Facebook Updates, Google+ Pulls Back the Veil, and Why Netflix Doesn’t Matter Anymore

We all know Facebook is the biggest and often the most feature-rich of the social networking sites, but its history is riddled with issues surrounding privacy and user-interface complaints. This week, Facebook tackled one of these two issues with the launch of two new features: a Top Story dog-ear icon and the Ticker (plus an updated News Feed––think more like the new Twitter). As TechCrunch pointed out on Tuesday, Facebook got “smarter” with the release of these new features. The Ticker, aka sidebar, is a natural progression in Facebook’s user interface and should not be disruptive to the user (assuming he or she has enough screen real estate to display this new feature).

This week’s Facebook f8 developer conference may improve upon the vague nature of the Like button by adding Read, Listen, Watch, and Want buttons to better bring relevant content from your social streams to the surface.

Google also joined the tech news this week by pulling back the invitation-only veil on Google+ and opening the Facebook competitor to the world. Anyone care to start the pool on how long before we can delete our Facebook profiles?

Netflix is spinning off its DVDs to Qwikster and keeping the streaming service under the mothership (and adding games). Learn from Netflix’s mistakes––keep a level of transparency in your significant changes, and maybe you’ll avoid the negative-press machine. The social web can damage your brand quickly, so proactive measures with big changes can be good, but also remember that hours are the new days on the Internet. A heartfelt apology video can only do so much. Netflix has battled for distribution rights for both DVD and streaming titles, and as the studios have gotten smarter at pricing for nontraditional distribution channels, services like Netflix must look to the future, one that does not include DVDs. Maybe what appears to be a greedy, anti-customer move will actually make the streaming function more dynamic (since the DVD albatross has flown away to an antique paradise with the likes of typewriters, BlackBerrys, and rotary/corded/cordless phones). Isn’t a tumultuous market fun? Companies keep changing their business models, and the consumer wins early on and loses after the product becomes more widely adopted. With all the cash Netflix has raked in, can someone buy Netflix CEO Reed Hastings a newer laptop than his ThinkPad circa 2004, maybe a MacBook Air?

Foursquare also hit 1 billion check-ins, a monumental increase since 200 million in July 2010. That is a big expansion in a little over a year. Sure, critics say the location-enabled social web isn’t going anywhere and the masses just don’t get how Foursquare and other location-based media really work. Our smart devices are our backstage passes to the lives of the people around us whom we care about. Each user cares about different things––from the goings-on of a Kardashian to your cousin from Hicksville––but apps like Foursquare let us see where they are when they want to share, and maybe a friend will pop up in your area and the service will help connect you. No matter how you slice it, more check-ins means more activity and maybe more users, so let’s raise a micro-brew to the next 1 billion.

By the time this is posted, Utterly Orange hopes someone has won our betting pool on where NASA’s UARS, aka a massive chunk of satellite space junk, finally makes contact with terra firma. Maybe it will just be tech Armageddon? NASA’s UARS could crash into some facility hosting [insert favorite website here]/Facebook/Foursquare/Netflix and cause online mayhem. Ok, fine––it really wouldn’t do anything, but wouldn’t that make the crash just that much more suspenseful?

And for those of you who just adore Google+ so much that you want to “circle” up your Facebook account, let me introduce you to CircleHack.

By the way, show Utterly Orange some love and click the Share buttons below for posterity. The Like button may be gone someday, and who knows about the “+1,” so go ahead and get your share on before time runs out!

 

Author: John Carew

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