Daily Archives: May 22, 2012

Why cloud computing is good news for retailers

Cloud computing is simply “internet based computing, whereby shared servers provide resources, software, and data to computers and other devices on demand,” according to Wikipedia.

The fundamental concept of cloud computing is that the processing and storage of your data is carried out on servers outside of your physical business location using software licensed on a per user basis. For this reason the term is also used to describe what is sometimes known as Software as a Service. Ordinarily on a pay-per-use system, this enables businesses to get the benefit of massive processing ability without having to own the physical infrastructure or bespoke software, avoiding the need for considerable upfront capital investment.

Opening a new store?

It’s exhausting enough opening a retail outlet without the added complexity of setting up a new IT network and POS system. With a hosted system and good internet access, you can get your  new store online and utilising your existing POS system simply by installing a new PC . New staff can be supplied with user licences, added to your authorised user list and the hosted POS software can be accessible in your new premises instantly.

Another benefit is the ability to log in to your software from home, office or shop via a simple web browser. This means you could be at home, but still log in to check the day’s sales or check stock levels.

Enhancing the customer experience

By utilising a hosted server running their POS system and customer data records, sales staff on the shop floor can update customer records during a sales transaction into a central database. In this particular case, such records would include previous purchases and design/style/taste preferences.

Such information is accessible to floor staff across all stores, so that a regular customer can be given personal attention regardless of which store he/she walks into and changes to their buying patterns or preferences can be updated following a store visit anywhere in the country.

Security and data storage

A further consideration is the benefit of data security and storage. With hosted software, the threat of theft or damage to one store poses no risk to loss of transactional data or customer records. Just think about the vast number of businesses affected by flood damage in Queensland recently.

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How Android Developers Can Thrive With Google Play

Thriving with Google Play
Apple’s planned phase-out of the UDID has introduced considerable angst in the app marketing community. The UDID provides a standard, widely supported method for attributing performance of advertising campaigns. Unfortunately, there’s no single solution to replace the UDID and it appears the iOS market is fragmenting, with multiple technologies vying for developer attention. This is making it difficult for app developers to allocate their resources.

With all this uncertainty, some marketers are looking more closely at Google Play to fuel their continued growth in mobile. Unfortunately, many marketers are sidestepping Android development based on several published reports indicating that Apple’s iOS monetizes significantly better. Savvy marketers know that high-level statistics often mask a much more complex reality. While we’d never suggest that the iOS market be ignored, once you do the math you may find that Android represents a much more compelling (and profitable) opportunity than you thought.

Here’s why and how you can thrive with Google Play.

Bigger yet cheaper…
For sheer size, the Android platform has no equal. According to Nielsen, Android has more than 48 percent of the smartphone market, versus 32 percent for iOS. Google indicates there are 850,000 Android device activations per day and total Google Play app downloads have reached more than 15 billion. App search firm Xyologic reports that in March 2012 there were 617 million app downloads on Android versus 393 million app downloads on iPhone in the U.S.


Android also provides more advertising inventory, and at a lower cost. A recent analysis Fiksu did of available impressions concluded Android is able to deliver 12 percent more ad inventory than iOS. Further, the estimated cost of those impressions was 40 percent lower.

Android Advantages
Android also has a number of practical advantages over iOS that make it a great environment for market testing and quick rollout. Since there is no app approval process, you can quickly iterate your design and determine what features or offers work best. Updating an app can take weeks with iOS due to Apple’s submission and approval process.

In some ways, Google Play is also a more accessible market. Competition in the iOS sphere is extremely intense. Marketing any app is challenging, but the explosion of new apps and changes in Apple policy have made breaking a new app into the iOS market a much tougher hill to climb. Xyologic reports they “have seen the momentum of iOS for app publishers slow down considerably in the last 5 months. Several key performance indicators we track are down, especially the amount of new apps which make it to the Top 100. We view this as evidence of the new challenges the Apple environment puts on app marketers.”

Unlike iOS, where rank is critical and often expensive to attain, Google Play has a strong search engine that makes it easier for interested users to find your app. Our experience is that 80% of the organic users in Google Play come from searches.

Finally, Android also solves the problem of marketing attribution, since it provides referrer information that anonymously identifies the source of a download. This is a single industry-wide solution that provides reliable data, yet balances the need for user privacy.  You know exactly where your ad dollars go. You know exactly what is and isn’t working. And there’s none of the data ambiguity or user experience issues seen with some iOS tracking solutions.

What About Monetization?
Of course, the big concern about Android is monetization. There’s clearly a gap: an oft-quoted post last December by Peter Farago of Flurry indicates Google Play monetization is roughly 24 percent of that of iOS.  It’s important to note that the gap is closing. Flurry notes that the biggest factor behind the gap is payment mechanisms, and expects this situation to improve with the integration of Google Wallet and Google Checkout. Evidence of improvement has already surfaced: app research firm Distimo indicates it saw an 80 percent improvement in average daily revenues for the top 200 US apps between December 2011 and March 2012. Furthermore, in a post titled Treat Android as a first-class citizen… it’ll pay off!  TinyCo noted that Average Revenue Per Paying User (ARPPU) for Google Play and iTunes is about the same as iOS, and found that Amazon performance surpassed that of iOS by a significant margin.

Beating the Averages
One problem with the monetization statistics on Google Play is that they cover the “average” experience. We’ve seen that if you target users effectively and you employ the right development strategy, Android apps convert and generate loyal users at roughly the same rate as iOS apps. More significantly, they do so at a lower acquisition cost.

In Q1, Fiksu conducted a study of six clients running the same apps on both iOS and Android to determine differences in acquisition cost and loyal usage conversion rates. (Loyal users are those who return repeatedly to an app and are most likely to monetize.) The cost of acquiring an install was 24 percent lower for Android than iOS. Given the monetization issues noted above we expected a higher conversion from installs to loyal users for iOS. Instead, what we saw was that once a user was acquired, the loyalty rate was exactly the same for both platforms. The only difference was that the cost of acquiring those users on Android was 24 percent lower.

There are, however some exceptions where iOS does beat out Android. For example tablet based shopping apps are an area where iOS excels. Other than the Kindle Fire, there is no Android-based tablet that can challenge the iPad. Further, payment processing is stronger on iOS. Fiksu data shows that for such apps loyalty is far stronger on iOS. However, these issues are being addressed in the market and those shopping apps that move to Android now will have a significant early mover advantage since Play’s algorithm rewards total downloads and usage.

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Google Summer of Code Students To Contribute to Joomla Development

Students from around the world will be working on open source coding projects that may be used by content management (CMS) software Joomla, as part of the Google Summer of Code.

There are eight separate student projects, each being worked on by a different student, that have the potential to be incorporated into the open source Joomla platform and core.

The Google Summer of Code program offers stipends to student software developers (ages 18 and up) for writing code for a number of different open-source software projects. To be accepted into the Google Summer of Code program for Joomla, students had to propose a project and apply. The eight students were chosen from more than 50 applicants with proposed Joomla projects.

Some of the student projects include a Facebook API, which would allow Joomla-powered sites to integrate Facebook material into the site, a Google API, which would allow Joomla-powered sites to integrate Google Maps and Webmaster tools into the site, and language installation for the CMS, which would allow users to choose from multiple default language options when building a Joomla site.

Other projects include a JS/CSS compression API, a MediaWiki API, a web services API, a workflow API, and a language translation extension.

The eight student developers are:

- Javier Gómez;
- Prasath Nadarajah;
- Stefan Neculai;
- Diana Prajescu;
- Aaron Schmitz;
- Kavith Thiranga Lokuhewage;
- Lucas Tiago De Castro Jesus;
- Florian Voutzinos;

The eight students will be coding their Joomla projects over the next few months, until mid-August, when each student will present their code to the Joomla community. Students will learn if their code has been accepted on August 24. Each student developer whose code is accepted will receive a $5,000 stipend from Google, which will be paid in installments.


Running client-side Ruby on the Web with Native Client or Emscripten

The Ruby programming language runtime has been ported to Google’s Native Client (NaCl) framework. The port, which was implemented by Google, will make it possible for NaCl-enabled Web browsers to execute client-side Ruby code.

Google engineer Yuki Sonoda merged the patch into MRI, the standard C-based Ruby reference implementation. It’s now possible to generate an NaCl-compatible build of Ruby by using a compile-time option. The resulting ruby.nexe can be loaded by the NaCl browser plugin and used in Web applications.

Native Client is a mechanism for running arbitrary native code within a Web browser. A custom development toolchain supplied by Google can be used to compile conventional C/C++ code into OS-neutral binary executables that can be run by the browser plugin. NaCl uses a sophisticated sandboxing mechanism to avoid the security pitfalls that afflicted similar legacy technologies, such as ActiveX.

The complete patch for NaCl-enabling Ruby can be viewed online at GitHub. What’s particularly striking about it is that the diff is relatively thin and the code changes are less intrusive than you might expect. It’s a good illustration of how easily NaCl can be used to bring complex C code base to the Web.

Along similar lines, we recently noticed a separate project called Emscripted Ruby that is usingEmscripten to port MRI to conventional JavaScript. Unlike the NaCl port, Emscripted Ruby can run in any browser and doesn’t require a plugin. The downside is that it’s built on Ruby 1.8.7 instead of 1.9 like the NaCl port.


The possibility of using client-side Ruby in Web applications caught our eye this week, but there were a few other recent developments that will round out our HTML5 roundup.

- The codrops blog published a fantastic demo of a Flipboard-inspired user interface that was implemented with standards-based Web technologies. It uses CSS 3D transforms and JavaScript to support the page flipping visual effect. The code is available from GitHub and is distributed under the MIT license.

- Kinesis.io offers a framework for supporting Kinect gesture recognition in Web applications.

- The Firefox home page and new tab page are getting a redesign in version 13. The new designs have already landed in the beta channel, but you can also get an early look by checking out thestatus report that was published last week in the Mozilla UX blog.

- Developer Alex MacCaw pointed out in a recent blog entry that Chrome Canary builds have experimental APIs for raw network socket access. The functionality is currently only accessible to browser add-ons. Due to potential security issues, it seems highly unlikely that these APIs will be made generally available to Web content in the foreseeable future.

- Mozilla issued an updated beta release of its mobile Firefox Web browser. The update includes a redesigned user interface.


How to: publish your blog to Kindle

Kindle (how to)

This guide explains how you can submit an RSS feed of your blog to Amazon in less than 10 minutes for it to be available in the Kindle store a day or two later.
Not only will you see your blog on a much-used device, bloggers can also hope to earn a little money. Amazon sets the £0.99 or £1.99 monthly subscription price it charges Kindle owners, of which the blogger gets 30 per cent.
Okay, so you are unlikely to become rich, but you are offering readers the ability to access your content on another platform for very little time and effort.
This guide explains everything you need to know.
What do I need to do to submit my blog?
The first thing you need to do is to sign up for a "Kindle publishing for blogs account". Not all browsers are supported so you will need to use Firefox or Internet Explorer.
You then need to enter the following the following:

  1. The RSS feed of your blog.
  2. The blog’s name, tagline and description.
  3. A screenshot of the blog (GIFF, JPG or PNG format, minimum 800 x 600 px and less than 1 MB).
  4. An image of your logo or masthead (GIFF, JPG or PNG format, maximum 430 x 50 px).
  5. A list of keywords to help people find your blog in the Kindle store.
  6. Your bank account details for Amazon to deposit your earnings (US only).

How many Kindles have been sold?
Amazon is not forthcoming in revealing the numbers of Kindles it sells.
It leaves analysts to debate the numbers while the company, which first launched the e-reader in the US in 2007 and in the UK two years later, reveals only limited information.
In this media release from the end of last year Amazon said "throughout December, customers purchased well over one million Kindle devices per week".
That included sales of the Kindle Fire, the device due to be released in the UK in the coming weeks or months.
With the numbers of Kindle sales in their millions the device becomes and attractive place for publishers.
Newspapers and magazine publishers can submit content with a lead in time of around three to four weeks. There are details of how to submit a newspaper or magazine here.
For blogs the process is much quicker and simpler process.
How long will I have to wait until my blog is available on the Kindle?
Amazon says it takes between 48 and 72 hours to approve new blogs. We submitted a mashup of our Journalism.co.uk news and blog RSS feed late on Friday and found the blog was available on Kindle by Sunday morning.
How much money do readers pay?
Amazon decides whether readers pay £0.99 or £1.99 a month to read your blog, tempting them in with a 14-day free trial period.
How much money do I get?
Amazon keeps the lion’s share, the blogger gets 30 per cent.
How do I get paid?
Non-US bank account holders get paid by cheque, US bloggers are asked to submit their bank account details.
You will be able to see how many people are subscribing to your blog by logging in to your Kindle publishing account.

Why would anyone pay to read a blog when they can get the same stories online for free?

It seems that Kindle users will pay for convenience. With a credit card linked to the user’s Amazon account, the company believes a monthly charge of £1 or £2 sounds a reasonable amount to pay for the convenience of reading a blog on the device.
amazon kindle account
1. How do I create an RSS feed of my blog?
If you are a WordPress user, create/sign in to a Google account, search for Feedburner and enter the URL of your blog.
Most blogs and news sites will have an RSS available already.
If your blog or news site does not display correctly on the Kindle then take a look at the XML of your RSS feed. Do this by pasting the URL of the RSS feed into a browser, right click to "view page source", select all of the code and paste into this "xml toolbox" and click "format xml". You will then be able to see the commands for the various fields listed. Compare with any WordPress or other RSS feed to see if your feed has missing fields.
2. Blog name, tagline and description
You will be asked to provide the name of your blog and a description. You will also have the option to enter a tagline.
The description is important as it is what the reader will see when deciding whether to pay to subscribe to your blog.
3. A screenshot of your blog.
Save your screen shot, go to the upload section in your "Kindle publishing for blogs" account, drag the file to the blank field and then click "upload image".
4. Your logo or masthead
If you are using Photoshop or similar, ensure that you create a white background as transparent logos will show as black / grey on the Kindle.
5. Keywords
Think about the keywords a reader will search for to find your blog.
You will be asked to fill in a couple of additional fields, including how frequently your blog is updated. You can then preview your blog and publish.

6. Payment

US bloggers can receive payment directly into a bank account or, for an $8 fee, can opt for a cheque. Non-US bloggers are all paid by cheque and are exempt from the $8 fee.
According to Amazon’s terms and conditions, the company pays 60 days "following the end of the calendar month during which they make the applicable sale".