organization of connections may be based on interests, hobbies, sports, profession and so on dependent on the network category desired.
  2. The social network should consist of basic features such as profiles, ability to search people, friend lists, messages, groups or organizations, and photos.
  3. Integrate the social network so that it will work on the desktop as well as on a mobile device as people are much more mobile today and want to be able to access their social network anytime and from anywhere.
  4. It is very crucial to offer a service for the social network that is unique and has a "stickiness" to it so that it gets a wide traction and users find it compelling and interesting to come back and use it on an ongoing basis.  Examples are a news feed, notifications, messages, applications (i.e. funwall), etc.
  5. Make the social network easy to use, easy for members to sign up and invite their friends.
  6. Make sure that the social network includes support for OpenSocial and can be integrated with the prevalent social networks (i.e. facebook, flickr, myspace, twitter, linkedin, etc.)
  7. Avoid creating yet another social network that simply replicates what is already available today (i.e. another facebook, myspace, twitter, and so on). 
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Friday, November 7, 2008

Apple's iPhone Ranks High In Customer Satisfaction...

According to, Apple's iPhone has the highest customer satisfaction. The J.D. Power and Associates report measured five factors ranging from ease-of-use to battery life. On a 1,000-point scale, Apple (NSDG:AAPL) received 778 points; Blackberry received 703 points and Samsung received 701 points.

Among other findings reported: the top five reasons for buying a smartphone are Internet capability (45%); ability to use email (41%); design/style (39%); bluetooth (37%) and keyboard style (45%).  There were 34% respondents of the study who downloaded third-party software, and the most popular applications were games, business apps like Microsoft (NSDG: MSFT) Word and Excel, and travel-related applications. 

It is not surprising that the study revealed that one-fourth of users report having to reboot the device when it freezes and issues related to touch screen problems.  Don't get me wrong I am a die-hard fan of the iPhone, but I too have noticed the device freezes on occasions and the touch screen problems are particularly evident when the receiver is held to the ear for making phone calls.  For this reason, I like many others choose to carry the iPhone and a second phone for making phone calls!  I wonder if these touch screen issues will go away anytime soon - perhaps in an upcoming iPhone 2.x software release?

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Is Device Fragmentation Still Relevant?

Portability across devices was certainly a larger issue in the early days of J2ME and probably still is when developing demanding games.  However, in the case of other applications running on the modern smartphones based on CLDC 1.1/MIDP 2.0, portability is a matter of careful programming and thoroughly reading specifications.  The so-called porting solutions were needed for very old phones (i.e. based on J2ME CLDC 1.0/MIDP 1.0) that no longer exist or due to bad programming practices by people who did not understand the specs or the Java language itself.

Furthermore, many of the differences in device characteristics such as varying screen sizes, key codes and device APIs can often be classified by using device frameworks.  There are several useful J2ME frameworks available such as J2MEpolish ( and WURFL ( that provides the required device information to greatly facilitate porting efforts.  When porting an application to many devices, you need to maintain different sets of resources (i.e. images) for the device main screen size family running with the same code and you need to know the key code variations.  This is where the tools such as J2MEpolish and WURFL are extremely useful.

However, the portability issues are still prevalent though when you need to sign a J2ME application so that it can access some of the sensitive J2ME APIs such as SMS, network, and camera APIs.  There are no common set of root certificates you can rely on to sign your application, and the MIDP spec is somewhat ambiguous as it states that a signed application whose certificate cannot be verified must not be installed, whereas an unsigned application can be installed, but warns the user for every sensitive operation.  As a result, you need to know what root certificates are on what device manufacturer phones in order to provide a signed application if you know that it can be verified, or an unsigned application if you don't know what certificates are installed on the phone in question.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama's Campaign Uses Mobile Advertising To Target Youth

During the final month leading up to the election, Obama's campaign used mobile advertising to target youth and voters in the key battleground states.  Called "Vote Early", the ad campaign was used to encourage voters to cast the ballots early, where polls opened before election day. Banners ran on the operator deck of Boost Mobile, which is known for having a young user base. Text ads at the bottom os SMS messages were also sent from ChaCha, the general answer service. Users were given the option of opting-in to those messages by responding "OBAMA" to receive more information on where to vote.

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