DigitalOutbox Episode 131
DigitalOutbox Episode 131 – Twitter API, John Browett and OnLive
3:01 – Once a Dixons employee
– John Browett joined as head of retail at Apple late last year – he used to head up Dixons. We joked at the time that it didn’t seem the best hire and fit for Apple
– There were reports at the start of the week that Apple stores were reducing staff numbers
– In a communication with store leadership teams, senior vice president of retail, John Browett, who took the reins of Apple’s retail stores in April, said that the company had been trying a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail locations to be understaffed. This happened for a few weeks before the company decided to revert to its older system, hoping to rectify the problem.
– He instructed leadership teams to tell employees, “We messed up,” according to two people who were aware of the communication, which also stressed that while shift schedules were affected, no one was laid off. He also wanted employees to know that it was hiring new staff, these people said.
– Apple acknowledged the retail staffing changes. “Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed,” said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman. “Our employees are our most important asset and the ones who provide the world-class service our customers deserve.”
– Despite Apple’s claims that “no one was laid off”, we have indeed heard from several Apple employees who have been laid off in recent weeks, with several of them independently claiming that there have been others, although some have called the moves “isolated” while others have characterized them as “many”. ifoAppleStore reported yesterday that the cutbacks were made by Browett in an effort to meet profit goals and encourage the “bloated” store staffs to run “leaner”, despite the objections of retail veterans within the company.
6:11 – Amazon to deliver parcels to UK cornershops
– Amazon is to step up its assault on the UK’s retail market by delivering parcels to nearly 5,000 corner shops and newsagents around the country.
– The online shopping giant has quietly started trialling the scheme on a small scale with items such as books and clothes, and plans to roll it out nationwide.
– Amazon has already built itself into a $109bn business by offering customers a highly convenient way to shop and this move will give it even more muscle with which to take on high street stores.
– Consumers will be able to collect their orders from local shops that are often open until late into the night, instead of having to wait in for orders or coming home to find a delivery note telling them to collect their parcel from the nearest Royal Mail depot.
– They will also be able to use the “Collect+” scheme to send unwanted items back to the retailer, making it easier, for example, to order clothes in several sizes and return those that do not fit.
– The scheme is likely to prove particularly popular with employees of the many UK companies which ban staff from having personal goods delivered to their work address.
– However, it is also expected to ignite fresh concerns amongst traditional retailers, who already fear that the Seattle-based shopping giant is driving them off the high street.
9:11 – Twitter announces API changes
– Three main changes:
– In version 1.1, we will require every request to the API to be authenticated. For developers who are already using OAuth when making API requests, all of your authentication tokens will transition seamlessly from v1.0 to v1.1. If your application is currently using the Twitter API without using OAuth, you will need to update your application before March 2013.
– Right now, in version 1.0 of the Twitter API we limit the number of authenticated requests applications can make to 350 calls per hour, regardless of the type of information the application was requesting. This “one size fits all” approach has limited our ability to provide developers more access to endpoints that are frequently requested by applications, while continuing to prevent abuse of Twitter’s resources. In version 1.1, we will provide per-endpoint rate limiting on the API. While an application that only accesses one endpoint may be more restricted, applications that use multiple endpoints will run into rate limiting issues less frequently. Most individual API endpoints will be rate limited at 60 calls per hour per-endpoint. Based on analysis of current use of our API, this rate limit will be well above the needs of most applications built against the Twitter API, while protecting our systems from abusive applications.
– To ensure that Twitter users have a consistent experience wherever they see and interact with Tweets, in v1.1 of the Twitter API we will shift from providing Display Guidelines to Display Requirements, which we will also introduce for mobile applications. We will require all applications that display Tweets to adhere to these. Among them: linking @usernames to the appropriate Twitter profile, displaying appropriate Tweet actions (e.g. Retweet, reply and favorite) and scaling display of Tweets appropriately based on the device. If your application displays Tweets to users, and it doesn’t adhere to our Display Requirements, we reserve the right to revoke your application key. we will require you to work with us directly if you believe your application will need more than one million individual user tokens. Additionally, if you are building a Twitter client application that is accessing the home timeline, account settings or direct messages API endpoints (typically used by traditional client applications) or are using our User Streams product, you will need our permission if your application will require more than 100,000 individual user tokens.
– Caused lot’s of consternation, especially the user cap (100,000) – The maximum limit is 100,000 users, unless special permission is given by Twitter. If a client has more than 100k users currently, it can only ever grow to 200% of that. If users of the apps de-authorize their tokens for those apps, then they’re added back to that pool. That means that no third-party client can ever have more than 100k users, unless given special permission by Twitter or it already has over 100k right now, in which case it can have double the amount it has today. This move puts a life span on most for-pay clients, as they’ll reach a point where there is no longer any reason for them to continue offering these apps for sale.
– Display of tweets is confusing – no other social or 3rd party actions may be attached to a Tweet – so send to instapaper no more? Pocket developer says he has spoken to Twitter and pocket, instapaper etc are fine.
– Also, display guidelines and now ‘requirements’
– Marco Arment (Instapaper) has a very -ve post on the changes – http://www.marco.org/2012/08/16/twitter-api-changes
– I sure as hell wouldn’t build a business on Twitter, and I don’t think I’ll even build any nontrivial features on it anymore.
– And if I were in the Twitter-client business, I’d start working on another product.
– Paul Haddad (Tweetbot) has a more +ve post – http://tapbots.com/blog/news/dont-panic
– API – The changes to the v1.1 API requiring authentication won’t affect Tweetbot, all current API calls are already made using authentication.
– User caps – I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the idea of caps on the number of users, I feel that part of what makes the Twitter ecosystem interesting is the wide ranging apps available to it. I think we and others fill an important niche in that system not served by the current Twitter apps and would’ve much preferred to see some some other approach. Regardless the decision has been made, so let’s look at what this actually means to Tweetbot.
* Our user cap for Tweetbot for iOS is pretty huge (which is 2* our current users, not 100k)
* At the current rate our user base is growing we won’t hit that cap for a few years
* Our user cap for Tweetbot for Mac is also large and we don’t expect any problems given the smaller market
* Even if we were to run out of room all our current users will be fine
* User tokens are shared, so if you have a single account on both Tweetbot for iPad and Tweetbot for iPhone that’s only a single token
– Display req’s – We’ll be working with Twitter over the next 6 months to make sure we comply with these new requirements as much as possible. I don’t expect the changes to be huge, but we’ll keep everyone up to date as we know more.
– Meanwhile app.net got funded (nearly 800k) and has an amazing amount of app’s in development already.
– Does twitter care about it’s users? Or is it chasing business, advertisers, investors now rather than users? The people that launched the company are really no longer involved…
17:26 – Medium
– Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone are at it again. Having launched two new publishing platforms — Blogger in 1999 and, more recently, Twitter – the duo unveiled a new platform Tuesday that wants to make an “evolutionary leap,” based on what the pair has learned over the past 13 years.
– Called Medium, the new collaborative publishing tool lets different people contribute as much or as little as they want to themed “collections” of content. The idea, the founders said in a blog post Tuesday, is that people should be able to publish without “the burden of becoming a blogger” and worrying about developing an audience. The layout looks a lot like Pinterest, but contributions include both pictures and text.
– Does the world need another publishing site/tool?
19:06 – Branch
– Pick a topic, write a short comment and then invite others to comment – only if your invited can you comment
– The comment, or debate, is public – like Quora perhaps?
– Uses twitter as authentication a bit like Medium
– Advisers include Ev Williams and Biz Stone
20:51 – Is the UK heavy handed with Internet Trolls
– Police and prosecutors in the UK are accused of being “incredibly heavy-handed” when dealing with online trolls and abusive messages.
– It follows several cases where young people have been arrested, fined or jailed after posting insulting comments on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.
– Campaign groups and experts from Oxford University say the punishments are heavier than in other countries. But police insist if a law is broken they will take action.
– Bernie Hogan from the Oxford Internet Institute monitors what happens in other countries. He said that although the UK was “leading the way” in cracking down on this type of online abuse, by comparison “we are incredibly heavy-handed”.
– The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) disagrees. In a statement is says: “People have a right to publish their views but when these views become indecent, threatening or offensive then the individuals they affect also have the right to report them. “The police will assist with any prosecution.”
23:05 – First truly digital Olympics
– BBC celebrated Olympics by releasing some amazing data behind their online effort
– Record breaking browsers to BBC Sport online – with 55m (global) and 37m (UK) browsers to the BBC Sport site in total across the Games, and an average of 9.5m (global) and 7.1m (UK) browsers per day, easily breaking all previous records (previous record for a single day was 7.4m global and 5.7m UK)
– Video drives viewing across all online platforms – with 106m requests for BBC Olympic video content across all online platforms, more than double seen for any previous events
– First truly mobile games – with 9.2m UK mobile browsers to the BBC’s Olympics coverage, making up 34% of all daily browsers to BBC’s Olympic coverage, and 12m requests from mobiles for video throughout the Games
– Opening up the breadth of the Games via BBC Red Button – with 23.7m viewers to the 24 SD, HD and Freeview streams throughout the Games, and every single stream seeing at least 100,000 viewers
– Over a 24 hour period on the busiest Olympic days, total traffic to bbc.co.uk exceeded that for the entire BBC coverage of the FIFA World Cup 2010 (matches) – on the busiest day, the BBC delivered 2.8 petabytes, with the peak traffic moment occurring when Bradley Wiggins won Gold with over 700 Gb/s
– The London 2012 Olympics were the first truly mobile Games. Audiences accessed BBC’s content in ground-breaking numbers on mobile devices, continuing the trend to watch video on-the-go with:
– 1.9m download of BBC’s Olympics mobile app for iOS and Android smartphones
– 40% of browsers accessing BBC’s Olympics coverage were from a mobile at weekends (30% during the week) – averaging 34% per day
– 9.2m UK mobile browsers throughout the Games, with 2.8m UK mobile browsers on the peak day
– On TV, the BBC’s Red-Button service opened up the breadth of Olympic content to audiences with the simple press of a button.
– 23.7m people viewed the 24 live SD, HD & Freeview streams throughout the Games for at least 15 minutes
– Audiences viewed specialist sports such as Judo and Weightlifting in considerable numbers
– Every single Red Button stream received 100,000 viewers at some point during the Games
– this has really been the multi-platform Games, where audiences have consumed our content across PC, mobile, tablet and connected TV at different times of the day.
Our data below splits out the four screens across 24 hours, to reveal some key insights:
PC usage maxes out during the week at lunchtime and during mid-afternoon peak Team GB moments
Mobile takes over around 6pm as people leave the office but still want to keep up to date with the latest action
Tablet usage reaches a peak at around 9pm: people using them as a second screen experience as they watch the Games on their TVs, and also as they continue to watch in bed
28:21 – Jeremy Hunt pledges fastest broadband network in Europe by 2015
– The UK will have the fastest broadband network of any major European country by 2015, the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has pledged.
– The commitment marks a firming up of the government’s original target to create the “best” superfast broadband network in Europe by the end of this parliament, and follows a critical House of Lords’ report into the national broadband strategy published last month.
– “To really be the best you need to be the fastest,” Hunt told broadband experts at “Silicon Roundabout”, the area around Old Street on the fringes of the City of Londonwhere many technology firms and start-ups are based. “I am today announcing an ambition to be not just the best overall, but specifically the fastest broadband of any major European country. Indeed we may already be there.”
– Garbage – from Akamai – UK average measured connection speed according to Akamai is 5.6 Mbps, an improvement of 20% on last years result, but still only places us at 15th position across Europe, (21st in the global table).
30:27 – Netflix reaches 1,000,000 subscribers on the UK
– Netflix has said it has hit the 1 million subscriber mark in the UK and Ireland, just over seven months after the US subscription video on demand service launched in the countries.
– The company, which launched in the UK and Ireland on 9 January, is aiming to take on rivals including Amazon-owned LoveFilm and BSkyB.
– Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, said that the milestone proved that there is a significant appetite for a new rival to offer cut-price subscription packages of on-demand films and TV shows.
– Netflix claims that hitting 1 million registered users in the UK and Ireland in seven months was four times faster than Twitter managed on a global basis, and nearly twice as fast as Facebook and location-based service Foursquare.
– Hastings said the US company intends to pry premium Hollywood movie rights away from BSkyB, promising to be “really aggressive in our bidding.”
31:41 – Onlive sold to another company
– OnLive confirmed today that its assets have been sold to a new, still unnamed company. OnLive will continue to operate its services during the transition and the new company is backed “by substantial funding,” said a spokeswoman for Steve Perlman, the chief executive of OnLive.
“We can now confirm that the assets of OnLive, Inc. have been acquired into a newly formed company and is backed by substantial funding, and which will continue to operate the OnLive Game and Desktop services, as well as support all of OnLive’s apps and devices, as well as game, productivity and enterprise partnerships,” the company said in a statement. “The new company is hiring a large percentage of OnLive, Inc.’s staff across all departments and plans to continue to hire substantially more people, including additional OnLive employees. All previously announced products and services, including those in the works, will continue and there is no expected interruption of any OnLive services. We apologize that we were unable to comment on this transaction until it completed and were limited to reporting on news related to OnLive’s businesses. Now that the transaction is complete, we are able to make this statement.”
– Employees at the Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters of OnLive walked in and out during the afternoon, declining to comment. Some of them left with boxes full of their belongings.
– Earlier in the day, Perlman held an all-hands meeting where he told the staff that the company was being dissolved. Later on, everybody received a packet. Some of those packets were invitations to join the new company. We have heard that the number might be about 70 people. We hear that many employees are very upset, particularly those with exercised stock.
– Joystiq is reporting that the company has been sold to a third-party and that at least 50 percent of the staff was laid off. A former employee told Joystiq that employees were not getting severance and that OnLive was dealing with operating costs of $5 million a month.
– Despite its claim of two million users, our source says that the average peak amount of concurrent users was around 1,800. The two million number accounts for anyone who has signed up for the service; actual usage was remarkably lower.
35:25 – Call of Duty Black Ops 2
– Significant changes to the multiplayer game
– Calling eSports “a major, major initiative for us,” game design director David Vonderhaar says that Call of Duty is already a sport, but it needs the production, the personality, and the means to broadcast that sport to a wider audience. To help make that happen, Treyarch is building new tech for Black Ops 2 to more easily reach the masses, through in-game livestreaming and color commentary tools branded CODcasting.
– Black Ops 2’s broadcasting tools are simple to use. CODcasters simply join a multiplayer game as a spectator and are given the ability to see all the action in a multiplayer game from different views for play-by-play coverage. (To prevent cheating, live streams of multiplayer matches are delayed a few seconds.)
– During CODcasting matches, viewers will see a score panel at the top of the screen. “Score panel is our way of linking this to sports,” says Mike Rufail, Treyarch’s in-house eSports advisor. “Essentially, when you flick the channel over to a sports broadcast, you immediately will find out what the score is, how much time is left in the game, who’s in the lead. It’s very necessary information.”
– With League Play, Vonderhaar says he wants Black Ops 2 multiplayer to be fun at every level, not just for the hardcore Call of Duty player who spends hours each night honing his headshots. To address that, Treyarch is introducing skill-based matchmaking for Black Ops 2 multiplayer, an attempt to ensure that players are competing with others of a similar skill level.
– Treyarch is proposing seven seasonal brackets, in which players will be placed based on their performance as time goes on. Black Ops 2 will find an initial bracket for you somewhere after a few games, but players are expected to move up and down in their ranking as they win and lose in their division. They won’t be competing against the entirety of the Call of Duty-playing masses, but a smaller pool of about 500 to 1000 players near their skill level, Vonderhaar says.
37:45 – Simcity for the Mac
– Will launch in Feb, same time as PC
– Origin also coming to Mac later this year