Will Amazon Local destroy Groupon?

I never asked for them, but I’m now getting regular emails from Amazon regarding local deals. With their massive customer base, Amazon figured out they could go head to head with Groupon with the flip of a switch. Of course they had to start working sales in each market, but they had a built in customer base right away.

Groupon on the other hand has been flailing, and now the company has the might Amazon gunning for its business. How long can Groupon survive like this? I suspect at some point the company will need to be sold off in a fire sale. It won’t be the first Internet company to make the mistake of turning down a massive acquisition offer only to regret it later, but it will probably be on the short list of egregious example for a long time.

The Net Neutrality Nightmare

With the recent court decision throwing out the FCC net neutrality rules, there’s a legitimate fear out there that the Internet as we know it could be destroyed by greedy telecom companies that creat a pay-to-play system that benefits large web companies and screws everyone else. The prospects for destroying innovation on the web seem real, and articles like this detail the potential threat.

On the other hand, some who have studied the decision see some positives as well.

The real issue will be whether in the future there will be viable Internet access options that permit the free-wheeling web we’ve known for years. These huge telecom companies have these rights under rules permitted by the government. It seems to me that there’s a huge opportunity for politicans to push for net neutrality and the notion of non-discrimination on the Internet. There’s also an opportunity for ISPs who will market neutral online packages.

Let’s see how this plays out.

Will brands ditch Facebook in 2014?

stacks of 100 bills

Facebook is playing games with your timeline. This has always been the case, as timelines don’t work like Twitter feeds where you see every Tweet in real time from the people you follow. But anyone who has created a Page on Facebook and built a follower base is now realizing that most followers no longer see their Page updates. Facebook is manipulating its algorithm so that only a small percentage of page updates are seen by followers. Then of course, they prompt you to pay Facebook so that more of your followers will see the update.

Facebook wants revenues, and in many ways that has resulted in Facebook finally jumping the shark for brands, bloggers and publishers. If you’ve spent time and money building your Facebook following, you have to be upset by this. What’s the point of taking the time to update a Facebook page if only a handful of followers will see it?

This article explains the dilemma for Facebook and cites this post from a blogger and author about her frustrations with Facebook.

We’ve experienced the same thing with our sites. We’ve methodically built a Facebook following the right way, doing it organically. But posts that were seen by 500 people are now only seen by less than 100 people. The bottom line is that Facebook will not be a source of online or mobile traffic unless you pay Facebook. Sorry, but as Mark Cuban explained, Facebook will no longer be the top social media priority for brands when there are other options out there that don’t limit which followers can see posts.

Facebook will still be important simply from a branding point of view. Brands have to have a Facebook presence these days due to the size of the network, as consumers will seek out a brand’s Facebook page sometimes in lieu of a brand’s website. So having a presence with excellent content and regular updates will still be important. But now it probably makes more sense to update a brand’s Facebook page only once or twice a week with excellent content that conveys the brand message as opposed to daily updates. Think of it as an organic billboard for the brand. But unless you’re willing to spend big dollars, you’re better off moving away from Facebook for specific promotions or as a way to drive consumers to your page. Brands can cuts costs by shifting away from Facebook and building Facebook followers towards services like Twitter where the efforts to drive engagement are rewarded.

These developments present an ominous problem for Facebook. We’ve clearly moved well beyond Mark Zuckerberg’s original vision of creating something “cool” that people will want to use. And that’s understandable as Facebook is now a public company and needs to drive revenues. Of course selling out was inevitable. But have they gone too far? The tradeoff between the user experience and the blatant push to get brands, publishers and bloggers to pay up so that users who “Liked” their pages can actually see updates has become obvious to everyone using the system, and the Facebook brand will suffer. When I post something to our accounts, and then see only a handful of our followers will see the post unless we pay up, I begin to resent the brand. Facebook becomes a typical, blood-sucking corporation as opposed to a cool service that lets users see updates from Pages they decided to follow. It’s now a racket.

In the short term, this strategy is working. Facebook’s revenues are booming as they have gamed the system they have created. But we’ve seen before that things can change quickly in today’s world as new technologies disrupt the status quo. Young people have already abondoned Facebook because that’s where their parents can monitor them. Sure, they’ll probably come back when they go off to college and want to keep in touch with friends. But Facebook is now alienating the entire blogosphere. Bloggers and publishers are already being squeezed by decling advertising revenues. They don’t have the budget to pay for visits, so they’ll move away from Facebook if there’s no benefit to building a follower base. Brands that do have budget will also see diminishing returns for building a follower base, so at some point they will shift their social media budgets.

It’s difficult to bet against Facebook, and this column has nothing to do with Facebook’s stock. It has to do with the company’s product, and the obvious fact that Facebook is manipulating its service to drive revenues as opposed to improving the user experience. At some point, this will probably catch up to them.

Hot Mobile Gaming Apps

Mobile gambling could well be the future of online gambling, whether you’re playing on an iPhone, Android, or other tablet or phone. Play anywhere, at any time, in a safe and secure environment at your convenience with great graphics and fluid games – no wonder millions of players are gambling via their smartphone.

We checked out a couple of hot mobile gaming apps for you:



Betway is fast becoming the casino of choice for many online gambling fans, largely due to a top-notch sportsbook. It’s available on mobiles, including of course Android and iPhone as well as Blackberry and other systems, meaning you can now play on the go.

Aesthetics and playability
The Microgaming-powered software looks great and is very slick in terms of usability and navigation on both Android and iPhone systems. The software is fully optimised for various operating systems to give users the best possible experience regardless of platform.
Should you run into problems, the customer support team are available via phone, live chat, and email – all just a button away when using your mobile or tablet.

Joining the games
The registration process is quick and easy if you’re not already a member. The minimum deposit is €20 and mobile users can get a 100% bonus up to €25 or £25 at the sportsbook, or a whopping €1,000/£1,000 at the casino when they join up. Debit/credit cards, Neteller, Skrill, Paysafecard, and various other safe transaction methods are supported to give you peace of mind with regards to security.

The selection
Betway offers the usual wide selection of casino games – poker, blackjack, roulette, etc. – as well as Microgaming’s award-winning variety of slots games. The sportsbook offers a myriad of bets on a multitude of sports that’s sure to satisfy even the most hardcore fan with over 25 games supported and dozens of bets available.

Royal Vegas


Royal Vegas is available for Android, Blackberry, Nokia, and Apple devices and offers more than 20 casino games and slots. While it has less variety than Betway and lacks a sportsbook, it’s a great-looking and smooth playing experience on both platforms.

Aesthetics and playability
Great graphics and Microgaming-powered software means you won’t be let down by the look and feel of this mobile casino. The games are smooth and fun, though the lack of variety is a negative point. However, what games there are all ensure a high-quality experience and all your casino favourites are there.

Joining the games
Simple to join and use, the software is more of an add-on to the online casino service. Mobile users do get an exclusive bonus of £30 when depositing £20 or more but this is less than the bonus available to users signing up through the casino. Like Betway, the Microgaming-powered software supports several secure deposit methods including Ukash and Click2Pay as well as debit/credit card deposits.

The selection
The weak point in this app is the lack of selection, though 21 of your favourite casino games including slots and baccarat are available.

With the number of mobile gambling apps continuing to increase, gamers are only going to see more and more great opportunities come their way.

Twitter has successful IPO

Twitter’s IPO went very smoothly, unlike the rocky debut experienced by Facebook shares. The stock closed at $44.90 per share, up considerably from the $26 IPO price. Twitter founders Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams also made out nicely, as they agreed to lockup agreements in lieu of selling shares through the IPO. Both are billionaires on paper.

Now we’ll see if Twitter can now live up to this IPO hype. It’s an incredible services, but its revenue and profit numbers are much smaller than those of Google and Facebook when those companies went public. We’ll see what kinds of revenue-generating projects they are willing to consider, and whether users will have a problem with any of them.

NFL Network huge media success

Some are questioning the future of cable TV, but nobody questions the importance of valuable content which can be distributed through various means. The success of the NFL Network is another example of the value of great content. The popularity of the NFL continues to explode and their investment in the NFL Network ten years ago appears to be another stroke of genius.

Sports, news and new TV shows are some of the items that will help cable TV stay relevant in the face of new trends where appointment TV is giving way to streaming TV that can be watched at any time. Many people are giving up the notion of regular TV and are watching shows when it’s convenient for them as they now have multiple devices like iPads that they can use to watch their shows.

With the NFL Network, that isn’t much of a worry, as sports-obsessed fans can’t get enough of NFL programming. They’re into their favorite teams, their fantasy football teams or their weekly picks against the spread. They’ll be absorbing as much NFL content as they can as they plan for their 2014 Super Bowl betting picks. On Thursday nights they’ll watch even the most lame matchups on the NFL Network and then complain about the game endlessly on Twitter, which brings up the social media angle. Sports is one of those things people love to talk about and argue about on social media. It fuels a ton of activity, making a simple NFL game a global conversation as opposed to a lonely evening alone on the couch.

The NFL could have screwed this up, but they quality of the programming has been excellent. They brought over Rich Eisen from ESPN to be one of the lead anchors and then signed a bunch of former NFL players. Of course they also have a stable of hotties showing off their legs like Nicole Zaloumis, Molly Qerim, Amber Theoharis and Lindsay Rhodes. They leveraged years of NFL Films content and put together tons of those silly lists people love to argue about. Reports indicate that ESPN almost invested in the NFL Network several years ago. I’m guessing the NFL execs are happy that didn’t happen as the network has grown into an incredibly valuable media property.

DoubleTree tries to leverage photos and social media

Check out this interview with DoubleTree Hotels global head John Greenleaf about how DoubleTree is using contests and sharing around photos and videos uploaded by their customers, tied to specific locations.

Mobile Gambling – There’s an App for That

ipad 3

Abstainer, noun: A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.

So wrote Ambrose Bierce (also known as Bitter Bierce) in his cynical look on life, The Devil’s Dictionary. And let’s face it, Ambrose probably has it right as we all like a little gamble now and then to liven things up.

However, you no longer have to head over to a casino to get your gamble on because your mobile phone probably offers more gambling action than the mighty Bellagio.

So just how is mobile gambling getting ready to take over the world? Read on to find out…

Try Before You Buy

Perhaps one of the most interesting elements of casino and poker apps is the fact that you can play for free. Yes, you get to enjoy all the casino games without any of the risk, making them…well…fun.

However, it won’t take long before you wish your winning streak was happening with a real money game and the boasts of being rich on play money will become empty. However, it is great for refining your game play and sharpening your skills. You can then take your new strategies to real money play on a casino or mobile hold’em website and put them to the test.

Welcome Bonuses Are Free Money

Another highly attractive feature of mobile gambling apps is that casinos and poker sites actually give you free money to play with. And they do it just for signing up.

Well, OK, you have to actually deposit some money there – and you have to do some gambling. The bonuses are then unlocked depending on how much you play. It’s rather like getting achievements or trophies in other games – except these reward you with actual cash.

Mobile Gaming Offers Fast Access

Having casino and poker games on your mobile allows you to jump straight into the action wherever you are. Online casinos and poker rooms have responded to this by offering games that require no waiting times to keep mobile players in the heart of the action.

This means that if you have a few minutes spare you can always spin some slots reels, or play a few hands of poker.

Not All Poker and Casino Apps Are the Same

Poker sites and online casino do vary in their offerings. While many of the games they offer are quite similar, the bonuses and promotions the sites give out can be quite different. So it is worth shopping around and checking out some comparison sites (and reading a few reviews) to get a feel for who is offering the best.

Poker players should also be aware that the ability to find opponents is directly related to the popularity of a site. The more popular a poker room is, the more people play there, and the fuller the tables are. Bear that in mind when signing up.

A Final Word of Warning

Do remember that online gambling is illegal in some countries and some US states. Check out a specialized website to make sure you are playing within the law.

Also, don’t gamble with money you cannot afford to lose. Gambling is a bit of fun – so keep it that way. If your ability to pay the rent, or eat, depends on the spin of a roulette wheel then you are doing something wrong.

Now, with that said, don’t be a fuddy-duddy abstainer. Get out there and live a little!

The Bitcoin roller coaster

Bitcoins have been in the news quite a bit lately, as the trading value of this new virtual currency has been fluctuating like crazy over the past weeks.

The scale of the recent boom and bust has been staggering indeed. At the start of the year, a Bitcoin was worth $13.51. Earlier this week, it traded as high as $266. And on Thursday, it plummeted to less than $100, as one of the exchanges where Bitcoins are traded closed temporarily. This would be comparable to the exchange rate for the British pound soaring from $1.62 (where it was on Jan. 1) to $31.90 and then falling back to $12.

The topic got even more attention when we learned that Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss had amassed a rather large Bitcoin position.

The video above provides an excellent primer on the topic of Bitcoins, along with the article linked above. It will be interesting to see whether online retailers or marketplaces started accepting this virtual currency.

Facebook phone finally announced

Mark Zuckerberg has announced the new Facebook phone as you can see in the video above. The phone will be based on Android but it will be laid out differently with the home page of the phone being devoted to people rather than apps.

Let’s see if this takes off. Not everyone wants the world to see who is on their Facebook “favorites” list on their phone home page. I can see plenty of drama with girlfriends, etc.

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