Happy 5th birthday, TechCrunch! This Friday, TriplePoint is sponsoring the San Francisco TechCrunch 5th birthday meetup along with TriplePoint client Social Gold and their neighbors at Twilio. They’ll have food drinks, games like TechCrunch Jeopardy, Powerpoint Karaoke & Halfbaked, and a conference call with other TechCrunch meetups from around the US.
This event is one of over 300 meetups taking place around the world in celebration of TechCrunch’s 5th anniversary, and we anticipate the San Francisco event will be one of the largest. We hope to see you there!
Gamescom has opened exhibitor registration for the 2010 event. Exhibitors can save up to 10% on stand rent if they register before February 15th.
Open to both the press and public, Gamescom is one of world’s largest gaming conventions. Last year’s Gamescom 2009 was attended by 458 exhibitors, 17,000 trade visitors and 245,000 members of the public, with attendees hailing from 31 countries.
Gamescom 2010 takes place in Cologne, Germany, from August 18-22, 2010 at the Koelnmesse Convention Center.
This year’s CES kicked off a massive 3D trend, with everyone from Sony to RealD showing the latest 3D-enabled products at show. No longer relegated to the holodeck on Star Trek or the Matrix in, well, The Matrix, it looks as if 3D is here to stay. Here’s a look at some of the major announcements and what analysts are predicting for 3D in 2010.
The major push this year was to move 3D from the movie theater to the home theater. RealD, the company that turns Disney movies into three-dimensional thrill rides, is working with a range of partners from Samsung and Panasonic to bring 3D-ready TVs to market.
The biggest hat thrown into the 3D ring was ESPN’s announcement of the first 3D network, going live on June 11, 2010. ESPN was one of the first networks to embrace HD and is considered by many to be one of the primary drivers behind the widespread adoption of HD TVs. (After all, football tackles aren’t the same if you can’t see every bone-crunching detail.) After all, 3D TVs won’t do any good without the content to engage the audience, and I can see sports fans jumping on the opportunity to feel even more immersed in a game through a technology like 3D.
Discovery Networks announced on the same day that they would be partnering with Sony and IMAX to launch a 3D television network. As anyone who’s seen the Discovery HD series Planet Earth knows, Discovery has also been on the forefront of implementing new entertainment technologies and will provide that compelling content which could sway consumers to invest in 3D TVs.
In the gaming world, both Sony and Microsoft are showing some interest in 3D gaming. Sony, with it’s own line of 3D TVs coming out, is being more aggressive about 3D gaming adoption. They demoed 3D versions of Gran Turismo 5: Prologue and WipEout HD at CES. On the other hand, Microsoft has had a stronger focus on motion control with Project Natal. However, not be overshadowed by the Playstation 3D hype, Xbox Director of Product Management Aaron Greenberg recently told G4TV, “From the technical standpoint, we are fully 3D capable. We have 3D games running today.”
IGN Gear coverage of Playstation’s 3D games.
TriplePoint client GUNNAR Optiks introduced the solution to those awful throwaway glasses you get at the movie theater – your own personal pair of quality 3D glasses. Made from high quality materials and real lenses, Gunnar will be offering 3D glasses compatible with two of the most popular types of 3D: RealD video and movies, and iZ3D gaming systems.
What do the analysts think? Forrester Research’s James McQuivey believes that 3D is “mostly hype.” “If it took 10 years for HD to go from one home to reach more than half the U.S. population, it will take 3D just as long. Which is an easy bet to make. The real trick is figuring out how long we languish in the low-single-digit millions,” McQuivey wrote. EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich agrees: “We’ve been hearing a lot about 3D Gaming at CES, but once the show is over, so will the chatter about 3D Gaming. Sorry folks, it’s not happening this generation.”
In-Stat projects worldwide 3D TV shipments will reach 41 million in 2014.
3D Blu-ray player shipments will track closely with 3D TVs.
Pricing is a major barrier, as survey respondents are not willing to pay much of a premium for 3D TV sets and Blu-ray players.
Many Pay-TV operators will use half resolution 3D as a stepping stone and learning opportunity for full HD 3D in the future.
On a regional basis, North America will be the largest market.
What do consumers think? The University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center’s recent online poll may give us a clue. In a survey of of more than 3,000 individuals, alll signs seemed to point towards 3-D’s growing popularity:
43% of adults who have seen a 3-D movie within the last year would prefer to watch movies and televisions shows in 3-D instead of 2-D.
53% report wanting to watch 3-D television shows at home; 33 percent report wanting to watch all television programs in 3-D.
25% plan to buy a 3-D TV within the next three years. (Of those, 48 percent describe themselves as above-average sports fans, a further nod to ESPN)
In-Stat’s more bullish 3D consumer survey shows that 64% of consumers are at least somewhat interested in 3D in the home. For those who have seen a 3D movie in the last 12 months, the percentage increases to 76%.
As social media continues to dominate headlines, businesses are investing significant time and resources to social media outreach. One of the the most talked about sites is Facebook, with over 350 million active users and a worldwide reach. Facebook “Pages” are the primary way that businesses can interact with other users. According to Facebook’s own statistics, there are over 1.6 million active Pages on Facebook, more than 700,000 local businesses have active Pages and Pages have created more than 5.3 billion fans. (Doing a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, dividing 5.3 billion fans by the 350 million active users, shows that each user is supposedly a fan of an average 15 Pages. This number does seem a tad inflated.)
While these statistics seems to demonstrate widespread success, TechCrunch recently ran a feature analyzing more in-depth statistics on Facebook Pages. In the article, social media monitoring firm Sysomos revealed that “77% of Facebook Fan Pages have under 1,000 fans.” Also, “less than 1/20th of a percent have more than a million fans.” This means the average Facebook page isn’t really reaching all that many potential customers.
The main hurdle to gaining fans on Facebook has to do with the closed nature of the Facebook network. Other social media networks, like Twitter, allow users to search for and follow other users without the need for a reciprocal relationship. With this open system, business accounts can search for users that are talking about topics that are related to the business’ product and then follow those users. The hope is that some of those users will follow them back, increasing their fanbase. With Facebook, however, owners of Fan pages cannot invite random individuals to join the page. Each user can suggest the page to their own friends network, but that is all in terms of free Facebook promotion. (As a quick aside, the other option for Facebook promotion is to spend money on Facebook ads which drive people to your page. However, Facebook ads have been plagued with notoriously low click- through rates. If you decide to go this route, Silicon Alley Insider has some great advice in their article “10 Rules for Advertising on Facebook“.)
Even with the “closed system” hurdle, there are still ways that companies can grow their Facebook Pages:
1. Get a custom URL for your page with your company’s name. This will help your Page’s SEO and make it easier to link to your page. Keep the following rules in mind when getting a custom URL:
You can’t change the username once you set it.
You can’t transfer the ownership of a username to another party.
You can’t violate anyone elses trademark rights.
If you are acquiring a username to sell it in the future (squatting), you will lose it.
Usernames may be reclaimed for other unauthorized usages.
2. Use Facebook Apps on your Page. The most important step is to link your blog feed to your Facebook page so that your blog posts update to Facebook automatically. Get the RSS feed address for your blog, and then use the “Notes” application to feed it to the page. For more essential Facebook apps for business, see Mashable’s “8 Essential Apps for Your Brand’s Facebook Page”.
3. Promote your Facebook page in your marketing materials. This includes posting a link from your company website, adding the link to newsletters, brochures, advertisements and even your email signature.
4. Provide more than just company updates. Engage with fans by asking questions, hosting contests and giveaways and promoting events.
5. Add media for visual interest. All Facebook pages have a standardized layout and color scheme. Make your page stand out by including screenshots, company photos, videos and other media materials on your page to make it better reflect your company’s brand. For the logo area, be creative and go beyond just posting your logo on a white background. Use that space to use a picture that tells a story about your company, from your coolest product to a great screenshot from your game.
6. Consider a developing Facebook App. Depending on your business, a facebook app can add another level of interactivity with fans. For example, Starbucks developed the Share a Pint of New Starbucks® Ice Cream app to help circulate coupons for their new product.
Before investing in business Twitter account, it is important to take a step back from the hype and take a look at the hard numbers. Despite Twitter’s meteoric rises in traffic in 2008 and early 2009, there are indications that Twitter is hitting a growth ceiling. Twitter’s growth has been hampered by poor retention rates. According to Nielsen Online research, “more than 60 percent of Twitter users stopped using the free social networking site a month after joining.” And Facebook is still growing twice as fast as Twitter.
A cursory analysis of the most followed Twitter accounts by TwitterHolic shows that around 80% of the most followed people on Twitter are celebrities. The rest are news outlets like CNN and NPR, a handful of tech business like Google and Twitter and then standouts like Zappos.com CEO, JetBlue and WholeFoods. It is also worth noting that the followings of the top 100 Twitter accounts ranges from 1.3 to 4 million followers, meaning even celebrities are unable reach more than a small percentage of the total online population.
As for the content of tweets, Pear Analytics released a study in August 2009 using a random sample of tweets taken from the public time line. The study found that over 40% of tweets were “pointless babble”, with “news” and “pass-along value” making up less than 4% and 9% of tweets, respectively.
These statistics demonstrate the pitfalls of buying into the hype that Twitter is the next “big thing.” Twitter can be a valuable tool in a company’s arsenal, not the answer to all marketing and public relations needs. Businesses should consider carefully before allocating significant resources to a Twitter account. Used correctly, Twitter can complement current business goals, from marketing to customer service.
Business Lessons from the 140 Twitter Conference
In March 2009, the first Twitter conference took place in Mountain View, CA. While primarily attended by company social media, marketing and public relations executives, the topics included everything from Twitter app development to real-world strategies from a wide variety of speakers like Twitter’s Alex Payne, Robert Scoble and iJustine. Below is a summary of the primary takeaways from the conference regarding how to use Twitter in business.
1. Protecting Brand and Company Names
The most important advice came from ZDNet writer Jennifer Leggio regarding protection of brand names. Leggio shared her personal experience about her personal brand getting hijacked. Someone registered a Twitter account in her name and then began sending tweets falsely attributed to her. Even family and friends thought it was her account. It took her several months of time consuming back and forth with Twitter to get the imposter removed and get her identity back. This important lesson applies to business as well. Twitter is a private service; it publicly governed like domain names, where companies can appeal to ICANN to get their brand names back. Unless someone is violating copyright or trademark law on the twitter account, Twitter is not obligated to remove his or her account. For example, a private person is using @bmw because their initials are BMW; they beat the famous motor company to the registration. Twitter is currently overwhelmed with the volume of removal requests, so getting back a twitter name may take much longer than expected even if a company has a legitimate claim to the name.
Key Takeaway: Regardless your company plans for twitter, register your brand and company names (and variations) now to keep them away from squatters.
Businesses should carefully consider their target market and compare it to the current demographics of Twitter. If your consumers aren’t tech-savvy, or fall outside Twitter’s age range, Twitter might not be the best use of resources.
Key Takeaway: Evaluate your customer base and find out if they are on Twitter. A Twitter account is useless if your target market isn’t there.
In his excellent keynote, Jeremiah Owyang outlined five primary ways for business to use Twitter:
Listening – Use Twitter search for instant feedback. Understand your customers in real time. Track what’s being said about competitors.
Talking – Give out information to users, such as news and discounts. Keep content relevant and interesting for users, and deliver what you promise.
Energizing – Find your advocates (those who tweet most about you) and engage with them. Keep tweets short, interesting and informative so users are more inclined to retweet. (See http://twitter.zappos.com/ for an example of a company engaging Twitter users.)
Supporting – Use twitter as a CRM to support customers in real time. (See @ComcastCares)
Embracing – Ask users for feedback and properly prioritize integrating feedback into your company.
Not all of the above uses for Twitter will fit the needs of all businesses, nor should they all be implemented at once. However, it is important to identify which of these goals a business wants to pursue and move forward with a clear plan.
Evan Williams of Justin.tv also shared some insight into creating a successful company twitter account. First, make yourself easy to find by adding keywords related to your business in your profile description. This description is indexed by services like Google as well as in Twitter People Find. Second, create transparency by letting followers know who is running the account. A personal touch goes a long way to adding credibility and gaining user trust. Lastly, act as an expert in your field. Demonstrate your knowledge and competence by sharing not only your own company news, but also the latest news and trends in the industry.
Several services will sell you a few hundred twitter followers or let you automatically add new random followers on a weekly basis. The consensus at the conference was unanimous: while seemingly the easy way out, these methods don’t work long term. The former will increase your twitter followers temporarily; however most will drop off after the required week or two follow period. The latter will create an imbalance on your Twitter following to follower ratio; this a red flag to most legitimate Twitter users. In all cases, these new follower acquisition methods don’t address the core reason to have a Twitter account: the ability to communicate with people interested in your company.
Instead, seek out people on Twitter who will pay attention to your tweets. There are several methods to finding legitimate followers:
Take a look at who your competitors are following and who is following them back
Use the Twitter Find People search for users with keywords in their name or profile related to your business
Look through user-generated twitter directories in relevant tags
Professional Twitter Account Management Tools CoTweet – used by major brands such as JetBlue, Southwest, Pepsi, Starbucks and even Twitter itself. Hootsuite – also used by major brands such as Disney, Dell, InStyle and MSNBC.
Useful tools Bit.ly – a service that shortens links posted to twitter and provides click-through rates and tracking information Tweetbeep – receive alerts whenever your specified keywords are mentioned on twitter (similar to Google Alerts) TwitterFeed – send RSS feeds to your twitter account, such as your newsfeed or your blog postsTweetmeme http://tweetmeme.com/ – listing of the hottest links on twitter TweetStats – analyze your Twitter behavior, such as average tweets per day, timing of tweets, accounts you often retweet, etc.
Registration for the 2010 Game Developer’s Conference is now open. GDC 2010 will take place March 9-13, 2010 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.
GDC Alumni can save 50% off the full price registration until December 17th. Early registration discounts end February 10th, 2010. Regular registration ends March 7th. To register, visit the GDC website: http://www.gdconf.com/attend/passes.html
GDC Summit Call for Submissions is also open through November 13th. GDC will feature two new summits in 2010: the iPhone Games Summit and the Social & Online Games Summit. The other summits include the AI Summit, GDC Mobile/Handheld, Game Localization Summit, IDGA Education Summit, Independent Games Summit, and the Serious Games Summit. For more information, visit http://www.gdconf.com/conference/summits.html.
GDC comes to Austin next week from September 15-18th.
The Game Developers Conference® Austin is focused on connected and online games including virtual worlds, casual games, MMOs, and social networking game play. GDC Austin will also feature two day summits including Game Audio, Game Writers, Independent Games, and the newly introduced iPhone Games Summit.
GDC Austin is an event for industry professionals looking for the business, technical, and visionary tools needed to create the next breakthrough game. Gain in-depth knowledge over four days on topics including digital distribution models, micro transactions that work, and the new rules of free-to-play.
To meet with TriplePoint representative Kate Hancock at the conference, please email khancock [at] triplepointpr [dot] com.
For more information about GDC Austin and to register for the conference, please visit http://www.gdcaustin.com/.
The inaugural London Games Conference will take place on October 27, 2009, at BAFTA. London Games Conference is officially backed by ELSPA and is part of London Games Festival (LGF09).
Some of the biggest names in the industry, including Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Acclaim and Ubisoft, are scheduled to appear at the conference, which will tackle the biggest issues facing publishers and developers today: how to strengthen relationships with their playing customers and how to sell products to them in the years ahead through digital distribution.
Tickets are £229, but an early bird rate of £199 is available until September 18th (next Friday). There are also discounts for ELSPA and Tiga members.
The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is calling for submissions for GDC 2010. GDC is the premier professional conference for creators of videogames and interactive entertainment. Speaking opportunities are available in six tracks: Audio, Business & Management, Design, Production, Programming, and Visual Arts. Presentation formats include lectures, panels, roundtables, posters and tutorials.
The first video developer diary for the upcoming PC title East India Company debuted on GameSpot today. The ongoing series be released bi-weekly on GameSpot leading up to the game’s launch. Lead designer Kim Soares of Nitro Games will give viewers a glimpse of East India Company‘s extensive features and share insights from the development process.
East India Company is a naval war strategy game based on the 18th century East India Companies. East India Company is scheduled for release in Q3 2009 and will be published worldwide by Paradox Interactive.
The Retronyms released their new iPhone app Seek ‘n Spell on Earth Day! Seek ‘n Spell transforms iPhone gaming from a solo, sedentary experience to an active and social outdoor contest! Combining real outdoor spaces with virtual letters, Seek ‘n Spell is a word game where you and your friends compete to gather letter tiles and create words to score the most points.
Seek ‘n Spell makes full use of the iPhone’s GPS capabilities, using your actual physical location on Earth to drive the gameplay. Gathering in a park or other large outdoor space, players then race one another around the field to capture up to 10 letter tiles at a time, which they use to create words. Coveted gold tiles will appear randomly on the field, earning players a doubled score when used in words. Points are earned based on the length of the words players spell, and the player with the most points when time runs out wins.
In-Stat reported today that online gaming subscriptions will grow a projected 20.4% between 2005 and 2013, while unit sales of video game consoles will decline in 2010. Recent research by In-Stat found the following:
Each of the three key vendors [Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo] is positioned to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual online gaming revenue from online service subscriptions, download revenue and/or online advertising.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live service will clearly lead, with projected revenue of over $1 billion in revenue annually by 2013.
Worldwide broadband subscriptions will reach 562 million in 2009. The combination of broadband, installed home networks, and pervasive Wi-Fi in gaming devices, is fueling online gaming subscriber growth.
In 2008, total video game console unit shipments reached 88 million worldwide, up 7% from worldwide unit shipments in 2007.
Many Chinese game operators continue to be optimistic in 2009, stating that the worldwide economic downturn has had little effect on their business. Games constitute a small-ticket item and users have not cut back as much on this type of discretionary spending.