Google Bringing Fiber Internet to Southeast. What’s Next?

020215 google fiber

A much faster Internet is headed South this winter.

Google has just announced expansion plans for Google Fiber. This is the company’s revolutionary Internet connection that Google once compared to a public utility.

Dennis Kish, Google Fiber vice president, announced on the Fiber blog that this gigabit connection is coming to four metro areas, all in the Southeast U.S.: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

That swath of territory encompasses 18 total cities.

Kish writes:

“Bringing Google Fiber to these cities is a long-term investment. We’ve been working closely with city leaders over the past year on a joint planning process to get their communities ready for Google Fiber—and now the really hard work begins.”

Before Fiber can be introduced to the public, Google must work with local governments to ensure the infrastructure is in place.

Utility poles must be constructed, and in some places, underground conduit will guide Google Fiber to neighborhoods within cities.

The installation represents a major utility project, reports The Charlotte Observer. City officials there had petitioned Google to become one of the next candidates to receive the service.

And based on observations of previous installations, thousands of miles of Google Fiber (an actual physical fiber-optic line) will have to be laid.

Kish writes that this process should take several months to complete and then construction and implementation can begin.

The Charlotte Observer adds comments from Google’s Jill Szuchmacher, who told locals at the announcement their city would be next to receive Fiber:

“We will build one area at a time. It won’t be an instantaneous flip of a switch.”

But once completed, residents and businesses in the cities picked for this round will be enjoying Internet connections not seen almost anywhere else in the U.S.

Google has already installed Fiber in Provo, Utah, which was first in the country to receive it. It’s in two other cities, too: Kansas City, Mo., and Austin, Texas.

Google announced that it’s still working on expansion plans in the West. That includes the cities of Phoenix, Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and San Jose, Calif.

If those plans hold, it would leave only the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, the Deep South, and Upper Midwest as areas without Google Fiber nearby.

Fiber can reach download speeds of 1000Mbps. That’s a lot faster than the connection you’re currently getting, certainly.

And Internet speeds that fast mean Fiber can change how small businesses and other users access and use of online data.

Based on Google’s calculations, on a 10Mbps connection, it would take 4 minutes, 40 seconds to download 100 photos. Using Fiber, that process takes 3 seconds.

Fiber also offers a television service, complete with DVR controls.

In Provo, the pilot city for Fiber, customers only needed to pay a $30 installation fee and were provided with free Internet. Gigabit Internet connections cost $70 a month. And that with Fiber TV costs $120 per month.

Google now has a small business plan in Fiber areas, or Fiberhoods. The company is offering gigabit Internet connections for $100 per month in areas of Kansas City and Provo.

Google Photo via Shutterstock

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iOS 10.1, macOS 10.12.1, watchOS 3.1, tvOS 10.0.1 Released: Here’s What’s New


  • iOS 10.1 introduces Portrait Mode for iPhone 7 Plus
  • macOS 10.12.1 Sierra improves Apple Watch unlock feature
  • watchOS 3.1 resolves Apple Watch 2 charging issues

Apple has released iOS 10.1, macOS 10.12.1 Sierra, tvOS 10.0.1, and watchOS 3.1 updates commercially, after running them in beta for more than a month. These updates bring bug fixes and improvements across entire Apple’s product lineup, most notably the Portrait Mode support for iPhone 7 Plus users.

iOS 10.1
The iOS 10.1 update finally brings Portrait Mode (in beta) for the iPhone 7 Plus to create the much talked about ‘bokeh’ effect during the keynote. This mode creates a shallow depth of field effect to sharpen the main object, while blurring the background. iOS 10.1 also introduces improvements in Maps and iMessage apps. For instance, Maps brings all major public transport support in Japan, and also lets you compare fares between various modes of transport to pick the best suited for you.

iMessage now has the option to replay Bubble and Screen effects, and also lets you play them in a new ‘Reduce Motion’. Apart from other fixes, it also solves pairing issues with Android Wear, and the issue that caused Photos to quit for some users when turning on iCloud Photo Library. The update is available for free to all users running on the latest version of iOS 10.To download the update, ensure that you have good Wi-Fi strength, and your device is charged up to 50 percent at least. Don’t forget to backup your iOS device before you download and install the update. to download and install it directly on your iOS device, go to Settings > General > Software Update, and tap Download and Install. When the download is complete, tap Install and tap Agree when Apple shows you its Terms and Conditions. Your device will the restart and install the update. To download iOS 10 via iTunes, first install iTunes, open it, and then connect your iOS device to your PC or Mac. In iTunes select your device’s icon on the top bar, Click the Summary tab and then click Check for update. Now, click Download and update. At this point, you should follow the simple on-screen instructions to install iOS 10.

macOS 10.12.1
Coming to macOS 10.12.1 Sierra, the update focuses primarily on bug fixes and improvement. It brings support for the portrait mode feature introduced in iOS 10.1, and has enabled a new smart album in Photos. It brings improvements in the auto unlock feature with Apple Watch, and overall brings stability and more security in Safari browsing. The new Mac lineup expected to be unveiled this Thursday, and could run on this latest version out-of-the-box. The update is available to download via the Mac App Store.

watchOS 3.1
As mentioned, watchOS 3.1 is also available for download for all Apple Watch, and Apple Watch 2 users. This update also focuses on improvements and bug fixes, and also brings the option to replay Bubble and Screen effects in iMessage. It resolves an issue that prevented the Apple Watch Series 2 from fully charging as well. It also fixed an issue that prevented Force Touch options from appearing in some third-party apps. You can download the latest update through the Apple Watch app by heading to General -> Software Update. Ensure that you have 50 percent battery, and are running on iOS 10 or later on your iPhone to be able to download the update. Refer Apple’s website for detailed instructionson how to update your Apple Watch to the latest OS.

tvOS 10.0.1
Finally, tvOS 10.0.1 update is also available, and is pegged as a minor update with bug fixes and improvements in the OS. The update is only compatible for the fourth-gen Apple TV, and to launch the update manually, head to Settings app > Navigate to System > Software Updates > Update Software.

Tags: iOS 10.1, macOS 10.12.1, watchOS 3.1, tvOS 10.0.1, Apple, Apple Update, iPhone 7 Plus, Mobiles

What is eSports And What’s the Relevance to Small Business?

What is eSports And What’s the Relevance to Small Business?

When it comes to video games, old stereotypes die hard. Even in 2016, Baby Boomers or members of Generation X are still likely to associate gaming with time-wasting, antisocial children. But the truth is, gaming is fast becoming one of the most social, competitive and commercially viable tech industries on the globe.

Small business owners would do well to take notice, too. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and lucrative benefits to be won.

What is eSports?

When we talk about professional and competitive gaming, these both fall under the wider realm of electronic sports, or ‘eSports’. Until fairly recently, the underground realm of eSports was largely limited to a few annual, international contests that pitted a tiny gaggle of amateur gamers against one another in a series of live contests. Yet as crowds of spectators began to flock to these events in the early 2010s, tournaments began to increase in frequency.

Jaw-dropping cash prizes have been introduced, official leagues have been established and huge multinationals have stepped in to offer generous sponsorship deals. And America’s appetite for eSports is only set to build upon that momentum further still.

Researchers estimate the eSports market is currently worth around $612 million, with a regular built-in audience of 134 million. More important still, there is a growing pool of 35 million self-described eSports ‘fans’ who actively follow leagues and players in the US — the majority of which fall within a highly coveted 16 to 34 demographic. Worldwide, it’s been estimated that eSports has a potential audience of up to 1.4 billion spectators.

Networks and media outlets are already attempting to leverage that demand. Last year, the BBC broke new ground by airing an eSports league tournament event live on air for the first time ever. And in May, TBSstarted airing regular American league events every Friday night for three months solid.

Bearing in mind the fledgling industry’s huge potential, it’s little wonder eSports has infiltrated the mainstream so quickly. The question for small business owners, then, will be how it may be possible to hop on the bandwagon in order to capitalize on that success.

How Can Small Businesses Join In?

Large brands are already bending over backwards to get in on a piece of the action. Mega talent agency WME | IMG has snatched up all of the industry’s rising stars, and multinationals like Coca-Cola and Red Bull are emerging as regular event sponsors. The prizes for winning teams at those events can now run in excess of $1 million — which is likely out of the question for the bulk of small business owners. But there are plenty of ways to flirt with eSports without breaking the bank.

One of the easiest ways to get your brand name out there and in front of potential customers at these blockbuster gaming events is to become a joint sponsor of a team, venue or individual within a regular league. Companies like SponsorOP help to connect brands with various affordable eSports sponsorship and collaborative opportunities.

Local bars, cafes, restaurants and movie theaters are already getting actively involved in an entirely different way. Rather than attempt to buy their way into world championship events, they are working to attract the sport’s grassroots fan base with regular tournaments, game nights or live streaming international league events on the big screen.

At the end of the day, there are plenty of ways to get involved in eSports. The key is to be fun, be creative and be willing to think outside the box. This is an up-and-coming industry with ever-evolving needs and a rapidly increasing fan base. Right now, it looks like the sky is the limit. There’s certainly no harm in checking it out.

Game Controller Photo via Shutterstock

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Flipkart Big Billion Days Sale Day Two: What’s on Offer

Flipkart Big Billion Days Sale Day Two: What's on Offer

Flipkart Big Billion Days sale is well and truly underway, and in case you missed out on the first day, which was majorly about fashion deals, don’t worry, there’s plenty more still to come. And not just from Flipkart, as rivals Amazon and Snapdeal are holding sales of their own, making this week India’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday rolled into one.

(Also see: Flipkart Big Billion Days Sale Thursday Offers – Mobiles, Mobiles, and Mobiles)

Wednesday is the first day of best deals on home appliances, with more offers expected on the rest of the days of the Flipkart Big Billion Days sale, which is on till Saturday. Remember that all deals as part of the Big Billion sale are app-only, which means you will need to be using the Flipkart app to be eligible for discounts.

(Also see: Flipkart Big Billion Days Sale Off to a Rocky Start)

Flipkart Big Billion Days deals on Wednesday include Vu 40-inch full-HD TV at Rs. 19,990; Noble 32-inch LED TV at Rs. 10,990; Sansui 40-inch full-HD TV at Rs. 24,990; LG 32-inch LED TV at Rs. 18,490; and Micromax 42-inch Ultra HD Smart TV at Rs 33,490.

As part of Big Billion Days sale, Flipkart is also offering Kelvinator 6kg fully automatic washing machine at Rs. 7,990; IFB 5.5kg fully automatic front load at Rs. 20,990; Kelvinator 245L double door refrigerator at Rs. 13,990; and Whirlpool 190L single door refrigerator at Rs. 10490.

If you are looking at other product categories, the Flipkart Big Billion Days sale offers Sansui 1.5 Ton 5-Star air conditioner at Rs. 23,490 (with free installation); Bajaj Solo 17l microwave oven at just Rs. 2,899; Pelonis 28L convection microwave oven at Rs. 8,499.

(Also see: Flipkart’s Big Billion Days Sale: What You Can Expect and How to Make the Most of It)

Remember you can save more by using your SBI card on all days of the Flipkart Big Billion Days sale except for 15th. On Thursday (15th), Citibank, Yes Bank, and Standard Chartered customers will get a chance to save 10 percent. Here are some other tips to make the best of Flipkart Big Billion Days sale.

If you are interested in knowing what’s coming up next in the Flipkart Big Billion Days sale, here’s a little reminder. Days 2 to 5 – Wednesday through Saturday – we will see deals on home products and appliances. Thursday might turn out to be the biggest day of Flipkart Big Billion Days sale, as it’s the first day mobiles and accessories will be offered on sale.

The discounts are expected to continue on Friday and Saturday as well. Those two days will also see on deals on other electronics and automative products as part of the Flipkart Big Billion Days sale. Finally, the last day of the Flipkart Big Billion Days sale will see deals on books, the category that kickstarted the rise of the multi-billion dollar behemoth we now know as Flipkart.

What are you planning to purchase during the Flipkart Big Billion Days sale? Let us know via the comments.

Tags: Flipkart, Flipkart Big Billion Days



What’s the Best Place to Look for New Product Inspiration?

uninspired look


Some entrepreneurs experience creative flashes or strokes of genius where they simply come up with new successful products. But more often, good entrepreneurs have to actually work to come up with those ideas.

Unfortunately, new product inspiration isn’t readily available on every corner. To come up with a product that is not only possible to make, but also solves a need for a specific market, you have to know where to look.

According to Stephen Key, author and co-founder of InventRight, entrepreneurs need to look no further than their own computer screens for new product inspiration. He wrote for Entrepreneur:

“Back in the day, I would walk the aisles of local stores for inspiration. These days, a wealth of information can be accessed with the click of a mouse. You don’t have to wonder what consumers wish was better about the products they use. It’s all right there! I’m talking about product reviews, particularly those found on Amazon. There are just so many.”

Product reviews on Amazon or other third-party sites can contain a wealth of information about the products people use and what they like and dislike about them.

For example, if your company sells accessories for electronics and is considering expanding into wireless speakers and audio equipment, you could browse the reviews in that product category for inspiration.

Not all reviews will necessarily be helpful. Some people just like to complain or leave ratings without actually explaining what they liked or didn’t like about the product.

But if you notice that most people seem to like or dislike something specific about a particular product, that could be worth noting.

You might, for instance, notice that people are unhappy with the sizes of the current wireless speakers on the market. They might be interested in something smaller than what’s available. Your company could fill that void in the market.

There’s no foolproof way to ensure that your product will be successful. But by doing the proper research, you can definitely improve your odds. And online reviews should at the very least be part of that research process.

Uninspired Photo via Shutterstock

2016 Pinterest Trends – What’s Next This Year?

pinterest feature

Does Pinterest still matter? Once it was the dominant visual social media network. But now Instagram and a host of trendier platforms, like Periscope and Snapchat, have solidly dethroned Pinterest’s claim as the visual network du jour.

But don’t count it out of your social media strategy just yet.

Pinterest, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, remains an important space for businesses to “nurture, maintain and share their unique philosophy, integrity and corporate purpose” writes Marie Alonso on social media branding.

Ready to get your Pinterest strategy back on track? Below are some ways to use Pinterest in 2016.

2016 Pinterest Trends

Why the “Buy” Button Matters

Pinterest may not be as trendy as Instagram, but the network is hardly flying under the radar, especially after it kicked off the “buy button” invasion of 2015. The Internet officially has “buy button” fever, with networks from YouTube to Twitter joining in with shop-able buttons. The addition of buy buttons is huge for mobile ecommerce: consumers are more likely to purchase a product directly inside an app than clicking through multiple link layers to a third-party site. Now, any commerce company that uses Shopify, Demandware, IBM Commerce, Magento or Bigcommerce can utilize Pinterest’s buy buttons, streamlining the direct purchase process.

“Intent to buy” has long been what sets Pinterest apart from other networks. Pinterest boards are aspirational: from interior decorations and recipe collections to wedding planning and nursery design, the leap from dream to reality is just a click away. In the past, however, Pinterest users who were primed to make a purchase based on a pin were faced with a challenge.

Many pins may link back to old blog posts or products that are no longer for sale, making purchasing difficult. Motivated consumers would have to do a Google image search for the product or settle for a different item. A great discovery service needs inventory for continued expansion.

“By getting more merchants and more buyable pins and more products on the platform, we’re able to build smarter and better recommendations and search,” Michael Yamartino, Pinterest’s head of commerce, told Fortune.

Early results show that the buy button is working, especially when it comes to reaching new customers. The online clothing boutique Spool No. 72 reports that 84 percent of all customers acquired via buy button pins are new, according to Fortune. Handmade goods shop Madesmith says that as of October 2015, buyable pins already represented seven percent of all company sales. And Shopify reports that the average order coming from Pinterest is $50, higher than any other social media platform.

Small Business Brand Building on Pinterest

But what about small businesses that don’t sell merchandise online or aren’t ready for the buy button? Can these businesses leverage the power of Pinterest to continue to build their brands? Absolutely. Consistently pinning products or images that reflect your brand is key to building consumer relationships, strengthening brand loyalty and reaching new customers. Keep these best practices in mind:

Pin Consistently, but Space Out Your Pins

Aim to pin multiple times every day, rather than dumping 20+ pins all at once. (You’ll overload your follower’s feed and miss out on being seen by as wide an audience.) Simplify the process by scheduling pins ahead of time, just as you would schedule other social media postings to promote a blog article.

Buffer is one of my favorite tools for scheduling social media posts, including Pinterest. Buffer also comes with the image creator tool Pablo, so you can take a photo straight off your blog, overlay with custom typography, and scale it correctly for Pinterest.

Create Boards Matching Your Consumers’ Interests

Don’t turn your boards into a 24/7 stream of promotional material: create boards that naturally align with your customers’ interests. Aquarium Finatics, an online guide to setting up your first at-home aquarium has an incredibly diverse and creative Pinterest account ranging from the world’s best public aquariums and out-of-this-world hotel aquariums to Shark Week and Aquarium inspired gifts for kids.

This same diverse approach goes for selling merchandise. Women’s active wear company Athleta has boards titled “Go Outside”, “Fuel Your Fitness” and “Run Wild”, in addition to boards dedicated to showcasing the company’s products.

Be Part of Something Bigger

Invite your followers to participate in a shared pinning board, or join a few of your own. Hannah Crum, the creative force behind the brand Kombucha Kamp, shares her love for fermented/nutrient dense foods on Pinterest via community boards like “Whole Foods Recipes” and “Holistic Health Topics.”

Bottom Line

You don’t have to sell products directly on Pinterest with a “buy” button in order to build your brand. But you do need a consistent and diverse posting strategy. Pre-schedule pins for posting at peak times throughout the day.

Create gift guides, make a thoughtful reading list, invite followers to join community boards (or host guest pinners), and host giveaways exclusively for your followers.