Broadway smash-hit musical Beauty and the Beast, boasting an all-South African cast in a lavish, large-scale prodution, has had its run at Cape Town’s Artscape Opera House extended to 22 March. Take a look at what you’re missing – if you haven’t seen it already! Click arrow to play video.
richard macmanus Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… I first began writing regularly about the Internet of Things about a year ago. Now it’s bubbling up in the mainstream press and we’re also beginning to see web apps that are attempting to reach, if not quite a mainstream audience yet, then certainly the iPhone and Android-toting geek community. We’ve moved beyond the cutesy Internet-connected bunny rabbits and we’re now onto barcodes to stick on everyday objects.A new web service called tales of thingsjust launched, which aims to attach stories to objects. It follows on from a similar service that got a good amount of press at SXSW this year, StickyBits. Both services want to get people to ‘tag’ real world objects, by sticking barcodes onto them and adding information about the object onto the Web (often via mobile phone). The idea is that this will make the objects ‘social.’ However, I think this is doomed to fail and here’s why… Tales of things asks on its homepage: “Wouldn’t it be great to link any object directly to a ‘video memory’ or an article of text describing its history or background? Tales of Things allows just that with a quick and easy way to link any media to any object via small printable tags known as QR codes.”Both Tales of Things and StickyBits are going to struggle to get mainstream adoption. And it’s not because people just won’t stick barcodes onto objects – although that is a short-term pain point that both of these companies will likely fail to overcome. No, they won’t get mainstream adoption simply because the Internet of Things isn’t going to be just another social network platform. What’s unique about the Internet of Things is that it adds a huge amount of new data to the Web and allows real-world objects to become part of the cloud network. For example, sensors on a busy road communicate with your car to tell you of impending heavy traffic. Or when you walk into a shop, the store messages your phone to tell you that an item you’ve been looking for is in stock and on special. I met StickyBits founder Seth Goldstein at SXSW and he told me that his company aims to create a “social object network.” Trouble is, I just don’t think that Internet-connected everyday objects have much social value. Say I tag a book that I bought and attach the following ‘memory’ to it: “I read this book in the summer of 2010, it was a great read. I’d give it a 4/5.” Even if I wrote a much more in-depth review, what value does that have on a single object? If I uploaded that review to Amazon.com, then it’s put into context and gets aggregated with other reviews to form ratings and other ‘wisdom of the crowd’ intelligence. But on the object itself – my copy of the book – the review has limited value. If a friend of mine happened to scan my book with their phone, they’d see my review…and then probably head straight to Amazon.com to see what other people thought. Or perhaps check out what their own social network thought, via an app like Glue (a social network based on the media you consume – see our most recent review).Objects aren’t social, they never were and they never will be. The real value of Internet-connected objects is that they can become part of the network, which means they can connect to one another and they add more data to the giant computer we call The Cloud. But social networks aren’t going to form around single objects, other than perhaps public ones – like the Eiffel Tower, for example. But then you are just talking about a location, which the likes of FourSquare and BrightKite can take care of. The Internet of Things is about utility, not social networking. Neither Tales of Things nor StickyBits offers much in the way of utility, that we can’t already get from sites like Amazon.com or existing social networks. Let me know if you agree, or not! Tags:#Internet of Things#Op-Ed#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
Groomed bodies to coiffed hair, smooth chests to manicured hands and beards, men are increasingly opening up to the various aspects of grooming from skin care, facial styling and body-grooming, reveals a survey.]According to Philips India’s annual Stylescape survey, men are getting inquisitive about grooming. This was the fifth annual survey conducted to study about male grooming preferences in India. They interviewed 300 males and 250 females in the age group 20-30 years in key metros, read a statement. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfOut of various grooming habits like skincare, facial styling, shaving, hairstyling and body-grooming, the majority of women wanted their significant others to start taking care of their skin. And 74 per cent women take note of the skin quality when they notice men. Skin care is increasingly climbing up the priority list for men as well with 29 per cent stating that they consider skin care an important aspect of their grooming routine. What’s more? 79 per cent men admit to being open about trying skin care regimens at home. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveFacial styling is the most sought after form of grooming. And when it comes to facial styling, shaving remains the first and foremost form of grooming 62 per cent men start with, followed by trimming as a second. When it comes to the fairer sex, 83 per cent women understand that men’s grooming consists of more than just shaving. To add to it, 73 per cent women mentioned an increase in the number of men they see during their visit to the salon. With 29 per cent men considering skin care an important aspect of their grooming routine, 61 per cent admitted to visiting a salon monthly. Men are increasingly spending more on their grooming, with 39 per cent visiting the salon more than once a month; 20 per cent men spending over Rs 1,000 on services other than haircuts. The increasing trend of body-grooming stems from 55 per cent men wanting to take care of their bodies and maintain hygiene. As many as 73 per cent women admitted to having an aversion to men’s body hair. Most women admitted to sharing their grooming products with a male family member or friend. When asked, 41 per cent women said they had shared skin care products like facial scrubs, cleanser brushes and 26 per cent women shared grooming products like depilation creams. When it comes to discussing body-grooming with their partners, 69 per cent women indulge in such discussion. While men are taking control of their grooming rituals and choices; 73 per cent men admitted that they look at getting inputs and advice from people or turned towards men’s magazines, mobile apps, men’s blogs and brand websites for answers. Interestingly, the women too are taking charge – while 84 per cent women said they would like to talk to their partners about body grooming, 69 percent stated they already do.
Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Register Now » 5 min read Two years ago, serial entrepreneur Kris Duggan was itching to start another company, following his success in founding Medsphere, a government open-source medical platform, and OzNetwork, an Internet media company.Inspired by the popularity of social games like FarmVille and the Internet gamification trend, he left his position as vice president of sales for Socialtext, a developer of collaboration software for businesses, and began searching for a partner with web development skills. He soon met Wedge Martin, and less than two years later, they have a hit technology startup on their hands: Badgeville, which helps companies boost user engagement by gamifying their websites.Menlo Park, Calif.-based Badgeville applies various elements of social games, such as challenges, points, badges and levels, to non-game business websites. Given the success of FarmVille and other social games, it’s no wonder that companies want to make their brands’ websites and mobile apps more engaging. Because the user’s experience becomes fun and sometimes even addictive, companies often see an increase in Facebook “likes,” customer product reviews and, most important of all, purchases.Growth Spurt: Started in September 2010, Badgeville was initially funded with $300,000 from the founders’ families. While testing the concept, Duggan and Martin got a lucky break. They were invited to participate in the startup launch competition TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield. Badgeville made it to the final round and won the Audience Choice Award.The Badgeville website was launched during Disrupt, and in the first 30 days after the event, it attracted 20,000 visitors, overwhelming Duggan and Martin with hundreds of qualified business leads–more than they could handle. Martin was still working at IBM, but left the day of Badgeville’s successful launch, realizing that he and Duggan really were on to something.The company now has 50 employees and boasts more than 100 customers. It says revenue last year totaled between $5 million and $10 million and that it has raised $15 million in venture capital. Duggan declines to be more specific about revenue but notes that it grew 400 percent. “With our fast growth and customer traction, we are now on a clear path to profitability,” he says.Working with customers like Dell, Samsung and eBay, Badgeville says that on average, it helped increase social sharing by 200 percent, user-generated content by 50 percent, and conversion of users from nonpaid to paid status by 10 percent in 2011.Samsung, for example, came to Badgeville hoping to increase the number of product reviews users post on its website. The companies combined forces to launch Samsung Nation, a social loyalty program that lets users earn badges for such activities as writing reviews and watching videos and compete for rewards. By using Badgeville’s platform along with its own technologies, Samsung saw a 500% increase in customers’ product reviews.Why It’s Worth Watching: Badgeville’s platform sets it apart from other companies because it can be embedded into any company’s website or app. That means Badgeville can typically promise lower costs because customers don’t have to pay developers to create a customized solution.While gamification is a hot trend, Badgeville doesn’t face a lot of competition in the category–at least not yet. Copycats could start popping up, as more companies try to jump on the gamification bandwagon.Why It Matters: As Badgeville grows, Duggan doesn’t intend to stray from its strong customer focus. “We’ve been very focused on customer acquisition and delivering a product that customers want to buy,” he says.The company has based its decisions on market research. “We did it the old-fashioned way,” Duggan says. “We picked up the phone, and we called [potential customers]. We asked them, ‘If you had this product, would you buy it?'” The research helped Badgeville identify exactly what potential customers wanted and how much they were willing to pay.Looking Ahead: Badgeville is investing in its customer support and marketing teams, as it continues to add clients. Duggan expects revenue to more than double this year and his staff to grow to 100 people in 2012, with most of the expansion in New York and Europe.From a product standpoint, Badgeville’s platform “is about 10% done,” Duggan says. “If you think about all of the different levers you can pull to influence user behavior, we feel like we’ve started off with some really strong ones, but there are so many more… That’s probably going to keep us busy for the next several years.”Tip to Stay Ahead of the Curve: Duggan recommends that business owners “consider how they can leverage gamification inside their businesses and how they can make their experiences with their audiences more social.” That doesn’t just mean using Facebook, he says. Companies “should think about how they can create communities, experiences and engagement that are going to drive results.” He also encourages businesses to thoroughly understand gamification before trying it. “Gamification is not about adding games to your website,” he says. “It’s about identifying ways to drive behavior using techniques from games.” Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global January 20, 2012 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.