February 23, 2024

Bits Blog: Twitter to Add Photo Filters to Compete With Instagram

Illustration by Nick Bilton/The New York Times

Twitter is finally learning a lesson from Facebook: If you can’t buy it, build it.

In the coming months, Twitter plans to update its mobile applications to introduce filters for photos that will allow people to share altered images on Twitter and bypass Instagram, the popular mobilecentric photo-sharing network, according to people who work at the company but asked not to be named as they are not allowed to discuss unannounced projects. The filters on Instagram make photos look like they were shot with 1960s Kodachrome or with 1890s sepia tone film.

Although adding photo filters to Twitter may seem like a trivial addition to a social network that processes nearly a billion 140-character missives every two days, it could prove to be an important part of the company’s business.

As most smartphones are now equipped with high-resolution cameras, photography and mobile devices go together like peas and carrots. Flickr, which was once the go-to photo-sharing site on the Web, has since seen an exodus of people who have opted for Facebook or Instagram. Twitter has proved to be very popular among advertisers who want to reach people on smartphones, where the company’s audience tends to flock.

Carolyn Penner, a Twitter spokeswomen, declined to comment.

According to one Twitter employee, the company’s V.I.T.’s, or Very Important Tweeters, as they are known internally, usually celebrities and media personalities, would be especially happy to see filters in the Twitter mobile apps. Most V.I.T.’s now use Instagram to take photos, and then share them on Twitter, where they often have a larger following.

Although Twitter considered a photocentric product acquisition for some time, the move to build its own filters was hastened after Facebook said it would buy Instagram for $1 billion. (The deal ended up closing at $715 million after Facebook’s precipitous stock drop.)

After the Instagram acquisition was announced, Twitter executives explored buying a competing photo service or application. Jack Dorsey, the company’s co-founder and executive chairman, and Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, both led the search, people close to the executives said. After meeting with and appraising some companies, Twitter’s executives decided the price tags were not worth the goods, and decided the company could build its own filters instead.

Although Twitter inked a deal with the photo-storage site Photobucket in June, the company has since started storing images on its own servers.

Twitter is exploring adding other tools to its mobile applications, one employee said, including the ability to upload and possibly edit videos without having to go through a third-party application or service, like YouTube.

Sadly, the Twitter-centric photo filters are not expected to be named after birds.

Article source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/twitter-will-introduce-photo-filters-to-compete-with-instagram/?partner=rss&emc=rss

I.H.T. Special Report: Net Worth: With Apps, Wealth Management Goes Mobile

That tendency, apparently, goes double for private banking clients, who investment managers say demand more information than the average investor and are embracing smartphone use at a fast clip.

And yet, for a variety of reasons, wealth managers have been slow to embrace mobile applications for their clients. The reasons cited include concerns about security and a general impression that private banking clients did not want that kind of relationship with their bankers.

That is all changing. The PricewaterhouseCoopers Asia Pacific Private Banking Survey 2011 found that 35 percent of private bankers expected to interact more with their clients through social media in the next two years, and that nearly 50 percent of private banks expected to use mobile technologies over the same period.

“I think banks will have to go that way,” said Nick Pollard, chief executive of RBS Coutts Asia. The venerable British private bank is using YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to reach out to its clients; a smartphone app is in the works.

“It’s less about today’s clients and more about tomorrow’s clients,” he said. “Whether we like it or not, this generation and certainly the next one has no boundaries when it comes to accessing information.”

JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and UBS are part of a small group of banks that have released smartphone applications to their wealth management customers. The use of the application is often restricted regionally; the JPMorgan and Merrill apps are available only to clients based in the United States, and UBS’s is available only to Swiss clients.

“Private banks have been trailing behind retail banks with this type of offering for consumers, and even when they do offer an app, those have pretty poor functionality,” said Steffen Binder, managing director of MyPrivateBanking, an independent research firm based in Switzerland.

This year, Merrill Lynch introduced mobile applications for Apple and BlackBerry devices for clients of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and the online discount brokerage service Merrill Edge. The apps allow clients to view their portfolio holdings and account activity; transfer money between linked Merrill Lynch brokerage and Bank of America banking accounts; and trade stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and options in approved accounts. Clients can also track market news and headlines, and gain access to the bank’s latest research reports.

Buoyed by clients’ positive feedback, the bank now plans to release Android versions in December.

The bank is evaluating how the new technologies “can create value for advisers and the firm while at the same time having prudent supervisory and compliance oversight,” said Paul Fox, head of Merrill Lynch Online Platforms. The bank is now running a limited pilot program with LinkedIn to allow clients to communicate with the bank.

The adoption rate of J.P. Morgan’s iPad and iPhone apps has been rapid, said Stephen Clifford, a managing director at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in New York, responsible for the client experience. The bank made the apps available this year to its high-net-worth and ultrahigh-net-worth U.S. clients — those whose assets are $5 million to $25 million.

“The rate of adoption of our mobile apps has been even faster than the take-up rate of our Internet site when we first rolled that out,” Mr. Clifford said. The bank plans to eventually make the mobile apps available to its clients based outside the United States.

The J.P. Morgan apps let clients view their account balances, transactions and investment positions. They can transfer funds, send wire transfers and pay bills using the application, but they have to go through their client managers to give orders on their investment positions.

Mark Jansen, a financial services partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore, said private banks had been slow to roll out mobile device technology under the belief that their high-net-worth clients might not be interested. Now, however, many players have recognized the increasing client demand for new communication channels and are addressing it, he added.

“I think you will see over the next 6 to 12 months a number of platforms and applications being launched by private banks to facilitate clients’ interaction with the institution,” Mr. Jansen said. He added that banks would use these platforms to offer services to clients from various wealth segments, including retail.

Mr. Binder, of MyPrivateBanking, said there were still a number of “deficits” in the present generation of banking apps, citing a lack of brokerage and trading features, too little informational content as banks are proving hesitant to open their research libraries to app users, and little integration with social media.

Apps also should have better communication facilities, Mr. Binder said. “There should be a direct link to send messages to your personal adviser or even a possibility to get a call-back or chat with him or her,” he said.

Security features are often basic for apps, making the app potentially risky, while privacy policies are not always transparent. “Both make users uncomfortable, especially clients of private banks,” Mr. Binder said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=96150c59b9b09efa8f29f73a21cca69e

Royal Wedding, Groundbreaking Coverage

PARIS — It may not be the first royal wedding of the digital era, but it is the first full-on British royal wedding of the digital era in which a potential future king of Britain will marry.

So, when Prince William weds Kate Middleton on April 29, the event will be commemorated by a series of media firsts as well.

It will be the first big British royal wedding to be streamed live on the Web. It will be the first to give birth to mobile applications. And it will be the first whose soundtrack will be released on iTunes within hours of the ceremony.

These are, of course, only a few examples of the growing media frenzy surrounding the event. For the world’s media organizations — including television giants like the BBC, cable channels like TLC and myriad digital outlets — April 29 is a red letter day. And not only because the British government has declared a public holiday for the occasion.

How was it that a young couple’s plan to tie the knot, a ritual as traditional as they come, has turned into an interactive, multimedia, multichannel, cross-platform, 24/7, user-generated, hyperlinked, search-engine-optimized, downloadable extravaganza?

Well, this is not just any young couple, and after a global economic crisis, disasters in Japan, the upheaval in the Middle East and other weighty news of recent weeks and months, media executives say the public is eager for a break.

“There’s a lot of tough and very serious stuff happening in the world right now, and we’re putting a lot of resources into covering them,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, vice president of specials and digital media in the news division of NBC, the U.S. television network. “I think audiences are also going to welcome an event like this that’s a little more about old-fashioned pomp and fun.”

Not long after Prince William and Ms. Middleton announced their engagement last November, news outlets swung into action. Newspapers like The Washington Post and Web sites like The Huffington Post quickly created special online sections — The Huffington Post declaring that “some news is so big it needs its own page.”

While the digital media have played a big role in the buildup, television will come into its own on the wedding day. ITV, the biggest commercial broadcaster in Britain, for example, will start wedding-related programming at 6 a.m. and continue until at least 4 p.m., said Cristina Nicolotti Squires, executive producer of the channel’s royal wedding program.

“The hope is that people will get up in the morning, turn on their TVs and sort of leave them on all day,” Ms. Squires said.

Only a handful of journalists will actually be allowed into Westminster Abbey in London, where the ceremony will take place, said Victoria Ribbans, a spokeswoman for the abbey.

Television coverage of the wedding will be pooled, with the BBC manning most of the cameras inside the abbey. ITN, a news provider that works with ITV, and the news channel of British Sky Broadcasting, a pay-TV company, will film along the procession route.

“The feeling is they would like to keep it to a minimum,” Ms. Ribbans said. “You could fill the abbey with the world’s press many times over, but that isn’t what it’s about.”

Broadcasters from all over the world are sending crews to London to supplement the pool coverage with the obligatory interviews of people in the cheering crowd who might once have sat in a Starbucks with someone who once lived next door to someone who once went to school with Ms. Middleton.

Despite the media hype over the wedding, live television viewership will probably fall well short of the audience for some of the most-watched television events in history, like the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, which attracted an estimated one billion live viewers, said Kevin Alavy, who analyzes television audiences at Initiative, a media buying agency.

One oft-quoted figure — that the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981 was watched by 750 million people worldwide — is “vastly overstated” he said. That number, he explained, might include people who later saw clips on the news or elsewhere. A more realistic estimate for the wedding this month would be a continuous live television audience of 100 million, he added.

“When looking at major events of this kind, it’s important not to take too Anglocentric an approach,” Mr. Alavy said. “Will it be a big event in the U.K., the U.S. and Australia? Of course. But you can’t just extrapolate that to the rest of the world. Is this going to be of interest to the average person in Russia, China or Brazil? Probably not.”

Even in places where the audience is expected to be large, the commercial opportunities will be more limited than for, say, a soccer match with comparable viewership. In Britain, for example, advertisements are banned on the BBC. And ITV plans to broadcast without ad breaks during the ceremony and some other parts of the day.

Still, some channels are optimistic about the potential business benefits. TLC, a U.S. cable network that is popular with women viewers, sees the wedding as a way to promote its recent international expansion. TLC, which is owned by Discovery Communications, plans live coverage in about 30 countries.

“This is not just a news event,” said Luis Silberwasser, executive vice president of Discovery Networks International. “We see this as a brand-defining event for TLC.”

For the royal family, criticized for its aloof response to the British public’s display of grief over Diana’s death, the wedding preparations have also been a branding exercise of sorts. While in the past the royals might have been happy to let the professional media do their thing, this time around they have set up their own, official Web site. The digital presence also includes royal wedding Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

Most of the tweets seem to emanate from Clarence House, Prince Charles’s office, and tend toward the uncontroversial: “I think they will be a perfect match,” Prince William’s younger brother, Prince Harry, or perhaps one of his handlers, opined in a recent contribution.

The royals have also been receptive to the likes of Universal Music Group, whose Decca record label plans to release the soundtrack of the wedding ceremony, on Apple’s iTunes store and, later, on compact disc. it could be one of the rare opportunities for musicians in the choir of the Westminster Abby, the Chapel Royal Choir, the London Chamber Orchestra and the fanfare team of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, which are all expected to perform in the ceremony, to top the pop charts. In return, Universal promised a donation to charity.

But even digital-savvy royals sometimes have to say enough is enough. That happened when they rejected a request from Sky to broadcast the wedding in 3-D. Sky had gone to great lengths to try to persuade the family of the merits of 3-D coverage, even staging and filming a mock wedding at a church near London.

Clarence House, which is handling the wedding arrangements, explained that it did not want to have to deal with the extra “footprint” that the 3-D cameras would have taken up in the abbey.

“I know you have all become increasingly enthusiastic about 3-D and I’m sorry that this will come as a disappointment,” a spokesman wrote in a letter to Sky and other broadcasters, which was quoted in the British newspaper The Guardian. “I hope you feel the process we have gone through will be helpful for other live events and of course we do not rule out facilitating 3-D at some point in the future.”

In other words, should Prince Harry, someday decide to marry, there might still room for him to be a digital media innovator, too.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=341cbb1ddfa6acb10a93afd3ae364206