Facebook takes on Twitter with real-time Super Bowl hub

Looks like Facebook has decided it can do Twitter’s job better.

The social media site has built a live news hub for Sunday’s upcoming Super Bowl. It will feature user posts as they occur in real time, along with Super Bowl attendees’ videos and photos, content from the NFL, players and media companies, and the current score. It’s a shot across the bow to Twitter, the king of real-time content.

Twitter has struggled to build an easy, clear onboarding system for new users, leaving a hole Facebook can easily fill. Even during its Analyst Day, CEO Dick Costolo fielded a complaint from an analyst in the audience who tried to sign up for Twitter during the presentation and couldn’t figure it out.

In contrast, Facebook has more than 152 million users in the United States and Canada alone, many of whom aren’t on Twitter yet. It can parlay them into its own Super Bowl hub for their fix of social connecting while the event unfolds. According to Reuters, Facebook is even selling targeted ad units that it will show to people discussing the Super Bowl on the site.

The experiment could potentially set the precedent for more event-based, real-time hubs down the line. It will also show that Twitter isn’t the only social network that can do live.

Assuming Facebook’s Super Bowl hub is a success, of course. The company doesn’t have a lot of experience with live channels and people on it are used to the algorithmic nature of the newsfeed. The company may not be able to expand its brand to include real-time posting.

A screenshot of Facebook's Superbowl hub on Wednesday, January 28th

A screenshot of Facebook’s Superbowl hub on Wednesday, January 28th

Will Pinterest prove its worth in 2015?

The next year will be the most important one of Pinterest’s life. Until now, the company has focused on its application and its audience, to the detriment of its coffers. It had the luxury to ignore money because it raised a nosebleed $764 million in venture funding to sustain itself. Like most adventurous startups, the money was raised on an unrealized, untested, uncertain premise: That advertising on a visual inspiration application would be highly lucrative.

Come New Year’s Day, that hypothesis will be put to the test for the first time on a large scale. After endless preparation, Pinterest’s year of reckoning has arrived.

In 2015, any brands will be able to do native advertising on Pinterest by paying to promote pins that appear alongside regular Pinterest content. Companies can use Pinterest’s reservation-based system, paying set prices to make sure their ads appear in people’s feeds. The auction-based system, where advertisers bid against each other, is still in beta.

Pinterest has been beta testing reservation-based promoted pins with a select group of partners since September 2013, moving slowly to make sure it nailed its advertising process and didn’t scare off users. According to Pinterest’s blog post about the wider-scale release, the beta test was hugely successful. Like regular pins, promoted pins are shared an average of 11 times, resulting in additional free impressions for advertisers (they only cough up money for the initial impression). These pins continue to be seen and shared after the advertiser stops paying to promote them.

The quiet social company decided to herald its big advertising news when the least amount of people would see it: Over the holiday break. It broke the story by publishing a blog post that ran at the same time as a New York Times feature on the news.

This is par for the course for Pinterest. The company regularly holds big parties at its office to celebrate the introduction of new product features, but when it comes to its revenue stream it prefers not to raise a fuss.

It’s possible that Pinterest is nervous about its reckoning moment and wants to experiment with advertising outside the prying eyes of the public. It’s hard to get to a $5 billion valuation in Silicon Valley without having brought in a cent of revenue. At this point, the stakes are high for Pinterest’s investors and the path is risky.

In the next twelve months, we’ll learn for the first time whether investors overvalued Pinterest or if the company is worth the war chest of funding it’s sitting on. If it’s the latter, [company]Google[/company] better look out. It has another rival creeping up to compete in the category of search.

Pinterest’s image-heavy application may give it a distinct advertising edge in the visual web.

Now anyone can view “Our Story” on Snapchat, regardless of where they are

Snapchat’s curious “Our Story” experiment is now viewable to the masses, under the “Live” tab at the bottom of Recent Updates. Our Story allows Snapchat users in the same location to add snaps to an ongoing, crowdsourced reel of the event. The company first introduced it for the Electric Daisy Carnival in June and then brought it to Rio, Outside Lands and Lollapalooza. Previously, you could only view “Our Story” if you were there in-person at the festival. But with the latest update, anyone anywhere can take a look at the compiled action. Snapchat has not clarified what events in the future will offer an “Our Story” reel. We’ve reached out to ask and will update this when we hear back.

“Back to the Mac” Event to Stream Live from Apple

Apple streamed its last event, and it seemed likely that was the start of a trend. Well, trend confirmed, as Italy’s Apple PR branch has just released an announcement saying that it will indeed be streaming the event live at Apple.com today at 10 AM PDT.

I Stream, You Stream, We All Stream with Ustream for iPhone

Just released this morning, the new Ustream Live Broadcaster app (iTunes link) actually allows you to stream live video from your video-capable iPhone 3GS to the web, something which the recently released Qik app couldn’t (and still can’t) boast. It’s the first app to offer live streaming from Apple’s (s aapl) handset, and it even allows you to do so over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections.

In order to use the app, you’ll need to sign up for a free Ustream account if you don’t already have one. Ustream will prompt you to do so, and then allow you to register right within the app, without having to even pop out to Safari to complete the process.

As with any Ustream video, your live stream will be automatically recorded and stored on your Ustream account for later viewing. You can also notify your friends via Twitter that you’re starting a stream, and take advantage of Ustream’s built-in chat and Social Stream features to interact with viewers watching your video in real-time while you shoot. Obviously not something you can do while recording yourself, unless you are so intimately familiar with your iPhone that you can type when the screen isn’t facing you. Read More about I Stream, You Stream, We All Stream with Ustream for iPhone

Lots of Nearly Live TV Now Available Free to UK iPhone Users

tvcatchup_logoTV on the iPhone isn’t anything new, but a new web site makes it much easier, more direct, and less expensive for iPhone users in the UK. Just by visiting the site and logging into the new beta web app from TV Catchup, you can access 11 slightly delayed British TV channels, streamed directly to your iPhone.

As long as you live somewhere within the UK, pointing your iPhone’s Safari browser at the TV Catchup optimized site will allow you access to Britain’s five main networks, including BBC 1 and 2, ITV and Channel 4, as well as six additional channels, including BBC 3 and 4 Music. Read More about Lots of Nearly Live TV Now Available Free to UK iPhone Users

iPhone OS 3.0 Now Available for Download

If you’re like me, then you’ve spent a fitful night tossing and turning with anticipation, because today is the day that iPhone OS 3.0 officially arrives.

iphone30update

Well, toss no more, iPhone OS 3.0 has arrived (iPod touch users go here). If I can manage to actually download it, since Apple’s servers are no doubt taking a severe beating, I’ll probably send a completely unnecessary MMS to my girlfriend and then go back to life as usual. Until I get my camping gear ready for the 3G S line-up Thursday night, anyway. Read More about iPhone OS 3.0 Now Available for Download

Surf Canyon Digs Deep for Relevant Results

Surf Canyon LogoThere’s no doubt that the web can be a great resource. Whether you are doing serious research, shopping, or answering trivia, chances are there is relevant information out there somewhere.

While the search engines are getting better at serving results, the sheer volume of information available is growing as well. With Google recently announcing they index nearly 1 trillion unique URLs, it can be a challenge to find the information you are looking for.

Learning how to craft your queries can certainly help but wouldn’t it be nice to have a search assistant that could look ahead in your results and grab the ones that are most likely to be useful to you. That’s what Surf Canyon promises.

Read More about Surf Canyon Digs Deep for Relevant Results

Vote for Peter Rojas on CNNMoney for Who matters now?

Rojas_peterCNN Money is running a poll to determine who their readership feels are the top people in society who matters the most.  Engadget’s Peter Rojas is not only on the list but with a few days of voting behind him is moving up the list.  I have met Peter a few times and he is a truly great guy whom I respect immensely as one of the most passionate and driven people in the tech world.  I have corresponded with him since before the engadget days and the most interesting thing is how he hasn’t changed, even given his level of success.  He’s always been willing to give me advice when asked and he’s been a good friend to jkOnTheRun and me personally.  Drop over to CNN and crank the vote up for Peter and help drive him up the list.  I have.

On another note another engadget blogger I’ve had the pleasure of meeting is Ryan Block.  He’s a great guy too and I’m happy to see he has been named editor-in-chief at engadget.  It’s a well deserved posting for Ryan and we wish him all the best.

Verizon’s Not So Naked DSL

I think all of us including me over reacted about Verizon’s naked DSL news. Thanks to Jesse, I re-read the news and figured out that this naked DSL offering is for Verizon’s existing broadband customers. Just to clarify, I went ahead and called the Verizon PR spokesperson who corrected the story. “In 13 states if you are an existing customer of ours – you can port your voice number to non Verizon local voice provider, and do not have to drop the DSL,” she said. “That’s really what its all about. Its limited and first step. we should be rolling out soon enough. If customers don’t want a phone number but want to keep DSL, why wouldn’t we do that.” The company is upgrading its infrastructure and in the near future will offer a full blown naked DSL offering which will eventually be able all through Verizon footprint!