Has Twitter peaked? | Technically Incorrect - CNET News

I was just sending a tweet about some excellent chicken livers I'd eaten when I espied some information that made my acid perform a refluctive motion.

According to eMarketer, three different digital actuaries declared that Twitter traffic has performed a slight plummet.

While comScore suggested a drop of 8.1 percent in October and Compete estimated 2.1 percent, while Nielsen, that apogee of accuracy, declared a 27.8 percent decline between September and October.

Nostradamus is on Twitter. Does this secure its future?

(Credit: CC RachScottHalls/Flickr)

It seems that these figures, blessedly inconsistent as they are, are not taking account of all the third-party and mobile methods of keeping everyone up with your eating, drinking, reading, philosophizing and socializing.

But is it also possible that some people will simply never participate in the Twitter phenomenon, finding it either annoying, uncool, or even too much effort?

With Twitter intent on becoming more businesslike (why does the word 'more' seem slightly redundant here?), 2010 seems destined to be the year that the microblogging service becomes either de rigueur or dazed and confused.

Will Twitter become a permanent habit or a disappearing, perhaps even elitist, fad? I'll tweet Nostradamus and ask him.

You didn't know Nostradamus is on Twitter? Where have you been?

this doesn't take into account all the 3rd party ways that people use twitter.... but are that many ppl really using other clients? don't newbies first start at twitter.com and then migrate over -- web traffic shouldn't drop so much?

Apple tablet: The everything killer - Nov. 16, 2009

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Consumers looking to buy electronics for holiday gifts won't have to break the bank this season.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Apple's lips are sealed about its widely rumored tablet computer, but technology experts are giddy about the device, already exclaiming it will be the gadget to end all gadgets.

Executives at Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) never discuss products that are in the works, so there's no confirmation that the thing even exists. But rumors are circulating that Steve Jobs and Co. have designed a magazine-sized, touch-screen, hand-held, all-in-one device that is half-iPhone, half-Macintosh computer.

It's supposedly going to make its debut in the next few months, and you can have it for the low, low price of $600. Or $800. Maybe $1,000. No one's really sure.

If the rumors are true, the tablet will be able to do basically everything a gadget could possibly do. It's an e-reader, a gaming device, and a music player. You can watch TV and movies on it and surf the Internet (or so we've heard). And it will have thousands of third-party apps available for it ... or maybe it will run Mac OS X. That's all still unknown.

Coolest device ... ever? Maybe. Some analysts are channeling their inner-Frodo, saying the Apple tablet will be the one gadget to rule them all.

"This will be the next big thing," said Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC. "Apple is going to wow everybody with the tablet."

Any time Steve Jobs gets on stage, the expectations are incredibly high, but they are especially lofty for the tablet. Analysts and investors are saying that this device could revolutionize the handheld world in the same way the the iPhone changed the smartphone market.

"The tablet will change the game, because Apple will throw down the gauntlet at the competitors, and force them to follow along," DiDio said.

According to DiDio, the tablet will have a 10-inch to 12-inch screen and a high-end graphics card that will enable stunning resolution -- even more so than the iPhone and iPod Touch. She said the device will come in several different models that offer varieties of Internet connections, such as Wi-Fi or 3G, perhaps through a contract with AT&T (T, Fortune 500).

Another cool feature will be the Web cam, which business travelers will be able to use for video conferencing on the go, DiDio said.

Some analysts say all of those features will kill other single-function handheld devices, making the Apple tablet the go-to handheld device for computing, Internet browsing, reading, gaming and entertainment.

"Apple will come out with the tablet and blow everyone away," said Dan Ackerman, senior editor at CNET. "Instead of taking along a Kindle and an iPod, that [tablet] could become the device you carry with you."

The cheaply priced netbook market may also take a hit when the tablet comes out. Apple typically prices their products higher than competitors, because they install top-of-the-line hardware, but DiDio said Apple learned from its mistake of pricing the original iPhone at $599, pricing out many potential customers.

"The Tablet will be awesome, and my guess is that it will be an instant hit for people who loved Kindles and people who want netbooks," said David Wertheimer, executive director of the University of Southern California's Entertainment Technology Center.

Wertheimer said he finds it hard to comprehend how the tablet will replace all other on-the-go tech products. "But then again, what I can't imagine, Steve Jobs often can," he added.

...Or the fizzle may fail. Not everyone thinks the Apple tablet will be the gadget to end all gadgets.

"What we've found in the past with these multi-function devices is that they're better for ad-hoc purposes, like quick and dirty tasks," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group. "They're not for any prolonged, high-performance use."

For instance, smartphones have cameras for quick snapshots, but when you go on vacation, you're probably going to want your digital camera to come along with you for high-quality photos.

Kerravala said the same logic applies to the tablet's other functions, including its e-reading capability: "If you want to sit and read a book, the ergonomics of a device that's specifically designed for reading are going to be better."

Similarly, only 3% of people whose cell phones can play music say they use their phone as their primary music player, according to a Yankee Group study. Even if it means carrying around two devices, an MP3 player is bound to have a better user experience than a multi-function cell phone.

That doesn't mean the Apple tablet -- if it exists -- won't be cool. But you may want to hang onto your iPod, Kindle, Nintendo DS, portable DVD player and laptop for a while. To top of page

First Published: November 16, 2009: 7:47 AM ET

I can't wait for this. I'll be first in line to get one!

Electric-car maker Tesla preparing IPO


U.S. electric-car maker Tesla Motors plans to go public soon, two sources familiar with the matter said, amid growing interest in green technology and battery-powered vehicles.

An IPO filing from the 6-year-old start-up, best known for its $109,000 all-electric Roadster, is expected any day, said one of the sources. The person did not give a specific time frame, although IPOs typically take several months.

Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes declined to comment on what he called "rumor or speculation."

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

(Credit: Caroline McCarthy/CNET)

Tesla would mark the first public offering from a U.S. automaker since Henry Ford's Ford Motor debuted its shares in 1956. The IPO represents a landmark in the resurgence of electric-car technology that most carmakers had dismissed as impractical until recently.

The company's chairman Elon Musk said early last year that an IPO was a possibility in either late 2008 or 2009.

But the financial market turmoil following the collapse of Lehman Bros. in the latter half of 2008 virtually shut down the IPO market. The appetite for IPOs has picked up since mid-September this year with a robust pace of new filings.

Tesla's IPO would follow the successful debut of lithium ion battery maker A123 Systems, whose shares rallied 50 percent on their first day of trading on September 25.

Analysts have said that the success of A123, the first green-technology IPO this year, would encourage more venture capital-backed green companies to go public.

Tesla will compete with established automakers like Ford, General Motors, and Nissan Motor, all of which are racing to launch electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. Tesla, by contrast, is a small player with a high-end market and limited production.

A combination of factors has driven the recent interest in developing electric, or partially electric vehicles, including the Obama administration's push to have 1 million rechargeable vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015 and low-cost Department of Energy loans for manufacturers.

Venture funds back green cars
The carmaker is developing a second, lower-cost model, an electric sedan known as the Model S, which will have a base price of $49,900.

Tesla said in September it delivered 700 Roadsters since February 2008. The Roadster, which is built on a Lotus frame, can go from 0 to 60 miles an hour in less than four seconds, making it faster than a Porsche 911 or a Ferrari Spider.

The electric-car start-up was offered $465 million in low-cost loans by the U.S. Department of Energy to help build the new Model S. Tesla said it will build the new car in California.

Tesla's investors include Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Other investors include Daimler; Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments, which owns a stake in Daimler; and venture capital funds Valor Equity Partners, Technology Partners, The Westly Group, and Compass Venture Partners.

Tesla said it had achieved overall corporate profitability in July with about $1 million of earnings on revenue of $20 million.

But like established automakers, survival in the hyper-competitive U.S. automotive market has not been easy for Tesla. The company had to face cost overruns and production delays for the Roadster.

Story Copyright (c) 2009 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Can Tesla become the next great American car company?

Inside Virtual Goods: What Portion of Social Gaming Revenues Come From Offers?

This is a post by both Justin Smith and Charles Hudson

When we set out to write the Inside Virtual Goods: The US Virtual Goods Market 2009-2010 research report earlier this year, we wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the payments ecosystem throughout all popular virtual goods markets in the US, especially the booming world of social games. Given the explosion of payment companies focused on the social gaming market – from mobile payments to offers, large payment companies like PayPal to emerging programs like Facebook’s own “Pay With Facebook” – we wanted to understand where the money was really going.

So over the course of the next four months, we spoke with dozens of leading players in the industry, including: social game and free-to-play MMO developers, iPhone developers, offer companies, mobile payment companies, prepaid card companies, traditional payment companies, new companies building in-game payment widgets specifically for social games, and leading social networks. We gathered data from all of them through thorough interviews, synthesized what we heard from everyone to triangulate what we believe are the most accurate and in-depth estimates to date, and then passed our results by other industry experts (not in the research group) to sanity check our conclusions.

What did we find? To read our full analysis and outlook, you’ll need to get the report. But here’s a summary of our findings as it relates to offers specifically today:

Payment methods inside social games vary widely depending on the developer and aggregator. Based on our conversations with many industry leaders, we estimate that offers are generating just over 30% of all US social game virtual goods revenues in 2009, though some large developers don’t integrate offers at all, and a few developers report numbers over 50%. The remaining 70% is split between various methods of direct payment that we mentioned earlier.

As you might expect, offers often function as “on-ramps” to get players engaged with social games. However, once players become more engaged with a particular game, they increasingly migrate to direct payments because they usually need more currency than offers can provide to progress, and the same user is usually unwilling to take more than a couple offers in a given time period. Rather than giving personal information to more and more advertisers to take part in less appealing offers, users who are increasingly engaged with a particular game choose to pay more directly. So, almost by definition, games that succeed in growing ARPU (average revenue per user) and the base of paying users will tend to skew toward direct payments, as that’s the only way users can fund their accounts.

Most publishers are also surfacing direct payment methods via their offer partners. Only the largest and most sophisticated publishers (in general) are focused on direct integrations with payment gateways. Because of this, the offer aggregator often develops the optimization technology around which direct payment methods are most successful for different user segments within each game. For example, the aggregator may choose to display a greater variety of particular types of direct payment options that are more popular in certain regions, displaying more mobile payment options to adults in Europe or Asia than adults in the US, while displaying more prepaid card payment options to US teenagers than South American teenagers. The best payment methods often vary widely by location, age, and level of engagement.

Thus, the percentage of revenue going through offer partners is not necessarily the same as the percentage of revenue going to offers. Smaller developers in particular often generate their direct payments revenue via integrations with offer partners, going direct once they reach the scale to support taking it in house.

As we noted in our in-depth report on Inside Facebook today, we don’t know exactly what portion of offer revenues came from scammy offers, but we estimate it could be significantly more than the 20% of offers that offer networks now admit were scammy. We have yet to find any conclusive data on the scope of scam problems in offers, but we are continuing to investigate this.  Offer revenue will likely decrease in the short term as scams get continually rooted out, but it is clear is that industry-wide social gaming companies are deriving a large majority of their revenues through other payment methods.

Ultimately, the recent increase in media coverage of scam problems in offers could boost the fortunes of alternative direct payments, spurring developers to shift away from offers and integrate other direct payment methods more quickly. However, long term, we expect offers to continue to play a role in social game monetization, increasing in value as more large, high quality advertisers come into the space.

it looks like the average is 30% with some big developers at zero and some at 50%.