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We're waking up this morning to the news that Twitter has reported a $645m loss (£345m) - only three months after floating on the stock market.

No biggie, right? What's a few hundred million dollars between friends?

(Pic by keiya on Flickr)

What's interesting about this is that it's a reminder of just how weird the tech industry is - and how despite technology is improving our lives, it is often built on shaky foundations.

Usually, if you setup a business doing anything else, you'll get a loan or investment from another company and have a limited amount of time to make some money, or give up. What's remarkable about the tech industry though isn't just how long companies can go on making no money, maintaining the goodwill of investors merely through the power of an idea, but also how the products of the tech industry can make a huge and disproportionate cultural impact.

Remember when Woolworths disappeared seemingly overnight? Despite all of our fondness for a shop we never actually went into, the 99 year old brand was despatched within a couple of weeks, such is the ruthlessness of business.

But what about the apps and services that we use every day - aren't they just as precarious?

Twitter is nearly seven years old and has become a major conduit for news and information. Given its popularity amongst the chattering classes of journalists, celebrities and commentators, it punches well above its user base in terms of cultural impact - and provides an invaluable backbone to our digital lives. But would you believe that it has never made a profit?

The only reason it hasn't died and gone to that great tech graveyard in the sky (or should that be in the cloud?) is because of the goodwill of the investors. Investors are still sticking with it, pumping in more and more cash because they think that ultimately, if they can continue to grow Twitter even further, that it will inevitably start to generate cash for them... at some point... maybe.

Twitter isn't unique in this instance - astonishingly Amazon has never made a profit. Whilst it no doubt turns over a lot of cash, it is reinvested into more aggressive expansion into more and more areas - which is why the company are everywhere today. But imagine if Sainsbury's or Tesco never made a profit - what would the shareholders think?

This is the crazy world of tech - where the mystique and newness of the industry means that investors don't behave like they would with other industries.

It's not just the giants. Instagram is a lot like Twitter - it has never made a profit, and doesn't really have a business model (it's an app that will slightly tint your photos!), yet Facebook snapped it up for a billion dollars. Apparently they only employed four people at the time of acquisition. Is there any other industry in which four people could make a billion singlehandedly?

Crazier still is Snapchat - whose founder turned down a $3bn offer from Facebook despite the chat platform having no business model.

My point is - the tech industry is weird - no one is making any money and yet we feel closer than ever to all of these services and brands. If Twitter closed down tomorrow, I wouldn't feel the nostalgic whiff of disappointment I did when Woolworths folded - it'd be instead like cutting off my right arm and giving me a punch in the mouth for good measure. For other people it'd be the same for Instagram or Snapchat... yet rather than being built on a solid foundation of steady profits for the people who keep these services going, they're still running on nothing but the goodwill and positive thinking of investors who presume they'll be able to figure out how to monetize them at some miscellaneous point in the future.

Which makes this whole technology-improving-our-lives thing seem a little more precarious.

5 best alternatives to Tweetdeck

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There's been a murder - but like an African military dictator in London on a state visit, we know who did it, but there's not a lot we can do about it. A few months ago Twitter finally killed off the old, long abandoned Adobe AIR Tweetdeck client when it changed how user authentication works. With it, it took out the great Twitter client ever. And if you're a power Twitter user, no doubt you've been in mourning ever since. The stages of grief are well documented though - and at some point it really is time to move on. So here's our pick of the best Tweetdeck alternatives.

british-airways-plane.jpgYou could rant and rage at staff and flight attendants if your luggage is lost in transit at an airport, but at best that's only going to get you a strained apology through a perma-grin smile or, at worst, forcibly removed by burley security guards.

But in this era when the Tweet is mightier than the sword, one man has took on aviation giants British Airways over Twitter.

Hasan "@HVSVN" Syed, was properly peeved off with the airline after it lost his father luggage. Dissatisfied with the customer service team's response to his plight, Syed took to Twitter, using the social network's self-serve ad platform to purchase promoted tweets in the New York City and UK markets:
ba-tweet.jpgWhile it's not clear how much Syed paid, nor how BA have responded to the Tweet, we'd put money on there being a team or airport porters frantically searching baggage trolleys at the moment, while Syed's airmiles Executive Points will surely get a boost as recompense.

like-button-top.jpgTwitter co-founder Biz Stone has stated that he believes Facebook should offer a subscription plan for those that wish to use the social network without having to endure adverts.

Recently returning to Zuckerbreg's service after a length of absence as a user, Stone says he found the adverts highly irritating.

"In general, the ads on Facebook don't seem particularly useful or engaging," said Stone on Medium, the open editorial blog.

"However, ads on the service are universally tolerated because that's what makes Facebook free and free is nice.

"Anywhoo, now that I'm using it and thinking about it, I've got an idea for Facebook. They could offer Facebook Premium. For $10 a month, people who really love Facebook (and can afford it), could see no ads. Maybe some special features too. If 10% percent of Facebook signed up, that's $1B a month in revenue. Not too shabby."

Stone uses the example of music streaming service Pandora, whose Q1 2014 financial results show that the largest growth area for revenues for the company to be paid-for subscriptions, rising 114% as users begin to note the benefits of ad-free music streaming offered by a premium account.

However, ads that interrupt a string of tunes versus ads that can be scrolled past are two very different annoyances. We'd argue that interrupting music playback and wrestling control of songs from a user is much more of an intrusion than Facebook's ads. Facebook has always promised to remain free for everyone, though running a subscription model parallel to a free version wouldn't necessarily be a reversal on that policy, providing the free serves maintained parity with the paid-for version aside from advert serving.

Andy Murray's victory at Wimbledon was not only viewed by millions on TV but has also become one of the most tweeted about events since last year's Spice Girls performance at the 2012 Olympic games.

Andy Murrays victory nabbed over 3.4 million mentions on social network Twitter, with mentions coming in at a rate of 120,000 per minute at the height of Twitter's Wimbledon hysterics. By comparison, the Spice Girls performance only claimed 116,000 tweets per minute.

Murray's celebration tweet has claimed nearly 90,000 retweets at the time of writing. Murray also received congratulations from quite a few celebrities on Twitter, with Victoria Beckham (@victoriabeckham) saying the win made here "proud to be British", a "Well deserved fella" from Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) and congratulations from Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker).

Andy Murray became the first Brit to win the Wimbledon men's tournament for 77 years, beating Serbian Novak Djokovic in three straight sets. The last British man to win the tournament was Fred Perry, who claimed the title way back in 1936.

white-house-top.JPGThe Associated Press had its Twitter account hacked last night, leading to a tweet that claimed the White House had been rocked by a series of explosions, injuring President Barack Obama.

The false message read: "Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."

Causing US markets to be startled, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 150 points, the Associated Press temporarily suspended its account, advising that all tweets sent from the account should be ignored.

AP said later: "The @AP twitter account has been hacked. The tweet about an attack at the White House is false."

White House spokesman Jay Carney soon told reporters that the scare had been a hoax and the financial markets stabilised.

A group stating support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad took responsibility for the attacks, tweeting: "Ops! @AP get owned by Syrian Electronic Army! #SEA #Syria #ByeByeObama."

The FBI are now said to be investigating the cyber attack.

Staff at the Associated Press say the hack came soon after a well disguised phishing email, made to look as though it had been sent by another member of staff, requested password and login details.

twitter-music-top.jpgTwitter have launched their long-rumoured music discovery app, Twitter #Music.

The app allows users to discover new artists and songs by offering recommendations based on the people the user follows on the social network.

Tracks can then be played directly in the app through built-in partner services including iTunes, Spotify and Rdio. The app will also display songs currently being listened to by friends, as well as those being listened to by relevant artist accounts.

The app, which has been built with help from the team of recently-acquired and now-defunct We Are Hunted music discovery service, is set to launch on the iPhone later today in the UK, Ireland US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. More countries will get the service in the coming weeks.
twitter-music-launch-2.jpgSo far however there is no word of support for Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry platforms, though one would expect that an Android version at the very least is in the works.

"[#Music] uses Twitter activity, including Tweets and engagement, to detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists," said Twitter's Stephen Philips on the company blog.

"It also brings artists' music-related Twitter activity front and centre: go to their profiles to see which music artists they follow and listen to songs by those artists. And, of course, you can tweet songs right from the app."

Twitter's move can be seen as a response to Facebook's partnership with Spotify, which saw the world's biggest social network offer deep integration with the music streaming service, letting users share and like songs displayed on the network's Timeline. Likewise, Spotify are gradually rolling out an artist following system on their music streaming app, keeping users locked into their platform as opposed to social networks for artist recommendations.

twitter-acquires-we-are-hunted.jpgTwitter have confirmed that their purchase of music discovery service We Are Hunted has now been finalised, sparking rumours that a Twitter music service is now on the verge of launching.

First noted back in March, the acquisition will see We Are Hunted shut down in its current form and be integrated into Twitter. It's expected that Twitter will launch a standalone iOS music discovery apps, using the We Are Hunted team's technologies and expertise. It's thought that most of the music will be streamed from artists' SoundCloud pages, and where that's not available, iTunes previews will instead be offered.

Speaking of the acquisition, We Are Hunted posted the following statement on their website:

"While we are shutting down, we will continue to create services that will delight you, as part of the Twitter team...We wish we could say but we're not yet ready to talk about it. You'll hear more from us when we are."

AllThingsD are reporting that the new Twitter service may be launched as early as today, while US TV personality Ryan Seacrest has seemingly let the cat out of the bag early, revealing on Twitter (of course) that he's already been testing the new service.

tweetdeck-blue-icon.pngTwitter has announced big changes coming to their TweetDeck client. The company is to drop support for its TweetDeck Air, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone apps in a move to focus more closely on the web version of the apps.

Windows and Mac versions will remain active, but will play second fiddle to the web version which will receive all new future features first.

The outgoing three apps will be removed from app store fronts come early May, and will stop working shortly after. Users clinging on to the apps will experience intermittent service outages until the apps are eventually shutdown for good.

They're not the only things to be going - TweetDeck is also to drop Facebook integration, following on from the removal of LinkedIn and Myspace support last summer.

"In many ways, doubling down on the TweetDeck web experience and discontinuing our app support is a reflection of where our TweetDeck power-users are going. Over the past few years, we've seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices," Twitter said in a blog post.
Despite the shutdowns, TweetDeck appears to be in rude health, with Twitter stating they've doubled the size of the TweetDeck team over the past six months whilst still being on the lookout for more developers.

TweetDeck began life as a UK start-up founded in 2008, by Ian Dodsworth, and was later acquired for the princely sum of £25 million in cash and stock by Twitter.

vine-top.pngVine, the Twitter video sharing app for iPhone teased earlier today, is now available to download.

Vine allows users to create six-second videos, either from a single clip or as a montage of short clips, which are then shared to Twitter or Facebook on an infinite loop. The short six-second length allows for quick posting to social networks (and shouldn't hammer mobile data allowances too badly), but in fairness results look more like animated gifs (albeit with audio) than true video clips. Vine videos so far seem to play nicely with a range of third-party Twitter clients though which is a plus. Think of it therefore as a quick fire video form then, rather than the destination for longer form clips that'd be more suited to, say, YouTube or Vimeo.

Grab the app by clicking here. It's free to download and use.

Here's a quick look at what a Vine post to Twitter looks like, as shared by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo a few hours ago:

Twitter are thought to be nearing the launch of their new video sharing app Vine.

The social networking site bought Vine, a video file-sharing start up last year, and the first fruit of the partnership (an iPhone app) is now thought to be nearly ready.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo posted a video showing his culinary skills using the service today, which you can view embedded below:

As shown by the video, and mirroring the short-burst nature of Twitter itself, Vine is designed to only capture and post videos six seconds long, making them quick to post to Twitter, even if on a 3G connection. Light editing functions allowing for the creation of video montages are also said to be available, as will be an Instagram style follow and community system.

All Things Digital go so far as to suggest the application may launch today, while a new Vine Twitter account has opened at @vineapp.

For more on Vine once it launches, click here.

Twitter-email.jpgTwitter CEO Dick Costolo promised that users would be able to download their entire archive of tweets before the year was out, and for a small group of Twitter fans, that functionality is now accessible.

A handful of Twitter users are now reporting that they've been given the option to download every tweet they've ever sent through the service as an emailed ZIP file attachment containing HTML, CSV and JSON files, popping their tweets into a chronological list. The option is accessible through the settings tab on Twitter user's web profile page, under the heading "Your Twitter Archive".

Twitter have confirmed that only a "very small percentage" of users are getting the feature initially, and it seems that Twitter's core community will be getting the new option first. Twitter user Psanta (@Psilosophy) for instance is among them, a prominent Twitter user who helped translate the site into Hindi.

"I helped in translating part of the website to Hindi a while back. So maybe that's why I was one of the 1st to get it," he suggested.

It does seem though that Costolo has made good on his promise. Expect all users to have the feature added to their settings page before the year runs out.

Via: TheNextWeb

twitter-app-photo-filters.jpgAfter yesterday removing Instagram support from feeds yesterday, Twitter have finally made good on the rumours that they were creating their own photo filter service. You'll now be able to edit snaps direct from the Twitter app before sending them out to your followers.

"Starting today, you'll be able to edit and refine your photos, right from Twitter. The latest versions of Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android introduce a few new ways to enhance the images you tweet," reads the announcement from Twitter.Twitter have called upon image editing experts Aviary to power the tech behind the filters and effects, with a total of eight different styles to choose from.

Users will be able to preview the effects on their snaps in a grid view, swiping through each setting to compare how they look, as well as offering cropping and zoom tools to pick out the best bits of each snap. An auto-enhance mode takes the guess work out of contrast, brightness and colour temperature settings too.

With Instagram now owned by rival social network Facebook, this is the first of what we expect to be many offensive moves by Twitter to maintain their position among the networking elite destinations online.

The new features will be rolling out in an update to Android and iOS users right now.

instagram-twitter.jpgInstagram have removed themselves almost entirely from Twitter.

The retro photo filter company began their break from Twitter last week, disabling support for Twitter Cards and making uploaded Instagram images appear cropped in the social network's feeds. It's now removed image previews altogether from Twitter, with Instagram posts now simply offering up a link to the image instead.

"Instagram has disabled photo integration with Twitter," Twitter confirmed on their status blog.

"As a result, photos are no longer appearing in Tweets or user photo galleries.

"While tweeting links to Instagram photos is still possible, you can no longer view the photos on Twitter, as was previously the case."

With Instagram now owned by Facebook, Twitter's social networking rivals, it's a somewhat unsurprising move. Twitter have apparently been testing their own photo filter tool for images snapped and uploaded within their app. We'd imagine Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will be cracking the whip to get that update out of the door a lot sooner now.

Via: VentureBeat

facebook-toilet-roll.jpegSick of hopping foot to foot outside a toilet waiting for the previous occupant to clear out? The problem may be down to social networking.

No, not the sort of social networking that George Michael is partial to. We're talking about people browsing Facebook and Twitter on the loo.

New research from NM Incite has shown that, in the US at least, toilet users are taking their time browsing social networking smartphone apps while on the phone, while the traditional toilet magazine rack gathers dust.

According to the report, 21% of adults in the US ranging from 18 to 24 have admitted to partaking in some form of social networking interaction during restroom breaks. 25% of individuals between 25 and 34 do the same, but the number drops to just 15-percent of people between 35 and 44, showing that social network addiction is still primarily the reserve of the young.

NM Incite's Vice President of Social Media Solutions Deirdre Bannon said:

"Social media is truly everywhere in people's lives. It is so ingrained and has touched every facet of everything we do all day long. We are literally taking our phones with us to the bathroom and connecting on social media."

Could be worse. Could be "sexting"?

twitter_londonTwitter CEO Dick Costolo has re-iterated his promise that all users will be able to download their entire archive of Tweets by the end of 2012.

Speaking at the University of Michigan, the micro-blogging boss said that its all down to his team of engineers to knuckle down and get the coding done.

"By the end of the year - I've already promised this so the engineers, when I promised it publicly, they're already mad at me so they can keep being mad at me," said Costolo.

"Now, again, once again, I caveat this with the engineers who are actually doing the work don't necessarily agree that they'll be done by the end of the year, but we'll just keep having that argument and we'll see where we end up year-end."

It's no mean feat that Costolo is promising however. Over 500 million users together now account for 350 million new messages being sent every day. No wonder the engineers are none too pleased.

At least they won't have to contend with the possibility of longer Tweets in the future though; Costolo stressed that Twitter will "never change" its 140-character limit.

Via: TechCrunch

remembrance-poppy.jpgA man has been arrested under the Malicious Communications Act and is awaiting questioning after posting a picture of a burning poppy onto Facebook this weekend, coinciding with the annual Remembrance Day events.

Posted alongside "an offensive comment" according to Kent Police, the 19-year old was arrested as his actions fell in line with the act's guidelines for communications that are "indecent or grossly offensive, or which conveys a threat... provided there is an intent to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient".

The arrest has not met with universal support however, with many taking to Twitter in protest. This includes Paul Chambers, who was at the centre of the Twitter Joke Trial who unwittingly caused a security scare for joking about blowing up an airport, resulting in legal action against him.

Chambers tweeted: "It's time the authorities knew that dissenting voices are not arrestable #poppycock."

Social media censorship and conservatism has been an increasingly hot topic for the likes of Twitter and Facebook this year, with high-profile cases such as the baiting of Olympic diver Tom Daley and the blocking of a neo-Nazi Twitter feed in Germany making the headlines.

Where do you stand on the Twitter/Facebook censorship row? Should social media be a safe-haven where all views, however controversial, are tolerated, or should these communication channels be more closely policed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

tweet-shop.jpgShort on cash but dying for a snack? How about paying for a bite to eat by the tweet?

That's the idea behind the Tweet Shop pop-up shop in London, a new standalone retail outlet for Special K cereal.

The store has been created to mark the launch of the brand's new savoury crisps range, with customers asked not for money at the till, but instead a tweet on Twitter about the new snack bag.tweet-shop-customer.jpg"The value of positive endorsements on social media sites is beyond compare so we're excited to be the first company to literally use social currency instead of financial currency to launch this new product in our bespoke Special K shop," said Special K's Sarah Case.

"This is big news for Special K and we are hoping the brand's move into crisps and the high street will create a major buzz on and offline."

The Tweet Shop on Soho's Meard Street, London, is open from 9am to 5pm on Tuesday 25th September to Friday 28th September. To claim your tweet-bought crisps, head down to the store and show the Special K ladies in red proof of your tweets.

Thumbnail image for Spice-Girls-2012.jpgHe may be the fastest man alive, but Usain Bolt's Twitter record could barely have been beaten any quicker by the Spice Girls. The reformed girl-power group broke Bolt's record of 80,000 Olympic-related tweets a minutes following his 200m final win, with Sporty, Scary, Posh, Ginger and Baby Spice racking up 116,000 tweets a minute following their London 2012 closing ceremony appearance.

"The thrill of Olympic sport just wouldn't be the same without the over-the-top spectacle of the opening and closing ceremonies," Twitter said.

"Both events drove an incredible volume of Twitter conversation, and experienced their own giant spikes in Tweets per minute. Tonight's Closing Ceremonies didn't disappoint - with performances by The Who, George Michael and so many more. But it was the Spice Girls who stole the night, inspiring more than 116,000 Tweets per minute."

Labelled the "social Olympics", the London 2012 games certainly lived up to the name. Over the course of the two-week sporting extravaganza, more than 150 million tweets relating to the event were posted.

The biggest Twitter hits were Usain Bolt, Andy Murray's tennis win over Roger Federer, Team USA's basketball victory and the women's USA vs Japan football match. Danny Boyle's incredible opening ceremony pulled in 9.66 million tweets, more than the entirety of those sent during the Beijing Olympics.

Usain-Bolt-Athletics-Men-Jamaica-London-2012-Olympics-600x960.jpgThe records keep coming for Jamaican track athlete Usain Bolt. Hot on the heels of his sprint gold medal double at the London 2012 Olympic games, Bolt's broken a record over on social network Twitter too.

The micro-blogging social network saw an unprecedented 80,000 tweets per minute about the Bolt following the speedy Olympian's 200m win last night, the most ever seen n relation to the Olympics.
Bolt's already quite the celebrity on Twitter (as if he isn't already a star anywhere he graces wit his presence), with over 1.3 million followers that he regularly chats to personally. Following his win, Bolt tweeted:

"Thanks to all my real fans and people who believe in me. I am now a living legend that's for sure."

This tweet alone was retweeted more than 8,000 times and favourited by almost 2,000 people, showing Bolt's growing influence on the Twitterverse.

Dubbed the "social Olympics" by analysts, the London 2012 Olympics have seen social networks harnessed like never before for a sporting event. The opening ceremony led to over 9.66 million tweets about the event, while Twitter users' persistent updates caused problems with the BBC coverage of the road cycling events. Many of the athletes have also taken to Twitter and Facebook to thank fans for their support during the games, as well as sharing their thoughts on the event as a whole.

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