Google Street View is giving the world a rare glimpse into one of Japan’s eerie ghost towns, created when the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami sparked a nuclear disaster that has left the area uninhabitable.
The technology pieces together digital images captured by Google’s fleet of camera-equipped vehicles and allows viewers to take virtual tours of locations around the world.
Now it’s taking people inside Japan’s nuclear no-go zone, to the city of Namie, whose 21 thousand residents haven’t been able to return to live since they fled the radiation spewing from the Fukushima nuclear power plant two years ago.
Street View was started in 2007, and now provides images from more than three thousand cities across 48 countries, as well as parts of the Arctic and Antarctica.
A new survey shows marketing budgets will grow by 1% in 2013, following growth of 3.4% last year, while the growth of social networking and Web 2.0 is less pronounced than in 2011.
The 2013 Senior Marketer Monitor, conducted by the Australian Marketing Institute and Colmar Brunton, is based on a survey of 259 senior marketing professionals in Australia.
The aim of the study is to understand senior marketer sentiment, priorities, perspectives and challenges in the current marketing environment.
Marketing budgets will grow by only 1% in 2013, the report reveals, following growth of 3.4% last year.
A third (34%) of the marketers surveyed expect their marketing budget to increase in 2013, with these organisations anticipating an average increase of 16%, while 38% expect their budget to stay the same.
Meanwhile, 28% of marketers expect a decrease in 2013, and for these they anticipate an average decrease of 16%.
Nearly half of organisations with zero to 100 employees expect to increase marketing budgets this year, according to the report, with these smaller organisations more positive than mid-sized and larger organisations.
“Most organisation types and most industry sectors are reducing marketing budgets in 2013, with only smaller organisations, professional services and not-for-profit[s] growing budgets,” it said.
Organisations with zero to 100 employees will grow their budgets by 6% in 2013, while those with 101 to 1,000 employees will reduce their budgets by 1.7%.
There is also a great deal of variation at an industry level when it comes to the outlook for marketing budgets, the report said.
The media and communications (13%) and manufacturing (19%) industries have the lowest proportion of organisations increasing budgets in 2013, while professional services has one of the highest (45%).
The top marketing priorities include measures to increase sales, maximising efficiency of marketing expenditure, and focusing on more profitable market segments.
“Overall, there was slightly more emphasis on increasing sales and less focus on efficiency and brand-building compared with previous years,” the report said.
According to the report, there have also been shifts in the communication channels used by marketers.
“The use of social networking and Web 2.0 as a communication channel continues to grow, but the growth in this channel is less pronounced than in 2011,” it said.
“The popularity of viral marketing has decreased somewhat with less intending to use this channel more, compared with previous years.”
In 2011, 77% of the marketers surveyed used social networking and Web 2.0 applications. Last year, that figure fell to 66%.
Similarly, 32% of marketers used viral marketing in 2011, compared to 23% in 2012.
It’s worth noting marketers’ use of all communication channels has decreased, suggesting they have become less important to businesses in the current economic climate.
The use of online advertising fell from 64% in 2011 to 56% in 2012, while only 34% of marketers engaged in public relations last year, compared to 47% in 2011.
The use of direct marketing fell from 48% in 2011 to 38% in 2012, while mobile and SMS fell to 30% last year, down from 46% in 2011.
This article first appeared on StartupSmart.
Story by Michelle Hammond Story source: www.smartcompany.com.au
Big music labels, steep freight costs and import taxes are being blamed for the higher prices Australians pay for everything from software to songs.
Global technology giants Apple, Microsoft and Adobe copped a caning on Friday at a federal parliamentary inquiry for slugging Australians up to 80 per cent more than people in other countries for their products.
The tech giants offered a range of explanations but failed to impress, with more than one MP branding their responses ‘evasive’.
Microsoft Australia managing director Pip Marlow said it was the global software giant’s right to charge what it thought the market would bear for its products.
‘We don’t operate on a single global price because we don’t believe every market is the same,’ she told the committee in Canberra.
‘We believe we are competing lawfully to win our customers’ business every day.’
But committee deputy chairman, Nationals MP Paul Neville, accused Microsoft of charging what it could ‘get away with in any particular market’.
‘You haven’t offered us any cogent reason other than your company policy why you are charging more in Australia,’ he said.
A recent study by consumer group Choice of 200 hardware and software products found Australians paid on average 50 per cent more than overseas customers.
Apple vice president for Australia, New Zealand and South Asia Tony King said what Australians paid to download digital songs, films and TV shows was determined by arrangements with the music labels, TV networks and movie studios.
Those content owners had different charges for content distributed in different countries.
‘The cards, so to speak, are in the hands of the folks who own the content,’ Mr King said.
Mr King said Apple was more than aware Australians were angry about it.
‘We are hearing comments in Australia that, frankly, make us uncomfortable,’ he said.
Mr King said exchange rates, local freight costs, import duties and local sales taxes also influenced the prices for computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
Adobe’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Paul Robson, said Australians were blocked from accessing the software company’s US website – where prices are lower – to offer a more ‘personalised experience’.
Allowing Australians to buy the cheaper, although identical, product from Adobe’s US website would have an impact on global corporations’ willingness to invest in this country, run local operations and employ staff, he said.
Both Adobe and Microsoft talked up the use of cloud computing products, saying they offered more similar pricing between Australian and US customers.
The three technology giants were all called to appear before the committee after refusing to give evidence voluntarily.
Story source: www.bigpond.com
Some people can’t stand it, others can’t live without it.
Twitter turned seven on Thursday and with more than 200 million active users, the social media platform has no shortage of friends to celebrate with.
It’s come a long way since March 21, 2006, when web developer and Twitter creator Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet: ‘just setting up my twttr’ (twttr was the platform’s early name).
Now roughly 4600 tweets are sent every second.
Google has added views from some of the world’s tallest mountains to its popular online map service.
Armchair explorers were invited to take virtual adventures with members of Google’s Street View team to Aconcagua in South America, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Elbrus in Europe and Mt Everest base camp in Nepal.
‘Whether you’re scoping out the mountain for your next big adventure or exploring it from the comfort and warmth of your home, we hope you enjoy these views from the top of the world,’ Google adventurer Dan Fredinburg said in a blog poston Monday.
‘With Google Maps, you can instantly transport yourself to the top of these peaks and enjoy the sights without all the avalanches, rock slides, crevasses and dangers from altitude and weather that mountaineers face.’
The mountains climbed by the Street View team were among peaks referred to as the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on the Earth’s continents.
‘Googlers’ who made the ascents took the pictures with tripod-mounted digital camera equipped with a fisheye lens to capture 360-degree views.
Street View teams have cycled, driven and walked through cities and towns around the globe capturing images to add to online maps, letting people see what it might be like to stand at a spot they are curious about.
Google has added images from a Nunavut community in the Canadian Arctic and a portion of the Amazon in Brazil.
Facebook is preparing to take on Twitter by adopting the messaging service’s iconic hashtag symbol, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Users of the globally popular one-to-many messaging service Twitter use # or pound symbols as a hashtag to indicate subjects in tweets.
The style is such an entrenched part of the Twitter language that the San Francisco-based company added a hashtag search feature to make it easy for users to find messages focused on themes or happenings of interest.
For example, people firing off messages at Twitter about a hurricane might use the hashtag #storm.
The Journal cited unnamed sources as saying Facebook is incorporating hashtags into the social network in a move that would let members organise comments and posts by topic.
The report said Facebook is testing use of the symbol but that the feature was not likely to be introduced imminently.
Facebook has started transforming the stream of updates from friends at home pages into a ‘personalised newspaper’ with news ranging from the personal to the global.
The News Feed on home pages at the leading social network has been revamped to get rid of clutter and present ‘bright, beautiful’ stories whether they are insights from friends or trending news of the day.
‘I think there is a special place in the world for this sort of personalised newspaper,’ Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in introducing the overhauled News Feed.
‘It should have a front page and top news section or let you drill down into any topic you want.’
Facebook began rolling out the new News Feed ‘very slowly’ at its website reached by desktop or laptop and planned to begin adding it to its smartphone and tablet applications in the coming weeks.
Each News Feed will automatically be tuned to the interests of individual Facebook users, according to technical lead Chris Struhar.
Pictures in the feed will be gleaned from posts by friends or online pages people have indicated they ‘like’.
If a Facebook user follows pages from CNN or other professional media organisations, top shared or trending stories are displayed.
Music or film lovers should see News Feeds touting fresh developments regarding bands, stars, movies, songs or other related subjects.
Struhar told AFP ‘we hope you get all you need’ without having to leave Facebook.
While the amount of content shared at Facebook has soared, the amount of time people have to spend at the social network remains limited, inspiring the drive to more efficiently connect people with news they most care about.
‘Of course we all want to share with our friends, but we want updates from our favourite publications, artist, world leaders and more,’ Zuckerberg said. ‘This is the evolving face of News Feed.’
News Feed will give more prominence to major stories being shared by friends in the social network; trends at third-party applications such as Pinterest or Instagram, and weave in important personal bits such as a cousin with a new job.
‘When I wake up in the morning and see all my friends are sharing the exact same news story or video, I know it must be something big,’ said Facebook director of design Julie Zhuo.
‘You get a richer, simpler, more beautiful News Feed focused on the things you care about, what your friends are saying, and what is trending.’
Story source: www.bigpond.com
Aussie women have been quicker than men to embrace online banking technology, a survey shows.
Research released by Westpac on Sunday shows women are almost three times more likely than men to bank on a smartphone.
‘The research reflects … that women are great at multi-tasking,’ Westpac Director of Women’s Markets Larke Riemer says.
‘Women seek out technology that allows us to manage our lives, connect with friends and network when we’re on the go.’
The report found more than three-quarters (79 per cent) of women who thought technology made managing their finances easier said it was because online banking was accessible 24 hours a day.
One in three women under 30 used their smartphone for online banking, compared to only five per cent of those over 40.
Half of Westpac’s three million online customers were now using mobile devices, the bank said.
Apple is advertising for a Sydney-based software engineer to help fix its problematic Maps app.
A series of incidents last year, including six people being rescued after following incorrect directions, prompted Victoria Police to advise against using the software.
The state’s Country Fire Authority issued a similar warning earlier this month after noticing inaccuracies in its bushfire information app FireReady, which is supported by Apple Maps.
Users complained that towns were placed at wrong locations on the maps, if they appeared at all, making it difficult to keep track of fires.
The job ad asks for expertise in ‘ground truth’, meaning data that is gathered locally rather than from satellite imagery.
Story source: www.bigpond.com
One in five major Australian businesses suffered a cyber attack in the past year, with attacks becoming more coordinated and targeted, a government survey shows.
With the most serious attacks involving malicious software and theft or breach of confidential information, essential service industries are starting to invest more heavily in tighter cyber security.
The 2012 Cyber Crime and Security Survey, set to be launched in Melbourne on Monday by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, also found that one third of attacks involved the theft of notebook and tablet computers or mobile devices.
‘Cyber attacks have shifted from being indiscriminate and random to being more coordinated and targeted for financial gain,’ Mr Dreyfus said in a statement before the launch.
‘Most attacks occur from outside the business, although it appears internal risks are also significant.’
One business reported the theft of 15 years’ worth of critical data.
The survey found that energy, defence, communications, banking, finance and water organisations are now investing more heavily in cyber security.
The survey was commissioned by the federal government’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).