TV Apps Kickoff – 3 Things You Need to Know

TV Guide TV app available through YahooThe 2010 Superbowl officially kicked off the Age of TV Apps. The technology has been around for a few years and is already available to many people. But Vizio’s TV app Superbowl commercial was the kickoff heard ’round the world.

So what are TV apps? In a most basic sense, TV apps are like the applications you download for your iPhone. Small, limited-use software that allows you to personalize your hardware.

New stuff that was once only available for your computer — and then for your iPhone — is now available for your television. If you have Direct TV or Verizon FiOS, some of this is already baked into your cable box. Obviously you can get TV apps on the Vizio TV, but also on many Samsung and Sony televisions as well.

You can already use things like Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook on your TV.

Here are three things you should know about TV Apps

1. The technical field is relatively open.
Sure, there are some key players like Yahoo who have already set themselves as leaders, but that can change.  Currently, Yahoo controls the application and administers the software development kit (SDK). Note: From our personal experience, Yahoo was somewhat slow in distributing the SDKs to developers. That’s unfortunate because that could irritate programmers who could create an open-source system that could render Yahoo’s TV Apps technology obsolete. If you have the desire to create apps (or even a completely new OS), the time is now. The tech is in place for you to build the next great widget, gadget, social network, or living room app.

2. TV apps will present design challenges.

Weather TV app available through DirectTV

TV apps will face several user interface challenges. The most notable is that most people don’t have a keyboard on their television remote control. Sure, you can pull one up on the screen, but as you can imagine, typing with a little remote-control button is a pretty poor user experience. If you’ve used a Wii remote to create a Mii character, you know how tedious it can be to type out a long name. Designers will clearly make the difference between apps that succeed or fail. The old design rules will need to evolve to take advantage and address the limitations of a 10-foot interface.

3. Content & marketing opportunities will need to evolve.
The iPhone and other smart phones forced content developers and marketers to rethink the way we package messages. Long-form had to give way to shorter, more relevant messages. If not for mobile communications limitations, Twitter would have never gained a foothold in society. Face it, a 140 character message fits better on a cell phone screen than, say, a PowerPoint presentation. People who mastered the Twitter format (including URL shorteners) emerged pretty quickly as masters of the medium. And the marketers quickly caught on with brand messages. That’s a long way of saying that the new language of TV apps is still in flux. If you want to create content or marketing messages for TV apps, try to figure out what works with this new interface.

If you’re already exploring TV apps, congratulations. You’re probably going to have a head start on this unique and exciting new communications channel. I look forward to seeing what you create.

LINKS, NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS:

7 Tips for Better Flickr Traffic

Since I first discovered the analytics features in Flickr, I have been obsessed with my stats. I just can’t help myself. Stats and analytics fascinate me. (Note: Stats are only available to Flickr Pro users.)

Here are a couple of observations regarding Flickr’s chocolaty goodness:

  1. Post consistently. My stats hovered around a depressingly low number for many months. The key to getting more views on photos was to actually upload photos more consistently. Sounds obvious, but the reality is that people in a social community tend to interact more with people who are contributing consistently.
  2. Give the people what they want. If you know what photos get the most traffic, that means there’s an audience for your work. If people like your dog photos and label them as “favorite” then keep posting your dog photos.
  3. Share timely events. My stats skyrocketed recently when I uploaded 388 photos in one batch. (Thank you Flickr Uploader!). I attended the Long Beach Comicon 2009 and uploaded my pictures within two days of the con. My average views went from 500 a day to over 5,000 per day. That’s a HUGE increase in traffic. Not all of it is sustained, but I have definitely increased my daily views significantly.
  4. Include links to your other sites. The traffic from Flickr to my personal website BuddyScalera.com is increasing. The more people look at my Flickr photos the more they go check out my webpage. I saw a pretty nice jump when I uploaded that batch I just mentioned. Flickr users tend to check out my photo reference books, which is good.
  5. Join groups & create groups. I belong to dozens of informal Flickr groups. Plus, I’ve created two Flickr groups, which has increased my overall photo traffic. Since I have particular photography interests, it makes sense for me to contribute to certain groups. But some of my interests didn’t already have a group, so I created Long Beach Comicon – Official Flickr Group and Comic Book Creators & Pros. One complaint: they don’t give administrators much access to group analytics, beyond giving a list of members.
  6. Participate. People are sharing their photos online because they want the world to see their pictures. Give people feedback on their photos. If you share a comment, people will want to see your photos, which will increase your base of viewers.
  7. Contact ’em. There’s a “friending” feature on Flickr called “Contact.” Basically, it’s like friending someone on Facebook, except you get a feed of new photos that is being uploaded by your contacts. If you like someone’s work, you can check out their work in thumbnails as they upload the images. And unlike Facebook, people on Flickr are uploading photos, so you don’t have to wade through dozens of throw-a-sheep and super-poke invitations.

More on Flickr in the future. In the mean time, check out 10 Tips to Boost your Flickr Profile. Very good article about increasing Flickr traffic.

My Berlin Flickr Photo Schmapped

Ever been Schmapped? I just got Schmapped and I’m pretty excited about it.

Schmap is a groovy little application for people to use on their iPhone. It’s a little like YELP, but it’s designed to help people find interesting landmarks as they visit new cities.

The folks over at Schmap selected one of my photos from my trip to Berlin. So the next time someone goes to Berlin, they may see my photo as part of an iPhone-based guided tour. Good stuff. I’m proud in a geeky sort of way. It looks really neat on the iPhone.

Here’s the photo of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church:
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Outside

I’m not sure how they found my pictures, but I’m guessing they did some Flickr searches and it came up. I guess it’s a good thing that I tagged everything.

According to Emma Williams the Managing Editor of Schmap Guides, inclusion in the guide will drive traffic to my photo. They linked back to my photo, so hopefully it gets people to go check out the rest of my pictures.

I just got Schmapped and I can’t wait to be Schmapped again.

Picasa Goes Mac Desktop

Most dedicated Mac users I know tend to use the iLife applications that come with a new Mac. While not particularly glamorous, these apps work well together. Apple’s integration strategy makes the whole suite hard to resist.

But as the Mac market share increases, we see more companies developing new and interesting applications for OSX. Google just released a Mac desktop version of Picasa, which is designed to appeal to iPhoto users.

Based on this video, Picasa for Mac has some interesting features, particularly the ability to sync your online galleries.

I use Picasa to share pictures, so I’m likely to try the new Picasa for Mac. Picasa is functional, but not as good as Flickr for sharing pictures.

But considering the fact that Flickr is owned by Yahoo, it may be time to explore other picture-sharing networks. Yahoo’s future is pretty hazy, and they are likely to get purchased by another media company. That means networks like Flickr could undergo some significant changes.

Picasa may not be perfect, but knowing that it is backed by Google helps me have more confidence that my pictures will survive online. And the step to embrace the Mac platform just makes me plain ol’ happy.

Flickr & Picasa Your New Photos

I’ve been posting more pictures these days to photo sharing sites. My two current favorites are Flickr and Picasa.

Picasa (owned by Google) offers some nice sharing features, including the ability to embed your photos inside your blog. It makes it easy to share a gallery…except on WordPress. (Unless I pay for a WordPress upgrade.)

At least I can embed a preview image that links to the Picasa gallery:

Random Photos by Buddy Scalera

Flickr (owned by Yahoo) is also a cool service, but it only allows you to insert a link to your gallery. That’s sort of old school, considering all of the cool things you can do with widgets and code.

Flickr has a really vibrant and engaging social network, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular. I can join groups where I can share my photos and I can track photographers I like.  By comparison, Picasa’s social community is a little weak.

On the other hand, Picasa offers many cool features, including the ability to upload video and embed slideshows. For the same features, Flickr requires you to pay $24.95 to get the premium features, which include basics like the ability create multiple galleries.

If one of these sites offered the right package, I’d certainly be willing to pay. Of course, I want to pay according to my needs. So, I’d pay $12 a year for upgraded consumer services on Flickr. And if I wanted pro-level services, I’d be willing to pony up $24.95. With only two choices (free or $24.95), I’m sticking with free.

On the Picasa side, I’d like to see Google do a better job of integrating their other services. I already use many Google services, so I’d pay extra to have them synchronized. Again, give me some pricing thresholds, and I’ll choose the one that makes the most sense.

Flickr & Picasa Your New Photos

I’ve been posting more pictures these days to photo sharing sites. My two current favorites are Flickr and Picasa.

Picasa (owned by Google) offers some nice sharing features, including the ability to embed your photos inside your blog. It makes it easy to share a gallery…except on WordPress. (Unless I pay for a WordPress upgrade.)

At least I can embed a preview image that links to the Picasa gallery:

Random Photos by Buddy Scalera

Flickr (owned by Yahoo) is also a cool service, but it only allows you to insert a link to your gallery. That’s sort of old school, considering all of the cool things you can do with widgets and code.

Flickr has a really vibrant and engaging social network, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular. I can join groups where I can share my photos and I can track photographers I like.  By comparison, Picasa’s social community is a little weak.

On the other hand, Picasa offers many cool features, including the ability to upload video and embed slideshows. For the same features, Flickr requires you to pay $24.95 to get the premium features, which include basics like the ability create multiple galleries.

If one of these sites offered the right package, I’d certainly be willing to pay. Of course, I want to pay according to my needs. So, I’d pay $12 a year for upgraded consumer services on Flickr. And if I wanted pro-level services, I’d be willing to pony up $24.95. With only two choices (free or $24.95), I’m sticking with free.

On the Picasa side, I’d like to see Google do a better job of integrating their other services. I already use many Google services, so I’d pay extra to have them synchronized. Again, give me some pricing thresholds, and I’ll choose the one that makes the most sense.