Clearly looking for a fight or two, the Atlantic’s sister site Quartz just published a highly critical year-end analysis of the tech industry. Titled, “2013 was a lost year for tech,” the piece begins, “All in, 2013 was an embarrassment for the entire tech industry and the engine that powers it -- Silicon Valley,” before going on to note the industry’s many failed efforts, as well as its peaking arrogance.
The New York Times
Despite record-breaking ecommerce sales numbers, 2013 could go down as a very bad year for the industry. Why? “After years of preaching the convenience and reliability of online shopping … retailers may have been too successful at spreading the message this year, contributing to the volume of holiday orders that overwhelmed delivery services like U.P.S. and FedEx,” The New York Times reports.
Consumers can now see what data their apps are using courtesy of a new site from mobile trade group CTIA. KnowMyApp.org “allows mobile device owners to estimate an app’s data usage before it’s downloaded,” PCWorld reports. “This is the first tool allowing consumers to learn about an app’s data usage before downloading it.”
Google is reportedly punishing lyrics site Rap Genius for engaging in shady SEO practices to improve its search ranking. “Now RapGenius.com doesn’t appear on the first page of results for a search of ‘Rap Genius,’ and popular queries like ‘Jay-Z Holy Grail Lyrics’ don’t bring up the startup like they used to,” TechCrunch reports. Rap Genius, however, claims to be nearing a resolution with Google over the matter.
The New York Times
Making a lot of advertisers happy, this year, mobile data nearly doubled, according to new findings from wireless carrier consultant Chetan Sharma. Why? “Cellular networks got faster, and smartphone screens got bigger,” The New York Times’ Bits blog reports. “Worldwide, the average consumption was 240 megabytes a month this year, up from 140 megabytes last year, [Sharma] said.”
The Wall Street Journal
Product returns represent a growing problem for the ecommerce industry, but, as The Wall Street Journal reports, retailers are fighting back with transaction data. “This year, chains are digging through past transactions to weed out chronic returners, train shoppers to make better decisions or stem buyer’s remorse,” WSJ writes. “Companies are also tracking ‘wardrobers,’ shoppers who buy items to wear once and return.”
With implications we’d rather leave unconsidered, new data shows that the majority of porn is now viewed via smartphone. It’s “one stat that shows us how prevalent smartphones and tablets have become to the daily lives of people everywhere,” notes Readwrite.com. The findings come courtesy of porn aggregator PornHub, which reports that 52% its fare was viewed with a mobile device in 2013.
British Sky Broadcasting Group is beefing up its digital investment. The lastest -- a $350,000 investment in Jaunt, an start-up that displays video content, reports Tech Crunch. BSkyB said that the new partnership will give it “additional insight into developments within the field.” Though Palo Alto, Calif.-based Jaunt’s placeholder site currently offers no information besides “stayed tune,” the company has been adding to its impressive engineering teach, including CEO Jens Christensen who launched Ellerdale, acquired by Flipboard.
Apple has a new mission for the iAds team: always be selling iTunes Radio. Apple is trying to ramp up revenue from iTunes Radio, a Pandora-like service that was released widely this fall, per Adweek. In a staff meeting before the holidays, Eddy Cue, head of software, indicated that iTunes Radio is the top priority. At the same time the sales team is busy pushing Apple radio inventory, the company will build a real-time bidding exchange to automate selling in-app ads, multiple sources said.
AOL has injected tens of millions of dollars into The Huffington Post. Its audience has more than tripled from 25 million people before the AOL deal to 84 million at the end of October, according to comScore data. It has branched out to cover lifestyle, entertainment, business and technology, growing to 60 vertical sites from about 20, reports Reuters. But The Huffington Post has yet to turn a profit for AOL, falling far short of Armstrong's projection at the time of the acquisition that the unit would post $66 million in operating profit in 2013 on $165 million in revenue. …