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    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Reuters - Ashton Kutcher vs. CNN leaves Oprah atwitter

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    Ashton Kutcher vs. CNN leaves Oprah atwitter

    Friday, Apr 17, 2009 10:21PM UTC

    By Alex Dobuzinskis

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A week of Twitter mania culminated on Friday with actor Ashton Kutcher winning a popularity contest against cable news giant CNN on the Web platform and Oprah Winfrey sending her first "tweet."

    Even though Twitter mystifies many people, its celebrity appeal has generated interest. This week, "What Happens in Vegas" star Kutcher added to the buzz by challenging CNN to be the first Twitter user with 1 million followers.

    Kutcher crossed that mark on Friday, beating CNN's breaking news Twitter feed by a beak, as the cable channel attracted its millionth follower 30 minutes later.

    On Friday, Twitterati everywhere held their breath as the influential Winfrey sent her first message using the system. "Feeling really 21st century," she wrote.

    Twitter is an Internet-based tool that allows individuals or organizations to send short messages to computer screens and mobile devices, alerting followers about anything from breaking news to the sender's sometimes mundane activities.

    "It definitely has its detractors," said Karen North, director of the University of Southern California's Annenberg program on online communities.

    "The detractors are the people who think it's just ridiculous that people are saying things like, 'I just ate a taco,'" North said.

    CELEBRITY TWEETS

    The San Francisco-based company behind Twitter was founded in 2006 but it has taken off in the United States in a huge way in recent months with everyone from politicians to Hollywood celebrities letting their fingers do the talking.

    President Barack Obama used Twitter during his campaign last year, and prominent celebrities on Twitter include basketball star Shaquille O'Neal and singer Britney Spears.

    As a private company, Twitter does not disclose its number of users. But Forrester Research senior analyst Jeremiah Owyang said Twitter has an estimated 5 million registered users and is the Web's fastest-growing social network.

    The more established social networking site Facebook has more than 200 million users, he said.

    A Twitter message can be no more than 140 characters, but it can link to another Web site. Kutcher's Twitter page on Friday had a link to charity organization Malaria No More.

    Kutcher, 31, who is married to actress Demi Moore, vowed to buy 10,000 mosquito nets to fight malaria in developing countries if he beat CNN, and the cable channel has promised to give the same number of nets. Winfrey on Friday posted a Twitter message promising 20,000 nets.

    On her talk show on Friday, Winfrey sat with Twitter CEO Evan Williams as she learned how Twitter works. Within eight hours of sending her first tweet, Winfrey already had more than 166,000 followers on Twitter.

    The Kutcher vs. CNN race and Winfrey's first tweet were a milestone for Twitter, Owyang said. "There's going to be a lot of new people trying it out today," he said.

    While Twitter as a company is not yet turning a profit on the platform, users are capitalizing on it.

    "Whether you're an Oprah fan or not, the fact is Oprah can teach a lot of people about a number of important topics, and she now has a new medium with which to do that," North said.

    (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant)

    Reuters - Samsung display unit sees robust smartphone growth

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    Samsung display unit sees robust smartphone growth

    Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 8:45AM UTC

    SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Mobile Display, a mobile display venture of Samsung Electronics, said on Sunday the global smartphone market was expected to grow to 500 million units in 2012 from 170 million in 2009.

    Despite slowing economies worldwide and falling sales in the overall mobile phone market, sales of feature-jammed smartphones, such as Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry, continue growing.

    Smartphones would account for 29 percent of the entire mobile phone market in 2012, compared with 14 percent in 2009, Samsung Mobile Display predicted in a statement summarizing its recent industry event presentation.

    The display maker, a 50-50 joint venture between Samsung Electronics and Samsung SDI, also expected touchscreens would be adopted by about 50 percent of major portable devices -- mobile phones, digital cameras, navigations and digital media players -- to be sold in 2013.

    It said growing smartphone sales and touchscreen adoptions would boost sales of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, a small but fast-growing display segment.

    Makers of screens for cellphones and portable gadgets pin hopes on premium displays for high-end mobile devices in the slowing market.

    OLED panels are seen as a promising next-generation display as they are thinner and offer higher quality pictures than liquid crystal and plasma panels, but a shorter life span and high prices are drawbacks.

    OLED screens could appear on 50 percent of all mobile phones within next five years, said Samsung Mobile Display, the world's No. 1 maker of active-matrix OLED.

    OLEDs could also be used by 20 percent of digital cameras and 30 percent of portable game players in the same period, it added.

    (Reporting by Rhee So-eui; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

    Reuters - Eyeing diners, restaurants take to Twitter

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    Eyeing diners, restaurants take to Twitter

    Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 1:33PM UTC

    By Lisa Baertlein

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kogi, a duo of Korean BBQ-inspired taco trucks in Los Angeles, has "Tweeted" its way to international stardom and is inspiring restaurateurs seeking new ways to tempt diners during a deep recession.

    Twitter, a free social networking site, is a vital ingredient in Kogi's success. As Kogi's example shows, the service that started as a way for people to follow the 140-character "tweets" of friends and celebrities is quickly becoming a powerful new way for businesses to talk directly with customers.

    Because Kogi's trucks visit locations all around Los Angeles, brand director Mike Prasad wanted to create a single place where fans could gather.

    "We had to create a home for them. Twitter was a natural fit," said Prasad.

    The plan worked. Since launching in November, Kogi has attracted more than 15,000 followers on Twitter(http://twitter.com/kogibbq).

    IGNORE AT YOUR PERIL

    "There is nothing faster for communicating than Twitter," said Aaron Allen, chief executive of restaurant consulting firm Quantified Marketing Group. "You have to be a complete moron to ignore it."

    The Twitter conversation "cloud" can give businesses an early read on consumer sentiment, said Shiv Singh, global social media head at advertising and marketing firm Razorfish.

    "It serves as a bellwether for mainstream blog conversations," said Singh, who added that frequent tweeters tend to have extreme views and to be influential.

    And negative tweets, like bad news, can travel fast.

    Domino's Pizza Inc, the latest victim of bad Web publicity, recently launched a Twitter account at http://twitter.com/dpzinfo as part of its response to a widely viewed employee prank video that showed, among other things, an employee putting cheese up his nose before adding it to a sandwich. Domino's also fired the employees involved.

    While Twitter is free and easy to use, experts say success does not come without putting in some sweat equity.

    "It does take time and effort and care and feeding," said Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs, a new media marketing company. "If you go silent it shows. It's like not answering the phone."

    TWEET ME

    Starbucks Corp has more than 140,000 followers on Twitter.

    "It's a way for us to answer questions and connect," said Brad Nelson, who oversees the activity on Twitter.

    McDonald's Corp and Burger King do not yet have corporate Twitter accounts. Representatives for the companies said explorations are ongoing. Meanwhile, Burger King -- which is among the restaurant industry's most technology-savvy operators -- said the company keeps in touch with the operator of fan page http://twitter.com/theBKlounge.

    Michael Breed, senior marketing manager at Brinker International Inc's Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant, has attracted more than 3,000 followers since mid-February with help from small giveaways.

    In Los Angeles, restaurants are looking for ways to stand out from the growing pack.

    Quinn Hatfield, of Hatfield's restaurant in Beverly Hills, tweets the ins and outs of creating dishes, punctuated with the occasional mouth-watering picture.

    In another part of town, Tender Greens' co-owner Erik Oberholtzer uses Twitter to keep tabs on hardcore fans and to take online marketing to the next level.

    Rush Street's Nick Kaufman likes to reward people who tweet while they are dining at the Culver City eatery with things like free drinks.

    "It's kind of like I'm the man behind the curtain," said Kaufman, who handles the restaurant's online marketing. "People realize if they follow us they may get something out of it."

    (Reporting by Lisa Baertlein, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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